Into That Good Night

A Memoir

978-1-881515-31-9 Paperback
5 x 8 x 0 in
160 pp.
Pub Date: 11/01/2000


  • Paperback $14.95
Strong-willed and charismatic, Lester Rozelle was school superintendent in the small East Texas town of Oakwood from the 1930s to the 1960's. A deep-rooted fixture in the community, he guided his schools through disastrous fires and the strained process of integration in President Lyndon Johnson's home state. When he began to show signs of Alzheimer's disease, the author had to watch the painful transformation of his proud father into a dependent and ultimately foreign person.

Into That Good Night is a son's gift. Seemingly powerless to do anything but witness the slow loss of his father's past, Ron Rozelle re-creates and reclaims his own past: the dusty streets, tired old houses, and wallpapered rooms of his childhood. Rozelle tells of his early, confused discovery of racial inequality, his induction into the military, his decision to become a teacher himself, and the deaths of his parents. Poignant and impressionistic, Into That Good Night is a heartbreakingly lyrical memoir whose fine cadences and shining images will echo for a long time to come.

"The author's skillful and compassionate writing brings both the father of his childhood and the man who could not remember the names of his own children to life. Lester died of a stroke in 1992, but this serves, as his son intended, as a moving tribute."
Publishers Weekly

"I guess you're O.K. about your mother,• he says. It is a statement, but I can sense a well-disguised question hiding behind It. 
"Sure," I say. Knowing this to be not enough of a response, I dig ·around for something else. The problem is that I don't know what he's getting at.
"I miss her," I offer. 
He turns his pipe in his hand and studies it from several angles. We rock ever so· slightly, as if to remind our­selves that we're on a swing, and are quiet for so long that I think I've provid­ed a sufficiently satisfying response. 
"I don't know,• he finally says. "It's just that you were away when it all happened." He unzips his tobacco pouch and begins to reload his pipe; I know that he is fortifying himself for the discussion that he is determined to have. Heart-to-heart conversations have never come easy for him; he would rather listen than talk, and he is an absolute master at hiding his emotions. We never had the birds and bees lesson when I was growing up. He pushed that chore off on Diane's second husband, a charming but troubled man who danced through several years of our lives before mov­ing on to bother other people. 
"She was mighty sick," he says lighting his pipe.
A single, clear honk from a goose comes through the dark­ness; then several others join in. They aren't close enough to the orange moon to pick up any of it, and Oak­wood doesn't generate enough light to reflect off their white stomachs, so we can't see them. They sing us a few bars of their ancient traveling song, and then are gone.
"I know you two had some troubles." He puffs a few times to get the tobacco burning.
"You shouldn't think any of it was your fault."
 - From Into That Good Night

Published by Texas Review Press