Historian David Coffey wrote that the "late Texas folklorist and historian Lawrence Clayton found beauty where many might see only mesquite and limestone; he found humor in unlikely places, and he found nobility in the hard lives of cowboys and the roughnecks. "For years, Dr. Clayton chronicled the history of the Clear Fork Country - the stretch of land cut by the Clear Fork of the Brazos River - of Shackelford and Throckmorton counties. His thoughtful prose on the region's colorful past and its equally colorful characters has appeared in dozens of publications over the years. His efforts to record the stories of area ranches and the men who built them and worked them represent a major contribution to the state's recorded history. Indeed, few writers could capture in words the ranch life of West Texas the way Lawrence Clayton did - fewer still might bother to translate the nomenclature and nuances of a working ranch to underexposed readers of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, much of Clayton's work resided in scholarly journals or magazines not easily accessible to a wider audience. But these stories and others long unpublished belonged in books to be passed down through generations.
Before his death in December of 2000, Dr. Clayton worked diligently to see that this history - these unique tales - remained available to all who are interested (and to some who don't yet know it). This volume goes a long way toward honoring his wishes, and we are all better off for it."
LOU RODENBERGER, professor emeritus of English at McMurry University, has written numerous critical essays about writers of the West and Southwest and is a fellow in the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association (past president), and the Texas Folklore Society (past president). Rodenberger co-edited with Sylvia Ann Grider Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of their Own and the forthcoming book 21 Short Stories by Texas Women: Then and Now, both published by Texas A&M University Press. She was also among Clayton's many friends.
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