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Publisher's Summary

When Waties Waring left his wife of 30 years for a "Yankee spitfire", he dropped a turd into the local teacup. Charleston (SC) society banished him forever. He, in turn, became the first federal judge in US history to rule that separate but equal is not equal, the hallmark of civil rights in America. Yet, his opinion only marked the start of another little war in Charleston, reducing historical impact to an act of revenge. No footnotes survive the judge or his feud with his former society. He is remembered in polite circles as vindictive and not as a heartfelt liberal. 

Robert Wintner, the author's, tale begins at Judge Waties Waring's funeral, the day Arthur Covingdale, an up-and-coming attorney, must come to terms with his own vengeful role as a stalwart of the Old South. Mr. Covingdale burned a cross at the judge's house and threw a brick through his window back in '52. His contrition at the funeral in '68 marks his first step out from town to the barrier sea islands, as he agrees to drive Jim Cohen home to the marshlands. So begins his journey of redemption.

Or maybe he's led by the nose, as Jim Cohen, with a fisherman's patience, dangles his niece, recently single and returned from Guadeloupe, as bait. Jim Cohen and his niece derive from slave stock. The narrator, Covingdale, is a blueblood, landed gentry, hoi paloi. Just as two rivers converge to form Charleston Harbor, so too the bloodlines flow from humble tributaries, from doilies and lace, mudflats and slavery, to their current mix. Within that mix, Arthur Covingdale faces the contradictions in his life and discovers what is of real value.

This narrative is based on actual events, with the course of history accurately represented. The characters are also true. Some names have been changed, though most were not.

The interview process:

Wintner interviewed Septima Clark. As a civil rights activist in the NAACP, Clark focused on education as a tool of change and granted Wintner two interviews in 1977 to that end, setting the story straight on a firsthand account. Most generous with her time, she recalled plantation days with composure, seemingly inured to bitterness, as long as the facts got rendered. Her father had been a slave. Septima Clark was born and died in Charleston and is remembered as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks also benefitted from Ms. Clark’s timeless generosity, attending one of Ms. Clark’s workshops three months prior to keeping her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.

Wintner also interviewed Tom Waring (1907-1993), a Charleston newspaper editor, in ’76 and nephew to Judge Waties Waring. A man as genteel as Septima Clark, Tom Waring was part of the landed-family superiority common to any town with a history. He too became a generous source of facts and events from the troubling past. As a journalist of the old school, where accuracy reigned, his keen eye and mind helped fill in the blanks, providing what no record showed.

©2021 Twice-Baked Books (P)2021 Twice-Baked Books

Critic Reviews

 “It rings with authenticity - and not just with language. Wintner’s insights speak of intimate, ingrained, firsthand knowledge of Southern culture with its almost incomprehensible (certainly peculiar) racial dynamics and comedy of manners that overarch all behavior. And the humor - so often sharp, unexpected, hilarious at times, even - is so disarming. To realize in the final pages that we have read his story for the perspective of an eighty-two-year-old man looking back on his journey makes his earlier shortcomings and searchings even more poignant, more comprehensible, more understandable as a product of the human condition.” (Gloria Randle)

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