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Sheriff Missed, So Joiner Still Holds Forth freedom of speech and press as more or less guaranteed by the Constitution. Now the man has a child in school who studies the works of Mark Twain, who once said: ‘First God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.’ Haw.” Rails has a Negro population of about 200. Some years ago Joiner editorialized: “Every so often some solid, upstanding Christian gentleman feels called upon to criticize this newspaper for printing news of the colored population of our town. Last week we printed the honor roll for the colored school. A couple of these characters gave birth to a two-headed calf, sideways, when they read it. Our opinion is that colored students, with three strikes against them on books, equipment, and facilities for study, are to be commended above a lot of white children we know who can’t make the honor roll with the best of instruction and educational facilities. We think effort should be recognized. We think news should be printed. If these two convictions of ours -soil the lily-white hands and Christian consciences of a handful of bigoted Klu Kluckers, they are invited to get the hell off our subscription list.” The Rascals! When the political dismissals took place at Joiner’s alma mater, Texas Tech, last year, a Banner editorial was published in the Congressional Record: “It is fitting that the infamy of a handful of scoundrels be permanently recorded in the national archives so students and historians of every age may know how the public’s servants conducted the public’s business at Texas Tech. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of rascals.” Joiner belongs to the American breed of agrarian humorists; his style bears the imprint of Twain. His description of a Californian’s directions on how to get to Texas is to go east until you smell it and then south until you step in it. Once, in a column reflecting his rationalist views on religion, he quoted a mayor who said that God saved his life, after a tornado wiped out his town, killing some 79 men, women, and children. “Man has been given the power of reason,” Joiner wrote. “Why doesn’t he use it? It doesn’t square that God should be given credit for saving Mayor Rowe’s life unless we also assign him credit for killing 79 others.” Joiner and his staff of two publish the Banner in a neat new building a half block from the stores and offices in the center of Rails. Wearing black horn-rims, he is a tall, handsome man of 47. He speaks and moves like the West Texan. On the desk in his private office is a plaque saying “Vice President” with a phrase below it “In charge of vice, naturally.” His window looks out onto the business section, and onto the weird old town assembly hall, red and weatherbeaten, built by the people of Rails not long after it was founded in 1910. He was raised in Dalhart. His mother was a Populist and an admirer of Eugene Victor Debs, the socialist. Joiner’s middle name is Victor, after Debs. He worked five years in Fort Worth before he went to college. He studied two years at the University of New Mexico, and spent his last two years at Texas Tech, where he studied political science and got into trouble with a conservative administration when he edited the school paper. He Page 6 Sept. 19, 1958 THE TEXAS OBSERVER first angered the officials there by conducting an election for the biggest horse’s neck on the campus. “We had our share-how was I to know the dean of engineering would win hands down?” he said. This was when Pappy O’Daniel was governer, and when Joiner discovered the dormitory cafeteria was purchasing carloads of flour for the first time, and 0’Daniel flour at that, he asked why in several editorials. He never got an answer. The day he crossed the stage to get his diploma, Clifford E. Jones, then president of Tech, handed it to him and whispered, “Joiner, this is the happiest day in my life.” He toured the whole country looking for a newspaper job, and the only one he could find was with the New Orleans TimesPicayune at $15 a week. So he went to work for the U. S. Corps of , Engineers in Galveston. In 1942 he married a Georgia girl. They had met at a college editor’s convention in Iowa and carried on a romance through the mails until Joiner showed up at her home the summer after he left college. He spent four years in the army, first with the infantry, then the paratroopers, and finally the criminal investigation department, but he never got overseas. He almost did, but he’d cracked his back as a paratrooper at Fort Benning and was sent up to be shipped to Europe when a doctor noticed his cast and notified his commanding general. From a Junkheap Right after he was disCharged in ’46 he bought the Banner with a GI loan. “It was a real junkheap, nuthin’ would run, and it had 600 circulation,” he said “I came here,” he said, “because I ‘believed, and I believe it more every day, that the only independent and uncontrolled press in the United States are small weekly papers. It’s obvious I couldn’t do what I’m doing on a big-city daily. Why, I wouldn’t last as long as a paper shirt in a bear fight. Those big papers are only honest when it pays ’em to be honest.” He chuckled often, between phrases. He is a jovial man who likes to amuse. “I don’t think too much of the weekly press in Texas either,” he said. “I don’t think much of a paper with no personal column or editorial’ page. Too many weekly editors are printers instead of editors.” He does admire H. M. Baggarly’s Tulia Herald, just .70 miles to the north, as well as the Kountze News and the Dallas White Rocker. He reads over 40 weeklies every week. He leaned back in his chair and reminisced. “Out in this country up until recently,” he -said, “people were friendly. But ‘that of West Texas hospitality is damned near a thing of the past. I guess it’s the pace people live nowimproved transportation, and more money and time, and TV. I wanta tell you somethin’ you can’t phone people around here. They’ll leave the phone off the hook if they’re watchin’ TV. Try to get people out to a public meetin’ the night Gunsmoke’s on, and brother you’ve had it. I’d like to have five cents a pound for all the food consumed in front of television. “I don’t know any satisfied folks anymore. They’re weighted down with their new freedom or somethin’. If other people’re usin’ their new leisure the way folks around here are, this country’s in ‘ bad ‘shape. I imagine we could use about four psychiatrists in this town already.” Joiner is proud of the Banner’s editorial campaigns. “I imagine we have more voters in city elections percentage-wise than any community in Texas,” he said. When he came to Rails, only seven votes had been cast in the last city election. “The first thing I tried to do,” he said, “was organize an opposition for the city commission. Once I had to put myself up and get beat. But now there’s 110 more business about lettin’ a small group handpick the leaders. “Another thing for a dry county there’s more drinkin’ here. Just about everybody’s got beer and whiskey at home. I circulated a petition to get a referendum, must’ve been back in ’48, to see if they’d vote to drink openly. An hour before the votin’ people were lined up a block in front of the Legion Hut. Why, more people voted in that election than any presidential election in history here. Every night for a solid month they were havin’ rallies and things. You’d of thought Ringling Brothers’d come to Rails. A Cocktail Baptist “I remember there was a big man against it, and one night not long after it’d been defeated I was deliverin’ some printin’ over at his house, and he invited me in and mixed me a cocktail, right before his wife and teen-age daughter, them knowin’ full well in two hours he’d be at the Baptist Church. I could’ve dropped my teeth. When I finished with him in the paper I didn’t get any more invitations to his house. You lose more invitations that way.” Then he remembered when “a big squeeze in the Baptist Church got caught bootleggin’. He pleaded guilty and they never fined him. Two Negroes had been brought in on a bootleggin’ charge at the same time and they pleaded innocent and rotted in. jail six months before they were even tried. I wrote it up, but I guess the people in town didn’t mind, ’cause they The tenth annual Art League Jamboree will ‘be held Sept. 21 in the home and garden of the Charles Urschels in San Antonio, featuring painting, sculpture, ceramics, and leathercrafts by local artists. Oct. 4-5 the River Art show will be held: paintings will be arranged along both sides of the San Antonio River, and artists in costumes, “ranging,” says a blurb, “from the traditional smocks and berets to colorful fiesta and western regalia,” will maintain their own exhibits. Raymond Johnson, chief of the Southwest area for the Great Books Foundation \(which includes in its adult education course authors like Homer, Thucying an. Austin chapter: “These are not deep scholastic panels but rather round-table discussions among common citizens about books that are not theoretical but practicalbooks that contain things people can use in everyday life.” SMU now requires freshmen to take an eight-week course in campus life and the purpose of a college education. Ti Fourteen, Texas A&I freshmen returned to Kingsville with their heads shaved in different patterns after their capture and “scalping” by University of Corpus Christi students. The A&I boys were trying to hijack the heavy UCC school anchor, which UCC men had dumped into the swimming pool in advance \(with two A&I boys watching through tory to a football game. didn’t do anything, so the next week I apologized for botherin’ ’em. That’s equality under the law for you.” Joiner praised the Rails Jaycees. “They’ve really accomplished some wonders around here. The Banner helped them in a campaign to get a $35,000 swimmin’ pool, and we got it over the dead bodies of the church people. It was preached against in the pulpit all over town, they called it ‘public bathin’,’ and they gave me and the Jaycees hell. “There’s one thing I’ll give these people credit forthey get bitter and they don’t forget. That ol’ Christian virtue of forgiveness doesn’t thrive out here.” Joiner picked up the phone and called his wife to tell her she’d have a guest for dinner. “Louise had a little trouble gettin’ adjusted way out here, bein’ from Georgia,” he said,’ chuckling. “She had a language problem for one thing, and then she had a time gettin’ used to this carryin’ on on a paper. It took her a good five years to where this stuff rolled off her back. Now she likes it. She usta say let’s sell this paper and go open one in the South, and I said, ‘What’re you tryin’ to do, be a young widow?’ Of course the weather threw her too, and it was a lot worse then than it is now. On Cuttin’ People “I’ll tell you this, you’d be surprised at the things people do to strike back at youat your wife at parties, kids at school. Men can take lessons from women in the fine art of cuttin’ people dead.” How does he feel on foreign aid? “I’m opposed to it now, because I don’t think any of the people it was supposed to help are gettin’ helped. Too much foreign aid money is goin’ to bcilster every dictatorship on the face of the globe except Khruschev.” He pointed to a Christian Science IT In Dallas, county school ,supt. L.A. Roberts reported that a committee has been formed to look into problems of programming, financing, and organization necessary to make educational TV available for county schools. The Dallas and Highland Park districts have already announced they will buy program time for ETV presentations. if In Caldwell, employers were urged to give their employees time off so they can go and speak up at the Community Progress Forum which “gives the ‘man in the street’ an opportunity to say what he thinks should be done to improve his community.” The Way of Life II’ Five “envoys from Turkey” visited in San Augustine to observe farming methods. IT Twenty-three Texas authors will be honored Oct. 24 by Theta Sigma Phi at the tenth annual Writers ‘Roundup at the Commodore Perry. They were selected from more than 100 Texas writers with books published from Oct. 1, 1957, to Sept. 30, 1958. Among the books: Reluctant Empire, George Fuermann; Home from the Hill, William Humphrey; The Banquet Years, Roger Shattuck; 13 Days to Glory, Lon Tinkle. If In Amarillo, the mayor pro claimed “Laura V. Hamner Week” in honor of the author of Light ‘n’ Hitch, a collection of stories about people on the High Plains. Monitor he’d been reading. “It says here we’re givin’ Chiang over in Formosa more money than ever. If I had my choice of goin’ to war with Khruschev or Chiang, I think I’d take Chiang. We have a knack for fallin’ in bed with some of the shadiest characters … When a man’s in. trouble, his friends don’t deliver him a pot of money. They encourage him, understand him. Givin’ money creates its own problems. What must it do to people who have pride? “I suppose Catholicism is my big prejudice and I admit it. It’s the most authoritarian form of life in the world today. Communism’s patterned after it. I don’t have a thing against it o n. religious grounds. But when Catholic politicians start runnin’ the government according to the dictates of a Church, that’s where we separate. The Catholics are too involved in big business too. “I just got involved with my own church on the same score, on gettin’ into business. Business has nothin’ to do with the work of God. I raised hell when the Methodist Church bought this big beautiful hospital at Lubbock. I saw this preacher and asked him about it, and he said Jesus was a healer, and I said, yeah, he didn’t charge for it either.” Joiner supported Gonzalez for governor despite his Catholicism. “You know,” he said, “Gonzalez came to Rails and made a speech and those who heard him were charmed. The concensus seemed to be, he just wasn’t a Mexican.