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RALPH W. YARBOROUGH Still Stumping, Still Drawing Crowds The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. Thoreau .rxtts Obsrrurr We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. An Independent Liberal Weekly Newspaper VOL. 47 JULY 4, 1955, AUSTIN, TEXAS 10e per Copy NO. 12 PAUL HOLCOMB A Third Time, Maybe AUSTIN Ralph W. Yarborough is a 52-year-old attorney from Austin with a pulsing, pounding courtroom speaking style, a penchant for politics, and a long thirst for public office. He makes a good living at his law practice, but for years now he has been in debt because of past political campaigns. He once ran for attorney general and lost. He ran for district judge, won and held the job five years, then gave it up. In 1952 and 1954 he ran for governor and lost. He is still trying to/pay off those last two campaign debts. At one point during the past yearpossibly on the night he lost to Allan Shivers in the runoffhe was probably ready to chuck politics for good. At that time he was some $70,000 in hock. On the next day, and the days afterwards, telegrams and letters and telephone calls started coming in. The letters are still coming, and the debt is now down to about $16,000. Things are looking up, and Yarborough is talking more and more like a candidate. He accepts speaking engagements throughout the stateold folks’ rallies, precinct meetings, and conventions. When he’s not trying a case in court, he’s either back in his office answering his mail or stumping it in the sticks. And every time he speaks, in the words of one Capitol newsman, he gives the loyalist leaders heart failure. Most of them hope he isn’t running again, but there have been no indications that this is the case. Yarborough offers a tepid kind of disclaimer. “I am not now a candidate for governor,” he says. Many of the leaders of that group known as the “Loyal Democrats” hope he won’t be. They would like to try somebody new, although they’re not sure who it should be. Some say Agriculture Commissioner John White, who stepped Brass Frowns; But They Love Him in the Sticks AUSTIN Paul B. Holcomb died last week. A reformer, a newspaper editor who always had a lingering desire to be a preacher, he left behind him twenty years of newspapers, many a wounded ego, thousands of faithful admirers, and his large and loving family. He edited this newspaper for ten years, from 1944 to 1954, when it was known as the State Observer. He edited the El Campo News in Wharton County from 1930 to 1940. He brought to a successful conclusion in 1936 his campaign to increase Texas Gulf Sulphur Cornpany property valuations in Wharton County. Death came for the 73-year-old editor suddenly on the morning of June 27 from heart failure. He and Mrs. Holcomb were visiting a niece in Sacramento. This was part of a trip they were taking in Kansas and California to see friends and relatives. They had attended a family reunion in Kansas on Holcomb’s side. Holcomb attended the United Nations conferenbe in California. He didn’t have a ticket of admission, but the guard at the door was a Texan, so he slipped him inside. The funeral was held last Saturday at Cook Funeral Home in Austin. When he retired from the Observer last December, he wrote in the first issue under new management: “I have a few inviolable rules which I have adoptedfor myself. I am fully determined to KEEP THE FACTS STRAIGHT. I am also determined to tell the truth about both friend and foe. In dealing with men and measures I try to avoid showing personal enmity, and treat any man or measure as honestly and fairly as my nature will permit. But I make no pretense of being ‘an objective writer,’ simply because I do not believe that there is any such animal in existenceat least not among mortal men?’ He took over the State Observer in January, 1944. Of this work, he wrote in December, 1954: “Every Austin newsman knows that many matters of vital import are never adequately reportedfor one reason or anotherand that because of this lack of knowledge and understanding, the average citizen can read his daily paper religiously and still not know how his State Government is being run, nor even who is actually in control of it.” He told of the new policy of the Observer under his editorship. “When I took over the State Observer I changed the policy of the papercompletely. In those days it was highly popular to ‘take pot shots’ at Franklin D. Roosevelt. Governors, Senators, and Congressmen, who had been riding `R’s’ coat-tails for 12 yearsin order to get themselves elected, asserted their ‘independence’ and bragged about how many times they had `stood up to the President’ and voted against his measures. I exposed the hypocrisy of these proclaimed ‘Heroes’ in words that everybody could understand. It did not make the State Observer popularbut ‘look at the fun I had’.” His objective was to promote right thinking toward the role of government i n democracy. H e thought of democracy as one of the expressions of Christianity that is within the power and responsibility of man. He bore no grudges. Some of the victims of his moral wit have said he is the only reformer they ever knew they could put up with. Planned Religious Work He retired from the Observer December 6, 1954, with the intention of abandoning politics for religious research and writing. He continued to write columns for the Observer under his column title, “Observations,” but they became less frequent as he got deeper into his religious work. He had a deep bass voice and was until recently an active member of the Austin Men’s Chorus. He loved religious and semi-classical music, and he was given to booming out suddenly with “Asleep in the Deep,” “When the Bell in the Lighthouse Rings,” or “On the Road to Mandalay.” He had a prodigious memory and out of the gubernatorial picture last summer to give Yarborough a clean shot at the loyalist-liberal support. Many think Yarborough should now do the same. Yarborough gives every indication he doesn’t see it that way. Those letters keep coming in for one thing, and there’s not a dissuader in the lot. Then, too, there are the crowds that turn out to hear him speakand the fact that 680,000 of them voted for him in 1954. His popularity with the people seems to be higher than at any time in his career. He appears to be a symbol. He campaigned all last summer for integrity in office, warning against government corruption. Three months after he lost, the veterans’ land scandal broke. To many now, he’s a prophet. When Paul Butler came through Texas, Yarborough ‘ was offered transportation in a private plane by a friend. He followed Butler all over Texas, made some unscheduled speeches, and drew enthusiastic receptions from just about everybody but the Democratic Advisory Council, sponsors of the Butler tour. To others he’s a poor campaigner albeit a tireless oneand a threetime loser. Concerning these defeats, Yarborough thinks they are actually helping him. His fan mail dwells on this at length. “They say they don’t like a quitter, and they don’t want me to quit,” said Yarborough. His conduct during the 1952 campaign vexed a number of people. Some said he couldn’t or wouldn’t delegate authority. He tried to do everything himself \(Many think many of his own speeches in laborious long-hand. Others said his issues were diffused, that his charges were like a shotgun blast. There was never any set plan, and some though there should have been. Yarborough ddesn’t think so. “You act on the information you have at the time,” he says. “Your issues and tactics change from day to day.” You could argue in Yarborough’s WORKERS, LAWYERS, AND LATINS CONVENE DALLAS and SAN ANTONIO People get in an interesting frame of mind at conventions. There is a suppressed, risque gaiety that springs from the away-fromhome f e e 1 i n g. The excitement comes from the hotel context, the concourse with people arriving and departing. There is nervous looking around, studied external dignity. Greetings are frequent and exhausting; parties, raucous, unpredictable, s o m etimes clandestine. The swift-blown romances challenge the speeches, the resolutions, and the politics for the real interest of the delegates. Texans met in three groupings last weekworking people and lawyers in Dallas, across the street from each other in the Adolphus and Baker Hotels, and defiant, sensitive, defensively patriotic LatinAmerican veterans at the Gunter in San Antonio. The working men and women were intense and determined, angered by the man-handling they got from the recent Legislature, braced to organize their feminine members and wives for polltax drives and an anti-Shivers political vendetta next summer. They made the most news because they attracted the most speakers and seemed to have in their hands a certain dynamic. The lawyers were concerned mostly with professional questions the new probate code, for example. They were also worried about bad publicity for lawyers that resulted from the role of some of their brethren in veterans’ land cases. A Question of Terms The Latin-Americans had a really good time in San Antonio in the formal way that is theirs. Always dominant at these meetings is the kinetic, assertive doctor from Corpus Christi, Hector Garcia. Rep.. Maury Maverick cast himself in the interesting logical role of a defender of the civil rights of Joe McCarthy and Herman Talmadge. Speakers there ran into the difficult question of how to allude to Latin-Americans, or Americans of. Spanish ancestry, o r Spanishspeaking Americans, or MexicanAmericans, or, simply, Mexicans. The most responsive chord Senator Jimmy Phillips could strike Saturday night at a banquet came after he was temporarily confused about this, calling them “Americans of Spanish descent.” At that he said: “Well, I don’t want to try to argue about names, but I do want to say this, we’re all GI’s. and we’re all Americans!” The ardor of the applause was a reflex from the dec ades during which the guests have been called “Mes-kins” and “greasers” by contemptuous farmers. The politicians showed up at the AFL and American GI Forum conventions, but the rules of the legal game kept them away from the Baker. The political season has been under way for two months, a full year before the campaigns proper. Agriculture Commissioner John White, asked at Dallas whether he way running for Governor, said, “On the record of off?” “On.” “Oh. Well, thentch, tch, such questions!” In his speech, he was careful to criticize restrictive labor laws but to distinguish between being “prolabor” and “pro-people.” Yarborough was mobbed in the Adolphus lobby after his customary verbal haymakers against all things Shivers-like. He drew a standing ovation in San Antonio, too. Both places, he urged everybody to pay their poll taxes. Asked if he was a candidate, he said he had not made up his mind. Phillips is eager for political gossip, is a picture of confidence, and is obviously running. His speech to the GI convention was careless, but instinctively emotional: how he had filibustered 24 hours so that the poverty-stricken could have use of 600 now-empty hospital beds at the Galveston medical school, and how he had fought single-handedly for a thorough investigation into the veterans’ land fraud, the victims of whom, he was gently careful to point out, were 80 percent Latin-American. A Speech Controversy A blue-penciling the federation executive secretary, Jerry Holleman, gave the speech of a wouldbe convention speaker provided the major talking piece in Dallas. It started when Darby Hammond, public relations man for Southwestern Insurance Information Service, asked that Ben Mitchell be invited to speak to the AFL convention for the information service. The federation res5onded with an invitation to Mitchell. Mitchell said Holleman asked him to send over a copy of the speech in advance “for publicity purposes.” McCully and Holleman objected to a page and a quarter of the speech alleging bad faith by the Texas Association of Claimants Attorneys in the fight over H. B. 4. Holleman crossed out the part in question. “The next things we knew,” McCully, federation public relations man, says, “Hammond called and said ‘no speech.’ I said okay, if that’s the way he feels about it. Then the papers started calling.” Mitchell told the press this was “censorship.” Holleman said the remarks Mitchell had proposed to make were “false and unfounded.” “We do not propose to let him use us as a forum to expound a view directly contrary to the best interests of working people in Texas,” Holleman said. McCully said that he had reached a specific agreement with Hammond “that Mitchell would discuss only the operation of workmen’s compensation and industrial safety and specifically would not go into H. B. 4.” The reference to T.A.C.A. in the fight over H. B. 4, said McCully, was “a direct violation of our agreement.” The Dallas News editorialized that the blue-penciling was censorship. The News Is Answered The AFL publicity committee retorted that Mitchell was “scheduled to speak on the request of his own organization …. and not by the request of the federation.” It had also been agreed, said the committee, that he was to speak on “non-controversial subjects.” The publicity committee then re quested that Holleman or his desig