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thrown door-to-door, then mailed again. He became perhaps the only newspaper owner in the world to discourage advertising. “There’s too many ads in the paper. I don’t care if it doesn’t have a single ad,” he said. And in the early months, he would shuneven insultadvertisers. Once he got low on money, he hired as many as nine ad salesmen at a time, but by then it was a lost cause. But even as it declined, the newspaper fed Ed’s ego. On the days it came out, Henry the chauffeur become a paper boy, delivering papers in the limousine to Ed’s friends all over the city. The kid who grew up poor on Fort Worth’s rough-andtumble North Side had become a South Texas celebrity. He sat proudly in the audience at a press club luncheon while he was lampooned along with other notables. Though he tried everything to keep negative stories about his criminal past and his association with underworld figures from being published, he almost seemed to revel in it when reports of his shady career surfaced. And even WFAA-TV’s expos included interviews about Ed with the likes of John Hill, Bill Clements, Jim Baker and Bob Krueger. Ed was already having trouble with his oil investors in the spring. When they found out about his free-spending ways with the newspaper and his political favorites, they were mightily peeved, and they forced a settlement that removed him from control of the oil properties of Driscoll Productions. Ed started borrowing money from any source and worked at it night and day until not one was left. On the eve of the May Democratic primary, he couldn’t meet his newspaper payroll, although he did issue paychecks the next week. From then on it was downhill, with late and missed payrolls, bills unpaid, creditors closing in. On that primary election eve, as his employees went unpaid at the Sun and at his oil companies, Ed attended a party for Domingo Pena at the Corpus Christi municipal coliseum, got up on the stage, and announced that he was financing a new “He had supported our campaign generously and with the same all-out effort that characterized . . . everything he did. I was grateful for his help.” John Hill record-producing company for chicano music. He also got drunk. When the Caller Times called me at midnight, I figured they had heard about the missed payroll and wanted my comment. Instead they wanted to know how to reach Ed. They told me he had gotten into a fistfight with a county official at the coliseum party. In early June, Ed went on a tear that drove off most of the major editorial people at the paper. I resigned as editor and publisher. At about the same time, the Dallas Morning News did an unflattering story about Ed, and he retaliated by putting a North Texas edition of the Sun on Dallas newstands. That edition was soon suspended, however, and the Corpus Christi edition, which had for a time been coming out twice a week. was cut back to once-a-week publication, because Ed could no longer pay the printer for more. A skeleton crew kept on putting the paper out without pay, and Ed started hocking personal property to make ends meet while he desperately tried to swing another big deal. But he continued to charm the dickens out of people. Out-oftown reporters loved to do stories about this crazy man who moved his lips when he read and counted on his fingers. And he still had it in him to make the grand gesture. A Sun circulation truck driver who had been evicted from his apartment asked Ed for a $70 advance on his salary. Ed absently handed the man a $100 bill. Name me another newspaper owner who would do that? And then there was the Chaparral Street wino whom Ed adopted. The wino lived in the alleys and carried a winter coat around with him even in the summer because he had no home to hang it in. Bill Hendricks tells a story about a ride back from a Christmas party when Ed ordered Henry to stop the limousine, jumped out, and gave the wino a $10 bill. From then on, every time he saw the man Ed would give him money. A few days before Ed’s death, he ran into the wino on the street. The winter coat was missing, evidently stolen, and Ed gave the wino two dollar billsall the money he had on himand promised to find him another coat. “Winter’s coming on and you’ll need it,” he said. The weekend before Ed died, I returned to Corpus Christi and had a long talk with him. He said he had just pawned a diamond ring for $5,000 and had spread most of it around among the people still working for him without salary. He said he had big plans, would get back into the oil business in a few months with some prominent state officials among his clients. I reminded him of Sharpstown, and he changed the subject, going on to talk about still other grandiose schemes. He said he would “He was considered as an eccentric by many, but as a man, he was highly ambitious and driven by a zealousness to assure equality. . .perhaps overzealous in pursuit of that, for an anglo.” Ruben Bonilla “Pero puro corazon ese hombre.” \(That man was all Roberto Pulido come back bigger than ever before. I asked: if he had the past year to live over again, would he have done anything differently? “I would have done every single thing exactly the same way,” he answered. He planned to go to Austin the next weekend, something to do with strategy for the Hill general-election campaign, he said. But that Friday night, at about 3 a.m., he went down from his fourth-floor room to the Sheraton lobby, sat there for awhile, then asked the bell captain to call an ambulance. Around dawn, Ed was dead of a heart attack. On a hillside in Mount Olivet cemetery on Fort Worth’s North Side, Ed was buried with his war medals. Though he was a decorated veteran of World War II, he had never talked willingly about the experience, and brushed off questions about it in interviews. Ed’s Eastern investors, led by CBS Columbia Group president John Phillips, are now fighting it out in court with three Driscoll business associatesJ.B. King of Fort Worth, Charles Neely and Earl Gilbert of Houstonbecause it seems that Ed signed over the same oil and gas holdings to both groups. Besides title to those properties, there’s another prize Ed left behind: $2,528,000, payable to whoever is determined to be the rightful beneficiary of ten Driscoll life insurance policies. The Phillips group alleges that Ed put the policies up as collateral for investment capital its members handed over, then changed the names of the beneficiaries without bothering to notify them. The Sun, of course, ceased publishing when Ed died. That was as it should have been, because the paper was Ed Driscoll, a gaudy monument to a volatile little guy who made it to the topfor awhile. Regardless of where Ed ended upcutting high card with Saint Peter to decide whether he’d gain admission, or drilling for dry holes in hell for tax write-offs, with the devil and everybody else a winnerI know one thing for sure: he never gave a single fleeting thought to how or why he got there. And in the end, this high-flying hustler, maybe the last of his breed, got flashier eulogies than the rest of us can count on. John Moulder is a veteran Texas journalist now working as a freelance writer. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15