East Texans who remember W. Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel will find a special appeal in
a book by Bill Crawford.
Daniel, a song-writing flour salesman who launched the musical careers of Bob
Wills and the Light
Crust Doughboys, was a politician unlike any we’ve seen in Texas.
His Texas homilies, radio broadcasts, hillbilly music and affinity for
rural Texas propelled him into the governor’s office
for two terms. He also handed Lyndon B. Johnson his only election defeat in Texas
during a special election for the U.S. Senate and later won a full term.
decided in the spring of 1938 that selling flour wasn’t much different than selling
politicians. Even though he was a Republican in a state controlled by Democats,
Pappy ran for governor, campaigned across Texas with
his family and the Hillbilly Boys (the forerunner of the Doughboys),
During Pappy’s cavalcade from Fort
Worth to Austin for his inauguration
in 1939, 250,000 people cheered him along the way with a chant that became famous
in his campaign, “Please pass the biscuits, Pappy.”
governor, Pappy commandeered photographers from a state agency to record his activities
and, as a result, Texas has an excellent pictorial
history of a Texas governor. Bill Caldwell’s book is a remarkable collection of
many of these black-and-white images. |
Scenes with links to East
Texas towns like Zavalla,
Liberty and Tyler
offer snapshots from a kinder political era in Texas.
Many of them are scenes of Pappy visiting the rural homes of Texas
legislators during a tour in the fall of 1940.
The joy of “Please Pass
the Biscuits, Pappy” lies in a close examination of the details found in the old
At Zavalla, when Pappy visited
the home of legislator Ottis E. Lock, the photographer caught a foreground scene
of a woman sitting in a car that had been converted into a homemade pickup truck.
In Marshall, a crowd of Pappy
supporters was snapped as one of them was wheeled down a street in a wheelbarrow.
A nearby man carries a sign, “Mountain Music and Biscuits Got Me.”
Livingston, Pappy and his
wife were greeted by Alabama Coushatta Indian Chief Bronson Cooper Sylestine,
robed in full ceremonial dress, at the home of Senator Clem Fain.
Pappy visited the simple, clapboard home of legislator Washington M. Whitesides
in Troup, the entire family, including
a little grandmother and five children, were included in the photo. Pappy held
one of the kids.
when Pappy visited Rep. Joe Gandy’s ranch, the photographer snapped a photo of
an old black ranchhand leaning on his walking cane--a lasting symbol of a proud,
At Paris, the
photographer shot a scene of Pappy and his wife sitting down for supper with Senator
A.M. Aikin, Jr. and his family.
during a stop at the home of legislator N.O. Burnaman, Pappy paused to pet a favorite
hound dog owned by Burnaman, an editor and county judge, and when he visited legislator
Price M. Daniel at Liberty,
the two Daniel families had their photo made under a moss-covered oak.
When Pappy’s daughter Molly married Jack Wrather, Jr. of Tyler
, a photographer caught them cutting their wedding cake in 1941 at Austin.
In a radio broadcast heard throughout Texas, Pappy
invited everyone to attend the wedding.
Some 25,000 people gathered on
the lawn of the governor’s mansion to hear the vows.
1, 2005 Column,
reissued May 13, 2012
Bob Bowman's East Texas
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
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