The Silent Feeders wind sets that Harris Green Such grandiloquent c .1 a i m s, echoing from the very university of the state where full-blown chauvinism appears to be innate, may well impress those north of the Red as merely another gust of vacuous rhetoric. However, Dr. Winship, who admits quite readily and with no show of apparent regret to being a native of Colorado, can back up his statements with some clarifying specifics as clear, cold, and bracing as Denver, itself. That the student enrollment has vaulted from 968 in 1946 to 1,674 in 1955 is of secondary importance, Dr. Winship stressed, though such a leap has given the department a true Texas-size lead in size. Far more important is the quality of instruction and here, tee, there is a considerable edge in excellence. Among the faculty are such accomplished professors as Shirlee Dodge, one of the leading instructors of dance-drama in the country; Lucy Barton, whose book on costume design is still the stand AUSTIN ‘ JESSE H. JONES, the Man and the Statesman. By Bascom N. The shade of Jesse Jones would be comforted by this biography. The produce of an old friend and employee, it chronicles meticulously and in journeyman prose the doings of one of the state’s most remarkable children. But it is a house-organ biography. “Uncle Jesse” was the cat’s pajamas, Timmons tells us.. Alone among the misguided grandees of the Roosevelt advisers, unique among t h e bubbleheads who manned and peopled the New Deal’s numberless agencies, Jones basked in the confidence of Congress and must take all credit for any reputation for sound adminis Lynwood Abram tration FDR’s regime might enjoy. The implication: Without Uncle Jesse the whole caboodle would have gone down the sewer, where it probably belonged in the first place. These opinions are not veiled. Jones was, the happy biographer informs us, “the ablest man I have ever known.” This sort of devotion rarely helps achieve definitive biography. So intemperate is Timmons’s esteem for his subject that much of the book exudes an almost boyish hero-worship. This would be merely embarrassing in a cub reporter; it is tragic the nation; E. P. Conkle, whose presence on the staff gives the department the distinction of having a resident playwright whose work has seen New York production; and B. Iden Payne, whose 50 years of experience is belied by his vigor and verve. Of the twelve remaining faculty members. at least five devote fulltime to instructing the students in the wiles of those step-sisters of the drama, radio and television. It is, all in all, an impressive assemblage of individual talent rather than one of second fiddle players to a virtuoso’s direction. All will certainly have their work cut out for them this season as it promises to be the most varied ever offered by the department. Spanning the Greek, Elizabethan, Restoration, a n d modern periods, it opens with Congreve’s “Love for Love” \(Oct. and then skips forward 300 years to William Archibald’s “The Inan adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw;” then back slightly for the Epic Theatre of Berthold Brecht’s be directed by Francis Hodge; way back for Aristophanes’s “The ward to the 16th century for Payne’s annual Shakespearean. yet undecided upon. This is, indeed, a promising program, and it was with difficulty that Winship, who is already planning the department’s 20th anniversary s ea so n, was persuaded to recall some of the accomplishments of the past. He pointed out the work of some 200 former students who are now ac in a seasoned newspaperman. In light of Jones’s basic philosophic differences with the New Deal, one cannot help but marvel at his presence, in a myriad of capacities, in the administration for twelve years. Timmons is impressed by the tenacity of this tenure. Speaking of the final, “grotesque” rupture with Roosevelt, Timmons comments: “It is a wonder that it did not happen earlier, a marvel partially explained by the real and urgent need of Roosevelt for at least one first-rate administrator in his official family; in part by the skill with which Jones managed his relations with the White House; but in greater part by Jones’s strength with Congress.” Thus are the Timmons reportorial abilities enfeebled by his admiration for Jones. Note the phrase: “… at least one first-rate administrator …” Routed from the Pantheon of “first-rate administrators” are Henry Stimson, Cordell Hull and Frank Knox. It detracts from Jones’s real accomplishments in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to puff him up in this way. Timmons does a splendid job in recalling the wondrous job Jones accomplished in saving brigades of banks, clusters of railroads. The Houstonian’s achievements in the RFC are made more vivid when contrasted with the venality which overtook the agency after his departure. Timmons truthfully tells us the RFC was, more than word” to schools and colleges throughout the country; a recent graduate, Ted van Griethnysen, who is now studying in England on a Fulbright; and young Pat Hingle who leaped feet first into Broadway, landed upright, and is working with Elia Kazan. These are things in which the department takes an understandable pride. But then Winship was off into the future again, discussing the Ninth Annual Convention of the Southwest Theatre conference to which the department will play host and which, in its devotion to the idea of theatre, will draw to Austin such personages as Paul Baker and John Rosenfield. This led to the gradual growth of student interest in theatre that has been noted on the university campus. “They come into college with only a minimum of experience,” Winship said. “Here at the University we try to cover all styles every five years and to introduce students to the best.” Nor does the department work its conversions only upon the raw young. A touring troupe took Moliere to communities where no play had ever been performed before and met with huge success! “They loved it. They recognized people in it just like those they knew,” said Winship, speaking of the experience as an evangelist would a successful revival, which, in fact, it might well have been. The theatre, which was born of religion, is being carried forward at the university with true religious zeal. A devoted and talented faculty is directing the efforts of a large group of eager, hardworking students, and the result has been consistent excellence. any other New Deal agency, responsible for the nation’s partial recovery during the early years of the Roosevelt administration. Perhaps because of his long service with the federal government, the financier seldom incurred the wrath of his fellow citizens to the degree endured by the builders of other Texas cities. But some Houstonians w i 11 chuckle as Timmons describes the long “love affair” between Jones and his adopted community. In fact, Jones’s relations with Houston were peppered periodically by those snarling, vindictive controversies which have dogged the progress of the city’s growth into a major metropolitan area. Jones often took the field against old-time associates in these municipal vendettas. The last and probably the most bitter of these came near the end of his life. It involved the Houston Port Authority. His work in the creation and expansion of the port facilities justify the intense interest he took in the Battle of the Wharves. A n g r y, huTrt letters against him written by some of the city’s most illustrious big shots filled the newspaper colunins. Timmons tells about it: “… a proposal was made … to purchase some old wharves owned by private interests. Jones thought the price proposed to be paid for the outmoded facilities was exorbitant … He held that if Houston needed more wharfage. \(A It is usually after the dies down and the sun on a winter afternoon the deer begin moving. It is a quiet time of the day then, and I sometimes used to climb up on a windmill on my way home from hunting squirrels and look at the ranch land at that hour. The pastures of my grandfather’s place and those of his neighbors would lie before me like a lonely sea, grown over with trees and thickets that were pale green on the knolls and dark in the hollows. There would be no movement that I could detedt, not even around the distant homes and barns. But unseen in the brush, the deer are beginning to stir at this time. They are starting the old nerve-taut game of getting to food and water without being pounced upon or shot. I was walking through this calm one afternoon when I heard Anselmo whistle lightly. He was squatting behind a shinoak bush in a whole thicket of shinoaks. Through the tangle you could see a mill, a cistern, and an oblong water trough. They were bunched in the middle of a rocklittered clearing. Anselmo was watching the clearing for deer. He had my grandfather’s old rust-flecked shotgun. I could hear a bell on a grazing horse clanking in the pasture somewhere. I eased into the brush beside Anselmo. It was hard not to make a racket, the leaves were so dry. Anselmo worked for my grandfather. I saw his axe and burlap-covered water jar on the ground. He had been chopping brush for the goats. It was late December, the grass was nearly all gone, and the goats were getting hungry. “I see some tracks over by the trough yesterday,” Anselmo whispered. We waited. The windmill stood very distinct in the middle of the flat. Its blades were still. The air was clear. It had been a bright winter’s day. There’ now was a sharp, solid, intensifying chill in the air. It cut you when you moved against it. Moving in his squatting position, Anselmo kicked a rock against another one. His stiff ducking trousers and jacket crackled. He snuffed from the cold and continued to watch the clearing. His big brown face, the buck teeth bulging out the upper lip, was blank. Black hair was scattered over his jaws. He glanced at the squirrels I had laid on the ground and said gently, “They’re fat.” “They were both in the same tree,” I said. I had shot them with the .22. Their eyes were tranquil black slits and their forepaws were thrust before them. “Listen!” said Anselmo. He cocked his head and tried to pick up the sounds, his face distorted. You could hear hooves stirring lightly over rocks. ‘ Then there was a snort. “Damn goats!” said Anselmo, let down. Anselmo didn’t hunt for pleasure. There was a wife and three little girls . and a smaller boy waiting in a shack for a good piece of meat. And he didn’t hunt with leisure. Three milk cows were waiting for him at the lot. Anselmo had .patience and was a woodsman. He didn’t expect deer to come because he was there. But he was anxious. I have never liked waiting to kill a deer. I suppose it is because I lack conviction. And unless you are in some murderous blind. where corn has been distributed as bait before the season begins, there is a great element of chance. You can sit in the woods every afternoon for a week without ever seeing a deer. If you aren’t strong about hunting, you can begin to feel you’re wasting your time. In the dumb solitude, you can get bored. The sun had gone down, and it had left a whitish glare at the tops of the barren, spiky shinoaks. You could hear a bird rustle deep in the shadows of the bushes. Down at the house, there was the faint slam of a screen door. My grandmother had probably stepped outside to empty the dishpan. I heard her distant. treble “Shoo,” and I could visualize her waving the pan to scare the chickens from the yard. , The cold was getting me. My mind was freezing up. My hands Winston Bode were dry and felt swollen. I shivered quietly and waited for Anselmo to call it quits. But he was watching the clearing steadily. In the dim light, the mill and tank were shadows, and the lightercolored trough, the adobe rocks scattered meaninglessly across the flat ground, were growing vague. Anselmo showed no sign of being cold. You could see the horns that sat high on its turning head when the buck stepped into the clearing. His neck bulged forward as he held his head up and listened. He had a proud chest and his legs moved lightly. “Sssssssss!” Anselmo was hissing through his teeth with extreme, controlled delight as he tried to close the breech on the shotgun noiselessly. The buck was turned in a direction away from us. But he smelled or heard us, and turned to stare at us from over his shoulder. Then he switched his flag. He stamped a front foot, wheeled and leapt. His hind-quarters rose in the air, and he was back in the brush and running. Anselmo, who had half-risen to shoot, froze where he stood. He could not believe it. “AWWWWWWW!” he said in an anguished, muted cry, and he Watched where the deer had gone. He kneeled down again gingerly, looking for adeer that might have been with the buck. “Son-of-a-GUN!” he said, thinking of his loss, and there. was sickness in his voice. We waited there as darkness came on. A plane droned slowly over the pasture, headed south. “I ain’ gon’ get me no deer this night,” said Anselmo, and he got up. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 October 24, 1956 IUT’s Department of Drama AUSTIN For sometime now, residents of Austin have been of the opinion that the Department of Drama at the University of Texas must surely be one of the finest in the nation. Almost flawless realizations of such substantial modern classics as “The Lady’s Not for Burning” and “Morning’s at Seven ;” fluid and vital Shakespearean productions ; some sprightly ballets ; and even a nicely done job on that Shavian rarity “Misalliance” during the summer months when theatre ev; erywhere goes slack have all and text in schools throughout tively teaching and “carrying the worn away whatever objections these patrons might have had to amateur theatrics. And many, including this reporter, have left Hogg auditorium after seeing these productions to wonder at the alchemy that has transformed such young scholars into near professional performers. The explanation is quite simple. For according to Dr. Lorin Winship, its chairman, the department is one of the top three in the land. And probably the largest, too. The Jesse Jones Story
You May Also Like
Texas Professor Leonard N. Moore’s “Teaching Black History to White People” is a memoir, history lesson, and instructional manual.