Highway 61 goes north-south through our town. If you get on 61 and head south it will take you all the way to New Orleans. Just north of New Orleans is St. Francisville “land of magnolias, Spanish moss, and architectural grandeur. Middle of plantation country…” according to writer Ron Dreher. St. Francisville, La. is where Ron Dreher grew up until he “escaped” to Dallas and many other cities including Philadelphia from which he moved to return to St. Francisville.
I listened to Eric Metaxes’ podcast—a recording of his New York based, “Socrates in the City” in which he interviewed his friend, Mr. Dreher. The subject Dreher’s book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. The story is about Dreher’s sister.
William Paul Young, author of The Shack, calls Dreher’s book, “Deeply touching.” That describes my reaction, if anything can. The book starts—“Here’s the thing I want you to know about my sister.”
“A long time ago—I must have been about seven years old, which would have made Ruthie five—I did something rotten to her. I teased her all the time, and she spend much of her childhood whaling the tar out of me for it. Whatever happened that time, though, must have been awful, because our father told me to lie down on my bed and wait for him. That could mean one thing: that he was going to deliver one of his rare, but highly effective spankings, with his belt.
“I cannot recall what my offense was, but I well remember walking down the hallway and climbing onto the bed, knowing full well that I deserved it. I always did. Nothing to be done but to stretch out, facedown, and take what I had coming.
“And then it happened. Ruthie ran into the bedroom just ahead of Paw and, sobbing, threw herself across me.
“Whip me!” she cried. “Daddy, whip me.”
“Paw gave no spankings that day. He turned and walked away. Ruthie left too. There I sat, on the bed, wondering what had just happened.
“Forty years later, I still do.”
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Rod Dreher, (2013 Grand Central Publishing.) Page 1
That story leaves me undone! It reminds me of our friend Gordon Jensen’s song in which there is a line: “…let him go, take me instead.”
2019 D. Dean Benton Writer & Wonderer