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Emperor .. . school colors. “I suggest that we adopt the standard orange,” he says. “That’s the color on the arch at the student union. It’s not light orange, it’s burnt orange or dark orange, I know because I went by yesterday to see it.” ACOMBATIVE, ostensibly self-confident man, he enjoys his domination of the psychology of the conference table and the room. As the chancellor, the dry and orderly Charles LeMaistre, talks to the board, the chairman, conscious of eyes on him, goes over and chats with his flack, hands in pockets, grinning easily. Then, his face flushed, he returns to the head of the table. The president of convenience takes his turn before them. The chancellor and Erwin, disregarding the president, are whispering. Erwin tosses his head, flips his hand open and shrugs with his mouth downturning. . . . He has something of the radical, bursting gusto his friend Lyndon Johnson had. Once a well-off, liberal woman, a devoted UT alumna, told Erwin at a party that she planned that a goodly sum of her money go to the university, but if he did not stop doing as he was, she wouldn’t give it. He told her he was sorry she felt this way, he hoped she would change her mind, but she kept at him, wanting a hint he’d change his ways, and she repeated her threat. “Well,” he said then, “I guess we’ll just have to do without your money” and he threw his head back and laughed with all his being. He can probably justify to himself much that he has done by telling himself he was a lightning rod for his alma mater, taking the public’s anger into himself, foiling it, protecting his school, keeping it well funded; but the abuse that poured down on him after Silber’s firing, culminating in Time calling him “emperor of the university,” would have felled any but a self-dramatizing man. Surely sometimes he understood what was becoming of him. Despite his execrable role in the Larry Caroline case \(see Obs., May 24, 1968, and Rotarians, “It is as difficult for me as it is for you to accept some of the opinions advanced by some members of the faculty, but it is our role to protect their right to explore and to protect their right to be wrong.” Lonely after the death of his wife, he liked the company of young people and wanted them to admire him. “It is difficult to dislike the man on a personal basis,” said the censored Texan story by Dave Beckwith about a night at the Forty Acres Club at his table. “He knows how to drink, how to make people laugh. He is skilled at irreverent riposte, holding the center court without driving his companions from the gallery. . . . “As other figures, singly and in pairs, drift into the club, Erwin automatically glances around, looking for acquaintances to invite over, buy a drink for, trade tales with. The group grows larger and larger, Erwin surrounded by students, picking up all the tabs, holding court like some Tudor king. He’s bigger physically than all his guests and he dominates the badinage, fielding questions with expletives and sardonic humor, brooking no serious arguments. . . . ” ‘Mike!’ Erwin is shouting, ‘have you run out of whiskey already?’ Mike brings another Scotch and soda and acknowledges Erwin’s order to bring the entire group, now more than 20 persons, another round. It’s well past the closing hour, but the liquor flows steadily on command from Erwin. “What is this potpourri of pseudo-political jackals, servile flatterers, and well-intentioned journalists? Where are Erwin’s peer-group friends, his middle-aged cronies? What need has he to buy so eagerly, refreshments for everybody?” I do not know Erwin personally. About him I have heard for years, but this is not knowing him. As I’ve said I tried to interview him, but he refused. I know him, therefore, only as a phenomenon in the university community, and this is a limitation I regret and know no way to offset except to make it known. FRANCES Bernard, a Pi Phi, is uncommonly beautiful, and the Pi Phis were glad to have her, but as her college time slipped past her she was not so glad for them to. Her views opened up, privilege made her uncomfortable, she went to blue jeans and drifting hair; she changed a great deal. But while she was still a demoiselle in the fast set she started dating a young aide of Ben Barnes, who was then the Speaker of the House, and this spun her into Erwin’s circle. Perceptive, sensitive and rapidly changing, she saw what there was to see and felt the position she was in. “I remember him most in his social role, in two quite different atmospheres, in places across the campus from each other,” she says. “First, at the regents’ pre-game parties held in the art building. These were very much Frank’s parties and included all of the richest `exes’ and in-power politicos, at that time Governor Connally, Speaker Barnes, even LBJ, upon occasion. The art building parties were always alive and bright in the big white-walled hall and one never had the feeling that they would be interminable, as the 40 Acres Club bouts always seemed. The game was out in the sun across the street and it was just a matter of extricating yourself from the Driskill-catered food and drink. Erwin really shone at these functions he wore his orange raw silk blazer a big problem in the fall of ’68 was whether the blazer should be bright or burnt orange, I remember! And all of his ‘lieutenants’ which he’d given them for Christmas, probably for their 40 Acres Club loyalty. Here at the art building Erwin was really in his glory no one really cared that much about the academic shape of the school if a new construction contract had been negotiated, or, if we were winning the football games, he was really high. The `real, Texas people’ at those parties thought of the school in those terms, and the school was healthy if it showed growth of the physical plant, as well as enrollment. The ‘bigness’ of it all in the Texan , tradition meant it was simply good, and warranted praise for Erwin. “The other side of all this, and of Erwin’s personality, came out in the much more intimate 40 Acres Club gatherings on the Drag. These occurred almost nightly, and one could be certain of finding a round table near the bar full of the same Barnes aides and perhaps their dates surrounding Erwin in the dark and otherwise empty room. “In this atmosphere Erwin was much more brooding. The drinks kept coming and one who wasn’t used to the pace would find himself faced with four or five scotches at once. Here, the conversation got heavy in a jovial way. It was very much political wheeling and dealing simply an involved game of one-upmanship. between Erwin and an array of other characters the talk was always something like ‘That bastard Silber . . . ‘ or ‘We’ll do something about Caroline and soon . . . ‘ The young men who worked for Barnes limited their comments to ‘Yes, Mr. Ch airm an,’ augmented by much back-slapping, and the women present were to remain silent and keep drinking I often felt pangs of guilt even five years later for not having spoken up sooner but when I did overcome my inherent submissiveness enough to criticize an Erwin action to his face, it was laughed off with the usual ‘Are you going to be a dirty-hippie, too?’ “He’s a very complicated man. His mind is quick and there’s some sort of appeal there in that personality, but much of this has been buried perhaps by the bitterness caused by his wife’s death, or perhaps by the same old ‘power lust’ taking control of him. “His mien a bulky man scooched way down in the chair and glaring over his half-glasses radiates an intense powerfulness, but a hostile one. There’s not an ounce of the Connally gentility to mellow Erwin. He also never listened to an opinion that differed in any way from his own at least in my presence. I think that perhaps this feeling of power, or of having arrived and belonging to the group, became such a consuming thing to him that he feared losing it most of all and, for that reason, needed to name an enemy, in this case the students and faculty. Somehow I doubt it was really an ideological thing to him rather, much more of a game. “For a while I was very sympathetic February 15, 1974 3