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Nine Girls, No Boys: Stories Of Life In Rural Virginia by Daphne Harris Dews

Nine Girls, No Boys: Stories Of Life In Rural Virginia

by Daphne Harris Dews

222 pages
Stories of nine Black girls growing up in rural Virginia.

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Category: Family
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About the Book
Nine Girls, No Boys is a collection of true stories of a family in rural Virginia—Daddy, Mama and nine children. All girls. No boys. For young Black parents trying to rear a large family in the 40s, 50s and 60s, there were tough times with years of struggle. Stories are funny, sad, depressing as well as triumphant.

Being sharecroppers, the family deals with sub-standard farmhouses and landowners who are difficult. Moves from one farm to another take place as the family continues to grow. Daddy and Mama yearn for a home of their own.

When Daddy gets his first tractor he has farmed so long with mules he uses the same commands to try to stop the tractor. He has to learn that saying “whoa” doesn’t work with the tractor. The brake has to be applied instead.

Choosing appropriate names for the girls becomes an ordeal. With the assistance of relatives and older ladies in the community, some of the names chosen cause much ridicule and anguish for the girls.

Having one car to transport a family of eleven provides interesting episodes. A door that swings open when Daddy makes turns while driving the car endangers the family. Holes in the floorboard of the car are hazardous as well as convenient at times.

The family has its share of emergencies. Daddy’s controlled burning gets out of control, and endangers the farm and the entire community. One child swallows an object and has to seek medical attention. Another is burned badly as her clothes catch fire while she tries to stay warm in the poorly heated farmhouse.

Segregated two-room schools with long distances to walk impact the girls’ educational opportunities and school attendance. Having to help Daddy with farm chores also makes attending school difficult.

Teenage years and dating provide interesting reading. Mama and Daddy try to ensure that their girls grow up to be respectful young ladies by trying to enforce unorthodox rules.

Perseverance, determination and hard work are evident as the family’s journey unfolds and the fate of Daddy, Mama and the nine girls is revealed.



About the Author
Daphne Harris Dews Daphne Harris Dews, the fourth daughter in a family of nine girls, grew up in Southampton County, Virginia. A graduate of Norfolk Division of Virginia State College, now Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, she is retired from Norfolk Public Schools, and lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia.



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