Publisher and Publication Date: Shoe Button Press. March 23, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy is paperback and was provided by Molly Milner. The review is in cooperation with Book Marketing Expert.
I was born in 1964. I don’t remember the turbulent 1960s (expressed in this book) except through the news that came on in the afternoon at supper time, and the music and culture lived out in my older siblings. My eldest sister, born in 1949, remembers seeing water fountains that stated “for white” or “for colored.” As a little girl, she questioned this in her mind. I grew up in a completely different culture. Mixed dating was frowned on, but I went to school with and played with people of all races. My children have grown up in a culture different than mine. And in future generations, I hope people no matter the color of their skin will live in acceptance and harmony.
The time period for this book is 1966-1969.
Molly Milner in her memoir, Alligators And Me, is the story of a Midwest newlywed couple who accepted the call to move south and pastor a church in Mobile, Alabama. Neither knew what the future held. Both had dreams and ideas about what they hoped to accomplish. Their hopes were a mix of naivete, courage, and determination.
The first theme is racism and segregation in the south. Alabama was a different place from Midwest thinking in regards to segregation of blacks. The book gave me a strong view of what it was like to live in a community of like-minded people who did not believe in equality. I want to clarify, there were white people who believed in the civil rights movement, but their group was small and docile in comparison to a larger group who were vigilant about the status quo of the South.
A secondary theme is the changing culture in regards to women. The idea of having a career outside the home is new in the 1960s. Women who married, and especially after having children, were expected to be homemakers and mothers. Most women did not work after having children. Married mothers who worked outside the home were looked at as suspicious. And don’t get me started on what people thought about divorced women, they were gossiped about and often ostracized.
The 1960s was a decade of radical change in culture and history: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King was assassinated, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Peace Corp program started, a building distrust of government, and the women’s liberation movement.
A third theme in the book is Ed and Molly Milner make a commitment to be apart of the change in how people think and respond to African Americans in society. They wanted to be apart of the growing movement to bring about freedom and equality.
Milner is transparent about her thoughts, feelings, and behavior when her husband tells her they are moving. She was not in agreement. I wondered how on board she was about being a pastor’s wife? She had no idea about this new role, nor the big move. She had been wrapped up in love and in “I do.”
Ned had a commitment to liberal social causes. He’s drawn to helping and persevering for the civil rights movement, but less so with women’ rights. I add this later part, because he was not always understanding about Molly’s feelings. He was headstrong in wanting to help in social causes-the civil rights movement, and this was the key focus in his thinking.
The strength of Alligators and Me is Molly’s ability to take me to this time period. This is an important feature, because of the history involved, as a reader I have to “feel” the time and events.
I saw a transformation in Ned and Molly. What they experienced, and not always together, brought maturity. It is one thing to speak a commitment, it is quite another to follow through with the commitment.
A beautiful added storyline is their sweet dog, Tallulah. No matter what is going on in their lives, they had a beloved dog who loved and accepted them.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in the 1960s and the civil rights movement.