Features and Fillers: Texas Journalists on Texas Folklore
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. Readers were starving for stories about the Native Americans who once roamed the plains, settlers who came from the east, the formation of early 20th-century communities, abandoned school houses, how a ghost town got its name, an infamous stretch of county road, a famous ranch, ranch dances held in decades past, an old rodeo hand, a woman who lived in a dugout when she was a girl, life in the oil camps, hunting for arrowheads below the caprock. In other words, what people wanted to read was not so much their history as their folklore, passed down through the years, much of it by word of mouth but some of it preserved and circulated by other means.
Texas newspapers have fed and continue to feed their readers with local and state-wide traditional life. Any observant reader of Texas newspapers will find examples of traditional life being reported and analyzed in the state's papers, be they large circulation dailies in metropolitan areas, such as The Dallas Morning News, or small papers in rural and isolated regions, such as The Pecos Enterprise. The writers of these stories range from beginning reporters and part-time columnists, to veteran editors, and the subjects vary from a tale about the Alamo to trades day in Canton to building houses out of adobe in the Rio Grande Valley.
The writings in Features and Fillers are a sampling of Texas traditional life in the last half of the 20th century. These full-time and part-time journalists have worked many years for large and small newspapers,ranging from far West Texas to deep East Texas, from the Panhandle to the Valley. Their subjects reflect the writers' own interests, but they reflect also the interests of the people in their communities. Their subjects are the traditions, customs, and practices of the people in communities as diverse as the state is wide. Their subjects are the folklore of Texas.
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