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Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit

The Culture of Festivals in the American South

Rodger Lyle Brown

Publication Year: 1997

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii

I have many people to thank for helping me complete this book, but first I must acknowledge my friend and colleague John D. Thomas. He read drafts, offered advice and bought the gas when we went to a rattlesnake roundup for the first time years ago, and I got the idea for this project. Among the others to whom I owe thanks are Allen Tullos, my advisor...

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pp. ix-xxiii

When R. H. "Pathfinder" Johnston published the first automobile guidebook for the South in 1910, he suggested that any driver heading into the region was best advised to pack extra tires, heavy link chains, mud hooks, an ax, an electric flashlight, a shovel, a crowbar, a hundred feet of manila rope, a sack of cement, soapstone, valve parts, extra brake linings and tire tubes and rubber patches and brake shoes, raincoats and...

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Chapter One: Stuffing Sin in a Lard Bucket: Rattlesnake Roundup at Whigham, Georgia

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pp. 3-28

It's late on a cold Friday afternoon in January, and an itinerant snakehandling cowboy named Buckley stands on a rise overlooking U. S. Highway 84, which runs between Thomasville, the county seat of Thomas County, and Cairo (pronounced Kay-row), the county seat of Grady County. This is the deepest part of south Georgia's sandy coastal plain. A few miles farther south is the Florida state line, and only fifty miles...

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Chapter Two: History's All We Have Left: The Tobacco Festival (Clarkton, North Carolina), Swine Time (Climax, Georgia), and the Banana Festival (South Fulton, Tennessee)

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pp. 29-64

The New South, as C. Vann Woodward has written, was built on railroads. The Civil War had left the region's rail systems in shambles, with few bridges, much torn-up track, and little money for making improvements. But once Reconstruction ended, New South leaders set about rectifying this situation. In 1870, the southern states east of the Mississippi had 10,690 miles of railroad; by 1890, that total had more...

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Chapter Three: Honoring the Cob: Hillbilly Days at Pikeville, Kentucky

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pp. 65-98

Back before the age of reptiles, great layers of marble, schist, gneiss, granite, shale, sandstone and coal felt the crushing forces of the earth, and they cracked. These rocks, Precambrian crystalline, Paleozoic sedimentary and carboniferous metamorphic, crumpled and were uplifted. Rains fell, and the rocks were made wet. The water ran, and the rocks eroded, were worn down and cut crosswise by ancient rivers that had...

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Chapter Four: This Year's Hernando: The De Soto Celebration at Bradenton, Florida

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pp. 99-119

I'm standing on the hot plaza in front of the Manatee County courthouse in Bradenton, Florida, on the southern side of Tampa Bay, when a slim, jumpy reporter from a St. Petersberg newspaper sidles up to me. He's wearing dark aviator sunglasses. He folds his arms in front of himself, across his chest, looking like De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, when he edges up to the secret service man and asks him...

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Chapter Five: Destiny in Dayton: The Scopes Trial Play and Festival at Dayton, Tennessee

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pp. 121-143

The judge is dead, and so are the members of the jury. Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, and John Thomas Scopes himself are dead, as are all the witnesses except one. This is the summer of 1993, and the only surviving participant of the world's most famous court trial—State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, better known as the "monkey trial"—is Harry Shelton, a retired bookkeeper for textile...

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Chapter Six: "Hey, Barney. Hey, Andy.": Mule Day at Calvary, Georgia

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pp. 145-178

I had my epiphany at Mule Day. Calvary is a small town deep in south Georgia. The population consists of a widely dispersed three hundred souls, and the downtown is little more than a handful of houses, a farm supply warehouse, an old decommissioned one-pump gas station, and two or three stores, all of which cluster at a crossroads on Highway 111 like a node on the root of a legume. A dozen miles to the northeast is Whigham, the home of...

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Chapter Seven: Aunt Bee's Death Certificate: Mayberry Days at Mount Airy, North Carolina

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pp. 179-192

A tall, whiskered cab driver stands in front of a cinderblock shed. A sign above his head reads "Wally's Service Station—Cold Cokes and Cab Rides." The bill of his cap curls upward in a flip that is the universal symbol for doofus. He twists the cap sideways on his head, stubs out his cigarette, rolls his eyes and slobbers his line for the gathered crowd. "Goober says, Hey!"...


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pp. 193-197


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pp. 199-204

E-ISBN-13: 9781604738902
E-ISBN-10: 0878059067
Print-ISBN-13: 9780878059065

Publication Year: 1997