Page 14


pertinent remark or a short, illustrative story. He knew, as others who regularly attended those camp suppers knew, and as most people do not, how to contribute to a conversation without dominating it. At times when something was said that amused him he would burst out in a roar of laughter that was utterly contagious. Despite the mournful expression he wore, Dr. Webb was a skilled dispeller of gloom. In 1959, after we had attended the funeral for Roy Bedichek, Webb, Mr. Dobie and I went out together for luncha meal for which we had no appetite. Mr. Dobie was suffering in his depths. I, too, felt the loss acutely and was becoming terribly depressed and lonely. Dr. Webb had known Roy Bedichek much longer and more intimately than I, and was certainly not less conscious of his loss. Yet he talked more freely than usual, recalling cheerful and witty things that Bedi had said. He reflected that the only way that life might be thought to have a happy ending was when death came, as it had come to Bedichek, suddenly and painlessly after a long, happy, and useful career. Iris statements were logical and soothing, and as free of inanities and sentimentalities as always. I feel sure that he intended to help lift our spirits, and he succeeded. E WAS A DEEP and complex man. I suspect that he had the quality of greatness within him. About a year before Bedi died, he remarked to me, in substance if not exactly, “Webb shows no sign of mental aging. Instead, he gets stronger every year. He has a source of inner power that the rest of us don’t haveor if we have it we don’t know how to reach it.” Thinking for him seemed as natural as breathing. It gave him dignity and seren 1 6 The Texas Observer A ity, and freed him from emotional strains. In the time I knew him I don’t believe he feared anything in or after life.* He seemed free of both hate and fear, but I don’t believe that he had ever made a conscious effort to divest himself of either. It seemed that acts or events that normally incite hate or fear got digested in his thinking processes , and never entered the emotional part of his being. The last time I saw him was around the middle of February shortly before his death. I was in Austin for the day, and he invited me to join him and his wife, Terrell, whom I had not met previously, for lunch at the Night Hawk cafe near the University of Texas campus. During the hour or so we spent together he was brimming over with enthusiasm. He talked mainly of Washington Wife, the book which he and Mrs. Webb had helped bring out, and of which he was inordinately proud. His unconcealed devotion for Mrs. Webb and the joy he derived from her companionship was as pleasing for me to observe as it has been for his many other friends. When I left him I knew that he was happier than I had ever seen him before. His death was a shocking loss to all of us who knew him, but according to his own standards, his life had a happy ending. 4: Sarah Payne, who took a discussion seminar with Professor Webb at the University of Texas, remembers him saying that while he was attending a meeting in Washington, he sat directly across a table from President Roosevelt and could look directly into Roosevelt’s face all during the meeting. Webb told the seminar, Miss Payne remembers, that the thing that impressed him most about Roosevelt’s face was that he was a man who had absolutely no fear of anything.Ed. Dialogue The Webb Issue The issue of the Texas Observer of July 26, 1963, dedicated to the memory of Walter Prescott Webb, is reward enough for a year’s subscription to the Observer. I think it the all-time best issue of the Observer that you have yet printed. This issue is a gem, a real gem. It is more than a tribute to Walter P. Webb. It is a tribute to the best spirit and thought of the Southwest. I salute you for this achievement. Ralph W. Yarborough, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. A few years ago I was jointly responsible for setting up a workshop in social studies instruction at Highlands University in New Mexico. We procured the services of Dr. Webb to give the opening address to the workshop. After this first address, I asked him if he cared to be my guest at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Kiwanis Club. He turned on me and said, as nearly as I remember: “Fisher, for many years I had to do a few things for the sake of appearances, but I don’t have to any more. I won’t go to your d—Kiwanis meeting, and my answer would be the same even if there were no other place in town to get a luncheon !” Secretly I admired him for his statement! Bill Fisher, associate professor of education, Texas Western College, El Paso, Tex. The articles, including your own, on Dr. Webb, are ones we will enjoy reading over and over. For this reason my daughter and I are not going to be “big-hearted” and lend our issue to friends who might forget to return it, as was the case with the Bedichek issue. Mr. Dobie was at his best, and we are looking forward to the issue you will print on this outstanding personality. Mrs. H. E. Werner, Trinity, Tex. \(The Observer has also received many other gratifying letters on the Webb isPerhaps the “lost” passage to which you refer in your article on The Great Plains [Obs. July 26] is in the chapter entitled “Socialism” in John Dewey’s IndividualismOld and New. “We are in for some kind of socialism, call it by whatever name we please, and no matter what it will be called when it’s realized. Economic determinism is now a Professor Webb quoted this once in his “Great Frontier” course. Debbie Galoob, 3111 Grooms, Apt. 13, Austin 5, Tex. The Public Accommodations Bill It is frequently argued in opposition to the administration’s “public accommodations” proposal that it will interfere with “property rights.” Surprisingly, those who advance this argument are ignoring the past. Owners of public accommodation businesses in the South have never enjoyed “property rights” enabling them to freely choose their customers. For decades it has been the written, statutory law throughout the South that owners of restaurants, hotels, bus companies, railroads, and the like cannot serve or accommodate whites and Negroes together. Obviously, there is no valid distinction, as far as “property rights” are concerned, between forbidding a person to integrate his business and requiring him to do so. Of course, the Jim Crow laws, like many other quaint Southern customs, have been declared unconstitutional; not, however, because they interfere with “property rights,” but because they represent stateenforced discrimination against an unreasonably classified group of human beings in violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the United States and various state constitutions. . . . There is no precedent in our laws or customs establishing a “property right” to conduct a public accommodation business in a manner offensive to the morals and standards of the people as a whole or in such a way as to injure the international posture of this nation. . . . Thomas Black, P. 0. Box 103, Austin 66, Tex.