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PAUL CRUME OF THE DALLAS NEWS f IS YOUR CHILD Auld/Capped? It is estimated two out of five children of school age have defective vision. If your child squints, is nervous, makes poor grades … perhaps it’s defective . vision. See your local professional eye examiner for a check-up on your child’s vision. Give ydur youngster an opportunity with better vision. Published In the interest of Professional Eye Cars by PROFESSIONAL OPTICAL SUPPLY DALLAS Crume of Big D An Essayist, He Has Locked Away His Only Novel; Hark, Was That the Ghost of Galileo? DALLAS This second of a somewhat unsteady. series on Texas newspapermen now resumes in”Dallas, where Paul Crume, a slightly sad-eyed and ungainly fellow who looks like a. better fed version of John Carradine, -stopped off 19 years ago to poke around in the wonders of the Texas Centennial. Crume has been there since then, except for a trip to the South Pacific to help fight a war and an occasional return to his home town, “the fash.: ionable \\kTest Texas spa of Lariat.” He works for the Dallas Morning News “because the ‘pay is good and they treat me all right.”, Like Hubert Mewhinney of the Houston Post, Crume thinks his newspaper is the best in Texas. Also like Mewhinney, he has never done what major writers like to call “major writing.” But his work stands out; there is a glitter to it that distinguishes him .from the hundreds of hackers Avho. daily fill the Texas prints. He showed a rich promise in his days at the University of Texas during the early ’30s, and they said if anybody in that bright bunch would write a fine novel, Crume would do it. There have been novels from that groupsome fine ones, some pretty badbut -Crume’s has not been among them. He says he wrote it a while back, looked it over, and stored it away. Perhaps it is the novel form that intimidates people like Crume and IVIewhinney. They prefer the essay, but there is no easy avenue to its recognitionparticularly when it appears in so short-lived a medium a,s a daily. newspaper. Crume writes a’ front page column in the News called “Big D.” Once a weekwhen the people who crave the short item, chit-chat stuff aren’t lookingCrume turns out a perfect little essay. His range is wide, wandering from the death of Trotsky to a lament on t he passing of the word “hark”. from contemporary literature. About “hark,” Crume once wrote t< . We were talking about the use of the word in Tom Swift. It might be night around the flying machine or submarine or whatever Tom SWift was working on at the moment. Suddenly the young hero would hear some tiny, threatening sound off in the brush. This might signal the arrival of six gunmen from the Mafia or just that fat rich man's son who was always trying to spoil everything. " 'Hark !' Tom Swift would cry to his companions. . . . For generations, heroes harked every time the reader had to be stirred up, and then they suddenly quit. You couldn't get a modern hero to hark for anything. . "About the only time anyone encounters 'hark' anymore is when the herald angels sing or when the dogs do bark." CRUME LAMENTS the passing of a good many things besides "hark," and he is at his best in reminiscence. He writes about his younger days on the High Plains, at Farwell, on the New Mexico border or nearby Lariat: Sometimes he remembers his days in a house full of poor-boys at the University of Texas. The boys called themselves the "Progressive Democrats," forerunners of Campus Guild and its rather heavyhanded crusadings. He likes to write about the days in the labyrinthine mists of the old and shadowy News building, and it was quite a while before 'he decided he liked the new one. Crume hitched a ride from Farwell on . the High Plains of Texas to the UniversitY in Austin just after the depression hit. He arrived, he says, with $4 and one suit of clothes. He departed in June, 1936, with $6 and a different suit of clothes, and there are Some who wonder where he got the $6. The Texas Mind THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 Sept. 28, 1955 A printer's devil and general handyman around a weekly in Farwell, he had an interest in writing, and he and a few other young men like Fred Gipson and Jack Guinn turned out one of the most literate and lively of student newspapers in years. Recently he wrote : . . springtime memories are a kind of music, a feel, substanceless and rich, like the night years ago when we were leaving college. The sky was alive with moonlight and the air heavy with chinaberry scent, and we were suddenly wishing that we need not depart into the world that so obviously needed us. The world was obviously in fairly battered condition, and we were all ready to whip it into decent shape. "We are still ready, but we've found out that the darn thing won't stand up and fight." His ex-classmates and professors say he was a brilliant student, and when someone asked him back then how he made all those "A's," his answer was, "I study the teacher, not the course." He worked for a while doing research for Dr. Walter Prescott Webb, who was then writing Divided We Stand. Webb recalls that he was a shy fellow who would pick up his research assignment, disappear for several weeks, then return with the work completed. "He never talked much," Webb says. In his senior year, Crume ran for editor of The Daily Texan. There were two opponents, one of them backed by t h e fraternity clique. Crume's backing came from "Progressive Democrats," independents, and most of the journalism school. He ran last in the three-man field after the progressives engineered a tradeout with the clique in exchange for something like $60 cash and the night editorship. Crume hasn't been very interested in politics since then. HE WAS graduated that June and set out hitchhiking to New :York, hoping he wouldn't find a job along the way. The Texas Centennial was going onthat year in Dal las, and wthen he made the customary inquiry at the News Building about a job, they put him on to help cover the big show. . _ Later that summer he happened to sit in on a high-level discussion with the News brass, which included the managing editor and the late George Dealey. Dealey had called the meeting to discuss how better to publicize the centennial. When everybody else had spoken, they called on Crurne, who ,had been turning out features on the centennial for months. "I think perhaps we've given it too much coverage already," said young Crume. There was an uncomfortable silence, and the meeting was quickly adjourned. Leaving the room, Crume passed Dealey's office, and the publisher of the INItws beckoned him inside. "You know," said Dealey, "I think maybe you're right." He has been many things on the News : reporter, rewrite man, night city editor, occasional columnist. A few years ago they asked him to inaugurate "Big D." He has been at it ever since,, and he loves it. He regrets nothing. His occasional extra-curricular writings haVe included only the unpublisyhed. novel, a few magazine items, and a batch of pulp fiction when the pulp market was in flower. He is respOnsible only for the column now, and he gets some help with it. Once he wrote : "When you get right down to it, the other people on this paper do about half the work on this column all the tine. We don't mind that, but we hate to see them get credit for it." Another columnist on the News is Frank Tolbert, a classmate of Crume at the University and now a much more active free-lancer. Crume once . said of Tolbert, "... the newspaperman,. novelist, 'author, short story writer and magazine man. His pro dtiction is of such size that he is commonly referred to as The. Mortal Enemy of Wood Pulp." THERE really isn't a great deal. more to say about Paul Crume, except he is not at all arty or "bright" or fashionably inclined. His writing showsbetter what he is: `Let it-be said of me,' said Abraham Lincoln, 'that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.' In our neighborhood, though, we aren't so all-fired hot about pulling up a good, thistle if it is growing." -On religion : "... Mr. Bass wrote to to inform us that Christ had come to Dallas. This may be so, but we are skeptical as we have not seen any evidence of it in the 'last two or three years." On gardening : "It is truly wonderful what beauty you can &aw out of the good Dallas earth, especially if it is helped out by a truckload of manure, 2,500 pounds of peat moss, 500 pounds of commercial organic fertilizer, 25 pounds of iron sulphate, ten pounds of aluminum sulphate, 400 pounds of ammonium sulphate, and a kind of liquid stuff which you can use to beat a plant over the head and make it grow if it' 'gets obstinate. Twenty five , or thirty truckloads of new dirt will also help the good Dallas earth ..." Crume was in Mexico years ago when Trotsky was murdered. He recalled: "We heardabout it a little later when ... we stepped into the elevator at the Regis and a woman we'd never seen before said rather gaily, 'Have you heard?' And then she added: `Trotsky's dead.' It added spice to that late-summer vacation ... "... One day they shoved his body into the incandescent pyre. And a Mexican reporter described how it withered. Very like, said the reporter, the petals of a rose. Things seemed a little flat after that. ."It was the nearest -we have ever come to associating with kings and desperate men." Crume probably summed up his own.. philosophy one day with these words : it . This column is not for or against anything. We are the innocent 'bystander, the one that always gets o sh pnio .n o i t.W s .. ehave a horror of positive "A better way to handle it ' is the way taken by Galileo when he was ordered not to say that the world revolved about the sun. He agreed, and then departed muttering, 'It -does so move'." BILL BRAM MER