The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 129
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
mies," as he later called us. I never knew why Mr. Dobie was assigned the
task of motivating such an unenthusiastic group.
I was immediately attracted to Mr. Dobie, which was the way that I
always addressed him over the many years that I visited him. I was al-
ways Winfrey, without first name or title, as was the custom in 192os
classrooms. Since we did not have to sit alphabetically as in the big lec-
ture halls, I sat on the second row where I could watch him perform.
Mr. Dobie was thirty-eight years old and was entering some of his
most productive years. He had already edited four Texas Folklore So-
ciety publications, including Legends of Texas, which first brought na-
tional attention to the Society. It was the main source for the stories he
told in Coronado's Children, published in 1930. He had also published in
The Country Gentleman, a popular national magazine at that time.
In 1926 I was eighteen years old, the product of a small Texas town
high school, where study of English classics was required. I read and
enjoyed them and my history textbooks, but I had never heard of folk-
lore or of J. Frank Dobie. This gap in my education was to be filled rap-
idly. While he plunged immediately into reading to us with gusto from
our textbook by Snyder and Martin, hardly a class session passed that
he did not tell us a story of southwestern lore, just to get our attention.
I knew that this was for me.
He told us about his Uncle Jim and his Southwest Texas ranch. There
were stories about John Young, the central figure of A Vaquero of the
Brush Country; Ab Blocker and the XIT brand; Little Aubrey and his
celebrated ride from Santa Fe to Independence, Missouri, in six days
on a $1,ooo bet; lost mines, buried treasure, and rattlesnakes. I was
This is not to say that he was not a serious teacher of English litera-
ture. He loved to read poetry aloud. I remember well his relish in read-
ing the vivid hate portrayed by Robert Browning in "Soliloquy of the
Spanish Cloister," then in an opposite mood, William Wordsworth's "I
Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," which we were required to memorize.
Mr. Dobie sometimes became exasperated with the inattention of
some of the class and would threaten us with a pop quiz, which he
never gave. Once he stopped reading to tell a boy on the front row that
he could not appreciate Browning while chewing gum and to spit it out
the window. He was a strict grader and I was happy to get C's while I
was making A's and B's in my math, science, and engineering courses.
Early in the second semester, during the cedar-pollen season, Mr.
Dobie's hay fever was so severe that he had to leave Austin for relief.
One day just before giving up, he went to the restroom and came back
grinning with a roll of toilet paper for handkerchiefs. Of course he told
Here’s what’s next.
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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/m1/156/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.