handling shit

Betina Entzminger

is a Southern-born writer and English professor currently living and working in Pennsylvania. A quadruple divorcee and mother of two teenagers, Entzminger holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of the recent memoir, The Beak in the Heart: True Tales of Misfit Southern Women, published by Rivercliff Books & Media.
Her academic publications include two books: The Belle Gone Bad: White Southern Women Writers and the Dark Seductress and Contemporary Reconfigurations of American Literary Classics, and many essays on American literature.
She loves travelling, gardening, southern history, genealogy, animals, and antiques.  She is also a feminist who loves men.

Memoir

Handling Shit and Finding Love

written by Betina Entzminger

Handling Shit and Finding Love is an excerpt from Betina Entzminger’s memoir, The Beak in the Heart: True Tales of Misfit Southern Women, a collection of dramatic portraits of the author’s “misfit” female ancestors and a candid, intimate memoir about family secrets and breaking free of the narrow confines of being a “proper” southern woman.

In this chapter from The Beak in the Heart, Betina tells the story of Louise and Ella, two of her “misfit” aunts who had the strength to handle the blows dealt to them by adversity, disappointment, and heartache in the South of the 1950s. This is a touching story about finding love, freedom, and fortitude.

 

© 2021 Betina Entzminger  | Recording © 2021 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.

At an early age, I learned that my maternal aunts could handle shit, literally. Great-Aunt Louise and Great-Aunt Ella both worked second shift at the Olympia Textile Mill, and when I was a child, they lived together in a small house a few blocks from my parents.

My father walked to the bathroom in time to see brown waste rising in the toilet bowl. As it neared the crest, he grabbed the plush pink bathmat and shoved it down into the opening, hoping to stop the flow

In the early 1940s, at age twenty-five, Louise married and soon regretted it. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, South Carolina had the distinction of being the only state in which divorce was illegal. According to the South Carolina legislators of this time, even if the bed you made was physically dangerous or you were deserted by your spouse, you must continue to lie in it.

Lying on her bed beneath the covers, she found Dave in his undershirt and trousers, unshaven, with bloodshot eyes, looking older and frailer than she remembered. The whole bedroom smelled of stale alcohol and sweat.

handling shit

Betina Entzminger is a Southern-born writer and English professor, currently living and working in Pennsylvania. A quadruple divorcee and mother of two teenagers, Entzminger holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her academic publications include two books: The Belle Gone Bad: White Southern Women Writers and The Dark Seductress, and Contemporary Reconfigurations of American Literary Classics, and many essays on American literature.

She loves travelling, gardening, southern history, genealogy, animals, and antiques.  She is also a feminist who loves men.

 

Q&A with Betina

Tell us about your story...

This is an excerpt from my new memoir, The Beak in the Heart: True Tales of Misfit Southern Women.

What was the inspiration for this story?

For more information, please listen to this interview with me on the public radio show ArtScene with Erika Funke.

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