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Coffee in the Gourd, ed. J. Frank Dobie [1923], at


    I never have liked the title Publications; it connotes nothing but dry-as-dustness. Yet an organization that issues volumes at more or less regular intervals needs some such general title. As editor, I decided years ago to retain Publications as a sub-title and to give each year-book issued by the Texas Folk-Lore Society an individual name. Now that the first volume under my editorship--a very modest volume that will never set the world on fire--is being reprinted, I seize the chance to give it a Christian name, at the same time allowing it to retain its honorable, but entirely undistinctive, family name. There were only five hundred copies in the original edition; I expect the twelve hundred copies in this edition to be unexhausted when, as must be, I shall some day cease to be editor.

    Those who have danced the old square dances will remember the call,

        Ducks in the river, going to the ford,
        Coffee in a little rag, sugar in a gourd.

The rhyme is quoted by John Craddock in his article on "The Cowboy Dance" in this volume. I think I have heard, as a variant, "coffee in the gourd." Anyhow, since we are no longer six, coffee is any day better in a gourd than sugar. I keep a gourd to drink out of, and any liquid from it tastes better than from any other receptacle--except a horn.

    I would give a good deal if John Craddock could know that he is responsible for the name. As long as he was able to write he kept on contributing to the Texas Folk-Lore Society. Although he never mastered the technique of writing, for he was stricken too young, he had the most original imagination I have ever met. Will Thomas, another contributor in this volume, is gone, too; genial, natural, a representative Texan, and a "man-thinking" he was.

    While the plates for reprinting Coffee in the Gourd are being produced through photo-lithography, the use of black India ink, of white China ink, and of paste to insert a few reset lines has eliminated some of the glaring errors in the original edition. I wish I had lived in Shakespeare's time, when typographical errors were not regarded as a sin.


Austin, Texas
June, 1935

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