The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979 Page: 334
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
On the other hand, most of the essays are very, very good and a few are
superlative. "H. L. Hunt's Long Goodbye" is an account of the Dallas
millionaire's opulent funeral, an analysis of the complexities of W. A.
Criswell's First Baptist Church, and an engagingly sympathetic portrait
of Hunt, all intricately woven into one beautifully executed piece of
writing. Porterfield describes Hunt, whose eccentric novel Alpaca made
him the bete noire of Texas liberals in the late 1950s, as "a molting old
lion in winter who loved to lay up there in his outsized replica of Mount
Vernon and sing hymns with [his wife] Ruth and the girls ..." (p. 133).
In "The Aurora Spaceman," Porterfield displays his ability as a his-
torian by investigating an often-reprinted turn-of-the-century account
of a spaceman who crashed and was buried in the little town of Aurora,
in Wise County, Texas. This account has been accepted with dead
seriousness by "professional" UFO investigators for twenty years, and
has been annually exploited by North Texas newspaper writers looking
for feature copy. By the simple method of examining the story's original
context, Porterfield shows conclusively that the whole thing was a prac-
tical joke dreamed up by a bored country editor and a local cotton
buyer. It has become a sort of posthumous badger fight, in which several
hundred UFO experts have been left holding the chamber pot.
In spite of the preciousness with which he writes about Mexican
Americans in some of the early pieces, in "The Santa Berta" Porterfield
draws a fine portrait of Jose Alejandro Garcia, a fifth-generation brush-
country rancher, a member of the powerful Yturria family of Browns-
ville, and a kind of Texan we do not often come in contact with, to our
detriment. Other high points of the book are pieces about an indepen-
dent oil driller, a Dallas taxi driver, a revival preacher, and a ne'er-do-
well who runs a gas station with added attractions on the highway be-
tween Kingsville and Raymondville.
Porterfield is obviously a man who loves to talk to people and who
knows that every common man has something uncommon about him.
He says, in his preface, that he wants to show that most Texans do not
fit the popular stereotype of a Texan. He accomplishes this purpose: in
his book there are no loud braggarts, nor any laconic cowboys (depend-
ing on which stereotype you choose), but instead a group of fascinating
individuals whose common denominator seems to be non-conformity to
the accepted mores of middle-class, twentieth-century America. Or is
that a new stereotype for Texans?
Dallas Historical Society
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979, periodical, 1978/1979; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/m1/386/: accessed July 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.