No Diamond in the Rough
JOE B. FRANTZ
T HIS ISSUE OF THE Southwestern Historical Quarterly MARKS THE
beginning of Volume LXXV. The diamond anniversary volume.
Three-quarters of a century ago it began. The Spanish American
War had not been fought. Cuba belonged to Spain, at least on paper.
So did Porto Rico. So did the Philippines. And the Ladrones. Winston
Churchill was on the threshold of prominence as a dashing young
journalist. Bismarck was fading and young Kaiser Wilhelm, having
subordinated his fear of horses, was proving regal and military. Russia
was a vast unknown, celebrated more for Tchaikowsky than for its
murky Czarist politics.
On a home note, Texas had open saloons, which in view of what
happened this past May makes one wonder again how often progress
is forward and how often it is simply circular. Eugene C. Barker was
a youth with ambitions to be a teacher. Walter Prescott Webb was
growing up as an almost vacant lad in West Texas, unfit for the farm
and not knowing how else to ease his restlessness. J. Frank Dobie
was a ranch boy, talking to horses and listening to Mexican vaqueros.
Rupert N. Richardson was six years old, barely able to read, much
less write the millions of words which he would pour out over the
next seven and one half decades.
Grover Cleveland was on his way out as President and William
McKinley was coming in. Eugene V. Debs was considered more dan-
gerous than all of Russia and China combined. The Texas public
school system was struggling to get off the ground and the intricate
Interscholastic League with all its competitive possibilities, both
athletic and literary, awaited birth a long time in the future.
What a lot of history has passed across the screen of time since
1897. In 1897 men fifty years of age spoke of the war with the same
personal bright memories as men of fifty speak of the war in 1971.
In fact, the men of 1897 had an advantage. No one asked which war,
whereas the fifty-year-old man now has to explain to anyone younger
that he is talking about World War II, not Korea or Viet Nam.
To be a veteran of a war, on whichever side, was semi-heroic. Further-
more, men could tell first-hand stories of conflicts with Indians, and
not be dismissed as old windbags, for every West Texas Community
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/. Accessed February 28, 2015.