Tenderfoot Teacher

Letters from the Big Bend, 1952-1954

978-0-87565-264-1 Paperback
6 x 9. 162 pp. 12 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 05/24/2002
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In January 1952, Aileen Kilgore was teaching forty-three fourth graders at a public school in Northport, Alabama. Her life, filled with lesson preparations, in-service meetings, countywide meetings, and special projects, seemed grim, and she resolved to change it.

Remembering tales she’d heard of the Big Bend region in Texas, she wrote to the school board at Alpine, applying for a position. To her surprise an offer came back to teach at a new school within the Big Bend National Park. She accepted.

The young schoolteacher was at first overwhelmed by Big Bend—the wildness, the limitless space, the isolation, and the exuberant Texas children. But she soon came to love the area and the people.

During her first year at Panther Junction, she met one special ranger named Art Henderson. When he was transferred to the Blue Ridge Parkway that summer, there was a hole in her life.

During her two years at Panther Junction, Aileen wrote long and frequent letters—to her father working for the railroad at Boligee, Alabama, to her mother and sister living in Brookwood, Alabama, to her sisters in Tuscaloosa and San Diego, and finally, the second year, to Art Henderson. Those edited letters make up this book.

Chisholm Trail Series

Published by Texas Christian University Press