The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 119
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
"Don't you think I'm entitled to my opinions?" snorted Dobie, shak-
ing his graying hair.
"Yeah, but I don't have to carry them in my newspaper," concluded
The two reflected extremes in politics, with the state split over the
firing of Dr. Homer Price Rainey as president of the University of
Texas and other questions. Dobie stood firmly with the Rainey faction
and spoke for liberalism throughout his career. Dealey was a hard-core
conservative, as well as a first-class writer before being elevated to head
the family firm. The two men admired each other, except on the sub-
ject of politics.
For many years my path crossed Dobie's-sometimes concerning poli-
tics, sometimes literature. He and Bertha, his wife, lived in a white
Cape Cod cottage on the south bank of Waller Creek, where she tended
the beautiful flowers and yard. In late afternoons, Dobie sometimes sat
in the shade along the creek and toasted life with a friend or two. We
lived across East Woods Park, north of the Dobies, in a cottage much
like theirs. Sadly, the Dobie residence is suffering from neglect since
their deaths. It should be preserved as a shrine to a man "made from
the old rock."
I saw Mrs. Dobie often in their yard. He was frequently gone from
home and, like me, never developed any zeal for yard work when he
was in residence. His turf was the second floor of the house. The huge
atticlike space was filled with books, pamphlets, memoirs of his career,
tables, and an old desk and typewriter, beside which usually sat a partly
consumed bottle of Jack Daniel bourbon.
While many of my contacts with and reports about Dobie concerned
his battles with the University of Texas Board of Regents and the state's
conservative political leaders, the contacts were much more pleasant
when they dealt with his work and philosophy about life excluding poli-
tics. Each meeting was warm, friendly, and often generous, for he would
offer me inscribed and autographed copies of his work.
In 1957, seven years before his death, Newsweek magazine assigned
me to obtain his views on American historical writing. Dobie's com-
ments, dated January 1i2, 1957, and liberally edited in pencil, were
typed on the backs of letters he had received. Interest in American his-
tory seemed to be growing, he said, adding, "I'm no expert on the
America has aged enough to have a fairly remote past. Like old china and
old furniture, the remote has for many people an interest not provided by the
immediate. For another thing, our superiority complex has so enormously de-
veloped that instead of regarding the proper study of mankind as man, many
Americans prefer the proper study of America as America.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/146/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.