The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

drawn map. O'Connor's study embraces the tricultural populations of twelve
large ranches in Victoria, Refugio, and Goliad counties. She includes images
and voices of African Americans and Mexicans, women and men, hands and
owners, horseback riders and helicopter cowboys, and does not forget the
townspeople whose services supported the ranching industry. The surnames
of the narrators parallel family names on the earliest censuses of the region,
and O'Connor records the ways brands, land, and loyalty to patr6nes passed
down through families for 155 years. O'Connor began photographing and in-
terviewing her own family's cowhands, camp cooks, foremen, and their wives
twenty years ago and discovered that they loved to talk about the routine and
romance of their work. Her point is illustrated well in the summation of Na-
thaniel Youngblood, top hand on the Welder Ranch: "This whole project is
based on sounds-they're echoes from the past callin' to us to be remem-
bered. . . . There was a lot wrong back then, but there was a lot more right.
The good keeps on comin' back, tryin' to be heard. These people are the in-
struments of those righteous echoes" (p. ix). As the old traditions and codes
succumb to modern pressures and as rural and city life become more alike than
different, Cryin' for Daylight will serve as a visual and aural repository of the
historical relationships between people, land, and cattle on the coastal prairies.
Baylor University Lois E. MEYERS
Houston: The Unknown City, z836-1946. By Marguerite Johnson. (College Sta-
tion: Texas A&M Universitiy Press, 1991. Pp. xii + 446. Acknowledg-
ments, illustrations, appendix. $24.95.)
To avoid scholarly frustration it is best to accept this book for what it is and
not for what it easily could have been. Marguerite Johnson is a journalist of
long connection with the Houston elite. She has fashioned an account of Hous-
ton's past through a series of seventy-one short chapters that progress from
1836 to 1946. Within the chapters, usually paragraph by paragraph, Johnson
jumps from one unrelated topic to another: family connections, philanthropy,
high culture, elite marriages, and life histories. Her interpretation of Houston
is of a gentle, southern city where kindness and charity prevailed, and her view
is that of a genteel, white, uncritical, upper-class woman. "Before Pearl Harbor,
Houston enjoyed the luxury of space," she writes. "In restaurants, tables were
spaced widely apart so that each was an island for private conversation. White
tablecloths and napkins were universal. Even fairly simple places had a head
waiter who seated customers. String ensembles softly played semiclassical music
at luncheon and at dinner" (p. 351).
The book is essentially a chronology, not a history in the sense of an inter-
pretive narrative. Throughout, there are nuggets of interesting information,
although there is nothing new concerning the main lines of Houston history.
Johnson uses secondary works, newspapers, and interviews, but unfortunately,
her footnotes usually lead to a genealogy rather than to a documentation of
sources. Quotations and other statements are given without footnotes. Thus
she often leaves you wondering about where she obtained her knowledge.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed July 10, 2014.