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great person who wrote. That is why some of us who live in this place still revere them and shall as long as we go on, ourselves. Their realm of work was not really literature, but the culture. They were pioneers on the frontiers of inner freedom in a part of the country that had not yet granted its existence. They had, each of them, deep, personally-owned courage, but courage that was grounded in common, garden variety, selfregarding prudence. Seeing how these three old men had survived with honor and had somehow prevailed with integrity in this crushing Southwestern culture, some of us who were younger took heart and courage both. To write, yes: one of the really good writers from this state, Bill Brammer, said once, “It never occurred to me ever until read Frank Dobie, that I could be a writer. There simply were no writers in Texas.” But also to dissent, to laugh, to debunk, and to affirm, in many ways and for the long haul. We have not yet produced a great literature in Texas. We know we haven’t. But we know we can. In ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, pre-revolutionary Russia, the transcendentalists’ New England, the American South, there were never vast numbers of people involved. What occurred was mysterious, private, happening sometimes among a few contemporaries, and the culture was somehow right . . . steaming and active, vividly colloquial, ready to be free. Perhaps we could do it here now. We think of these three old geezers alternately so longingly and so cruelly because we have not done it yet. We want them to be our Seneca, Thycydides, and Homer, our Johnson, Gibbon, and Swift, our Proust, Zola, and Voltaire, our Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, but their culture was not ready to be free, and neither were they; I think they knew, each of them and the three of them as friends, that they were preliminary. And that was OK! they were realistic men. I can almost hear old Bedi saying now back to all of us here “Go on with you! Why, this is foolishness! We are all dead, and although we are glad we are still read and you still care about us and remember that we did some good work balderdash! We know as well as you do, we didn’t do it, we didn’t even get you started doing it. Dammit, if you want a great literature, stop blaming us for not giving it to you and write it yourself! “Now I feel like a swim at Barton’s, lie in the sun a little, and then let’s go to El Rancho for some Mexican food.” El LIFE ON WALLER CREEK: A PALAVER ABOUT HISTORY AS PURE AND APPLIED EDUCATION By Joseph Jones Austin: AAR/Tantalus, Inc., 1982, $17.95 Urbana, Ill. “There’s an old codger down on Waller Creek, rearranging rocks. What in the world is he trying to do?” Student query. THE OLD codger down on Waller Creek is Joseph Jones, professor emeritus of English at the Univer sity of Texas, an Austin inhabitant since 1935, a well-read man, a humane man, a Thoreauvian scholar, a lover of nature, Thinking. It is hardly peculiar that the student was puzzled by Jones’ activities on Waller Creek. Citizens of Concord little understood Henry David Thoreau during his lifetime. Thoreau’s poetic, close observations made mostly in a limited area near Walden Pond, his scathing social commentary, his radical, antiestablishment views made most Concordians regard him as a shiftless crank. Joseph Jones may well be misunderstood now by some university students and by some Austin burghers, but he is likely to be appreciated by environmentalists, by free spirits, and by those who enjoy essays by authors who are fully in command of their craft. In Life on Waller Creek, Jones is a close observer of life along and in that stream he is a social historian and critic who becomes more outspoken, more radical as he moves along the polluted, exploited stream. He sees that the Austin power structure after World War II “was committed to growth-at-any-price and ready or perhaps even a little eager to attack whatever looked like a deviation or a countertendency. . . . Wartime politics George Hendrick lives a few feet from the banks of the Boneyard, the Waller Creek of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. . . . linked with wartime profit-taking and dreams of postwar grandeur, had placed the developer-exploiter type so firmly in control that he was everywhere, not least on the Board of Regents of the University of Texas, where the longhallowed system of gubernatorial political appointments guaranteed him a place in gratitude for favors rendered.” The terrible havoc caused by the developer-exploiter is everywhere to be seen in Austin, Dallas, Urbana, and thousands of cities and counties. Jones’ account of the Rainey episode and the Battle of Waller Creek this mini-essay on Frank Erwin and the destruction of trees along Waller is a masterpiece shows how clearly he understands causes and implications, how clearly he apprehends reality. Joseph Jones also believes that natural beauty should be preserved. In his preface, he remarks: “Beauty is not a luxury; it is a necessity, a positive agency of survival, a deterrent to the terrorism with which our world is infested. And in cities, most of all those which, like ours, are growing too fast we should be giving high priority to preserving every natural pocket still available, with the practical aim of helping preserve ourselves.” Jones finds beauty on Waller Creek, no less a likely spot for inspiring illumination than Walden. His inventories contain listings of many found \(discardA very rusty pipe-fragment, ready to disintegrate when the next hard rain sends rocks to grind it … Jet-fighter noises directly overhead, cracking and crinkling up the very essence of things in wave after wave. . . . I look down the rocky bed and see that the Creek theless represents a kind of comforting continuity. I look up at the sky and know, or think I do, that the sun changes too; that a time will come when it will no longer make light for us and warm us. In Chapter 7 \(“What/When/How Will of learning/teaching as powerful as that in Our Invaded Universities, exposing the absurdities of our current system of lectures, quiz sections, and grades. He proposes major changes leading to per Wading in Waller Creek By George Hendrick THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21