Volume 9, Number 9 - Fall 1987

By An Ozarks Bibliophile

It was Thanksgiving morning, and I was looking over my bookshelves and rummaging through the piles of stuff on my desk, when it occured to me that the period of the last two or three years has seen the production of a significant amount of well written, and above all, authentic material about the Ozarks, its people and its culture. The selections listed here are arbitrary, personal and incomplete. I share them with you because I enjoyed them and have found them both interesting and valuable. I hope you will, too.

Ozark Folklore, An Annotated Bibliography, Volume U, (Vance Randolph and Gordon McCann, University of Missouri Press, Columbia. 1987). The first volume of Ozark Folklore was published by Randolph in 1972, with information about more than 2,500 sources. McCann worked with Randolph searching for additional publications to be included in Volume Two. After Randolph’s death in 1980, McCann continued on his own and completed the bibliography through 1982. Some 1,600 books, articles and manuscripts that discuss various aspects of Ozark foildore are included and carefully annotated in this very impressive (and expensive) work.

Bittersweet Earth (Ellen Gray Massey, editor, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1985) is the second book edited by Massey based on selections from Bittersweet, the quarterly magazine published between 1973 and 1980 by Lebanon High School students. The first book, Bittersweet Country, is now in paperback and also published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Bittersweet Earth, as the title suggests, emphasizes the physical face of the Ozarks (with particular attention given to rivers and caves), and the way the people made a living from that earth. It’s an easy book to read and there’s a lot of good information be gained from the remembrances of the old-timers who were interviewed.

Moving to the Country (Robert McGill, White Oak Press, Reeds Spring, MO, 1987) is a very specialized book. As the cover proclaims, 4’Moving to the Country describes the experiences of families who intentionally lowered their incomes as they

moved from urban to rural areas." McGill has interviewed a number of families who migrated "for other than the traditional reasons: economic opportunity, jobs, and expanding community services." Then why did they move? Some very interesting answers are given in this 187-page paperback.

Ozarks Panorama has been around since 1984. It was published in that year by the Ozarks Writers League (OWL) as a project to showcase the writings of Ozarks authors. There are some 48 articles, stories and poems by nearly that many writers. Not every inclusion is Pulitzer quality, of course, but the whole venture is good enough to raise the pride level of an Ozarker several notches.

OzarkaWatch is a new periodical published by the Southwest Missouri University Center in the White River Valley. Editors Robert Flanders (Center for C)zarks Studies) and Robert Gilmore (University Center), say OzarkaWatch is a quarterly publication "reporting on issues affecting the course of the Ozarks." From an examination of the first two issues (Number 2 of Volume 1 has just been mailed), it appears that the topics covered will be eclectic. The free publication can be requested from OzarksWatch, Box 134, 901 5. National, Springfield, MO 65804.

Don’t be turned off by the subtitle of the Heritage of the Ozarks: A Multicultural Curriculum for Elementary Schools. Although designed to assist teachers in presenting Ozarks Studies in the curriculum, this book is packed with important information about the history, anthropology, foildore and geography of the Ozarks. It’s written for adults, it is comprehensive, and it contains a very good basic bibliography. Printed in 1984 by August House of Little Rock, Arkansas, the primary authors are Russell Gerlach and William Wedenoja.

Even outsiders are doing a better job of writing about the Ozarks. The New York Times, Sunday, Nov. 15, 1987, contained an article by William Robbins entitled, "Growth Overtakes Calm and


Culture of Ozarks." The thrust of the article relates to the "waves of population growth, tourism and residential and recreational development (which) threaten the environment as well as the space and quiet that pleased the old-times and attracted the newcomers in the first place." It is a thoughtful piece, which uses the word "hillbilly" only in quotation marks.

Let me end by mentioning a book that is not about the Ozarks, but which is most interesting because it enables us to compare daily life in another section of our country (the delta counties of southeast Arkansas) with what we know of our own region. Vinegar Pie and Chicken Bread, is a woman’s diary of life in the rural South, 1890-9 1. It was published in 1982 by the University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, and is

edited by and includes an introduction by Margaret Jones Bolsterli.

Finally, do watch for at least two books that should be out in the spring. A book by Paul Barrett about the Young brothers’ massacre in Greene County will be published by the University of Missouri Press, and Pelican Press will print a new work on the Baldknobbers by Mary Hartman and Elmo Ingenthron.


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