Reared amid liberal intellectuals and writers in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Great Depression, the author anticipated that, like her Wellesley-educated mother, her destiny would be that of full-time wife and homemaker. Instead, World War II afforded her the opportunity to become a "girl reporter," a career hitherto closed to all but a few women. Her journalistic beat included not only Alabama but also Washington, D.C., the nation's nerve center. At war's end, instead of "retiring" as did most middle-class women, she continued her journalistic career and then successfully moved into another male fiefdom--the American professorate.
Hamilton, in commentary interspersed throughout this collection of her essays and news stories, reflects on the major changes that have taken place in her native South during the course of the 20th century: a rural region becoming urbanized, Democrats emerging openly as Republicans, legal segregation giving way to educational and political segregation, and the virtual disappearance of white southern liberalism.
On a personal level, Hamilton notes social mores of the early and mid-20th century that have become seriously endangered or have vanished from the American scene: virginal brides, lifelong marriages, serious reading, daily newspapers, train travel, and family pilgrimages to historic sites.
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor of History Emerita from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.