The Bootlegger's Other Daughter
Texas History
6 x 9, 184 pp.
15 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 12/06/2004
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $15.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Finalist for the Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, sponsored by the PEN American Center

The Bootlegger's Other Daughter

By Mary Cimarolli

The generation that toiled through the Great Depression and won the Second World War has become known as “the greatest generation.” But not all of them qualified for that exaggerated epithet in the eyes of their own children. In this tender but unsparing memoir, Mary Cimarolli remembers a world in which the family home was lost to foreclosure, her father made his way by bootlegging, and school was a haven to hide from her brother’s teasing. Her stories are about struggle and survival, making do and overcoming, and, ultimately, reconciliation.

From her perspective as a child, she describes the cotton stamps and other programs of the New Deal, the yellow-dog Democrat politics and racism of East Texas, and the religious revivals and Old Settlers reunions that gave a break from working in the cotton patch. The colorful colloquialisms of rural East Texas that dot the manuscript help express both the traditionalism of the region and its changes under the impact of modernization, electrification, and the coming of war.

Along with these regional and national trends, Cimarolli skillfully interweaves the personal: conflict between her parents, the death of her brother a few days before his sixteenth birthday, and her own inner tensions.

Mary Cimarolli is a retired professor of English at Richland College, a community college in the Dallas area. She earned her Ed.D. at Texas A&M–Commerce.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Read the book for some delightful information concerning growing up in the 1930's and 40's. You’re sure to enjoy the time capsule of Southern Hopkins County, reflected by someone who lived the events that shaped our heritage.” --Sulphur Springs News Telegram

“In the hands of a lesser writer, such a tale could slip into sentimentality, become cloyingly nostalgic. Ms. Cimarolli’s prose offers none of that. This memoir, then, is far more than a mere account of one woman’s life. Blended with the bitter, almost daily tragedies and disappointments are the richer tastes of a world that had no expectation of hurry, no anxiety about synthetic needs or artificial expectations. Instead she offers a sampling of the exotic flavors of a time and place all too rapidly fading from living memory. This volume preserves a large number of those recollections, worth reading and keeping so that we never forget that some things of value cannot be purchased.” --Dallas Morning News

“...Cimarolli appeals to the senses of her readers, carrying us along on her journey of memory. We sense Mary’s feelings of security when her father was home and listen to the stories he shared. We share the family grief. We view family life in rural East Texas during the Great Depression in all its wonderful ups and devastating downs.” --Sangre de Cristo Chronicle

“This poignant history, skillfully written in first person, allows the reader to understand the daily life of those who lived in rural Texas in the middle of the twentieth century. Cimarolli’s depiction is a colorful and well-researched snapshot of a time when great political and economical change occurred in the world. . . . This reviewer found the author’s interpretations of her family’s history in East Texas significant and enlightening. . . . Cimarolli has a refreshing style...” --East Texas Historical Journal

“. . . provides a notable antidote to sentimentality about the idyllic nature of rural life.” --The Journal of Southern History

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