What is it about the South that produces such fascinating , eccentric, quasi weird, genius characters….Flannery O’Connor, Huey Long, William Faulkner, Shelby Foote and of course Walker Percy….and a host of others? There is this sardonic, self deprecating and desultory manner in so many (although not across the board in Long) which captivates . Percy had a great sense of humor ….and he was feisty ….as the following anecdote told by Foote depicts:
[Interview with Shelby Foote]
Walker had a remarkable stubbornness that would come out sometimes. We got on an Amtrak train in Chicago, along with our wives, to go to San Francisco. You have this great plate-glass window and along the way you really do see the deer and the antelope play. We got to Ogden, Utah, which is where they drove the golden spike. It was about eleven-thirty at night. The train stopped and the engineers came through hollering, All out, all out. There’s an engineers’ strike. Buses are waiting to take you to San Francisco. I began to scurry around, to get our bags straight so they didn’t get lost in the shuffle, and Walker never moved from his bed. The conductor came around and said, You’d better get up. This bus will be leaving soon. Walker said, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got a ticket that says you’re going to take me to San Francisco. The man says, Well, we’re going to close down the air conditioner and turn off the electricity. Walker says, If you do, I’ll sue you for every cent the U.S. government’s got. So the man said, Sorry, sorry, stay here. We stayed on the train. Everybody else got on the bus. Early the next morning we got up, and they had a minibus take us to Salt Lake City. We got on an airplane and got to San Francisco before the buses did. But this is the kind of stubbornness he had. I later found out he either had taken a powerful sleeping pill or a laxative, I’m not sure which. He was not about to get off that train onto any bus.