80 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
COLONEL CY. 8. OBERLY.
IN the early '80's there were a lot of first-class newspaper
men in Houston. The Galveston News had a very large
circulation here and generally kept two or three men in
their Houston branch office. Then there were two or three
pretty good local papers here and all these had good men on
them. There were good reporters, bad reportes and a good
sprinkling of amateur reporters. Among all the distinguished
ones there was one who stood out prominently as both a good
newspaper man, fine writer and gentleman, Colonel Cy. S. Oberly.
All those who were so fortunate as to know the colonel will
agree with me in saying that he was a man and gentleman from
the crown of his head to the sole of his foot.
The colonel was more of an author than a newspaper man.
He was a good writer, but not a good news-gatherer, but he
never got left in the shuffle, for the other boys always looked
out for his interest. He wrote books, poems and newspaper
verses and paid more attention to the trimmings than to the
serious things of life. He had been a Texas ranger and had
served on the Rio Grande for about three years, so he had a
rich fund of personal experience to draw on for his books, which
were about Mexican outlaws and wild Indians. They used to tell
an amusing story on the colonel, but always when they were
certain he was absent. He had just issued one of his thrilling
frontier stories and all his friends in Memphis, where he was
living, were reading and praising it. There was an old printer
working on the morning paper who was considered the best
critic in the country, for no other reason in the world than that
he said he was himself. He criticised everything from the Bible
down. All newspaper men will recognize him, for there was
never a newspaper office that did not have among its printers
one of this type. They are as necessary to a composing room
as the printers' devil and the dirty towel. One morning Colonel
Oberly was taking an ice cream soda and discussing his last
novel with the barkeep, when the latter said: "Colonel, here
; hide behind the counter and I will ask him
about your book, and then you can get his real opinion, which
I know will be flattering to you."
The colonel thought it a good idea and hopped behind the
counter. When the critic came in and had his whiskey set out
in front of him the barkeep asked him, casually, if he had read
Colonel Oberly's last novel.
"Yes," growled the old printer, "and he stole every line of it
from Ned Buntline."
That was more than the. colonel could stand, and, yelling:
"You liar" he rose from behind the counter with the ice pick
in his hand and took after the critic. It was a hot chase. The
critic got away, but lost his drink. There were two shocked
and surprised individuals that morning. Colonel Oberly expected
to hear all kinds of praise for his book and got the opposite,
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed April 18, 2014.