June 22, 2023
Leave it to my friend Dianne Bragg, associate professor at the University of Alabama, and a colleague in journalism history circles, to make the suggestion to her friends at Page & Palette to bring Undaunted to town. Page & Palette is Fairhope’s bookstore cum bar cum upstairs Air B&B. Stephanie Crowe, the store’s events organizer, is a wonder, and was ably assisted by Stacy Sheehan Wilson, who emceed for the event June 20. Fairhope came onto Undaunted‘s launch schedule early in its publication launch planning. No regrets there. I asked Dianne to be the interlocutor and she was superb. Best response of the night: the gentleman at the bar whose wife had dragged him to the evening. He told me he had steeled himself to endure the most boring 30 minutes of his life and instead found himself fully engaged.
As I like to say, women’s history is men’s history, too.
The crowd and staff at Page & Palette, in short, was great.
A little shoutout: The audience for the evening included Clay and Dianne Swanzy, who’d been urged to come by my long ago UPI colleague from Tel Aviv days, the superb news photographer Mike Theiler. The Swanzys were once Mike’s neighbors. He and I reconnected after decades when I reached out to him to get permission to circulate a photo of me he took in 1980 in the Occupied Golan Heights. It seems like I’m directing an Israeli soldier, although I’m sure that is not the case. Mike and I worked together from about 1980 to 1983.
Several of Dianne Bragg’s students and former students came, as did her colleague Mark Mayfield, who, long before teaching, I learned, was a Unipresser in Atlanta of my vintage. He then moved on to USA Today and then to several shelter magazines. His daughter, Alexa Mayfield, a student in the University of Alabama j-school, served as videographer for the night,
Here’s the talk:
The gallery of photos below will give you a good sense of a jam-packed two and a half days in Fairhope. As you will see, it involved a good deal of delicious fried food in iterations new to me. I also learned to be fearful of lightning strikes in ways that never before occurred to me. Some harrowing stories were shared.
There was more. The day after the book event, Dianne and I made an unforgettable visit to Montgomery to see the Peace and Justice Memorial. That two-and-a-half-hour turnaround was in our plans from the start and was why I imposed on Dianne’s exceptional hospitality for an extra day.
And less memorably, on our way out of town, we stopped at the house Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald once rented for about five months while both were writing novels.
Ephemera from the visit:
— Dr. DB: Memphis in the Meantime (@dimariebragg) May 31, 2023