In twenty-five years of syndicated columns in small-town Texas newspapers between 1930 and 1960, Nellie Witt Spikes described her life on the High Plains, harking back to earlier times and reminiscing about pioneer settlement, farm and small-town culture, women’s work, and the natural history of the flatlands and canyons. Spikes’s life spanned the arrival of Euro-American settlers, the transition from ranching to farming, the drought and dust storms of the 1930s, and the irrigation revolution of the 1940s. Engaging and eloquent, her “As a Farm Woman Thinks” columns today conjure up a vivid portrait of a bygone era. Spikes’s best pieces, organized topically and then chronologically here by Geoff Cunfer, are illuminated by black-and-white historical photographs featuring people, landscapes, small towns, farms, and ranches that populated the caprock-and-canyon country of her West Texas. Cunfer’s introduction and editorial commentary provide context. For historians, As a Farm Woman Thinks enlarges our understanding of a wide land and its culture. For the rest of us, Spikes’s “poetry of place” still captures the spirit of the Plains and, decades later, inspires imagination and memory.
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