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Uncle Willard's Catfish
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NSN Pre-Conference 2005 Interviews, Session Three*
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Book Reviews: Assorted Books

Log Cabin Pioneers: Stories, Songs and Sayings. Wayne Erbsen,
Native Ground Music, 2001
ISBN 1-883206-36-7
This one suited my reading tastes and time this spring just fine. A motley assortment of fact, fiction and folklore about log cabin building and living, complete with lots of quotes and old photos. For a storyteller, it’s a treasure of information that might just come in handy for some future storytelling event. For instance, did you know that if you want to catch yourself a husband, all you have to do is kiss your elbow? I can’t verify that it works, but it’s one of many suggestions offered on the topic.

Log Cabin Cooking: Pioneer Recipes and Food Lore.
Barbara Swell.
Native Ground Music, 1996.
ISBN 1-883206-25-1
This volume is slimmer than the one reviewed above, and its focus is narrower. It includes a lot of information about pioneer cooking implements, types of foods and how to prepare them, as well as lore and old sayings. I did find one thing I thought might be an error, but then maybe I don’t know the right of it either! According to the author, apple butter used to be made in cast iron kettles. Folks around here have always used brass and copper kettles for their apple butter, but then maybe it was different in older times.

Elk River Ghosts: Tales and Lore.
Mack Samples, Quarrier Press, 2002.
ISBN 1-891852-19-1
Hot off the presses, this volume is a real treat to read, particularly if you are familiar with the setting: the Elk River, particularly the region of northern Kanawha County and Clay County it crosses. There are only a few stories that are really ghost stories, but all the tales are fun to read, and evoke a time and a way of life that is long gone, but fondly remembered by some of the folks who lived them. Mack Samples’ writing style is comfortable and reads like a story told many times on the front porch. Fine reading for summer evenings.

Tall Tales of the Devil’s Apron Herbert Maynor Sutherland Overmountain Press, 1970, reprinted 2001. ISBN 0-932807-27-5 This book just may be the source of some of the funniest stories circulating on the Internet. Fun to read, highly colorful characters, and stories that will make readers laugh out loud are its hallmarks. Don’t miss it if you love a good tall tale!

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