Fans of the written word came to salute the author, who would have turned 100 on May 5. The fans enjoyed music, food, a portrayal of Perry chracter Granny Van by Becky Marek, a city proclamation and recollections of Rockdale’s beloved literary export.
Many shared personal remembrances, family connections and a love for a man who brought rural Texas to the national literary scene.
Perry, with his Cinco de Mayo birthday, would also have regaled the folklorico dancers, a group from St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Cameron, who performed as part of the celebration.
His fondness for different cultures was chronicled in a series for the Saturday Evening Post, in which the author introduced 1950s America to different minority families who were trying to live out the American dream.
University of Houston history professor Garna Christian read a passage about Perry dealing with Hollywood. Perry had one of his books, “Hold Autumn in Your Hand,” made into a movie — “The Southerner” — and he had a hand in other screenplays.
Despite “The Southerner” being made by reknowned filmmaker Jean Renoir, Perry pronounced it “lousy,” Christian said.
Johnnilyn Brown remembered riding around in Perry’s Cadillac when she was a small girl. Cliff Simms remembered that friend Mike Lee tried to help him negotiate a salary in Hollywood, but aimed too high in the initial letter. Reporter/Ken Esten Cooke