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Foreword by Liz Carpenter
January 1995
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
176 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | 17 b&w illus. |

From the town that brought you Molly Ivins, Liz Carpenter, John Henry Faulk, and Greater Tuna, here's Cactus Pryor. For decades, Cactus' wit and wisdom have delighted radio listeners, as well as the many social, political, business, and philanthropic groups throughout the United States whose functions have been enlivened by this accomplished master of ceremonies and after-dinner speaker.

Now the University of Texas Press takes great pleasure in bringing you this quintessential Texas humorist. Playback gathers over forty of Cactus Pryor's favorite radio essays, translating "ear words into eye words," as he puts it. In these pieces, Cactus paints vivid word pictures of people and places, offering readers the same "you are there" immediacy that makes his radio broadcasts so popular. In them, you'll take a sentimental journey with Cactus and his wife to the Maui grave site of Charles Lindbergh—discover how legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal faced the agony of defeat with humor—meet unsung heroes like the 104-year-old who's teaching himself to read and write—get acquainted with the notable folks Cactus has known, including Lady Bird Johnson, John Wayne, Jane Fonda, and James Michener—and, of course, share Cactus' love of family, friends, and the Texas coast.

As Bailey White's essays on National Public Radio have introduced listeners across the country to the lifeways of the Deep South, so Cactus Pryor offers a humorous, revealing look at how we Texans view ourselves, our neighbors, and the world. Read Playback now, and see what you've been missing.

  • Illustrations
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Half Century of Radio
  • 2. A River Runs Through
  • 3. The Family Secret
  • 4. The Longest Laugh
  • 5. Rubadubdub
  • 6. The City of Angels
  • 7. Seashells
  • 8. Dangerously Live
  • 9. Thanksgiving
  • 10. Reunion on Maui
  • 11. I Am You
  • 12. Death in Louisville
  • 13. Joshua’s Shoes
  • 14. The Net Caster
  • 15. The Panhandle Pundit
  • 16. Gift to George
  • 17. Lufkin Man
  • 18. There Is Hope
  • 19. The Credit Card
  • 20. The Naming
  • 21. Fish Oil
  • 22. Great Britain and Texas via Idaho
  • 23. Déjà Vu
  • 24. The 104-Year-Old Student
  • 25. The Putting Preacher
  • 26. Winter Beach
  • 27. D-Day Fifty Years After
  • 28. Eulogy to John
  • 29. The Leper
  • 30. Song-and-Dance Man
  • 31. The Love Couple
  • 32. The Duke of Wayne
  • 33. Ambassador Davis
  • 34. The Homeplace
  • 35. A Conversation with Michener
  • 36. The Visitors
  • 37. Allison’s Gift
  • 38. Saltwater Mustangs
  • 39. Washington, D.C., Taxi
  • 40. The Loser
  • 41. The Hands of Time
  • Index

Richard "Cactus" Pryor (1923–2011) began his career as a broadcaster at the end of World War II and was a popular humorist on radio for decades.