by Mike Cox
stack of old books may hold much more than the titles suggest. Pick one up, check
the fly leaves and title page, thumb through it for the magic passages older books
often contain--the bizarre, the humorous, the historic, the prophetic, the philosophical.
inscription by Bertha Dobie on the title page of her husband's posthumously published
"Every time Frank Dobie wrote something about rattlesnakes
for the newspapers, more incidents, observations, tales poured in, and he would
use the new material to make more articles. The publishers and I put most of them
into this book.
|"And still the talk
goes on. Just a few weeks ago a level-headed old woman told me, with much circumstantial
detail, of having seen little snakes run into a rattlesnake's mouth. She had gone
out to re-stake a grazing horse. Her son, who was with her--a small child then,
corroborated her story. He said there were eleven tiny snakes. Bertha Dobie 2-16-66."
“General Laws of the Twelfth Legislature of the State of Texas,” published by
J.G. Tracy, State Printer, in 1871:
"Whereas, the following persons (11
men named) overtook and gallantly attacked and defeated the said band, killing
four of their number and recovered the stolen property.
"Be it resolved,
That one Winchester carbine belonging to the State to be presented by the State
to each of the above-mentioned persons, upon his depositing in the geological
room of the Capitol his share of the trophies captured, and that the Secretary
of State is hereby authorized to make the presentation herein provided for.
April 12, 1871."
Too bad the author of that joint resolution was not a
bit more specific about where the Indian fight had taken place or where the men
were from. If the men did collect their lever-action rifles, the "trophies" they
were to deliver may have been lost when the Capitol burned a decade later. The
joint resolution on page 156 of this old law book may be about the only tangible
evidence of the encounter.
“All the Shadows Went Away: A philosophical treatise of the true pursuits of a
cowboy during the second decade of the twentieth century,” by Ben L. Parker, a
An old cowboy went to town and got thoroughly drunk. He stumbled
out to his wagon and lay down in the bed of the buckboard, knowing his mules would
find their way home without his help.
When the mules got the wagon home,
the man's son went out to investigate. He saw his father passed out in the wagon.
The boy unhitched the mules and put them out in the pasture.
the son looked out of the ranch house and saw his father shading his eyes from
the sun, scanning the horizon. The old man was mumbling, "Well, I've either found
a damn good wagon, else I've lost a damn good pair of mules."
language would never do for the author of "Martine's Sensible Letter Writer; Being
a Comprehensible and Complete Guide and Assistant for Those Who Desire to Carry
on an Epistolary Correspondence." The book was published in New York in 1866,
a study in courtesy coming a year after the end of the bloodiest war in American
On page 111 are examples of how to write a friend "requesting
the Loan of a Book" and how one should reply. The request:
last at your house, you called my attention to a book entitled . . . which I remember
as a work of so much interest that I feel much inclined to peruse it, and should
esteem it a great favor if you would lend it to me. I will take great care of
it, and return it in a few days (20th Century columnist's editorial comment: one
of the world's great lies) as I have at present abundant leisure for reading.
"I am, sir,
"Your obedient servant."
This is the "Affirmative
Answer to the Foregoing:"
"Dear Sir, -- You are quite welcome to the volume
you express a wish to read, but I must ask you to let me have it by the middle
of next month, as I shall then have occasion to use it for some literary purposes.
"Believe me, dear sir, Yours very truly, . . ."
"Texas Tales" May
7, 2009 column
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