"More details about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and about how an African-American woman grew up in early-20th-century Florida."--Kevin M. McCarthy, University of Florida
Praise for Idella Parker's first book, Idella: Marjorie Rawlings’ "Perfect Maid":
"A kind of literary ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ made all the more powerful because, as Parker says: ‘It’s all true. The good and the sad’."--Washington Post
"Parker has led a remarkable life, but what makes this book worthwhile is its unique perspective on the complicated Rawlings."—Miami Herald
"A warmhearted and insightful tribute to the author of Cross Creek and The Yearling, and it’s the story of Parker herself, a tough-minded Floridian devoted to her family. A charming book."—Booklist
This book is the one Idella Parker's fans begged her to write--the illustrated story that tells what happened before and after she worked for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (described in Idella's earlier memoir) and adds frank new details about her years as cook, housekeeper, and confidante to Florida's Pulitzer Prize winner.
In 1940, when a comic misunderstanding brought the plucky young black woman and the strong-minded author of The Yearling together, Idella already had left home several times--once, at 15, to teach in a segregated school, and later to work as a domestic in West Palm Beach. At age 26 she was back in rural Reddick--fleeing from "a romance gone bad" with a smooth-talking fellow in shiny shoes--when Mrs. Rawlings' big cream-colored Oldsmobile, with a bird dog in the back seat, pulled into her mother’s yard.
During the next decade, while Idella cooked and served, Rawlings entertained some of the country's most famous writers and celebrities (including Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, and Ernest Hemingway) at her homes in Cross Creek and Crescent Beach, Florida, and Van Hornsville, New York. Rawlings also married her beloved second husband, St. Augustine hotel owner Norton Baskin, and increasingly succumbed to the bouts of alcohol and depression that eventually convinced Idella to leave.
Tracing events back, again, to her hometown, Idella comments on the changing times and offers counsel to young people about the values of work, education, and racial understanding. With 126 photographs, this book adds fresh memories to existing information about Rawlings’ life and presents an intimate social history of black life in rural central Florida throughout this century.
Idella Parker, author with Mary Keating of Idella: Marjorie Rawlings' "Perfect Maid" (UPF, 1992), worked as a cook and housekeeper for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings from 1940 to 1950. She is a native of Reddick, Florida, a member of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society, and a sought-after public speaker.
Bud Crussell, a retired newspaper reporter, and Liz Crussell, a public-school teacher, live in Ocala, Florida.
No Sample Chapter AvailableAwards
Charlton Tebeau Book Award (Florida Historical Society) - 2000
"A significant contribution to African American history, twentieth century southern race relations and women and gender studies." -Journal of Southern History Journal of Southern History
"With 126 photographs, Idella Parker presents an intimate social history of black life in rural central Florida."-- Stuart News Stuart News
"An interesting book, a candid yet affectionate look back at a time very different from today, and at people who belonged to that time and, mostly, did the best they knew."-- Florida Times-Union Florida Times-Union
"Not long ago, the personal recounting of a black woman's domestic jobs and life wouldn't have generated interest outside the black community. Today it is a worthy addition to the growing body of women's social-history publications. . . . That story, the one that unfolds in and around recollections of Rawlings, has one shortcoming, if it can be called that. It leaves us wanting to know even more."-- Daytona Beach News-Journal Daytona Beach News-Journal
"Parker's life follows the history of race relations in this country. In her coming to voice and naming herself, she continues to remind blacks and whites alike that the barriers of race have not been long dismantled, and that if we forget this painful part of our history, we will never know who we are." - NWSA NWSA