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Scout’s Cultural World and Mine. Rae Jean Johnson. Scout is a tomboy who lived in southern Alabama in the 1930s. . I was also a little tomboy, but I grew up in southern Indiana. Maycomb , Alabama.

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scout is a tomboy who lived in southern alabama in the 1930s
Scout is a tomboy who lived in southern Alabama in the 1930s.

maycomb alabama
Maycomb, Alabama

In Scout’s small town, the courthouse was a central place where people’s guilt or innocence was judged by their peers. In Tom Robinson’s case, those “peers” were all white men. Blacks were not allowed to participate in the judicial proceedings and were sent to the balcony during the trials.

vevay indiana
Vevay, Indiana

Of course the courthouse in my home town was used for the same judicial purposes, but it also had a special feature or two. There was a dungeon which was used as part of the underground railroad. People who were escaping slavery used the Ohio River as a way to gain freedom. The dungeon in the courthouse was a safe place for them.

the outhouse
The Outhouse

The dungeon wasn’t the only special feature. Our courthouse also features a six-sided outhouse behind the courthouse. The outhouse was built in 1865. It was used as an actual outhouse until the 1970s. Plumbing had been installed in the courthouse a few years earlier, but the outhouse still functioned during busy times. In 2004, the outhouse was moved to accommodate new parking. The fee for moving the building was about $14,000. The outhouse is on the list of historical sites in town.

racist attitudes
Racist attitudes

Strangely, though, in spite of the fact that the entire county was helpful to people escaping slavery, there was still an attitude of bigotry and racism well into the 1980s. When I was in high school, my uncle forbid me to be friends with Duke League because he was half black. Duke was the ONLY non-white in the community until the Pilipino doctor and his family moved to town in the late ‘70s. Now the county is fully integrated with people of many ethnicities living, working, and going to school there.


Scout learned to read with newspapers.

I learned to read with Nancy Drew!


The overalls Scout loves so much were certainly part of the everyday attire for the kids in the South.

As they were for my family and sometimes even me.