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Interview with: Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby
Interviewed by: David Goldstein
Date: October 22, 2007
DG: This is an interview with Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. It is done in his office on Monday, October 22, 2007. Let's go back all the way, Governor. Did you live on Remington all the time?
BH: Well, I was born January 19, 1932, at Hermann Hospital in Houston. At that time, my parents lived at the Lamar Hotel until I was probably 5 or 6 years old. One thing I remember is going as a child, 5 years old, just a few blocks away to the public library. And so, I met the librarian, Julia Ideson, for whom that building is now named. They are now in the process, I think, of renovating it and so forth. Then, we moved to Glen Haven which is a street . . . we were just off of Main Street, just west of Main Street. Glen Haven is about 2 blocks south of where the Shamrock used to be. So, I realize I now have to identify that site better. The Shamrock was on the southwest corner of Main and Bellaire. Glen Haven was about 2 blocks south of that.
DG: It is interesting that you call it Bellaire. It was not named for Holcombe yet, was it?
BH: Yes, you are right. Certainly, it is Holcombe now. I am not sure. I think it was but I am not sure. Anyway then, my parents bought, when I was about, let's say, about 15, my parents bought the house on Remington Lane. And so, I lived there while I was a student at Rice. Really, that was about the only time because after that, I was away in the Navy and then Diane and I married and we moved back to Houston. We had a house on Southgate.
DG: When you were 5 years old, growing up, up to that point in downtown Houston, what did you do for recreation?
BH: Well, I went a lot to what I believe is now called the Sam Houston Park. It is right . . .
DG: Eleanor Tinsley Park?
BH: Is that what it is now called?
DG: I think it is now called Eleanor Tinsley.
BH: O.K., I did not know it. But it had a playground and gazebos and so forth. And the library. I spent a lot of time in the library. And, of course, there was certainly recreation at school.
DG: As I recall, you gave the city of Houston that stables thing over there, where were your parents keeping their horses?
BH: I am sorry - gave the city of Houston . . .
DG: Didn't you give the city of Houston the stables or sold the stables to somebody or something, over on MacGregor? No, it is not MacGregor. Where did you ride horses when you were a kid?
BH: Oh, I know what you are talking about. Mostly when I was very young, at the Palace Stables on Alameda. Both my parents kept horses there and, of course, the bridle paths were in Hermann Park. I hung around the stable and locked out stalls and groomed horses and so forth.
DG: And rode horses in Hermann Park?
DG: How developed was it at the time?
BH: Oh, hardly at all. That property was later bought, oddly enough, by my son-in-law, Steve Gibson, and then he sold it on to somebody. I think it is now maybe a high-rise or something. I do not know.
DG: But you rode in Hermann Park as a boy. What kind of city was Houston when you were growing up, when you were a kid, in essence? The proverbial, could you play in the front yard sort of thing?
BH: Oh, yes, certainly. Well, obviously, it was a much smaller city. We are talking 70 years ago. Certainly, a much less metropolitan city, a much less diverse city than it is now. I do not really know much more to say about that. Where we lived, south of Bellaire just off Main Street, I mean, that was out in the country! The development there is called Braeswood. And, oh, 6 or 8 blocks further south on Main Street, you were out in the country.
DG: You went to Rice and you lived at home?
BH: Yes. 1949 to 1953.
DG: And then, you went into the Navy?
BH: Yes, I was in the Navy from 1953 to 1957.
DG: And you came back to Houston?
DG: Would you have come back to Houston in 1957 if you had not had a family business to call you?
BH: I do not know.
DG: What kind of town was it when you came home?
BH: It was a delightful town as it always has been.
DG: Had it started to boom? When did it start to boom?
BH: Well, let's see. I came back to Houston in 1957. My goodness, that was 50 years ago, wasn't it? Well, certainly, Houston has been booming ever since I have known anything about it. It has had its downturns but not many of those. It just keeps on growing.
DG: Do you remember when KPRC started?
BH: I remember when my parents bought the radio station. I do not think they started it but I think they bought it. The studios were in the Lamar Hotel. Kern Tipps was the manager and then Jack McGrew. And certainly, I hung around the studio as a kid there all the time.
DG: How come you lived at the Lamar?
BH: You would have to ask my parents.
DG: O.K. What about KPRC television?
BH: The TV station, my parents bought from Mr. Lee. The call letters were KLEE. They bought the station and changed the call letters to KPRC.
DG: Which was?
BH: KPRC stood for Kotton Port Railroad Center, which pretty well described the economy of Houston at the time. Even then, it was a big port, therefore, it was a railroad center. And I guess cotton was probably the biggest commodity that moved through the port.
DG: Do you remember that big train station they had?
BH: Oh, the old Union Station?
BH: Certainly. Yes.
DG: Did you ride the train when you were a kid?
BH: Yes. My mother went to Washington, first with the water department then with the WACS in 1941, was there from 1941 to 1945, and my father and I traveled frequently to Washington back . . .
DG: But you kept the home here?
BH: Oh, yes.
DG: You stayed in school here?
BH: No, I started in school in Washington when my mother was in the Army. That would have been 1944, the fall of 1944.
DG: How long did you go there?
BH: I was there, graduated from St. Albans in 1949.
DG: O.K., so you stayed there. Then, your mother came back and then went back?
BH: She would come back occasionally. It was more usual for my father and my father and sister, of course, who was a baby at the time. We would go to Washington on the train.
DG: Do you remember, well, obviously, you do remember when your mom was in the WACS. Were you there when she was Health, Education & Welfare?
BH: Most of the time she was at HEW, I was also in Washington. I was in the Navy then.
DG: And you were stationed in the Navy as well? Did you have any trouble convincing Diana to come back to Houston with you?
DG: She was ready to come to Houston?
BH: Yes. We always knew we were coming back to Houston.
DG: When you came back, you went to work for the paper and worked for the paper until towards the end. What was it like running the newspaper when that was the way people got their news?
BH: Well, it was quite different. You know, as long as I can remember, meaning all my adult life, the newspaper business has been in the process of being changed by electronics. First of all, came television. That became a primary source of news. Television did away with evening newspapers. The Chronicle was, of course, the afternoon and, of course, it shifted to the morning field because people did not have time for even the papers anymore. And now, of course, the newspapers are apparently losing lineage and readership to the internet. So, the print news business has been under assault from the electronic news business for a long time.
DG: How did you feel about it in terms of, you are putting out a paper over here and you have a television station over there, yet, you officed at the paper?
DG: I guess I am asking . . .
BH: Well, when television became a big competitor . . . well, first radio then television became competitors in the news business, newspaper publishers bought radio stations and television stations.
DG: One of the questions in here that I said I was not going to ask you but I will . . . what stands out in your mind and as far as your career in the newspaper business was concerned, what were the big deals for you?
BH: Well, one of the defining days in my life was the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. I was managing editor. And so, of course, I very quickly went into the wire room. In those days, newspapers had wire rooms which were where the teletype printers were, where the news came in from the Associated Press and the United Press International, and your bureaus in Austin and Washington and so forth. So, I went into the wire room and I am hanging over the Associated Press, the A Wire which was their transcontinental trunk wire, and I still have this wire copy - it is framed on my wall there . . . the A Wire, there were only, I don't know, 6 or 7 cities around the country that could transmit directly on the A Wire. It is controlled out of New York and Atlanta and Dallas and, I suppose Chicago and Los Angeles, could transmit directly on the A wire. Atlanta is transmitting something about a cotton convention or something. Dallas. The Dallas Bureau chief who was then Robert Johnson, breaks in on the Atlanta story, and I remember this vividly and as I said, it is up there on the wall right now . . . Bulletin. President shot. Dallas. Then, after what seemed like an interminable time - it probably was less than 1 minute - Atlanta started sending its cotton convention story again.
And then, after a few minutes, whoever is running the wire in New York who obviously was a heck of a newspaper man -- New York breaks in and says, "Bureau is down hold. Dallas, it is yours." And the rest, as they say, is history. Well, by this time, of course, people from all over the building started to crowd into the wire room. And here, I am a kid, 32 years old or 33 or something, I am managing editor, I have sense enough to know this is the biggest news story I will ever handle, and that what I do in the next few minutes, next hour, is going to be how I am judged as a newspaper man. I haven't the foggiest idea of what to do. J.D. Hancock, who was then the city circulation manager, J.D. had been circulating The Post for 50 years - longer than I had been alive, and J.D. is right next to me at the AP ticker there . . . J.D. says, "You are going to extra, aren't you, Bill?" "Yes, that is what I am going to do." And, of course, it was 12:30 in the afternoon. Absolutely off cycle for a morning paper. Not many people in the news room. Very few printers in the composing room and pressmen in the press room. So, yes, we are going to go extra. Ted Welty was news editor. I think the last extra The Post had put out was the Texas City disaster which was in the late 1940s some time. And extras were something else that TV just about did away with. So anyway, we went extra. The first thing I did was call Jean Buttrell, the production manager.- "Can you get some printers, engravers, and stereotypers and pressmen?" which he promptly proceeded to do. But they just, printers and pressmen, even though a few of them were around at the last extra, they just came in. And so, we were on the street in about 2-1/2 hours, which was amazing. But that was a day I will never forget.
I remember talking about 1 year later . . . there was a kind of reunion lunch in Dallas with a lot of the people that had played roles in covering the assassination, and everybody reported the same thing, the same emotional reaction, that while you are covering the story or getting out the paper or doing whatever you are doing, you had no emotional reaction then. I mean, you were getting the paper out. But everybody reported that after the story was covered and the paper was on the street and so forth, that everybody had this emotional reaction which went on in some cases for years -- that you would just suddenly break into tears thinking about it.
Bob Johnson was the AP Bureau chief at the time and he got the word that the shooting, of course, took place not far from the Dallas News Building where the AP bureau in Dallas was. The AP photographer -- this was before anybody had cell phones -- but the AP photographer ran from where he saw the assassination, he ran to the AP bureau and the Dallas News and told Bob Johnson, the Bureau chief. Bob wheeled around and put it on the wire. The rest, as they say, is history. I asked him, I said, "Bob, did you think when your photographer told you that if it was wrong and you put it on the wire, you are dead meat? And, on the other hand, if it is true and you do not put it on the wire, you are dead meat?" And he said, "No. I knew the guy well. There was no reason to doubt what he said and I put it on the wire." Interesting little footnotes to history.
DG: Had you ever met Kennedy?
BH: No. I heard him speak at Rice, the time he made a famous speech.
DG: You were there for it?
DG: What was your reaction to it?
BH: Well, it was a fine speech. I cannot remember the content of it.
DG: Were you at the event the night before in Houston?
BH: There was supposed to be an event in . . . no. O.K., if you will forgive a story about that. President Kennedy and Vice-President Johnson arrived separately at the airport. I was going out to meet Vice-President Johnson, as was Jack Valenti. And so, we got out there at the same time. And just as I am leaving the office, my secretary asked me, she said, "Could I go with you to the airport?" She did not care about President Kennedy or Vice-President Johnson, she wanted to see Mrs. Kennedy who, of course, was there.
DG: Who was your secretary?
BH: Logan Adams was her name. And as we are riding up the Gulf Freeway to the airport, there is a big sign, it had just gone up, for a motel, it is a big sign saying Carousel. Logan remarked that the weekend before, her sister, who was a student at SMU, had been visiting them. And she said, "You know, my sister says there is a new night spot in Dallas where all the college kids like to go now called the Carousel." Well, we heard a lot about the Carousel later because that was the place that Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, lived. Anyway, I did go out to the airport to meet Vice-President Johnson. President Kennedy and Vice-President Johnson were here for the dedication of the Albert Thomas Convention Center. They went on to Fort Worth after that. No, I did not go to the dedication of the convention center.
DG: Yes, I thought they had a reception at the Rice Hotel.
BH: They may have. I did not go to it. I passed a law there afterwards that whenever the president of the United States was in Houston, at least an assistant managing editor had to be on duty.
DG: Well, come to think of it, when Oswald was shot, it was an extra again.
BH: That is right. That was, of course, the next Sunday. And actually, I am not a big church-goer but like a whole bunch of other people in the country, we went to church that Sunday. When we came out of church, the extra was on the street. I guess Ted Welty just put it out. Oswald had been shot.
DG: Well, as I recall, everybody expected it to happen.
BH: Well, I don't know about that.
DG: Well, your paper expected it to happen, I remember that, because they kept people in Dallas.
BH: Oh, yes. I remember I chartered a plane, I put a bunch of people on the plane. I remember Crisswell was one of them and Owen Johnson was the head photographer.
DG: Maloney. Jim Maloney.
BH: Yes, Maloney.
DG: Maloney. Crisswell. A guy named Lonnie Hudgens. He was the church editor.
BH: Really? But he was there.
DG: He was from Dallas. He had just come from the _______.
BH: Yes, and I am sure he was in the office, too.
DG: They would not let me go because a girl could not go.
BH: Oh, no, of course. Certainly not.
DG: Along those lines, when you were editor of The Post, I mean, one of the most brilliant moves you made was to hire me.
BH: Well, clearly!
DG: But The Post was kind of progressive in who they did
hire, I mean, really, at the time that you were hiring women.
DG: And you had a black reporter.
DG: Lonnie White was his name.
BH: Yes, I remember that.
DG: He was, I was told, the first black that had ever worked in a big newsroom here.
BH: Probably so.
DG: I mean, did you make a conscious effort to hire brilliant women and great black reporters?
BH: Well, clearly, I hired brilliant women. There is no doubt about that. As I recall, Lonnie White, he must have been a recent journalism graduate from TSU. I probably hired every black that ever applied there but I do not remember a conscious policy.
DG: I do remember at that time that my first reaction when I knew that Kennedy had been shot and killed, was I had this mad thing . . . I wanted to read a paper.
DG: That was my reaction. I wanted to read a paper. And I guess probably that was the last time, you know, that my instant thought was I need to read a paper for information because of television.
DG: Did your interest shift then at the same time? I mean, did you get more involved in the running of the television station?
BH: Not really. No.
DG: The first thing I guess you did public office wise was parliamentarian?
BH: I was parliamentarian of the Texas Senate in 1959. Governor Ramsey's parliamentarian.
DG: What was that like?
BH: Well, it was a tremendous experience. I am in the process of collaborating with Shirley Tete on a book about our experiences and I find myself remembering writing down quite a few things from 1959 that I thought I had forgotten about.
DG: Well, your mother was parliamentarian of the House when you were at the Senate?
BH: That is right.
DG: Did you ever point out to her that you outlined . . .
BH: Well, of course. No, I do not think that occurred.
DG: Do you remember anything that your parents or you did to make Houston grow? I mean, your mother and father were part of the Lamar . . . obviously, they lived right there . . .
BH: Are you talking about the 8F group?
DG: The 8F room, yes.
BH: Well, my mother particularly had a lot to do with the development of the Medical Center here. Our family doctor was Dr. Bertner, who was on the leaders, and one of the streets in the Medical Center is named for him now. I am pretty sure Mother played a role in bringing Mike DeBakey to Houston.
DG: That was a big role.
BH: That was a good day's work!
DG: Earned her keep that day, didn't she?
BH: Earned her keep that day. But yes, they were certainly . . . oh, the usual names that are mentioned in that group, of course, are Gus Wortham, George and Herman Brown, Judge Elkins. There were certainly others but those are the names that come to mind and they come to mind because they were the friends of my parents' that I would see the most. My father had the custom of, on Sunday mornings, he would drive around to call on his friends and they would do the same thing. And so, we would call on Ben Taub, Judge Elkins. The manager and owner and perhaps the founder of Foleys - Mr. and Mrs. Cohen for whom Cohen House, the faculty club at Rice is named. So, I suppose I saw a lot of Houston history or heard . . . well, I certainly met. And Oscar Holcombe was one of those. But since I was 8, 10, 12 years old at the time, not much of it has stuck with me. But all those people, they were a group of friends.
DG: I guess you were an adult when you had to take your polio shot, right?
BH: No. Well, let's see. Yes. Because Mother was at HEW from . . . well, Eisenhower was elected in 1952 and he was inaugurated in 1953. And he appointed Mother federal security administrator which then became the Cabinet department of HEW. So, she was at HEW from 1953 to 1956, about.
DG: That sounds about right.
BH: Yes, and that was, of course, the time of the polio . . . so, yes.
DG: So, you had no hard feelings about your mother being responsible for you taking a shot!
BH: I had been taking shots all my life.
DG: How early did you know you wanted to run for public office?
BH: Oh, I expect it was just a part of life. I plead guilty to being a third generation public official on both sides. Both my grandparents were in the legislature. Their mother was a Cabinet officer and my father was Lieutenant Governor and Governor. I do not remember a specific moment when I thought, I am going to run for something.
DG: Well now, your daddy was governor before you were born, right?
DG: Did you think of him as governor?
BH: Did I think of him as governor?
DG: I mean, when you were a kid growing up, did you think that your father had been the governor of Texas?
BH: Well, sure.
DG: Well, I mean . . .
BH: Did it make any great difference?
DG: Did it make any great difference in your . . .
BH: Well, he was not different from any other father I had ever had!
DG: I mean, you are a treat! You are a real treat! [Laughter] You are the hardest damned interview I have ever done!
BH: No, I know what you mean. No. I never knew any other .... he was the only father I ever had.
DG: When you ran for lieutenant governor in 1972, had you considered any race before that or had you always been kind of shooting for that particular job?
BH: I think I had always . . . no, I had not run for anything before and had not really considered it.
DG: You picked a heck of a one to run.
BH: Well, I picked what I thought would be a propitious time. It was in the wake of the Sharpstown scandals, which resulted in almost all statewide officials running in 1972, almost all of them being defeated. It resulted in a House and Senate with majorities of both that were new members. So, it was a time of upheaval. Of course, being a year ending in 2 . . . well, in years ending in 1, right after the census, the legislature redistricts. And all senate terms end in years ending in 2. So, that means that all 31 senators are up for election or re-election. And I thought that would cut down on . . . usually when the office of lieutenant governor, when there is not an incumbent running . . . so, I thought there would be less than the usual number of state senators running because all 31 seats were up. It turned out I was wrong. Only 10% of the senate ran against me. Wayne Connelly, Joe Christy and Ralph Hall, and Wayne Connelly was my runoff opponent.
DG: That was an interesting election, as I recall.
BH: Yes, it was.
DG: Johnson had been out of office about 3, 4 years at that point, no? He was still in office, wasn't he?
BH: No. When Dolph Briscoe was inaugurated as governor in 1973 and I was inaugurated as lieutenant governor. The day before the inauguration in January of 1973, I called President Johnson, former President Johnson then who was out at his ranch just west of Austin there and I said, "Mr. President, I know you have gotten an invitation to the inauguration but I just want to tell you how much it would mean to my mother and to me and to Diana if you would come to the inauguration." He said, "Well, when is it?" I said, "Well, tomorrow, Mr. President." "Tomorrow? I know it is tomorrow. What time is it tomorrow?" "At noon, Mr. President." "Noon, that is when I take my nap. You are just trying to kill a sick old man." But, in fact, he did come to the inauguration and that was his last public appearance. He died 1 week later.
DG: Did he?
BH: Yes. Of course, he was sick, and obviously so. After the ceremony, the inauguration, it takes place on the south steps of the Capitol there . . . afterwards, the governor and his party go back into the rotunda of the Capitol there. So, we were there waiting. President and Mrs. Johnson, they were delayed because they were just mobbed by everybody wanting to shake their hands and so forth. And I remember standing there in the rotunda with Diana waiting for them and saying, "You know, if this is that old man's last hurrah, it is a good one," which it was. He was, what, 64 at the time? I thought that was old.
DG: I thought he was ancient.
BH: I think he was 64.
DG: Was he 64?
DG: What was it like, in the sense of when you were growing up - the famousness of so many people that were in and out of your home and in your life? I mean, I do not think a president ever came to Houston that did not go see your mother.
BH: No, probably not. I remember Vice-President Johnson . . . of course, my father was an invalid the last 4 or 5 years of his life when we lived on Remington Lane, and I remember Vice-President Johnson coming to see him there.
DG: Were you close to your father?
BH: Yes. [end of side A]
DG: Do you think you are more like him or your mother?
BH: Certainly, physically, I am more like my father.
DG: Boy, are you!
BH: Yes. And, you know, when Paul ran for state controller and we were going through some old pictures that he was going to use in his campaign, there were some pictures of me when I was the same age as he was then - just incredible!
DG: There is no question to the legitimacy of the Hobby kids, I can tell you that! When you were lieutenant governor, did you ever consciously do any legislation or help in legislation for Houston?
BH: Oh, yes. Let's see. I cannot put my finger, but I remember many times talking to Kathy Whitmire about various pieces of legislation. I cannot name a specific piece of legislation now.
DG: Well, did you feel more as a Houstonian . . . we have gone down that one. Of the governors . . . gosh, you were with . . .
DG: Who did you like best?
BH: Dolph Briscoe.
BH: Well, Dolph is a fine man. Mark White is a very fine man. Bill Clements was not a fine man.
DG: He was not a fine man? Why? Did he give you that much trouble?
BH: Oh, he was just mean and arrogant. Aside from that, he was a fine fellow.
DG: He was a tough guy. Was Briscoe the easiest to work with?
BH: Both Briscoe and Mark White were easy to work with.
DG: Who was the first speaker when you become Litutenant Governor?
BH: Price Daniel.
DG: Yes, he was.
BH: Price Daniel, Jr. His father had been Speaker, too.
DG: That was the first time that Houston had had single member districts for the House and I don't know, did it affect the way senators were elected? They had always been by districts, and just one to a district. But it was such a totally new House because of single member districts. Did the senate change much?
BH: Well, as I said, it changed mostly because of Sharpstown. The majority of the senate was new, too.
DG: And then, of course, you knocked off 3 or 4 of them in that election because it was Christie and them. I ask this for the record. When you ran, you owned a newspaper and a television station. Did you use them in any way to elect yourself?
DG: I will so attest should it comes up. What about the Intercontinental Airport. Did you or your family have anything to do with it?
BH: No. A group of people bought up a bunch of land in anticipation of the need for a new airport and the new airport was needed and the city bought the land. It was originally called Jetero. And I read somewhere that that was a typo, that they had intended - and I do not remember exactly who the very civic-minded buyers were - that they intended for it to be called Jetera but a typo somewhere along the way, it became Jetero, and then Houston International and then Bush International.
DG: That was when they named Hobby, right?
BH: Yes, here was coming onstream was Houston International which is now called Bush and the field which is now called Hobby . . . I am sorry - the new airport was Houston Intercontinental and that is, of course, now named Bush. The existing airport was Houston International. And so, they renamed that Hobby to avoid confusion between international and intercontinental.
DG: What kind of feeling did you get, especially at the beginning flying in and out of an airport with your name on it?
BH: I do not recall feeling anything.
DG: Nothing at all?
BH:` No. Paul is now, if I am not mistaken and I may be, but there is something called the Airport Authority or something and Paul is chairman of it now. I should not have said that without having it more nailed down.
DG: When you entered Rice, you went in as a
BH: When I entered Rice? No, I entered as a freshman.
DG: When you went into politics.
BH: Oh, yes, certainly.
DG: You were a democrat?
DG: Your mom was a Republican.
BH: Well, she served in a republican administration because of President Eisenhower's administration because when she was in the Army in World War II, she was . . . General Marshall who was then Chief of Staff, and General Eisenhower, were really kind of her mentors.
DG: How did she get to be head of the WACS?
BH: In 1941, before the war began in December, in about September of 1941, Congress passed the draft, the Selective Service Act. So, they created in the War Department a Women's Interest Section it was called, and it was to deal with the problems of the wives and mothers and girlfriends and so forth of the soldiers who were drafted. Mother was asked to become head of that. And exactly how that came about, I am not sure. But then, in 1941 or 1942, then Congress created the Women's Army Auxiliary Corp. and the bill was sponsored by Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, with whom my mother had had some contact. General Marshall was Chief of Staff and so it was his job to pick somebody to direct it and he picked Mother.
DG: What did you think when she came home in uniform?
BH: She was in uniform.
DG: The only mother you had, so she was in her uniform.
BH: And I mind you, I am all of 9 years old at the time.
DG: Well, that is what I mean. Uniforms were big for little kids then. Really, they were. You weren't Lieutenant Governor when they opened the Dome? Did you have anything to do with the Dome?
DG: O.K., going back to the Kennedy assassination . . .
BH: As we discussed, on the Sunday after the assassination, Ruby killed Oswald in the Dallas police station. On our way out to church, Jack and Mary Margaret Valenti just had their first child, Courtney. Mary Margaret was just back from the hospital. Diana had bought a baby present. And Diana said, "Well, why don't we just stop by and I will deliver this baby present to Mary Margaret?" We did. They lived on San Felipe just a few blocks from where we are doing this interview. Well, of course, again, The Post had just put out an extra. There may even have been something on television about it, that Jack Ruby had killed Oswald. So, Mary Margaret said she was just out of the hospital and she was not really strong and, of course, was just besieged with phone calls. Also, Jack had gone on to Fort Worth that Friday night with Vice-President Johnson and, of course, was present . . . it is not here right now, that famous photograph with Johnson taking the oath of office on Airforce One. And then, of course, he had gone on to Washington with Johnson and he was going to come back, did come back, that Sunday afternoon really just to get some clothes. He did not have any clothes with him. And so, anyway, I did what I could mainly. I mainly handled the telephone because, remember, you know, she has got a brand new baby and kind of just out of the hospital and whatnot. But anyway, Jack came back that afternoon and he gave me a wonderful interview which I wrote and it was in the paper the next day. It was a blow by blow and the first story like that that anybody had written because there just was not the opportunity to. It was a blow-by-blow account of what happened on Air Force One before the oath taking and on the flight back. One thing that I remember from the story and I certainly have it here somewhere . . . when Kennedy was shot, they took Kennedy, of course, immediately to Parkland Hospital and they took Johnson immediately to Air Force One out of Love Field. So, he is there on Air Force One. The question is if you will recall, O.K., again, I am hanging over the A wire . . . the president is shot. They take Kennedy to Parkland. And then, after a few moments, then AP has priests going in to Parkland. So, it was clear it was over. Incidentally, Kennedy was not the only one assassinated that day. John Connolly was. John Connolly did not die, of course, until years later but in his autopsy, it said one of the contributing causes was his wound that he suffered.
DG: That's right.
BH: His wound that he suffered that day. And, of course, Red Duke was the doctor who took care of Connolly.
DG: He was in Dallas at the time?
BH: He was a doctor in the emergency room at Parkland at
the time. But anyway, I wrote a heck of story . . . one thing I remember from
the story . . . O.K., Johnson is there on Air Force One. Pretty soon, Kennedy
died. And so, Johnson calls Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the Attorney
General urged him to take the oath right now. And then, he put Valenti on the
phone. Nobody had a copy of the oath. And Valenti took down the oath that Judge
Sarah Hughes . . . Johnson sent for Judge Sarah Hughes. That was what she was
reading from and the famous photo of Johnson taking the oath with Valenti
standing off down there on the right-hand side of the picture. But it was a good
DG: Was it the best one you ever did?
BH: Oh, Jay and I wrote so many excellent ones, it is hard to say. It is the most historic one, there is no question about that.
DG: I remember you calling in from some political convention and you gave the lead and said "Fill in with the wires."
BH: Well, the wires did not have any of this.
DG: Did you like being a reporter?
DG: You really liked being a reporter?
DG: How long were you one?
BH: Well, I was right police reporter when I was in
college before I went to the Navy and graduated from the finest journalism
school in the world named Hubert and Winnie. Winnie must have taught generations
of young reporters.
DG: He taught a whole lot.
BH: He was gone by the time you were there.
DG: No, I was there.
BH: He was still there?
DG: Yes, and he did that thing with the bulletin board?
BH: Oh, yes.
DG: If you were going to meet with Winnie, what was it going to be, you know. I never will forget him telling me . . . well actually, I have a couple of Winnie stories but I am not going to do it.
BH: Everybody does.
DG: He was such a, let's say, colorful character.
BH: Indeed he was.
DG: I seem to recall that there were more. Do you
remember any particular . . .
BH: Well, Hubert was so colorful that he kind of drowns out the others. Ted Welty, who was the news editor, Ted was one of the finest newspaper men that I have ever known. He ran off a whole bunch of them but those that stayed became newspaper men and women.
DG: He put everybody through an initiation.
BH: Yes, exactly.
DG: I was lucky, you know, that by the time he hit me, I would just hit him back. We got along pretty good after that. To what extent did your personal life influence the paper? I remember one time your mother calling me and asking me . . . I mean, she did not call me but she called the city desk . . . she asked if I would ask the news editor who I guess was Welty at the time, you know, if it would be possible to put something on page 1. I assured her. I said, "Mrs. Welty, I am just real confident we can arrange that." What were the big decisions, I guess, I am asking you, some of the ones that you remember making as editor of how something would go or not go?
BH: As I say, the assassination was certainly as they say kind of a defining day. Well, things are pretty much, just day-to-day.
DG: What about The Post's policy of not endorsing candidates?
BH: That was my idea and a very good one. There was a saying, as you may recall, at the time when there were 3 papers in Houston and the saying was, "A candidate could probably overcome an endorsement by the Press. Maybe he could overcome an endorsement by The Post. But nobody could overcome an endorsement by all three." Well, in the first place, and this would certainly have been the case when I was running for office, the paper opens itself, rightly or wrongly, but nonetheless, it opens itself up to accusations that it favors in its news coverage the candidate that it endorsed for president or mayor, whatever. And that is really the case but nonetheless, it is . . . anyway, you buy yourself more griefs than anything else when you endorse candidates.
DG: Were you ever in a position where you had a conflict in terms of you are lieutenant governor and you know something that is going on . . . you also own a newspaper/radio station/television station that would really like to have had that story?
DG: Just never any conflict at all?
DG: That is interesting. Dolph Briscoe, the governor that you rode along with the best and liked the most. What about the mayors of Houston?
BH: Oh, well, the outstanding mayors in my lifetime have been Oscar Holcombe, Bob Lanier and Bill White. I mean, well, they have certainly been the best mayors in my lifetime and I am not going to say anything negative about the others.
DG: Is there anything in particular that you associate with those 3 mayors?
BH: Intelligence, leadership.
DG: The picture that most Texans have of the legislature changed rather dramatically if you think about what it was like when you went in and what it is now.
BH: That is certainly true.
DG: Can you describe it and can you say why it came about?
BH: Well, there was certainly partisanship in the legislature when I was there but much less than there is now. You did not have people like Craddick in positions of leadership in the legislature. It's always a puzzlement, Craddick was in the legislature for 30 years before he became speaker. And how somebody with that much experience could screw up so badly is beyond me but that is what happened. I know that I always had, right from the first session, I had Republican committee chairmen and as far as I know though I did not keep that close track of the house, but I think that Billy Clayton and Gib Lewis probably did. Certainly, Pete Limey (sp?) in the House. Well, when we redistricted in 1981, the Constitution requires that if the legislature does not redistrict in years ending in 1, then there is a legislative redistricting board which is the lieutenant governor, speaker, attorney general, land commissioner and controller. In 1981, the legislature did, in fact, redistrict but Governor Clements, he told the senate redistricting bill and the state courts throughout the House redistricting bill. In the case of the senate, actually, we were able to do a much better job at the legislative redistricting board because in the meantime, two senators had announced their retirement. So, that, of course, makes redistricting easier. There really were not any partisan . . . we respected incumbency, whether democratic or republican. I do not even remember if the redistricting . . . I was chairman of the redistricting board, Speaker Billy Clayton was vice-chairman which meant essentially the lieutenant governor redistricts the senate and the speaker redistricts the House. I do not remember whether or not there was any partisan shift or not. Well, I do not remember whether there was nor not. It was not important. Those were happier and better times.
DG: What are your recollections of the killer bees?
BH: Oh, that was the biggest mistake I ever made. That came about because I made a bad error in judgment. I was trying to pass a bill calling for an earlier presidential primary, which was a bad idea. We have seen here and we are talking now in the fall of 2007 where states have been falling all over themselves to have earlier primaries and so forth, and for reasons that are not now clear to me, I thought that was very important and there was a bill to bring that about. And I tried to monkey with the Senate calendar in order to bring it up. That caused the flight of the killer bees. Breaking a quorum is a perfectly legitimate legislative tactic. It can get to be hard to explain, just like filibusters. It is hard to explain why it is all right to filibuster. But anyway, it was foolishness on my part . . .
DG: Weren't you trying to accommodate someone?
BH: No. There is a story that has been in print several times that I was trying to accommodate John Connally. Hardly. When I ran for lieutenant governor, I ran against John Connally's brother. John Connally was Secretary of the Treasury and the IRS started investigating me. Pure coincidence, I am sure! So, that is how much regard that I had for John Connally. That is a story that has gotten around and what difference does it make anyway? But I did have sense enough, at least which my successors in the same situation have not, and the whole thing was such a complete fiasco. The Texas Ranger . . . we put a call on the senate so the cops went out to bring in the senators and the rangers brought in the wrong guy. A bigger screw-up you just could not imagine. But Babe Schwartz was the communicator and Babe would call in every day. Finally, the third day, I said, "Babe, come on back. I am not going to screw around with the primary bill anymore. Let's just come on back and get on with the business," and that happened. I think there were a minimum of hard feelings about it, but that was the biggest mistake I ever made.
DG: What was the best thing you ever did?
BH: Make Betty King Secretary of the Senate. You know, there was then as now, public school finance was a big issue. I will tell you the most controversial issue was Worker's Comp - most controversial measured by most special sessions. I think there were 6 or 7 special sessions on Worker's Comp. It was certainly the most acrimonious one.
DG: Was there only one Constitutional Convention?
BH: Yes, thank goodness!
DG: That didn't work, did it?
DG: Do you think one ever will?
BH: Well, who knows? After that Constitutional Convention failed, the next section of the legislature did pass a new constitution which the voters shot down about 2 to 1. That is the end of that.
DG: Your successors - there have only been 2, right?
BH: Well, Bob Bullock succeeded me and then . . .
DG: He didn't take your advice, did he, first session?
BH: Which advice was that?
DG: Well, surely you advised him not to be so blatantly partisan.
BH: Well, he had pretty good advice that session. Paul was his chief of staff.
DG: I am suggesting he didn't take the advice.
BH: Well, I do not think Bullock . . . he took all the advice I ever gave him. No, Bullock was not one to ask for advice. Well, and then, of course, Perry and then Ratliff and Dewhurst.
DG: Why did you decide to retire?
BH: 18 years is a long time.
DG: Just burned out on it?
BH: That was enough, you know?
DG: Well, I guess that is as good a reason. Is that why
you decided to run?
BH: Is that why I decided to run?
DG: Well, that was stupidly phrased. When you decided to run for office, did you think that you were going to make great changes? Did you have a specific thing you wanted to do?
BH: Well, I wanted to save the world and reform the state. But the world and the state somehow do not seem to want to be reformed very much. You don't solve problems in government, you manage issues which are mostly financial. Government is about 3 things: money, money and money, and on an appropriations bill, down the left side of the page, it has the objects of expenditure. Down the right-hand side of the page, it has numbers. Those are the state's priorities. Thousands of others bills introduced, hundreds of other bills passed. They are poetry. Appropriations is what it is all about.
DG: As I recall, you once suggested that an income tax would be a . . .
BH: Oh, it clearly is the, to use a word I hate, the word "fair" . . . Fair is the F word of politics. But no, it is certainly the most logical thing to do. We have one of the highest sales taxes in the country, property taxes are high. It used to be that did not matter because one-third of the state's revenue was severance taxes, oil and gas. I don't know what that proportion is now. It used to be 30 something percent and I am sure it is now 10 or 8 or something like that. There is this problem about the income tax - well, there are 2 problems. The first is it will never happen because of the amendment that Bullock put in. Bullock, when he was controller, he was for an income tax even though as controller, it would have been his job just to set up 12 million accounts but then when he became lieutenant governor, he passed what is now in the Constitution that would require a 2/3 vote of each House . . . it would be just like a constitutional amendment, require 2/3 vote of each House and then I think maybe . . . it would require the vote of the people, maybe 2/3. I am not sure. But it will never happen so that is O.K., we have made our bed, now we have to lay in it.
DG: When you got out of office, you taught at UT, you taught at Rice. A&M?
DG: You didn't teach there. You printed something there or something. But anyway, when you took over as chancellor at the University of Houston, why did you do that and what did you accomplish?
BH: Well, I did that because I was asked to. I was not a candidate for the job. I got home one night in Austin and there was a message on the phone from Jim Crother asking me to call him. The message he left was that he had just gotten a call from somebody and they want you to be chancellor of the University of Houston. Something wrong with the phone? I was glad to do it and I am glad somebody else is doing it now.
DG: What did you accomplish?
BH: Two things: One, I kept the place together because it was in a mess. The main thing I did was get them a new campus in Fort Bend County just outside of Sugarland.
DG: Is it in Houston?
BH: No, as I say, it is just outside of Sugarland. In fact, it is in the ETJ, it is in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Sugarland but that is another story.
DG: O.K., well, I know Houston goes into Fort Bend. I am not sure . . .
BH: UH has the upper level campuses in Victoria, Fort Bend, and Clear Lake.
DG: Why is the Sugarland one your best accomplishment?
BH: Well, as I understand it, it now has 4,000 students or so.
DG: That is a pretty big school.
BH: Specifically, the legislature deeded 140 acres that was then owned by the state prison system. So, when I say I got them a new campus, I got them the ground for it.
DG: The growth that Houston has made in your lifetime, you alluded to it earlier in terms of it was a more diverse city. What effect do you think that has had on just life in general in Houston, the increase in size?
BH: Well, like any other city, it is made for prosperity, prosperity makes for traffic jams. Too, Houston has a cultural life that, since I have never lived any place else except Washington and that was when I was a young man, but, I mean, there is more culture -- musical, opera, symphony, baroque music. There is a Chamber of Music performance every night. Great theater.
You know, I am glad to have had a part in the building of the new Music Hall built on the site of the old Music Hall. And, of course, proud that the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is . . . the same thing for my family. Houston needed a new music hall in the worst way. The old music hall where the Houston Symphony used to perform was the Music Hall on the site of the present. Part of the same structure. The Music Hall was the front of the structure and the city auditorium was the back of the structure. The Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo was held in the City Auditorium. The night before the rodeo, Sir Malcolm Sargent, who was conducting the Houston Symphony, he gets back to England, he is interviewed by a London paper there and Sir Malcolm toured the United States, conducted all the major symphony orchestras in the United States . . . "Is there one memory that stands out?" He said, "Oh, yes. Houston. This was the night before the rodeo. The peasants rode in on their horses.
They came in, in their covered wagons just to hear me conduct." So, I think he probably thought he was in Fort Worth. Houston needed a music hall.
JE: But it had needed one for a long time. Is that just what prompted you to do it, that it needed one?
BH: Oh, yes. No, actually, of course, Jones Hall had been built years before that. Of course, that is where the symphony performs now and then, of course, the Wortham Theater. What was missing was a place for Broadway road shows, TUTS - Theater Under the Stars, Pace Productions. The Wortham and, of course, Houston Symphony, they were so booked up that there just was not space for those kinds of things.
JE: You raised your children in Houston. They don't all live here?
BH: All except Andrew. He lives in San Marcos, just a few miles away.
JE: Your son ran for office. Do you think he will run again?
BH: I hope so.
JE: What would you like to see him run for?
BH: Whatever he decides to.
JE: There is a good rumor going around that he will run for lieutenant governor if White runs for governor.
BH: Well, the old Houston White/Hobby ticket worked pretty well one time before.
JE: That was the time that you and Senator Bentsen were credited with winning the election, isn't it. Isn't that the one where . . .
BH: Yes, I have read that same thing. Certainly, Lloyd campaigned for the ticket and no doubt helped . . . what I mean, no doubt, certainly did.
JE: No doubt!
BH: Was a great help.
JE: Did you like to campaign?
JE: You didn't ___________ as I recall but you never really had to campaign for your office after you won it the first time.
BH: The only . . . well, that runoff campaign in 1972 was certainly the most challenging one. I had a Republican opponent in 1982. He was the only serious opponent I ever had.
JE: Strake (sp?).
BH: Actually, I have been disappointed -- in all the recent obituaries of Karl Rove, where it talks about his great political expertise but they do not mention the race where he showed his greatest expertise of all. Though he managed George Strake's campaign, got 42% of the vote, and getting 42% for Strake was, I think, Karl Rove's finest moment. Hell, that's a three percentage point more than Rick Perry got when he ran for governor.
JE: Yes, I guess that is right. Along those lines, were you ever aware of Rove beyond that?
BH: In fact, I was not aware until some years later that Karl Rove had been the campaign manager. I had never heard of him. I was asked one time by somebody who was writing a cover piece on Karl Rove for Atlantic Magazine and she asked me about that race and said, "Did Rove pull any dirty tricks?" and I said, "Well, not that I was aware of." What I should have told her but didn't is that dirty tricks were pulled in that campaign. I pulled them.
JE: What did you do?
BH: Well, Strake, of course, is a pretty serious Roman Catholic and so he cut a television spot to run in South Texas emphasizing his Catholicism and showing the Pope blessing him and stuff like that. You know, those spots ran in East Texas?
JE: How did that happen?
BH: Stuff happens!
JE: Stuff happens! Was he the one you debated in Dallas and when it came your turn, you urged everybody to pass the Constitution . . .
JE: I was in Dallas at that time with Mark White. How do you get along with the Bushs?
BH: Because of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who are friends of my mother's and I met them several times . . . that is the only relationship I ever had with them. I met President George W. Bush when he was governor. I think I met him once during that time but there was no relationship.
JE: Going back to what I asked you about a while ago in terms of you running as a Democrat, certainly at that time, the state was primarily predominantly democratic but I always thought your mom was Republican.
BH: Well, she served in a Republican administration when President Eisenhower or . . . well, he was President Eisenhower. He was president of Columbia University . . . when General Eisenhower ran the first time, if I recall correctly, I think she ended up, I think it was called Democrats for Eisenhower or something like that but she was a member of the Democratic Party certainly until that time and her involvement with the Eisenhower Administration was her personal admiration for President Eisenhower.
JE: So, you did not have any great conflicts between her being Republican and you being Democratic?
JE: I remember she supported Nixon in a signed editorial.
BH: Did she really?
BH: Well, everybody makes mistakes.
JE: Do you go downtown much?
BH: Not very much.
JE: Did you ever go downtown much?
BH: Well, certainly more than . . . I go downtown mainly at night to plays and things like that but no, I never . . . well, when I was at the University of Houston, the system offices were on Smith Street downtown.
JE: I can remember you riding the bus downtown.
BH: Oh, yes, I would frequently, from the old Post Building on Polk and Dowling. It was very convenient if you were going downtown to lunch, it was more convenient to ride the bus than to park a car and blah, blah, blah.
JE: What about moving the Post from Polk and Dowling out to the Southwest Freeway?
BH: Well, we needed a new plant.
JE: And that was the place?
BH: Well, specifically. Of course, obviously, we looked around town and had a real estate agent making up lists of sites and everything. Of course, the interchange there had just been put in at that time and I was driving by and there was a big sign, whatever the number of acres was for sale and the phone number. I recognize the phone number as Rice University's phone number. So, I called down to Rice. It was Rice. Rice owned it. And it was land that had been given to Rice by George and Hermann Brown. And so, anyway, we bought it. One thing that I remember about that is as we were going around that site with whoever from Rice remarked that the access road, without which you could not get to the property. Brown & Root built that interchange and the Browns built . . . that access road had not been called for in the plans but they built it for free because it would enhance the value of Rice's property.
JE: It would have?
JE: There was always a story that Newcastle was closed off because Everett Collier lived on the other side of it.
BH: Really? I never heard that. Well, that makes sense. Hell, I'd close Newcastle off, too!
JE: When Jim McConn ran for mayor, I made him promise that he would work to open it and then Crother heard that I did that and told me you all did not want it open and that I had one a terrible thing, but McConn did not come through anyway.
BH: Well, I was going to say, it never . . . I have not been by there in so long.
JE: What about the architecture of that building? I mean, it is an outstanding . . .
BH: Ralph Anderson who was then, of course, with the firm of Morris, Crane and Anderson, Cy Morris' firm, Ralph was the designer of that building and as a result of that, a few years after that, he became the principal architect on the building for the Austin American. You look at him and you . . .
JE: Yes, come to think of it . . . did you particularly seek that style?
BH: No, I don't remember that we had any preconceived ideas.
JE: Well, this is a pretty nifty building.
BH: Yes, it works very well.
JE: When the Press sold, had you considered buying it?
BH: No. We did not know it was for sale . . . again, everybody knew it was for sale but no. But we were not in a position to __________.
JE: Do you miss the newspaper at all?
JE: Do you own any television stations now?
JE: What do you do, Hobby?
BH: Damned little! I teach a course about every other semester at Rice and I am going to teach a course next year at the University of Houston. I teach for one month in the summer up in Ann Arbor.
JE: You teach at Ann Arbor in the summer?
BH: Yes, there is an animal at the University of Michigan called the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and ICPSR does two things for a living: principally, it is the largest repository in the world of data sets in political, social and historical matters and the other thing it does for a living is it teaches advanced courses in statistics for 2 months in the summer.
JE: Wasn't it handy it was cool Ann Arbor?
BH: Ann Arbor is, believe it or not, just as hot as Houston. It is not as humid because, you know, when I am there every day before I go have breakfast in the morning, I read the Chronicle on my computer and they always have the temperature, so there are a lot of days when it is hotter in Ann Arbor than it is in Houston.
JE: I did not think anything could ever be hotter than Houston when I first came here.
BH: It is not as humid but the temperature can be just as hot.
JE: Well, what else can I ask you? What do you know? What questions should I have asked you?
BH: I think you covered about everything I can think of.
JE: Here's a good one: What do you see for the future of Houston?
BH: Well, the economy in Houston, of course, is still substantially tied to the oil business - not as much as it once was but oil is still pretty big business in Houston. Houston will certainly be good as long as the oil business continues to be. Houston, of course, is more and more of a high tech computer place which it better be. I would say that the biggest thing that Houston could do for its economy and its future, and this is not really in the city's hands so much as it is the state's, and that is much more emphasis on the University of Houston. Rice is ranked about 17th or 18th in U.S. News and World Report rankings. The University of Houston is considered a fourth tier, again, looking at U.S. News Rankings. That is what everybody looks at. It is a great place. It is not yet a tier 1 university as measured by federal research money and that is you way you measure a tier 1 university. Federal research funds fund programs, schools, institutions that are already in existence. The federal government does not come and say, hey, University of Houston, we want to put department of space funds. You earn federal funds by being outstanding in your field. When the Feds put out a request for proposal in some area and you are the one that can step up to it, that is how you earn federal funds. Houston is not yet a first tier university in that sense. Of course, the Medical Center - huge asset to Houston. University of Texas with their medical school and the cancer hospital and so forth. They probably spend more money in Houston than they do in Austin but more emphasis on universities, particularly on research.
JE: Would you say that UH and Rice have grown? I mean, the difference between when you were young, even when you went to Rice . . .
BH: Yes. I would say I do not know the exact figures now but Rice is probably, I am going to take a guess and say it has increased by about one-third and is scheduled to increase by another third. Of course, the University of Houston - I have no idea what the figures were in the 1950s.
JE: They could not have been spectacular.
JE: Any last thoughts about Houston and you?
BH: No. I think you plumbed the depths, as it were.
JE: Let's cut it.