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Even as a reporter, Paredes wrote poetry and essays about the culture essays that would appear in El Heraldo. He also wrote a novel, George Washington Gomez, but the book remained in manuscript form until 1990, when Artelico Press in Houston published it. Paredes enlisted in the Army in 1941, and worked as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes. After the war, he stayed in the Far East for five years, working for the Red Cross in China, Korea and Manchuria. In Japan, he married Amelia Nagamine, daughter of an Argentine diplomat. “People don’t realize that he got his Ph.D. at 40,” University of Texas historian Ricardo Romo, a longtime Paredes friend, points out. “The odds of a young poet growing up in Brownsville, Texas, working in a grocery store and on a newspaper, the odds [against] that individual becoming a college professor are great, especially in light of the detours that he took in his. life. But he always had this great desire to be a writer, and he pursued. it, and he beat the odds.” Paredes got his B.A. in English and philosophy in 1951, his M.A. in English and Spanish in 1953 and his Ph.D. in English and Spanish in 1956, all from the University of Texas at Austin. He becathe an instructor in English at UT in 1954, and a full professbr 11 years later. His first book, the celebrated With His Pistol in His Hand, would not have been published, Paredes says, “except for a few fortunate accidents.” The fact that he was allowed to get a Ph.D. in English with work on the Mexican-American corrido was itself unusual. Two influential Americ men recognized that Paredes’ study of a ballad in the making, a study seasoned with insightful interpretations of Border life and culture, was groundbreaking and significant. They became his champions on a campus that had never been particularly welcoming to Mexican-American students or scholars. One of the men was Robert Stephenson, something of a maverick at the University of Texas in English and Spanish; Stephenson guided Paredes’ dissertation. The other was Stith Thompson, an eminent folklore scholar who had recently retired from the University of Indiana. Thompson, who had begun his teaching career at UT in 1914, came back to Austin as a visiting professor. He asked to be part of Paredes’ dissertation committee. Thompson recommended the dissertation to the University of Texas Press, and the press o Paredes agreed to publish it with a few changes. As editor Frank Wardlaw explained to the author, UT Press just couldn’t afford to print what some might construe as derogatory remarks directed at those living legends J. Frank Dobie, the writer and folklorist, and Walter Prescott Webb, the University of Texas historian who had written the definitive work on the Texas Rangers. And some of Paredes’ less-than-flattering remarks about the legendary Rangers would have to go as well. As Wardlaw explained it, UT Press was concerned about possible lawsuits. In The Texas Rangers, Webb wrote: “Without disparagement, it may be said that there is a cruel streak in the Mexican nature…. For making promises and for breaking them he [the Mexican warrior] had no peer.” JANE LEVINE/COURTESY OF TEXAS FOLKLIFE RESOURCES In The Great Plains, the acclaimed UT historian had written that the Spanish “failure” on the Great Plains was the result of miscegenation with the Mexican Indian, “whose blood, when compared with that of the Plains Indian, was as ditch water.” Paredes, with pointed satire, skewers the racist notions cloaked in the robes of scholarly objectivity. “Professor Webb does not mean to be disparaging,” he wrote in one of the passages that disturbed UT Press. “One wonders what his opinion might have been when he was in a less scholarly mood and not looking at the Mexican from the objective point of view of the historian.” About the Texas Rangers, Paredes had written: “If all the books written about the Rangers were put on top of the other, the resulting pile would be almost as tall as some THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17