The Bedichek Issue Sirs: Your special issue on Roy Bedichek is superb. Congratulations on having the idea and carrying it out so ‘successfully. The great Pancho Dobie tops himself in the lead articlewhich you’ll have to admit is a feat of the first magnitude.Sam Acheson, Dallas. Sirs: A very noble issue. The idea of death cleanses writing somehow; it seems to me that all the writers rose above their ordinary skill …—Tom Sutherland, Department of English, Arlington State College, Arlington. Sirs: Personally, I never heard of Roy Bedichek before in my life. Now I shall never forget about him. I wonder how many of us would like to be like Mr. Bedichek? To have his feeling of knowledge, happiness, and understanding of lifethere will be few of us who reach that goal, I’m sure … My family and I have just returned from Red River, N.M. We spent some time watching the water ouzel which he describes to his friend, Eugene George, in his letter of 1954. Now I am so glad we sat on the banks and watched this small bird in his search for food in those swift mountain streams. To men like Dobie, Mewhinney, and Bedichek we owe so much … Charlie Brown, 2103 Marshall, Pasadena, Tex. Sirs: The eulogy of Roy Bedichek in your latest issue is wonderful. It deserves a place in any anthology of contemporary American Literature. William H. Andrew, Jr., M.D., 2312 Santa Cruz, Dallas 27. Sirs: Your Bedichek issue was the finest thing of its type I have ever seen, and I congratulate you and thank you for it. Charles Ramsdell recently told me it was regrettable that I had never had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Bedichek. Now I feel that I have met him, and I thank you for the introduction. Keith Elliott, San Antonio. Sirs: The , writings about and of Mr. Bedichek are wonderful. Thank you for such a fine treat. Mrs. Alfred Cristoph, 7507 Caillet, Dallas 9. Sirs: Your special issue on Mr. Bedichek is the best of many good things you* are doing for Texas. The best of Texas is not, either, in its past; not when one of its quiet great men is put into the present and the future, as you have done. when he dies. I spent most of the Fourth of July reading what you have about Mr. Bedichek, whom I now know well, though I barely knew about him before today. It certainly is Texas. Please send a copy to my father-in-law … and to my mother and to my sister … and to my cousin … Sam B. Householder, Morganatown, W. Va. Do You Think Some Friend Who Thinks Might Want The Observer? Additional Communications on Roy Bedichek A Special Place Sirs: I knew Roy Bedichek in a strangd way. And despite his kindliness and inexhaustible huinanity, I am sure I was always lost among the faceless crowds to himhe would not have known me even if I had explained. He was involved somehow with the Interscholastic League and/or its publication at least for a while \(perhaps alwaysI never found myself executive secretary of the physical fitness clubs of some area while I was a junior at Edison High School here in San Antonio. It was mostly a physical education program to get us ready to carry guns, but I was impressed with the title I had. In my enthusiasm I wrote him a long, long letter in what is charitably recognized as longhand. … I was about fifteen at the time and belabored the man with my views, my plans, my opinions. … That man, busy as he must have been, took time to read and reply, point by point. Then he had the letter printed \(it was carefully, tenderly editedno doubt Bulletin. Then he wrote again, congratulating me on being published. He managed to find time to encourage me in what he decided was an ambition to use words. I replied, again without restraint I have no doubt. There was just one more note from him kind, interested, and encouraging. It was not until several years later that .1 realized the Roy Bedichek who had been so helpful and stimulating in those letters to a brash highschooler was the same Roy Bedichek who … and who … and who … the famous one. He never knew me. But he was an understanding and helpful friend when I needed one. He knew and helped, and went his way unthanked, and of course unaware that he had earned for himself a special place in my life. That way MY Roy Bedichek. John Igo, Rt. 2, Box 175, San Antonio 1. Another Garden Sirs: Mr. Roy Bedichek has been my neighbor for the five years I have lived in Austin, and I value his friendship greatly. Twilight, the end of a day of sorrow; But no matter how many tears he will not be here tomorrow. He observed and wrote of nature as Thoreau From the sailing Martin to a prairie rabbit in his burrow. He believed that when life ended that that was the end; But I can see a garden in Paradise that he tends. Jane Dodge, 2209 Oldham St., Austin 5. A Dream in Color Sirs: Luckily for the Conkles, the Rodney Kidds chose to build themselves a home in 1939, and to vacate Mr. Bedichek’i rent house on Manor Road. We promptly moved into it. Mr. Bedichek was teacher and friend as well as landlord. His concern one clay was chiefly about a strange bird that he was hearing in the neighborhood, and he came to me to ask me to watch for it. It lived, he said, around our block, and he’d heard it repeatedly. I said I’d help him watch for it. Daily when he came home from THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 8 July 11, 1959 the Interscholastic League office he would ask if I had seen the strange bird, and daily I had to tell hi}n no, though I was earnestly looking for it, anxious to please this wonderful new friend the Fates had so miraculously given me. One afternoon he got up from the porch to go on over to his home, and at the same time I noticed that my two small children were running toward the street. I made the noise I use to call the children, a call I learned from my mother’s canary years ago, and Mr. Bedichek began moving from tree to tree excitedly. “It’s here now. I heard it. Look for it! Didn’t you hear it?” A sudden light dawned an me. I was Mr. Bedichek’s strange new bird! I began to laugh, and said, “Oh, Mr. Bedichek, I’m sorry! There’s no strange bird. It’s just a call I use to bring the children. Listen.” And I repeated the call. I laughed again, but he did not. “You are making fun of me,” he said, and turned to go. I convinced him I was not, but he never did think the incident was as hilarious as I did. We built a house and moved away, but we never lost contact with the Bedicheks. As a result of his casual remark one day that he’d never had a birthday party, we gave him one on his 78th birthday. Some of his friends came with him to eat supper with us, and others dropped in after supper to wish him well. He was humble and modest, and he stayed at the party much past his usual early bed-time. The next day he drove over to tell me about a dream he’d had after the party. “It was in color,” he said. “I can’t remember when I’ve dreamed in color before, but I dreamed about flowers, fields of colored flowers. I had a hard time going to sleep after all that excitement, and then when I did, I had this wonderful dream.” He seemed to feel he’d had the dream because everyone had been so nice to him. And he seemed to really wonder why they were. He asked, “And you, why did you go to all that trouble just for me?” The answer was easy. “Mr. Bedichek, you are one of the people on earth I really and truly love, and all those other people who were here love you, too.” He shook his head as if he were really amazed, and went back home. Two years later he refused to let us have a banquet to celebrate his 80th birthday. He had a horror of its taking on a commercial aspect. When he called it off, he told me we could have it on his 90th birthday, that by then he would be too feeble to protest. Though not anxious to fritter away his time in organizational chores, he was his usual charming self in executing them once he took them on. For the ninth annual fiesta of art and crafts last May 9, he gave a nature talk at Laguna Gloria at 6 a.m. Sunday, and a lovely ,.summer tanager came and sat on a limb over his head as he talked. He was very gratified by the number of fiesta artists who came and was pleased that for many of them this was their first early morning birdwalk. He urged us to talk with birds we saw and to make friends of them. He apologized for not going on the bird walks that followed his talk, but assured us that his young friends Fred Webster and Edgar Kincaid were as capable and well-informed as he. It was the second year he had given the bird talk, and we had changed from ten o’clock to six because he said no self-respecting bird was out at ten o’clock. After we’d changed the hour to sun-up he began to worry for fear the people wouldn’t come, but they did. Once at Barton’s when I was complaining about something, he said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just that you are in the forties. I’ remember the forties. They are the hardest years of all. But they pass. Everything passes. Just give them time, they will pass.” A wise and wonderful man, full of fun and life and color, was Roy Bedichek. In one of the last notes I had from him, concerning setting the hour for the fiesta bird talk, he wrote: “Wayman Adams passed on as I should like to when the time comes. Less to-do and delay the better.” His own passing was easy and quick. I can imagine a twinkle in his eye and him saying, “Now wasn’t that clever of me? However did I manage it?” Virginia Conkle, 510 Cater Dr., Austin. Receptive Minds Sirs: “Discourse, the sweetest banquet of the mind.” For years it has been usual with me to send to the Bedicheks articles that I had found especially interesting, challenging or provocative. It might be a plea for the cessation of testing of nuclear weapons by Adlai Stevenson, Archibald MacLeish’s dicta on education, an. unorthodox thesis of Corliss Lamont, or a discourse on modern verse by Robert Graves. The Bedichek minds were receptive to ideas from all realms. Frequently, the next time we met, the piece I had mailed them became the subject of talk. The meeting place might be the glass table under Bedichek oaks; the Ellis grandfather table furnished at supper time with a humble casserole of spoon bread and a green salad; the dignified table of another Dobichek, or a picnic spread at Barton or Cherry Springs. We knew what Bedi had to say came from thought, experience and selective reading, from acute interest in men and things, from concern for the big values of civilization as well as for the importance of inconsequential nothings. Now, these conversations can never be the same. Bedi will not be there. Mary H. Ellis, Austin. Integrity in Work Sirs: One of the rare privileges of my life was to have known Roy Bedichek for more than twenty years. It is difficult now to put into words just why so many loved him and why we know that the place he left empty will never be filled. He was a great man in a quiet way, in the way he inspired others, in the care he gave to detail, and ,in the integrity he gave to all his work. But it was to those who knew him best that his bright mind and depths of his learning were most often revealed, He was cultured but not pedantic. He could talk brilliantly on almost any subject, but he could also listen. It was on such an occasion some years ago that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dobie entertained for dinner Fred Simpich of the National Geographic Magazine. With more than thirty years of travel and writing as a background the guest of honor was a well informed and fascinating speaker. He and Frank had known each other for years, and the dinner table conversation consisted almost entirely of a dialogue between the two men to which the rest of us listened raptly. Later, as Mr. Bedichek was taking leave of his host and ‘hostess he remarked to Mrs. Dobie, “I don’t want to seem crude, but the food was good, too.” Bedi wrote to his friends not only because he liked to write but because he liked to express his appreciation of their friendship. And he had many friends. Clara H. Lewis, Austin. His Influence \(J. Frank Dobie wrote an article on Bedichek in the Dallas News and Houston Post in 1955. One of the letters he received in comment was from a former student of Bedichek’s in San Angelo, August 1 Dear Mr. Dobie, … I will not say how long it has been since I had three years of high school English under Mr. Bedichek, but all the years since then I have been grateful for that special privilege and for the love instilled in me. It was, and is, a priceless thing. I shall never cease to thank my lucky stars that I had one teacher who could give me this continuing thing. An old darky once said to me, “Miss Mary, yo’ books is a shelter in the time of storm, ain’t they?”and they is. How cunning Mr. Bedi was! “Mary, I am in doubt about giving you these books to read; I don’t think you are ready for them; they may put ideas into your head,” etc. They were Man and Superman, and The Twelve Pound Look. I would have fought bareafter that. Also, his explanation of “blind mouths,” “frets doubt,” and Milton in general. The picture was there when he read, “Two massy keys he bore of metal twain, the golden opes, the iron shuts amain.” And, oh, those rules for the use of the comma! His was a paragraph one page long which began: I arose very early in. the morning before the stars had gone outand at the bottom of the page: and went down to the seashore. But between the rising and the going were phrases, clauses, compound and complex sentences with every imaginable use of the comma. And comma brother comma ‘we had to get them right or feel the quick flick of his anger and disappointment. In those days, the teacher came to us, no trooping to his room! One day he came in before our Latin teacher had left. This Latin teacher was a thin, nervous, loose-jointed little man who was never without chalk marks on his face somewhere. The write-a-line rub-his-nose kind, you know. This day he had an usually heavy smudging. When Mr. Bedi saw him, he began to shake with silent laughter. Without a word he went to the blackboard, got chalk and drew a heavy, white line just under his nose, turned to his class’ and said, “English class, attention, please.” All this rambling is my way of saying that I am so glad that the two of you have your joy of living in love and friendship. …
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