Not Without Laughter (Dover Thrift Editions)
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This stirring coming-of-age tale unfolds in 1930s rural Kansas. A poignant portrait of African-American family life in the early twentieth century, it follows the story of young Sandy Rogers as he grows from a boy to a man. We meet Sandy's mother, Annjee, who works as a housekeeper for a wealthy white family; his strong-willed grandmother, Hager; Jimboy, Sandy's father, who travels the country looking for work; Aunt Tempy, the social climber; and Aunt Harriet, the blues singer who has turned away from her faith.
A fascinating chronicle of a family's joys and hardships, Not Without Laughter is a vivid exploration of growing up and growing strong in a racially divided society. A rich and important work, it masterfully echoes the black American experience.
out the clothes and hung them on the line in the yard. “You Sandy,” Aunt Hager called loudly from the kitchen-door. “Come in here an’ get me some water an’ cut mo’ firewood.” Her black face was wet with perspiration and drawn from fatigue and worry. “I got to get the rest o’ these clothes out yet this evenin’…. That chile Harriett’s aggravatin’ me to death! Help me, Sandy, honey.” They ate supper in silence, for Hager’s attempts at conversation with her young daughter were futile. Once the old
kitchen was once more a daily laundry. Great boilers of clothes steamed on the stove and, beside the clothes, pans of apple juice boiled to jelly, and the peelings of peaches simmered to jam. There was no news from the runaway Harriett.… Mrs. Lane died one sultry night, with Hager at the bedside, and was buried by the lodge with three hacks and a fifty-dollar coffin.… The following week the Drill of All Nations, after much practising by the women, was given with great success and Ann-jee,
shoes. “Sandy,” she whispered, “we ain’t had no word yet from your father since he left. I know he goes away and stays away like this and don’t write, but I’m sure worried. Hope the cyclone ain’t passed nowhere near wherever he is, and I hope ain’t nothin’ hurt him.… I’m gonna pray for him, Sandy. I’m gonna ask God right now to take care o’ Jimboy.… The Lawd knows, I wants him to come back!… I loves him.… We both loves him, don’t we, child? And we want him to come on back!” She knelt down
him everywhere he goes,” she said, her eyes shining. “He ain’t gonna leave me no more!” “An’ Sandy?” “Couldn’t he stay with you, mama? And then maybe we’d come back here and live, Jimboy and me, some time, when we get a little money ahead, and could pay off the mortgage on the house.… But there ain’t no use arguing, mama, I got to go!” Hager had never seen Annjee so positive before; she sat speechless, looking at the bowl of mush. “I got to go where it ain’t lonesome and where I ain’t
he woke up again, and while she dressed, he lay watching his breath curl mistily upwards in the cold room. Outside the window it was bleak and grey and the March wind, humming through the leafless branches of the trees, blew terrifically. He heard Aunt Hager in the kitchen poking at the stove, making up a blaze to start the coffee boiling. Then the front door closed when his mother went out and, as the door slammed, the wind howled fiercely. It was nice and warm in bed, so he lay under the heavy