The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 391
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Edward Abernethy in the 1998 reprint. The annual publications are a major perk
of membership in the Texas Folklore Society and some members were disappoint-
ed to receive a reprint of an earlier published book that was itself made up of
materials previously published by the Society. As Abernethy points out in the new
introduction, the book has been out of print. It remains, however, readily available
in many Texas libraries. That disappointment was compounded by the fact that
the 1998 reprint was issued as a trade paperback when the annual publications of
the Society have previously been fine cloth bound volumes.
For the folklorist Texas is blessed with a rich complex of often clashing, mix-
ing, and evolving cultures. This anthology makes the most of the exciting cul-
ture morass that was and is Texas. The book opens with "Indian Tales" in spite
of the fact that most native Americans had been forcefully removed from the
state long before this collection began. Stories from the oral tradition of the still-
Texan Alabama-Coushatta are included with stories from the long-gone (from
Texas) Kiowa-Apache. The folklore of Mexican Americans in Texas is promi-
nent, beginning with a number of legends in the "Tales" section of the book as
well as many items in sections containing other kinds of folklore throughout the
book. Another early section of the book is "Negro Tales and Jokes" and other
sections contain black folklore, such as folk songs, spirituals, sermons. and
proverbs. Southern and Anglo cultures are not given a separate section for folk-
tales, but their folklore is well represented with pieces by Bertha McKee Dobie
like "The Johnnycake," L. W. Payne Jr.'s "The Frog's Courting," Walter Prescott
Webb's "The Legned of Sam Bass," plus superstitions and occupations (folklore
of cowboys and the oil patch).
Contemporary folklorists may find many of the legends in the "Tales" section
of the book disappointing in that these stories are given no contexts or interpre-
tation. They are "good," that is, interesting and perhaps insightful stories, but we
are told nothing of the presentation circumstances of these traditional oral
items, we know nothing of their original intended or typical audience or the
meanings and roles of these items within their cultures. If folklore scholars are
disappointed by the absence of contexts and interpretation for these "Tales"
then they should be pleased with the inclusion of Mody C. Boatright's "Aunt
Cordie's Ax and Other Motifs in Oil," which is an excellent example of folkloris-
tics interpretation based on analysis of contexts.
Many of the items have intrinsic interest and cultural context is contained
within the item itself. In both John R. Craddock's "Stampede Mesa" andJ. Frank
Dobie's "The Deathless Pacing White Stallion" the story includes enough con-
text for most of today's audiences (at least in Texas and the U. S. West) to inter-
pret meanings comfortably. I wonder if that will be the case in 2050?
Standard or at least predictable Texas folklore items like "The Weeping
Woman (La Llorona)" by Soledad Perez and "Juneteenth" by J. Mason Brewer
are found right where they should be. There are also some surprises like the
excellent, scholarly, and most timeless peice in the book, "Folklore in Natural
History" by Roy Bedichek. All six of the drawings by Jose Cisneros are appropri-
ate and compelling. My favorite is an illustration of Don Pedrito performing a
water cure in Ruth Dodson's piece on Mexican American folk medicine. As W.
H. Hutchinson put it in a 1955 review in the New York Times, "There is pedantry
in this volume but there is more good reading" (Apr. 24, 1955, p. 36).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/437/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.