Ozark Baptizings, Hangings, and Other Diversions: Theatrical Folkways of Rural Missouri, 1885-1910

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University of Oklahoma Press, Jan 1, 1990 - History - 294 pages
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Ozark Baptizings, Hangings, and Other Diversions is about the people of a unique corner of America and how they entertained themselves at the turn of the century.

In the years from 1885 to 1910 most Ozark communities were still relatively isolated from the outside and from each other. Thus they had to rely on their own resources for diversion from the difficult and often solitary business of everyday living. The most popular of their entertainments were those that brought some "theater" into their lives. They especially delighted in "literaries," debates, mock trials, closing-of-school programs, suppers, picnics, brush-arbor revivals, and baptizings.

Then there was the occasional hanging that for audience attention was rivaled only by the political rally. The hanging took on all the flavor of high drama, even to the impassioned farewell address by the condemned, who was carried away by the excitement of it all.

By their entertainments shall we know them, and this account of Ozarkers' diversions reveals them in all their independence, conservatism, sense of place, humor, dedication to learning, love of the spoken language, and religious and political intensity.

No "come-here" (an Ozarker's term for a newcomer), Robert K. Gilmore grew up on an Ozark farm, reared by grandparents who were young in the era described in this book. Years later he went back to the rural Ozarks and encouraged the people to recall the early days for him.

They described the entertainments of their youth with a special clarity of recall. The files of the Ozark weeklies also proved richly rewarding. The editors and their rural "correspondents" delighted in describing the local entertainments in vivid reportage loaded with editorial comment. 

This book, illustrated with rare photographs of turn-of-the-century diversions celebrates the centennial of an era.


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Review: Ozark Baptizings, Hangings, and Other Diversions: Theatrical Folkways of Rural Missouri, 1885-1910

User Review  - Eva Smith - Goodreads

Did you ever wonder what people did before television? Here is your answer: literaries -- kangaroo courts, debates, spelling bees and ciphering matches, declamatory and drama programs, and tableaus ... Read full review


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References to this book

Ozark Country
W. K. McNeil
Limited preview - 1995
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About the author (1990)

ROBERT K. GILMORE , a native of Springfield, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozarks, received the Ph.D. degree in theater from the University of Minnesota. He was Provost and Dean of Faculties in Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield.

ROBERT FLANDERS JR. is a former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where he served for eight years before returning to the private practice of law in 2004. He is a partner in the Providence-based law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, LLP. He serves as an Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Brown University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University, where he teaches courses on the Judicial Process. Judge Flanders is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University.

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