June Boldridge Stallings, "The Day the Gypsies Came"

Did the gypsies come to town to steal food or children?

(from Life in a Country Store)

This is a neat, unassuming story of country life during a darker age. It’s probably a stereotype, although gypsy-specific racism isn’t something you hear much of, in Philly 2005 anyway, so it’s hard to say: The gypsy family is poor and hungry, and everybody’s too bigoted to hire them, so they come rolling in with their jangly wagon to read a fortune, pick a pocket and raid a garden.
The narrator is sympathetic with everybody — the children who are taught to fear the gypsies, the gypsies who are not looking to get rich so much as get by, the blacksmith who is entranced, almost cartoonishly so, by the fortune teller and loses his life savings. Of course, much of this — the character’s thinking, the narrator’s outlook — is politically incorrect, absurdly, but not out of malice.
The telling is conversational, like a story being told over smores, and the action unfolds in a natural way, with humor and asides and quickly dispelled suspense. A fine read.

Life In a Country Store is a self-published collection of fiction (old wives’ tales) and memories by a retired florist in her 70s. Here‘s a an article on “June Boldridge Stallings.”

Here’s an excerpt from the forward:
It is my story as I lived it in the village in Stevensburg, Virginia. My purpose in sharing it is to relate what life was like in a simpler time, when folks HAD to live with their neighbors. The world was not as open as it is today. In an earlier time folks needed to depend on one another, their families and their neighbors for entertainment, friendship and survival.

I bought this book at the Old Sperryville Bookshop and Coffee House (44 Main St., Sperryville, VA, 540-987-8444), a beautiful new/used book store in an old converted church. Here‘s a picture. I can’t find a web site. I imagine you can mail order this and other works by June Boldridge Stallings from them if you call.

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