The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amarillo - Paul H. Carlson

Amarillo: The Story of a Western Town.

By Paul H. Carlson. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2006. xv, 283 pages. 53 photos, 3 maps, ISBN 0896725871, $28.95 red and tan cloth.

Paul Carlson (
professes history at Texas Tech and has authored several books, some being Deep Time and the Texas High Plains, The Cowboy Way, and The Plains Indians which was translated into French. He’s credentialed and applauded. You’ll enjoy his Amarillo. It’s the first full history of the town. It should be widely purchased. It’s a good book filling a clear gap.

Early Native Americans found it important that the city rests between two rivers (the Red and the Canadian) and is near natural resources (the Alibates flint quarry). The surrounding ranchland gave it a reason for its original being, where the buffalo had previously been nourished for millennia. The influence of the JA, LIT, XIT, LS, LX, LE, Frying Pan, and T-Anchor ranches push the story as interplanetary space guilds glide in science fiction novels. But these prairie spacemen are real. The ranchers transported countless cattle along trails headed for the liquid life at Wild Horse Lake. The lake rests in a central location which was affirmed by the railroads. The city’s history is strongly influenced by Mid-westerners who acclimated.

Amarillo, the Queen City of the Texas Panhandle, reigns over “The Golden Spread,” encompassing the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and portions of other nearby states. To current residents at times the rest of Texas is an afterthought. In a sense Amarillo is the newest traditional city in the state, population almost 200,000.

But the story is more than trail dust, barbed wire, merchants, churches, movies, and grain silos. In 1900 the “Just Us Girls” started a library which acquired William H. Bush’s collection of books; see Bibliography of the Bush/ FitzSimon/ McCarty Southwestern Collections by William Neal Howard (APL, 1979). Carlson brings a little known event to life as Georgia O’Keefe arrived to paint and the teach high school students. Then there was oil and gas, a world-class helium deposit, and the controversial Pantex Army Ordnance Plant. Interspersed therein, Carlson notes the nearby Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and the West Texas State Normal College (now Aggieland on the Plains). Carlson does not neglect local color; Buffalo Bill, J. Evetts Haley, Route 66, T. Boone Pickens and Stanley Marsh 3’s buried Cadillacs have their place.

In summary, Carlson provides Amarillo at its morning, noon, and ascendancy to “Queen” of the Panhandle. Good reading.

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