When the Wolf Camped at Our Door: My Childhood in the Great Depression (Hardcover)
Recounts the hardships and joys the Kilgore family and their neighbors experienced in a close-knit southern rural community during the Great Depression
As the Great Depression tightened its grip on the world, six members of the Kilgore family were living in a cramped farmhouse in Brookwood, Alabama. Crops didn’t grow well, food was scarce, shoes were in short supply, and the few clothes they had were all hand-me-downs. The Kilgores struggled to make ends meet, cobbling together odd jobs and working the land by hand.
Despite all of this, young Aileen thought life was full of hope. She longed to hold on to it and scribbled down daily events on whatever odds and ends of paper she could find. In her new memoir, When the Wolf Camped at Our Door, Aileen Kilgore Henderson creates a vivid portrait of what life was like for so many living in the rural South during the Depression. The book begins when Aileen is ten years old and follows her into her teenage years over the course of twenty-seven episodic chapters. Drawing on her girlhood diaries and told through the charismatic voice of her younger self, Henderson’s nuanced storytelling sheds light on the common struggle for survival during a time when people were at their most vulnerable.
Against the backdrop of a world where hard work and harsh conditions like hunger, privation, sickness, and early death were everyday realities, Henderson’s stories are nevertheless tinged with young Aileen’s lively sense of humor and optimistic faith in people and in the promise of life despite trying circumstances. We follow her rambles in the woods, her visits with friends, a trip to a fortune teller, and a search for the Howton Horror, a mysterious monster rumored to live deep in the Alabama backwoods.
About the Author
Aileen Kilgore Henderson is author of nine books including The World through the Dime Store Door: A Memoir and Tenderfoot Teacher: Letters from the Big Bend, 1952–1954. At 100 years old, she continues to write at her home in the deep woods of Tuscaloosa County.
“Henderson’s accounts are powerful and disturbing without melodrama or whining —tough folks surviving tough times.”
—Don Noble, Alabama Public Radio and Tuscaloosa News
“When the Wolf Camped at Our Door is thoroughly captivating. The scenes and characters are so vividly drawn that one leaves the book feeling a part of Aileen’s family, rejoicing in their small victories and saddened by their privations and disappointments.”
—Jennifer Horne, coeditor of Belles’ Letters 2: Contemporary Stories by Alabama Women