Just As We Were

When I first started writing this blog, I had planned on writing short reviews of all the books I read. I love reading and I love hearing about books I should try from others who I have a bit in common with & I thought blogging would be a natural venue for finding new books. I read about two or three books a month. I haven't added any book reviews to the blog because I discover, usually mid-way through the book, that I'm not enjoying the book so much that I would recommend it to others. I really should write about the books that I don't enjoy to keep others from wasting their money, but I try to keep my blogging pretty positive. You'll only get to hear about the books I really like.

I read about Prudence Mackintosh's articles quite some time ago. She was (and maybe she still is) a regular contributer to Texas Monthly magazine, and the articles were funny but very realistic depictions of Texas life. I finally got my hands on Just as We Were: A Narrow Slice of Texas Womanhood, which is a collection of articles she wrote throughout the late seventies and early eighties. I love the book! It's one that I won't be giving up via Half Price Books or Paperback Swap.

Mrs. Mackintosh grew up in Texarkana, which is where my roots are from also. She even mentions Olive Street, which is where my aunt lived as a newlywed and is a lot like the street where I live today. From the the very beginning article, I identified with Prudence because of our similar roots, even though she was born some thirty years before me. She mentions church hymns that I remember singing, as well as family "legends" and methods of storytelling which reminded me so much of my extended family.

After describing her roots, Prudence delves into a few articles about high(er) Texas society. Since I was not raised in Dallas or Houston, I did not attend boarding school and therefore did not relate to the stories regarding high-brow summer camps and Hockaday School for girls. However, it was very interesting to read about these lifestyles and know more about the roots of Houstonians that very well may be my (future) childrens' playmates. I'll also know what my daughters will be up against for sorority rush should they choose to become little Longhorns! An entire chapter is devoted to why you need to be one of the fortunate "PKT"s on UT's Greek Row. Hopefully legacies will still count for something in 20 years.

The section on domestic help was somewhat outdated, although the tidbits may be more realistic for those with live-in help. I found parts of it to be quite offensive, but I did try to keep in my mind that it was written almost thirty years ago and, fortunately, times have changed. The Junior League chapter was funny at times, and it helped me to realize even more how the hours I put in will benefit others in much less fortunate circumstances than my own. The last chapter was very poignant, but Mrs. Mackintosh kept it light and classy, even when approaching discussion about growing too old.

In short, this is a light but enlightening read that will make for interesting conversation on any Texas woman's bookshelf. Although I do not consider Texas to be part of the "real South", it serves as a fun primer for Southern life for any Midwestern housewife who finds herself wondering why some things (and women) came to be how they currently are.