In his memoir, Cecil Alexander describes a life that took him from provincial attitudes as a youngster born Jewish in the South in 1918, to one of the broadest humanitarian perspectives of his generation. His story traces early 20th Century Atlanta, a slow-paced place where his Scottish terrier rode the trolley down Ponce de Leon Avenue to the family hardware store, and Cecil played sandlot baseball with pals until twilight darkened into night. An Ivy League education offered him new vistas, but it wasn't until after his World War II experience, detailed in Part Two: The War Years, when he returned to a racially divided and tense United States, that he truly began to "cross the line" and again put his own life on the line, this time in support of civil and human rights. Concurrently, he built a stellar career as an architect, having studied at Harvard under some of the Bauhaus luminaries, and, interacting with the power structure in Atlanta, became a pillar of the civic community as well as the Jewish community. His marriage in 1943 to Hermione Weil of New Orleans led to a forty-year romance that ended suddenly and tragically with the death of his wife in a collision with a teenage drunk driver. His healing process led him to the other love of his life, Helen Eisemann Harris Mantler, with whom he has enjoyed his later years, along with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
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