When she went to South Texas as a County Home Demonstration Agent in 1940, Aletha Barrett was in culture shock. Raised in the gently rolling green farmland of Northeast Texas, Aletha was unprepared for the vast sandy expanses and different societies she found there. From unearthing baby rattlesnakes to exploring the unknown spiciness of Mexican food, every day was a learning experience. Ever an adventurer, Aletha ventured deep into Mexico when it was largely unknown to North Americans. Over the course of several trips she witnessed what might have been a murder in Mexico City, endured the then-perilous Pan-American Highway at the mercy of a drunken bus driver and stayed in Acapulco when it was a tiny village with just two hotels. In later years, after marrying and having a family, Aletha always said she was going to write a book about her life in South Texas, but somehow the right time never came. After Aletha’s death, her daughter Janis Susan May, a writer and novelist, was going through her papers and found an outline, some notes and a rudimentary chapter or two. Janis Susan had been raised on her mother’s stories and knew them by heart, so working from the notes she completed the book. It was, she says, the best testament she could envision to the memory of a remarkable woman.
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