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Places in the World a Person Could Walk

DAVID SYRING
Copyright Date: 2000
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/777460
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  • Book Info
    Places in the World a Person Could Walk
    Book Description:

    Spring-fed creeks. Old stone houses. Cedar brakes and bleached limestone. The Hill Country holds powerful sway over the imagination of Texans. So many of us dream of having our own little place in the limestone hills. The Hill Country feels just like home, even if you've never lived there.

    This beautifully written book explores what the Hill Country has meant as a homeplace to the author, his family, and longtime residents of the area, as well as to newcomers. David Syring listens to the stories that his aunts, uncles, and cousins tell about life in the Hill Country and grapples with their meaning for his own search for a place to belong. He also collects short stories focused around Honey Creek Church to consider how places become containers for memory. And he draws upon several years of living in Fredericksburg to talk about the problems and opportunities created by heritage tourism and the development of the town as a "home" for German Americans. These interconnected stories illuminate what it means to belong to a place and why the Texas Hill Country has become the spiritual, if not actual, home of many people.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79897-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Introduction: DREAMS AND STORIES, FRAGMENTS AND MEMORIES
    (pp. 1-13)

    One day I awoke with an image I had just dreamed. I saw my great uncle, an old Texas-German farmer named Alfred, cutting his neighbor’s hair. He tilted this man’s head gently to one side and carefully snipped off stray locks, like he was trimming flower stems. The neighbor’s young son watched and waited his turn on the steps nearby. I’d heard that Alfred used to do that—cut his neighbor’s hair—but the dream image was so clear it was as if I were sitting on the porch with them. I swear, there was a tenderness in the way...

  5. Part 1 Speaking in Tongues, Telling Tales: FAMILY STORIES
    (pp. 15-77)

    I thought I was going to learn a little about dying. I’ve rarely seen anything die, and have never watched an animal be dressed out for eating. The deer my father brought home when I was a kid were, with a single exception, always already dead. The one time it happened differently, the deer had only been stunned by my father’s shot and when he opened the trunk of the car, the deer sprang loose into the yard. Blood was everywhere and I was so terrified that I ducked back into the house and hid while my father or my...

  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  7. Part 2 Honey Creek Church: CHAPTER AND VERSE
    (pp. 79-97)

    There are places around which the lives and imaginations of families and entire communities can revolve. The Laubach House, the country place (what I call the shack), and especially Honey Creek Church are some of these such places for my family. For at least four generations before me—my great-great grandparents, my great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my father and uncles and aunts—Honey Creek Church and its attendant burying ground has been a point of preoccupation. The Scheel family cemetery on the old Scheel place was disinterred and moved to Honey Creek after the property was sold. Gross-Oma and Gross-Opa...

  8. Part 3 Migrations toward Home: FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS
    (pp. 99-179)

    For three days I’ve thought about doing this: riding my bike long after dark out to Cross Mountain at the edge of town, my squeaky chain waking the air with the howls of distant unseen dogs, the waning halfmoon faint and yellow as it comes up in the east. When I was in high school I used to walk in my neighborhood late at night, and sometimes, without seeking to pry, I would see into the lit windows of houses and glimpse storied fragments of those people’s lives. Tonight, as someone writing about this place, I am still doing this:...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. Part 4 Closings: Beginning Again
    (pp. 181-186)

    This is how I wanted to be able to tell the story, how I wanted to be able to live my life:

    The aimless, wandering young man discovers his roots in the rural place of his family’s heritage. He finds a way to live there, to support himself, his family, and to work for the health of his community. In his wildest fantasy, he even manages to buy the family’s original homestead back from the real estate developer who bought it and he turns it into a six-hundred-acre nature preserve with a working farm attached to it. He has many...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-200)