Junkyard Families

Janisse Ray’s book Ecology of a Cracker Childhood depicts the life of a young girl as she grows up with her family who owns a junkyard in Appling County Georgia. Many experiences may have been different for her, but she still lives like many children; with rules and playing outside with your imagination.

The main reason her book was written was to depict a girl’s life as she grows up in a situation that most cannot find. She and her siblings spent many hours outside playing in the junkyard; they would play baptism where one child would pretend to be the pastor and the other would be the one being baptized. Sometimes the pastor gave the baptized too much time. One trait her father wanted her to have was being able to play the piano. He hated it so much and finally told his father that he would never play it again. He would rather play outside with his brothers at the junkyard. They would be very creative in what they did with their free time. They would tie up gas tanks and make a raft. She played with her dolls in the back of the car, pretending to nurse them. She loved to pretend she was a mother.

His father is very intelligent. He knows how to get old cars out of other people’s hands, even if the car holds a special place in the heart of the owner. His father loves animals and cannot bear to see or hear that an animal has been tortured or injured, large or small. Defend all the animals, a carrier pigeon, a dog, a snake, a tortes, a stork and a turtle.

Once a tortoise was crossing the street. A boy began to play with the turtle with his foot. It was a snapping turtle and is supposedly not released until lightning strikes. The tortoise grabbed him by the foot and didn’t let go. The boy stomped on the ground with his foot and broke the poor turtle’s jaw. Shortly after the incident, his brothers told their father what had happened. After his father spoke to the boy, he turned to his children. He pulled out his belt and hit all the lashes with it. He thought he could have prevented the incident. If the kids were fighting, all he had to do was touch his belt and they would stop immediately.

On another occasion, his dad found a dog lying on the side of the road. He gave the dog some prescription pills he had around the house to ease his pain even though he believed he would not survive the night. In the morning, he returned to see how the dog was and was still alive. He cared for him until he regained his health and then released him. He found many animals and tried to help all of them. He found a stork that they let live in the house. Shortly after finding the stork, he built her an outdoor house.

He even saved his son’s life once. Three of her four children are going for a boat ride and cannot swim. The two boys sat on a bench in the boat and one of them stood up because he thought he saw an alligator. The other two boys went flying overboard. It was Sunday and they had just returned from church. His father was still dressed in his suit and he rushed after his sons just in time to save them. He would have given anything to keep them safe. He wanted to keep them so safe that he did not want the outside world to corrupt his children. He threw away the only television they had owned shortly after buying it. Also, to make sure her children were not made fun of for the way they lived, she did not allow her children to bring friends into the house. To avoid uncomfortable situations, he also did not allow them to go to other friends’ houses.

I really liked this book as it had short stories that I could remember even long after reading it. Her book was very descriptive and did a great job of showing how she grew up. He was very realistic and I hope a lot of people read his book.

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