Walking Through the Horizon
Publication Year: 2006
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 state’s image has long been critical to its history and development. The stereotypes and image problems of Arkansas have for many years occupied the attention of...
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Other permutations find the defensive Arkie in modern-day Manhattan or on a nineteenth-century wagon trek or in a wartime boot camp, but the reaction, and the message, is always the same. Every Arkansas hearer or teller of the joke can empathize....
1. Creating the Bear State
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“In 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.”1 No ringing endorsement for life on the Arkansas and Ozark frontier. Instead, what we find in the account of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s 1818...
FIRST INTERLUDE: Why Arkansas?
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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 “Arkansaw image” conjures up widely shared visions in a way that “South Dakota image” or “Ohio image” or “Florida image” or even “Tennessee image” does not. Our premise...
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—their contributions...
SECOND INTERLUDE: This Hillbilly State of Mine
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Take a minute and think about the images that the word “Arkansaw” evokes. Admittedly, unless for some reason you started reading this book here in the middle, you’ve been bombarded with caricatures, personalities, and stereotypes from the first one hundred years of the Arkansaw image that are probably jostling for position right about now. If I had started the...
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, wasn’t among that minority. He was famous all right. Unless you have reached septuagenarian status, you won’t have any personal memory of his fame. But there was a time in the not-too-distant past when practically every American could...
THIRD INTERLUDE: Getting Defensive
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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 Arkansas’s farmers. He quoted from her poets and historians. He trumpeted the beauty of her hills and streams. He scanned the pages of Who’s Who for the names of successful businessmen and military officers who divulged even the most...
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 for anatomical discreteness....
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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 political 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 found himself in charge of public relations...
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Page Count: 96
Publication Year: 2006