The Journeyman's Journey: From Drewry to Doctor
by Melvin Bullock, Sr.
Stratton Press

"I view my home and my upbringing as the foundation of who I am today."

Author and minister Bullock recalls his early childhood in a farming community in northeast North Carolina. He and his close-knit family worked hard to “make something out of nothing.” Born in 1939, Bullock remembers rain caught in pots for washing and bathing and a cook stove that warmed the house. He and as many as six brothers shared two beds. The main room was the site of family religious services held almost every day. One year the tobacco crop failed, yet his father rejoiced when a creditor, knowing that he was a black preacher, graciously gave him one dime for the collection plate. Within this model of making do, though, there was always the pride of land ownership. That ended when, in the late 1940s, the government instituted the Kerr Lake plan to control flooding in a two-state region. The farmers were paid a pittance for their land, which now lies under water.

The author writes eloquently, at times poetically, of those times and of the changes—some positive, some definitely not—wrought by the Kerr Lake project. Though not totally condemnatory, he sagely juxtaposes biblical admonitions about the treatment of one’s fellow beings with passages quoting legal data describing the restrictions and regulations surrounding the lake’s construction. He subtly suggests a secondary purpose “lurking in the dark”: development of high-dollar recreation and tourism, none of which would benefit former residents of the region. Bullock was fortunate in his determination to pursue an education in business and technology, and in his later years has answered a call to Christian ministry. His childhood recollections are drawn from clear, seemingly pictorial memory and, with a few old photographs, give a poignant but realistic view of rural American life in the South along with fair and frank speculations about the blessings and ills of progress.

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