On Politics and Parks
People, Places, Politics, Parks
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I first met George Bristol when I worked for the Texas Nature Conservancy in the early 1980s. At the time George served as chairman of The Texas Conservation Foundation and we worked together to add several key parcels to the San Jacinto Battleground, site of the victory which won Texas its independence from Mexico. I...
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Sometime late in the spring of 1961, when I was twenty years old and attending the University of Texas, I learned that a prospective summer job with an oil company would not materialize. That was fine with me, because I really wanted to go to Washington to aid President Kennedy in his work addressing problems at “the...
Part I: Small Towns and Growing Horizons
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1. Early Memories and Influences
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I became aware of politics during the latter years of World War II to the chorusing of cicadas and by the light of fireflies at the Texas State College for Women (TSCW) camp on Lake Dallas in Texas. That’s not to say that I had heard nothing of politics before then. Politics had always been there. My family, on both sides...
2. Denton, Texas
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Our first home back in Denton was a summer-vacated girls’ dormitory near campus. It was perfect. It had a piano in the lobby and a great kitchen and was just down the hill from the college swimming pool. Because Granddaddy Donoho was a faculty member, we had pool privileges and it seemed every afternoon we swam there...
3. Orange, Texas
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Orange, Texas, was a brief one- year stopover for us. The town is located near the Gulf of Mexico in Deep East Texas on the Sabine River. My snapshot memory says our time there was about crawdads, Brooks and Nellie Conover, a near hurricane, Korea, and “the bomb.”...
4. Weatherford, Texas
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Weatherford, Texas, in 1950, was about one hundred honky-tonks, body shops, and revival tents west of Fort Worth. Back then I don’t think moral standards dictated that honks and the canvas crowds had to be zoned five miles apart. The bar owners knew there would be backsliders and the bible thumpers knew that dancers...
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For a twelve-year-old, Austin seemed to have everything: more than a few movie theaters—maybe a dozen, including drive- ins; public parks all over town, capped by Barton Springs, a spring- fed, cold- water gem in the middle of hot Texas; a great university with a then- not- so- great football team; University Junior High...
Part II: A Freeing of the Mind and Spirit
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It was ironic that one of the principal reasons Mother moved us to Austin was to be near a first-class public university, and that I would then go away to college. For most of my early Austin years, I thought I would eventually attend the University of Texas. Starting in the seventh grade I went to University Junior High, which was...
7. Moving into My Mountains
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I’m sure to some sophisticates the scene, freeze- framed from behind, would have looked like an Edward Hopper or Norman Rockwell painting: a boy silhouetted in the door frame and an Olympia beer sign blinking in the window, while lights from the jukebox cast an eerie blue into the night and human forms milled about in...
Part III: Early Political Years
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8. Washington, DC
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I’d had a longing to go to Washington for years. With the election of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, though, this turned to near- obsession. Much has been written about how President Kennedy attracted the nation’s youth to public service. It was true. I had to go to serve my country—to be a part of the New Frontier. I...
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I never met a person more suited to be a member of Congress than Jake Pickle. I didn’t realize that until after his win in a special election on December 21, 1963. I knew about Jake, but because he had such a reputation as being a mainstay of the conservative Democrats I was prepared not to like him...
10. In Preparation for Defeat
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Although suspect due to its alarming wrapping, of all the gifts Jake
Pickle gave me, the most meaningful was his suggestion in 1965 that I go to work for
The year before, in October 1964, Walter Jenkins, who many considered to be the second most powerful man in Washington because of his unrivaled position as President...
Part IV: A Political Master’s Degree
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11. The Democratic National Committee and Bob Strauss
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My work for Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and at the Democratic National Committee in 1969 brought me in contact with Bob Strauss, but the relationship was casual. He was the Democratic national committeeman from Texas. Bob’s counterpart as committeewoman was the gracious B. A. Bentsen of Houston, whom I will have...
12. With Strauss and On My Own
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I would need every bit of recharging because August 1972 through the election in November was a blinding blur of activity. Even with the best lists and Rolodexes it took time to organize this national campaign, because we had to plan and execute trips involving multiple senators and representatives. The good news was that...
13. Lloyd Bentsen
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The insightful letter reproduced above was written in 1944 by a young US Army Air Corps officer and pilot, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Writing about a bombing run over the Mediterranean, he mentions the things most important to him, then and throughout his life: God, family, country, and duty, and he does so with clarity and...
14. Lowell Lebermann—In Praise of Friendship
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Lowell Lebermann and I should have met in late 1976 or 1977, discussed the fact that both of us were considering running for state treasurer of Texas, then walked away. But there was chemistry between us that immediately transcended our differences. We decided without conversation that we wanted to be friends. Somehow the...
Part V: America’s Best Ideas
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15. The National Park Foundation
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On the occasion of the presentation of the 2009 Pugsley Medal for my years of conservation and park advocacy, I had to prepare an acceptance speech to a prestigious national audience, many of whom were past recipients of the award. The principal guideline for my speech was the long list of my life’s work to appear in the...
16. Parks in a Changing Texas
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I rotated off the National Park Foundation with deep regret but fi red up with knowledge gained during my time on the board. In the summer of 2000 I sought out my friend Andy Sansom, who was executive director of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), serving with great distinction and vision. I explained that...
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The last decade of the twentieth century meant more than national
parks and poetry to me. I would have been satisfi ed feasting on only the two, but I always
had other agendas on my plate.
After a bruising primary, primary runoff, and general election, Ann Richards won the governorship of Texas by the narrowest of margins in 1990 over a Republican who...
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Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 70 b&w photos. Index.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Conservation Leadership Series, Sponsored by the River Systems Institute at Texas State University