The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 140
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"I notice you've got four whole shelves of Bibles... hell, I've counted
twenty different white ones. Abilene's as bad as Waco about religion, I
suppose, but there's not a store in Waco with this many Bibles. You
ought to get some Texana in here if you want to stay in business. You've
got too many Bibles."
I gave Dobie a very creative response, telling him that with three col-
leges in town there were a lot of brides and they all carried white Bibles,
so I had to stock a full line, in hopes of upgrading the bride from a
$3-95 white plastic cover to a $19.95 full leather Oxford that she could
pass along to her daughters and granddaughters when they got mar-
ried. I waxed so authentic on the point I got to believing it myself.
Dobie snorted. "You ought to pay more attention to the Southwest.
Get rid of this 'best-seller' stuff. If you don't know anything about
Texas books, find out. You ought not be in the book business in Texas if
you don't know Texas literature."
I'll admit, what I heard as his tone of superiority annoyed me. But I
wasn't going to admit I was broke and going broker in the book busi-
ness. I tried to defend my mercantile practices by telling him I had a
few Texas items, of the used variety, and took him back to where I kept
a pitiful little stock of secondhand books. Dobie spotted Heaven's My
Destination, by Thornton Wilder, and said sharply, "That's no Texas
book." I was overjoyed when he said it because not only is a large part
of that book about Texas, it has two or three specific pages about Abi-
lene. Perhaps I overplayed my hand, or was it merely the arrogance of
youth? (I was a brash twenty-eight at the time.) Instead of entering into
a valuable discussion of Texas writing with its master interpreter-and
despite what Dobie thought, I did know enough to have contributed a
few points-I got on the defensive and put him on it, too, and he
walked out of my store irritated, no doubt, that the sale of his work and
the size of his royalties were in the hands of such a yahoo.
More years passed. By 1960 I was in Dallas, book-page editor of the
Dallas Times Herald, and by 1961 was making a modest amount of waves
throughout the literary community. I received a letter from Dobie
praising my review of John Graves's Goodbye to a River. The Old Master
came to town and I was introduced to him at a big party. To my great
relief, he didn't seem to recognize me. (I was not allowed to interview
him because his column appeared in our competitor, the Dallas Morn-
The Texas Institute of Letters held its annual meeting in Dallas in
1962, and Frank Dobie arrived to the sound of trumpets and drums, of
course. After the awards dinner he and I attended a party given by the
late Frances Mossiker, whose The Queen's Necklace had just won the
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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/m1/167/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.