2002 A Brief Peace: The Postwar Years of George Sessions Perry 67
novel," then added, pointedly: "Many times in the last year I have
thought of you-unfailingly with love. I have not joined you in your
political conflicts. The next time I see you, I'd like to discuss the reasons
why." The reasons were unrecorded, though Perry's vulnerable position
as a reporter for a conservative publisher easily comes to mind. Recently,
he had declined a reader's suggestion to write an article on Rainey's
campaign, though he subsequently praised conservative Texas governor
Allan Shivers in print as "extremely personable" and "intelligent."
Delicately, the sympathetic Perry managed to express in a newspaper
essay his remorse at Dobie's dismissal, while avoiding political issues.
I never met a man more liked by the people who really knew him, be they
intellectuals or cow pokes, than Frank Dobie ... To us Southwestern writers, who
have tried to follow in his footsteps, he has been like a father in the bounty which
he has presented us .... Until the university gives Dobie back to the people of
Texas to whom he belongs, the state's conscious can never rest easy, nor can
Texas erase from its heart a tormenting little yellowish-grain stain of dishonor.19
Curiously, as the cities series wound down, affording Perry more time
for freelancing, he took up another. He explained the motivation for
the "Your Neighbors" series, which the Post carried in eight installments
in the fall of 1948, as deriving from a desire to quell a public mood of
disharmony. Perry had sounded a warning against contentiousness in a
newspaper article in late 1944: "We have picked up the biggest booby
trap the war has laid ... it [is] marked Hate ... just about everybody has
yielded to the desire ... to feel imposed upon." More than a year later,
he stated his continued concern in an interview, "Everywhere I go I find
the unrest enormous and obvious." By mid-1947 the idea had gestated
sufficiently to present to his editors.
I said it seemed to me there was a feeling in the air . .. which seemed to cause all
of us to get sick in the stomach at the sight of each other and that any little dif-
ference in origin, race, or religion seemed to aggravate that condition. It has
long been my belief that one segment ... of the ... [population] seemed about
as ornery or funny or decent as the other.20
Critics have dubbed the series, which profiled various ethnic families
across the nation, as saccharine and artificially nationalistic. Rather than
"9Perry to Dobie, June 7, 1947, Doble Recip. Perry, Perry Collection (1st quotation); Works,
Perry Collection (2nd quotations); Dallas News, Nov. 9, 1947 (block quotation). For biographies
on Dobie see Francis Edward Abernethy, J. Frank Dobse (Austin: Steck-Vaughn, 1967); Winston
Bode, A Portrazt of Pancho: The Lzfe of a Great Texan, J Frank Dobse (Austin, Pemberton Press,
1965); Lon Tinkle, An Amencan Ongenal: The Lzfe of J. Frank Dobse (Boston: Little, Brown, 1978).
"0Tccl to SEP, Aug. 29, 1948, Letters A-Z, Perry Collection (3rd quotation); "Untitled Article
on Hatred," appeared in Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1944, Works, Perry Collection (1st quotation);
Portland EvenzngExpress, Mar. 23, 1946, Letters Recip. P-Q, Perry Collection (2nd quotation).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed May 5, 2016.