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Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society, 1909-2009

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor

Publication Year: 2009

The Texas Folklore Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations in the state. Its secret for longevity lies in those things that make it unique, such as its annual meeting that seems more like a social event or family reunion than a formal academic gathering. This book examines the Society’s members and their substantial contributions to the field of folklore over the last century. Some articles focus on the research that was done in the past, while others offer studies that continue today. For example, L. Patrick Hughes explores historical folk music, while Meredith Abarca focuses on Mexican American folk healers and the potential direction of research on them today. Other articles are more personal reflections about why our members have been drawn to the TFS for fellowship and fun. This book does more than present a history of the Texas Folklore Society: it explains why the TFS has lasted so long, and why it will continue.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Publications of the Texas Folklore Society


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-xi

The Texas Folklore Society celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2009, so it wasn’t hard to decide on a theme for this year’s publication. I didn’t want to write Volume IV of the history of the TFS, an undertaking F. E. Abernethy began with the first three volumes that cover the Society’s origin...

I. What’s the Point: Why the Folk Come in the First Place

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pp. xii-2

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“Hooked on Texas”

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pp. 3-8

Being a proud native Texan born in 1949 not far from the confluence of the Brazos and Bosque Rivers, (and raised in east Waco), a survivor of the devastating tornado of May 11, 1953, and a lover of Dr. Pepper and Moon Pie, I remain hooked...

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“Beware of Folklore Addiction”

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pp. 9-12

Texas. Texan. Mentioning either of these words engenders strong reactions regardless of where they might be heard. Throughout the world many people will recall some of our great Texas history from the era of western movies. Many a self-professed civilized urban dweller might stick his nose up in the...

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“McDade and Me”

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pp. 13-18

The first time I attended a meeting of the Texas Folklore Society, it brought back vivid memories of my hometown. As I sat listening to others talk about different folklore from around the state, I remembered the coolness of Aunt Stell’s...

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“Mother Lodes of Mexican Lore”

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pp. 19-33

I became acquainted with J. Frank Dobie, Wilson M. Hudson, and Mody Boatright when I worked for James M. Day as a work-study student my first year at Texas Western College. It was James who taught me the tools for historical research. My introduction to the Texas Folklore Society came as I typed...

“Bibliography of Mexican-American Folklore Articles”

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pp. 34-42

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“Dobie’s Disciples and the Choctaw Five”

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pp. 43-54

Buck Wade died on Christmas Eve 2008, yesterday. So instead of enjoying a peaceful evening at home on Christmas night, I packed a suitcase and loaded my dog Duke and my best friend Doc onto a mini-van, drove a few hundred miles, and am now staying at a small motel in Hillsboro with a...

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“The Texas Folklore Society Was Part of My Life, Long Before I Knew It”

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pp. 55-72

I didn’t join the Texas Folklore Society until 1990, but I now realize some of its members were part of my life before I ever even knew about the organization. The first person I knew of from the Texas Folklore Society was J. Frank Dobie, though I never met him in person. I remember reading...

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“The Family Nature of the Texas Folklore Society”

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pp. 73-83

The first paper I ever presented at an academic conference was at a meeting of the Popular Culture Association. The second was at the 79th annual meeting of the Texas Folklore Society in Fort Worth in 1995. I have since given conference papers for numerous academic organizations, at the state, regional, and even...

II. Books, Papers, and Presentations: Texas Folklore Scholarship

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pp. 84-86

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“Collecting and Reading Folklore”

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pp. 87-104

At the forty-first meeting of the Texas Folklore Society in Nacogdoches in 1967, John Q. Anderson, a past-president of the organization, read a paper titled “Magical Transference of Disease in Texas Folk Medicine.” What Anderson presented was a series of remedies he had collected. At the evening...

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“Books of the TFS”

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pp. 105-110

Books drew me to the Texas Folklore Society. I began to read TFS books in high school without paying attention to the publisher, being drawn to them by the editor and frequent contributor, J. Frank Dobie. A ranch-oriented small-town boy in the 1940s...

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“Texas Booklore: If It Ain’t Folklore, Then What the He(ck) Is It?”

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pp. 111-130

Or maybe a more descriptive subtitle might have been “An Idiosyncratic Reminiscence of Book People I Have Known In and Out of the Texas Folklore Society.” On Good Friday 1967, in Nacogdoches’ Fredonia Hotel, I presented my first paper to the Society. Its title was “Charlie Coombes...

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“How I Came to Be a Publisher of Texas Folklore Society Publications”

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pp. 131-144

E-Heart Press, named after our father’s old family cattle brand, was founded by my brother, J. P. Brannen, and myself when our father died and we ended up with a little cash from the sale of his cattle. We had also rediscovered his memoirs from World War I, written many years before, and decided they...

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“An Enduring Relationship: The Texas Folklore Society and Folk Music”

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pp. 145-156

A commitment to the preservation, analysis, and enjoyment of folk music underlay the 1909 creation of the Texas Folklore Society. As it was in the beginning, so it remains. Over its century-long existence, the Society has been a nurturing home for collectors and interpreters such as John A. Lomax, William...

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“African Americans and Texas Folklore”

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pp. 157-176

One Sunday in early fall, 1932, in a well known and often referenced tale, a young, emerging black Texas folklorist called the office of Texas Folklore Society secretary-editor and University of Texas English professor, J. Frank Dobie. The black folklorist received an encouraging and welcoming...

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pp. 177-180

Through minimum effort on my part I became a provider for a horde of hummingbirds in the season just past. Details of how and why Poverty Sink became a smorgasbord for these tiny avian creatures— and how Chihuahuas worked their magic on me—is of scant interest to you most likely, so the trigger for...

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“Pecos Bill and His Pedigree”

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pp. 181-204

Upon this anniversary of the Texas Folklore Society, like other long-time members, I have been moved to wander back down the lane of memories and tellings, especially ones that relate to my alma mater, The University of Texas. I have newly examined the early volumes of the Publications of the Texas...

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“Funerals and Folklore: A Snapshot from 1909”

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pp. 205-211

Funeral customs and burial rites have been important issues in the lives of the folk at least as far back as the Neanderthals, and thus are frequent topics in history, anthropology, and folklore. A cursory review of the titles of papers presented at annual meetings of the Texas Folklore Society over the past...

III. The Folk: Who We Are and What We’ve Done

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pp. 212-214

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“How the TFS Has Influenced Me as a Writer, But More Importantly, What It Has Meant to Me as a Listener”

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pp. 215-222

The Texas Folklore Society meetings have long been a highlight of my year, in small part because I pick up inspirations for my fiction writing, but in much larger part because I simply enjoy the people, the stories they tell, and the songs they...

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“Women in the Texas Folklore Society”

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pp. 223-244

From the beginning, women have been instrumental in the development of the Texas Folklore Society (TFS) and remain integral and important contributors to the Society today. The roles played have been as varied as required to keep the organization functioning. For instance, women have been...

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“Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Reflections on the TFS and a Writing Life”

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pp. 245-272

It will come as no surprise that I’m not a well-known author and there isn’t time left to become one. One among us is considered, arguably, the greatest and best known Western novelist of all times—Elmer Kelton. Every person in the Texas Folklore Society who calls himself or herself a writer stands...

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“Back in the Ought ’Sixties”

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pp. 273-284

I (an English teacher whose academic field was Renaissance drama) became a folklorist in the 1960s, and I am going to tell you about a few of those dear souls who stood in loco parentis and showed...

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“The Alford Homeplace: Deconstructing a Dogtrot”

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pp. 285-290

When I got back from Hemphill with the barbeque sandwiches from Fat Fred’s Grocery, husband Tom and cousin Troy Pfleider had already stopped work and were sitting on what was left of the front porch. Tom’s camo T-shirt blended to the same...

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“Mexican and Mexican-American Folk Healers: Continuing to Nourish Our Sense of Humanity into the Twenty-First Century”

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pp. 291-307

Traditional holistic healers guide their lives by four principles: faith, compassion, respect, and reciprocity. According to folklorist John O. West, these same values are embedded in all aspects of folklore and folk life. Yet, because many people in our society are suffering from sustos, these concepts are disappearing...

IV. Meetings, Memories, and More

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pp. 308-310

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“Keeping the Flames Burning and Passing Them On: Hoots at TFS Meetings”

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pp. 311-320

Probably long before recorded history our ancestors gathered on various occasions for communal singing about various events— significant or insignificant. Near the turn of the twentieth century, Professor Francis Barton Gummere of Harvard hypothesized...

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“The Texas Folklore Society: Getting There Is Half the Fun”

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pp. 321-330

One of the things that I have always liked about being a member of the Texas Folklore Society is the fact that the annual meetings are always in a different place within the state each year. Ever since our family’s first meeting in 1982 in Fredericksburg, we have...

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“Folklore Society Memories”

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pp. 331-336

My dilemma is that I have never known precisely what folklore is. I have attended a bunch of meetings of the Texas Folklore Society, and its program chairs have been kind enough to allow me to make presentations on a number of occasions. Even the American...

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“Confessions of a Folklore Junkie”

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pp. 337-342

I don’t rightly recall just when it was that I became aware of the entity named the Texas Folklore Society, but, looking back, I realize that J. Frank Dobie began influencing my life when I began reading his works in high school. By that time, Mr. Dobie had “discovered his calling—to transmute all the richness...

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pp. 343-346

In 1987, at the Texas/Southwest Popular Culture Association meeting, I shared ideas for possible future papers with my former Texas Tech professor, Dr. Kenneth Davis. He told me the paper topics I had in mind would be better suited for the Texas...

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“1968: One Family’s Folklore Odyssey”

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pp. 347-350

In the spring of 1968, I saw a small item on a Dallas Morning News book page saying that the Texas Folklore Society planned its spring meeting for April 12–13 in Alpine and the Big Bend. A bus had been chartered to make the trip from Austin to Alpine. I was only vaguely aware of the Folklore Society then, but as...

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“My First TFS Meeting”

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pp. 351-354

It was the fall of 1982. I was an undergraduate Aggie looking at my chemistry grades and slowly coming to the realization that veterinary medicine was probably not my career path. I was good at English, I loved history, and the Boy Scout in me had...

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“Looking Back with the Hansons”

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pp. 355-366

The Texas Folklore Society has a rich history, with some larger-than- life folks birthing the Society into existence and guiding its earliest years of infancy and beyond. There have also been those who contributed monumental amounts of time, sweat, ink, and tears before they left us. There have been many...

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“Under the Influence”

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pp. 367-381

In myriad ways, both directly and peripherally, my life has been immeasurably enriched and informed by my long association with the Texas Folklore Society (TFS) and its diverse members. At North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) as an undergraduate, I had taken the Life and Literature...

Contributors’ Vitas

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pp. 383-393


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pp. 395-420

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413601
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412772

Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 80 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Publications of the Texas Folklore Society

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Texas Folklore Society -- History -- 20th century.
  • Folklore -- Texas.
  • Texas Folklore Society -- History -- 21st century.
  • Texas -- Social life and customs.
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