The place where tea is sweet and accents are sweeter-summer starts in April-macaroni and cheese is a vegetable-front porches are wide and words are long-pecan pie is a staple-y’all is the only proper noun-chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy-everything is darlin’-someone’s heart is always being blessed.
— From The Country Bakery in Brooksville, MS
Somebody threw out the question what would you miss about the South? Food was a given then it boiled down to friendliness and storytelling. The next day I tried the question on my exercising buddies and the answer was the same. Seems we’ll tell a story at the drop of a hat.
Southern stories made me think about one of my favorite storytellers, Bailey White. I dug out her four books- “Mama Makes Up Her Mind,” “Sleeping at the Starlite Motel,” “Quite a Year for Plums,” and “Nothing with Strings.” The last of which was published in 2008 and then she disappeared. I wondered where she went so I searched.
Bailey was a short story writer. For about 10 years she wrote a story for National Public Radio and read it aloud every Thanksgiving, which also happened to be the day her father Robb White died. NPR continued airing her stories on “All Things Considered.” They are published in her last book with the exception of “The Second Hand or the Roach.” You can listen to some of the stories on the Internet.
My fascination with Bailey began in the 1990’s and I remember being unable to find much about her even then. Not much has changed. I’m not on Facebook but you can type in a name and see if they appear. I found a Bailey White but she was young, beautiful, a McDonald’s crew chief in Vancouver, WA, and goes by “Bay.” Not to say that our Bailey White is not beautiful, but ours was born in 1950 and lived in Grady County, Georgia.
I found a Bailey White in the obituaries but that Bailey White was a 94-year-old man. There were no other likely candidates. Our Bailey White was on Wikipedia but there was no date of death.
Sources did say that Bailey married her father’s best friend out in Hollywood, CA, and after 11 years returned to her childhood home where her “Mama” was a “formidable” farmer who built her own house. Bailey became a kindergarten teacher and later a writer. Her mama (Rosalie Mason White, also no obituary) was described as an interesting character.
A link led to a David Sedaris, a fellow NPR storyteller, where he remembered Bailey White and her “gravely” voice reading her stories and wondered if anyone knew what happened to her. Sedaris is known for his sardonic wit and apparently so are his followers. Blog posts discredited most everything about Bailey including her background saying she grew up in Chicago and was a “Freyist.” The closest definition I could find of “Freyist” was a dispenser of rain & sunshine.
It seems Bailey White simply vanished into obscurity. So if anybody has an aunt or a cousin in Grady County, Georgia, maybe you could get the story.
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