Upward, Onward DEEP EAST TEXAS FEW DENIED that Parkersville needed a cemetery association. The old custom of graveyardworking days did well enough when a man’s time wasn’t worth much, anyway, but with the war boom and the location of the plant in the village, ‘things changed. The lazy, easy-going community was suddenly an up-and-coming industrial town, boasting \(as -its first service club and a few old soreheads” .and a telephone exchange described as “a locally-owned company in touch with the world.” \(Jim French added, “If you crank hard enough and long enough and the operator ain’t Prescott, some five miles to the east, had not grown with Parkersville. The flu epidemic of World War I had been attended by old Dr. Grimes, the community physician of that day; but malnutrition and the laws of nature brought about a high mortality rate among Doc’s patients. The Dedicated, the Violent, and the Timid Yield a Manifold Promise AUSTIN In one of the little stories in Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson drops an allusion to “the talking artists.” These are a special breed of men, enamored of Art, but frozen by the attempt. I had a friend, a sort of remote friend, in England. We had been in some competitions before in Texas, and that was the extent of our contact until we met again under the new circumstances. He was writing a novel. People drifting around him said he had a lead on a publisher. One day at tea, the book ‘came up, but he quickly put the subject down again. He wouldn’t talk. In a new book, The Creative Process, the point is made that every time an artist talks about what he’s doing, he releases some of the tension he needs for his work. The last I heard of Walter was through a mutual friend, whose identity I have forgotten. He had gotten a job on a tidelands oil rig off the Gulf Coast. He works out theee two weeks, then goes to the mainland, takes a bus to Houston, and writes a week; then back to the rig for another two weeks. WHEN I WAS NINE, I decided I wanted “to be a writer.” I tried to write poetry. A newspaper story appeared, and it was ruined. Bent double over some neural parapet in my past is the simple image, “Sissy! Sissy!” At 14 I went to the grey stone building where they print the San Antonio Express. They hired me as a copy boy. Six months later I presumed to accept a job as “sports writer,” and during the next three years I produced 16,000 column inches of the worst journalistic gruel in the history of the profession. For this, I won a prize. During the first of those three years, I came into conflict with a boy a year my senior, who was also on the sports staff. He didn’t work as hard as I did, and this pushed him, or he felt it so. There grew up between us a friendly electricity. We used to adjourn to the pool hall across the street -every afternoon, and I put as much competitive effort into snuffing out his ego on the green velvet as I ‘did in anything else THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 August 17, 1955 A CIVIC For this reason the village residents thought it necessary to operate a cemetery calculated to take care of all the inhabitants of the surrounding trade territory. Thenceforth the burial ground was known as Doc Grimes’s Graveyard. It needed no more than the care of the ordinary country cemetery. In Parkersville there had been no Doc Grimes to cause extensive planning, and In Parkers v i 11 e there had been no Doc Grimes to cause extensive planning; community spirit had to be aroused to remedy the situation. The Onward and Upward Literary Society had done its part. To the great discomfort of the husbands of the members, the society dedicated itself to making various gew-gaws and gadgets for sale in a Christmas baZaar. The husbands had to gather tin can tops for Christmas tree ornaments. They watched with amazement as their busy little helpmeets put glue on everything from ice bag covers to toilet brush handles and sprinkled the surface with manicolored sequins. Then they went to the bazaar and bought the junk the wives of the other victims had made. The service club showed its sharp sense of duty and public conscience by sponsoring a womanless wedding. For good measure it threw in a bathing beauty’ contest, open to female impersonators among its membership. This exhibition packed the school gymnasium, and in those murky, frenzied years. He was my senior, at 15, social commentator, and this was my way of replying. I know I lost often, for he chalked a good cue stick, but I do not remember losing. Then, he disappeared. Two weeks ago. he came to Austin on a mission: to pick my brain. He didn’t find much, but I did learn that he is writing a novel. He has been through it: the multiple possibilities, the commercial commitment, the revulsion, the break, the first drifting calm of freedom, and now, writing. He still writes like a journalist, in the staccato sentences, the short-burst paragraphs, in a chapter of his book he showed me; but he says it is not so throughout. He, too, is a Texan. From the East he has returned. State Representative D. B. Hardeman is. traveling in Europe this summer. He is sending the Observer GEIRANGER, NORWAY THE THING that has struck me most sharply in Europe these last few weeks is the way people manage to keep their lives simple. We in Texas and America pride ourselves on all the advances we have made in automobiles, washing machines, Waring blenders, elevators, clothing, ready-cooked foods, movies, and what not. By those standards, Europe is still far behind us. Yet Europeans are not envious of us. In fact, they are rather amused at our way of living:eThey don’t crave those gadgets which they cannot afford. In fact, they’d rather not have them. Take the matter of a private bath in a hotel. In America we are unhappy if we cannot get a hotel room with private bath, but in Europe they are still few and far between: “Why do you Americans insist oh a bath in your own room?” a friend asked me. “In all the hotels you can get a bath right down the hall when you want one, and the toilet is only a door or two away probably closer than in your own home. And look at the money you savemoney you can spend for other things.” Even the food is simpler with far less variety than we have at home, but in PROJECT After All, When Industry Comes to a Town, One Must Tend the Dead More Efficiently no one complained about the exuberance of some of the performers. The theme of the affair was a shotgun wedding, attended by guests with’ a Snuffy Smith background. What if there was something stronger than tea in the prop jugs and bottles? The severest critic showed no concern. Whether the staggering and the thick tongues were affected or genuine made no difference. The boosters counted their gains, but alas, the funds raised were not enough. At this point the conviction grew that Cap Tom would have to be rallied to_the cause. Cap Tom owned and operated the general store around which .Parkersville had grown. Some said he was unPredictable about charity; the solicitor might be ‘subjected to a crushing insult or a generous gift. He was said to be a sharp trader, but they also said he filled half the goal for Cap Toni Miss Margie S OON AFTER we started the paper I was at La Villita in San Antonio. I met a radiant girl who rents a room on the second floor of one of the buildings in the village to do her painting in. On her drawing board was a layout of pen and ink sketches of young slim girls swathed in the latest fashions, available, for interested parties, at Joske’s of Texas, the largest store in the largest state. Around the walls were her paintings, in oils. -None of them moved me very much, but then’ I saw, through the high legs of her drawing board, against a corner in an alcove, a nude of the Virgin so elemental it communicated with me instantly. I insisted she bring it out; she was ernbarassed; she had been razzed. She was very proud of that painting. R.D. most ‘countries each dish is prepared with more care and skill than we are accustomed to. The taste-quality of food in European restaurants, even the tiny holes-in-the-wall, is far above what we expect. Of course, service is much slower. Usually your order is individually prepared, and that takes timebut what a difference between a pork chop cooked for you, and one taken out of a batch of perhaps 100 that our big restaurants dish out. . We Americans can’t get used to the scarcity of water with meals. You almost have to create a riot to get a glass of ice-water, but Europeans smilingly insist that a glass of wine or a glass of beer with your food is much tastier and also helps the digestion. The old American habit of visiting one anothera habit almost gone in many American townsis still strong here. Europeans don’t depend much on the , movies or the radio or television for entertainment. They like to visit with each other, to take long walks in the woods, to sit together and talk or read in the beautiful parks, and then when they occasionally go to a movie, it is a real treatsomething to be remembered. Compared to Americans, they still have few automobiles, although the number is rapidly increasing, causing the same sort of terrible traffic problems with which we are plagued. But that’s not so badtheir public transportation is excellent. The trains are fast, frequent, and cheap; they have fine and frequent bus service; their city buses and streetcars any fund-raising project by his church. Some of his foes darkly commented he could well afford the church charity out of his profits from foreclosures and hard bargains. Others thought of him as the kind caretaker of those unable to handle their own financial problems. At any rate, nobody wanted to ask Cap for the money to start the cemetery association. After mush cajolery, however, Miss Margie, the proprietress of the telephone exchange, was persuaded to approach Cap. She had known him as long as anyone had and was a “pre-plant” citizen of the village.. She planned carefully. Like any male, Cap was subject to some flattery. He fancied himself the leading citizen of the neighborhood, as perhaps he was. Miss Margie knew what she had to do. She picked the early morning of a pleasant day to approach Cap at the store. She had her flattering spiel ready, but she opened with the usual trivial re. marks about the state of the crops and the weather. Cap may have been forewarned, or he ‘may have just taken the worst end’ of a lazy farmer’s crop failure. Womanless Wedding Whatever the \\reason, he was crusty and sullen. His normally high, thin voice was even more shrill than usual. Miss Margie’s composure about vanished. She felt a tightening In her throat that created in her an irresistible desire to close the interview. She almost breath. lessly described the need for a cemetery association, the efforts of the citizenry to raise the funds required, and the need for the rest. Then, hopeful of softening the bankerish glint in Cap’s eyes, she said warmly: “Now, you see the need of this association, Mr. Tom. Many have contributed, and Mr. Torn, please, Parkersville wouldn’t want a cemetery, without you in it.” The corners of Cap Tom’s eyes wrinkled. He pulled out his checkbook and said back to her: “No, Miss Margie, I’m afraid it wouldn’t.” That’s how Parkersville got its cemetery association. LEONARD BURRESS Sketches hy Neal Caldwell and subways are excellent and cheap and get you there quickly. Yoti seldom have to wait long for a streetcar. 0 Most Europeans have a fierce love of: the outdoors. They are interested in knowing about the trees and the flowers and the birds and what lies beyond that mountain. They love. to walk=slowly— and drink in the beauties of nature. The most distasteful thing in the world to most of them is to have to hurry. A waitress in Copenhagen told me that she worked six months each year, then traveled six months. She knows how to travel cheaply, getting a fine room and three meals a day in Barcelona, Spain, for example, for fifty cents a day. “I love to travel,” she said, “but I have never wanted to come to America. I think you are too busy in America, rushing around, not taking time to enjoy life. Is that the way to live?” Another told me: “I could tell you were an American the moment I first saw you. No European would walk so fast.” As I talk to Norwegians and Italians and Luxembourgers and Swiss and Danes about America, I get the feeling’ that they are tolerantly amused at our busyness, our ulcers, our gadgets, our “keeping up with the Joneses,” our mad quest for success or acceptance. I have the idea that they regard us as impetuous youths who have not yet learned what the really important things in life are, but that perhaps we will learn yet. And perhaps we shall. D. B. HARDEMAN Out of the Stillness, Three Texans SPECIAL REPORT FROM NORWAY
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