The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 144
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Another problem with the "In-Betweener" idea is that many of Arnold's chap-
ters read like risque episodes of The Wonder Years, that television icon of Baby
Boomer nostalgia. Arnold suggests the "In-Betweeners" are distinct from all
other demographic groups, yet much of the "irreverence" he considers typical
for them seems Baby Boom in orientation. Furthermore, Arnold's text shares
with The Wonder Years a primitivistic sense of mid-century as more "simple" than
the present. This is Growing Up Simple's greatest flaw: Arnold's central idea, that
the fifties and sixties were "simple," is belied by the period's major social
upheavals (which often turn up as "background"), the Cold War, for instance.
Nevertheless, there are nice moments. One early chapter, in which Arnold
describes meeting a campaigning Harry Truman in the tiny West Texas town of
Uvalde, is particularly interesting: Truman takes Arnold, then a four-year-old son
of a state trooper, to the corner drugstore to get a soda. Arnold is shocked at the
Truman's short stature. He remarks, with ironic innocence, "decision making
leaders don't have to look like John Wayne" (p. 24). Likewise, a chapter describ-
ing the integration of Austin's movie theatres (Arnold was working as an usher
in one of them at the time), and the chapter in which he describes buying an
Austin Healy (he drove the car through the doors of his high school gym as a
senior year coup de grace), also have real charm.
However, one wishes that Arnold would not smooth over conflicts-desegre-
gation, for example. When Arnold describes discovering that, "it was the policy
of Interstate Theatres not to Admit Negroes," he responds, "why would the
Interstate Circuit not take money from black people?" This naivete about race
discrimination after having grown up "simple" in the segregated south is a distress-
The work, then, does offer an often entertaining narrative. Moreover,
Arnold's persona, and the Texas-at-mid-century setting that surrounds it, do
provide moments of pleasure, even if those pleasures are comic, rather than
Appalachian State University COLIN RAMSEY
Struggle for Mastery, Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-zgo8. By Michael Perman.
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Pp. xi+397.
Acknowledgments, conclusion, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8078-
2593-x. $49.95, cloth.)
Stanford historian George M. Fredrickson remarked that Struggle for Mastery "is
about as close to a definitive history of disfranchisement as possible to imagine."
While true, Michael Perman also gives concrete evidence for his particular view
of the objectives of disfranchisement. Disfranchisement was aimed at eliminat-
ing black votes altogether from southern state electorates in an attempt to
reverse the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that in 187o enfran-
chised black men. Race was at the heart of the "electoral reforms" at the turn of
the century-permanently eliminating a black voter bloc would ensure the dom-
inance of the Democratic party in the South.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/162/?rotate=270: accessed May 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.