The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 131
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
having had a Mexican taxicab driver take me from the airport to the
Dobie's Waller Creek residence.
I was unprepared for the courtly manner of the Texas professor, and
I was also surprised by his resemblance to Charlie Russell, with the
same shock of white hair over his forehead, as he graciously guided me
into their home and immediately began to show me his Russell collec-
tion. Then I listened to him describe how none of the other western
artists had really felt or understood the West as Charlie had captured it
in his works. He derided artists like Remington, who only traveled to
the West, but Charlie had 'lived' the West all of his life.
When later we walked out onto a big screened-in porch, I remarked
on the many figures of roadrunners on display around the room, say-
ing, "Oh, maestro, you like the roadrunner?" And his taciturn answer
was, "It's my totem." This was the first time that I had heard the word
used in this way, and it made me think about the valiant characteristics
of this admirable animal, and I decided then and there that I, too,
would adopt the word for my vocabulary and use it with my own long-
time love of the eagle.
During our talk about our favorite authors, and in particular, writers
on the history of the Mexican-Texas border country, I inquired if he
knew the writer who lived in Mexico City named Anita Brenner, who
had written the book titled The Wind That Swept Mexico: He responded
with quick enthusiasm, "But she was my pupil, the brightest I ever
had!" With that mutual admiration established, he asked if I would like
to go upstairs and see his library, and I eagerly followed him up to a
marvelous treasure trove of books.
In his library there were stacks and stacks of books from floor to ceil-
ing and he showed me his favorites, very carefully, some for the writ-
ing, some for the research, some for the bindings, and a book of Dickens
titled American Notes, with an illustration by Charlie Russell.' He spoke
of how lonely the Englishman must have felt in this country, and how
he, too, had felt, longing for the Southwest during the cold winters at
Oxford in England. I then described how I had tried to find a sense of
place as a child and had grown up, in many parts of the world, always
seeing the bronze of Russell's called Secrets of the Night on my father's
nightstand, which through the years was the constant symbol of the
Dobie possessed a copy of Charles Dickens's American Notes, which was published as volume
ii in Richard Garnett (ed.), The Complete Works of Charles Dickens (30 vols.; London: Chapman
& Hall, 19igoo). Charles M. Russell drew an mink portrait, dated 1911, on page 193 of the book.
The portrait is apparently Pitchlynn, head chief of the Choctaw tribe, whom Dickens describes
on that page as being dressed in "our ordinary every-day costume." Dobie wrote in the margin:
"Not so min Russell drawing." The book is now min the Doble Library, which is a part of the Harry
Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
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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/m1/158/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.