The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Notes and Documents
Son of Rising Star: Memoirs of a Texas Childhood
Ernest F. Patterson
Edited by Anthony S. Abbott*
E RNEST FINNEY PATTERSON WAS BORN IN RISING STAR, TEXAS, ON A SUBSIS-
tence farm and was named for the revivalist, Charles Finney, whom his
mother admired. He learned in his childhood to value every human be-
ing, and he spent his life fighting against social and economic injustice of
every kind. Following graduation from the Rising Star public schools in
1932 in the throes of the Great Depression, Finney Patterson at first
helped his father on the farm and then left home to work in the South
Texas oil fields to earn money for college. Two years later he enrolled at
the University of Texas at Austin to study chemical engineering but soon
shifted to economics. He studied there until his money ran out in 1936,
and then it was back to the oil fields. In 1939 he resumed formal studies
at Texas, transferring after one semester to Southwest Texas Teachers Col-
lege where he earned a teacher's certificate and received his B.S. degree
in 1941. He taught at the Blessing high school for one semester.
From 1941 to 1946, Patterson served in the U.S. Army. Although he
was philosophically opposed to war, his draft board refused to classify him
a conscientious objector on the grounds that he was not a member of a
pacifist religious denomination. Then the examining board for Officer
Candidate School rejected him on the grounds that he was too radical,
producing during the interview a photostatic copy of the flyleaf of the
first volume of Karl Marx's Das Kapital that Patterson had owned as a col-
*Anthony S. Abbott was a friend and colleague of Ernest Patterson's at Davidson College for
over twenty years. He is Charles A Dana Professor of English Emeritus and has published four crit-
ical books, three books of poems, and most recently a novel, Leavng Maggze Hope, the winner of
the 2003 Novella Prize.
VOL. CVII, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER 2003

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed December 20, 2014.