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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
In The Ghost of Bud Parrott, author Judson Hout has created a memorable glimpse into past Southern culture. Bud Parrot is a young Black man who has always worked in the cotton fields of Jackson County, Arkansas. He fashions a better life for himself, but he cannot do that in the South in which he lives. So, Bud travels to Birmingham, Alabama to seek his fortune in either a steel mill or a mine. Along the way, he is introduced to warm and caring strangers who teach him how to survive hobo style.
When Bud reaches Birmingham at the age of 16 or 17 (he is not sure of his date of birth), he immediately obtains a job at an industrial mill and is invited to join the company Negro baseball team. Bud proves to be talented, both at work and at sports. He is soon noticed by a Northern sponsor who has already hired Satchel Paige for the newly-formed Pittsburgh team. Along with a new career and a new job, Bud befriends an elderly woman and her granddaughter who is the most beautiful woman Bud has ever met. They marry, have children and then, tragedy strikes.
Bud leaves Pittsburgh, emotionally devastated and physically unmotivated. He goes back to his boyhood home in Arkansas, only to see that everything he knew and everyone he loved is gone. But, as fortune would have it, a White family named Wood takes to Bud, and he is incorporated into the family. Bud gets an education in farm management and, also, in the changing social conditions of the South.
Judson Hout has created a memorable portrait of mid-century Southern culture. He mixes humor with poignant and painful moments in time. Those unfamiliar with life prior to Civil Rights acts will be mesmerized by the author's description of the Black experience in both Northern and Southern settings. The author probably best summarized the experiences when he concluded that, from the standpoint of the African American, Southerners disliked the race but they accepted the man, while in the North, whites accepted the race but rejected the man. Such insight is probably only available to a man who lived through the times with an open heart and insightful eyes.