The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965 Page: 516
Cow People. By J. Frank Dobie. Boston (Little, Brown and Com-
pany), 1964. Pp. x+305. Illustrations, index. $6.oo.
That Texas and the nation lost a superb storyteller in the
passing of J. Frank Dobie is shown again in his Cow People. This
fascinating book describes an assortment of Southwestern range
characters, some Dobie had known and others he had heard about
through friends who knew them well. Included are a few tall
tales of the open spaces, told in the cowman's vernacular that
came naturally to Dobie, who grew up on a Texas ranch.
In his opening narrative, the author goes back to the Old
South for the strange boyhood of Ike Pryor, who became a prom-
inent Texas cowman. Born in Florida in 1852, Ike was living in
Alabama when his mother died five years later. An uncle took
him to his farm home in Tennessee; but Ike was homesick for his
Cousin Sally, who had married and was living in Nashville, forty
miles away. During the Civil War he ran off to Nashville, then
under federal occupation, and spent a hectic three years before
Another Texas cowman in Dobie's album is Ab Blocker, a trail
boss who claimed to have looked down the backs of more cows
and to have drunk more water out of cow tracks than any other
drover. Present, too, is Shanghai Pierce, a man of booming voice
and bragging talk, who once lent a man $90,000 because, years
earlier, his mother had given Shanghai his fill of flapjacks. The
author winds up with Charlie Goodnight, the Panhandle pioneer
who could run out a cow thief by merely pointing to a nearby
Dobie includes anecdotes and sayings about the financial tight-
ness of some cowmen:
He'd skin a flea for its hide and tallow, but he ain't as near as he
used to be. He's got so that when it rains he'll go out and drink all
the water he wants from the creek running into the big tank-plumb
extravagant. He used to get up out of bed to turn over so's not to wear
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965, periodical, 1965; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/m1/603/ocr/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.