Gloriana “Glory” June Hemphill, second daughter of Brother Joe, is about to turn 12-years-old. This year her birthday party will be at the Hanging Moss Community Pool. Her friends will be thrilled to escape the oppressive Mississippi heat in cool blue water while waiting for the July 4th parade and fireworks. Glory was born on Independence Day.
Plans have been in the works for months. Emma, the housekeeper and surrogate mother to the Hemphill daughters, is baking Glory a fine cake. Frankie, Glory’s best friend, cannot wait to drench everyone with his new and much improved cannonball. Older sister, Jesslyn, is bringing her pep squad friends, but she promises they will snag a corner umbrella and talk about boys and Elvis completely ignoring others.
Well, that was yesterday and Frankie has just rained on the party plans. During breakfast, (Emma claims the sound of bacon hitting the Hemphill grill in the morning is Frankie’s alarm clock) Frankie states that the pool is closing. His dad, a town supervisor, says cracks have to be mended before it will reopen.
Glory cannot believe the news. They were just swimming yesterday. She did not notice any cracks. Maybe, there were some rusty bobby pins and bubblegum stuck to the bottom, but she did not remember seeing any cracks. Why close it in the middle of summer anyway? Why not wait and fix it in the fall? For that matter, why fix it at all since the hole in the fence has been there for years?
Glory heads off to the library to ask librarian, Miss Bloom, if this is true. She knows everything that goes on in the town. She is bound to know if there are any cracks.
There are no cracks. The pool is about to be desegregated in 1964 Hanging Moss, Mississippi. This is the premise for Augusta Scattergood’s new book, Glory Be. Written first as a tale about the relationship between sisters, but then evolved into historical fiction.
Scattergood, born Mary Augusta Russell, said the story is based on some truths of her youth. Instead of the pool closing, it was the Bolivar County Library in Cleveland, MS. The year was 1967 instead of 1964, and she was an intern at the library when Freedom Summer came to the South. The stuff about Junk Poker is all true, though.