Bet you can't readjust one.
These morsels of Texas's past are as irresistible to those of us with a taste for
history as the crispy contents of a bag of potato chips. Leave it to A. C. Greene,
the Sage of Salado, to package his tidbits of scholarship-substantial scholarship,
I should say-in these appealing little essays.
Do not expect to find in this book the usual parade of Texas heroes doing
their usual turns on stage. Greene's topics are mainly forgotten historical
nuggets or new slants on unforgettable ones.
Who, for example, but historian-novelist-journalist Greene will give you the
lowdown on the showmanship of showoff Confederate general John (Prince
John) Magruder? He had a personal theater built in Corpus Christi during the
Mexican War. In one production, U. S. Grant played Desdemona in an all-male
production of "Othello." War is hell on Shakespeare.
Who else will make a reader privy to the sumptuous secrets of rancher Chris-
topher Columbus Slaughter's early twentieth-century automobile? "Lum"
Slaughter of Dallas, who was known as Texas's biggest taxpayer, toured his vast
West Texas ranches in a specially designed Packard with a built-in toilet.
Who but A. C. Greene will reveal the last act of W. Lee (Pappy) O'Daniel as
senator from Texas? "As he was literally cleaning out his desk," writes Greene,
"his last act as senator was to appoint a young Texarkana man to the U.S. Naval
Acaderny ...." You guessed-H. Ross Perot.
This volume comprises scores of short pieces resembling the "Texas Sketches"
of Greene's popular Sunday column in the Dallas Morning News. As a steady
reader of his column. I recognized only one or two of the articles now between
covers. The others seemed freshly minted or cleverly retooled. He acknowledges
that readers of his column supplied topics for the book. The attractive volume is
one of a series honoring Frank Wardlaw, the late director of Texas A&M Press.
Most readers are aware that Texas entered the Union with an understanding
that Texans, if they chose to do so, could divide themselves into five American
states. Greene roughly defines five states-North, East, South, West, and Central
Texas-and selects sketches with sectional flavor from each. The author is at
pains to herd pieces into the designated pastures. It may be a stretch at times,
but the quality of the storytelling never suffers.
Greene compresses history into conveniently short takes for readers typically
busy and frequently interrupted. Once into "Sketches," I predict, many a reader
may just refuse to be interrupted.
Dallas Morning News KENT BIFFLE
A History of Quzntana: A Nineteenth-Century Coastal Port in Brazoria County, Texas. By
Martha Doty Freeman. Co-Principal Investigators: Elton R. Prewitt and Ross
C. Fields. (Austin: Prewitt and Associates, Inc., 1998. Pp. vii+94. Abstract,
acknowledgments, introduction, maps, illustrations, tables, references,
appendices. Free, paperback).
Quintana, at the mouth of the Brazos River was established about 1834 as a
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed August 28, 2015.