The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 477
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2004 Book Reviews 477
so little-known in the United States. Essentially, the book is a rare collection of
remarkable photographs by an award-winning photojournalist, accompanied by
essays from knowledgeable commentators.
In 1981 Al Rendon, already a professional photographer in his early twenties,
was asked by the San Antonio Fiesta Commission to cover a charreada-an event
of the annual April Fiesta celebration. Although a lifelong San Antonian, he
knew nothing about the Mexican rodeo, the charreada. He found himself sud-
denly captivated by the exciting and consummate horsemanship, the strict
adherence to the numerous precise rules governing the performance of contes-
tants as well as their horses, the high respect held for the judges, the soul-stirring
music, and the colorful flags and uniquely elegant attire of the charros. He was
impressed by the San Antonio Charro Association's warm spirit of family inclu-
sion and spirituality and everyone's evident pride in the history of the Mexican
people and their traditions and culture. (The San Antonio Charro Association,
chartered in 1947, was the first accredited charro association north of the Rio
Grande, according to Abernethy.)
Rendon began to attend voluntarily, year after year, the family events embod-
ied in charreria, and to photograph them as well as their charreadas. His book
shows seventy-five sepia photographs reproduced in duotone, selected from
thousands taken during more than twenty years. Some of the action photos have
been rarely matched anywhere. He captures the showmanship, the pomp, the
expensive attire, and fine, highly trained and dazzling skills and proud body lan-
guage of the charros and their meticulously trained horses.
This, the only book of its kind in English, opens a refreshing new view of the
world of Hispanicity in the United States. It was not until the 198os that the
charreria and the charreada began coming to the attention of folklorists in the
United States. The editor of the present work, Francis Edward Abernethy, a lead-
ing folklorist in Texas today, says in the preface that "about ten years ago I went
to an El Paso charreada and expanded my education considerably." In 1999 he
witnessed Julia Hambric's charreada paper and slides presented at the Midland
meeting of the Texas Folklore Society (TFS). He subsequently noticed a feature
on the charreada in the Dallas Mornzng News by a fellow TFS member, feature
writer and novelist Bryan Woolley. Soon thereafter, he saw an exhibit of Al
Rendon's charreada photographs at the University of Texas Institute of Texan
Cultures in San Antonio. Visions of an innovative and niche-filling book came to
his mind. He would combine Rendon's spectacular photographs with Wooley's
feature article and his own offerings, anchoring those with the experienced
scholarship of a pioneering student and exponent of charreria Julia Hambric.
She first learned about charreadas in 1981, when she was a teacher and advisor
at Socorro High School in El Paso for a student-produced series of folklore
booklets inspired by the Foxfire books. One of the chapters in the Soccoro High
School booklet was on the charreada. With her interest piqued by the students'
six-page illustrated article, Hambric began a serious study of the charreada, the
results of which are evident in her three essays "Charro Reglia," "The Events in
the Charreada," and "La Escaramuza."
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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/m1/535/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.