‘Thank God, for Boll Weevils’ references TroyPublished 11:00pm Friday, January 4, 2013
The City of Enterprise has gained some measure of fame for its statue of an agricultural pest – the boll weevil.
The boll weevil destroyed much of the South’s cotton crop in the mid-1900s and opened the door for farmers to “diversify.” They turned to the peanut and the economy turned around causing many to say, “Thank God, for the boll weevil.”
Rhett Barbaree chose that phrase as the title of his first novel, which will be released nationally in three weeks.
“Thank God, For Boll Weevils” is an in-depth look at the Southern soul as seen through the eyes of two God-fearing young women who grew up in the early 1900s deep in the Heart of Dixie.
Barbaree said his hope is that the book will grab readers’ attention with its charming Southern dialect and intriguing storyline.
The story’s wit and humor is reminiscent of passages from Mark Twain but is set in the post Civil War South, the author said.
Barbaree, a former Troy University student, said much of “Thank God, For Boll Weevils” has a basis in South Alabama.
“Besides attending college in Troy, both sides of my family are from this area and this is where the Barbaree side of the family always holds its annual reunions” he said. “Some of the Pike County places are woven into my novel.
“The main character, Janie Taylor, attended Troy Normal School in the 1900s and worked at Byrd’s Apothecary,” Barbaree said. “When we’re in Troy, we always eat at Byrd’s Drugs and Mossy Grove Schoolhouse Restaurant is the schoolhouse where Janie teaches.”
Barbaree and his family live in Clanton and he said that, while driving to work in Talladega, he had the idea to write the “Boll Weevil” book.
“It’s a story the world needs to know,” he said. “‘Thank God, For Boll Weevils’ is a Southern story that paints a vivid history of the post Civil War South and teaches an inspiration message about the insect that is known as ‘The Meanest Little Bug in America.’
“This book gave me a chance to write about things that I have always been intrigued with. Southern history is one, and then, also Biblical imagery and the healing of wounded souls. It was great to be able to weave those things together. I used both, fictional and historical characters to get those points across.”
Barbaree said that, although the boll weevil story is a familiar one in South Alabama, he wanted to tell it in a way that readers will long remember.
“What happened back then was definitely a God thing,” he said. “If you stop and think about it, that monument really symbolizes something we all need to embrace. Each of us suffer from tribulations and tragedy’s in this life and that monument on Main Street in Enterprise is proof that, if we can find the courage to lift up those kind of things to God, He will take them and turn them into a blessing.”