Alexander Edwin Sweet (1841-1901) is Texas's own "Sifter," whose humorous columns appeared in the Galveston Daily News in the late 1870s and early 1880s. In his wickedly funny, tongue-in-cheek sketches, readers learned of an astonishing variety of frontier phenomena, some familiar, others downright odd. For example, there was the typical nineteenth-century custom of New Year's Day receptions for bachelor guests only, with refreshments consisting largely of strong drink and equally strong fruitcake. Imbibing a bit more cheer at each stop, according to Sweet, the bachelors brought the last prospective sweethearts they visited New Year's greetings as incoherent as they were heartfelt.At times Sweet parodied the Yankee image of the typical Texan, whom he described as "half alligator, half human," eating raw buffalo and toting an arsenal of weaponry like a "perambulating gun-rack." But he also did as much as any writer to establish and enlarge upon the national image of Texas and Texans. Even the irascible red ant and the other "critters" in Sweet's column were Texas big and Texas-fabulous!In 1881 Sweet co-founded Texas Siftings, a humor magazine that moved from Austin to New York to become one of the most popular periodicals of its kind in the United States. From Texas Siftings, from Sweet's two published books (one called by John Jenkins in Basic Texas Books the "best volume of 19th century Texas humor"), and from many never-before-collected newspaper columns, editor Virginia Eisenhour has assembled an Alex Sweet sampler that presents the very best of the timeless humorist's work. The result—Alex Sweet's Texas—clearly demonstrates why the New York Journal pronounced Sweet "second to no living writer in freshness, originality, sparkling wit, and refined humor." A century later, that wit still sparkles and is guaranteed to delight Texans present as it once did Texans past.
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