89 Slices
Medium 9781574412383

“Traveling Texan”

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

TRAVELING TEXAN by Archie P. McDonald

People just can’t stay put. As much as we love hometowns, or

Texas, or America, curiosity and horizons summon us to adventures beyond the seas. Texans, no less than Connecticut Yankees, wander the world with itchy feet and wide eyes at the wonder of it all.

I joined the caravan late. Apart from occasional excursions across the Rio Grande, I was dangerously close to the epitaph I read in an old novel a half century ago: “Here is my butt, the very watermark of all my sails.” Title and author escape me now, so this is as much attribution as I can muster for a line I wish I had written.

Then, in 1986, Ab and Hazel Abernethy tolerated my tagging along with them to Australia for three weeks on a folklore exchange. Ask Ab about our assignment to entertain the inebriated crew of the USS Joseph Kennedy, in port at American River on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, or the controversies that come with comparison of Queensland versus South Australia beer.

The passport acquired for visiting Australia got another stamp in 1990, when the fellow slated to escort fifteen high schoolers on a three-week summer trip to Germany had to withdraw. “Have passport and will travel,” says I, when the chairman of the exchange committee asked me to take over. The deal involved round-trip airfare and home stay with Rotarians in three cities.

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BACK IN THE OUGHT ’SIXTIES

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

BACK IN THE OUGHT ’SIXTIES by Francis Edward Abernethy

I (an English teacher whose academic field was Renaissance drama) became a folklorist in the 1960s, and I am going to tell you about a few of those dear souls who stood in loco parentis and showed me the way.

This all started over coffee and moon pie—at five cents apiece, I might add—in the Lamar Tech faculty lounge, in 1959. The subject of the Texas Folklore Society came up, and a colleague told me that

I should join up with that group. And fifty years ago I did. The following Easter, in 1960, I took the Greyhound from Beaumont and went to present a paper at my first meeting in San Antonio.

I was much impressed with the Menger Hotel, but I was much suppressed by the boisterous jollity of that Thursday evening’s TFS gathering at Casa Rio, when I lately arrived. After dinner, people sang. I sat in the last tier, hugging the shadows. Members were in full cry when I crept out and went back to the hotel to go over my paper for the fiftieth time.

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FOLKLORE SOCIETY MEMORIES

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

FOLKLORE SOCIETY MEMORIES by Archie P. McDonald

My dilemma is that I have never known precisely what folklore is. I have attended a bunch of meetings of the Texas Folklore Society, and its program chairs have been kind enough to allow me to make presentations on a number of occasions. Even the American Folklore Society let me come to Philadelphia to talk about the contemporary Citizens Band radio phenomenon and to Los Angeles to speak on the “B” Western movie heroes of my youth. But I was never sure any of it was actually folklore, and my association with

F. E. Abernethy only exacerbated my dilemma. The reason for that is that in a bitter dispute over the acting ability of my all-time favorite movie hero John Wayne, Ab told me that my taste was all in my mouth. So maybe if I don’t have good taste in movie heroes,

I don’t know what folklore is, either.

That’s all right, though, because I do know something about the folk. I grew up in Beaumont, Texas, the child of refugees who fled southwest Louisiana’s Depression-era poverty for the glittering, bigcity prospects of Beaumont, that Baghdad of the Neches, with its oil fields, refineries, chemical plants, Crockett Street attractions, and nouveau riche pretence. In those days before television, with only

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“Driving Across Texas at Thirty-Five Miles Per Hour”

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

DRIVING ACROSS TEXAS AT THIRTY-FIVE

MILES PER HOUR by Jean Granberry Schnitz

Progress. That’s what they call it. True, travel is easier and faster than it was when I was a child, but trips across Texas are not what they were during the 1930s and 1940s. Expressways and interstate highways now speed travelers to their destinations. The wonderful little towns, the cities full of amazing sights, the courthouses, many with matching small-scale jails—all are by-passed by modern transportation systems. Gone are stop lights and bumpy roads, but not hot, dusty afternoons and freezing mornings. We just don’t notice the outside weather as much now that the windows are tightly closed!

Imagine having no radio or tape deck or CD player or television to bombard the vehicle with sound! Modern children cannot imagine dashing across Texas at thirty-five miles an hour—or less.

How long would a mere six-hundred-mile trip take at that speed?

It would require seventeen hours of driving, plus time for meals, fuel, and other stops. Seventeen hours strapped into a child safety seat would be pure torture! Despite the long hours, I wouldn’t take anything for the experiences my family had during such trips.

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HOW THE TFS HAS INFLUENCED ME AS A WRITER, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT IT HAS MEANT TO ME AS A LISTENER

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor University of North Texas Press PDF

HOW THE TFS HAS INFLUENCED ME AS A

WRITER, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT

IT HAS MEANT TO ME AS A LISTENER by Elmer Kelton

The Texas Folklore Society meetings have long been a highlight of my year, in small part because I pick up inspirations for my fiction writing, but in much larger part because I simply enjoy the people, the stories they tell, and the songs they sing.

I attended my first TFS meeting in 1976 at Arlington to deliver the banquet talk, “Three Kinds of Truth: Fact, Folklore, and Fiction.” I was struck by the broad range of subject matter and the laidback, informal manner of the presenters. The following year I went again, under the guise of being a reporter looking for a news story or two. Soon, I no longer needed excuses. I went because I wanted to, because I enjoyed the papers, and more than that, because I enjoyed the people I met. I have missed few annual meetings since.

Over the years the papers have inspired me, and they have given me story ideas and obscure details which I have used shamelessly to help bring the illusion of life to my fiction. They have given me an insight into the lives and times of people who came before me, people who never show up in the standard history books. In all the history courses I took in high school and the university, I don’t remember one that mentioned Big Foot Wallace or

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