FELLOW COUNTRYMAN New Canaan, Conn. When my sixteen-year-old daughter was a little girl she saw a picture of Frank Dobie on the back of the jacket of one of his books. It was a shot of him hunkered down by the fire of a hunting camp. That picture caught her imagination. Soon she had an inscribed glossy print of another favorite picture”the one with the friendly, twinkly eyes” was the way she always referred to it. Frank Dobie had found another admirer. As she grew older she once asked me, “Why do you love him so much?” In a way this piece is an explanation for her. I served as Frank Dobie’s editor for.five years when I was on the staff of Little, Brown & Company, his Boston publisher. While I had this privilege we published The Longhorns, The Mustangs, A Texan in England, The Voice of the Coyote, and Ben Lilly. Anyone who knows Frank Dobie and his works knows at once how much of an education that was for me, an ex-Hoosier sojourning in Boston. It has always seemed the truth of it was that Frank Dobie was my editor, for I know that I got more out of his unintentional revisions of me than he ever got out of my advices to him. I have always looked back on a weekend spent high above the Devil’s River as a time when the full rewards of friendship and professional relationship with Frank Dobie were most evident. Mister Frank was then writing The Mustangs and he had come to one of those periods, as writers and long distance runners always do, when the second wind was expected but had not quite arrived. He didn’t really need advice; he needed someone interested in the same work to be around for a couple of days. He needed someone to talk to, to read what he had written, to have the same high expectations for the remainder that he had. He wrote me that he had taken a cottage at the invitation ‘of a friend of his in the power business, one of those used in later months as weekend and vacation spots for the employees of the company. He drove me out there from Eagle Pass. When we arrived, I found a comfortable cottage in which he had arranged on tables and boards laid on saw horses the chapters of that fine, free book. He had said we’d batch it, but I didn’t realize at first that we’d live off the land as well. The cottage was right at the brink of the high bluff ; the dam was in sight, far below the Devil’s Angus Cameron is a senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf, publishers, in New York City. 2 The Texas Observer Angus Cameron River curled away from the foam at the bottom of the falls like a silver ribbon. It was February, winter in Boston, but the first edges of spring were showing in Rio Grande country. Later I came to understand fully what that spot meant to Frank Dobieto any Texan for that matter. I came to realize how much that much water meant to a man who lived in a country that was dry. Back of the cottage lay the high dry country of South Texas. And Frank Dobie and his work were firmly imbedded in that piece of Texas nature. For two and a half days we talked about mustang s, Cunninghame-Graham and Bedichek, Texas lore, world literature, politics, people of both cultures, animals and birds, cacti, and, later, fishing. There, surrounded with the colors, sounds, and life of Texas nature, I experienced all of thbse qualities that make this unique man. Whether we were frying white bass we caught in the river below \(with the rods and invitation and even bait of the brothers Erwin who were supplying a fish fry out delicious white, gardenia-like bloom of a Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the State Week and Austin ForumAdvocate. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Editor and General Manager, Ronnie Dugger. Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. Business Manager, Sarah Payne. Contributing Editors, J. Frank Dobie, Larry Goodwyn, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Willie Morris, James Presley, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shattuck, Dan Strawn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. Contributing Photographer, Russell Lee. Subscription Representatives: Austin, Mrs. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos HO 5-1805; Dallas, Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; El Paso, Mrs. Jeanette Harris, 5158 Garry Owen Rd., LO 5-3448; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Lubbock, Doris Blaisdell, 2515 24th St.; Midland, Eva Dennis, 4306 Douglas, OX 4-2825; Odessa, Enid Turner, 1706 Glenwood, EM 6-2269; Rio Grande Valley, Mrs. Jack Butler, 601 Houston, McAllen, MU 6-5675; cactus which Mister Frank prepared as one would prepare green peas, or enjoying a pot of frijoles prepared by a Mexican friend, or finishing up a meal with guajillo honey, we seemed imbedded in local nature. As a man close to nature, Frank Dobie is a sensualist. He likes good food and remembers vividly notable gustatory experiences such as those memorialized in his article in The American Gun. He doesn’t like substitutes and claims “there’s nothing feebler than a milk-fed chicken” or “as tasteless as baby beef.” “They’ve got no strength to them,” he claims. His fine relish of eating and drinking makes everything taste better in his presence. I know only one other man who can, by the mere act itself, endow the pouring of a drink of whiskey with so much promise of forthcoming pleasure and good fellowship. To me this sense of being a part of nature is one of the first qualities of Frank Dobie. He knows he is a creature of nature; he feels its immanence at all times; he is not alienated from it. This seems to me one of his first and basic qualities as a man. From it stem, I think, his peculiar art and character. He showed me a painted bunting and a canyon wren; he talked about the pack rat; he named the cacti for me. All of this San Antonio, Mrs. Mae B. Tuggle, 531 Elmhurst, TA 2-7154; Tyler, Mrs. Erik Thomsen, 1209 So. Broadway; LY 4-4862. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. The Observer publishes articles, essays, and creative work of the shorter forms having to do in various ways with this area. The pay depends; at present it is token. Unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by return postage. Unsigned articles are the editor’s. The Observer is published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd., biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5.00 a year; two years, $9.50; three years, $13.00. Foreign rates on request. Single copies 25c; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk orders, on request. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin 5, Texas. Telephone GR 7-0746. Change o f Address: Please give old and new addresses and allow three weeks. THE TEXAS OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South 58th YEAR ESTABLISHED 1906 VoL 56, No. 15 7’ July 24, 1964
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