Friday, May 20, 2011

P D East Editor Of The Petal Paper And Author Of The Magnolia Jungle Told Me Of His Visit With William Faulkner In Oxford Mississippi

More information on P D East.
P D East was the editor of The Petal Paper in Petal Mississippi. He was a crusading editor in the time of trouble in Mississippi in the civil rights era. I got to know him because we both had been students of Dr. Wilbur White Stout at the University of Southern Mississippi.

    East had graduated long before I met him. He wrote a good non fiction book called THE MAGNOLIA JUNGLE about his trials and tribulations as a liberal editor during the times of the civil rights movement in the Deep South.
     He is mentioned in John Howard Griffin's book BLACK LIKE ME. He gave Griffin a place to stay in Hattiesburg, Miss. when Griffin was posing as a black man.

 Later East moved to Fairhope, Alabama. He married the daughter of the people who owned The Haunted Bookshop in Mobile Alabama.
   I went to visit P D East in Fairhope, Alabama in the summer of 1971 not long before he died.
     He told me some interesting stories. One was he had been thrown out of the Fairhope Yacht Club because of his liberal views. He told them he wrote not what he really believed but what his editors in NYC wanted to hear. They didn't buy that. A friend of mine said he should  have been thrown out for saying what he said. P D was a hard man for some people to like.

But I wanted to hear the story of his visit to Oxford, Mississippi to visit William Faulkner.
Here is what P D East told me.
     He said he and William Faulkner were going to start a magazine called SOUTHERN REPOSURE.
And that Faulkner had invited him to come to Oxford to talk about this project.
   Before East went he talked to some people who told him how to approach Faulkner. They said don't say anything to him until he speaks to you.
  East went to Oxford and Faulkner told him they were going to go out on Lake Sardis in Faulkner's boat. So out they went. East said he did not say anything to Faulkner and was waiting for Faulkner to speak. But Faulkner never said anything so the both of them just sat there saying nothing.
East said Faulkner had to worst case of BO he had ever smelled.
I said said did you say VO? East said no. BO Body Odor.
 I thought maybe Faulkner had a case of VO on his sailboat.
Finally Faulkner took the boat back to dry land having never said a word.
   Finally he spoke. He said, "East do you want a coke"? Meaning a Coca Cola. Or what some Mississippians call a CO COLA.
   East said yes. But East told me that Faulkner had no money on him when they got to the coke machine so East had to pay for the cokes.

  Link below the photograph  is to The Magnolia Jungle on line.