Vol. I, No. 3, Winter 1988

The Readers Respond


of OZW's "bold predictions"in the Fall issue brought comment from David Browman, Department of Anthropology, Washington University. Concerning the prediction that Ozarkers will increasingly commute long distances, Professor Browman observes:

"Since 6,000 years ago, all economic studies have shown that populations, whether ancient Maya, Roman, 19th century British, 20th century Wisconsinites, etc., have a limit of 1-hr travel (as a norm) that they are willing to travel daily for subsistence. Thus, if by long-distance you mean more than 1 hour then clearly your prediction is wrong by all conventional wisdom. It just won't happen, and you can wager money that it won't."

Professor Browman takes us to task for exhibiting "an unconscious cultural bias against the Ozark people," when we speak of one group having crossed into modernity; the other having "failed" to do so. "In fact," says Browman, "it is just such conscious rejection (not failure) of the Ozark folk, which makes them such a rich resource."

Peace!! The OzarksWatch editors disclaim a cultural bias (unconscious or otherwise) against Ozarkers. We were speaking of a two-tiered society. If the word "failed" offends, let's say simply, "one tier will have 'crossed' into cosmopolitanism and modernity; the other will not have done so."

Patricia Beckman from Cole Camp (Benton County, Missouri) reports that the local Historical Society has placed in the library a very complete collection of genealogical information on microfilm. Cole Camp will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 1989.
Barbara Crouch, Mountain View (Howell County, Missouri) has first-hand knowledge of the "New Rurality" discussed in the Fall OzarksWatch. "My husband drives thirty-two miles round-trip each day to work in Willow Springs from our "farmette," she writes. "Each time I top a certain hill and gaze across miles of blue-hazed Ozark hills, my heart responds, 'Yes!'....I can step outside my home-office door into a totally private, woods-lined yard, or within five minutes be sitting beside several gurgling streams, watching darting fish in the clear bottom, without a human sound in many locations. No city or sedative can provide the restoration my soul receives. But how long will this last?" Mrs. Crouch is beginning a new Ozark periodical called The Ozark Link. Its goals, she reports, "will be to put historians of all Ozark-related fields in contact with each other, so that more Ozark history can be preserved more efficiently and quickly." Mrs. Crouch's address is Rt. 3, Box 197, Mountain View, MO 65548.
Dr. Gilbert Fite, of Bella Vista (Benton County, Arkansas), one of the Ozarkers profiled in the Fall issue, writes a thoughtful letter outlining some of the reasons the Ozarks region "will continue to be a most attractive place to live and will therefore draw people from other parts of the country." He mentions the region's natural advantages, such as a fairly mild climate (though "not today with 8 inches of snow," he fusses), beautiful scenery, many recreational opportunities, and plenty of good water. He cites the rural environment, "especially since it is in fairly close proximity to urban and cultural centers." Professor Fite suggests that "cultural homogeneity, mainly people of northern European backgrounds, will be a favorable factor for many outsiders who find some aspects of cultural pluralism unattractive .... "

There are some minuses, says Dr. Fite, including the need for an improved transportation system--roads and air service. Low wages help keep the cost of living down, making the area attractive for retirees, but he worries that these same low wages will not draw young people and workers. "It is my guess," he concludes, "that we will continue to see an outflow of the younger, more vigorous, and better educated population."


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