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Monday, November 11, 2013

My Dad and William Faulkner

So we are sitting in Berghoffs in Chicago and dad just drops the bomb. You think you know your parents and then they roll something out like the grenade they forgot to tell you about that was always there. Oh I knew William Faulkner.  That was how he said it and I don't even know how it came up. I think I said something about one of his books and then between cabbage and soup dad just says he knew the man. I used to socialize with his daughter Jill and Bill Faulkner taught my English class he explained.

Well I just fell off my chair. Dad went to the University of Virginia in the fifties and I had read more than one Faulkner biography to know that Bill Faulkner did a Writers in Residence stint there. He taught your class? I persisted. Oh yes. Now that was Joseph Blottners class but he brought Faulkner in regularly to teach. I sat back from my lunch. I have read everything William Faulkner ever wrote and yet I had never heard this. Now like I said I socialized with his daughter Jill and when I went over to her apartment her father was there.

I forgot all about lunch. And what was he like? Oh he was very dapper. He was a small fellow. What about class...what did he say? My father squinted. I don't really know. His accent was so heavy we couldn't understand much. And there you have it. The greatest writer the South ever produced and dad couldn't understand him.

But your mother used to see him when she took your sister in the stroller in Charlottesville, he offered up.  Dad went back to his lunch. I stared at him. And did he ever say anything to her?
Dad shrugged. I think he tipped his hat and said good afternoon madam.
The Pitcher

Books by William Hazelgrove