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The Texas Folklore Society Fire Burns On
The Texas Folklore Society has been alive and kicking for over one hundred years now, and I don’t really think there’s any mystery as to what keeps the organization going strong. The secret to our longevity is simply the constant replenishment of our body of contributors. We are especially fortunate in recent years to have had papers given at our annual meetings by new members—young members, many of whom are college or even high school students. These presentations are oftentimes given during sessions right alongside some of our oldest members. We’ve also had long-time members who’ve been around for years but had never yet given papers; thankfully, they finally took the opportunity to present their research, fulfilling the mission of the TFS: to collect, preserve, and present the lore of Texas and the Southwest. You’ll find in this book some of the best articles from those presentations. The first fruits of our youngest or newest members include Acayla Haile on the folklore of plants. Familiar and well-respected names like J. Rhett Rushing and Kenneth W. Davis discuss folklore about monsters and the classic “widow’s revenge” tale. These works—and the people who produced them—represent the secret behind the history of the Texas Folklore Society, as well as its future.
In All of Us, In All We Do
Folklore is everywhere, whether you are aware of it or not. A culture’s traditional knowledge is used to remember the past and maintain traditions, to communicate with other members within a community, to learn, to celebrate, and to express creativity. It is what helps distinguish one culture from another. Although folklore is so much a part of our daily lives, we often lose sight of just how integral it is to everything we do. If we look for it, we can find folklore in places where we’d never think it existed. Folklore: In All of Us, In All We Do includes articles on a variety of topics. One chapter looks at how folklore and history complement one another; while historical records provide facts about dates, places and names, folklore brings those events and people to life by making them relevant to us. Several articles examine the cultural roles women fill. Other articles feature folklore of particular groups, including oil field workers, mail carriers, doctors, engineers, police officers, horse traders, and politicians. As a follow-up article to Inside the Classroom (and Out), which focused on folklore in education, there is also an article on how teachers can use writing in the classroom as a means of keeping alive the storytelling tradition. The Texas Folklore Society has been collecting and preserving folklore since its first publication in 1912. Since then, it has published or assisted in the publication of nearly one hundred books on Texas folklore.
Texas Travel Lore
The adventurous spirit of Texans has led to much travel lore, from stories of how ancestors first came to the state to reflections of how technology has affected the customs, language, and stories of life “on the go.” This Publication of the Texas Folklore Society features articles from beloved storytellers like John O. West, Kenneth W. Davis, and F. E. Abernethy as well as new voices like Janet Simonds. Chapters contain traditional “Gone to Texas” accounts and articles about people or methods of travel from days gone by. Others are dedicated to trains and cars and the lore associated with two-wheeled machines, machines that fly, and machines that scream across the land at dangerous speeds. The volume concludes with articles that consider how we fuel our machines and ourselves, and the rituals we engage in when we’re on our way from here to there.
The Texas Folklore Society has been publishing a regular volume of folklore research (our PTFS series) for the past several decades. Most of these books are what we call miscellanies, compilations of the works of multiple folklorists, and they feature articles on many types of lore. We’ve also published over twenty "Extra Books," which are single-author manuscripts that examine a more focused topic. Folktales from the Helotes Settlement by John Igo is Extra Book #25. It's a collection of personal memories from our longest active member, who first joined the Society over fifty years ago. Here we find legends, customs, and beliefs of the people of the Helotes Settlement near San Antonio. These stories capture the lore of a place similar to lots of other places--our places. They're familiar to us all because, when we get right down to it, the Helotes Settlement is not very different from wherever we're from.
A History and a Guide
Fort Worth history is far more than the handful of familiar names that every true-blue Fort Worther hears growing up: leaders such as Amon Carter, B. B. Paddock, J. Frank Norris, and William McDonald. Their names are indexed in the history books for ready reference. But the drama that is Fort Worth history contains other, less famous characters who played important roles, like Judge James Swayne, Madam Mary Porter, and Marshal Sam Farmer: well known enough in their day but since forgotten. Others, like Al Hayne, lived their lives in the shadows until one, spectacular moment of heroism. Then there are the lawmen, Jim Courtright, Jeff Daggett, and Thomas Finch. They wore badges, but did not always represent the best of law and order. These seven plus five others are gathered together between the covers of this book. Each has a story that deserves to be told. If they did not all make history, they certainly lived in historic times. The jury is still out on whether they shaped their times or merely reflected those times. Either way, their stories add new perspectives to the familiar Fort Worth story, revealing how the law worked in the old days and what life was like for persons of color and for women living in a man’s world. As the old TV show used to say, “There are a million stories in the ‘Naked City.’” There may not be quite as many stories in Cowtown, but there are plenty waiting to be told—enough for future volumes of Fort Worth Characters. But this is a good starting point.
Pueblo Indian Land in New Mexico
This long-awaited book is the most detailed and up-to-date account of the complex history of Pueblo Indian land in New Mexico, beginning in the late seventeenth century and continuing to the present day. The authors have scoured documents and legal decisions to trace the rise of the mysterious Pueblo League between 1700 and 1821 as the basis of Pueblo land under Spanish rule. They have also provided a detailed analysis of Pueblo lands after 1821 to determine how the Pueblos and their non-Indian neighbors reacted to the change from Spanish to Mexican and then to U.S. sovereignty.
Characterized by success stories of protection of Pueblo land as well as by centuries of encroachment by non-American Indians on Pueblo lands and resources, this is a uniquely New Mexican history that also reflects issues of indigenous land tenure that vex contested territories all over the world.
The War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement in Texas
Led by the Office of Economic Opportunity, Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty reflected the president’s belief that, just as the civil rights movement and federal law tore down legalized segregation, progressive government and grassroots activism could eradicate poverty in the United States. Yet few have attempted to evaluate the relationship between the OEO and the freedom struggles of the 1960s. Focusing on the unique situation presented by Texas, Freedom Is Not Enough examines how the War on Poverty manifested itself in a state marked by racial division and diversity—and by endemic poverty. Though the War on Poverty did not eradicate destitution in the United States, the history of the effort provides a unique window to examine the politics of race and social justice in the 1960s. William S. Clayson traces the rise and fall of postwar liberalism in the Lone Star State against a backdrop of dissent among Chicano militants and black nationalists who rejected Johnson's brand of liberalism. The conservative backlash that followed is another result of the dramatic political shifts revealed in the history of the OEO, completing this study of a unique facet in Texas’s historical identity.
My 4,600-Mile Journey through the South
Inspired by a 1937 map and travelogue of a newspaperman’s tour, author Mark W. Nichols embarked on his own long journey into the unique cities of the South. En route he met beekeepers, cheese makers, crawfish “bawlers,” duck callers, and a licensed alligator hunter, as well as entrepreneurs and governors. His keen observations encompass the southern states from Virginia to Arkansas and points south, and he unpacks the unique qualities of every city he visits. “It’s easy to say that getting to meet so many interesting and wonderful people was the best part of the journey--because it’s true,” Nichols writes. “I know there are friendly people everywhere, but southern friendliness is different.” His story embraces a wealth of southern charm from local characters, folklore, and customs to food, music, and dancing. Besides being just plain fun to read, Nichols’s account of his journey gives readers a true taste of the flavor of the evolving modern South.