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I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony. I went up there and visited with Three him two or three times. times. The last time was the day of his execution. I didnt have to go but I iddd. I sure didnt want to. He’d killed a fourteen year old girl and I can tell you right now I never did have no great desire to visit with him let alone go to his execution but I done it. .11:144m440.4.14,+OMPIthe pepersisira said it was a crime of passion and he told me there wasnt no passion to it. He’d been detin this girl, young as she was. Re was nineteen. And he told me that he had been plennin to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he’d do it again. Told it to me out of his own mouth. Said he knew he was goin to hell. ^I dont know what to make of that. I surely dont. iilwde s-waylaetalet4t.eius=temr. I thought I’d r40.4 never seen valmbra person and it got me to wonderin if maybe he was some new kind. I watched them strap him into the seat and shut the about door. He might of looked a bit nervous about it but that weeAell. -ryv41 I really believe he 1pw tbmt he was goin to be in hell in fifteen minutes. I believe that. And I’ve thought about that a lot, beI4e,* 4llmr— ppwmpx. He was not hard to talk to. Called me Sheriff. But I didnt know whet to say to him. Whet do you say to a man that by his own soul? Why would you say an ts -IF\(Zialt .’0! 4044* .00.11 COA “40 ;Ilea atogzsorist if about it a lot. But oz. \\ 4 😛 Oa ‘S O f e g 5 IN EDJC_riP=01 141A.’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN “There’s a certain amount of arrogance in being a writer. They don’t want to think of their archives as going into the garbage heap when they’re gone.” Edited manuscript page from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men. a button-down shirt emblazoned with Royal Wulff fishing flies, his appearance is as august and unkempt as his office. “On one hand, the collection is a place of preservation,” Wittliff says. “But on the other hand, it’s a place of inspiration. Young writers or people with the itch to write can come in and see that all these guys are just folks who have the urge to create and to work their asses off at it. I absolutely know that if I had gone into a place like that when I was 16 or 17 or 18 and seen John’s manuscript or McMurtry’s or Cormac’s or whatever, and seen them scratched out and struggling to find just the right word, just the right sentence to express their thoughts, I’d have said, ‘Well, shit. These guys are working. I mean, I can do that.”‘ As a child who was frequently moved around Central Texas, Wittliff sought out frontporch storytellers. “It was a way of belonging,” Wittliff remembers. “I wanted to belong.” A love of books was a natural progression. “Bill had always been interested in books, but not had access to very many of them,” Sally says of her husband. “His mother married a guy who was a retiring cowboy. They moved to Blanco. He had some books. One of them was a Dobie book. Bill picked it up and discovered a story between those hard covers that his grandfather had told him. He said that lightbulbs went off in his head. That was the first time he realized that the stuff of his place and his life might be worthy of being on pages.” Wittliff earned an advertising degree from the University of Texas and then decided that wasn’t the world for him. After a stint at Southern Methodist University Press in Dallas, he returned to Austin, where he and Sally founded Encino Press in 1964, publishing Southwestern writers and subjects. “Starting the Encino Press was a way of being involved with books without being at risk personally,” Wittliff says. “Later, when I got more confident, I was willing to take my clothes off and lay down on the table. Which is what it is when you’re writing and really going for it.” Though Encino Press was successful, Wittliff eventually wanted a change in APRIL 18, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21