The Catalyst was a notorious underground newspaper, published in the hippie heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the even more notoriously conservative community of Lubbock, Texas. Written and produced by local residents, faculty and students at Texas Tech University, the paper satirized the college, the city government and the local daily newspaper, the Avalanche-Journal, while also offering national, state and local political news as well as cultural commentary.

Catalyst topics ranged from the Vietnam conflict and pervasive racial discrimination to police brutality and the perceived hypocrisy of prominent figures in the community. Such "leaders" took great offense at being parodied, of course, and used every means to attempt to stifle the criticism. Beatings, blacklisting, false arrests and threats against the paper's printers were common. In January of 1969 the University moved to block campus distribution of the paper due to "vulgar words," "poor taste," and "contributing to a disrespect for authority," particularly in lampooning the school's football coach.

Aided by the ACLU, the nominal sponsor of the paper, the Unitarian student fellowship known as the Channing Club, sued in federal court. After two days of testimony the judge granted immediate relief and lifted the ban as an invasion of First Amendment rights, a decision frequently cited in student press freedom cases ever since. This victory did not end the harrassment, however, and arrests and new city ordinances continued the assault, especially when the staff continued advocacy on topics such as voter registration of racial minorities. Another dozen issues were published after the federal trial.

This Web site celebrates the courage of these volunteer journalists and provides background on their accomplishments:

See also THE STORY BEHIND THE CATALYST: CHANNING CLUB VS. THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF TTU. By: Duemer, Lee S., Bankes, Paul, Boss, Jeffrey, Cochran, Amanda, McCrary, Jaci, Salazar, Dora, College Student Journal, 01463934, Sep2005, Vol. 39, Issue 3. ABSTRACT: "The lawsuit Channing Club vs. The Board of Regents of Texas Tech University, 1970 has been used as a legal precedent in many student press censorship cases. A thorough understanding of Channing has become increasingly important since Hazelwood and other related decisions. Though Channing has been frequently cited in the literature, comparatively little is known about the specifics of the case. This study adds to the body of literature on student affairs by detailing why Texas Tech University (TTU) administrators sought to ban its distribution, and why the court ruling sided with the newspaper."

CENSORSHIP AND RESTRAINT: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE CATALYST. By: Bankes, Paul, Boss, Jeffrey, Cochran, Amanda, Duemer, Lee, McCrary, Jaci, Salazar, Dora, College Student Journal, 01463934, Sep2001, Vol. 35, Issue 3. ABSTRACT: "The Channing Club case serves as a landmark case from which numerous other cases of censorship have been decided. it also is a reminder of the boundaries of administrative authority to limit student speech."

The Catalyst Story: Channing Club vs. the Board of Regents of Texas Tech Univ.


The Catalyst

Censorship and restraint: lessons learned from the Catalyst


Notes from the Cultural Wasteland

By Morris Sullivan [3]

Catalyst issues at TTU Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library >
"The Catalyst" was a controversial, underground student newspaper at Texas Tech University during a time of political, social and academic upheaval. It was comprised of articles, reviews, editorials, satires, parodies and political statements. The Vietnam War, politics, protests, racial discord, and drug use were the most common themes discussed. Numerous attempts were made by the university and City of Lubbock to shut down the paper. In 1970, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of The Catalyst by The Channing Club, a Texas Tech student youth group organized by the Unitarian Church. The ruling in favor of The Catalyst is one of the most notable court cases in the area of freedom of the press for school newspapers. It is often cited in cases of censorship of student presses. A copy of the proceeding's transcript is available through interlibrary loan.

Working for Peace and Freedom in West Texas

By Bobby Duncan

On the Ides of March in 1987 a few former Texas Tech students gathered at a Hyde Park house in Austin to celebrate a unique reunion. For, although most of us had been enrolled at Texas Technological College, this wasn't your usual class reunion. After 17 years, curiosity had gotten the best of us. We had to see how a band of "dissolute hippies" had evolved.

Most of us had been together less than a year--from the fall of 1969 until the following May of 1970. But in that short time we shared experiences that would bond us for many years to follow, even though some of us did not keep in touch.

That bonding process happened elsewhere. In fact, it occurred nationwide; and, as in any wartime era, the whole country was swept up in it. What made us different, perhaps, was that our numbers were so small and our challenges so great. Only a very few in Lubbock would challenge a system so encrusted in prejudice and conservatism that any hint of change met with stern resistance. And for most of us, it would be the only time we would take a political stance, would oppose a war and, in our naivete and youthfulness, take a risk.

Texas Tech and the Lubbock community would face, maybe for the first time, renegade students who would continually pester them and become thorny implants in the side of authority. We were impudent enough to stage silent protests and moratoriums, march on the Administration Building, wear black armbands to symbolize the Viet Nam deaths, grow our hair long, and still attend classes (albeit in a rather disheveled state).

There were other unpopular causes that we crusaded for--at one point we even tried to get the name Texas Technological College changed to Texas State University. Although Tech had a Liberal Arts College, its name branded it as a geek school. We registered voters, protested segregation, volunteered in the community, opposed commercial censorship, and counseled draft resisters. The first Earth Day came when at least some of us were still on campus.

The most important vehicle for change created during that time was an underground newspaper, the Catalyst. Its founders were sophisticated enough to get sponsorship from the local Unitarian Church and the Channing Club, its youth ministry. As a church-sponsored organization, Tech granted it the same privileges other campus groups enjoyed.

However, when the Catalyst continued to print news that took jabs at the Tech administration, the local politicos, the Nixon Administration, and two other newspapers--the ultra-conservative Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and the timid University Daily--it was banned from sale on campus. The Catalyst staff sued for freedom of speech, a basic human right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. Amazingly, the scrappy little newspaper won its battle and set a legal precedent for other campus newspapers nationwide.

The Tech administration had not given up without a fight. They enlisted state attorney general Waggoner Carr to join the defense team and colluded with the authorities to use all means to stop publication. Each issue of the paper had to be produced further away as each printer was intimidated into turning us away. At one point the editor was thrown in jail for possession of drugs. His drugs, however, turned out to be prescription cough medicine from the Texas Tech infirmary. Because the arrest came during finals, however, everyone on campus believed it was simply harassment.

Many other events served to bond us together in the face of adversity. A candlelight peace vigil ended with the crowd being battered by eggs and vegetables. There was a counter-march against the Kappa Alpha fraternity's annual parade of its pledge class, dressed in rags and blackface as pickaninnies. A futile and hilarious attempt to take over the ROTC building brought out the Lubbock police department's expensive new riot tank on its first run.

There were jeers and threats by ROTC cadets and the students we called Aggies, who wore cowboy hats and were, after all, just like we had been before we turned bad. Yet there were delightful surprises. One man in cowboy hat and boots stood with us during a protest, even though he probably didn't espouse our views. But he felt we had the right to express them. Then, of course, there was the more plausible theory of his being an undercover policeman just making sure we didn't start a riot.

Lubbock's counterculture underground also created music concerts in McKenzie Park, organized by a woman we called Mary the Eskimo. During events like these others like us from the town expanded our numbers. And, to cap it all off, there was what became known as the Lubbock Flop Festival, a music festival in an old dusty cotton field that drew no national rock bands (as advertised). It did, however, manage to attract a state convention of about 200 DPS patrolmen, who seized the opportunity to practice their maneuvers on us daily until those who weren't arrested were washed out by torrents of rain and sandstorms of Biblical proportions.

These memories, and many others, were dredged up during the reunion. The invitation asked people to bring Lubbock memorabilia. A special call was sent out for anyone who had a "Lucky Me, I Live in Lubbock" bumper sticker. Finis Nabors, who has lived in Austin since the 70s, arrived with the winning sticker--and its counterpart: "F--- Me, I Live in Lubbock."

Kent Cowan, who now has an electronics company in Midland, brought his Texas Tech identification card and--what all male students had to carry then but few have now--his draft card. Scott Wilmot, though contacted at the last minute, drove up from Houston and brought a complete set of Catalysts. Peter Lilly, from New York City, brought a copy of the petition the Catalyst had filed against Texas Tech. Dino Sinclair, ever the flower child, had worn a blue work shirt (with a painted flower on the back) almost daily to classes at Tech. Its remnants, with flower intact, were carefully preserved in a glass frame for display. My photographs of the group in 1969 and 1970, which were not appreciated for their content by my photojournalism teacher at Tech, became a frame of reference for us, the before and after.

It wasn't until the morning after the party, while taking down the photographs and decorations, that Jon Holmes remembered who Kathy Williams was. Kathy, now working in social services in Lubbock, had driven down the night before the party. Her photograph must have reminded Jon of the time she was known as the "Sex and Drugs Girl" because of her famous speech at an outside rally about the effect of marijuana on sexuality. Ironically, she was a virgin and didn't do drugs. But she read the current literature and spoke with some authority, if not from practical experience.

What had happened to us in 17 years? Many are in social services or health fields--Lynn Fisk, Steve Heath, Dino Sinclair, Kathy Williams, and John McClung. Two men, Finis Nabors and Virgil Massey, are working, have families, and are going to school to start new careers. Jon Holmes, a writer and recently elected to the Massachusetts board of the Civil Liberties Union, avowed he was "still fighting the Law even though the Law is still winning." Some of us have actually not changed very much. Artist Cecille Hollyfield has been selling t-shirts on the drag for years and David Bearden, a typesetter at the Univ. of Texas' Daily Texan and reporter for East Austin's Villager, is still supporting his favorite cause, civil rights in the black community. Even those who might be considered to have upwardly mobile jobs--Peter Lilly in a major New York accounting firm, John Trotter and Scott Wilmott in a Houston computer firm--could not by any flexing of the imagination be labeled Yuppies.

The reunion came closer to resembling a family barbecue than a gathering of former Viet Nam war protesters. Hank Fletcher of Houston, like a favorite uncle, videotaped the event. Also like a family member who couldn't be there, Syd Shaw, now a Washington, DC-based staffer for UPI, phoned and talked to everyone at the party for over two hours. After all, we were, to some degree, an extended family because the events that almost tore the country apart had brought us together. Now most of us are relatively secure and settling down to a traditional life. So traditional that we plan on having another reunion.

Join Flickr [4] group and "Party Like Its 1969!"

Usual suspects

Jon Holmes, D.L. Bearden, Caroline "Dino" Sinclair, Lynn Fisk and friend at Threadgill's World Headquarters July, 2007.

Add your email to the list on the discussion board.

We need your photos, artifacts and paraphernalia for a proposed exhibit at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. We also propose to place a state historical marker on campus or nearby and will be seeking donations to defray the costs of both this and a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches through the records of government agencies who had us under surveillance.

Please look through your prized possessions and dust them off. We will let you know later where to send them for inclusion in a display. We need photos from the Lubbock tornado aftermath, voter registration, riots and demonstrations, ROTC, the graffiti fence, concerts, under the stairs in the Student Union Building (SUB), the Inner Ear, the Wesley Foundation, the Presbyterian Union Building (the PUB), the Anti-War Moratorium and Teach-In.

We need Freedom Of Information Act government records.

The Southwest Collection at Texas Tech has the following Catalyst holdings:

Volume 1, Numbers 1 through 13

Volume 2, Numbers 1 through 11

Volume 3, the Summer 1971 issue and the October, 1971, issue.

These have been scanned and made into .pdf files. See them here: Catalyst issues at TTU Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library

They think their collection is complete. If this is not true, please let us know. If you have others, please give them or send them on loan to the Southwest Collection.

What they do not have but would love to have is the High Plainsman. Got 'em stashed?

We need any physical artifacts (hippie clothing, posters, fliers...) you may still have from that time in Lubbock -- 1968 - 1972.

Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror


[Protest activity quiet on Tech campus [5]

Overt racism in Wall Hall[6]]

Rubrics and Tendrils of Richard Gehr[7]

Southwest 70 Peace Festival[8]

Texas International Pop Festival 1969 [9]

Personal recollections

What a Time

I just got a link to this site from Andy Winnegar. Wow, talk about a blast from the past. I'm sure some of you don't know me, because in 69-70, I was a Jr. at Lubbock High. Though I did hang with Andy, Larry Hays, David Thomas etc. I was one of five students at LHS suspended for 3 days for wearing a black armband during the Moratorium (October 16, 1969). Only to be called later that day and told to return to school after the school received a call from the ACLU. As I recall, the Catalyst staff was behind that.

I was at several editorial meetings and spent much of my summer of 70 on a street corner pushing the Catalyst. I'd forgotten a lot of that time, but I was at that candlelight vigil, most, if not all of the Mackenzie Park parties arranged by Mary Eskimo. Remember the night Street Theatre was born and it flooded? Later on Doug Hilburn and I produced the final year of Gentle Sundays. Of course I too suffered the flop festival. Them was the days!

Allen Parker

The Happening

In 1967 David visited his brother Jim who was senior at Tech and they attended a "Happening" on campus together. The Engineering Dept. built an art structure out of scrap lumber and tin as part of the 35th annual Tech Science and Engineering Show. People decorated it with peace symbols, handed out flowers and came to the Happening dressed as Keystone Cops, clowns, etc. A musical combo, brought in from Dunbar, Lubbock's segregated black high school, played. It was a very pleasant experience until the a U.S. Army tank showed up and ran over the structure, effectively radicalizing everyone present.

Jim was the first and probably only Conscientious Objector in the Yoakum County Draft Board. Jim now teaches sociology at SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York. David now is the campus education chair at the University of Phoenix in Austin.

David and Jim Bearden

It Was All a Mistake!

According to the University Daily of April 25, 1967, on the previous Saturday (April 22) the Happening crowd was swollen to thousands by the presence on campus of the Interscholastic League competition of high school students in drama, track and tennis. Suddenly a U.S. Army tank, on campus as part of a recruiting drive, leveled the Happening building at the request of Ronald E. McFarland and the other engineering students who planned the Happening.

The crowd misread this as aggression and attacked the tank with broken lumber and whatever was at hand. The tank treads were jammed by debris, and it ground to a halt. Someone sprayed shaving cream over the tank periscope. When Sgt 1st Class Means, the driver, opened the hatch, he was injured by a thrown object. The students then set fire to the rubble.

This incident took place amid at atmosphere of tension occasioned by, among other things, a 10-year suspension by American Association of University Professors for board violations of academic freedom [10] and [11], a lawsuit by ACLU that nullified the required student loyalty oath, revelation that the administration had installed two-way mirrors in the library restrooms, a student food boycott in the dorms and the overnight destruction of a traffic management kiosk by a Molotov cocktail. Remarkably, with its editor on vacation in Washington, DC, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal chose not to report on the Army tank incident at all.

Jon Holmes

Set & Setting: How We Lived When This Began

On my birthday in 1966 I got to join 3,000 others in the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum to hear James Brown. These were the days of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)”, both on the charts. The days of the big band, when Maceo and Melvyn Parker, “Pee Wee” Ellis and Jimmy Nolen and all the Famous Flames vocalists were tearing it up.

As the concert began there was a rope down the middle of the dance floor, with white kids on one side and black kids on the other. That lasted less than a four-beat bar, and almost immediately the police and fire marshal took the stage to announce that there was a bomb threat and everyone had to evacuate the building. They put us out into 25-degree weather and a howling High Plains blue norther. If they hoped we would all go home, they were greatly mistaken. After a half-hour everyone streamed back in. The rope was back up but came down immediately. Just as before, the hall was again cleared by the police but everyone came back in a half-hour.

This time the rope was down and stayed down. Brown, his management and the band, exhausted as they were from traveling to this one-night stand, must have made it clear that their contract called for a specific number of tunes and they would play all night if necessary. Certainly we intended to stay until we got thoroughly funked up. The concert and dance went ahead--ropeless--to the delight of the paying public. Two days later the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (A-J) reported only the earliest of the threats and hall-clearings, saying this happened everywhere the group appeared. Editor Charlie Guy called for an investigation, but nothing came of it, of course.

A chronology of A-J editorials and headlines through that period reveals a growing racial militance of the paper across 1966. Four days after the concert, on January 17 subscribers were confronted with:

  • “IN OKLAHOMA: School Riot Blamed On Integration” and
  • “SPLIT DECISION: Court Rules Negroes Can Use Georgia Park.”

By September 2 the A-J was startling its readers by running a syndicated editorial cartoon showing a “pickaninny” climbing a ladderback chair to reach a double-barrel shotgun marked “BLACK POWER,” hanging above the mantle. On the sixth they saw:

  • “Ghetto Negroes More Concerned With Housing, Crime Than Integration” and
  • RABBLE ROUSING UNNECESSARY: Cicero March Had No Real Reason.”

Six days later it was “MOST VIEW POLICEMEN AS THEIR SWORN ENEMIES: Many Negroes Threaten Violence Against Whites.” On September 17 the lead editorial read: “FROM FIRST TITLE TO LAST: Civil Rights Bill Too Mischevious,” and on the 24th the cartoon showed Rep. Adam Clayton Powell firing a “BLACK POWER” gun from the pulpit while preaching peace. October ran to:

  • "BLACK POWER GETS ADVERSE REACTION: Administration Pushing Integration Too Fast..." (10/2) and
  • "ALL-WHITE AREA: Negro Is Surprised By Turmoil" (10/5, about the dangers of block-busting).

But you get the idea.

There was a concomitant and growing militance by the A-J about the U.S. misadventure in Vietnam. On January 3, 1966, a secondary editorial stated, “The longer it lasts, the more the war in Viet Nam [sic] will create stresses and strains in the economy,” while the lead editorial proclaimed that Ho Chi Minh’s “totalitarian regime [is] ready and willing to join the Red Chinese in forcing Communism on all of Asia. Presidents of the U.S., their foreign policy advisers and majorities in Congress have consistently held that this objective must be blocked for the security of this country and its allies. It is difficult to believe that these men, with all the information available to them, have been dreaming.”

Turns out, of course, it was all an international nightmare. Soon the A-J was reporting, “SCORCHED EARTH POLICY: Paratroops Burn Houses, Crops in Viet Cong Area” and “War Causing More Casualties to Civilians Than Military, Medic Reports” (both January 8). But the bulk of A-J coverage was about “pistol-packing pastors” (1/9), REDS EXECUTE U.S. CIVILIANS (1/14 p. 1 lead story about CIA contractors working for Air America), “Young POW from North Viet Nam Finds Reds Are Liars” and “Former Spur High Athlete War Victim" (both 1/17).

By September the A-J excoriated the U.S. Department of Justice for lenience toward war protesters (9/2) and ran stories headlined: “New Combat Units Eager For Battle” (9/4), “Johnson Draws Big Crowds, Cheers For Viet Policy” (9/6), “Castro Has Troops In Viet Nam” (9/9), “Reds Push Terror Campaign” (9/10), “Town In Oregon Mourns War Dead While Professor Writes Pacifist Poems” (9/11) and “Texan Encounters Spirit Of Alamo In Viet Nam Battle” (9/27). The foreboding continued: “Viet Nam War May Hold Fate of East-West Relations” (9/11) and “War Linked To Freedom” (9/16). That same week brought

  • “VC Hung Prisoners Upside Down, Put Ants on Faces” (9/14) and
  • “AND CHILDREN DIDN’T CRY: Village Bombed, Burned To Prevent Enemy Use” (9/15).

Few realized or saw the consequences when U.S. “military advisers” assumed responsibility for buttressing the colonial holdouts of South Vietnam in 1956. A decade later and faced with burgeoning U.S. costs and casualties, even the A-J was questioning the course. While recommending that decision-making and war powers be taken away from the civilian leadership and turned over to the military, the paper opined on October 17, 1966, that, “This much is for sure. The Viet Nam situation is showing no signs of promising a relatively early end of the fighting through superior military strength. And, after all, if that’s not what we are seeking, what are we doing fighting there?” (The fall of Saigon would end the conflict on April 30, 1975, after another nine years, leaving millions of civilian dead in Indochina, more than 58,200 U.S. killed, 150,000 wounded and almost 2,000 still listed as missing.)

Jon Holmes

A Sign Of The Times ~ Spring 1969

Although the war was very much on my mind, being classified 1A and just waiting for my own lucky number to be drawn from a big glass jar full of "bullets" on national TV, there was plenty to keep me and everyone else busy until then. At Lubbock High School we got sent home for facial hair, or our sideburns extending below the ear lobe or our hair touching our collar. The teachers and administrators would even send girls home if, upon being made to genuflect in front of everyone else, the hems of their skirts did not touch the floor. (How embarrasing!)

If there was a black armband involved, it was an automatic ticket out of the building. There seemed to be this feeling that if the authorities, E.C. Leslie and Knox Williams, gave even an inch, then the whole world would come to an end. It took a while, but they finally gave an inch and, not long after, students were wearing shorts to school and men's facial hair was common.

What makes me proud is that the world didn't come to an end and we were all part of this radical change in our local society that was profoundly overdue. When I look back on those times, it is a wonder to me that plain old common sense did not prevail. All we did was push the envelope a little by haulin' off to Austin to buy some bell-bottom Levis.

Jackie Boyd

A True Story, I Swear

Daylight Saving Time was just being implemented nationwide during this era. One day at lunch I was walking through the Student Union Building cafeteria, past the table where the Aggies usually hung out. One lanky sort in a cowboy hat was expounding to his rapt audience: "Goldang gubmint," he said, "Here we are in the middle of the worst drought in thirty years, and the goldang gubmint wants to go and give us an extra hour of daylight!"


The Fond Farewell

One tight group of friends from all parts of the world who met at Tech shared a house in the barrio near the intersection of 4th St. and Ave. Q. Everyone in the group had taken a one hour astronomy class together and it coincidentally was their last final at Tech -- May 11, 1970. After taking the exam everyone went over to the house on 5th St. for one last get together. The plan was to leave on the morning of May 12.

Let us not forget the loving send off that Lubbock gave us on that last night together--the twin tornados. [12] Our house was the largest in a cluster of smaller houses that all lost their roofs during the storm. Our house had broken windows and the walls were streaked with mud but we were safe crowded together with blankets covering our heads. After the storm passed, it was clear that no one was leaving as the streets were full of debris and blockaded due to broken power lines. All of our neighbors came over because our house was the only one with a roof in tact. We spread the mattresses out on the floor and smoked cigarettes till everyone felt safe enough to move on to other locations. None of the group of friends were able to leave the next day and stayed on to help in relief efforts in nearby barrios where nothing but sticks remained where homes were previously. The tiny Catholic church in the heart of this community remained undamaged.

J.B. McC with a little help from his friends

Notes from Johnny Hughes

Author of the novel, Texas Poker Wisdom, now available at for more information, reviews, excerpts.

The Catalyst? It effected me for years. However, I am very lucky and it all worked to my advantage in the long run.

Once, the Texas Tech Library had a display that included documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Try it, I jammed it at the Tech Administration, repeatedly to save my job and lasted twenty years on the Faculty as a Lecturer.

The display showed that there was this mysterious Agent 44 whose job was to spy and report to the FBI. We were important via Operation Cointelpro, look it up.

I remember who I think was this Dude. Maybe an Army Captain and Law School student or grad student. I remember him in the Catalyst office trying to pass out violent, Black Panther lit, a common tactic.

Remember when the printers kept quitting? There is a book that I will find the title of for you guys about the Rag in Austin and Cointelpro. At least none of us were murdered by the FBI's helpers, like in Austin. Maybe more than one.

So remember Fletcher gets popped for Tech cough syrup by the Lubbock P.D., and then released by our sainted lawyer, Thomas Jefferson Griffin, who was to come to my aid again at crisis time. Then Fletcher was popped again by the Sheriff's office for the same thing. That happened all over the country to radicals but MOST especially the underground newspaper people.

Once, right after the Catalyst trial, I am sitting in the Student Union Building when two campus cops come to me with a strange story. They said they knew I was innocent of an accusation and they were on my side. They say this woman accused me of feeling of her tit on University Avenue in front of Weeks Hall. She said I had asked to see her tits. She had unbuttoned her shirt and I copped a feel, which I was not above, but not in that setting.

She had gone to the campus cops with this complaint in the summer, the same afternoon I was at Rolf and Soapy's wedding. She had drawn a composite sketch of a skinny, short Hispanic, with short hair. I was rather fat. Munchies.

I go downtown to see the District Attorney's junior guy with John Fletcher. I was a little stupid on picking a reputable sidekick. It is obvious they never meant to charge me or Fletcher, just get a record of it. The FBI would go to future employers with old widow's made-up gossip.

Anyway, when I get my Ph.D., I can't get a job. Later, I joined the Texas Tech faculty on the sly and they spent twenty years trying to fire me. I used the exact, precise tricks I learned on the newspaper to end up with pension, benefits, lasting to the day they required twenty years.

When they tried very hard to fire me, I used the Freedom of Info Act to get my own personnel file. I went with the Daily Toreador's most radical editor in history to the lawyer's office and just gave the files to him. Turns out they were reading all my email and even routing it to the Dean. The newspaper attacked the Dean, and I got he, the Associate Dean going out the door. They formed a committee of three to rubber stamp firing me. They labeled me a JOURNALISTIC VANDAL. Bingo! Back to the Catalyst trial like I was wanting. First Amendment. I ran for the closest newspaper.

I used the Freedom of Information Act over and over. I sent for the administrators' records at the Lubbock Club, an expensive country club place in a downtown skyscraper. I gave the records to the Avalanche-Journal, and a watered-down version appeared on page one. Those records were the most shocking thing I ever saw in forty-five years at Tech. The administrators paid $50 minimum for bottles of wine up to $75 and were obviously taking wine home. They'd spent $45 a head for food and $100 a head for booze, and you tell me no one was publicly drunk.

I am still at it, the lone voice left out here, but I want an edition of the Catalyst to hit the streets just once.

I was on the radio last week talking about the Catalyst. The Avalance-Journal is now selling their newspaper to cars from the median. Remember they passed a law against that to bust the Catalyst after banning sales on campus?

I'm listening to John Stewart's California "Bloodlines", to which the Fletcher brothers turned me on. I remember the big music festival where Fletcher had 10,000 copies. Right? We sat in the back of a rental trunk, blasted, and didn't sell twelve copies. Eddie Snow, now dead, had just been released from a mental hospital. He told Kathy Aarino, "You are my little dancer." They moved in together. I remember Eddie telling all the people with their backs plastered to the truck that he was not violent or dangerous.

I remember going over to the house of Peter or John or David or all three and several beautiful hippie women. Everybody was blasted and they were setting fire to a big wad of plastic hanging from the ceiling. Shout fire. Crowded Theatre.

I remember hearing about the same crew when the Tornado hit. Anybody else share a memory??

Hey, you guys, I have a novel, "Texas Poker Wisdom", coming out in December. Think of ways I can sell it. I have been writing ever since my start on the Catalyst, but it will never be that much fun again.

I have written several gambling, poker memoir pieces. Key word my name at They have great interviews with Lubbock musicians and artists. Chris Ogelsby, the owner/editor, has a great new book for sale there.

Texas Poker Wisdom, my novel, is now for sale on, and at fine booksellers world-wide, by order. Call them and they will order you a copy with no deposit required.

Johnny Hughes

Lubbock Then and Lubbock Now by Johnny Hughes, author of the novel Texas Poker Wisdom. February 2008

Lubbock Then and Lubbock Now The chosen Lubbockians interviewed by Chris Oglesby recall a wonderful and unique place, but equally a time period that will never come again. In the mid-fifties, at the very dawn of Rock 'n Roll, I went to High School with Buddy Holly and heard him play live. In a couple of years there, I saw the greats of Rock 'n Roll without leaving Lubbock: Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. Elvis played Lubbock five times before he got very famous, mostly the Cotton Club, but also the Quinn Connelly Pontiac show room and the Fair Park. However, every thing about those memories are as much the times as they are the place.

In the late 1960s, early 1970s, Hippie Daze, Lubbock had a large, vibrant hippie culture. Texas Tech had a protest group like every other college. My old compadres from the Catalyst, Lubbock's counter-culture, underground newspaper of those times, have been writing some memoir things about the times. Again, it was the times and the place. The Catalyst alums want Lubbock or Texas Tech to erect a plaque to honor them and the war protesters in Lubbock. That will happen about the same time the Tooth Fairy marries Paris Hilton.

As some non-Texas songwriter said, "The times they are a'changing."

Here's a bit about how I find Lubbock now. In Lubbock, I can observe the passing of Texas culture as a constant process of sad change. As I leave the house, I can go West to the Starbucks, University, Medical district, chain restaurant, Mall, and newer parts of town and streets that look like any other medium size town. The older family owned businesses close and generic anywhere America replaces it. The horse auction even closed.

I can go East to the blue collar parts of town where the restaurant has native Texas food, clothing, language, and a certain laid back humorous attitude. At the Ranch House, people eat with their hats on most of which are gimme with cowboy hats in the minority. The men have enormous amounts of stuff in their shirt pockets, pens, papers, contracts. Older ladies still have big big hair. On the West side of town, people are ambitious, faster paced, more stressed, serious, and road raged. Most are on cell phones or wishing they were. Folks leave each other alone.

At the Ranch House, the pace is slower and it is o.k., even expected that you converse with strangers in certain comforting rituals, "You working hard or hardly working?"

"Is is cold enough for you?" Some stranger asks in the friendliest manner. Any answer will do.

On the older side of town, a cheese omelet, whole wheat toast and coffee is four bucks. At Starbuck's, most uptight yuppies drop four bucks for custom coffee.

It's like in the University/Medical area, the worker bees are all becoming something or writing a resume for the future. At the Ranch House or the Truck Stop, folks are already what they are. They appear happier. They don't appear as healthy. They don't appear as well off financially but they have their life and it is all right with them.

I've always noticed that my heavily West Texas poker pals laugh and joke all through the day and like each other. We celebrate Texas but all that is passing. My former academic colleagues were nearly all from the Midwest, a humorless, boring group that always badmouthed Texas. None ever leave, tenure being so forgiving.

The small towns hold on to Texas food, language, and values in such a way that they are ten years behind if you call it behind.

I'll head for breakfast at the truck stop where I'll be observing the hats, and the howdies and the ,"Can I hep' yew?" Folks will be reading the paper and taking their time and drinking too much coffee. I do so love Texas but I am afraid that much of what is so special about Texas culture is fading away. It is hard for the new folks to tell the fake Texas culture from the real. Whatever you do, don't wise up or wake up the Yankees that keep moving here.

Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel Texas Poker Wisdom.

"Born With A Silver Foot In His Mouth"

From Texas Monthly, October 1988

Silver Tongues: Pretenders to authorship of Ann Richards' boffo one-liners are proliferating faster than Howard Hughes' heirs. TV newswoman and Texan Linda Ellerbee, among others, has groused that she was there first with the joke about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels. Now comes Johnny Hughes, the coordinator of petroleum land management at Texas Tech, who supports his claim with a 1970 copy of The Catalyst, Lubbock's countercultural rag of yore. Sure enough, there's the line of contention near the end of a Hughes-written column that is .... "We hear that Dr. Murray comes from a very rich family, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

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