Features and Fillers: Texas Journalists on Texas Folklore is now available as a free e-book at the UNT Digital Library and The Portal to Texas History.
Without the footnote and bibliography baggage of academic writings, these newspaper articles and stories detail the traditions, customs and practices of Texans from El Paso to Longview, from Amarillo to Houston. This is a book about the folk as journalists write about them.
Folklorist Jim Harris discovered through writing his own column that newspaper readers were hungry for articles about their past, but they did not want dry historical facts. They wanted lively and personal stories about such topics as the Native Americans who once roamed the plains, settlers who came from the east, the formation of early twentieth-century communities, abandoned school houses, ghost towns, old-fashioned ranch dances, or life in the oil camps.
Any observant reader of newspapers will find examples of traditional life being reported and analyzed in the papers, be they large circulation dailies in metropolitan areas or small papers in rural and isolated regions. Journalists use folklore subjects in a variety of ways: reporting on an upcoming traditional festival; on the creation of a traditional artifact, an individual’s rug or a communal quilt; or profiling a local folk artist or musician.
"Since I got my real education working at my Texas Panhandle hometown weekly newspaper, I know the truth this important book delivers. The newspaper was and is one of the best ways to keep the amazing and always interesting folklore of Texas alive."—John Garmon, Salem, Oregon
Selected table of contents:
"Dusting Out," F. E. Abernethy; "Hallie Stillwell Will Live on in Memory," Kent Biffle; "Gold Diggers," Patrick Dearen; "El Ojo and Other Folk Beliefs," Joe Graham; "The Ghosts of Bill Longley,"A. C. Greene; "Cow Chip Tea," Haywood Hygh; "Orient Hotel Saw Good Times and Bad," Elmer Kelton; "Weather Lore Isn’t All Wet," Stanley Marcus; "Dyin’ Easy," Joyce Roach; "Tales of a Rural School Teacher," Lou Rodenberger; "Chicken-fried Steak Tour through Texas," Alan Soloman; "A Legend Runs through It: The Pecos River," Bryan Woolley; "The Weeping Woman," John O. West; "Bad Roosters," Henry Wolff, Jr.