heightened arrogance and rigidity as these official bodies have set about to represent the settled and the contented in meeting the challenge of the unsettled and the discontented. Rather than repression there must be understanding of what the dissidents are all about. The charlatans among them must not be held up to the rest of the public as representative of the movement. Their movement must be taken seriously, listened to if not embraced. These people have much to offer our troubled country. If we will but curb our emotions and listen. N TEXAS the most important recent “defection” to the ranks of the dissidents has been Arthur Vance, 30, who until this year was a liberal state representative from Pasadena. On the notion that the forces that led to Vance’s dropping out of the Legislature are also at work, in more or less degree, on many persons who read the Observer, the editor interviewed Vance at some length on the nature of his decision, the development of his beliefs, and the character of his life and work today. Vance thinks that, really, he has not “defected” or changed his basic views much in recent years. But it is true that he has taken some important personal steps in the pattern that is now becoming more and more familiar in those who, dissatisfied with establishment ways, turn to other paths to work out a life and a work program of their own devising. Vance dropped out of the Legislature after four years rather than serve longer in a body he regarded as corrupt and socially impotent. Today he continues at his job with a Pasadena chemical company. But his spare time is devoted to community work and to finding a style of personal living that speaks more to his humanity. In 1966 he was on his way up in our society. He had, with self-admitted luck, escaped a harrowing childhood full of heart-rending reversals and almost incredible poverty. He was, five years ago, secure in his job, married and the father of a child, active in electoral politics, and attracting some local attention as a public official. Today he still holds onto his job to provide the financial security he recognizes as a practical necessity but he has given up on marriage as too confining and has foresworn electoral politics in favor of personal involvement in voluntary community work. Vance ran for the Legislature in 1966 on the urging of some local confreres in the Young Democrats and Harris County Democrats. He was active in both groups. He says he really didn’t expect to win but hoped the race would put him in contact with other political people. He says he really wanted to work for someone like Houston Cong. Bob Eckhardt, “somebody like that I believed in. I wanted to be ‘behind-the-scenes man.” To his surprise, Vance won. He then became hopeful that he could offer some unique insights to the Legislature. “I had seen a lot of shit that other people hadn’t seen, and I had managed to survive a lot of shit that a lot of people didn’t survive. . I think the value of my life is that I’ve had experiences different from most other people, and if I’ve learned anything I need to share this with other people.” Vance was born in Amarillo. His early years were marked by continual turmoil, many moves, his father being killed in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, and his mother virtually deserting him when he was only six years old. He lived in such places as El Camp p, Galena Park, Columbus, and Houston. Whe in the sixth grade he and his younger sister moved to Edna to live with his stepfather’s parents. He graduated from high school in 1957 at Edna. He spent a year each at Victoria College and Southwest Texas State College. At the beginning of his junior year his sister was killed. The emotional blow of losing the one family member he was close to took Vance out of school for a year and a half. During that time he worked in his native Amarillo. He resumed studies at Amarillo College and North Texas State. Then he moved to Galena Park and, later, to Pasadena, because “it was a better political climate over there because of organized labor.” labor.” At one point, in Houston, he and a younger sister lived alone in a shack not far from Heights Boulevard, fending for themselves as best they could. While seven years old, he hustled rent money by running bets for a bookmaker at a nearby bar and doing odd jobs. “I’ve gone without food for more than one day,” he recounts. “I remember holding myself against the desk at school, against my stomach. If you held on tight enough against the desk it would stop hurting. Kinda like biting a bullet. Hunger couldn’t possibly have hurt as much as I imagined, but it does hurt. It’s a real sharp pain, and you’re weak.” DRIVING AROUND town, talking about today and tomorrow, Vance suddenly wheeled back into yesterday. “See this neighborhood here?” he said, turning his car down a street. “See this house right here?” indicating an obviously Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas 78705. Telephone 477-0746. Editor’s residence phone, 472-3631. EDITOR Greg Olds ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kaye Northcott EDITOR-AT-LARGE Ronnie Dugger Contributing Editors: Elroy Bode, Winston Bode, Bill Brammer, Gary Cartwright, Lee Clark, Joe Frantz, Larry Goodwyn, Harris Green, Bill Hamilton, Bill Helmer, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Larry Lee, Dave McNeely, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, James Presley, Charles Ramsdell, Buck Ramsey, John Rogers, Mary Beth Rogers, Roger Shattuck, Robert Sherrill, Edwin Shrake, Dan Straw n, John P. Sullivan, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. 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. 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. BUSINESS MANAGER C. R. Olofson OFFICE MANAGER Irene Wilkinson EMERITUS BUSINESS MANAGER Sarah Payne The Observer is published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., 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. Single copy, 25c. One year, $7.00; two years, $13.00; three years, $18.00; plus, for Texas addresses, 4%% sales tax. Foreign, except APO/FPO, 50c additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Change of Address: Please give old and new address and allow three weeks. Form 3579 regarding undelivered copies: Send to Texas Observer, 504 W. 24th, Austin, Texas 78705. THE TEXAS OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co. 1970 A window to the South A journal of free voices Vol. LXII, No. 8 April 17,1970 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate.
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