America stocks its shelves with mass-produced goods but fills its imagination with handmade folk objects. In Pennsylvania, the "back to the city" housing movement causes a conflict of cultures. In Indiana, an old tradition of butchering turtles for church picnics evokes both pride and loathing among residents. In New York, folk-art exhibits raise choruses of adoration and protest. These are a few of the examples Simon Bronner uses to illustrate the ways Americans physically and mentally grasp things. Bronner moves beyond the usual discussions of form and variety in America's folk material culture to explain historical influences on, and the social consequences of, channeling folk culture into a mass society.
"An academic with an eye for human drama, Bronner's firsthand observations include memorable snapshots of rural and small-town men and women struggling to preserve an old-fashioned way of life... this thoughtful book makes it clear that folk culture still flourishes in the byways of America." -- Kirkus Reviews
"This is the stuff of honest folklore, honestly presented. It embraces the best meaning and philosophy of folklore 'collecting' and scholarship, an enjoyable endeavor for readers and writer." -- Journal of American History
"This cleverly titled and richly illustrated study of the interplay between folk material culture and the forces of modern mass society reads like a sampler of small moments of resistance to the massive apparatus of contemporary consumer culture." -- Winterthur Portfolio