Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And she makes 14. (An ode to Kathryn Tucker Windham.)

An Alabama legend died yesterday. Kathryn Tucker Windham, fantastic storyteller most known for writing 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, was undoubtedly one of my favorite characters to ever walk this earth. If you're from Alabama and anywhere close to my generation, you know the book. You grew up reading it in your schools as a kid, or maybe even on spooky nights as an adult. I can't begin to tell you the influence her stories had on me and my tastes as a reader. And fears as a kiddo who believed(s) every story. But more than anything, the woman was an inspiration. She was smart, educated, and so funny. When I worked at the Booksmith, KTW called regularly, as she was a good friend of Jake, the store's owner. In her late 80s then, I loved to talk to her and overhear their conversations. Her wit and sense of humor was sharper than mine ever hopes to be.

I had the privilege to meet her back in 2009, a story I detailed in a blog post here. We talked about ghosts and the famous Jeffrey, she gave me a corn muffin, and she signed my original copy of 13 Alabama Ghosts, inscribing it: "To Lauren, who still likes true ghost stories. Hauntingly yours, Kathryn Tucker Windham."

From talking with her, I can imagine that she wouldn't be happier than floating on now as a spirit alongside Jeffrey in her beloved Selma. Id' believe it. KTW, you'll be missed, but certainly never forgotten.

If you aren't familiar with her storytelling, check this out:


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