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In an educational era defined by large school campuses and overcrowded classrooms, it is easy to overlook the era of one-room schools, when teachers filled every role, including janitor, and provided a familylike atmosphere in which children also learned from one another. In Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers, William Lynwood Montell reclaims an important part of Kentucky’s social, cultural, and educational heritage, assembling a fun and fascinating collection of schoolroom stories that chronicle a golden era in Kentucky. The firsthand narratives and anecdotes in this collection cover topics such as teacher-student relationships, day-to-day activities, lunchtime foods, students’ personal relationships, and, of course, the challenges of teaching in a one-room school. Montell includes tales about fund-raising pie suppers, pranks, outrageous student behavior (such as the quiet little boy whose first “sharing” involved profanity), and variety of other topics. Montell even includes some of his own memories from his days as a pupil in a one-room school. Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers is a delightful glimpse of the history of education.
Following the success of his collections of stories from funeral directors, schoolteachers, doctors, and lawyers, folklorist William Lynwood Montell presents a new volume of tales from Kentucky sheriffs. Montell collected stories from all areas of the state to represent the diversity of social and economic backgrounds in the various communities the officers serve. Tales from Kentucky Sheriffs covers elections, criminal behavior, and sheriff’s mistakes in a lighthearted and often humorous manner. The book includes accounts of a drunk driver who thought he was in a different state, a sheriff running a sting operation with the U.S. Marshals, and a woman reporting a tomato thief in her garden. Other accounts involve procedural errors with serious consequences, such as the tale of a sheriff who mistakenly informs a man that his son has committed suicide. Together, these firsthand narratives preserve important aspects of Kentucky’s history not likely to be recorded elsewhere.
Perhaps no one has keener insight into human nature than the small-town trial lawyer. All but lost in an era of corporate law firms and specialized practice, this charismatic figure was once at the political center of a community and was the holder of its many secrets. A small town attorney’s only specialization was the town itself. Serving as both defender and accuser, these lawyers witnessed communities and individuals at their best and worst. Men and women of the legal profession often exert influence in seemingly small realms, but they play an important role in the lives of many people and help shape the American legal system. Veteran oral historian and folklorist William Lynwood Montell has brought together a fascinating collection of tales gathered from lawyers and judges throughout the Volunteer State. Montell searched small towns and cities across Tennessee for the law’s older and middle age practitioners, and he shares the wealth of their experience in Tales from Tennessee Lawyers. These stories are recorded exactly as told by the lawyers themselves, and they reveal candid and unusual snapshots of the legal system—both past and present. With a tape recorder and an ear for detail, Montell uncovers events and lives ranging from the commonplace to the extraordinary. A man resorts to prostitution to alleviate the debt brought about by divorce proceedings. Identical twins are tried for a string of murders. A convict flees his trial by stealing the judge’s car. A prosecutor tries the nation’s first school-shooting case. Judge George Balitsaris, a former University of Tennessee football player, escorts a special prosecutor out of a notorious rape trial as a precaution after the defendant’s family issues threats. These and similar stories illustrate the strange, complex cases argued daily from Tennessee’s largest cities to its smallest towns. Far more than just a collection of lawyer jokes, these recollections shed light on the tense and often dangerous lives of those who work to see that all receive fair representation and treatment in court.
Ten Thousand Years on an American Desert
One hundred miles south of Albuquerque, two parallel chains of mountains isolate a 120-mile jumble of black rock, dry lake beds, flesh-colored sand, and desolation. This is the Jornada del Muerto, the Journey of the Dead.
So named because of a particular death centuries ago, this desert has witnessed many tales of loss and destruction. Alan Boye takes us on a trek through the beauty and violence of this forbidding land. Traveling the wasteland by foot, Boye visits battle sites from the Mexican-American War, to the Civil War, from the lonely canyon where the Apaches fought to keep their homeland, to the isolated site of the world’s first atomic explosion. In the sand and dust and the ruins of war, Boye discovers stories of sadistic killers, directionless rebels, and gun-toting gauchos—but also tales of poets and dreamers, of ordinary men and women who lived their lives and continue to live under this wide and ruthless desert sky. He introduces us to many travelers who have tested the desert: mysterious ancient people who built cliff-top fortresses, Spanish conquistadors, Mexican farmers, old time cowboys yodeling classical poetry to their cattle, and modern range managers tracking livestock by satellite. This is the story of an American desert told through the eyes of those who knew it best and brought to life through Boye’s own travels across the Journey of the Dead.
"Reefer Charlie" Fox rode the rails from 1928 to 1939; from 1939 to 1965 he hitched rides in automobiles and traveled by foot. From Indiana to British Columbia, from Arkansas to Texas, from Utah to Mexico, he was part of the grand hobo tradition that has all but passed away from American life.
He camped in hobo jungles, slept under bridges and in sand houses at railroad yards, ate rattlesnake meat, fresh California grapes, and fish speared by the Indians of the Northwest. He quickly learned both the beauty and the dangers of his chosen way of life. One lesson learned early on was that there are distinct differences among hoboes, tramps, and bums. As the all-time king of hoboes, Jeff Davis, used to say, "Hoboes will work, tramps won't, and bums can't."
Tales of an American Hobo is a lasting legacy to conventional society, teaching about a bygone era of American history and a rare breed of humanity who chose to live by the rails and on the road.
Richard Negri interviews cattlemen and women about ranching in the rugged canyonlands region of southeastern Utah. Personal stories and anecdotes from the colorful characters who ground out a hard living on ranches of the are in the early 20th century.
A good ghost story can make your hair stand on end, your palms sweat, and your heart race. The bone-chilling collection Tales of Kentucky Ghosts presents more than 250 stories that do just that. In his new book, William Lynwood Montell has assembled an entertaining and diverse array of tales from across the commonwealth that will keep you checking under the bed every night. The first-person accounts in this collection showcase folklore that Montell has drawn from archives, family stories, and oral traditions throughout Kentucky. The stories include that of the ghost bride of Laurel County, who appears each year on the anniversary of her wedding day; the tale of the murdered worker who haunts the Simpson County home of his killer and former employer; and the account of the lost mandolin that plays itself in a house in Graves County. These and many other chilling stories haunt the pages of Tales of Kentucky Ghosts. In the tradition of Montell’s previous Kentucky ghost books (Ghosts across Kentucky and Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky), Tales of Kentucky Ghosts brings together a variety of terrifying narratives that not only entertain and frighten but also serve as a unique record of Kentucky’s rich heritage of storytelling.
Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America
The United States and the countries of Latin America were all colonized by Europeans, yet in terms of economic development, the U.S. far outstripped Latin America beginning in the nineteenth century. Observers have often tried to account for this disparity, many of them claiming that differences in cultural attitudes toward work explain the U.S.’s greater prosperity. In this innovative study, however, Camilla Townsend challenges the traditional view that North Americans succeeded because of the so-called Protestant work ethic and argues instead that they prospered relative to South Americans because of differences in attitudes towards workers that evolved in the colonial era. Townsend builds her study around workers’ lives in two similar port cities in the 1820s and 1830s. Through the eyes of the young Frederick Douglass in Baltimore, Maryland, and an Indian girl named Ana Yagual in Guayaquil, Ecuador, she shows how differing attitudes towards race and class in North and South America affected local ways of doing business. This empirical research clarifies the significant relationship between economic culture and racial identity and its long-term effects.