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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Boerne - Morgenthaler

Boerne, Settlement on the Cibolo by Jefferson MorgenthalerBoerne: Settlement on the Cibolo.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler.  Boerne:  Mockingbird Books, 2005.  paperback, photos, maps, bibliography, photo credit list, index, 125 pages.  ISBN 1-932-80108-1 $14.95


Jefferson Morgenthaler , a former attorney and now independent historian (degrees from UT- Austin) and publisher, and his family moved to a farm on the outskirts of this Central Texas community, began researching his homestead and its surroundings.  Boerne is his story of the town, and the first in his Mockingbird Books publications that reveal the historical stories of Central Texas and elsewhere.


One of the earliest matter of record for the area is the squabble, over land on Cibolo Creek about 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, between Ludovic Colquhoun, a Czech descendant, and Sam Maverick in 1842 based on an 1837 certificate.  Settlement eventually followed.  Boerne, plotted in July 1852 via John James ownership, grew slowly and wasn't surrounded by your typical collection of settlers.  They were intellectual socialists, German freethinkers, independent religionists, radical political theorists, idealistic Unionists, and other such unique individualists tired of the chronic warfare of central Europe at the time. Morgenthaler focuses on the early times up to the early twentieth century, but he occasionally adds comments on the modern times to update a line of discussion, even to the 1980's.


Morgenthaler's research results in a book that is detailed in its following farmers along their property lines, artisans along the trails, the milkman Fabra on his delivery route, families to an occasional religious event, cattle along the streams, and merchants to and from San Antonio, but it is casual in the way a fellow would talk with neighbors.


After settlement the community found its first big challenge during the Civil War that was roundly opposed by the non-slave-holding freethinkers.  The tight-knit nature of the folks is revealed as Morgenthaler says, "The Boerne Gesangverein became more than a singing club; it became a gene pool."  And today, although anybody and swim in the public pool, the life-guard can likely to have German ancestors.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gregg Cantrell - Interview

   Gregg Cantrell, author of a new biography of Stephen F. Austin (first substantive volume since Barker's tome in the 1920's)  is interviewed at
It begins: "
ADP: This is the first major work covering the life of Stephen F. Austin since Eugene C. Barker published The Austin Papers and The Life of Stephen F. Austin in 1928. What inspired you to write a new biography of Austin?
Cantrell: Back in the early 1990s, I served on a committee at Sam Houston State University that was charged with planning the big celebration of Sam Houston's 200th birthday. While serving on that committee, we learned that there were no fewer than four new biographies of Houston being written. As a teacher of Texas history, I knew that Houston and Austin were both born the same year--1793--and I wondered what was being done on Austin. The answer, as it turned out, was nothing! I was hooked."
Read more about it.
Or see his TCU homepage at 

Notes from Texas - Jameson

Notes from Texas coverNotes From Texas:  On Writing in the Lone Star State. Edited by W.C. Jameson.  Fort Worth:  Texas Christian University, 2008. Designed and with usual fine woodcuts of Barbara M. Whitehead.  Dark maroon cloth on boards under an illustrated yellow jacket, with sun yellow endpapers, portrait photographs, indexed, 244 pages.  $27.95, and a genuine bargain at that.  ISBN 9780875653587


Okay.  Here's what you wanted.  You sit down and have a personal one-on-one with 14 successful, living, contemporary authors (and the editor as well) about their lives, childhoods, inspirations, literary influences (both native and ultrariverine), disappointments, and goals.

W.C. Jamison, a native West Texan has done it for you and I'm right glad for it. 

First, let's list the authors in alphabetical order, like the chapters:

Judy Alter, Robert Flynn, Don Graham, Rolando Hinojosa, Paulette Jiles, Elmer Kelton (now passed), Larry L. King, James Ward Lee, James Reasoner, Clay Reynolds, Joyce Gibson Roach, Red Steagall, Carlton Stowers, and Frances Vick.

            Whether they read Tarzan, the Texas old rocks, Shakespeare, or Vanity Fair; fought wars, avoided housework, drudged through writing classes, collected rejection slips, or scratched farmland; plied their trade in periodicals, books, theatrical joints or classrooms, Texas became home and a place of literary reference.

            Judy Alter used the Amon Carter Museum substantially to write her dissertation on the Western myth.  Robert Flynn, a Baptist from Chillicothe, got his writing fingers crushed in an auto door as a child.  Don Graham now teaches Dobie's old course.  Rolando Hinojosa-Smith has 14 novels within his "Klail City Death Trip" series, and he writes because his family read, and read aloud to each other.  Paulette Jiles find that writing is not a spectator sport.  Elmer Kelton, bless his typewriter, knew what it was like when it didn't rain.     Not a shy child, Larry King declared he'd become a "rich Famous Arthur."  James Lee, with Matthew Arnold, wanders "between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born."  Clay Reynolds pursues the ironic along with Shelley.  Joyce Royce recounts the West Texas wisdom, "If rain occasionally comes, will drought be far behind?" Red Steagall listened to the "Lone Ranger" on the radio.   Carlton Stowers continues his hunt for untold stories.  Fran Vick is frank, "Texas has defined my whole life ….", but Fran also can see beyond the river.

            If a youngster wished to teach a sorta course in modern Texas letters, he could cut this volume up into a thousand little pieces, paste them on 5x8 index cards, arrange them chronologically, and start talking as inspired these authors' words.


Allen Wier Interveiws

Find an interview at Allen Wier's homepage and read his Tejano novel.

Tejano, a novel - Allen Wier

    Tejano.  A Novel by Allen Wier.  Dallas:  Southern Methodist University, dist by TAMU Consortium, 2006.  Dark maroon cloth on boards, tan endpapers with flecks of blue, with Acknowledgements and an Epilogue. 736 pages.  ISBN 087075069. &


Allen Wier, a San Antonio native, wrote three previous novels Blanco, Departing as Air, and A Place for Outlaws and other writings in his professional career as a creative writing professor now at the U of Tennessee.  He's gathered awards from state, regional, and national sources.  He's good. TIL to Paisano to Guggenheim etc.  Richard Bausch calls it Tolstoyan in scope. Thomas McGonigle (LA Times) uses Don Quixote as a comparison.  For my money Michener's epic Texas pales compared to Wier's Tejano.

So his novel Tejano is been quite admired for this authenticity and its successfully sustained story line over its 736 pages.  A reader can gain some measure of the plot by scanning the table of contents that is also annotated with significant events from each of the 43 chapters.  The story is written as if by a series of witnesses and the dramatis personae list of "Witnesses" precedes the prologue.  The witnesses append to the life and journey of Gideon Jones, a picaresque figure, and the stories those met by Jones, with considerable other focus from Knobby Cotton, now a freedman. 

Jones is an itinerate mortician from which circumstances his stories often arise, and his "journal" stands as the basis of his tales.  Ultimately, the stories from Texas and elsewhere coalesce into a collage of the face of Texas – a cavalcade of Chaucerian or Boccaccioan characters en route to the land beyond the Red River.  The settings of the tales stretch from ante-bellum to the push back against the Comanche territory in the latter 1800's.   Their stories develop in a camp during the Comanche period.

There are vivid details, human portraits, and intriguing narratives.  For local application, if you enjoyed McMurtry's Lonesome Dove or the Cormac McCarthy novel trilogy, Tejano is a novel for you.  And certainly it's required for any substantial Texas collection.

Texas Dance Halls - Folkins

Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit    Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit.  By Gail Folkins, Photographs by J. Marcus Weekley, and Preface by Andy Wilkinson. Lubbock:  Texas Tech University Press, 2007.  212 pages. 132 duotone photos, ISBNs 978-0-89672-603-1, $34.95 tan cloth, pictorial endpapers, sources, index, Series: Voice in the American West.
Yee Ha!!! Put on your jeans, boots, hats, and fancy, flairing skirts.  The folks at Texas Tech Press have found the early version of Dancing with the Lone Stars.
Here, Gail Folkins, a journalist and creative writing teacher provides the patter and Marcus Weekley chimes in with the photos.
Andy Wilkinson's preface describes the volume as "A curious mixture of community center and honky-tonk ..."  Boot scootinig folks will find that this cultural institution has its roots in Czech and German immigrants.  The 18 chapters two-step you mostly across the center of the state in over a dozen dance halls, starting with the Twin Sisters Hall and ending at the Lukenbach Dance Hall.  For the city slickers, the editors have wisely included the Broken-Spoke-on-the-Colorado.  I'll not mention any other big names for fear of charges of favoritism, but you can see Little Joe y La Familia over at Indian Springs Park right in the middle of the book.
They've got Weekley's pictures of screen doors, singers, fiddlers, tamborine artists, guitarists, drummers, dancers, bartenders, ticket stalls, stools, wide wooden floors, outdoor barbeques, folding chairs at tables, old men, beautiful women, smiles, songs, a Juneteenth celebration, mechanical bulls, real to life horses, kids, pool tables, and, it seems to me, couples standing kinda close together and whispering secrets to each other.  And Folkins' stories go with it all. 
I'm already a bit winded just flipping through the pages and thinking about it all.  Where's a fellow get a Shiner?
As Willie would say, let's dance little longer.  And at home, turn the pages of Tech's new book.

Calvin Littlejohn - Sanders

Calvin Littlejohn: Portrait of a Community in Black and White   Calvin Littlejohn: Portrait of a Community in Black and White.  By Bob Ray Sanders and foreword by Don Carleton. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press and the UT Briscoe Center for American History, 2009. Long, cloth covered hardback with excellent portrait of Littlejohn on the cover, many toned b&w photos, and at the end a list of the photos with lightly expanded annotations of the photos.  ISBN 978-0-87565-381 $29.95
Bob Sanders is long-time fixture at the on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper.  He provides the extensive narrative detailing Littlejohn's life and the photos, now housed at the Briscoe Center in Austin.
During World War II and broadcasts of Amos and Andy, Calvin Littlejohn came from Arkansas to Fort Worth as a young man to serve as a domestic.  Quickly rising, he went on to become the premier photographer of the African Fort Worth community and occasionally beyond.
Schools and students, businesses, community & social events, church buildings and folks, sports & entertainment, and world leaders fill the several chapters.
The adjectives that come to mind are: lively, dignified, industrious, poignant, sorrowful, insightful, and just plain heart-warming.  The man had an eye - and a camera.  Delightful.
Several photos are particularly striking:the "Introductory" page's image of Littlejohn in his own early lab; the 1991 self-portrait (page 13), two fellows resting on wooden crates (no doubt talking about the flooded homes in the background (page 82); third, the wonderful group of kids with their hula-hoops (page 87), and the bride in her gown on page 112.


Corpus Christi - Williams

Corpus Christi      Corpus Christi. by Scott Williams. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. Paperback, many b&w photographs, 6"x9", 128 pages (thicker paper than Arcadia's usual production), ISBN: 9780738558530 $21.99
Scott Williams, UT journalism graduate and long-time writer on Texas and Corpus Christi, has joined with the Corpus Christi Public Library and produced this bustling item in Arcadia's "Images of America Series" of photographic books just chock-full of photos.  And folks of the "Sparkling City by the Sea" will enjoy to extra boon of a packet of picture postcards attached to the book.  This locale's European heritage stretches back to the bay's discovery by Pineda in 1519 as his expedition sketched the first shoreline map of Texas and the 1734 Spanish Fort Lipantitlan.  The later push came with Henry Kinney who started a trading post there in the 1830's, and his Kinney Ranch following the Spanish tradition.
The photos progress from the "Prelude to Paradise, 1839-1899," to "Rising from the Dust, 1900-1925," "Ushering in Prosperity, 1926-1937," "The Military Comes Marching In, 1938-1961," and finally "Modern Era Growth, 1962-2000."
Although its early period of being a sleepy little coastal community is aptly described (even its involvement in the Civil War is largely limited to the 1862 Battle of Corpus Christi Bay), cattle ranches, coastal trade, bridges, railroads, commercial and sport fishing, tourism, and of course, Army & Naval installations and the awl bidness offered steady incentives to growth while hurricanes weeded out the faint hearted.  Now the "Body of Christ" city is one of the few large Texas cities that retains a genuine, original personality.  I've always enjoyed the Texas Library Association and Texas State Historical Association conventions there.
My favorite photo from the first chapter is an 1876 crew of surveyors with their equipment and attending youngsters in training, all be-hatted but not a Stetson in the gang.
Likely the post prominent house of its turn-of-the-century time was the residence of Henrietta King (yes, King ranch folks), and the photo below that of the 1910 Sinton Ladies Club in their best, again all be-hatted but not a Stetson in the flock, demonstrates the attraction to nearby places.  A photo proves snow fell in 1924 and another shows the KKK rose in 1925.
The rise of Tejano influence is signaled by photos of Hector Garcia and Gabe Lozano, Sr.  And James B. McCulllough, their first African American postmaster, is featured.
Oh! And don't forget the postcard packet.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

José Cisneros - Margo

José Cisneros, Immigrant Artist.  Edited by Adair Margo and Leanne Hedrick.  El Paso: Texas Western Press / UTEP, 2006.  Dark brown cloth on boards, sandy endpapers, silver stamping on front and spine, 8 ½ x 11, many photos and graphics, endnotes, index, 108 pages. $45.

Image of book coverJosé Cisneros has long been an admired actor and fixture in Texas illustrative letters.  The editors have gathered his autobiographical essays, arranged from his 1910 origin in Durango on the cusp of the Revolution to recent reflections.  A timeline precedes "José's Beginnings," the first of 23 chapterlettes.  In the 1920's he was inspired by Gustave Doré's illustrations of Don Quixote.  Cisneros' first publication came in the El Hogar magazine in Mexico City. 

In the 1930's he and Tom Lea begin their friendship.  By 1938 he shared with Carl Hertzog the project of Everett DeGolyer's Across Aboriginal America, and subsequently begins long-term Texas residency in El Paso.  His range of books widen with the admiration of the ever talkative J. Frank Dobie.  The artist's honors and awards range from a Paisano Fellowship to an exhibit in the Texas State Capitol building and being Knighted Caballero de Mérito Civil by King Juan Carlos and granted the Humanities Award from President G.W. Bush.

For a fellow who was inspired to artistry via books borrowed from a friend and taught himself to draw by using a stick in the dirt, Cisneros drew a bold line in international art, and likely still sees those lines even though he's 99 and color-blind.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Antique Maps of Texas - Charlton


           Antique Maps of Texas, 4th edition.  Compiled by Pete Charlton.  Fort Worth:  Lectric Books, 2009.  325 pages,  index.  1 CD-ROM (not Mac compatible), $20.00 


Well, pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee because when you get your copy, you'll be looking and clicking for a spell.  This 4th edition of Antique Maps of Texas has over 300 maps.  Yessireebob.  


CONTENTS:  And its arranged into "Great Maps of Texas" 1777-1931, Special Maps (cattle, exploration, military and forts, county, geologic, minerals)  US historic 1803-1907, and 9 sections of grouped USGS selected topographic maps.  Accompanying each map, Charlton has written a 200-word text on the map, the topic, and / or the cartographer.


NAVIGATION;  You can flip through the pages as you would a paper book; you can zoom in for a closer look; you can pan by grab and drag; you can bookmark, you can click the 17 tabs set on the right-hand edge, you can use the find button to search the maps' supplementary text Charlton provided.  And, hey, look, there's a date and place index in the back.  And for those accustomed to passive viewing, you can set the presentation on an auto-flip and watch the page spreads at a variable time span.  If you prefer to opt out of the "page" presentation, a side-show option can be invoked.  To top it off, Charlton has added period graphics between the sections.


Sure enough, the 1902 (the year before my father was born) Century Atlas railroad map shows my father's hometown of Harleton, my mother's hometown of Jefferson, and my hometown of Marshall, all snuggled up together.


Charlton's near decade long project is admirable.  And while you can certainly use and benefit from this electronic map collection, Charlton also offers you the opportunity to have him supply printed versions.  There're fairly good prices.


This is a worthy acquisition for citizens, libraries, and social studies teachers.


NAFTA and the Maquiladora - Miller

Image of book cover      Nafta and the Maquiladora Program:  Rules, Routines, and Institutional Legitimacy Edited by Van V. Miller.  El Paso:  Texas Western Press / University of Texas at El Paso, 2007.  Many graphs and charts, pbk, ISBN 0874043042, 182 pages.$33.00
If you know about such things, this volume would be a sort of "how to do a maquiladora."  Miller has collected 17 essays, most of which your humble reviewer doesn't comprehend - but business folks would.  They treat history, taxation, up-grading beyond the assembly level to the manufacturing and industrial levels, foreign investment, effects on border communities, unions, relationship with the Mexican government, etc.  The phrase "institutional legitimacy" was used and discussed often, but I didn't quite really understand it.
I found the historical treatment more palatable.  Did you know that the U.S. has been encouraging over-seas assembly-work of US supplied parts since 1930 via the Tariff Act of that year?  (Which was about the same time as the Mexican government's seizure of its foreign owned oil fields.)  In the meantime, the US officially acknowledged its reliance on Mexican labor with the Bracero program which ended in 1964.  The Mexican government took serious interest in maquiladoras in the 1960's and got subsequently ramped up after the peso devaluations in 1976, 1982, and 1994.  After the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, the maquiladoras' role, which were originally limited to assembly of products using USA-manufactured parts, has been expanded to permit maquiladora systems to also manufacturing parts and the industrial efforts behind such.  Gee, such a deal!  A newer book would be interesting to consider how the present financial and employment crisis affects the maquiladoras.

Two Trivial - Powell & Prosapio

There must be a minor home industry in trivia books, for instance,

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Texas.  Foreword by William Dylan Powell.  San Diego, Calif.:  Bathroom Readers Hysterical Society, 2004.  pbk 308 pages  $12.95

 Under 23 categories, almost 150 1-3 pagers expound in generally related paragraphs on the chosen topics.  Here you've got historical and contemporary shorts, jokes, lists, Q & A's, squabbles, biographical sketches, musical tours, odd moments, and claims to fame ranging from prehistory to today. 

What were Sam Houston's secrets?  Do real cowboys drink wine?  Was Jeff Skilling a pediatric nurse on a killing spree?  Name three Texas romance novelists (Fern Michaels, Jodi Thomas, and Debbie Macomber)?  What Speaker of the House described himself as "filled with humidity?"  Did Audie Murphy chop cotton?


     Bathroom Book of Texas Trivia:  Weird, Wacky and Wild.  By Winter Prosapio & Lisa Wojna, illus by Peter Tyler and Roger Garcia.   Blue Bike Books / Lone Pine Publishing, 2007.  224 pages, $14.95  ISBN 978-1-897278-30-7

New Braunfels writer, Winter Prosapio and her Canadian comrades offer hundreds of snippets in 70 categories on casual history, contemporary life, and science.  Did you know that Paris, Texas has a 65' tall replica of the Eiffel Tower?  Or that folks in Jefferson started a book club, now with over 30 chapters, named "Pulp Wood Queens of East Texas?"

African Americans in Amarillo - Stuart & Stuntz

    African Americans in Amarillo    

African Americans in Amarillo. By Claudia Stuart and Jean Stuntz.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. paperback, 128 pages. ISBN: 9780738571287

How delightful.  The pictorial volume begins with Bones Hooks, the legendary African Texan cowboy.  Authors Stuart and Stuntz both teach at West Texas A&M in Canyon.

And the story of this Panhandle city during the 20th century goes onward.   The 200+ photos document folks going about their lives in church life, sports, businesses, music, communications specialists, policemen, politics, trains, jewelry stores, Girl Scouting, social life, and more.   Leaders, families, churches, schools, and fraternal orders, and social events have their special chapters.

The photos from church and individual collections are enriched with annotations.

Hmm, as for my favorites, there's Professor Silas Patten in his early model (maybe the 1920's) car that he used to help tend the schools under his tutelage.  And there's Eddie Lee Jones beside one of the several trucks in his trucking business.  I imagine Eddie and Bones could have enjoyed a bowl of chili together.

If you do not yet know somebody from Amarillo, certainly, you'll find interest in the visit of Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson, and other dignitaries.