The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 466
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
clothes, iron, sew, and "prepare special meals for guests at King Ranch" (p. 22).
With a focus on the strong role of the families, the book cites succeeding genera-
tions of Kinefios. For example, Librador Maldonado was trusted to care for prize
King Ranch bulls. As a dedicated worker, Librador even traveled in the railroad
boxcars, eating canned food in the boxcar "so he would not have to leave the
cattle and go into a cafe to eat." Later, his granddaughter, Sonia Maldonado
Garcia, used his training skills, and won the Grand Champion prize at the coun-
ty fair (pp. 68-73).
The authors accomplish their stated purpose in presenting role models. This is
one of the first books published by a major university press to identify Tejano va-
quero role models. Tales of the Wld Horse Desert names individuals such as Seferino
Gutierrez and Manuel Silva as expert ropers, and Martin Mendietta as the "expert
horseman" of South Texas lore (p. 58). It recognizes David Maldonado, a gradu-
ate of Texas A&I University, who returned to the King Ranch to become director
of human resources. The authors cite the King Ranch-sponsored Academy High
School in town, where 100oo percent of the students graduate, and 8o percent go
on to college. This support, the authors state, created a mutual respect between
ranch owners and the "King's men," maintained a "loyal work force," and allowed
the ranch "to operate with little disruption ever since the late 1850s" (p. 24).
The book is most useful in the depiction of the critical role of the Tejano fam-
ilies in ranch life. One chapter title instructs that "The Family was First." An ap-
pendix provides a useful reference for the genealogy of the several Kinefio
families. Another appendix includes Kinefio family recipes and classroom activi-
ties for students to relive historical events of ranch life. This book is weakened,
however, by its persistent racial references, which tend to undermine its useful-
ness for the post-1960s classroom. From the first pages, the book refers to the
Kinefios and Mexican Americans of South Texas as "Mexicans" (p. 7). Its fre-
quent use of the term "Mexican bandits" will limit its marketability in the grow-
ing Hispanic demographic targeted by the authors.
The greatest weakness of the book lies, however, in the subtle undertone of
subservience brushed on the very "role models" the book tries to elevate. Sur-
rounded by the ever-present backdrop of paternalism, even the proudest Kinefios
are depicted as "the most trusted servant" or as entertaining Anglo-American
guests. A proud vaquero is cited as "loyal" because he used to pitch pennies in the
air for "Don Ricardo" to shoot. Another of the adult vaquero role models refers to
Robert and Richard Kleberg as "Mr. Bob and Mr. Dick" (p. 67). The children are
trained as a "loyal work force" to do "boy jobs." In contrast, the Anglo-American
children in Elliott West's award-winning book Growing Up with the Country are seen
by that author as being "part of the adult world" rather than as "boys" (UNM
Press, 1989). Where all workers live in company housing on the company ranch,
and buy at the company store, emphasis is placed less on their reputation in their
own community than on their "loyalty" to the ranch. Even when Kinefios were al-
lowed to have a semi-pro baseball team, they were "not allowed to argue with the
umpire" (p. 83). Deference to the King Ranch is understandable in Kleberg
County, but a scholarly review must question some of the assertions.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/534/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.