My California Encourager, Ray Reynolds, had suggested that I purchase Holmes County writer Sue Riddle Cronkite’s first novel, "Louett’s Wake," but true to my procrastinating self, I had not done so.
Then before Christmas I received a package with a California address and I quickly guessed that Ray had gifted me with the book. It contained, however, not Sue’s first novel, but her second novel, "White Sheets."
He had also encouraged me to do a column on the writer.
Using my need to get a new computer and changes in the affairs of the Holmes County Times Advertiser for an excuse, I was contemplating hanging Happy Corner up, but his urging me to continue and learning of changes taking place at the paper spurred me to go on and make the purchase of a new computer.
With help from friends Ricky Thames and Robin Burns, I am now in the process of learning a new Word program instead of Google Docs.
In addition, I have met the aforementioned Sue, I have read both her books, and I have committed to putting together a book of some of my Happy Corners.
Until I met Sue Cronkite, I knew it was a little crazy for a nearly 90 year old to try to learn a new computer and set about assembling favorite articles from the past 17 years. But then I met Sue.
I graduated from Vernon High School in 1949 and she was only two years behind me, graduating from Ponce de Leon High School in 1951. She is way ahead of me though in writing experience, and she has committed to helping me, so I am committed.
I am impressed with her skill in weaving a tale and showing the character of the people who populate her home area.
I am also impressed with both her novels.
"White Sheets" is a story set in the community of New Hope in northern Holmes County, where Sue Riddle grew up among family and friends. It contrasts the “hippy” movement of the '60s and the practical wisdom of the country folk of Holmes County. "White Sheets" also introduces us to the KKK as it existed around and among her people of that time.
In "Louette’s Wake," we are introduced to another segment of our locale, the townspeople of Geneva, Alabama, where Sue was born in her grandmother’s home just across the line from the Riddle settlement in Holmes County.
The way she weaves so many of the metaphors, similes and idioms or figures of speech of our culture can only be done by a native speaker. In planning her wake, she is working out some complications in her life by inviting friends and acquaintances to a party on the order of a wake complete with a gigantic “covered dish dinner.”
In spite of the house burning down on the evening prior to the big day, several things get worked out for Louette, especially a major mystery concerning the disappearance of her husband, Joseph, 20 years ago.
I look forward to working with this accomplished writer.
Biographical Sketch of Sue Riddle Cronkite
She was born in 1933, 100 yards inside the Geneva County Line, and grew up in Holmes County, Florida, graduating from Ponce de Leon High School in 1951.
She was always a storyteller so not surprisingly, her first job was with a newspaper, the Geneva County Reaper, eventually working her way up to editor, and later, its publisher.
Her extensive newspaper career included ownership of the Graceville (FL) News, and simultaneously, the Hartford Alabama News Herald. After a brief stint as a correspondent with the Birmingham News, she covered news for the Starke (FL) Bradford Telegraph and The University of Florida Press, before returning to the Birmingham News for a 10-year stint.
Other newspaper credits include Talladega Daily Home; Clearwater (FL) Sun; Rome, Georgia News Tribune; and the Decatur, Alabama Daily Sun. She also worked as executive editor of the magazine Wiregrass Today in Dothan.
Later years brought her to Apalachicola (FL) where she worked for the Apalachicola Times and the Franklin (FL) Times. At the present time, this busy lady is back in Holmes County where she is working on another publication (or publications).
This article originally appeared on Washington County News: Happy Corner: Holmes County author Sue Riddle Cronkite releases second novel