-40 Yarborough campaigning, Paris, Texas. 1954. you?’ And I told him,” Pinnelli recalled. “And he said, ‘Well, you will be old enough to vote one day: … And sure enough, you know, I ended up old enough to vote for him.” Pinnelli also ended up old enough to work for Yarborough when the politician ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1972. By then, Yarborough was nearly 69, but his energy still surpassed that of volunteers in their early 20s. “‘Whoever went on the road with him came back just completely and totally spent,” Pinnelli said. Jim Boren, another former aide, remembers Yarborough at his peak. In the summer of ’56, Boren showed up at Yarborough campaign headquarters with “two weeks of vacation and a station wagon.” By the end of the campaign he was manager, a position he kept when Yarborough ran for Senate the following year. Boren, an author and retired professor at Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University, remembers the courthouse circuit in those years well: “We had some boys that played music, and they were called the Cass County Coon Hunters. So we would send that team, those musicians, country-style music, ahead to get the crowd together as he was coming in from the last stop…. As he was coming into the edge of town, they’d say, `Here, he’s coming now!’ So we’d get the crowd all excited, and then they’d take off for the next town.” Then Yarborough would speak. He would preach against Photos by Russell Lee/Courtesy the Center for American History, UT-Austin the state’s conservative Democratic establishment with a booming voice and a populist message. He preached about “putting the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it,” though he wouldn’t use those exact words until his 1958 senatorial campaign. Yarborough’s voice would become so strained after a day on the trail that Boren packed lemons in his briefcase. “He’d cut a lemon, and he’d squeeze it, and he’d suck on that lemon as a means of helping keep his vocal chords strong,” Boren recalled. “He used those lemons to good effect.” Yarborough’s political success required what Pinnelli described as “oceans of volunteers,” particularly since he had far fewer major donors than did his opponents. It was more than charisma that attracted many of his closest supporters. For many, it was his bookish grasp of history, an intellectualism upon which he based many of his policy decisions, that earned him their respect. Yarborough was a voracious reader. His former administrative assistant, Gene Godley, remembers him as a “bibliophile” who would stay up scanning book catalogs and reading in his library until all hours of the night. “Probably outside of the University of Texas, it may have been one of the best Southwest libraries,” Godley said. “He had the most incredible cross-referenced mind. He knew his library, he knew his books and SEPTEMBER 21, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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