I first saw Walter Prescott Webb in the middle 1930’s when I was a student at the University of Texas. We exchanged a perfunctory greeting ; I was struck by the solemn expression on his face, and I guessed him to be a severe and unapproachable man. Several years passed before I realized how mistaken this was. I did not have him as a professor, although, in an informal sense, I was always his student. From the time we first became well acquainted, around 1940, until I moved away from Austin in 1954, we met for long or short talks perhaps once or twice a month. Thereafter I saw him only once or twice a year. Most of our meetings were over a cup of coffee or at lunch, but occasionally they were in his office. We talked on many subjects, but most often on the land and water and people of the American Southwest. Sometimes I made notes on what he had said. During periods when he was not actively engaged in writing, he was engrossed with his Friday Mountain ranch, and it was one of his favorite topics of discussion. The ranch, as J. Frank Dobie has said, “entered into his bonesinto the very fibers of his being.” He was primarily concerned with restoring its depleted grassland and water, but nothing about the place was too insignificant to escape his interest. He once told me that no horned toads were ever seen there and wondered whether I could suggest why. We talked about releasing a few of the small lizards around the ranchhouse to see whether they would survive, but we never got around to doing it. There is a well preserved dinosaur track in one of the limestone ledges near the house. After examining it one day, I suggested that a little excavation might expose more of the trail, which, it seemed to me, would interest the members of the boys’ camp Glen L. Evans is a geologist. He lives in Midland. SUBSCRIBE OR RENEW THE TEXAS OBSERVER 504 West 24th Street Austin 5, Texas Enclosed is $5.00 for a oneyear subscription to the Observer for : Name Address City, State This is a renewal. This is a new subscription. that Rodney Kidd held on the ranch during summer months. After a little reflection, Dr. Webb said that he had been trying hard to get the soil to heal over the natural erosion, and he guessed we wouldn’t do any more excavating. Occasionally in our conversations I would get carried away with some opinion, and he would bring me firmly back to my senses. One day we were talking about governmental programs on water conservation. I spoke bitterly against a senator whom I accused of being interested in the issue principally because he wanted to wring every drop of favorable publicity out of it. After reflecting for a few moments, Webb replied: “You work for a company that is in the business of finding and producing oil. You know that you have to make a profit if you are going to stay in business, and that no one should blame you for trying to make a profit. A politician has to make a profit, too, in the form of voter approval, if he wants to stay in office. If he serves effectively in his office he should not be blamed for trying to make a favorable impression on the only people who can keep him there.” It was typical of Dr. Webb that he offered this as a friendly observation and not as a reprimand. MOST MEMORABLE of my associations with Walter Webb were those occasions when I was included in the periodic steak-supper outing which he, J. Frank Dobie, the late Roy Bedichek, and other friends held for the primary purpose of enjoying each other’s company. Those I attended were held variously on Webb’s Friday Mountain ranch or on Dobie’s old Cherry Springs ranch, or sometimes on a site selected by Roy Bedichek on some secluded creek bank in the hills west of Austin. The peaceful, open-air setting had an enlivening effect on every member of the supper party. The talk was brisk and witty, and it seemed to improve steadily as the evening wore on. Certainly the three exceptional men who composed the nucleus of the group and their friends who were present on these outings produced the most delightful and enlightening conversation that I have heard in my life. In a stimulating group Dr. Webb was not an aggressive talker. More often than not he would sit quietly, listening intently. Now and then he would break in with a August 9, 1963 15 Free of Hate and Fear Glen Evans AMERICAN INCOME LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF INDIANA Underwriters of the American Income Labor Disability Policy Executive Offices: P. 0. Box 208 Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, President
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