Southwestern Historical Quarterly
J. Frank Dobie:
As Seen by the Child Next Door
JANE KING FOHN*
The J. Frank Dobie books are not in the pristine condition that they
were once: many years of reading them have taken a toll. A legacy of
autographed Dobie books commenced with the Christmas greeting on
the flyleaf of On the Open Range:
For our dear and delightful
wishing her a happy Christmas.
Bertha & Frank Dobie
On Waller Creek
This book was designed to transport children to the enthralling world
of the Old West through stories about mustangs, longhorned cattle,
wildlife, Indians, lost mines, and much, much more.
After thirty-six years, I returned to my shelf of Dobie books and
went back "On Waller Creek" to dust off my memories. The similar
two-story white-frame houses stood side by side at 702 and 7o6 Park
Place (now East 26th Street), with Waller Creek at the rear of the prop-
erties. Park Place was a quiet two-lane street, curving from the Waller
Creek bridge around the Dobie yard, then east uphill under a canopy
of trees in front of the King home. Today the street is a busy multi-
laned thoroughfare and the University of Texas has intruded to the
Four-leaf-clover cut-outs in the shutters on the J. Frank Dobie house
have not brought it much luck. My eyes misted emotionally as I studied
the peeling paint and the scarce remnants of what had once been the
most beautiful yard in Austin. Scaffolding in the yard represented a ray
J. Frank Dobie's study was easily visible from my bedroom window.
He worked with a green eyeshade over white hair defiant of restraint,
and always smoked a pipe. In his desk he kept a list headed "Jane
King," so that each book he gave me would be a different one.
Mr. Dobie shared Mrs. Dobie's enthusiasm for the garden. We often
watched him taking guests for a tour of the yard, maybe pointing out
*Jane King Fohn is a magazine editor lihvming in Leander.
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 31, 2014.