Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great Plains

Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great Plains

By Jim Hoy & Tom Isern
University of Oklahoma Press, 1987
ISBN 0-8061-2064-9

Cloth, $20

Plains Folk is a collection of essays drawn from the newspaper column of the same title, by Hoy & Isern. The essays are grouped into the following sections: "Legends and Lore" (from rattlesnakes to "Home on the Range"), "Fellow Creatures of the Plains" (mostly pesky ones), "Horse and Cattle Culture" (quite a bit of rodeo here), "Working" (stacking hay, cutting wheat), "Playing" (country baseball and football, country school recess games), "Farm and Ranch" (silos, pasture burning, Russian thistles), "Good Fences, Good Neighbors" (hot wires, devil's lanes, cattle guards), and "People and Places" (oilfield camps, butcher shops, and Jim's popular favorite essay, "The Allure of the Plains"). What all this adds up to is a rambling tour of Great Plains folklife written by two fellows who both study the stuff and live it.

Plains Folk is written for a popular readership in the region. This publication by a university press with a distinguished reputation in Western Americana marks the recognition of Plains Folk also as a record of and reflection on regional life.

Dust jacket blurb: "In this commonplace book of the Great Plains the authors explore the culture of the plains and seek out its uniquenesses as well as its commonalities with other folk regions.... the authors communicate the sense of region and show the bonds of community, of shared customs and traditions that exist among all plains dwellers, from Canadian, Texas, to the Canadian prairie provinces."

Rocky Mountain News: "Each essay is engaging and readable.... The Great Plains never seemed more hospitable."

South Dakota History: "Plains Folk strongly reflects Jim Hoy's background in the Kansas Flint Hills and Tom Isern's early years in the wheat land of the sunflower state. These personal ties to the Great Plains, the academic perspectives of the authors, and information from readers of the Plains Folk column make for a lively, informative, and well-written book. The authors write with unabashed affection for the Great Plains but without unsupportable generalizations or regional chauvinism. The fact that their narrative is enriched by personal experiences from their youths in the two decades after World War II illustrates the rich potential for study of the recent history of the Great Plains."

Western American Literature: "Facts and legends are here so well presented that we are reminded of the poetry of material objects and the pungency of ordinary human experience."

Kansas City Times: "Now whoever said Kansas was a dull place?"