The Dark Side of Hopkinsville: Stories by Ted Poston

The Dark Side of Hopkinsville: Stories by Ted Poston

by Ted Poston
     
 

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Preserving an engaging, little-known slice of American life, The Dark Side of Hopkinsville is a collection of ten picaresque tales bearing witness to a black child's life in a southern town at the turn of the century.

Born and reared in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Ted Poston (1906-1974) became the first black career-long reporter for a major metropolitan

Overview


Preserving an engaging, little-known slice of American life, The Dark Side of Hopkinsville is a collection of ten picaresque tales bearing witness to a black child's life in a southern town at the turn of the century.

Born and reared in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Ted Poston (1906-1974) became the first black career-long reporter for a major metropolitan daily (the New York Post) and served as a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Negro Cabinet" in Washington in 1940. After thirty-five years at the Post, Poston was without question the "Dean of Black Journalists."

Acquainted with the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, Poston regaled his associates with tales of his childhood. These memories resulted in the stories collected in The Dark Side of Hopkinsville. Told from the vantage point of "Ted," a bright, high-spirited student at Booker T. Washington Colored Grammar School, the stories focus on a coterie of imaginative children, their entertainments and games, ties to the church, and relations with immediate and extended families.

The memorable, recurring characters in the stories are based on individuals Poston knew: Cousin Blind Mary, a fortune teller who can see into someone's future only after consulting with the servants of the family in question; Ted's father, Ephraim, "the only Negro Democrat in our Hopkinsville, Kentucky, or in the whole state of Kentucky for that matter"; Fertilizer Ferguson, whom Ted credits with coining the phrase "eating higher up on the hog"; and Ted's schoolmate Knee Baby Watkins, the "catalytic agent who precipitated the most disasterous social feud in the history of Hopkinsville." Though the presence of prejudice--both within and outside the race--is acknowledged throughout the stories, that social reality does not lessen the characters' exuberant enjoyment of being young. After watching Bronco Billy and his black sidekick, Pistol Pete, at the nickel movie on Saturdays, Ted and his friends make Pistol Pete the hero and Bronco Billy the sidekick of their games in "The Werewolf of Woolworth's." In "The Revolt of the Evil Fairies," Ted uses Palmer's Skin Success ("guaranteed to give you a light complexion in just seven days") so that he can play Prince Charming opposite his fair-skinned sweetheart in the school play.

Kathleen A. Hauke has annotated the stories with recollections of the author's family and friends, who are often major characters in the stories. An extended biographical and critical introduction offers background information on the life and work of Ted Poston, and on old Hopkinsville and its residents.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Poston, a well-known black journalist who died in 1974, has been well served by editor Hauke, who came upon these ten sketches of black children growing up in a southern town at the turn of the century, then edited and annotated them for publication and wrote a useful introduction."—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Knowing, gentle humor marks these tales based on Poston's childhood in the segregated Southern town of Hopkinsville, Ky. Poston (1906-1974) was a pioneering black journalist and member of Roosevelt's ``Negro Cabinet.'' Inspired by a western movie where the Indians won, young Ted and his friends decide to take over the swimming hole they share with a group of white boys--and encounter a young opponent who breaks their stereotypes of size and strength. In a world full of inter- and intraracial color prejudice, Ted gets an unexpected lesson in bigotry when the father of a white friend objects to his son playing not with Ted, but with two Jewish boys. Picaresque incidents abound. When the protests of Hopkinsville's black adults fail to keep Birth of a Nation out of the local movie theater, Ted's pal Rat Joiner comes to the rescue with an ingenious plan that plunges the film into everlasting local obscurity. And Ted wreaks hilarious revenge on the Booker T. Washington Colored Grammar School when his dark skin earns him the part of the Evil Fairy instead of the coveted role of Prince Charming in the school play. Included are interviews with longtime residents of Hopkinsville. Hauke is a freelance editor. (July)
Library Journal
Poston, a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, became the first black reporter for a major white metropolitan newspaper and a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's ``Negro Cabinet'' in Washington in 1940. He had hoped to publish these ten short stories in a volume as evidence of the life-affirming depth of the cultural experiences he had growing up in a segregated society in the early 20th century. Poston based most of the characters in these stories on actual persons. In the first, ``Mr. Jack Johnson and Me,'' the narrator, a youngster called Big Chief Geronimo, takes on a white boy in a fight over swimming hole rights. Instead of proving his boxing prowess to the other black children present, Geronimo gets ``scalped.'' ``Cousin Blind Mary'' is a story about Hopkinsville's well-to-do black fortuneteller whose reputation for being savvy and shrewd in her dealings with whites makes her an almost legendary figure in the black community. The Dark Side is a fascinating, first-hand portrait of a culture and a time in American life little known or remembered outside Southern black communities. Highly recommended for collections of American literature and African American studies materials.-- Francis Poole, Univ. of Delaware Lib., Newark

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820313023
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
06/01/1991
Pages:
144

Meet the Author


Kathleen A. Hauke (1935–2004) taught at Morris Brown College and at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. While researching this work, she spent six months living and teaching in Hopkinsville.

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