The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

clude Katherine Anne Porter and John Graves. Texans today praise his south-
western stories. Major O. Henry collections are at the University of Virginia
and Princeton, with papers in numerous libraries, including the O. Henry Mu-
seum in Austin, the Austin Public Library, and Houston Public Library.
East Texas State Unzversity DORYS CROW GROVER
Ely: An Autobzography. By Ely Green. (Athens: University of Georgia Press,
1990. Pp. xxxiv+246. Foreword, introduction, publishers note, afterword.
$14.95, paper.)
Ely Green's full autobiography was published in 1970 as Ely Green: Too Black,
Too White. The University of Georgia now republishes that portion of the auto-
biography covering Green's life from childhood in Sewanee, Tennessee, until
1912 when he fled to Waxahachie, Texas, at the age of nineteen to escape a
lynch mob. His story thereafter is summarized in "Afterword" by Sewanee his-
torian Arthur Ben Chitty. After World War I service Green returned briefly to
Texas before moving to California and success as a butler and caterer in Holly-
wood. Chitty also recounts how in 1964 Green brought his manuscript to Chitty
responding to the historians' request for stories about Sewanee.
The illegitimate son of a prominent white father and a black servant, Green
experienced the scorn of both races. Blacks called him "Clabber" and whites
called him "Nigger." Neither black nor white, Green always felt he was on the
outside looking in at a world where he did not belong. The world of Sewanee at
the turn of the century was one of three tiers: the gracious white gentility, the
coarse mountain white trash, and the compliant black servants of the gentility.
The blacks shared their employers' contempt of the mountain people, who de-
spised Sewanee residents, whether black or white. Yet, a gulf existed between
the two races of Sewanee residents. Black deference met white benevolence
creating a gracious genteel world where everyone knew their place.
Ely is a powerful book whose greatest success is in its ability to describe a
scene, a picture that gives concrete reality to such abstractions as paternalism.
The book also vividly details the intense class feelings that exist between blacks
and poor whites. Although Green received little education, he is a born story-
teller whose gifts make the book compelling reading. In the 196o0s Chitty veri-
fied the accuracy of persons, places, and events mentioned in the autobiogra-
phy. This edition includes the 1966 introduction by Lillian Smith and a new
forword by Bertram Wyatt-Brown. For those who would understand the South
and race relations this book is essential reading.
University of Alabama SARAH WOOLFOLK WIGGINS
The Early Years of Rhythm & Blues, Focus on Houston. By Alan Govenar. Photog-
raphy by Benny Joseph. (Houston: Rice University Press, 1990. Pp. 88.
Acknowledgments, notes, bibliography, black-and-white plates. $24.95.)
This is the latest in a number of publications on African American culture by
Texas writer and filmmaker Alan Govenar. Here the focus is Houston in the
1950s and 1960s, as recorded by photographer Benny Joseph. The book is not

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed December 20, 2014.