The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994 Page: 181
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west (Paragon House, 1990). Moreover, an eight-sentence paragraph in Texans, a
paean to the healing balm of artful storytelling, is lifted without change, and
without attribution, from page five of Vermonters.
"People often ask how I find the people I interview for my oral history books,"
he remarks. "The answer is simple: I quiz everyone I meet for potential
interviewees" (p. 42). Among Texans this referral system produced the fifty-five
narrators present in this book, although oddly he says the number is "nearly four
dozen" in his introduction (p. xv). He does not disclose if more than fifty-five
were taped, or if some unstated criterion determined why some were discarded
or retained for this "collection of miniautobiographies" (p. xv). Males outnum-
ber females forty-two to thirteen; four of his informants are Hispanic (two males,
two females), and three are African Americans (two males, one female). Strick-
land prefaces all narrations with biographical and other information about these
individuals, and their quoted texts vary from one to eleven pages in length, with
most (thirty-three) occupying four to eight pages. Five of the females receive.
three pages or less. One of them (hidden by the only pseudonym employed in
this book), a dancer from Texarkana who moved to Houston and loved to two-
step at Gilley's (which he misspells) and other honky-tonks, faults Texas men as
overly egotistical and too dominating. But four years after this criticism, readers
learn in a footnote, she "remarried and said that her feelings about Texas men
had completely changed thanks to an improved love life" (p. 107). The fact that
female Texans are under-represented in this volume is a deficiency spiced with
irony; one male asserts, "This is a matriarchy down here" (p. 132). Another ac-
knowledges, '"Texas's women made this country. That's where we got the cul-
ture. Them old boys didn't give a damn whether they had schools or churches,
the finer things in life. But them women did" (p. 46).
Thematically, the central quest in Strickland's odyssey is for elucidations of
what he calls "Texan-ness" (p. xv). But he demurs from defining this quintes-
sence, beyond saying he focuses on "that kernel of regional self which has
evolved from the Wild West through the twentieth century's flight from the land
and into the twenty-first century's steps into space" (p. xv). He characterizes the
hopes and dreams of Texas as "very romantic" (p. xix), and traversed Texas seek-
ing to be thrilled just as oldtimers, conjuring enchanting scenes of covered wag-
ons venturing majestically into sparsely settled terrain, were thrilled decades ago.
Looking for exponents of distinctive folkways, lifestyles, occupations, and out-
looks, he found many stereotypes. One man is heralded as "Mr. Texas Barbe-
cue"; another is labeled "Texas Cajun #1." Others in his lineup include the
football coach at Brownwood High School, a Texas Ranger who got his man, the
announcer at the Pecos Rodeo, a beekeeper from Uvalde, a Hill Country taxi-
dermist, a bootmaker in San Antonio, and two quilters. Marvin Zindler makes a
cameo appearance, predictably recounting the closing of the Chicken Ranch in
John Henry Faulk is here, telling a tale about his East Texas pineywoods kin-
folk, but a different tale about kinship suggests, in a brief passage, the opportu-
nities Strickland did not pursue. A collector of railroad nostalgia in Brown
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994, periodical, 1994; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117154/m1/209/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.