BOW WILLiAMS Automobile and General Insurance Budget Payment Plan Strong Stock Companies’ , 624 LAMAR, AUSTIN GReenwood 2-0545 Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! IN HOUSTON BELL INSURANCE AGENCY am CAROLINE STREET CA 8-4469 ALL KINDS OF INSURANCE SINCE 1929 Another View on Langford’s 0. Henry KENEDY Delving through Gerald Langford’s “Alias 0. Henry,” one is led to the inescapable conclusion that Langford is not 0. Henry. There are occasional witticisms in the book, however, and it is sprinkled with a few bright paragraphs from William Sidney Porter’s work. Langford explores Porter quite thoroughly and fairly, committing to print most impOrtant references to his character as well as’ numerous quotes from bumpkins, and he never apologizes for Porter as he finds him. Porter lived at Greensboro, North Carolina, until he was 18; then he migrated to Texas. At Greensboro he learned to be a pretty good pharmacist, a trade, later to be extremely useful in the jug where he was Ia guest of the federal government for three years. In Texas he became :a guest of the Hall ranch neat Cotulla. Later in New York he liked to refer to himself as a co’vboy. Mrs. Hall’s description of him indicated his cowboying , consisted more of onlooking than participation. Porter had an uncanny ability at getting people to support him. He had no serious need l of finding work until after he got married \(a drastic error for a roan of his finesse at procuring free meals to be attracted by this “nice young man,” and if he found one house unsuitable, he would move into another with no hard feel= ings. In Austin In Austin, where he lived after leaving the H all ranch, he worked at various places, including the land office. lie became violently hostile to Governor James Hogg after he ;had been rooted out of his political office by a change in administration. He joined the churchToil -. militia, operettas, clintele f numerous beer parlors, anck various crap games and, all in all, be came a well rounded citizen of Austin. He gained the reputation of being able to drink more beer 1.han any man his size, an enviable achievement among the citizenry of the capital. Eventually he sought employment as a teller in the bank. During this work he bought a paper called the Iconoclast, owned by William Cowper Brann, a Baptistbane sort of fellow who eventually ran afoul of the six shooters of some irate Baptists in Waco for such articles as the one saying that the brother of the president of Baylor adhered too closely to the Old Testament, especially in the number of concubines David and Solomon had. I believe the vile charge had something to do with a cherubic Brazilian girl of 14. Brann ran up the subscriptions to his “Iconoclast” to 90,000 in Waco before the hardshells did him in. Porter never had more than 1500 subscribers. The “Rolling Stone,” which he called his publication, was intended to be humorous. Some part of his humor was pointed at the Teutonic population around Austin. In addition to his leanings towards the maltose side of life, Porter seemed to have a penchant for feminine companionship other than that associated with the home hearth. His fir s t wife Athol was shrewish . most of the time and actively objected to his entertaining female visitors in the newspaper office late at night. She was known to beat on the door with indecorous indignation. Langford expresses the opinion that Porter definitely filched the $5,000 from the bank where he worked, although with honest intentions to pay it back. In fact, his friends did pay it back, but the federal examiner, an irascible type, insisted he be sent to the thought he was guilty. He had refused to go over the bank books with them to prove his innocence. Langford made the interesting point that in his stories, the hero is never a man who has been wronged but is often one who has sinned and is repentant. This leaves iri some doubt his frequent oral avowals that he was himself innocent. Prior to his* trial 0. Henry fled to Honduras, and there he met Al Jennings, who shared his interest in the banking business, having himself removed deposits, though in more precarious fashion, at gun point. They became fast friends and remained so for the rest of Porter’s life. Porter came back to Austin, apparently to be with his wife in the last months of her life. He was convicted, much to the disappointment of most Austin citizens, who seemed to think the trial carried law enforcement too far. One day at lunch in Austin I talked with an old fellow, Van Smith, who said he had known Porter when he had worked in a drug store across the street from the bank. He said that people never regarded the charge against Porter with “any seriousness,” that bankers were always leaving slips of paper for money and that Insurance In Force Porter just left them “too big.” \(Smith said Porter was a peculiar fellowthat he used to carve up chairs in Jojoskies Saloon and that people never looked on him He left for the Ohio pen two days before the Spanish-American war started. \(Some woman made a scene as the federal officers carted him off from the detunate enough to renew his early knowledge of pharmacy and get a job in the hospital, which was Valhalla to the inmates. Jennings and Porter had a happy reunion in the pen. Ac Dan Strawn cording to Jennings, Porter joined an organization there called the “Recluse Club,” which consisted of three embezzlers, two train robbers, and one forger. They built a false wall to hide a kitchenette with enough food to supply a small hotel. Porter dressed fastidiously, even here, in clothing he wrangled from the supply clerk. After his release Porter felt no ambition to crusade for prison reform. When entreated to write about it by his fellow prisoners he announced his intention to leave his past behind him Pen-Made Pen The prison sentence was the making of Porter as a writer. He wrote some while in the pen, and when he emerged he considered himself too much in disgrace to seek honest employment as a bookkeeper or a pharmacist. In his opinion writing was the only way to make a living. After sending some of his work to an editor, Porter borrowed $8 to go to New York. On a tour around the city he became terrified of the elevated railway, asking the editors with him if there were any danger of its falling. He never rode it again, always taking a street car or the subway. He went into complete seclusion in New York. Editors who wanted his stories had to hunt him down. He always jovially admitted his identity; but when he moved to another address they had to hunt him down again. He was continually fearful of being recognized by his former colleagues in stir. When in restaurants talking to editors, who were about the only friends he both A Criticism To the Editor: I’ve often though I would tell you how much I appreciate certain editorials and news items which appear in the Observer … I somehow feel* that your editorial early in the summer on the Supreme Court decision about the Smith Act \(which released the Observer, editorial I have ever read. It’s been some time since I read the editorial … but I remember my reaction quite vividly. …. I find very little, in fact, almost no criticism of your own element, i.e., the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Surely, if you are as intent as you say you are in upholding what you think to be the truth, you realize that no institution can ever be the ered to make, he often turned around to see if any ex-cons had spotted him. He made no effort to encourage friendships at any of the places where he lived. Many of Porter’s short stories were rejected six or seven times before they were published. He was continually borrowing money from editors. He would send a page or two and request $50 by return messenger. If the editors were in a hurry for the story, or doubted Porter’s intentions to finish it by the deadline, as they often did, they would go to his apartment and wait sometimes hours while he ground it out. He never titled a story until he finished it. The World signed a contract to pay him $100 weekly for a short story. If he finished a story earlier in the week usually he would sell it to another paper and then write the World’s story by publication date. The main recipients of Porter’s sympathy were the shop girls, whom he sentimentally included in a large number of his short stories. He never told dirty jokes and abhorred unparsonlike utterances, but he would often take friends out to a nightclub and entertain them and the girls at the club. Porter married again and had hell again. He made considerable money for those days }hut gave most of it away for any reason that struck his fancy. He’d give money to girls, to doctors, spend it on his , friends. He always contrived to stay broke; but he always remained the fastidious dresser. Porter’s drinking became continuous and interferedy with his work. After a short respite during a vacation in North Carolina, it continued upon his return to New York He was stricken with diabetes two years before his death. Insulin had not yet been discovered, so his death was inevitable. The official cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver. The poem read at his funeral was “Crossing the Bar.” And as Langford said, “As it had been with Porter in life, so it was in. death.” In his short stories on Texas, Porter was severely castigated by New York critics for his “exaggerations.” Langford points out that these were probably the most realistic of all his stories. “The Reformation of Calliope” was probably taken from an episode in the career of Ben Thompson, noted Texas gambler and gtuiman, when he was defeated for city marshall of Austin. In his perfect embodiment of that truth. Every institution digests into its stomach falsifications of the truth which it was founded upon. The test of the institution is how much of this falsification is carried by the arteries into the body, causing it to degenerate. It would seem that the Observer is just the which can reduce the amount of falsification in the arteries. 2ND LT. JOHN KENDRICK Fort Lee, Virginia Nausea, Not a Tear, , To the Editor: Franklin Jones’s dirge \(Obof desegregation in Marshall, Texas, instead of bringing a tear to the eye, induces nausea in the stomach. Furthermore, n o amount of disappointment he shot up a prominent saloon, the streets of Austin, the Austin Statesman, and the Austin police station. The citizens, having discovered their gross error, elected him city marshall in the next election. Longford discussed the possibility that New York critics were not familiar with men like Ben Thompson. Closing Thought \\ In order that the reader may not cast too jaundiced an eye at William Sidney Porter for being singularly reprehensible among scribes, I will acquaint the uninitiated with a few of his fellow fallen angels so that his exploits’ will seem more a matter of course and the reader will fondly remember him merely as one of the boys. Robert Burns was a distinguished consumer of the most noted product of his native Scotland. \(The author does not refer of nature Burns became the sire of an illegitimate offspring, but his prospective father-in-law was too proud to let his unfortunate daughter marry such a poor catch and relented only years later when Burns became famous as a poet. Dickens and Tolstoy followed in Burns’s footsteps in their propensity to progenate. Henry Fielding contracted the gout and eventually the dropsy from his early bouts with ethanol and other excesses. Christopher Marlowe was killed in a drunken brawl. Dylan Thomas died of alcoholic poisoning of the brain. Francois Villon was a murderer and a thief and wrote some of his best poetry about fat prostitutes toevsky was an habitual gambler and habitual loser, and Strakhov, in his biography of Dostoevsky, mentions that he boasted to a professor of having outraged a little girl, although some biographers claim that this may have been a fantasy caused by his epilepsy. BalzaC managed to awe everybody all his life and only wrote while he was in debt, continuously. He achieved his life’s ambitionto marry a rich womanonly to die the same year. Swift and de Maupassant died in insane asylums. Oscar Wilde was sent to prison for perjury in denying he was a homosexual. May this author conclude that in all due modesty he admitsin fact insiststhat he has, himself, only very poor talent. wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to stay the march of events that have been abuilding during the “generations” in which Mr. Jones sees custom rooted. Let’s face it, Mr. Jones. We have to move into the Twentieth Century or get completely out of step with advancing, world-wide democracy. Not to do so would be the real tragedy. Then there’s the little matter of the law of the land. D. A. DAVIS 2910 29th St., Port Arthur Facts To the Editor: I look forward to the Observer every week. I find that it prints the facts and gives me a lot of information that I might miss. J. E. LYLES 803 Texas Ave., Mart MEI HOME OFFICE 5011 FANNIN, HOUSTON First life insurance company in Texas with $1,000,000 Capital and Surplus paid in cash prior to writing business Over $80 Million OIL INDUSTRIES LIFE 11111.1.!’ r ‘A k Z*fitc :RI:Mii 17 114,1/4\\
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