River Pigs and CayusesRon Strickland
Ron Strickland’s oral histories recover a part of the original Northwest character that is rapidly disappearing. In River Pigs and Cayuses, he gathers stories from old-timers in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Brimming with lively accounts both humorous and poignant, the book illuminates cadences and traditions that Strickland hopes will survive long after the storytellers are gone. Here a moonshiner, a fish pirate, a timber cruiser, a branding iron maker, a smoke jumper, a frontier bride, and twenty-five other fascinating individuals speak vividly, revealing their personal histories in their own words.Strickland introduces each story, providing information on the teller and placing the story in context. In telling their own stories, his subjects speak to the diversity of life and labor in the Northwest. A short glossary enhances the listening experience, as do Strickland’s own photographs of the storytellers.In a new introduction, William Kittredge notes that Strickland’s interviewees are most passionate when speaking of their survival in the work-a-day world, sustained both by their livelihoods and by the solace of companionship. What we hear echoing over and again in these voices, Kittredge writes, is pride, at having managed difficult lives, and having along the way earned independence, all the individuality they could manage, and an unapologetic sense of self.