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,.%’1>e.’ 4 Dr. R. J. C. Brown, Grand Kludd, KKK, Pasadena Klan on The Ropes up nid eop er Aq sow kid By Dick J. Reavis Pasadena By the standards of the industry, I am a writer who still needs polishing. I can’t engage in literary talk. My favorite novels are dime westerns, and as far as I know, “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town” is the poetic expression of my generation. My etiquette is lacking, too. A couple of months ago, two writers, a man and a woman, invited me to their house for supper. I did not use the salad bowl they set out, because I saw no soup, and had no idea that salad bowls are used in homes as well as in restaurants. I’m not entirely comfortable with rednecks, either. They scare me. They are tough and sunburned and close-lipped, and I have trouble duplicating the act. But I am more comfortable with rednecks than with writers, because rednecks do not espouse standards of literacy or conduct more refined than my own. Magazines have tolerated me largely because my lack of refinement is an aid of sorts, if only in doing stories no one else wants to do. Hard-luck characters accept me as a member of Dick J. Reavis is a contributing editor of The Texas Observer. 4 SEPTEMBER 19, 1980 their class, I need acceptance of any kind, and magazines need stories about the underclass. Editors indulge their charitable instincts by paying me to write tales about that class. A few months ago, displeased by articles I’d read about the Ku Klux Klan, I decided to get to know them myself. I put on my best Wrangler shirt, my pointed-toe cowboy boots, and a laundry-creased set of jeans, the costume of a rodeo reporter. I rented a car and drove from my home in Austin to Houston, where I crossed the ship channel to Pasadena, a refinery town. I passed by a local landmark, an X-rated drive-in with a saggy wooden fence, and drove up to a cement block building which in better days housed a motorcycle shop. Today, it is a bookstore and headquarters for the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Knights are the fastest-growing of some half-dozen Klans, and their Texas organization is probably the most strident of all Knights groupings. Even its sign says so: across the Pasadena office is hung the biggest Ku Klux Klan sign in the world, twenty times bigger than the plaque that hangs in New Orleans, outside the national office of the Knights. I parked my car and walked inside. I introduced myself to Louis Beam, who is Grand Dragon, or top dog, for the Knights in Texas. Our first words were mere pleasantries, but the interval it took to speak them gave me an opportunity to size up the man. Louis is in his early thirties. His