An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Eighty-Five

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Eighty-Four

Former Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, February 1916

“The breweries didn’t admit their guilt to one single thing. Not to paying poll taxes for poor Antis. Not to making illegal use of their assets to further their political agenda. Not to violating anti-trust statutes. They claim to be as innocent as babes in the woods when they are as evil as those zeppelin airships slipping in at night to deposit deadly bombs on civilians in England and France.”

“The Attorney General did whack them with the third largest judgment ever rendered in the history of the state,” says his son-in-law Clarence Dilley.

“Two-hundred and eighty-thousand dollars? That’s chickenfeed to them. Barely a slap on the wrist. In 1911 alone, the San Antonio Brewing Association contributed more than $100,000 to the Texas Brewing Association to defeat the Prohibition Amendment.”

“There certainly is no lack of evidence, Papa Tom. Letter after letter amongst the conspirators. Ledgers showing inexplicable distributions of funds…”

“What in the devil is all that clanging and banging racket in the kitchen?”

Clarence smiles. “I’m afraid that is the nightly Dilley band practice. Sammie opens the bottom cabinet of pots and pans so the twins can entertain themselves while she cooks dinner.”

“It’s enough to drive a man crazy.”

“Mama claims the same thing,” says Sammie, entering the room with a plump one-year-old perched on each hip. “So now it’s up to Daddy and Papa Tom to each take one so we can finish getting supper ready.”

“Isn’t that what your little sister is for?”

Sammie passes half her cargo to Thomas. “Maydelle’s having dinner with Roderick’s parents. They seem quite fond of her. You might have another son-in-law to talk politics with before long.”

“How can a man talk politics with a squirmy little girl on his lap?”

“Imagine, Papa, what girls exposed to politics at such a tender young age will be like when they are grown.”

“As sassy as their mother I fear,” Thomas says to Sammie’s back as she returns to the kitchen.

“Well, Papa Tom,” says Clarence, bouncing his giggling charge up and down on his crossed leg, “it doesn’t appear as though Senator Culberson is going to disappear into retirement as we had hoped.”

“No, it does not. There’s no way he can manage to leave Washington to stump to keep his seat. His ‘illness’ leaves him far too impaired for that.”

“His friends cover up for him,” says Clarence. “I keep thinking some newspaper will summon the courage to label him the drunkard he is.”

“And I’m deeply disappointed President Wilson appears to support the pickled lush’s bid for reelection.” Thomas’ granddaughter giggles, tugging at his tie. “Janie, you’re choking me. This is Janie, not Jean, right?”

“No, you have Jean.”

“Clarence, I’ve supported President Wilson all the way, yet he is not reaching back to boost my campaign.”

“Does he fear Texas is not ready for a Pro candidate?”

Thomas bounces Jean in his lap. “Peas, peas, peas. Please, please, Jean, gobble all your goober peas. No, Clarence, he worries, as do I, about the additional splintering of support pitting dry against dry. Doctor Brooks resigned from the presidency of Baylor University this week. Burning that bridge behind him, he must be ready to announce any day now.”

“But former Governor Colquitt and Congressman Henry are carving up the wet vote as well.”

“There are far too many candidates muddying the water in this race. Pa Ferguson has set his sights on Senator Sheppard’s seat two years from now. Former Senator Bailey was eyeing that, but Farmer Jim doesn’t want Bailey running against him. So Pa is trying to coax Senator Bailey into entering this summer’s fray as well.”

“Papa,” says Sammie in the doorway, “the people of Texas know and respect you. Your record is one you can stand upon proudly. Stop worrying. And dinner is ready. Which of you volunteers to try to eat with a girl in his lap?”

Footnotes

Tom Campbell did announce his run for the seat occupied by Senator Culberson. A crowded field it was.

The Author rarely invites any other of Campbell’s children to these dinners they probably all would have attended, but the arrival of grandchildren contributes enough confusion. 

Continue to Chapter Eighty-Six

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