The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 562
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
touch on those small, often mundane events that mark a person's char-
acter and shape his values.
Skrabanek describes the daily activities of a life that most of us have
forgotten or never knew-milking cows on chilly winter mornings, the
excitement of the arrival of the family's first car, robbing a wild beehive
from a tree down by the creek, slaughtering hogs after the first frost,
making homemade beer, and bathing in a washtub on Saturday night.
Skrabanek recalled that he was last since he was the youngest; the girls
in the family were first.
The central figure in this collection of fond memories is not the teller
of the tale, but "Papa." All members of the family were obedient to his
desires, demands, and schedule. The writer's formative years were
steeped in this old world tradition of male dominance, and many of the
stories illustrate clearly the very different roles allowed by boys/girls
The I92os and 1930s were decades of change in Texas ethnic com-
munities, particularly rural ones. In the late 192os the feeling of ethnic
community was particularly strong. Czech towns and small crossroads
communities offered its members a complete set of social, economic,
and religious institutions. Contacts with outsiders-anyone who was
not Czech-was relatively rare and usually on a formal basis. Members
of the community were strongly encouraged to stay within the confines
of the known quantity. Those who did not were ostracized. The 193os
were different; a series of changes and intrusions altered the old ways
irreversibly. Automobiles-and good roads on which to drive them-
telephones,jobs in the cities, and World War II combined to change the
old ways and open the closed community to outside influences.
To be fair, the author does not neglect to point out the often painful
rigors of the grinding work necessary to make a small family farm pros-
per. He reminds us of the constant struggle against the natural ele-
ments and the realities of the larger market economy.
Robert L. Skrabanek is not an atypical product of this particular
time, place, and ethnic community-though he did return to the re-
gion to teach at his alma mater. His experiences mirror the changes in
the community and those like it across the state. He voted with his feet;
the farm life was not for him. He left the isolated farm and the grueling
life, responding to educational and economic opportunities elsewhere.
That mobility spelled the doom of a very special era in Czech Texan
history. Fortunately, however, he has chosen to share some of those
youthful moments with a wider audience, and has done it in an en-
lightening, entertaining way.
W. PHILL HEWITT
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/632/: accessed April 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.