How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
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This is not a book about the state of Arkansas so much as it is about the idea of Arkansas. That is not to say that it is in some sense not Arkansas history. As most any native or resident of Arkansas knows, our stateâs image has long been critical to its history and development. The stereotypes and image problems of Arkansas have for many...
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Thereâs an old joke that most any Arkansas native has heard and that many have told in a variety of forms. One version goes something like this: An Arkansas family was on the way to California in the heart of the depression when their truck (and here we all envision something akin to the Joadsâ jalopy or the Clampettmobile) began to overheat. Pulling up to a filling station, the Arkansas father...
1. Creating the Bear State
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âIn manners, morals, customs, dress, contempt of labour and hospitality, the state of society is not essentially different from that which exists among the savages. Schools, religion, and learning are alike unknown.â1 No ringing endorsement for life on the Arkansas and Ozark frontier. Instead, what we find in the account of Henry...
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The basic assumption that informs this little survey is that Arkansas has been, fairly or unfairly, peculiarly singled out among the fifty states for derision and caricaturing, that the very phrase âArkansaw imageâ conjures up widely shared visions in a way that âSouth Dakota imageâ or âOhio imageâ or âFlorida imageâ or even âTennessee imageâ does not...
2. Aboard the Arkansaw Train
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The names Opie Read and Thomas W. Jackson are rarely recognized in the twenty-first century, a shocking circumstance considering the amount of fretting these two gentlemen once caused in Arkansas. Both natives of middle Tennessee and from humble backgrounds, the comparisons would stop there if not for their most significant connection...
This Hillbilly State of Mine
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Take a minute and think about the images that the word âArkansawâ evokes. Admittedly, unless for some reason you started reading this book here in the middle, youâve been bombarded with caricatures, personalities, and stereotypes from the first one hundred years of the Arkansaw image that are probably jostling for position...
3. Heyday of the Hillbilly
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Fame and adulation are fleeting things. Only a tiny minority of those who achieve celebrity reach a level of transcendence that assures their notoriety among the coming generations. Robin Burn, alas, wasnât among that minority. He was famous all right...
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Charles H. Brough loved Arkansas. He truly did. And he told anyone who would listen. He trotted out tables of statistics to laud Arkansasâs farmers. He quoted from her poets and historians. He trumpeted the beauty of her hills and streams. He scanned the pages of Whoâs Who for the names of successful businessmen and military...
4. All Roads Lead to Bubba
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George Fisher caricatured dozens of prominent figures during his long career as a political cartoonist, and I would bet that almost none of his subjects offered the cartoonish possibilities of Orval Eugene Faubus. What a face! That beak of a nose that seemed to originate mid-forehead and flowed ski-slope style on and on, too great a distance...
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Bernie Babcock, Charles H. Brough, and Ham Moses must have been turning in their graves in the summer of 2000. Late-night comedians and politi - cal pundits must have been counting their lucky stars. The news coming out of Little Rock sounded like some sort of postmodern, ironic prank, as if Donald Harington had suddenly...
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Page Count: 250
Illustrations: 40 illustrations
Publication Year: 2009