I started reading autobiographies years ago and loved the twists and turns of a drawn out saga revealed in the lives of other people. Two of my favorite books are “Yes, I Can” The Sammy Davis Junior Story and” I Wonder As I Wander” The autiobiography of Langston Hughes…
Reading “Little Hot Mama”, The Flossie Lewis Turner Story for review has been an awesome experience. The pain, struggles, tragedies, missed opportunities, joys, hopes, tears and laughter; nonwithstanding!
From the time he was born and taken from his mama’s house, by his father at the age of 6, Hot Papa struggled for survival. When he married Dolly, the two became well known stage performers in Minstrel Shows throughout the country. Times were hard when their first child, Flossie Lee was born. Hard times caused for desperate measures- dressed like a young princess and carted through the night around southern towns to perform in small clubs, Flossie Lee became a star at 2 years old.
White club owners, always conscious of child labor laws would secret Hot Papa and his 2 year old daughter to the back entrance of their clubs to have them perform for their prim and proper clientiele- none of the white patrons in the 1930s in an Oklahoma town had ever seen a little ‘colored’ child. Especially one who could sing and dance like Flossie Lee Turner aka “Little Hot Mama.”
The Turner entertainers journey from carnivals to fancy Miami hotels wasn’t an easy road.There were disheartening days with little or no food, or monies to buy food, and devastating years of struggle. The performing family consisted of Hot Papa and Dolly and their children; Flossie Lee, Lulu B, Junior and Minnie.
The Turner family wrote and performed their own skits- hilarious! The women sang in the chorus line. Hot Papa did solo comedic acts and skits with wife Dolly and the three older children. The family were well known. Their biggest hinderance remained hot Papa’s gambling and alcoholism, and a family’s illiteracy. In the 1990s before Lulu B. died, Flossie Lee Turner made the promise to her sister she would go to school and write a book about the Turner family. She wouldn’t dedicate it to Hot Papa, but to their mama, Earsline (Dolly) Turner.
Flossie Lee Turner is the last surviving member of “A family of entertainers”. So deemed by the great Louis Armstrong. In 2002, Flossie graduated from high school at the age of 72. Flossie Lee Turner was named “Student of the year”.
A member of The United Way of Fayetteville Speakers Bureau, Lee Ann Lewis spends her time speaking about adult literacy. To read more about this inspiring trailblazer, go to amazon.com to purchase a copy of “Little Hot Mama” or contact Stay Thristy Media, Inc…
This book was provided by Stay Thirsty Media Publishers for review.
Read any great autobiographies? Share them with others and keep their light shining :)
- What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years (csmonitor.com)
- Langston Hughes: The Value of Contradiction, By Bonnie Greer (independent.co.uk)
- A Poem For Saturday (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)