a statement of why we let him go said he would not resign, he would rather have a trial, and he was the one, as far as I was concerned, that practically convinced me he wasn’t guilty. What happened in the interim, I don’t know; anyhow, he’s gone,” Bullington told the committee. But when the Board had met in Houston on October 27, 1944, Joseph’s resignation was on the table. The meeting lasted through November 1, on which date, by a vote of six to two, the Board of Regents removed Homer P. Rainey from the office of President of the University. Following the vote, Regents Bickett, Weinert and Harrison resigned. A Belgian-born woman named Madeleine Derdeyn-Joseph \(no relation to remembers that she was hired mid-year to replace Joseph, with money released by his dismissal. She never met Joseph and does not recall many of the details concerning his departure, other than that it was for reasons of homosexuality. Joseph’s sins, if any, were known only through reports. He was never charged with or indicted for anything. The wreck of Joseph’s teaching career was but the start of his afflictions. His mother died in 1948. After Mrs. Joseph’s death, he found it necessary to sell precious family heirlooms to make ends meet, and finally sold the house. The bulky correspondence with his Rinehart editor reveals that Joseph tried valiantly to deliver a big book in the wake of his lost teaching position. Lurton Blassingame, his agent in New York, pushed hard for a publication date as well, but no one living today seems to know exactly why the book deal fell through. Henry Holt now owns the Rinehart literary properties, but has no copy of Joseph’s lost manuscript. During his last year of teaching, Joseph produced a commissioned book entitled Ten Million Acres: The Life of William Benjamin Munson, written in collaboration with Mary Tonkin Smith and privately printed in New York in 1946. He also wrote book reviews intermittently for the San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin newspapers, and family members say he lived for a time at the Y.M.C.A. in San Antonio, where he taught bridge classes. In 1956, Joseph was named an editor by the Naylor Publishing Company of San Antonio \(apparently as part of a planned expansion of the company trade textbook and subsidy publishing. The lack of a regular income forced Joseph finally to seek refuge with relatives. One family member said that Aunt Laura, “who was an angel,” kept him for a time. Then Aunt Nellie, “who was older,” may have tended to Joseph until she herself had to be placed in a nursing home. Finally, Aunt Mamie, “who was not too sweet,” seems to have been the last to look after Joseph. As far as I can tell, Joseph endured his humiliation and the subsequent setbacks in his career and personal life with stoic detachment. He never wrote a word about what happened, nor did he discuss it with family or friends. Even his cousin, Frances Oliver, got her information about Joseph’s troubles from another cousin. Where, then, does Donald Joseph fit in the panoply of Texas letters? Early in his teaching and writing career, Joseph’s rendering into English of The Story of Champ D ‘Asile was brought out by the Book Club of Texas; this book, which brings a good price on the antiquarian market, is the only item in the Joseph bibliography much sought after today. As a fiction writer, he was a master of the swoon, employing a floridly emotional style no longer fashionable. His novels are almost impossible to find, although one of the academic reprint houses has recently re-issued October’s Child, in an expensive library edition. A passage from October’s Child reflects Joseph’s quaint narrative style; it recounts the reaction of the sensitive, idealistic protagonist, Lucius Deering, after overhearing his college roommate, Julien, make a date with a prostitute over the boardinghouse telephone: The receiver of the phone in the upstairs corridor clicked and Julien sauntered back into his own room. He sang, rather loudly, in the exultation of his body. The boy [Lucius] in the downstairs hall sat lurched forward, the hand that held the receiver fallen to his knee, his staring eyes fixed unseeingly ahead of him. The pandemonium set up in his ears by the woman’s voice had increased until it deafened him with its roarings and its screamings. The sirens of the Judgment with their mighty screeching blasts heralded the collapse of a beautiful idea. A thousand incoherent thoughts rushed wildly about in his burning brain, and from the great mass of vicious, torturing ideas there emerged one small and constantly lurid spot that grew until it covered the whole field of his vision; until the redness of its flame translated itself into a deafening roar of color; until the very flesh of his inert palms grew carmine; and from the ardent center of all this violent redness there was detached the realization that Julien had lied to him, had been unfaithful to his vow of chastity, had got unclean, had defiled himself had been a dog for lust, had befouled himself in the basest of all ways, and with a woman who was the butt of every fraternity house on the campus. For hours, it seemed to him, he sat there and not once did he think of himself, so lost was he in the contemplation of the awful thing that had happened to the boy he had loved better than a brother. Julien’s vileness grew tangible as he cowered there in the dark and he thought of the boy’s beautiful body, that fine coordination of limb, that proudly turned head…. As one critic put it, “… something is vastly wrong here.” Perhaps, but there’s about such a luminous naivete. About Joseph’s second book, Long Bondage, Lon Tinkle wrote in his Dallas News review: “In almost no sense were his people types conditioned by the pioneer spirit, by the prairie or the Southern scene. With this one work, one might say, he placed Texas fiction in the line of Proust and the psychological novel.” A glance at Long Bondage indeed confirms that in no dugout: Linens bed, table and bath were laundered on the Deering place twice a week; but no smallest article of it, not even a humble wash-rag made of two thicknesses of old towels, under any circumstances ever came into its ultimate employ until it had reposed for one solid month in special, tight cupboards, rosegeranium leaves and lemon verbena freely crumpled or laid within its spotless folds. Had this time-honored rule been violated, Lora would have felt as mortified as if she had offered you a spoon with hard yellow of egg in the bowl. 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 10, 1998
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