and accurate way to evaluate this book, in my opinion, is to eschew the canons of
scholarship usually used to judge books reviewed in this journal and judge it
according to the extent to which it is casually informative and entertaining.
This book is very informative. Here we can learn about traditional ways of
hunting, fishing, farming, worshiping, dancing, and literally dozens of other
skills and behaviors that were once everyday necessities or pleasures. Smith
does have a way of telling the reader enough about something to whet one's
appetite but not enough to exhaust one's interest or permit one to duplicate
the behavior. Probably that is just as well, because among other things Smith
tells about moonshine, telephoning for fish, and early oil field chicanery. He
also tells of unorthodox police methods, trade tokens (company store econo-
my), how to foretell deaths, and burial practices. We get poetry that tells of
syrup mills and fishing tips in the form of epitaphs, and another version of The
Devil Made Texas. Cryptic instructions on a large number of both adult and
children's games ranging from dominos through Red Rover Come Over to
Mumble Peg and washers. We get practical information such as how to carry a
live possum and we get contemporary information concerning the Marshall
Fire Ant Festival.
It is for the most part, given the nature of this book, easy to overlook the lack
of documentation in Under the Chinaberry Tree, but it does bother me for him to
assert that there are wolves (pp. 105, 122) in East-or any other part of-Texas
today. Still it is pleasant, light, fun and informative reading.
Southwest Texas State University ROLLO K. NEWSOM
Growzng Up Simple In Texas: An Irreverent Look at Kids in the z950s. By George
Arnold. (Austin: Eakin Press, 2002. Pp. ix+231. Prologue, epilogue, special
thanks. ISBN 1-57168-687-8. $22.95, cloth.)
The subtitle of George Arnold's book, "An Irreverent Look at Kids in the
1950s," is something of a misnomer: the work is not sociological, nor does it
deal with "kids," broadly speaking. Rather, it focuses squarely on Arnold himself,
as a boy in Texas in the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, though the antics Arnold
describes do display an "irreverence," his attitude toward those antics is deeply
nostalgic. Of course, publishing one's memoirs is tricky business; accusations of
vanity invariably follow. Fortunately, Arnold manages enough self-effacing irony
to provide some interest.
The text proceeds through sixteen essay-like chapters, organized to follow
Arnold's childhood, but there is thematic "drift" as the work progresses. For
instance, Arnold begins by claiming that his status as an "In-Betweener," part of
the "half generation born between 1939 and 1947" (p. 1), makes his memoirs
worth publishing. The "In-Betweeners," according to Arnold, are "contrarian ...
and tend to display ... remarkably similar tendencies, but tendencies unlike any
other demographic group of the twentieth century" (p. 1). However, after mak-
ing this claim, Arnold doesn't mention the idea again until the epilogue, and
even then the idea seems tacked on.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed December 8, 2013.