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and based his personal relations on that premise, meanwhile reporting his disappointments with unrelenting detail. Though the sheer buffeting of experience on his journey wore out any number of energetic young writers in the prime of youthful resiliency, Dugger haS continued year after year to expose himself to the fissures and crevasses that define so much of the democratic landscape in Austin. He is now a middle-aged I. F. Stone, which makes him a mere apprentice in that rather lonely and splendid craft of personal journalism that Stone best epitomizes. I, for one, anticipate that some 20 or 30 years hence, Dugger, in full iconoclastic maturity, might well resemble his illustrious and uniquely useful predecessor. However, Dugger cannot be characterized quite so quickly. I don’t think one can make much sense out of The Texas Observer, or its writers, without pausing first to mark the defining impact on both of its founding editor. The circumstances of those early years, when Dugger toiled away in isolation as editor, writer, copyreader, and layout man, shaped the Observer in fundamental ways and imparted the special independent character that has since identified it. THE OBSERVER dates from 1954 those grim days that marked the foreboding twilight of the McCarthy era. In Texas, Governor Shivers, as spokesman of what Dugger would soon label the “To Democrats,” had led most of the official Democratic heirarchy into public support of the 1952 Republican presidential candidate, General Eisenhower. This event disrupted the Texas Democratic Party and precipitated a tumultuous struggle for the soul of the party that matched Shivers against a Populistically-inclined judge who subsequently became rather well known in these parts Ralph Yarborough. That 1954 campaign had a transforming emotional impact on Texas politics that visibly persists to this day. In terms of money spent, chicanery, corruption, demagoguery, and rhetorical violence, it was the nearest thing to a class struggle that the state has endured since Populism and Reconstruction. The legends it inspired became part of the received culture of each new Observer writer through the Fifties and Sixties. The central one concerned the filming and distribution by the Shivers forces of what came to be known as the Port Arthur Story. It merits a brief review here for it was the centerpiece of a maturing partisanship that The Texas Observer, under Dugger, both heightened and in telling ways ignored. It seems that during the 1954 campaign a strike of retail clerks was in progress in the little southeast Texas city of Port Arthur. As I received the legend, the forces of the Tories dispatched a camera crew to Port Arthur. The crew arose before dawn in order to be in place in downtown Port Arthur literally at the first sign of light. The purpose was to photograph a silent, faceless city, one deadened by the nefarious agitators of the labor movement. According to the legend, passing bread trucks and other early morning intruders forced the cameramen to stay on the job for three or four consecutive mornings before they were able to amass the required footage of empty streets. At the climax of the Yarborough-Shivers campaign, the television screens across the state issued forth a dramatic documentary that began in utter silenCe, with long seconds of panoramic sweeps of what seemed to be a deserted city. Then, after a minute or so of eerie silence, a narrator suddenly intoned: “This is Port Arthur, Texas. This is what happens when the CIO comes to a Texas city.” The 30-minute documentary that followed had other hovel elements, such as footage of pickets, notably black pickets, bedeviling the serenity of little POrt Arthur. The “Port Hans Peter Otto Ronnie Dugger Arthur Story” became the central campaign document of 1954 and was shown repeatedly in prime time throughout the state. The extremely narrow Shivers victory that concluded that wild summer of campaigning set in motion the dynamics that created The Texas Observer. In a post-mortem illuminated with outrage and indignation, the “Loyal Democrats” of Ralph Yarborough decided the political process had been purchased by the Tories, who had “manipulated the media, deceived the voters, and sabotaged” the democratic idea. A number of them, including a group of prominent Democratic women, got together and decided to underwrite a newspaper organ that would spread “the truth.” Late in 1954, their dream became a reality, though not precisely the way they intended. They selected as editor a young man newly home from Oxford. His return route to his native hearth in Texas had included a brief sojourn in Washington that had apparently stirred some latent reform instincts. In any case, Mr. Dugger assured the underwriters that though he was a “good Democrat” \(in the parlance of the newspapers as “organs.” He promised instead what he called “a journal of free voices.” WITHIN A MONTH, young Dugger had the loyal Democrats of Texas in an uproar. The first controversy developed out of the subtitle Dugger selected for his paper: “An Independent Liberal Weekly.” In the hightide of the McCarthy-Shivers era, the word “liberal” did not have galvanizing appeal to Southern voters. Old partisans of the Jefferson-Jackson-Franklin Roosevelt tradition in Texas identified themselves as “loyal Democrats” or as “good Democrats,” but never as “liberals.”The latter word identified people who were too preoccupied with the civil rights of black Southerners, and Dugger’s quixotic adoption of the term did not augur well for the propagandizing techniques of the new “organ.” The issue was scarcely a merely theoretical one. The subscription list of the new Observer was largely composed of some 2,000 white East Texans who had earlier subscribed to a paper known as the East Texas Democrat. These subscribers were thought to be particularly sensitive to matters of race. Dugger seemed to be flirting rather dangerously with the very foundations of the shaky new journalistic enterprise. Dugger’s response was characteristic and defined for all time that the operative portion in the Observer’s sub-title was the word “independent.” Seeing a little one-paragraph AP item in a newspaper about the shooting of a small Negro boy in East Texas, Dugger packed his camping gear in his car for the first of many forays into the Texas hinterlands. The next issue of the Observer featured a grim story of joy-riding white youths who fired wantonly into buildings occupied by blacks. One of the bullets had killed the boy. Dugger’s account, filled with startling questions and even more startling answers from law enforcement officials in East Texas, was dramatically punctuated with a front-page picture of the victim that Dugger had taken in the morgue. The young editor’s first experiment in investigative journalism nearly wrecked his paper. Something on the order of half the East Texas subscribers promptly cancelled. The deficit leaped dramatically and the backers called for an accounting from their young editor. What they got in the next issue was another article entitled “The Devastating Dames” in which Dugger made it rather clear that though the editor was only 24 years old, he did not feel in the need of ideological counseling from his elders. The backers thereupon fell by the wayside until there was only one, a quiet, steel-willed Houston woman named Mrs. Frankie Randolph. She liked the idea of a “journal of free voices.” In 1955-56, Dugger played a key role in breaking the land scandals in Texas and his struggling journal received its first national attention. As circulation rose, the Observer edged toward the financial break-even December 27, 1974 5