It was over 80 years ago, in 1936, that Saul Ashton published Tales of the Ozark Howler. It was also over 80 years ago, in 1938, that Ashton’s family withdrew the book from distribution, embarrassed by Ashton’s atheism and Communist politics. Only a small number of copies of the book survived the purge, and the Ashtons stubbornly refused to allow anyone to read theirs.
That all changed three years ago when the last child of Saul Ashton died and his granddaughter was able to gain sole rights to publish his book. Working slowly in negotiation with Hawthorne Cornus, she eventually decided to trust him and agreed that the book could be re-released. That happened this month. Now, for the first time in generations, new copies of Tales of the Ozark Howler are being printed.
The book isn’t exactly the length of a Harry Potter novel. Nonetheless, it’s an exciting recording of Ozark folklore that had been lost through the social upheaval of the Great Depression and World War II. The Ozarks isn’t what it used to be, and that’s not all for the bad, but it’s wonderful to gain a new picture back to the past.
Among the revelations in the book:
- Some believed the Ozark Howler to be a shapeshifter, kind of like a werewolf
- Parts of the body of the Ozark Howler were thought to have medicinal qualities
- The Ozark Howler was hotly involved in church politics
If you’re curious to see the legend of the Ozark Howler fleshed out beyond the cryptozoologist’s cliche, this is great source material, and a fine read for a dark night by the fire.