Once in a great while, a book captures the essence of a particular place and time. George Ann Byrd Danehower has done this with her first book of non-fiction short stories, set in the 1930s-1950s and centered in Mississippi County, Arkansas, at the northeastern corner of the state along the western bank of the Mississippi River. Her book is alive with detailed memories of “Daddy,” “Mother,” “Ruth,” “Papa and Mama Edwards,” and her siblings and countless relatives, friends, teachers, and customers, as well as characters like the Medicine Man, the Witch, the TB Lady, Tight the hired hand, and Caleb the thief and murderer. She tells of growing up in her family’s “house-store” in Mandalay, Arkansas, which was surrounded by “fields of white gold” (cotton), and then later in the small Arkansas town of Blytheville. As George Ann (her given name) points out in her Introduction: “We Southerners do love our tradition of storytelling; often our stories cause us to laugh to keep us from crying.” Each story captures a vivid memory of growing up in Arkansas, with its fierce natural beauty, strong family traditions, and complex social challenges.
Included among the 24 chapters are such tales as:
- The Cotton Gin, Hide and Seek, and Spontaneous Combustion
- Holy Rollers, followed by Soft Cream and a Picture Show
- The First Day of My First 1st Grade
- The First Day of My Second 1st Grade
- The Test, the Worm, and Paralysis
- The Biggest Worry of All
- The Blues, Bladie Madie, and the Lord
- The Weirdest Tale of All
Advance Praise for Fields of White Gold
"In this period of online tribes, super-stores, and air-conditioned-GPS-controlled farm machinery, the stories in Fields of White Gold reveal the gentle humor and the loving demands of a generous people with simple needs from another time. I remember personally what it felt like for a five-foot-tall boy to fill and drag an eleven-foot sack of cotton to the end of a long row and empty it into a wagon. George Ann Byrd Danehower is a gifted writer who speaks from the heart about a place she loved." — Ke Francis, “blue-collar” professional artist and writer from Tupelo, Mississippi
"Reading George Ann Byrd Danehower’s Fields of White Gold is like eavesdropping at an Arkansas family gathering. The stories satisfy our nostalgia for a childhood more nurturing than many children experience today." —Mary Gay Shipley, lifelong community leader in the Arkansas Delta
Well-told Childhood Memoir
Posted by Laura Wolden on Jun 6th 2022
This book is full of sweet stories told from the young perspective of a child. It felt like a family gathering to read this history and reflect on childhood, family, community, and change.
Fields of White Gold is a Treasure to Behold
Posted by M. Irving on Mar 30th 2022
This is a delightful collection of short stories set back in another era, the 1940’s. It was a simpler time in our history, before the Internet and all of the modern convenience we take for granted today. One could appreciate all the subtleties life has to offer; its’ sights, sounds, and smells. Time is slowed down… not the hectic chaos spinning out of control today.
World War Two was raging in Europe during this time, yet life went on back in the United States with rationing, supporting our troops and worrying about love ones away at war.
GeorgeAnn takes us back through her childhood memories as a young girl between the agers of six to a preteen. The reader will be transported back in time to a small cotton farming community and family owned general store set in rural Arkansas. You will feel as if you are there beside her experiencing all of the emotions of a young girl during her adventures in life. I laughed and cried. I found myself reflecting back on my own life, too.
Family, community and God all played important roles in shaping the character, values and soul of the GeorgeAnn of today. I have known GeorgeAnn for over fifty years and learned more in this book about her life than I ever knew before. I also learned where her core values are rooted from and respect her values and friendship all the more. Don’t miss this read.
Posted by Betty Keithley on Feb 5th 2020
Excellent book. Author is a wonderful writer. Highly recommend. You can actually see in your mind what she talking about.