Southwestern Historical Quarterly
I called George Christian, then press secretary for Governor John B.
Connally. Dobie needed special gubernatorial dispensation to be bur-
ied in the cemetery, since he fit none of the regular categories of eligi-
bility. Apparently Dobie had made no preparations for his own fu-
neral. Governor Connally made the arrangements for Dobie to rest
where there is "grass and ground."
"Whoopee Ti Yi" with J. Frank Dobie
ELITHE HAMILTON KIRKLAND*
Like stampeding cattle, we were in a wild run! The microphone was
open-from Texas State Network to Station KNOW in Austin to J.
Frank Dobie at Radio House at the University of Texas. It was March
11, 1941, and the "Straight Texas" series, featuring Dobie, drama, and
song (on Tuesdays from 9:15 to 9:45 P.M.) was on the air! To the ac-
companiment of sound effects that conjured up trail thunder, Dobie
took the mike:
. . Frank Dobie talkin' . .. a stampede of a great herd of cattle is one of the
most awesome phenomena of nature . .. often it seems mysterious . .. a great
many things make a herd jumpy in the night . .. the smell of a polecat, a sud-
den yell, a wood rat flipping its tail against the nose of a sleeping steer, a horse
shaking an empty saddle . . . With a click of hoofs, clack of horns, and a roar
that shakes the earth, they are in a wild run! ..
The Radio House herd (cast, singers, musicians, engineers, directors,
and this writer) was also jumpy that night. To-the-second timing and
exact wording of scripts were required by the U.T. director of public
relations and by the network, or off the air you go! And no fooling. No
ad libbing. No pausing to tamp your pipe and reflect. People weren't
looking. They were listening. Keep it clear, clean, and lively. That's the
way it was done in 1941.
We all knew the risks of going on the air with J. Frank in the lead
position, with his original concept of time and his delight in rephrasing
what had already been set down. We grew wiser during the opening
As chief word-watcher, I was observing the metamorphosis of my
Dobie script into its third stage. He had approved and praised the
original. At rehearsal, it became a maze of mark-outs and scribbled in-
* Ehthe Hamilton Kirkland, author of Love Is a WaldAssault and other historical novels, lives in
Wimberley. A slightly different version of this essay appeared in the January 1988 Hall Country
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 May 5, 2015.