Bailey White

Adventures on the Way Back Home, and Quite a Year for Plums, author Bailey White
offers readers an inviting refuge from our increasingly fast-paced society.

Using humor, White transports the reader to the rural South, where the setting,
the way of life, and the characters the reader meets contrast strikingly with
life in the typical Northern city. Bailey White’s South has a warm and
hospitable atmosphere, a pleasant alternative to cold, bustling, Northern
metropolitan centers. As a cousin of the Whites puts it when she calls from

Philadelphia to announce she’ll be visiting overnight, "‘I’ve heard so
much about Southern hospitality. Now I will be able to experience it for
myself’" (Mama, 48). The language in Bailey White’s writings also
delights, especially her characters’ manner of speaking, which contains many
curious Southern expressions. My friends certainly would not say"persnickety" (Sleeping, 125), "doodlebugs" (Sleeping, 9), "junkets"
(Mama, 60), describe a club as a "tough juke joint" (Mama, 3), or say,

"‘She sho’ ain’t gon’ ride no ferry here’" (Mama, 62)! Located in

South Georgia, in the backwoods, White’s characters are allowed to do what
they please without judgment from neighboring yuppies glaring down from their
balconies. The village "...is a place where they are kind to one another and
indulgent of eccentricities" (Publishers Weekly, 30 March 1998). The result is"endearing true stories about rural South Georgia" (Publishers Weekly, 1

March 1993) on subjects as quirky as bathtubs and Porsches on porches, backyard
camping, and road-kill suppers. After remodeling their bathroom Bailey and Mama
find that their bathtub won\'t fit in it anymore. Instead of installing a shower,
they leave the bathtub on the porch. Bailey explains that "with the
midsummer\'s afternoon breeze blowing through the high pine woods and the
fragrance of the lilies, it\'s a lovely spot for a leisurely bath" (Mama, 25).

Joining the bathtub on the porch is a 1958 Model 356 Speedster in original
condition, because the driver refused to "‘just park it out behind the
garden with those two tractors and that thing that might have been a
lawnmower’" (Mama, 21). When inspired, Mama can (and does) go camping in the
wilderness. Bailey, however, doesn\'t have to worry about her aging mother alone
on a trip: their backyard is wilderness enough for camping. "At night I could
see a tiny glow from her fire. And just at dawn, if I went out to the edge of
the pasture and listened very carefully I could barely hear her singing ‘Meet

Me in St. Louis’" (Mama, 38). Mama, whether camping or not, can get
fast-food for dinner, Southern-style: road kill. White and Mama have "feasted
not only doves, turkeys, and quail, but robins, squirrels, and, only once, a
possum," but Bailey draws the line at snakes, even when her mom protests

"‘But it was still wiggling when I got there...Let\'s try it just this once.

I have a white sauce with dill and mustard’" (Mama, 39). Despite the gourmet
sauce, Bailey refuses to eat any animal her mom brings in without
documentation--the model and tag number of the car that struck it--to assure her
of a recent kill. While chronicling small-town culture, White manages to make me
laugh out loud, which is quite a feat for an author. The comical scenes from the
small town of Thomasville will not only produce laughter, but a longing to move
to such a quaint village. Instead of going into the Instant Care Facility, a
modern walk-in medical clinic, one can, as Mama did, take advice from

"‘surgeons, I\'d say, from the amount of blood and brains on those white
coats,’" who were actually butchers on their cigarette break (Mama, 23). The
provincial aspects of life in Thomasville are evident in Plums, in the extent of
interest and pride community members exhibit when Roger appears in a photograph
in the April edition of the Agrisearch magazine. At the Pastime Restaurant the
waitresses tape up Roger\'s picture next to the ‘In Case of Choking’ poster,

Meade makes a mat for his picture out of construction paper left from her
schoolteaching days, Hilma transposes Roger’s image onto two color photos for
an artistic effect, Eula puts the magazine photo on her refrigerator, and others
prop it up on their windowsills (Plums, 4). The detail in Bailey White’s
stories come from her own experiences living in Thomasville, especially in her
first two books, Mama and Sleeping, which are both autobiographical. "In my
own town I know the story of every missing body part: an ear in an auto
accident, a middle finger in a miscalculation at a