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reviews Our regular review section features some of the best new books and films. From time to time, you'll also find reviews of important new museum exhibitions and public history sites, and retrospectives on classic works that continue to shape our understanding of the South and its people. As always, you also can find this issue's reviews, as well as those from previous issues, on the Southern Cultures web site at www.unc. edu/depts/csas/socult/index.html. Dixie Before Disney ? oo Years of Roadside Fun ByTimHollis University Press ofMississippi, 1999 193 pp. Paper $25.00 Reviewed by John SheHon Rood, co-editor of Southern Cultures and audior of many books about the South, including 1001 Things Everyone ShouldKnowAbout the South, written with his wife, Dale Volberg Reed, and published by Doubleday, 1996. Among the many tilings we can blame the 1960s for is the end ofdie Golden Age of family automobile travel. Ten-hour days of being beaten by a hot, 5 5-mile-anhourwind while trying to hear scratchy am radio stations over the noise ofdie air and the tires. Sticking hands out die open window to make airfoils, waving at porch-sitters who were watching the passing traffic. (Usually they waved back.) Holding your breath over bridges, counting cows and horses. (A white horse doubled your score.) Reading Burma-Shave signs, and arguing about where the exact middle of die back seat was. Anyone whose idea of summer vacation has been shaped by air-conditioned travel on limited-access, limited-advertising interstate highways with nodiing to see but scenery—anyone, that is, who came to sentience in the 1970s or later— simply cannot imagine how it used to be. Actually, it was pretty miserable. But American enterprise provided welcome breaks from the misery with innumerable "roadside attractions," most ofthem advertised on dozens of"__ miles to" signs that gave ten-year-olds plenty oftime to nag their parents to stop. Most were done in by die triple whammy ofthose interstate highways, the rise ofcorporate "destinations" like Disney World (opened in 1971 ), and a blasé generation of children who had seen greater wonders on television. But Tim Hollis, an Alabamian just old enough to remember, has produced a damn near comprehensive catalog ofthe Soudi's contributions to this mid-century American phenomenon. 73 Hollis examines everything from the early days of Stuckey's and Kentucky Fried Chicken to the rise oftourist Meccas like South ofdie Border, Rock City, Cypress Gardens, and Gadinburg. Many ofthese places drew on some version oflocal history (e.g.,Confederatila), culture (Booger Holler), or environment (coundess Florida gator farms), and even diose whose appeal appeared to rest on being exotic or strange had a certain provincial charm. (A Virginia snake and monkey farm. A house-that-defiesgravityin Florida.) Although the millennial South has plenty oftourist traps—think Pigeon Forge, Branson, Myrde Beach—these spots are somehow more meretricious than tacky, more Las Vegas than Rock City, and there's a bland placelessness about diem: diey could all have been brought to you by Erewhon Enterprises, Inc. Hollis reminds us ofwhat we've lost: simpler pleasures, simpler times, simpler selves. His breezy style suits his subject matter (a "cultural studies" approach would have been too dreary forwords), but an impressive bibliography and chapter notes are tucked away discreedy in the back for anyone who wants to take this seriously. The book is lavishly illustrated with old postcards, brochures, and roadside signage. My only complaint is that Texas gets short shrift, which means there's no mention of Aquarena Springs, one of my personal favorites, which used to offer a wacky underwater pageant involving Indian braves, mermaids, and Ralph die Diving Pig. Alas, I'm told that Aquarena Springs has recendy gone out of business and Ralph will dive no more. The Lines Are Drawn Political Cartoons of the Civil War By Kristen M. Smith Hill Street Press, 1999 155 pp. Cloth, $18.50 Reviewed by Stephen W. Berry, who received his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and whose articles include "When Mail Was Armor: Envelopes of die Great Rebellion, 1861— 1 86 5 ," a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 73-74
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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