Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Farther along we'll know all about it


the book: The Architecture Of The Arkansas Ozarks by Donald Harington 

part of the Stay More series


published 1975




from regular guest blogger Colm Redmond






Fanshaw descried a [stranger] of his own height, tall, dressed in buckskin jacket and trousers, wearing a headpiece made from the skin and tail of a raccoon, thin, blue-eyed, brown-haired, long-nosed, and carrying not a rifle but a half-gallon jug with corncob stopper.

Jacob Ingledew saw a man of his own height, tall, dressed in buckskin moccasins and leggings that covered only the legs, the space between breeched with a breech clout, wearing a headpiece (actually just a bandeau) of beaver skin, eagle feathers in the roach of his hair, muscular, dark-eyed, bronze-skinned, long-nosed and naked from the waist up except for a necklace of several dozen bear claws. Jacob Ingledew spoke, rather noisily from nervousness: “How! You habbum ‘baccy? Me swappum firewater for ‘baccy. Sabbe?”

“Quite,” said Fanshaw. Jacob Ingledew misinterpreted this as “Quiet,” and began looking around, wondering if the others were sleeping, although it was well into the afternoon.



observations: Your eyes do not deceive you: the guy in the biggest headdress is Albert Einstein. His companions are dressed a little like Fanshaw, the 1830s Native American with the quaint English vocabulary.

Stay More is a fictional township in the Ozark mountains, and this first novel in the series is the origin story. But it also carries on more or less to what was the present day, at the time Donald Harington was writing it. In between, people live and woo and die, leave (and mostly come back) or stay, the town grows and eventually declines, and that’s about it for plot. The point is the people, the dialogue, the vocabulary, and many many jokes. It’s essentially a catalogue of wacky characters, and an anthology of anecdotes.

If that sounds a lot like a description of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon material, fair enough; and that did start up on the radio a little earlier. But I think this Stay More book is a lot more ribald and perhaps none the worse for that. It’s often tremendously funny, and sometimes equally moving.

The tag line comes from the hymn Farther Along, an unofficial anthem for the town. I wrote about it recently on my own blog, here. It would take a hard heart not to be moved by the tragic double funeral, where the town doctor interrupts this supposedly-consoling song and says he thinks we understand quite enough about it for now, thank you.

Fanshaw’s real name is Wah Ti An Kah: Fanshaw was a nickname he earned through befriending, and copying the language of, an Englishman called George W Featherstonehaugh (an ancient surname usually pronounced Fanshaw) who passed through some time earlier. This Featherstonhaugh [sic] was a real person, a geologist and explorer who went to America in the early 1800s.

A “roach” in this context means a headdress, like Native Americans wore in Westerns and in real life. The style Einstein’s wearing is a prime example, but there were (and are) many others.



Jacob Ingledew – the founder of Stay More, with his brother Noah - may have worn his fur hat with the panache of Joan Bennett, in the second picture… who’s to say he didn’t. And for a clearer look at the kind of trousers Fanshaw was wearing, here’s an amazing picture of a Native American woman from 1886 – a kind of hybrid “Indian scout” and cowgirl.



For more from the guest blogger, click on his name below.


9 comments:

  1. Always a pleasure to see your posts, Colm. Moira, thanks for sharing them. I always think there are places like the Ozarks that are so full of history, myths and so on (and fascinating wear) that they just lend themselves to a good story. Thanks for reminding us of one of them.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Margot. Yes the Ozarks is rich soil - you'd basically believe anything you were told about those parts; and that kind of open-mindedness would serve the reader of this book well. But after all, it is a fun and funny book, not a history textbook.

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  2. Just a point about the Bennett family, since a photo of the gorgeous Joan is posted here: There is a batch of fantastic vintage movie posters up at Yvette Can Draw.
    One of them shows Constance Bennett posed to publicize the film "Moulin Rouge."

    Since this blog is titled Clothes in Books, thought I'd point out the incredible dress she is wearing in that poster.

    There is also another poster with Joan Bennett.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy; they are both great posters. And now I quite urgently want to see "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head." A title that prompts many more questions than it answers.

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    2. My goodness,what a collection. They are here http://yvettecandraw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/tuesday-forgotten-or-overlooked-films_10.html for the benefit of other readers.

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  3. Yvette writes a fantastic blog. She loves vintage books, posters and movies. Her review of Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White is priceless and witty as all get-out.

    She also puts up posters when she finds good ones and also puts up artwork by theme or by artist, and her taste is impeccable.

    Plus the movie reviews are great. I came away from the blog the other day with a list of four old movies to watch.

    A blog I never miss.

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  4. Very interesting post. You would think that I would know of this author and his books, since I come from the deep south myself, but I have not. I am trying to decide if I heard the song Farther Along originally in churches in the South or just as sung by various singers. My mother and a close friend who loved to sing would go to "singings" at small churches on Sunday afternoons sometimes and I would tag along.

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    1. I've only read this first book, Tracy, but there are another twelve either set in or connected with Stay More.

      Lots of interesting stuff on the internet about the song, including a wholly unconvincing description of its being written by an itinerant preacher while he was in a train compartment or stagecoach, chatting to someone about how much he missed his wife, who was about to have a baby. If it was in a film you'd expect one of those "Some scenes have been invented for dramatic effect" notices at the beginning.

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    2. I went home and was talking to my husband about this interesting author, Donald Harington. I asked if he had heard of him, and he initially said no. But later he looked on one of his bookshelves and found LET US BUILD US A CITY: Eleven Lost Cities by Harington. Which he has read, of course. It looks very interesting, I will give it a try. And one of the Stay More books too.

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