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All the Way from Yoakum

The Personal Journey of a Political Insider

By Marjorie Meyer Arsht

Publication Year: 2006

All the Way from Yoakum tells the story of the long, eventful life of a Jewish “good girl” from small-town Texas who became a remarkable woman of her time and a leading light in Houston and Texas politics. One of the founders of the modern Republican Party in Texas, Marjorie Meyer Arsht served as a state party committeewoman and was the first Jewish woman to run as a Republican for the state legislature. Becoming active in politics in the 1950s, she was closely involved in the early career of George H. W. Bush. A member of the prominent Texas family (Meyer, Cohen) that owned Foley Brothers department store and gave Cohen House to Rice University, she recalls the contentious mid-century division in the Jewish community over the issue of Zionism that split congregations and turned friends into bitter antagonists. Formerly president of the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood, Arsht served as a national spokesperson for a major American anti-Zionist organization. When she turned seventy, Arsht was working as a speechwriter and high-level assistant in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington while also serving as a regent of Texas Southern University, where she spearheaded a number of important reforms. In addition, she continued to run the small, independent energy development and investment company founded by her late husband. From her childhood as a member of one of the few Jewish families in small-town Yoakum, Texas, to her years of political activism and social involvement, she offers a moving account of an indomitable spirit, one that will provide both inspiration and an understanding of how the Republican Party came to be the dominant force in Texas politics.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Front Matter

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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

One day in 1996, I watched my little great‑granddaughters playing educational games, their heads bent over a computer. They lived in California at Vandenburg Air Force Base, where their father, my grandson Jim, was stationed. I suddenly realized they would never know what it was like to grow up in Yoakum, Texas, in the early part...

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Chapter 1. Yoakum

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pp. 3-23

Born in Galveston, Texas, my father managed the Woodring logging camp in Sweetville, Louisiana, ten miles from Lake Charles. Sweetville was hardly a town at all, just a few buildings housing the workers and a country store. My father traveled to town on horseback and then engaged a carriage and a matched pair of prancing stallions...

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Chapter 2. Rice, the Sorbonne, and New York

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pp. 24-50

Dressed in my best dark printed dress, with its snug waist and accordion‑pleated skirt, I wondered briefly whether I were under-dressed without a hat and gloves. As Mama drove away, I walked toward the impressive arch of what I assumed was the main building, hearing my high heels crunch as they sank into the gravel driveway...

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Chapter 3. Teaching, Marriage, and Family

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pp. 51-128

Late in the summer of 1935, I received my degree from Columbia University and left New York for home without any clear objective. I did have a couple of firm resolves: I would not live in Yoakum and I didn’t want to teach school. Mainly I just wanted to rest since I had been going to school one way or another for all...

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Chapter 4. Public Life

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pp. 129-180

The balance of the fifties was a strange period for me. I had no desire for any contact with my sister, and yet, since she had been so much a part of our lives, there was a void. In the absence of continual absorption with family matters, I found myself focusing my attention on public affairs...

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Chapter 5. The Later Years

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pp. 181-239

My daughter Margot was living in California, where she settled following her elopement some years earlier with Don Lane, an airman stationed at Ellington Field in Houston. Because we had known very little about Don or his family, our anxiety at the time had been considerable. After her difficult childhood...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 241-

After the professor’s untimely death, a group of his students were reluctant to forsake the writing environment so they have met for years every other Saturday in a classroom on the campus of Rice University. Kathryn Brown, Judith Finkel, Madeline Westbrook, Bob Hargrove, Elizabeth Hueben, Linda Jacobs, Karen...

Index

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pp. 243-254


E-ISBN-13: 9781603445450
E-ISBN-10: 1603445455
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444762
Print-ISBN-10: 1585444766

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 22 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2006

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Subject Headings

  • Republican Party (Tex.) -- Biography.
  • Texas -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • Politicians -- Texas -- Biography.
  • Yoakum (Tex.) -- Biography.
  • Arsht, Marjorie Meyer, 1914-.
  • Jewish women -- Texas -- Biography.
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