ustxtxb_obs_1961_03_04_50_00006-00000_000.pdf

Page 6

by

“BOW” WILLIAMS When Your Home Policy Expires, Check With Us About Special Savings On Our Homeowners’ Policy GReenwood 2-0545 624 NORTH LAMAR, AUSTIN Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! TEXAS LAWMEN Soldier Statesman While John Salmon Ford was a regimental adjutant during the Mexican War a regular duty was to issue official death notices. He began each message, “Rest in Peace.” When battles became hoc, thick and fast, he shortened this to “R.I.P.” and acquired a lasting nickname. This kindly-spoken gentleman was highly ‘accomplished and versatile. South Carolinian by 82 years of life. As a soldier, three wars: the Texas Revolution, Mexican and Civil Wars. As a statesman: Mayor, Congressman under the Republic, State Senator, Member of the Secession, National Democratic and Constitutional conventions. Between times Rip had practiced medicine, edited three different newspapers, explored and mapped the Ford-Neighbors Trail between San Antonio and El Paso. All this and three years with the Rangers, stationed between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, where the Indians were usually looking for a fight. One historian commented that Rip always discharged his duties with “tactful moderation.” In later years Col. Ford enjoyed writing reminiscences and historical articles, about history he had helped to make. He was adding a few kind words when he died in San Antonio in 1897. As Texas lawmen made this a better place to live, industry and commerce were playing their part, too. And one industry, brewing, has always provided enjoyment as well as employment and revenues for communities. In Texas “Beer Belongs.” Brewers, wholesalirs, retailers and the United States Brewers Foundation are working constantly in cooperation with today’s lawmen, to assure the sale of beer and ale under pleasant, orderly conditions. Texas Division UNITED STATES_ BREWERS FOUNDATION Our Texas Poet Laureates AUSTIN Amusements were hard to come by in 1932, remember. That was the bottom of the depression, and people had to really maneuver to find anything that would give them a laugh. But with a genius born of desperation, Texas that year concocted a poet laureateship and, with great fanfare, deposited the laurel wreath on the brow of Judd Mortimer Lewis, columnist and vice-president of the Houston Post. Lewis rewarded the state with such rhymes as this, from “The Old Wash Place”: “She was such a little mother … but I mostly see her face Smiling through the clouds of steam that almost hide the old wash place.” Since Lewis’ day the wreath has been passed on to so many laureates and worn with such slapdash abandon that it is beginning to look terribly shopworn. And the task of picking a poet every two years, a task that started in fun, has long since become a dreary chore for the legislators who now go through the process with all the methodicalness of playing eenie-meenie-minie-moe. AT PRESENT the machinery of selection is being slowly cranked up again by Sens. George Parkhouse and Jep Fuller. Usually a woman has been named to the laureateship, al’though the legislature has no policy about it. And usually the women have leaned strongly toward inspirational verse, one ‘notable exception being Lexie Dean Robertson, the fourth leaureate, described by one reporter as “a little country poet in a small cottage” in Rising Sar, Tex. When she was ‘chosen for the post in 1939, she traveled 50,000 miles during the next two years on speaking tours, laryngizing book reviews and her own verse, such as the following, whalb. is her translation of what a refinery exhaust pipe says: “To work! to work!! to work! to work! ! Money to make! money to make! Putputput! Putputput! Tarnish and dirt! Tarnish and dirt! Hearts that hurt! Hearts that hurt! Putputput! Putputput!” etc. Of this poem, Mrs. Ella Beatrice Pittman LaMance, who wrote’ an MA thesis on the Texas laureate movement, observed: “We almost shrink from the stark reality” of it. r kW ” IZ IN A WAY it’s a pity these lau reates sacrificed themselves ‘to the cultural game in Texas, for most of them could surely have become wealthy writing for Hallmark Card Co., none with more certainty than Dollilee Davis Smith, laureate as of 1943 who showed a real talent for da-dumming. Witness: “There is no doubt that Texas Truly leads the forty-eight In all those things we ‘sing about That make a lovely state; The hills and vales and flowers, Not a, song has ever missed But don’t you think the folks in Texas Ought to top the list?” While it might look a bit like inbreeding, the legislature finally could no longer overlook the fact that one of its own members deserved the laureateship, so the wreath was mended with string and scotch tape in 1947 and laid gently on the head of State Sen. Carlos Ashley. Ashley specialized in subjects usually passed over by poets, such as a spotted sow and a football substitute. About MARTIN WANT Sun Life of Canada Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 the latter he wrote: “Oh, the honor and the glory That the football heroes get Is well deservedthey battle hard; They earn their cheers; and yet Another on that ball club I stand to give salute And pay him homage any day The lowly substitute.” Two terms later the legislature broadened its poetic perspective, electing not only a laureate, Mildred Lindsey Raiborn of San Angelo, but an alternate, Dee Walker, Texas City banker. Walker revealed his philosophy in such verses as: ” Some men Move in circles. They go from base to base, Making the rounds, but never find Home plate.” As diligently as the legislature has acted in hunting out the very finest poets Texas offers for the laureateship, it has occasionally been censured in literary circles for lapses. For instance, in 1937, the legislature either forgot the whole affair or it pointedly turned its back on the task of selection, for no new laureate was named. The legislature also acted according to what some consider a strange criterion when in 1955 it picked Dr. P. B. Hill for the role. Hill was a preacher, a missionary, a Ranger captain, and a crony of Texas politicos. But he was no poet. At least we can find nothing under his name in any library in Austin. But then, the duties of a poet laureate are light, and if Dr. Hill did not produce a limerick in the two years, the neglect was probably not noticed by many. PRESUMABLY somebody came after Hill, and somebody else tame after that somebody. But with 1955, the state library stopped listing the laureates and, with the spoor that cold, we dropped out of the chase, preferring to accept unchallenged Mrs. LaMance’s contention that “the poet the loftiest and most beautiful gestures that the state has ever made.” B.S. PATRONIZE YOUR ADVERTISERS AUSTIN The Texas Institute of Letters, observing its 25th anniversary, presented its principal 1960 fiction and non fiction awards for Texas writers to Bill Casey for his novel, Shroud for a Journey, and John Graves for his book, Goodbye to a River. Casey, special , instructor in English at the University of Texas, received $1,250, $1,000 from Houston Endowment, Inc., for the best Texas novel and $250 from McMurray’s Book Store for the best first novel by a Texan. Graves’ $1,000 came from Carr P. Collins of Dallas. Graves teaches English at Texas Christian University in Fort Woith. Robert Vines of Houston received the $500 Friends of the Danes Library award for his ,monuental tome, Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest, published by the University of Texas Press. The ” :best book design and research in the arts” award went to Buck Schiwetz and UT Press for Buck Schiwetz’ Texas, a book of Schiwetz’s watercolors of Texas scenes. Vassar Miller’s Wage War on Silence was recognized with $100 poetry by a Texan, and Ted Sayles and Mary Stevens won the $100 Cokesbury ‘award for the best Texas juvenile book, Throw Stones, First American Boy. About 150 writers and friends or followers of writers assembled in Austin last Saturday afternoon with Fred Gipson, president of the institute, and Frank Vandiver, vice-president, alternately presiding. Ruth Stephan, a slender, spirited lady with whitish hair and a comely young smile, told of her copious and exact research for :two biographical novels ‘on a Seventeenth Century Swedish queen. \(Her connection with Texas: she edits UT Press’ The SingGeorge Garrett, a poet from Florida who is now an artist-inresidence at Alley Theater in Houston on a Ford grant, and whom Katherine Anne Porter has called one of the nation’s most important young writers, read his reflections on “the community of arts and letters.” Writers still believe in progress and most other myths; they “are all deeply involved in the sins of our time,” he said. The literary world has a politics of payola, critics use Madison Avenue styles, “publishers offer a spring line and a fall line :of masterpieces, with utter contempt for what they are foisting off on the public,” and writers live within their “public ivory towers with one eye always cocked at the literary stock market.” Even ‘so, Garrett concluded, “For the writer the simple duty is doing his work and doing it honestly and doing it well.” Graves inquired into “the role of factual information in creative writing.” He said his own book on the Brazos is a mixture of facts and the imaginative. After an hour-and-a-half cocktail party, \(the ease and free talk of which caused one writer to suggest dispensing with the banthe banquet hall. Walter Prescott Webb delivered a brief address. Toastmaster Gipson had asked him, “Would you like to make a few remarks tonight?” After a few instants’ pause, Dr. Webb replied from his table near the door, “No, I really would n’ t.” The principal speaker, Evan Thomas, head of the general book Casey Wins on Novel Writing Awards department at Harper and Brothers, discussed questions he gets asked, such as why Harper publishes the books it does and why it does not pUblish the books it does not. He told of Senator John Kennedy’s writing, in hi’s own hand, his celebrated book, Profiles in Courage. write that book. Neither did I write the book. He wrote that book,” Thomas said. However, he added, Kennedy had help on the research. Thomas believes editors edit fiction too much; it should be’ edited very litle, he ‘said. At the same time, a publisher, in working with a novelist, “keeps him company.” Heavy editing ‘is more justified with non-fiction’ works, he said. Although all manuscripts at Harper and Brothers, solicited ones receive the best attention, and only five unsolicited ones have been published in the last 15 years, he said. Schiwetz, the Watercolorist, received his award happily, saying this was “my first time out for this sort of thing,” asserting he did not belong in a company of writers, and closing, “I am ‘so happy that I got a chance to get into this wonderful circle of people.” , Ernest Mossner of U.T., presenting Vines, his award, held up the definite and handsome work on trees, shrubs, and vines of the region as one might an encyclopedia in a foreign language, “I am thoroughly assured by people who know about these things,” Mossner said, “that this is the book they have been waiting for.” There was no doubt that this \(was the moment the author had been waiting for; in the last 25 years he has traveled 250,000 miles doing research on his subject. Still, he took the light-hearted , introduction in a similar spirit, saying a friend called to congratulate him on the work, “It’s the ‘best door stop I have in the house.” Having perspired through descriptions of their works, a practice in the ladies’ book review societies which is evidently taking hold in the Texas Institute of Letters, Graves and Casey gave their thanks modestly and briefly and retired with their loot. R.D. Here’s What’s Next a weekly feature on ideas “Some say that I depress them ‘because I am against everything. But I will tell you .a few things I am for. “I’m for the impeachment of Earl Warren . . . I’m for the proposed amendment to the Constitution to do away with a personal income tax . .. I’m sick of the sideshow in the United Nations . . . I would like to solve our UN problem by givilig our seat in the UN to Communist China . . . And I’m against the federal government entering the welfare business .. . “Government officials are sensitive to criticism of Communism because New Dealism and New Frontierism are so similar to Communism that it is difficult to condemn the one without condemning the others.” Dan Smoot, former FBI agent and organizer of H. L. Hunt’s old Facts Forum, as quoted in the Feb. 23 Houston Post when he was addressing a dinner in Houston honoring J. S. Abercrombie, Houston oilman.