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Texas Folklore Society Extra Book

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Always for the Underdog

Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War

Keagan LeJeune

Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, an area of pine forests, squats between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers on the border of East Texas. Originally a lawless buffer zone between Spain and the United States, its hardy residents formed tight-knit communities for protection and developed a reliance on self, kin, and neighbor. In the early 1900s, the timber boom sliced through the forests and disrupted these dense communities. Mill towns sprang up, and the promise of money lured land speculators, timber workers, unionists, and a host of other characters, such as the outlaw Leather Britches Smith. That moment continues to shape the place’s cultural consciousness, and people today fashion a lore connected to this time. In a fascinating exploration of the region, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of Leather Britches, paralleling the stages of the outlaw’s life to the Neutral Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each stage of Smith’s life: his notorious past, his audacious deeds of robbery and even generosity, his rumored connection to a local union strike—the Grabow War—significant in the annals of labor history, and his eventual death. As the outlaw’s life vividly unfolds, Always for the Underdog also reveals the area’s history and cultural landscape. Often using the particulars of one small town as a representative example, the book explores how the region remembers and reinterprets the past in order to navigate a world changing rapidly.

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Folktales from the Helotes Settlement

John Igo

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.

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Short Call

Snippets from the Smallest Places in Texas, 1935-2000

Joyce Gibson Roach

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. Short Call: Snippets from the Smallest Places in Texas, 1935-2000 by Joyce Gibson Roach, is TFS Extra Book #24. Joyce Gibson Roach has collected "snippets" of stories, recipes, and traditions of life in Turtle, Texas, which represents many small towns--and the people who inhabit them. Many of the younger generations leave such towns, finding both place and society crumbling. Those who've stayed are finding new and interesting ways to put themselves and their places back together. Both the short and long pieces herein are about the folks who've elected to stay generation after generation, knowing that for them wherever they’ve stayed is still the Home Place. The characters' viewpoints are personal, sometimes agreeing with facts found in history books and sometimes not.

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