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Others called him a brilliant folklorist. But his greatest achievement was the model he left for how any Southerner can claim their roots. Oddly enough, damned near everyone loved it. It was immediately revered by literary snobs, Southern aristocrats, Yankees, folklorists, down-home folk, and people on either side of the Mason-Dixon. And he knew it from a distinctly rural view.

Ernie was born on August 23,in Palm Valley, Florida. Ernest Mickler armed with a copy of "White Trash Cooking," a skillet, and his beguiling grin. Photo courtesy of the University of Florida. Broiled Squirrel. He built a simultaneously endearing and tempestuous catalog of archetypes — vestiges of the South, sets of beliefs and traditions that would otherwise dissolve into lore.

Jargon had received 30, orders; it had printed only 5, copies. Its sections and stories were built around certain gatherings he grew up with in North Florida: hog-killings, cemetery cleanings, wakes. Ernie put the recipes in those contexts and colored them with prose that edged toward writers like Padgett Powell or Zora Neale Hurston in its ability to pin down regional dialect. He was Mickler after receiving his M. Clad in aviator sunglasses, long hair, and a set of butterfly wings on his back, he traipsed out onto the stage — and the ly taciturn crowd hollered and laughed.

I visited Pickette at the apex of summer Hot white trash women Jacksonville Beach. Cicadas whirred and the temperature spiked as my vehicle snaked toward her house on a Saturday morning. When Pickette opened the door, she looked me up and down. She wore a burgundy T-shirt, thin-rimmed glasses, and an ear-to-ear grin. The seemingly familiar voice I heard from the porch was still playing, and it nagged at me. Pickette told me it belonged to Ernie. Half of the songs playing, she told me, were tracks Ernie recorded in New Orleans, and the other half belonged to their duo, Ernie and Petie.

Ernie sang, and Pickette played guitar. The No. Ernie and Petie in Photo courtesy of Helen Pickette. Memphis could see a flare in Ernie, and she encouraged him to enroll. Pickette and I moved to a table in the kitchen strewn with Ernie Mickler ephemera. Farace pulled out several albums and showed us Hot white trash women of Ernie in shows, his guitar draped around his neck. The two women shared quips about the people of Palm Valley 60 years ago, before golf courses enveloped the place, and they started calling the area Ponte Vedra Beach.

Shotgun shacks, fish camps, and moonshine stills set back in the sticks made up the quiet community. Photographs by Michael Adno. Stretching back toa land grant bears the name John Michler. As reported by Patricia Mickler, who penned an extensive family history, Jacob Mickler married Manuela de Ortega in And all across North Florida, you can find mentions of the Mickler family whose roots run deep down here. He adored pilau and fish and grits. More importantly, though, this land was also where Ernie grew up.

Across the canal, we could see docks marching off into the haze of an approaching squall. When Ernie was 6, his father died. We reached a small compound of homes on a stunning finger of land pushing out into a nexus of creeks and cordgrass. At the end of the road, a sable-palm cabin stood — a cypress addition tacked on, and a sliver of a screened porch out front. To my surprise, Pickette knew the old-timer who came out to greet us with his cattle dog and invited us to walk around the property — crystal clear ponds, wild grapes, and cypress trees sandwiched between the tidal creeks and untamed pine scrub.

Leaned against a tawny pine, an oversized grave marker in the shape of a tombstone read: Here lies Palm Valley, Choked to death on a golf ball. While rigging it up, the spark happened. Laura pointed out an ability Ernie had. There was a simple elegance about everything he did, without a need for much money to live pleasantly. In Octoberjust a few weeks before he died, Ernie was interviewed by his friend Cal Yeomans. This is it. Then, Ernie met Robert Somerlottand they set off on the road together.

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There, he literally ran into the author Edward Swift turning a corner. With 1, recipes brimming out of sacks and shoe boxes, he explained the idea to Swift — a Texan — and he agreed to help Ernie type it up and draft the introduction. The final introduction was their collaboration. Over four years in San Miguel, Ernie honed the material. Injust as Key West was turning from a sleepy, war-time remnant into a destination resort, Ernie arrived. He began cooking for all-male guesthouses and drank the place in. Mickler drawing at home in Key West, Florida. Woolcott asked Ernie to make six copies of his manuscript, Hot white trash women he offered to send it around.

Publishers in the Northeast immediately fell head over heels for the thing. The title, though, just plain terrified many of them. Ernie received a letter from David Godine, the head of Godine Publishing in Boston, that said he could never publish such a title, because it would offend three-quarters of the United States. Of that kernel, Roy Blount Jr. The rest is history. Ernie was staying down the block, and when word reached him, he ran over like a bat out of hell to take the call. Joe gave me your book, and we want to print it.

After Jargon took the book on, they began raising the money to print the thing.

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Mickler and Woolcott arrived as Jargon was hosting an art opening. Ernie felt out of place among the art snobs. From there, he took off on tour, touting the book at conventions and bookstores from Ocala to Atlanta. Walking around the booths, he recognized David Godine, introduced himself, and presented him with the Times review.

Ernie waited for Godine to read through it. Food sections clamored to cover the book, photography outlets too. Augustine into a little shoebox of an apartment. They were looking to buy something more comfortable, but they were still living on piddling amounts. Of course, nothing was on paper — just an agreement incised in emulsion. Soon enough, the Junior League of Charleston followed suit, claiming that 23 recipes were plagiarized.

And in the end, it was a delicate dance that cost Ernie immensely. They just had me up there on a stick. A trash-can erupted with roiling grease, and Ernie presented the dish to Letterman, who found it laughable — asking if chicken feet were just pure gristle, then refusing to eat it. He had also collected more confidence in the value of his work. When the offer was accepted, Ernie persuaded Ten Speed to mortgage the house with his royalties as collateral. And there, Ernie worked like mad to put together the next book, all the while hemming the place in with his charm, naturally.

He said of their Moccasin Branch home, "I don't think I've ever lived in a place that's just so gentle on your head. Ernie worked with graphic deer Jonathan Greene on both books. She set him up with a rangefinder, showing him the nuts and bolts, and then he took off. Photos courtesy of the Mickler estate. Ernie, like Christenberry or Eggleston, is one of the few Southerners who have represented the region with such acuity.

And inhe attracted the attention of prominent collectors. One wrote to him to let him know his work would be in good company next to the Christenberry and Eggleston prints in his home. The intimacy in Hot white trash women photographs spills off the into the stories and then the recipes, and it all amounts to something home-grown and poignant. It empowered him. People either reject or embrace their upbringing, but he elevated it. Both books were ahead of their time, and both books still hold a strange, unmistakable relevance today as anthropological records of the South.

And with each passing day, they accrue meanings. He ushered me into a set of study rooms and recounted his memory of meeting Ernie at a book ing in St. A collection of albums, press, and ephemera that Helen "Petie" Pickette has amassed over the past 30 years. Photograph by Michael Adno. After spending so much time with his papers, it gave me a deeper, more genuine understanding of Ernie Mickler; it was the covalent bond for this story ultimately. Inside, Holleran sat on a bench, and when he looked up, his smile seemed to broaden from his eyes down to his chest.

We sat down in a red Formica booth against the window. Holleran had the special: smoked chicken, lima beans, and coleslaw. They had the same values. They knew they were from a state that everybody made fun of, yet they loved Florida, and they took it seriously. They had this double vision about Florida.

We were all doing the same thing: We all had to leave Florida to be gay, but we never entirely severed the relationship, and then we ended up coming back. Simple as that. If not, they lost a brother. Holleran remembered a young man he knew from Windsor, a small village hidden off some back ro near USwho walked into traffic, killing himself, after he learned he had AIDS. I was just driving through Keystone the other day by the public beach where families picnic. There was no reason for anyone in his view to be excluded — and that included, of course, himself. Petie Pickette recounted those last days with Hot white trash women one afternoon in her backyard as thunder groaned and the sky turned moody.

When the doctors told Ernie death was imminent, he asked to go home.

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In the living room, Ernie laid on a table made up as a bed. Purportedly, Ernie died, but then a knock came on the door just before midnight. Ambrose Parrish down the road from his house.

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