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photo by Jana Birchum G-men. A-women. A-Ann. 10 years difference, and she could have been president BY MOLLY IVINS FEATURE Harry Porko first appeared in the lobby of some Wall Street firmSmith, Merrill, Barney, & Asshole, I believewhere the treasurer of Texas had been left to cool her heels while waiting to sign a multibilliondollar deal. Harry was the classic Texas sex ist. He wore a rubber pig nose and waved a cigar while holding forth on the treatment of girls. “Now, my girls, I pay ’em less than my men, but they don’t mind that. Because, first I give ’em the uniform, the brown jumpsuit, and that’s special ’cause it’s got a yellow rose over the breast pocket. And then the hairnet, they love the hairnet.” Ann Richards’ public life was mostly about gender. She was outrageous and courageous on behalf of women everywhere. She was also a legendary campfire cook, a beautiful ballroom dancer \(she did do everything Fred Astaire did, backwards just as good as at-the-moment quips as at telling great stories, a reluctant hunter \(“first, you have to get up at four in the great laugher, fine canoeist, former drunk, and first woman governor of Texas to get there on her own credentials. In retrospect, it sounds almost easy. I believe if Ann had been born 10 years earlier or started 10 years later, she could have been president. But it’s easy to forget how firmly sexism ruled this culture. Dorothy Ann Willis was born the only child of Cecil and Mildred Iona Willis in a small town near Waco, at the nadir of the Depression. Her daddy was a salesman, and her mother sewed all Ann’s clothes. She was encouraged to excel from the beginning. Her father always told her she could do anything she wanted. “I was in college before I found out he was wrong,” she said. Nevertheless, the gift of self-confidence was there. Ann graduated Waco High, where she was a debate star. She 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 6, 2006