BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Regional History from A&M Press LAMBSHEAD BEFORE INTERWOVEN: A TEXAS RANGE CHRONICLE, 1848-1878 By Frances Mayhugh Holden Drawings by John Guerin College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982 $15.95 INTERWOVEN: A PIONEER CHRONICLE By Sallie Reynolds Matthews Drawings by E. M. Schiwetz College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982 $14.95 \(Both books in a limited edition of 300, By John Edward Weems Waco N THESE DAYS of emerging womankind it seems appropriate that the texts of these two superior regional histories have been contributed by Texas women. One of the titles has, of course, been considered a classic for years. Interwoven, written in the 1930s by Sallie ily history for her children and grandchildren, was published in .a limited edition in 1936. It quickly attracted readership and .admiration outside the Reynolds and Matthews families, which ven” by marital and ranching ties on an expanse of rolling West Texas land, called the Lambshead range, between what are now the towns of Albany and Throckmorton. Sallie Ann Reynolds’ own ties were marital; she became the wife of prominent rancher. J. A. Matthews. In 1958 the El Paso master printer Carl Hertzog brought out a handsomely designed new edition of that book for his friends Watt Matthews \(Sallie Reynolds Interwoven has been known to discriminating regional readers ever since. It is an arresting account of pioneer range life as experienced by a sensitive, optimistic, determined woman one who had a remarkable memory. More than 60 years after the event she was able to write this description of the start of a family trip to Colorado: We left Weatherford on the 23rd of November, 1872, and drove to Colbert’s Ferry on Red River, taking two or three ‘days for the trip. The last night out, we camped in the Indian Territory near where the railroad ended then. We had crossed on the ferry-boat and two of us [she and a brother] had left Texas soil for the first time in our lives. . . . The next morning a passenger train pulled in and cameto a standstill right there in the tall timber. There was not so much as a section house there. . . . The Pullman appeared very elegant and comfortable, heated by big coal stoves in each end and lighted by coal-oil lamps which were the first coal-oil or kerosene lamps I had ever seen. . . . [These] lamps gave a much brighter light than candles; in fact, with a shade they gave an excellent light for reading. Those old Pullmans that looked so grand then would seem crude and antiquated now , but they were pioneers, as were we. It’s clear, unpretentious prose, and it indicates where Sallie Reynolds Matthews, with little formal education and few opportunities for travel, acquired the breadth that is obvious throughout her memoir: by reading. Years ago J. Frank Dobie paid this compliment to her comprehensiveness: “Interwoven, more than any other ranch chronicle that I know, reveals the family life of old-time ranchers. . . . Sallie Matthews had the perspective that comes only from realizing that other where than the where one is writing about exists.” Of a frontier generation that almost universally advocated dead Indians, Sal lie Matthews wrote, “. . . as the settling of the country by white people went on, we know there were many who cheated and exploited the Indians in every way possible, and in some instances treated them with ruthless cruelty.” That’s easy enough for any scalp-safe American to admit now, but the thought could not have come with great facility, then or later, to a young West Texas girl who might have had her hair lifted at any moment by Indians who could thus have been thought of by a few rationl observ-: ers as retaliating against some white man’s cruelty. Sallie Matthews was no frontier lightweight. Hers is a quiet book, but excitement is implied. The tone is always “proper,” in the traditional meaning of the word, and it is always optimistic, as the author herself would have had to be to enjoy life in her place and time. It’s a book that also manifests the clear mind of its author. “Do not think for a minute,” she wrote, “that I am one who thinks the old times are best for I do not.” An author’s portrait dated 1938 appears. in the book. It shows a. pert, bright-eyed, attractive lady \(certainly not with the times as much as it is possible for an aging person to do. She wrote about the past, but she did not wallow in it. Still, her memoir is not without flaws. Hers was family history, and she left out some unpleasantries embarrassing to a 20 OCTOBER 15, 1982
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