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‘Previous Yeller’ writer couldn’t deal with success

By Gary Borders

On the peak of the “Previous Yeller” craze, the Palace Theater in Dallas invited canine and their human companions to a particular exhibiting of the movie model of the best-selling guide on Jan. 11, 1958.

Frederick Benjamin Gipson was born on a farm close to Mason in 1908. Life on the western fringe of the Hill Nation was extra hardscrabble than idyllic, however to the younger boy it was a country paradise that made a deep and lasting impression.

Gipson was within the tenth grade, when he noticed his written phrases in print for the primary time. A brief story about two lads, who tracked down a cattle rustler, was the sophomore’s modest contribution to The Branding Iron, the Mason Excessive yearbook. He didn’t take into account it a very noteworthy achievement, however his classmates and lecturers certain did.

Whereas {the teenager} loved all the eye, it didn’t ignite a burning need to change into a author and even an curiosity in larger schooling. He watched the extra bold members of the category of 1926 go off to varsity however selected to remain put after a bookkeeping course in San Antonio soured him on education.

After seven years of working odd outside jobs within the sweltering warmth and freezing chilly, Gipson determined to tag alongside when his youthful brother left for the College of Texas. Within the “huge” metropolis of Austin surrounded by a sea of ​​youthful faces, he felt like a fish out of water till he discovered his place within the journalism division.

Gipson had his freshman English professor to thank for that. The trainer acknowledged uncooked expertise when he noticed it and often learn the older pupil’s essays and tales to the category. It was at his urging that Gipson switched to journalism and joined the employees of the campus newspaper The Each day Texan.

Over the following three years, Gipson blossomed into the shining star of the UT journalism division. He wrote a well-liked column “One Factor and Then One other” that ran on the editorial web page of The Each day Texan, and one among his folksy fiction items appeared in Southwest Evaluate, the literary quarterly revealed by Southern Methodist College, which rewarded him with the princely sum of ten {dollars}.

If Gipson had hung across the college for one more semester or two, he might have departed with diploma in hand. However there was a job ready for him at The Caller-Occasions in Corpus Christi, the place the writer occurred to be a giant fan. Following a farewell dinner attended by his many mates and admirers, he left Austin for the Gulf Coast within the winter of 1937.

As a substitute of beginning out as a cub reporter chained to a desk, Gipson roamed the countryside writing about no matter he wished. The dream task was proper up his alley and inside months the roving columnist had a big and enthusiastic readership.

Throughout his travels, Gipson met a highschool senior in San Angelo by the identify of Tommie Wynn.

Regardless of the 14-year distinction of their ages, they married the blessing of the bride’s mother and father in January 1940.

Gipson had no sooner combed the confetti out of his hair than he was out of labor. His benefactor at The Caller-Occasions had died, and the brand new writer insisted the gypsy journalist punch a clock like everybody else – and for much less cash. He objected to the minimize in pay and was fired on the spot.

Gipson moved again to Mason with a pregnant spouse and no prospects. For so long as he might bear in mind, he had toyed with the concept of ​​incomes a dwelling as a contract author. The time had come to make that dream a actuality.

Six lean years and two youngsters later, the struggling writer revealed his first full-length guide The Fabulous Empire: Colonel Zack Miller’s Story.

The editor of the Southwest Evaluate had given Gipson the concept for a biography of the colourful Wild West showman and even talked Miller into letting the unknown Texan write his life story.

Gross sales of The Fabulous Empire had been respectable, however it was Hound-Canine Man three years later that put Gipson on the literary map. The Guide-of-the-Month choice offered greater than 1 / 4 of one million copies in its first 12 months in print.

With the wolf perpetually banished from his door, Gipson was free to give attention to what he did best-write. The outcome was 5 books in as a few years: The Residence Place (1950), Large Bend: A Homesteader’s Story (1952), Cowhand: The Story of a Working Cowboy (1953), The Path-Driving Rooster (1955) and Recollection Creek (1955).

In Gipson’s eyes, the guide that got here out in 1956 was his finest, and the general public concurred.

Previous Yeller flew off bookshelves to the tune of three million copies within the celebrated creator’s lifetime, and Walt Disney paid the Hill Nation storyteller a king’s ransom for the privilege of turning the sentimental saga right into a big-screen basic.

Fred Gipson had just one extra guide left in him, the sequel to Previous Yeller entitled Savage Sam additionally made right into a Disney film. It was success not poverty that obtained the higher of him, as consuming, medication and melancholy ruined his profession and life previous to his dying in 1973 from a cerebral hemorrhage.

“Homicide Most Texan” is a should learn for followers of true crime and Texas historical past. Order your copy for $24.00 by mailing a verify to Bartee Haile, PO Field 130011, Spring, TX 77393.

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