“Greenbriar”, by Lawrence Gulley.
Lawrence is a true, southern gem…a new William Faulkner, writing about his beloved Alabama.
Return with me to yesteryear. A time of chivalry and when a man’s word was his bond.
This book isn’t just another Civil war story, it’s a story of struggle, but it’s also a story of love, the story of the many generations that lived, loved, and schemed to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. It tells of mixed marriages, and a bird’s eye view from both sides, the North/South. It tells of the “real” war between the states, not just something you read out of the history books. “Greenbriar” is the name of a plantation house of the south, where the women, both black and white, worked, loved, and struggled to keep things together if and when their menfolks returned from the hated war. Greenbriar stands today. It stands as a sentinel, as if it’s guarding the graves of it’s former inhabitants that are just down the road a bit.
As I stood on the long front porch while visited the lovely structure, I heard the lonely wail of a whippoorwill and wondered if it was calling it’s mate, or was it just saluting the quiet still graves.
Lawrence Earl Gulley’s life is as interesting as his books. Born so sickly that the doctor tried to convince his mother to simply let him die, he was saved by his determined grandmother. His many careers include Chief of Police, moonshine runner, rolling store owner, undertaker, magazine writer and gas delivery man. Lawrence Earl’s work has protected people, entertained them, buried them, fed them, and kept them warm in many ways throughout the years. He lives in Excel, Alabama with his family, and had his raising in the same outskirts of Monroeville that produced the likes of Harper Lee and Truman Capote, both of whom he knew personally.
Green Briar…Its still standing today. Still as beautiful and as graceful as it was when cotton was king and there was still chivalry and honor among men. Green Briar shrouds a secret though. The chivalry and honor was just an illusion. The real heroes are heroines. Sylvia, Jessie, Sookie, Ebbie, and so many other strong women kept, fought, struggled, and schemed to keep the home fires burning while their men folks were off fighting for a lost cause. If you stand on the long front porch of the sentinel today, as it guards the graves at a nearby distance, and if you allow your mind to wander, you can still see, hear, and feel the majestic times gone by.