Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Book Review

Ghost Stories of Texas by Jo-Anne Christensen (Renton, WA: Lone Pine Publishing 2001) is a fascinating volume of assorted haunting tales categorized as Historically Haunted, "It Happened to Me", Phantoms in the Family, Modern Mysteries, Tall Texas Tales, Haunted Houses,  and A Strange Assortment. 

I'll mention a few of my favorites. "The Driskill Hotel" is in Austin, the capital of Texas. It's over 100 years old, but 50 years ago I went to a dance at the Driskill--and fell in love for the first time. No, not with a ghost but with the proverbial older man (by three years!). Perhaps someday I'll go back and join the other spirits there. And, of course, I'll be wearing the same blue velvet dress I wore that night!

"Remembering the Alamo"--and, of course, every good Texas does! I've visited there many times without encountering the ghosts of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Barrett Travis, and one-hundred eighty good men and true--but their legacy lives on--and, perhaps, so do their valiant spirits.

Does General Sam Houston, hero of San Jacinto and former governor of Texas, really haunt "The Ghostly Governor's Mansion"? And where did he take up temporary lodging after a fire about a year ago devastated the historic home? Wherever he is, perhaps he'll return when the mansion is renovated.

Did the Black Shuck reminiscent of British folklore reappear in Houston, Texas, in 1962? "The Black Dog" story seems to indicate that he--or something of his ilk--did.

"The Phantom Horseman of Chisholm Hollow" seems to have a predilection to appear before Americans (Texans) became involved in armed conflict--the Mexican War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. However, he wasn't around before Korea and Viet Nam. 

In Brazoria County, frontiersman Brit Bailey lies--or rather, stands--buried with a gun over his shoulder and a whiskey jug at his feet. He may, however, return to his former abode from time to time in search of the whiskey which may not have been in the jug! "Here Stands Brit Bailey"--somewhere in an unmarked grave...and perhaps around his former home.

The book is a fun read and might even contain a history lesson or two...or just sixty-three flights of fantasy!

Ghost Towns of Texas by T. Lindsay Baker (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986) explores 88 towns that once thrived in the Lone Star State. Complete with many "then and now" pictures,well-researched facts about how and why these towns came into being--and why they no longer exist, and specific driving directions makes this a must-have volume for writers looking for an off-beat setting for as story--or a curious traveler who passes by and wonders where the people went. 

The towns are arranged alphabetically rather than by region--from Acme to Zella, but a county map shows their relative locations. An extensive bibliography is indicative of past research and encourages more. I always like an index, and the book has that, too.

The Journal of the West says that "the towns chosen for the book have histories which are so colorful and varied that they easily keep the reader's attention" and calls the book one that "both Texans and non-Texans will equally enjoy".

Disclaimer: I own these books. I am not paying myself to review them.


K9friend said...

These volumes sound verrrrry interesting...and timely, too, with Halloween just weeks away!

nlindabrit said...

Thank you for some fascinating book reviews!