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The Pecan Orchard, The Pecan Orchard, 0817316728, 0-8173-1672-8, 978-0-8173-1672-3, 9780817316723, , , The Pecan Orchard, 0817384545, 0-8173-8454-5, 978-0-8173-8454-8, 9780817384548, , , The Pecan Orchard, 0817356592, 0-8173-5659-2, 978-0-8173-5659-0, 9780817356590,

The Pecan Orchard
Journey of a Sharecropper's Daughter
Peggy Vonsherie Allen

Trade Cloth
2009. 272 pp.
978-0-8173-1672-3
Price:  $39.95 t
E Book
2009. 272 pp.
978-0-8173-8454-8
Price:  $22.95 d
Quality Paper
2011. 272 pp.
978-0-8173-5659-0
Price:  $22.95 t

This is a true story of the struggle, survival, and ultimate success of a large black family in south Alabama who, in the middle decades of the 20th century, lifted themselves out of poverty to achieve the American dream of property ownership. Descended from slaves and sharecroppers in the Black Belt region, this family of hard-working parents and their thirteen children is mentored by its matriarch, Moa, the author’s beloved great grandmother, who passes on to the family, along with other cultural wealth, her recipe for moonshine.

Without rancor or blame, and even with occasional humor, The Pecan Orchard offers a window into the inequities between blacks and whites in a small southern town still emerging from Jim Crow attitudes.

Told in clean, straightforward prose, the story radiates the suffocating midday heat of summertime cotton fields and the biting winter wind sifting through porous shanty walls. It conveys the implicit shame in “Colored Only” restrooms, drinking fountains, and eating areas; the beaming satisfaction of a job well done recognized by others; the “yessum” manners required of southern society; and the joyful moments, shared memories, and loving bonds that sustain—and even raise—a proud family.

Peggy Vonsherie Allen is Deputy Director of Traffic and Safety Engineering for DeKalb County, Georgia.

“With a storyteller's eye for significant detail and a clear and engaging writing style, Allen describes the pragmatic rural black nationalism that defined the lives of so many sharecropping families and the backbreaking toil and near third-world conditions to which they were subjected in the southern Alabama of the 1960s. The reality of Allen's account knocks the wind out of the reader, yet the humorous tales sprinkled throughout allow it to be reflective without being somber.”—The Journal of Southern History


“This is a wonderful memoir. . . . Allen’s writing displays the creativity African Americans demonstrated in getting by and the texture of their relationships with each other.  It also shows how traditional aspects of rural life remained visible even amidst the trappings of modern life. Her story feels timeless. . . . It is just a plain good read.”
—Lisa Lindquist Dorr, author of White Women, Rape, & the Power of Race in Virginia, 1900–1960

“Not since Theodore Rosengarten’s All God’s Dangers has there been such a moving and detailed narrative of rural black life. But in the case of Allen’s The Pecan Orchard, the experience is directly related by the one who lived it rather than filtered through the sensibilities of a white Ivy Leaguer.
     "Perhaps the most important quality of any memoir is its voice. Many people have compelling stories to tell, but there are few who can deliver them well. The Pecan Orchard is notably successful in this regard. Allen’s method of narration is simple and direct, wholly without artifice. It also possesses a quiet authority and confidence that are thoroughly captivating.
     “The Pecan Orchard is a memorable read and altogether one of the best Alabama books this year.”—Mobile Press-Register

“The story is fascinating . . . and the author has a very distinctive narrative voice and fine tone with her storytelling. . . . [T]he general public will enjoy it, [as will] students and teachers of both southern folklore and 20th-century African American history.”
—Adele Logan Alexander, author of Homelands and Waterways: The American Journey of the Bond Family, 1846–1926

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