“The book tells it just like it happened that awful day. It made me sad, but also it made me laugh at the antics we did in the cotton fields when everyone was young and working in the fields.”
Helen Robinson Busby, witness to the crime and widow of Raymond Busby
“The book couldn’t have been more accurate. I will never forget.”
Charles Curtis Robinson, witness to the crime
“The book hit the nail on the head in its depiction of my father, Herbert Junior Crane, then Pastor of Tatum Chapel, Peach Orchard Missouri.”
A Story That Stays with You
Full Disclosure: the author is my Dad.
My brother and I heard the “Hokey & Fats” story several times growing up and it always held a certain mystical, campfire quality to me. It seemed no matter how many times I heard it, I never could quite recall all of the details. Yes, the “Hokey & Fats” story could not be pinned down and remained in a colorful cloud of weird hillbilly names, cotton-farm life, drunkenness, blood, friendship, family, funerals and shotguns (I use the term “hillbilly” here in only the most complimentary way). I think it’s great that this story is now in print for all to enjoy and I hope that you choose to experience it for yourself. In reading this book, you will learn about the area of southeast Missouri referred to as the Floodways (a place that would guarantee all but the most hermit-like child some book-worthy adventures). But, more importantly, you will also learn about the people that inhabited the Floodways in a way that will, with any luck, stay with you for a long, long time.
I was not prepared to like this book as much as I did, but being a native of The Bootheel, I decided to order it.
I was 11 years old when the murder(s) took place, but I have no memory of the incident. People protected their children from such things in those days, in that part of the country.
The story — the mystery — was very well crafted and was a real page-turner. But, what surpassed the dark tale was how my memories of that country and culture came alive again in a way they had not in over half a century. I smelled the moldy snake-infested floodways and tasted the gritty, sun-parched cotton fields, white and brown as far as the eye could see; I heard the hordes of demon-possessed mosquitoes, dive-bombing me as the sun began to set. My mouth watered for the taste of sticky, sweet, crisp watermelon from my father’s field and suddenly had a craving for fried chicken and biscuits. Yes, I could also smell Prince Albert tobacco.
I have been away from Southeast Missouri for a lifetime, but through this story, I was transported back to that land and its people, experiencing again the vernacular, the simple kindnesses, the Saturday nights, the Sunday mornings — memory after memory was plucked up from some place in my brain as dark and unknowable as the floodway waters. I WAS that kid again who thought there was no better place to be grounded and to grow.
Before reading this book, I didn’t even remember that I DIDN’T REMEMBER things about my life there; important things that shaped me and are part of my DNA. Thank you Mr. Walker for taking me there. Well done!