Stanley Crouch came to speak at Sewanee in the mid-2000s as part of the “How Then Shall We Live?” series. Below is the author picture he sent. When I picked him up at the Nashville airport, he emerged from the terminal with his suitcase– we shook hands and he told me, in that unique gravelly voice of his, “You should know that I have a profound antipathy for everything having to do with the Confederacy.” Okay, I thought, this ought to be an interesting visit.
On the drive to Sewanee, we got into a long and lively discussion about Dante, but at one point I noticed he was squirming in his seat. “I think I’ll pull over at the next rest area,” I said, to which he replied, “NOW.” Pull over, uh, right here? “HERE.” He hopped out the car by the side of the highway and relieved himself. “Sorry about that.” Then it was back to Dante.
I dropped him off at Rebel’s Rest, the university guest house. “Rebel’s Rest. Huh.” Over the next 24 hours I spent a lot of time with Stanley. We met for coffee on the porch of Rebel’s Rest the next morning– the wisteria was in full bloom still. “I don’t want to like this place,” he said, meaning Rebel’s Rest. “I do like this porch, though.” Many in Sewanee remember him opening his talk with a reference to it. “The more rebels resting, the better.” It brought the house down. He started off reading from a chapter about Davy Crockett and then– I’ve never seen a speaker do this before–stopped. “This isn’t any good. Hey, let’s take questions.” People loved it, as he opined freely and fearlessly about anything and everything.
Before he left, Stanley autographed a book for me with a very kind inscription, ending with his characteristic VIA. “Victory is Assured.”