I am a champion of oral histories and memoirs as sources of information that adds texture and nuance to the dry data of documents. In Crossroads: Stories of the Rural South, Montress Greene has published her recollection of growing up in Pender’s Crossroads, a community anchored around Bridgers Grocery and Farm Supply, her family’s country store, in the 1940s and ’50s. Though Greene’s focuses her memories largely though the prism of family life, she offers invaluable granular detail for our imagining of the world through which the men and women of this blog moved. Though that world was legally segregated, whites and African-Americans interacted closely and regularly, and Greene addresses race relations forthrightly, if through the eyes of a child. “Much of this will revolve around the strength of women and especially black women,” she writes. Beyond these personal stories, however, Crossroads reveals the country store as public space vital to all in the community.
Montress Greene in the early 1940s outside Bridgers Store. An older African-American man is seated on a box behind her.