Farenthold’s faith Washington, D.C., etc. I had not seen Rep. Sissy Farenthold operating as a statewide politician until Monday, March 27, in Washington. Ramsey Clark and others had put together a money-raising reception for her for that evening, but first she had a press conference in the office of the national women’s political caucus just off Connecticut Avenue. She is the only woman running for governor, so far, in any state in the union this year. The press and the others stood, but she sat before them in a chair, first making a statement questioning what overriding public purpose had been served by Richard Kleindiest giving the chief culprit, Frank Sharp, immunity in the Texas stock scandal, and then answering questions. She suggested that Sharp had been given immunity to protect Republicans and Connally-connected Texas politicians, but she is not given to extreme statements. She understates because she is fair-minded. Neither will she play the role of the flaming Women’s Libber. “In 1968,” she said, “I had to run as a non-woman. This year, perhaps I’ll be able to run as a person.” What comes through is an integrity that is totally internal, totally hers, an integrity that cuts like a diamond. At the reception, Ramsey Clark, explaining that business in Harrisburg, Pa., prevented his attendance, said, by telegram, read by Congressman Bob Eckhardt, that her running gives Texas an important opportunity “to restore integrity to Texas government.” Clark went to school with her in the UT Law School and remembered her as a brilliant student, a brilliant lawyer. “Sissy Farenthold can free Texas from the special interests,” Clark said. From the steps leading to a second floor of the club where the reception was being held, she spoke a little while, and very well; she is a good political speaker. What struck me most was her account of her decision to run. Many people advised her not to, discouraged her, told her to be realistic, said she couldn’t win. Well, she thought it all over, “and I came to the conclusion that if our system means anything, we make our own politics.” That is the kind of faith that made this country occur in the first place and that is the kind of faith that can make her governor. Fink or fidget Reform-minded Texans have tolerated a certain game played by liberal state senators entirely too long. I have in mind specifically such senators as Mauzy, Schwartz, Jordan and Kennard. In the Senate these senators are often or at least usually found ranged on the side of reform, but even-numbered years they side, in the Observations elections, with people like Connally or Smith or Barnes. Now that Representative Farenthold needs their support, where the hell are they? It is fiction to say they’re busy with their own races: people know how senators throw their influence one way or the other. Whatever specific circumstances are true as to the senators named in the instant case, let that be learned; but now and hereafter, liberal voters in Texas should, in my opinion, insistently, publicly, and personally ask every liberal senator, and representative, also, where they stand on the key election fights for the recovery of the whole integrity of the legislative and political process in Texas. If they fink or fidget, they will pay the price for that, and they should. My damn friend W. Don Effinger. Dead, gone. He died in his dining room after he had got up and gone downstairs to ask the kids to move their party into the basement so he could sleep. In the thirties Don was beat up by anti-union thugs for organizing workers, like Walter Reuther was and plenty others. In World War II he was a conscientious objector because he wouldn’t kill. When I first knew him he was chief honcho in the Texas CIO. Gov . Allan Shivers used to cuss him in public by name, he was the left-wing demon, the spear-tailed Lucifer in that no-good hypocrite’s damnations of “the ADA-CIO-PAC.” He was an organization man, my friend Don. Damn him, I used to get in fierce arguments with him. We had a Maverick Society, a fellowship of embattled friends in Texas reform who met, families, children, all of us, at camp-outs, or weekend retreats, and talked as free as we were about the better tomorrow. Don regarded me as a dangerous individualist. How can we get anything done with such troublemakers around? that was his attitude. As far as I was concerned he would probably have opposed Joan of Arc for county commissioner if the labor movement had endorsed the incumbent. I used to tell him I never had heard or known of a committee thinking; hadn’t seen it happen; only an individual could think. He replied that there was no such thing as an individual. In that polarity we found our affection, for we wanted the same things for people in their daily lives. As his brother Wally said at the funeral, he worked 35 years organizing men and women to obtain justice. As Sen. Ralph Yarborough said, for 20 years he supported every liberal cause in Texas. He went to Washington in 1961 and became a member of the tight inner planning group around Bob Kennedy whose studies on juvenile delinquency led them to formulate the broader plans to fight poverty that Johnson announced as the war on poverty. After a while he became the chief political man of the U.S. machinists’ union. He had a good time in life, being daddy, laughing, loving good food and drink. He played chess a lot and exceedingly well, knew music, and rejoiced in the great operas and the classic labor songs. His brother Wally said he was a real idealist and an ideal realist, he sought justice because only through justice can there be peace, and “he had learned to integrate to some happy extent a great love of life and the call of duty.” I didn’t like that call when it put him down for Hubert Humphrey far too early or for SST, but his brother was right, “The front rank of labor organizers have been the men of action seeking a fair shake for the ordinary people.” As Sen. Edward Kennedy said in the Senate, “With humble dignity, he worked all his life for the good of others.” Kennedy also told this story. Shortly before last Christmas, Don appeared in the senator’s office and asked, “What is the best organization to which private funds can be sent to assure that they are used to feed, clothe and house the Bangladesh refugees?” Kennedy said a few such organizations were suggested, and Don was asked what project he was working on now. “In his unassuming way, he told us that it was not really a project at all just a little family undertaking; he explained that every year, each of his nine children saved an amount of their money for donation at Christmas time to a charity or cause of their choosing; that each year he matched the amount of his children’s savings; and that the total was sent as a Christmas gift to those whom his family together had decided were most in need.” Even nine children were not enough for Don and his magnificent wife, Ruthie. At the funeral their family included a black woman who, when she was younger, somehow became a member of their family, and a middle-aged Texas fellow, the same. The children had scattered, and when he died they were all over the country, or in Washington. Ruthie led all 11 of them to pay their last respects to him. That was a thing I shall never forget. As they left the big church, Ethel Kennedy April 28, 1972 27
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