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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Savage Wisdom - German

A Savage Wisdom.  By Norman German.  Thibodaux, LA:  Thunder Rain Publishing Corp., 2009, second prtg.  265 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-0-9654569-6-8, $14.00
The interview from Hel:

Professor Norman German of Southeastern Louisiana University edits fiction for the journal Louisiana Literature and has won the Deep South Writers' Contest for No Other World.


How could a young, sweet, Shreveport girl in the Depression become homeless, a cocaine addict, a prostitute, a mother, and finally a cold-blooded killer on Valentine's Day 1940? 

There is a co-dependent relationship between Texas and Louisiana, and German's novelization of the life, crimes, and legends of Toni Jo Henry (born: Annie Beatrice McQuiston), the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair, is on the Bookshelf because the man she murdered was a Texan.  Well, there's another connection, Toni Jo (her prostitute name) fell in love and married in 1939 Claude "Cowboy" Henry who had already murdered a guy in San Antonio.  He was subsequently captured and imprisoned in Texas, and Toni Jo wanted to get him out.  She might have robbed an Arkansas bank to get "Cowboy" out, except in the process she murdered Houston tire salesman Joseph Calloway on Valentine's Day.  She had been picked up as a hitchhiker outside Orange, but she murdered him in Lake Charles, hence a Louisiana murder.  She's hunted and captured and tried and executed in 1942.

If you care to hold hands, for a small price, with a love-starved, addict-prostitute during her murder trial, you'll be rewarded by German's coverage.  It's stark and rich in that New Orleans decadent detail style that Texans like to mention as a party gets a little rowdy.

Midian, Marshall, & Me - Davis

Book Cover    Midian, Marshall & Me.  By Jerome Davis.  edited by Dee Davis and Richard J. Davis, cover design Chelsey Tatum.  Trafford, 2008.  Paperback, 130 pages, size: 5 ½ x 8 ½ , ISBN: 9781425136543, $14.49.

If you've wondered where Martin Luther King's words "I have a dream …" came from, they came from Marshall.  Jerome, a little white boy, was best friends with Midian, a little black boy,  there who grew up to assert that you be judged by the "content of your character."

Jerome, a retired communications professional of print, radio, and TV, authors his personal memoirs of growing up in Marshall in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's.  Midian Johnson lived behind him on the next street.  Such close living was possible because the Davises weren't hardly rich, and as such housed next to African Marshallites.  The boys bonded in the usual Piney Woods minor mischief, church-going, music-sharing, but not Little League, schooling, and the like.  The racial bigotry was real among many in the town, but its clout rarely extended to poor little boys.  Davis' treatment of the period blends the limitations of the time with a bit of gentle avoidance - much as he was treated there.

As it turns out, both boys got good educations there (there's a whole story in that which Davis doesn't touch).  Midian was identified early as a person to know and shape by Senator Lyndon Johnson.  With the 1960 election, young, goodman Midian excelled and went to Washington and found himself advising the vice-president who shortly became the president.  A part of official Marshall in the meantime turned fire department hoses on civil rights advocates on the brick-faced town square.

Midian went on in a successful career and, decades later, recently returned home to Marshall, hoping to retire, but finding himself president of Marshall's Wiley College.

Rarely do these small, modern memoirs carry much of broad value beyond the details of a life, but Davis captures for you things that you would not expect, especially out of Marshall.  Strongly recommended.

Both Davis, now retired in Colleyville, and Johnson are recognized on Marshall's "Wall of Distinction."  For good reasons.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Reviews of Texana databases

As part of a Syracuse University Information Science Technology class assignment, various digital databases are reviewed at Some Texas content databases are considered, e.g.,
Portal to Texas History - University of North Texas Library
Texas Constitutions - University of Texas, Tarleton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research
Museum of History (a virtual museum)

Journey Through Deaf Texas



The news release states in part "JOURNEY THROUGH DEAF TEXAS chronicles the history of TAD since its inception in 1886 and its historic accomplishments that have had an impact on deaf and hard of hearing Texans. The film was co-produced, directed, and edited by David H. Pierce who has worked in the television industry for 24 years.
Stephen C. Baldwin, Ph.D., past president of TAD, co-producer, writer, and researcher of the film, says that "the film is not all about politics and legislative endeavors, but it has sentimental moments about leadership, failures, triumphs, ignorance, apathy and the need to continue to work on making lives better for the Texas Deaf Community."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Texas State Travel Guide - It's free

The Travel Guide is really a grand volume to have - sites all over Texas.  Get a recent edition with a telephone call.
"For a FREE packet containing the Texas State Travel Guide, Texas Accommodations Guide, and Texas Official Travel Map, call 800-8888-TEX (839) in the US and Canada,."
Travel Guides

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Texas Quilts and Quilters - Kaylakie

Texas Quilts and Quilters:  A Lone Star Legacy.  By Marcia Kaylakie, with Janice Whittington, photography by Jim Lincoln, and foreword by Marian Ann J. Montgomery.  Lubbock:  Texas Tech University Press, 2007. Hardback with silver stamping on the spine and under dark blue cloth, and Mexican gold endpapers.  264 pages. 182 b&w and color photos, ports., 1 map, index, ISBN 0896726061, 978-0-89672-606-2, $39.95 (Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest Series)
An excellent investment.  You'll find yourself touching the 11x11 inch pages to feel the fabric and stiching.  This chronological presentation begins in the 1860's  and progresses through 32 named patterns with stories pulled from the towns across Texas.
A "Cattle Brand" quilt, sure, and a "Gone With the Wind" quilt, sure, but who could have imagined that the dirt and filth of the "Oil Field" could be converted into a bright quilt design; apparently Katherine Hervey did so in Fort Worth.  Maybe the most beautiful to me is Etta Mae Nelson Back's "Yo-Yo Quilt."  The gentle warmth, the deep cream and soft colors, and 1 ¼" squares arranged in the 30 multiply-bordered squares combine to evoke a sign and stroke a young boy could have had. 
The "Rainbow Quilt" at the Gage Hotel is so striking, I'm tempted to allege they stole the one I once had, but, really, they didn't.   Allie Burkett's "Blue Lone Star Quilt" is memorable first for its blue theme, without the usual red splash, and now I notice the publishers' chose it for the jacket cover.  Good choice!  But, oh, the 2001 "Traveling Stars Quilt" also commands my attention, nothing bright, but the maroon, black, and rosy cream tied together and bordered by the concentric diamonds.
A 3 to 4 page narrative accompanies each of the quilts and once the festival of page-turning slows, you'll the reading worthwhile.

Texas Wineries - Esco

Texas WineriesTexas Wineries.  By Melinda Esco.  Fort Worth:  Texas Christian University Press, 2009.  Hardback, color photos, maps, directory, and glossary.  ISBN 9780875653969  $9.95
As a Master Gardener and occasional fermented grape drinker, Esco found herself writing a "Small Book" for TCU Press.  She lifted the topic, studied its clarity, sipped, and wrote.
We're treated with pleasant, short chapters on history, business, grape growing, wine making, and survey of many of the wineries in Texas.  From the practical view, many the most useful part is the url appended to each winery in the directory of the nearly one-hundred in the list.
We've almost all heard how Texas grapes virtually, completely almost saved the entire French wine industry during their late unpleasantness, but the book's outdoors photos of valley fields and vines come to rest grapely upon the mind with a suggestion of muscadine. Salúte to Melinda.

From Birdwomen - Erisman

From Birdwomen to Skygirls:  American Girls' Aviation Stories.  By Fred Erisman.  Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2009.  Hardback and jacket, 261 pages, photos, facsimiles, chapter notes, endnotes, bibliography, index.  ISBN 9780875653976.
Erisman's survey demonstrates TCU Press' service to the children and young adult market beyond the topic of Texana.  The author, already having covered the same topic for boys, analyzes a three-threaded topic – girls series books about aviation, technological changes in aviation, and female roles in real life – especially the aviatrix group.  Somebody oughta write a young reader about Texas flying women - maybe begin with Bessie Coleman.
If you've read Hardy Boy books, as I did, or Nancy Drew, you already have a handle on Erisman's adventure in flying adolescent literarture.

La Junta de los Rios - a new thesis by Folsom

Readers of La Junta history may wish to consult a new thesis from UNT.
His chapters are topical

1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................1

2. THE INDIANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT..............................................16

3. THE CONQUISTADOR...........................................................................32

4. THE SPANISH CIVILIAN SETTLER........................................................50

5. THE MISSIONARY..................................................................................66

6. THE PRESIDIAL SOLDIER.....................................................................82

7. CONCLUSION.......................................................................................105
It should be interesting in light of Morgenthaler's two recent volumes.

La Junta de los Rios - Morgenthaler

cover art    
   La Junta de los Rios: The life, death, and resurrection of an ancient desert community in the Big Bend region of Texas.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler. Boerne, Texas:  Mockingbird Books, 2007.  183 pages, notes, bibliography, index, paperback, ISBN 978-1-932801-10-1 $18.95.
La Junta is a comprehensive history of the early period, up to the 1800's, of the region along the Texas – Mexican border where the Rio Conchos confluences with the Rio Grande.  As such in La Junta Morgenthaler provides and excellent prequel to his The River Has Never Divided Us that covers the 1800's onward.
La Junta is often overlooked in the history of early Spanish Texas, in favor of San Antonio, settlements in the Valley, and El Paso, but the Spanish used La Junta as a major gateway.  Furthermore Morgenthaler goes into convincing detail to demonstrate the intelligence and energy of the Jumano and other natives whose culture had persisted for hundreds of years.
On New Spain's northern frontier, Nueva Vizcaya it came to be called, the wasteland and scattered fertile plots around these rivers were generally protected by the mountains and harsh living conditions.  Cabeza de Vaca slipped through from the north.  Random contacts occurred until the 1580's Rodriguez and Chamuscado expedition came looking for a path to Cibola.  Espejo came only a couple of years later.  Spanish enforcers pursued Sosa up the river.  Another freebooter, Leyva y Bonilla, this way came.  Onate passed through on his way to establish his settlement in New Mexico.    Death and conflict ensued.  Missions, presidios, about ten pueblos, and trade followed. 
Morgenthaler develops the influence of Mendoza, Retana, and Sabeata.  A rebellion failed in the 1680's, and the La Salle entry shook the region.  But later the Apaches came raiding the region, and the Spanish stalled.  Until the volume's end the Apache are a dominant theme or background noise as the Spanish presence expands northward into Texas.
Morgenthaler adds more fully clothed characters to the Texas story around La Junta.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

River Has Never Divided Us - Morgenthaler

The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of La Junta de los Rios (Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture, No. 13)The River Has Never Divided Us:  A Border History of La Junta de los Rios.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. 355 pages, 42 photos, 8 maps, chapter notes and back notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-0-292-70283-7. $22.95.
"No other history of the area has approached the broad interpretation of this book as it weaves this intensive study of La Junta so closely into the international trends and events taking place in Texas, Mexico, and the United States. . . . The writing is witty, bold and enticing." - —Andres Tijerina, author of Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos


Down on the border, near Ojinaga and Presidio, a Mexican River, the Rio Conchos, flows down from Chihuahua and joins, above the Big Bend, with the Rio Grande and there life has persisted in a harsh environment – for hundreds of years.  Jefferson Morgenthaler, and lawyer, communications consultant, and publisher, has built upon his academic investigation to give us the story of the more recent times of the 1800's forward toward the end of the Mexican Revolution for the surrounding 20 to 30 miles.

He first draws your attention to the death of Esquivel Hernandez at the hands of U.S. Marines in 1997.  Then Morgenthaler backgrounds readers in the Chihuahua Desert, plateaus,  mountains, canyons, streams, and early native life, Cabeza de Vaca, and Spanish efforts at settlement.  Then the Americans came.

You have Doniphan's Expedition, land transfers, Ben Leaton, Jay Hayes, Lt. Whiting drawing the line, the 49ers on their way to California, and the Scalp Hunters like James Kirker.

There was smuggling, then as now, and lots of silver.  Railroads arrived and the spread of ranches and military posts increased.  Greed and murder laced with revenge.  There was Ortega's Rebellion, followed by Orozco and Huerta, and Pancho Villa, chased by Black Jack Pershing.  Smuggling revived with liquor contraband, and drugs would derive from there.

Morgenthaler uses many sources, many of which are primary, and his interesting narrative of discovery is yours for the purchase.

Waco - Ames

  Waco    Waco.  By Eric S. Ames.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2009.  Paperback, many black and white photos, ISBN: 9780738571317, 128 pages, $21.99.

Young Mr. Ames has done a remarkable job of collecting the names and "assistance" of noted local and state historians for this photographic compendium.  And he was lucky that the Baylor University Library Texas Collection's Fred Gildersleeve Collection was made available to him.  The volume is divided into simple chapters: Waco Spirit, structural landmarks, scenes, recreation and play, and news headlines.

Folks probably know Waco for historic Baylor University, Dr Pepper, the suspension bridge that preceded the Brooklyn Bridge, William Brann and his internationally successful Iconoclast newspaper, and the "Crash at Crush."  But the Alico Building was one of the first Texas skyscrapers and a "red light district" are also remembered.

For a town whose existence was keenly dependent on early agricultural success, there are only a few photos of African Texans, but the Paul Quinn College is represented as well as other situations.  More could have been found.

Some remarkable shots include Gildersleeve's improvised tower from which he captured photographs, the bird's-eye-view of the Masonic Grand Lodge building, the sweeping panoramas, and the 1953 tornado images.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bulldozed: Kelo by Main - with comments by George Will

Bulldozed by Carla Main    Columnist George Will, in his Washington Post filing, explores the ghastly attempt to suppress a Texas book and to suppress critical approval on that book, and the stunning question of the state government's successful attempts to take by eminent domain your personal real estate and give it to other commercial interests.  The city of interest is Freeport, Texas.
Bulldozed: 'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land by Carla Main
Read Will's commentary at the Washington Post August 19, 2009.
A related question was on the November ballot.
Or see Carla Main's homepage
Where her site describes her book as: "Bulldozed: 'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land is a book for any American concerned about the future of property rights and the American Dream. For those interested in urban affairs and the law, Bulldozed provides an in-depth account into the way an eminent domain battle affects a family and a town.

Set in East Texas, Bulldozed tells the story of Pappy Gore. Born into poverty, he grows up to found a successful business, Western Seafood, and become a pillar of his community. But then things change in town. The city of Freeport decides to build a commercial marina on the river and moves to take Pappy's land in eminent domain. The city wants to turn the land over to Western Seafood's next-door neighbor -- a descendant of a great Texas oil family -- who will build the marina. Long-standing neighbors and friends take sides as the marina controversy brings to the fore deep-seated differences over values, justice and fair play, eventually splitting the town down the middle.

Against this backdrop, Bulldozed examines the history of eminent domain from the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the Bill of Rights by James Madison, through the behind-the-scenes intrigue that transpired in New London, Connecticut leading to the Kelo case. Bulldozed addresses the all-important question: How did we get here in America?"


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Texas Tribune - new newspaper

       The Texas Tribune is described by the Texas Community College Teachers Association:

The TCCTA description begins:  "A new approach to Texas journalism is getting cranked up, and you may want to have a look. It's the Texas Tribune, calling itself a "non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization," with promises to "promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern." 
So far it looks like the effort will devote considerable energy to legislative and education issues."
Or go to the new Texas Tribune, headed by the former head of Texas Monthly, Evan Smith
Check its parts
  • Front Page
  • Topics
  • Library
  • Blogs
  • 2010
  • Calendar
  • CampusWire

    Writers include

    Julian Aguilar Brandi Grissom Reeve Hamilton Jim Henson Elise Hu Ben Philpott
    Ross Ramsey Emily Ramshaw Abby Rapoport Daron Shaw Evan Smith
    Morgan Smith Matt Stiles Brian Thevenot

    Moonlight Desperado - Hamilton

    The Seduced by History blog carries notes about Moonlight Desperado, by Jeanmarie Hamilton

    Weaving History with Shapeshifters

    The author's commentary begins: "Even shape shifter stories can revolve around historical facts.
    In my werewolf western historical, Moonlight Desperado, soon to be published by Siren-Bookstrand Publishing, the hero's original goal is inspired by Texas history.
    The inspiration for the story came from a family story that happened after the Civil War ended. Raiders passing through Texas demanded bedding to sleep on outside my great great grandmother's home. Of course the characters have been changed in my story, Moonlight Desperado."
    Read more about this erotic paranormal if you dare:
    Interview at Siren Publishing

    Roswell, Texas - Smith

    roswellIf you know what Roswell connotes, you'll enjoy this science ficiton.  A review by NM Boliek of Roswell, Texas by L.Neil Smith, Rex F May, Scott Bieser and Jen Zachis at
    The reviewer enjoyed the book but complains that there's too much history, not enough fiction, he thinks that the up-coming Cowboys & Aliens will solve that concern.

    Lone Star / No Country

    Steven Thomas compares Lone Star and No Country for Old Men

    Lit - Karr

    LitMary Karr's third memoir, Lit: A Memoir  is reviewed in New York Books at
    and the Christian Science Monitor at
    and National Public Radio
    and New York Time Out
    and the Los Angeles Tlimes at
    and her Poems at New York Times
    She starts writing, wiiving, mothering, and drinking.  The she sobers up, more than her mother, finds God, and settles down.  You recall her first work was Liars Club about her childhood in East Texas.

    Mike Cox - Interview

    TimeOfRangers  Ed Blackburn at the Texana Review interviews Mike Cox on his new (second installment) Texas Ranger book, Time of the Rangers.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    H.G. Bissinger Inteview

    Friday Night Lights author H.G. Bissinger is interviewed, partially about last year's banning of FNL in Beaumont schools, in the annual report of the Texas ACLU review of Texas schools' recently banned books.  McCarthy's The Road and Sandra Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek are on the lists.

    Page 8 reports "Where were the Most Challenges?

    Stephenville, Houston and Irving school districts reported the most challenges for the 2008-2009 school year. Stephenville ISD led the charge this year with 11

    challenges, all of which resulted in bans. Houston ISD and Irving ISD tied for the second most this year with six challenges each. This marks quite the improvement

    for HISD, as the district reported 20 challenges last year. Unfortunately, only one of HISD's six challenges resulted in the book being retained without restriction.

    While Irving ISD experienced just as many challenges, five of the six books challenged were retained without restriction: a sole book was restricted to the reference library. Tying for third was Seguin ISD and Klein ISD, each with four challenges."


    National Banned Books Week September 26 – October 3, 2009