Ozark Country

Ozark Country

Ozark Country

Ozark Country

Excerpt

Authors of books such as this survey of Ozark folklore are, in a sense, perpetuating a fiction, but that is necessary if there is to be a cohesive manuscript. Namely, such books present a picture of a nonexistent unity throughout the region under discussion. Certainly, at no particular time did every single Ozark resident from one end of the region to the other engage in all the activities discussed herein. Even all those involved in the same skill or craft didn't necessarily go about it in exactly the same way but in most cases added their own innovative touches to whatever they did. But any folklorist or historian must impose some notion of unity in order to have a book that does not seem to be made up of disparate parts. Thus, with Ozark Country, such an illusion is conferred, even though in reality things were never so uniform.

In an attempt to make the book both interesting and informative to nonspecialist audiences, the volume is broken down in three segments: home, work, and leisure. Chapter 2, "Family Ties," discusses traditional arts and crafts that in the early years of Ozark history were made in or at one's homeplace. This is not to suggest that these skills have invariably been practiced only at home; in fact, today such crafts are as likely to be demonstrated at county fairs, museums, arts and crafts shows, and similar venues as in the home. Nevertheless, the primary forum for soapmaking, clothing, foodways, and even furniture making originally was the home and, in most cases, it still is.

Chapter 3, "At Work," examines such skills as blacksmithing, pottery making, and gun making that have traditionally been practiced away from home in some kind of work place. The production of these items served primarily to provide a living for their practitioners, although there were some, known in the Ozarks as "jacklegs," who knew a little bit about these crafts and occasionally made or fixed certain products, although never for monetary gain. Some other skills, such as pearling, were mostly regarded as a means of providing supplemental income rather than being a family's sole source of funds. A few craft items, such as the Ozark john- boat, were unique to the region, but most Ozark craftsmen produced items known elsewhere, although these frequently incorporated subtle touches that can accurately be considered indigenous to the Ozarks.

Chapter 4 deals with various types of folk customs that have been or . . .

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