J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
Thirty years later that book was published as The Blue Train. By then
I was seventy-one and Dobie had been gone for thirteen years. He once
wrote, "When I like a man my nature goes out to him and warms him."
That warmth has never left me.
A Bookman Remembers J. F. D.
My earliest years were spent on a Nueces County farm between the
old town of Petronila and the new one of Violet. It was the time of
Aladdin lanterns, battery-powered radios, treadle sewing machines,
and mud roads. Listening to the Atwater Kent radio and reading by
lantern light were the principal after-dark diversions.
In retrospect, it seems to me that our household was richer in read-
ing matter than perhaps I realized. I still have Daddy's complete short
stories of O. Henry, bound in limp red leatherette. This work enter-
tained him on many a late winter evening. There were a lot of maga-
zines, too. Subscriptions must have been awfully cheap in those days. I
remember such weeklies as Life, Newsweek, and Saturday Evening Post,
and monthlies like Capper's Farmer, Country Gentleman, and Holland's,
plus Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal for Mama.
If I had known at five what I know at fifty, I would have saved a bunch
of those old Country Gentleman, Holland's, and Saturday Evening Post
magazines. A good many had contributions by a writer whose work I
came to admire and respect. Alas, J. Frank Dobie's name never became
fixed in my mind until some ten years later, when my family had left
South Texas and taken up residence at my present home in Stringtown.
In the winter of 1949-1950, as Daddy lay recovering from a severe
coronary attack, his friend Bryan Wildenthal loaned him a copy of
Dobie's Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. Wildenthal was one of a pioneer
ranching family from around Cotulla. He was an avid collector and
reader of any and everything pertaining to borderland history and
folklore. He remained true to his roots. While recuperating from gall-
bladder surgery at Austin's Brackenridge Hospital about 1965, he de-
manded and received an evening meal of incendiary Tex-Mex. He had
no sooner finished and pronounced it satisfactory than he was seized
with a stroke from which he never regained consciousness. His exit was
as fitting in its way as that of rancher Tom O'Connor, about whom Dobie
wrote in I'll Tell You a Tale.' But I digress.
*AI Lowman is on the staff at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio.
'J. Frank Dobie, I'll Tell You a Tale (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., g196o), 46-47.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed July 14, 2014.