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“The boys working on the house are named Calvin, Ronnie, and Earl, who’re under a contractor named Jesse Parrish. They sing hymns from ladder tops, and keep buttermilk and Rainbo Pickles in my refrigerator.”

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source: letter to William Maxwell, October 23, 1972, in What There Is to Say We Have Said, ed. by Suzanne Mars (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2011), 295.

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“We could see the moon now, a thin silver moon swinging between the black treetops overhead. Chuck kept losing the radio station. Finally he turned off the radio, and we sang Buddy Holly songs for a while. When we got tired of those, we sang hymns. First we sang ‘I Walk to the Garden Alone’ and ‘The Old Rugged Cross,’ and a few other quiet ones, just to find our range and get in the spirit. Then we sang the roofraisers. We sang them with respect and we sang them hard, swaying from side to side and dipping our shoulders in counterpoint. Between hymns we drank from the bottle. Our voices were strong. It was a good night to sing and we sang for all we were worth, as if we’d been saved.”

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source: This Boy’s Life (New York: Grove Press, 1989), 288.

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medium: Memoir

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