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Uncle Josh walked over to a southern woodpine, broke off a branch of it, and sucked the honey from a red, trumpet-shaped flower. Then he looked eastward toward the shining sun, and westward toward the home of Elmer Goolsby, descendant of Ebenezer Beene's arch enemy. It was the first time Uncle Josh had even looked toward Elmer's house since he'd turned Elmer out of the church, six months ago. Seeing blue smoke snaking its way out of the kitchen chimney, Uncle Josh knew that Phoebe was getting Elmer's breakfast.
During the early years, the Baptist Church was in the lead. Then one year there was a great deal of dissatisfaction and grumbling on the part of the non-Baptists, because they could not partake of the sacrament with the members. Abram Goolsby heard of the dissension and promptly invited all non-Baptists to attend the Christian Church. To those who accepted his invitation, he said, "Everybody is invited to partake of the Lord's Supper up here. We ain't selfish like the Baptists. " The implication that they were devils was too much for most of them.
Five decades after its initial publication by Random House (and Eyre and Spottiswoode of London), Joshua Beene and God deserves a place on the shelf with other key works in the development of the canon of Texas letters. Although it eschews the lyrical gentleness of George Sessions Perry's Hold Autumn in Your Hand, it nevertheless is a loving portrayal of the deni- Page xvi zens of East Texas, eccentric though they may be. The rollicking tone of Joshua Beene and God is more reminiscent of Perry's memorable My Granny Van: The Running Battle of Rockdale, Texas.