Date of Award
Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)
Dr. Linda Niemann
Dr. William Rice
When my sister, Valerie, committed suicide, I looked back to the choices we made and wrote this book. Highway 11 is the title of my 60,000 word memoir. I grew up on that swath of road between Monroe and Winder, Georgia. It was a whiskey soaked, Southern Baptist upbringing, in a blue collar family. I moved away, as soon as I bought a car, while Valerie got pregnant in high school and lived in Monroe all her life with her husband and two children.
My first stop was Atlanta, in 1969, for the “Age of Aquarius,” where I was a hippie and protested the Vietnam War. I lived out of a suitcase for ten years as a flight attendant for United Airlines in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Honolulu. During that time, I married Bob, a nice Jewish boy, and converted to Judaism in 1973. We lived in Newport Beach, California for 20 years and reared our three children in the Jewish faith.
Valerie got her GED went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism and became a freelance writer. She wrote a novel the year before she died. It is a southern gothic tale with a Eudora Welty style and voice. She had an agent, but the book was never published.
Bob and I returned to Georgia for the last seven years of my mother’s life. When I put Mother in the nursing home, Valerie became depressed. She took her life three years later.
Benowitz, Judy, "Highway 11: A Memoir" (2017). Master of Arts in Professional Writing Capstones. 20.