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Still Missing Beulah: Stories of Blacks and Jews in Mid-Century Miami Kindle Edition
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As a first grader in 1956 perhaps a third of my class was excused for observance of the high holidays, events which had to be explained carefully. Although my actual house was moved from Middle Georgia to a section of Miami then called "unincorporated" and now known as High Pines, racism and anti-Semitism were never allowed to be part of my upbringing.
Such parentally directed tolerence was not universally practiced. One's social position in Old Miami often implied certain prejudices. My mother felt compelled to resign from the Junior League when asked to give a speech about the need "to hold the color line." The times were indeed a' changin and ground zero was Miami.
Even as post-Southern Miami was being imagined, the decade of the fifties ended with the influx of children whose parents bravely had stayed behind in Cuba. These newly arrived Spanish speaking children became our friends and classmates, even as black children remained in all-black schools until the mid-sixties.
Joannie Cochran, a native Miamian of my generation, has tackled the complex relationship between the newly arrived Jews and the established Southern and Bahamian black communities. Cultural diversity, as Waiting for Beulah demonstrates so well, produces not just prejudice but deeper understanding.
This is an outstanding and unusual book. It is a complex dissection of character, involving difficult issues. It does not fall into the simplicity of good and bad, but shows how hardship and fear shape feelings, and that prejudice exists in the same person that can still miss Beulah. Tootsie protects and provides for his children in a harsh and frightening world but subjects his wife to humiliation and fear. It shows that a sensitive daughter can love a father who cheated on her mother but these feelings drive her to nausea. The reader is drawn into this world and I think as time goes on these short stories, which, taken together read more like a short novel, will have a growing following. The structure, of multiple short stories, emphasizes the fragmented nature of Tootsies character and the difficulties Rebecca has in fitting this man into her image of a world with meaning. It is a remarkable first offering from this amazing talent.
The short stories in this collection are not only entertaining, they are informative. They are of particular interest to those of us who have chosen South Florida as our home but have little knowledge of Miami's history.
Cochran's stories bring to life Miami in the 40's, 50's, 60's, and beyond.
The theme running through the stories, exploring the interaction of blacks and Jews during those difficult times, not only provides Cochran with a forum to dazzle us with her writing, it provides us with a look inside a kind and wise heart.
Most recent customer reviews
Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a good, solid writer with important sensibilities and she...Read more