In his latest column, David Brooks very generously draws attention to Your Working Boy and the reasons he moved back home to St. Francisville. Excerpt:
Dreher is a writer for The American Conservative and is part of a communitarian conservative tradition that goes back to thinkers like Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet. Forty years ago, Kirk led one of the two great poles of conservatism. It existed in creative tension with the other great pole, Milton Friedman’s free-market philosophy.
In recent decades, the communitarian conservatism has become less popular while the market conservatism dominates. But that doesn’t make Kirk’s insights into small towns, traditions and community any less true, as Rod Dreher so powerfully rediscovered.
I can’t express how grateful I am to David for his kind words about my work, and far more for drawing attention in his column to the goodness of the people of this town, and especially to Susan Harvey Wymore, who lit the cemetery candles on Christmas Eve. David linked to the “South Toward Home” entry I did on this blog, explaining our decision to move here in the wake of my sister Ruthie’s death, and he mentioned that Ruthie’s pallbearers honored her love of going barefoot by taking their shoes off as they carried her coffin to her grave. Here is the post that talks about that, and that includes a photograph of the barefoot pallbearers.
If not for my job at The American Conservative, I couldn’t live here in my hometown. One of the reasons I was so excited about taking this job at TAC was the commitment of its editors show to the alternative tradition in American conservatism. TAC aims to be the leading magazine for communitarian conservatism, the place where conservatives who recognize in the works of Kirk, Nisbet, Lasch and others the kind of conservative values that they believe in. If you believe in this kind of conservatism, or if you would simply like to encourage it, and the communitarian conversation in American politics, we would love to have you as a reader and subscriber, and we welcome your tax-deductible donation. TAC believes that this school of American conservatism has been neglected for far too long, and we want to revive it as a force in American culture and politics.
And if you would like to e-mail me, I’m at rod.dreher(at)gmail.com.
UPDATE: A friend reminds me of this piece I did for National Review Online a decade ago about Roy Dale Craven, a poor boy from our town who played baseball on our Dixie Youth League team, and who was golden. He was a good kid from this little Louisiana town. Excerpt:
No one had his dedication, either. After the second inning of one game, the coaches broke Roy Dale’s heart by refusing to let him return to the mound. He was vomiting up his supper in the dugout. All he’d had to eat before the game was pickles. No one could be sure whether he’d eaten so badly because he had chosen to, or because that was all the food his family had in the house that day. No one wanted to ask.
On the afternoon of July 15, 1974, well into the season, Roy Dale was crossing Highway 61, hoping to catch a ride with Allen Ray to the ballpark. He never made it. The driver who hit and killed him was not charged. I found out about the tragedy sitting in the back of my dad’s pickup, headed to the game, when we got stuck in traffic backed up from the accident scene. It was just like Roy Dale, my dad said later, to be so excited about a ballgame that he couldn’t pay attention to anything else.
The star pitcher for the John Fudge Auto Parts Angels was buried with his glove in his hand and his uniform on his back. This may have been the nicest set of clothes the child owned. That funeral was the first time most of us kids had seen death so close. At some point, someone on the team stepped into the aisle and went forward to pay respects to our fallen pitcher, lying in his open casket. Then we all followed, a dozen or so six-to-nine-year-old boys, telling Roy Dale goodbye. “When that happened, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” Mr. Pat says.
That night, I remember hearing my dad and Mr. Pat out on the back porch, talking. I stood by the screen door to listen, and realized these grown men were weeping in the dark. Startled and embarrassed, I went away. Yesterday was the first time in the 28 years since Roy Dale’s death that my father has been able to talk to me about the events of that summer without breaking into tears.