Something Very Different

wyllene book cover

Some babies are delivered by the stork, some are found under a cabbage leaf, but my cousin, Wyllene was rooted up by a pig. Mrs. Bones, the midwife, told Wyllene that she was walking across a field when she noticed a pig rooting in the ditch. On closer examination, she noticed that the pig had rooted up a baby girl. Mrs. Bones didn’t know what to do with the child, so she took her to Mrs. Skipper and asked her to take care of the baby.

Rooted Up by a Pig and Then…is a delightful memoir written by my first cousin once removed, Carolyn Wyllene Skipper who lives in the hills of North Carolina where she has been a preacher for most of her life. Born in rural South Carolina, she is the youngest of seven siblings who were abandoned by their father when she was three. Her story of how their mother kept the family fed and clothed in a home without running water or electricity, with no income, and no social services is remarkable. Wyllene tells in a conversational voice how they got by and supported one another with the help of extended family, neighbors, and faith. In addition to being a history, this book is a genealogy of the Skipper and Walters families of Georgetown County, South Carolina. By definition, a memoir is the story of a person’s life, and Wyllene has had a very full one.

Wyllene sent me a copy of her book as a gift. I do not know where it might be available, but if anyone cares to buy a copy, contact me, and I will forward your request. Email me at Scott at ca dot rr dot com.

Original Planet of the Apes

Ape and EssenceApe and Essence by Aldous Huxley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A manuscript flies from a dangerously driven dump truck on its way to the incinerator. The script lands at the feet of two low-level Hollywood movie producers. They find it so remarkable they drive into the Mohave Desert to find the author. He had just died a short time before they arrived.

The rest of the book is the actual screenplay written in the form of a screenplay. It takes place over a hundred years after society has destroyed itself with nuclear and biological war. A group of scientists from New Zealand, which was spared owing to its remoteness, arrive off the coast of Southern California to investigate what might remain of the United States. A somewhat backward and introverted botanist, Alfred Poole, is captured by the few surviving locals who have regressed to a semi-barbaric state. Due to the frequency of birth defects caused by the gamma radiation, reproduction, that is, copulation is strictly prohibited except during an annual Bacchanalian festival during which the newborns with a certain level of deformity are culled.

Ape and Essence is the sequel to Brave New World. The two dystopian commentaries were separated by the Second World War, and more particularly, the atomic bomb. Huxley’s dark view of society has a surprisingly modern tone despite having been written in 1948. The screenplay format is different and gives the reader a very visual perspective of the story. I originally read Ape and Essence more than fifty years ago. At that time, I was a resident of Ohio who knew little of California, so a damning passage was lost on me. I didn’t miss it this time.

“He says those people up north are very friendly to runaways from Southern California. Won’t give them back even when the government officially asks for them.”

Even after the destruction of civilization and the passage of more than a century, California remained a sanctuary state.

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