The Houston Oral History Project is a repository for the stories, accounts, and memories of those who have chosen to share their experiences. The viewpoints expressed in the Houston Oral History Project do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the City of Houston, the Houston Public Library or any of its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The City of Houston and the Houston Public Library make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the interviews and expressly disclaim any liability therefore.
The Houston Oral History Project provides unedited versions of all interviews. Some parents may find material objectionable for minors. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children as they use the Houston Oral History Project Web site to complete research and homework activities.
The Houston Public Library retains the literary and publishing rights of its oral histories. No part of the interviews or transcripts may be published without the written permission of the Houston Oral History Project.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to:
The Houston Oral History Project.
Houston Public Library
Houston, Texas 77002
The Houston Oral History Project reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decline to post any account received herein and specifically disclaims any liability for the failure to post an account or for errors or omissions that may occur in posting accounts to the Virtual Archive.
For more information email the Houston Oral History Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview with: S.M. McAshan, Jr.
Interviews by David Courtwright
Date: February 16, 1976
Archive Number: OH 110
DC: (00:11) Where were you born sir?
SM: Houston, Texas.
DC: In what year?
DC: And when did you first come to be involved with the company.
DC: And what was your position then?
SM: A squidge in the Memphis office.
DC: A squidge, what is that?
SM: That’s a checker in the classing room.
DC: And how extensive were the operations of the company at this time.
SM: By that time, Anderson Clayton was a worldwide organization selling cotton everywhere and handling various growths of cotton—not only American, but Egyptian, Indian, South American, Mexican, and so forth.
DC: Uh-hunh (affirmative). But the company, at that time, was pretty much concentrating on cotton?
SM: Pretty near entirely. Had a few gins and few oil mills.
DC: At what time—at what point in history did the company begin to diversify, go into fields other than cotton?
SM: It began diversifying as the strictly cotton merchandising business no longer was secure, no longer was hedgeable by a constant relationship or rather a true relationship between the actual price of cotton and the futures market prices of cotton. Which, when that no longer existed, cotton merchandising became too much of a gamble. So processing of cotton seed products—which was a normal manufacturing and marketing operation—began to take a bigger part of the company’s capital and time and effort about—right after the Depression—1933, ’34, along in there.
DC: Who are the persons who were instrumental in this decision to go more towards food?
SM: Mr. Clayton.
DC: Mr. Clayton. It was entirely his decision.
SM: (02:12) Of course he had partners who participated in the decision, it was mainly his decision though.
DC: Now, at what point in time did the company begin to go international. I believe you had operations in Brazil as early as ’36?
SM: Our first international operation, as a real operation other than selling, was in Mexico in 1922.
DC: Oh, that early?
SM: Our second was in Egypt in 1934. Next Brazil—no next Peru in 1934, ’35, and Brazil in ’35, Argentina in ’36, and somewhere along in there India. I don’t remember the exact date, but it didn’t last long—it stopped when the war came on—when World War II came on.
DC: I’m very curious about the special problems of an international corporation. Do you, for example, worry about expropriation?
SM: Not as such. We’ve never been bothered with it. We have, at times, less favorable treatment than the nationals of some of the countries where we have operated.
DC: Could you give us some examples?
SM: For example, unless you are partly—unless part of your stock is owned in Mexico or Brazil today, your not as easily able to finance your operations in Pesos or Cruzeiros. There are restrictions on your local borrowings, for example. Earlier examples in Egypt before—by the way, they nationalized our company, they did not expropriate it. They nationalized it legally and paid for it in Egypt, very properly, according to their laws. But we were discriminated against very severely there.
DC: In 1971, I believe, the company sold its operations in Peru and Columbia. What was the motive behind that sale?
SM: (04:15) There was no longer any chance to make a profit in Peru, for example, under the type of exchange arrangements, borrowing arrangements, the way the government was handling things down there. We were very fortunate to be able to sell it to a group of fine Peru business men who had the money to pay for it in dollars and who are now running it well. I don’t know how much money they’re making out of it, but we weren’t making an adequate return, so we were happy to sell it.
DC: What factors do you consider before investing in a company? Do you thoroughly examine the countries political structure and so on?
SM: Oh, sure. Oh, certainly. We make all kinds of surveys. We’ve sent people in teams to visit all those countries long in advance of our having made an investment there. And sometimes the investment started out very small and grew by retained earnings. In the case of Brazil, we’ve got today at least a $50 million investment there, and originally we sent less than a $1 million down there.
DC: Brazil does seem to be quite an area of activity for Anderson Clayton.
SM: And for everybody. Brazil’s quite a country. If I were your age, I’d be living in Brazil.
SM: Yes sir.
DC: Speaking of which, do your executives ever complain if they’re sent off to one of these countries? I was referring specifically to the risk of kidnapping. That is something that’s been in the papers in South American countries.
SM: We’ve had, very fortunately, very little exposure to kidnapping and that sort of thing—threats. (knocks on table) They never complain about being sent to those countries. We probably send them and their wives down there in advance to let them make a visit and find out where they’re going to like it or not before we agree to send them. But it’s possible that when their children reach a certain age—particularly if they have daughters—that the wives want to move back to the United States. We’ve had that happen a few times. For educational reasons, for having their daughters back here in school in this country where they think they’re better taken care of.
DC: But on the other hand, many executives like it down there.
SM: Many of them have stayed the rest of their lives there. See, we’ve been there a couple of generations now in some of these countries—
SM: —and many of them have stayed all the rest of their lives. Many of them have retired in Mexico, for example, and live there the rest of their lives.
DC: (06:57) Have you yourself spent a great deal of time in these countries?
SM: Well, I was in charge of our Latin American business for 25 years, so I spent the big part of that 25 years there.
DC: In Latin America— (both talking at once; unintelligible)
SM: In Latin America and Egypt and India and other places.
DC: Perhaps earlier in the interview I should have asked you to detail the positions you have held in the company starting back in the early days.
SM: Oh, that’s a long thing. I was given an exposure to many parts of the business partly because I was a trainee that they were bringing along for other work, and partly because I was the son-in-law of the founder of the business. I received probably a lot of special privileges in that respect of training, but I was given all kinds of jobs. Fast as I was able to absorb one, they’d move me into another. I was sent to Europe in 1933. I worked over there for a year and a half, and from then on I was everywhere.
DC: (08:04) I don’t want to stray too far from the subject of international operations. Is inflation in these countries much of a problem.
SM: Yes sir, a very serious problem. It’s impossible to finance the same physical volume of your commodities and pay your labor and all your expenses under inflationary conditions as it would under stable currency values—as it would be. It creates quite a problem of being able to find the money to go on and do as much business this year as you did last year as prices go up under inflation, so much so that many of those countries have indexing. Many countries, where high inflation has taken place, have resorted to indexing and resorted to monetary adjustments and corrections at the end of every year—which blocks some of your profits, not only for foreign companies, multi-national companies, but for companies owned by their citizens—to prevent them from declaring them out as dividends and requiring them to hold them in the business to help finance their next years operation.
SM: It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to keep from losing the real, true value of your capital, of your reserves, of your retained earnings, under inflationary conditions. It causes you sometimes to hedge where you can—where you can pay for the hedging. It causes you sometimes to gamble. It causes you to put more into fixed assets and have less—try to operate on less working capital of your loan and more borrowed working capital than would be looked upon as entirely safe or sound financing in this country.
DC: Off hand, do you recall any places where this problem is particularly acute?
SM: Well, it’s gotten so—it was getting so in Argentina that we couldn’t operate, and that’s the reason why we sold out in Argentina. Argentina now has 4% inflation per day, so fortunately, we’re no longer there.
DC: I suppose that’s something you might have observed when you went to Europe in 1933 if you were in Germany at that time—very high rates of inflation?
SM: Of course, and great difficulty of moving or transferring funds from one country to another. I went there originally to try to get paid for some cotton we’d shipped over there where the buyers had not been allocated the dollars to pay for the cotton on time. Yes, it was a problem. Inflation is a horrible tax on the people of a country as well.
SM: It’s a tax on everybody too, at the same rate. There’s no such thing as a graduated income tax affect under inflation. It hits the poor man just as bad as it hits the rich man in exactly the same impact.
DC: Until about year and a half ago I was living in Britain and so I know firsthand what that means.
DC: Well, is the situation getting any better in the last couple of years, or is it still pretty bad in South American countries?
SM: (11:37) Well, Brazil’s got theirs pretty well under control. And Mexico, of course, has had some price inflation but no currency devaluation—vis-à-vis the dollar. The Mexican Peso is tied to the dollar as you know.
DC: Yes, right.
SM: And their inflation is less than Brazil. But both of them are satisfactorily under control, and that’s the only 2 major countries where we have any big operations. We just sell in all the rest of the countries.
DC: Right. Brazil and Mexico are—
SM: Are the only 2 outside countries where we have big operations.
DC: Well, what does a so-called third world government have to do to bring inflation under control? What measures need to be taken?
SM: Well, many of them are resorting to import controls. Take Brazil, a few days ago they put on an outright prohibition of the importation of non-necessities—outright prohibition. I mean, just nobody can bring in whiskey or caviar or smoked salmon or whatever—anything you don’t have to have. And then they put on import licensing for necessary equipment and machinery. You have to justify that whatever you do import will pay its way, it will be worth doing. That’s one of the things. They put on special incentives for export. They allowed the price of gasoline to go up to a $1.25 a gallon to deter the use of gasoline. They kept the price of fuel oil at the old price because that is used in industry to produce things, but they let gasoline go up. And the use of gasoline—the absolute use—has actually gone done. As the price went up, it went down.
DC: (13:28) Right. So much logic— (both talking at once; unintelligible)
SM: It was done purposely. It’s a government that can do as it pleases, as you know.
SM: It is a very malevolent military government. It is not a dictatorship. There’s a difference.
DC: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Would you— (both talking at once; unintelligible)
SM: It has all of the ministers—all the departments in Brazil are civilians except army, navy, and air force. And they run it just like we do here—they run their departments just like we do here except that they can make rules without worrying about congressional investigations. They don’t have them
DC: As the chairman of a large company which manufactures a great deal of food, do you have any thoughts on the world population problem?
SM: Yes sir, plenty.
DC: All right. I’d like to hear them.
SM: We are producing more people faster than we are increasing the production of food. The United States has a great obligation—which it is discharging, fortunately by taking off the acreage controls on the production of food in this country—to raise more and more and help feed the world, which we’re doing. And thank God we’re doing it because it’s providing exchange with which we need—the foreign exchange—to pay for increased petroleum imports. Because we’ve got such a sorry oil policy in this country that doesn’t encourage the production of oil in this country that we’re having to import more every month, and we’ve got to have something to pay for it with and food is doing it. Last year, we had a big surplus of trade the huge majority of which came from food. It much more—the excess of exports of food alone much more than covered the increased cost of petroleum imports. So there’s 2 ways out of this. First, we have an obligation to help feed the world; second, we have an obligation to produce food in this country to help pay for what we have to have in the way of energy imports. That’s very briefly stated.
DC: What are the obligations of the growing nations in this matter, or what do you perceive them to be?
SM: The obligations of the growing nations?
DC: The third world nations.
SM: Well, they’re in various categories in that respect. Take Mexico, you might call Mexico one of the third world—they claim to be the leader of the third world in some respects. They are now on a petroleum export proxy. They have more then they need. They are exporting to the United States because of the freight differential. Instead of some other countries closer to Houston, for example, from Vera Cruz or Tampico it’s no great transportation bill. They’re exporting 150,000 barrels a day right in here to Houston. So they don’t have that problem. Take Brazil—you’re talking about petroleum now, I understand?
DC: Right, yes.
SM. (16:36) Brazil has to import more than they need. They produce about half of their energy requirements that’s not—they produce about half the petroleum necessary for their energy requirements that’s not already covered by hydroelectric power. Brazil fortunately gets at least half of it’s total requirements from hydroelectricity. It’s got some of the biggest and finest hydroelectric damns and generators in the world just like Russia has done. But they still have to important petroleum and it’s caused, at these higher prices, a severe burden on Brazil because Brazil does not have as much industrialized exports—equipment and such things—as we make to export at the higher inflated prices that we’re exporting them at. Europe is able to take care of a lot of this heavy burden of imported petroleum costs because they’re exporting industrialized products at a much higher price level too. But the third world—under developed countries—don’t get the benefit of that higher price of industrialized products that’s going up at the same time that energy costs have gone up.
DC: Do you see any progress—
SM: There’s an imbalance. There’s not a constant—what’s the word? Turn if off for a second.
DC: Oh, okay. (recording interrupted)
SM: The terms of trade are against them.
DC: Yeah. Do you see any progress towards limiting population, that is getting at the problem at its source?
SM: (18:27) Well, you see those 2 pamphlets? They both have to do with research programs going on here in the United States for improved contraceptives, one possibly leading towards a near-perfect contraceptive. The research ought to be done in countries like United States, England, Germany, and Switzerland—where you’ve got the highest technology in medical matters—not done down in those countries. The research is being done. One of those programs is out at Baylor College of Medicine right here. We have great hopes for its results in a couple years. Costs a lot of money. My family and my wife’s family, this company, a number of my friends are supporting it. Yes, but it’s got to come from us. We’ve got to furnish them with the technological improvements and the methods of birth control. If we don’t, we’re going to have horrible starvation in—
SM: —some of those countries. They cannot increase their own food production nor pay for increased food imports, the way the terms of trade are working, to take care of their increase in population.
DC: I must say I agree with that prognosis.
SM: Stick that in your pocket.
DC: Okay. Do you perceive the role of your company as a benevolent one? Do you believe that you have an obligation to help develop third world economies, to help disseminate birth control information, and things like that?
SM: Well, I suppose you might say we have an obligation, it certainly isn’t our selfish interest. From a business standpoint—
DC: The more people the better—
SM: No. No, no. It’s in our selfish interest to get it on the right basis. For example, it’s in our selfish interest to help Brazil with their balance of payments, to export what we can from Brazil. It’s in our selfish interest—and by the way, we’re doing that. We’re the largest exporters, producers of foreign exchange in Brazil with our coffee exports and cotton seed products and soybean exports and so on. But we also believe that we ought to produce food in those—we have big factories for margarine, shortening, salad dressings, cheese, all kinds of products in Brazil just like we do in the United States. We have an obligation to our host country to produce the right kinds of foods at the best price and the best quality that we know how. Yeah, but it’s good business.
SM: It works both ways.
DC: The remark I was about to make, I was going to call attention to a paradox. And that is the more people there are the higher the demand for food and, therefore, the greater your profit.
SM: Not necessarily.
DC: But right, it is— (both talking at once; unintelligible)
SM: No. No, no. That doesn’t necessarily follow. You make more money out of processed food than you do out of eating a raw commodity like unpolished rice or straight ground up corn.
SM: (21:37) No, it doesn’t work that way.
DC: Let’s see, we’ve been discussing some of the policies of foreign nations. I thought we might also discuss some of our economic policies. I’ve noticed in several speeches you’ve given—which have been quoted in the newspaper—that you have been very critical of some of our economic policies. Specifically, in 1975 you gave a speech in which you denounced the “New despotism of bureaucratic interventionism and regulatory overkill.”
SM: Yes sir.
DC: How troublesome is government regulation to your company?
SM: I can’t tell you how much time and how much money we spend every day on filling out forms and sending them to Washington. And then when they get to Washington, they send them down to a warehouse over there in Virginia and they get lost, and nobody ever looks at them. (interviewer laughs) They do absolutely no good at all. That’s just one thing. But we then have to make special reports for numerous congressional committees who are investigating this and investigating that—which covers the same thing we’ve already sent them—to the regulatory bureau who may or may not use it at all. The other branch of government doesn’t know what this branch is doing and don’t care. They’re duplicating it to the point where it’s shameful and you and I are paying a horrible bill for nothing. That’s just one phase of it, is the wastefulness of bureaucratic reports. The other thing is the way it slows down what would otherwise be productive. The prevention of producing a cheaper margarine if we didn’t have to make all these damn reports. Just one example of it. And you take—the same thing, take the Shell Oil Company over here. It had to send in 17 boxcar loads of reports to the Federal Energy Administration in 1975. And I’m sure that nobody in the Federal Energy Administration really paid much attention to the bulk of it because when certain things came up that needed a specific answer, they had to do it over again and make a special digest or separate report to answer the specific questions they were called on by the various committees.
DC: You have a—
SM: (24:24) Now, they did pay attention to those and they used them in their reports to the committee. But the reports to the government bureaus, the Federal Energy Administration, got lost.
DC: You have a striking phrase in one of your other speeches, “Corporate Socialism” I believe.
DC: What did you mean by that?
SM: What the Japanese use. If you get the working institute recent book on how the corporate state operates in Japan you get—it’s about this thick and I won’t attempt to digest it for you—you get the whole damn story and it is quite a story. They work with big business in Japan, they do not work with little business. They work with the zaibatsu’s, and they run their foreign trade policy and their internal economics to help those big corporations in Japan—help them come out in competition around the world. They help them ship Sony’s and Honda’s and so forth to the United States in a large way. The government and those big corporations are working together. That’s the corporate state.
DC: The idea is to weed out the inefficient firms and to help the big thriving firms?
SM: (25:50) I assume so. The real idea is to make them more competitive in international trade.
DC: And yet, the United States government seems to have a phobia for bigness. That’s not the goal of the United States government necessarily to help the large corporations.
SM: Well, there’s a good part of our government that has decided not to help them, yes—to make it difficult for them.
DC: What do—
SM: And it’s not only our government. Too many of our college professors seem to believe that bigness is bad, that business is bad. They teach their younger generation of students the wrong thing about the system that gives them more food and more clothing than any other country. They teach them backward.
DC: It seems to be a political issue now too, a ploy.
SM: It is a political issue, yes sir. It’s become a very serious one. Ford and Reagan on one side and people like Henry Jackson and—
DC: Fred Harris?
SM: No, what’s the guy from Minnesota?
DC: Hubert Humphrey?
SM: Hubert Humphrey on the other.
DC: Yeah. Would it be fair to say that your philosophy is fundamentally the same as the oil corporations then?
SM: No, not at all. A lot of oil companies are not quite as dedicated to completely free trade as I am. I’m a great believer having seen the cotton farmer get screwed for—I guess it takes down that same word—
SM: —for so many years by restrictions on the export of his cotton that I believe in unfettered increased trade. I don’t think that oil companies believe that.
DC: Well see, the key word right now is decontrol, which is—
SM: That’s a different kind of thing. That’s price control and, of course, I don’t believe in price controls either. But my own personal beliefs are not 100% the same as some of them, no.
DC: Well, I must say that it’s logical that a multi-national corporation would favor free trade. Are tariff barriers much of a problem for you or have they been?
SM: (28:24) Not for us, not for us. Tariff barriers, over the years, have been a burden on the farmer—on the American farmer—of course, because he had to sell in a closed market and was not allowed to buy in a free market.
DC: One thing you mentioned earlier that I’d like to go back to briefly is the phenomenon of land which was previously in the soil bank, I guess the phrase is, is now being cultivated. Was this long a bone of contention with Anderson Clayton?
SM: Yes sir, it sure was. Mr. Clayton and Mr. Fleming used to make speeches about it when I was just a boy when this farm bureau program started under Hoover. This has been going on a long time you know, and they kill every fourth pig and plow up every third row of Henry Wallace’s—
DC: Yeah. Well now—
SM: It’s been going on 50 years, and it’s just now just recently stopped. The last one was rice you heard the other day—you read about it.
DC: Uh-hunh (affirmative). I was under the impression that the original justification of the program was to avoid overproduction and to maximize profits for the farmer. Was there ever a time when that was a legitimate goal?
SM: (29:53) I don’t believe it was. It probably resulted, particularly in about 1929, ’30, in the farmer getting a higher price for his product, but it likewise resulted in the government piling up surpluses in warehouse—some of which spoiled and some of which were given away. It was a subsidy to the farmer at the expense of the consumers of the United States, and there’s a whole lot more consumers than there are farmers.
SM: And now that they’ve let the farmer alone, he’s done a damn good job of producing what he could sell at a profit. And the farmer has never been better off than he is today without those controls. Now, that happens to be a fact of life. The gross farm income is over $24 billion dollars this year. Never been anything like that. Of course that includes some higher prices.
DC: By farmer, I suppose you mean more agribusiness than family farmer?
SM: No, I mean the total people who are classified as farmers—
DC: As farmers.
SM: —under the regulations of the Department of Agriculture. That includes both—not agribusiness. Agribusiness is ours, processing agricultural products. Agribusiness doesn’t mean farming.
DC: Well, then large scale farmers.
SM: Or small. And the most efficient and best farmers, and the most successful and profitable farming is the 640-acre highway farmer with one set of mechanized equipment and 2 sons. You can’t be them.
DC: Who will stay on the farm.
SM: Yep, you can’t beat them. Nobody—the big corporate farm can’t touch him cost wise.
DC: (31:38) Well, we’ve been concentrating pretty much on food and cotton, but it’s also true that Anderson Clayton has, for example, life insurance companies. At what point in time did you begin diversifying out in this direction?
SM: Our first insurance company was organized in New York in 1922 to handle the—it was before my time with the company—to handle the coverage of Anderson Clayton’s warehouses and—cotton and warehouse and so forth, most of which was reinsured in London with Lloyd’s because the risks were so big in location for a company of that size to carry the whole thing. Then we spread out into other kinds of property and casualty insurance, and we spread out into life insurance about 15 years ago. And we have subsequently bought another life insurance company, and we bought the Pan-American Insurance Company here. It’s grown that way partly by internal growth and partly by acquisition over that period of time.
DC: Although the word conglomerate would certainly be a misnomer if applied to your company, have you ever been accused of being too big or being a conglomerate?
SM: No, we’re not too big in any field. We’re less than 1%, I would guess, in the insurance business. We’re less than 5% in the soybean business. We’re less than 10% in the margarine business. We’re no longer in the cotton business in the United States. At one time we were accused of being too big in the cotton business because we used to handle more than anybody else, but even then, the most we ever handled was about 10% of the crop.
DC: At what point in time—now, this is a subjective thing, but I think I’ll ask it anyway. At what point in time did cotton cease to be the main concern of your company?
SM: Well, it was changing over very rapidly beginning in 1959. It’s hard to say the main concern because by that time we had made up our minds to change the emphasis, change the direction of our growth away from cotton into manufacturing and that sort of thing.
DC: I knew—I wasn’t—
SM: Primarily manufacturing products from cotton seed and soybeans and agricultural products that we already handled, which wasn’t quite the same departure that it might sound, but way from bailed cotton as such
DC: Per se. I didn’t expect you to pin it down to a year, but just a general idea.
SM: I would say that the change in direction took place in ’59.
DC: What do you see as the future of the company?
SM: Well, it’s got lots of future. We’re going to grow in life insurance and perhaps in property and casualty insurance because we’ve got a pretty good start there. We’ve got a lot of capital invested in it that could permit us to—the capacity for carrying a good deal more insurance than we now have. We’re going to grow in the foods business without any question—very substantially in dairy substitutes. The milk support prices give us an umbrella over vegetable oil substitutes just like the support prices for cotton held an umbrella over synthetic fibers back here some years ago. And we’re going to take advantage of that opportunity. We’re already making a number of vegetable oil-based dairy substitute products. One of them is Unique cheese, which has become a very important item in the food manufacturing. It’s used by other processes that make other food products that need cheese in their recipes. It’s a very big item for us. We’re making a protein—several different kinds of proteins—out of soybean flakes, out of whey—which is a waste product in a cheese factory. And there is no end of the kind of things you could make out of these by-products of other food products. That’s where were trying to grow, mainly from things that we’ve develop in our own research laboratory up in Richardson, Texas north of Dallas.
DC: I was about to say, R&D is a very vital part of your company.
SM: (36:56) A very big expense too.
DC: About what percentage?
SM: What do you mean what percentage, of our gross income or—?
SM: Oh, 1%, I guess, of our gross income, gross sales goes to our R&D.
DC: Oh, actually I’m surprised it’s not more than that.
SM: Yeah, but of our net profit it’s a heck of a lot bigger percentage.
DC: Yes, of course. Well, I have gone through my prepared questions, but at the end of every interview I just open it up and ask the interviewee if there’s anything else he’d like to put down on paper. Any other thought you have? (recording interrupted)
SM: The population problem is being handled so differently in different countries. The big conference in—let’s see—Budapest last year made it clear that many of the developing countries want more people, thinking that the more people they have the more labor they have to do work in their country and to produce things and so forth. Many families in Latin countries believe that they must have 10 boys to support them in their old age, even though they can’t support the boys while they’re growing up—can’t educate them, can’t clothe them. That’s sort of an ingrained belief. The same kind of thing is true in India where they believe that the more they have in the their family the better off the parents are without any regard to the dirty trick they’re doing to the children in brining them into this world under those conditions—without the education, without the adequate nutrition to develop a nervous system where they have a chance of making anything out of themselves when they grow up. So I’m a fanatic on that subject, as well as the strictly economic problem of feeding them—of feeding the world’s bursting population. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s a criminal act to bring unwanted children into the world, and children that haven’t got a chance in the circumstances in which they’re born. (recording interrupted)
DC: (39:31) Well, it’s been a most interesting interview, and I want to thank you for giving of your time. And on behalf of the Houston Metropolitan Archives and Research Center, thank you very much.
SM: I want to say one more thing then. Is it running?
SM: If you have the opportunity, go down to the old Houston Cotton Exchange on, I believe it’s Louisiana and Franklin, if you haven’t done it and get into the old library. The collection of books about this community and this area in the 1850s and 1860s—and if you want to do it, go down to the San Jacinto Monument and look in that glass case on the floor of the monument and look at some of the things that George Hill Sr. has collected in there, including the pen diary of my great-grandfather about the things that happened in Texas 125 to 150 years ago.
DC: (40:51) Well, thank you for mentioning those sources. (recording ends)