ustxtxb_obs_1970_08_07_50_00022-00000_000.pdf

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Goodbye, Jimmy Allred! By James Giles Bowie A couple of months ago the Observer teaching Afro-American literature at North Texas State. As background, I mentioned some observations about having grown up in all-white Bowie, Tex., and about the irony of having encountered racism and 22 The Texas Observer LES MILS 4ideistalk arie he Am& cootiaoteat 60te4qade Been, peacteut 24d & Sag llama ideated /cede to Ils e teitt ei tlse 7exal 06douter Aiwa 472-2746 intolerance within the academic community when presenting the course proposal to the NTSU English Department. From reactions to that article, I learned a lesson about writing: in print, it belongs to readers. A few good people did see the essay as I did, as a discussion of a teaching experience; but most NTSU types read it as a slam at the old Eagle, and most Bowieites who knew anything about it viewed it as a condemnation of their home town. It was this latter reaction that interested me; I felt that, since Bowie is not really very different from most small Texas towns \(except in being devoid of minority the hysteria currently prevalent in Texas. The first Bowie reaction came when one of the pool hall gang one of the old bunch called my mother to ask her what her son had written against Bowie. Next the editor of the local newspaper, who endorsed Wallace-LeMay in a front-page editorial and may thereby have swung Montague County to Humphrey-Muskie in ’68, was heard to threaten to reprint the dastardly piece and thus expose the traitorous rascal. For a while, it was really Thomas Wolfe time for me in Bowie. But since I am moving to Illinois in September, I did go home again recently. I am not leaving because of the article, incidentally though that has been suggested but because of a complexity of factors, most of which have to do indirectly at least with Texas’ attitude toward the life of the mind. Yarborough has finally been beaten by the state’s “know-nothings” and money-boys. Thus, just about the only Texas political leader with any relevance to the twentieth century is out of Washington. The progressive president of NTSU has resigned. Preston Smith and all he represents reign supreme across Texas. Truly it is “the era of the know-nothings” in Texas. Wave a flag and hit a kid. SO I HAD to go back to Bowie one more time to see what I had grown up around which has produced this present madness. Also, I went back again because Bowie did produce me, and, whatever I’ve become, I first started to become there. When I drove into town, Jim Bowie days, an annual summer celebration, was beginning. About 8,000 people were in town for the parade \(Bowie’s population is from Bowie, St. Jo, and surrounding towns were entered, as well as several floats \(a replica of the Alamo won and was retained There was a frog-jumping contest, a horseshoe pitching contest, a barbecue, and a Jim Bowie Days queen contest. Dolph Briscoe was there to preside. Bowie is the home of Jimmy Allred and, after driving through town seconds ahead of the parade, I stopped and looked at the Texas historical marker to Allred. \(It is a large stone slab, with a long inscription, telling about Allred’s war against the KKK and his relationship with Ralph Yarborough, among other things; I once met the Senator and he mentioned Bowie affectionately as the home of Jimmy During my stay in Bowie, a few people praised my Observer piece, and others avoided mention of it. My departure to Illinois \(“You’ll go up there with those. suspected backsliding from the Baptist Church, and my sideburns were mentioned, often. .I began to understand more about the Texas small town mentality. Bowie is confused and frightened; it knows that something is wrong in the world, but since things go on relatively calmly in Montague trouble must be the fault of those elementnot present, or at least in disfavor there drugs, universities, “free thinking,” long hair, and blacks. The insularity of the Texas small town, combined with the mass media influence \(Huntley-Brinkley, do you confusion, and a fear, and a suspicion that breed the Lloyd Bentsens and Preston Smiths of Texas. BUT THOSE ROOTS again, and my mind went back to the past, and I remembered the Bowie high football nights with the August chill and walking along the sidelines and smelling the sharp, male odor of the grass and the people and a faint trace of alcohol and hearing the talk \(“That boy kin hit! He’s tough! 01′ man idolatry of the people in the maroon uniforms, and my high school Saturday mornings on Bowie main streets with my friends who played for the Jackrabbits \(“Good game, son, come by some time,” And I remembered the Bowie Majestic Theater and the moldy smell of spilled popcorn and discarded jawbreakers and Lash LaRue and Bob Steele \(“Boy, can he Bowery Boys and the comedies with th scared blacks turning white, and I bear th, monogram of all this. And I remembered my father. He was a man who lived and knew cattle. He didn’t finish the eighth grade, but he could look at a steer and tell you how much it weighed and how much it was worth a