ektigtntas tt175citiptionS 70 7exag OLSet0e1. 1 oft gOepeftent lottfti9lttiv Starting in mid-December, the Observer will appear every fourteen days on a magazine format. We will enter Christmas gift subscriptions in plenty of time for Christmas if they are received by December 10. We will enter them later than that if requested to do so. The first gift will cost $5; the second, $4.50; and each subsequent one, $4. Five gift subscriptions may be given for $20. Add two percent sales tax for subscriptions for persons who reside in Texas. The editor will send a card to each recipient, notifying him or her or them of the gift and the identity of the giver and extending the usual greetings. The Observer guarantees that all gift subscriptions ordered by Dec. 10 will start with the first issue of the new fortnightly. Of course, anyone who so wishes may specify that a gift begin with the issue that will appear at the end of the month of December. The Texas Observer 504 West 24th St. Austin, Texas Gentlemen: Please enter the following Christmas gift subscriptions: Name Street or Box City, State Name Street or Box ………… ‘ . 1. . .. .* City, State Name Street or Box City, State …. . , . Name …… . g Street or Box City, State Name Street or Box City, State Sender’s name: Name Street or Box . .. City, Street Enclosed, A Diary of a Personal Disaster less of their personal views on Integration, some members of the board did not think the Supreme Court action of 1954 was just untimelyit was a positive evil. . . . How does a professor feel when, after 15 years as chairman of his department, he is told that he’s fired on political charges? Rupert Koeninger kept a diary of the events in his life between May 6 and May 24, 1961, and when a friend wrote asking for details of what had happened to him, he typed out notes from this diary, supplemented here and there by subsequent recollections. Later copies of this diary-like memorandum were mimeographed for friends, and one came to the Observer’s attention. With Koeninger’s permission. we excerpt it now. Bracketed material has been inserted by the Observer. May 6 This A.M. my usual Saturday morning attempt to catch up with hack work was interrupted by a phone call from President [Harmon 1 Lowman. I went over to his office and after the usual hand::hake and greetings, he let loose the thunderbolt. “The Board has let you out.” But the ,, cannot do that. I have done nothing to warrant dismissal. “The Board took the position that you had been warned last year and now there was another complaint that you had spoken in opposition to ‘Operation Abolition.’ ” . . I Koeninger explained the circumstances of the showing of the film at the Wesley Foundation by W. H. Kellogg of Huntsville.] The president said there was mention made of a “political hassle” that I had with one of my :.tudents in an extension class. I Koeninger denied he had engaged in any political controversy with any student on or off campus. I The president said that someone had run a security check on me, and had alleged that I had spoken to a communist front group; both the president and I recalled that 1955. I had spoken at the Houston Y.W.C.A. on the subject, “The First Year of Integration.” The president asked if the group before I which’ I spoke was on the Attorney General’s list. I said that if it had been, I would not have spoken before it. . . THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 8 November 30, 1962 As regards the charges of the year previous, that I signed a petition favoring the election of a candidate [E. R. Wright, who opposed District Judge Max Rogers in 1960] on which I had affixed my title with the college, thereby embarrassing the board and the college–I stated that I did not use my title, or the college name, and that I felt that it was within my rights as a citizen. One might question my judgment in view of the fact that he lost the race, but not my right to sign as a citizen. The identification by title and college was placed there by the candidate. The president raid “I believe you.” “But I have been fired without any hearingno chance to know of what I am accused, or by whom I am charged. No chance to present my case. I don’t understand it.” “A board member mentioned this and one of them suggested that if I would promise not to recommend you as of next year, they would approve of this year’s appointment. . . . You will continue on without prejudice so far as the board is concerned, and you can look for another job in the meantime.” . . . He said that he had mentioned it I the firing] to three of the administrative staff and one other faculty member. I felt terrible when he said this, for I knew it would get out. He said that he hadn’t been able to sleep because of this, to which I replied that I could well understand. . . . We talked onI said that I was so shocked that I felt in a stupor and didn’t know what to do. I had no other plans, in fact, I had certainly meant and desired to stay here. My teacher’s retirement had been lost out of state when I came here and . I wanted to build up the necessary time to meet the requirements in my home state. Moreover, our children were all well adjusted to our present situation, and I had wanted to see them all through the next six years in college and the university. The president said he [had] mentioned that I had a very fine family and a home here that was being paid for, to which one of the board [had] replied that he had heard that excuse from many a criminalthat burned me up. A final charge the board had in their mind, he said, was that I was out of place in the South, and that I might do well to return to Minnesota. “Minnesota? But I have never been in Minnesota. I am a Texan by birth and went all the way through school and college here; I came back here because I wanted to work here. I felt and feel an obligation to the state and the people who nurtured and educated me to be of service to them.” “Well, I didn’t remember where we got you from. I just remembered it was up North. That’s been 15 years ago, where was it?” “Michigan.” “Well, I did the best I could for you. The board had another involved case and ours came up afterwards. If I hadn’t done what the board member suggested, I think they would have fired me and you, too. I did the best I could.” May 7 I am unable to tell my wife and the children. I did not sleep any last night. After it got daylight I went, down to the garden and cut grass and weeds. About 10 o’clock, I could see my two neighbors under the oak trees. I told them what had happened…. One asked who knew it…. Another said the “whole dirty trick was a political move to get rid of all of us who profess other than conservative views.” We talked about what I could do. . . . I told them plainly that I was hurt and heartsore about it; that I did not think this should happen even to a yellow dog; that I was afraid it was a hard uphill fight for which I had no stomach. . . . May 8 Last night I told my wife of the events of the preceding day. She Laid she had never trusted any of the Birch Society group and that they had been after me longer than I knew. She said that two years ago one of them told her: Y^ur husband is too liberal, we run his kind off sooner or later, harass them until they get disgusted and quit, get them fired, or they get a better job elsewhere.” . . . May 14 I took my daughter to her practice teaching in the neighboring city. En route I told her of the board’s action. She did not show any emotional trauma. “It is totally unfair and uncalled for” was her sole reaction. May 15 Today some of the students indicated that they knew something was wrong. One of them asked, “What’s this I hear about you?” Fortunately, I was very busy and ignored the question. Also today, I had too much to do to go for the coffee breaklast week I was too hurt to go. . . . May 16 We had a staff meeting of my department. . . . They said that the faculty wanted to come to my help, and one of the most conservative wanted to organize a plan and program to assist. May 18 I cleared out the office at four and started through the files to find the speech I had given in 1955 titled, “The First Year of Integration.” Fortunately, it was there and the stencils, too. I ran off additional copies. It is a good speech in spite of the split infinitives, and it is in keeping with sound American beliefs. . . . May 19 I had more work than I could ever get done and did not leave the office until 5:45. When I got home one of the town’s busybodies had my wife off in her room crying. I was angry enough to do violence when I learned the busybody was relating the gossip to my wife, but I controlled myself and asked her to leave and told her to please say no more to anyone about my affairs. May 20 A letter from my sister says that our father is ill unto death. . . . The candidate phoned and said that he had located the original petition. I did not sleep any last night. May 22-23 I made two trips to talk with two regents. . . . I learned that some of the regents do not believe in thought control and recognize there is need for variety of opinions. Others do not approve of teachers who become involved in controversial issues by expressing their MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 opinion. . . . Had I known that my comments at the student meeting would have been a basis for my dismissal, I certainly never would have gone. It would have been much easier to stay at home. Also. when I signed the petition in behalf of the candidate, I did not know that married to the incumbent’s daughter. . . . I had brought the original of the speech .. . in 1955. . .. In addition to showing it to them, I also presented the newspaper accounts showing the dignitaries, the mayor’s assistant, state superintendents and many other prominent personages, including staunch businessmen. They said, for my information, that regard My feelings are that it will be a long, hard, embarassing, humiliating task to have to go see all the board members. I have done no wrong. I am no criminal and yet my life’s work is being taken away. “Those who kill the body must diethose who kill the spirit go free.” May 24 I talked with the two members of the administration. I found out that a complaint to the board did come from the congressman. . . . My mistake was in asking the congressman [Dowdy] why he had not voted with the other Democrats to override the President’s
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