By David Stevens
Some people I’d like to interview someday, and it needs to be soon because they’re getting old:
• Any of Robert Walker Jr.’s three children who lived in Friona in 1954.
We all know Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school. That happened in New Orleans in 1960.
Except there’s a state historical marker in Friona that calls that distinction into question. It reports, “Superintendent Dalton Caffey chose to enroll Walker’s three African-American sons in Friona’s only school,” months after the Supreme Court ruled segregation was unlawful.
“He quietly achieved the first integrated public school in Texas,” the marker claims. “Caffey then informed the school board of his decision, and things generally went smoothly for the school and new students.”
Maybe all three of Walker’s sons were in secondary school in 1954 and the Bridges’ distinction holds, but I’d still like to talk to one of them and find out what “things generally went smoothly” meant for that family, 60 years ago.
• Clint Eastwood.
Of course everybody wants to interview Clint Eastwood, but I promise not to ask him about working with the orangutan or what’s his favorite movie or who’s the toughest actor of all time.
I want to know about Tucumcari in 1959 when he lived there six weeks filming “Rawhide.”
I want to have lunch with him at Del’s and ask if the food was better then or now.
I want to know what he thought about Route 66 in those days, if he even had a thought about that historic highway we’d all like to revisit, complete with its neon lights and hotel rooms with garages attached.
I’d like to know if he remembers hearing about the 13-year-old Quay County boy walking into his parents’ bedroom that summer and shooting them with a deer rifle. Gordon Ellis’ father died a few days later.
And I want to know how actress Kipp Hamilton ended up hospitalized for two days after accidentally stabbing herself in the foot with a knife while filming.
I’m also wondering if Sheb Wooley ever tried to pitch a “Rawhide” episode featuring a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater, but I’ll save that question for last so he won’t cut the interview short.
• That girl down in Clovis.
I’ve learned a few things about the subject of a Hank Williams Jr. song in 1975 since mentioning her in a column in April.
Williams was in Clovis not long before the song came out, stopping at a local record store and meeting a young woman similar to the one described in the song. They went away together, though she soon returned to town without him.
No one seems to remember the woman’s name or where she moved after leaving Clovis for good.
I’m pretty sure Williams took some poetic license in writing the song. I doubt she was selling silver and turquoise jewelry when they met, if they met in a record store. But I’d like to know if she really helped Williams write lines to songs he could not complete … where did they eat tacos and where did they take a walk … and is she really the daughter of a driller.
Whoever knew that stuff could happen in Clovis?
David Stevens is editor for the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at: