The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Book Reviews

exchanged gifts, held parties, and tried to explain to local Indians the reasons
for such extraordinary rituals.
Those who were unable to join in the fun, either because of duties in the
field or the delayed arrival of cards and gifts through the uncertain mails, clear-
ly missed this yearly occasion. In late December 1876, for example, many sol-
diers spent their winter shivering in the field in Wyoming. As Lieutenant
Colonel Richard I. Dodge noted: "Take it all in all it is a Xmas long to be
remembered, and I don't care ever to have another like it" (p. 22). The plain-
tive scribbling of Private William Earl Smith best sums up the sadness of those
away from home and loved ones. After a twenty mile march, his unit ate a lack-
luster dinner of bacon, hardtack, and coffee; a little hard candy shared with his
bunky scarcely made up for the lack of other comforts. "You bet I thought of
home now if ever I did," Smith concluded. "But fate was a gane me and I could
not bee there." (p. 19).
Profusely illustrated, A Frontier Army Christmas is intended for a general rather
than an academic audience. Admittedly, the book breaks little new scholarly
ground and deals exclusively with the observances of a Christian holiday. But the
book achieves the limited goal the authors have set for themselves. It tells the
story of Victorian-era Christmases on the army's scattered frontier posts and
demonstrates just how important such affairs were to the men and women who
lived at or near these installations. In breaking the monotony of their daily lives,
Christmas celebrations allowed garrison members a welcome opportunity to eat,
drink, and socialize, even if they did not always share in the religious aspects of
the moment.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi ROBERT WOOSTER
Tales from the Sunday House. By Minetta Altgelt Goyne (Fort Worth: Texas
Christian University Press, 1997. Pp. xvii+144. Foreword, preface. acknowl-
edgements. IS8N 0-87565-1733-9. $15.95, paper)
Minetta Altgelt Goyne's posthumous book describes life in New Braunfels dur-
ing her girlhood in the 1920s and 1930os and is based on her 1946 master's the-
sis "Through the Old Call: A Group of Original Short Stories." The title derives
from the poem "American Letter" by Archibald MacLeish. Both describe the
conflict between parents and children. New Braunfels children who no longer
spoke German yearned to escape their heritage.
Goyne was endowed with the right ancestors for a New Braunfelser and a
writer. Her grandmother Emma Murck Altgelt wrote memoirs of the Texas fron-
tier; on Goyne's maternal side the titled Austrian Coreth family were early New
Braunfels settlers.
In half history, half fiction, Goyne recalls a New Braunfels where families gath-
ered at Ma's Cafe for adults to savor their beer. Part of the old town she
describes remains: San Antonio Street, the principal north-south thoroughfare,
crosses the old Missouri-Pacific tracks at the depot where passenger trains'
arrivals and departures were high points of the day and 147-year-old Henne's

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed October 21, 2014.