It was the summer of 1974. I had a freshly minted B.A. in anthropology from the Univer-sity of New Mexico, a temporary job at the LBJLibrary that was about to end, and a boyfriendwho was leaving me for Scientology.I needed a plan.I took to wandering the campus on my lunchhour, as awed by the power and the might andthe marble as a peasant from the provincescome to Imperial Rome. The journalism build-ing called to me with its air conditioning anddrink machines. I ambled around the cool,empty halls sipping my Diet DP and vaguely fantasizing about being a girl reporter. On thethird ﬂoor, I stopped to peruse a bulletin board. As I was considering whether to pluck a phonenumber off of an ad for “Roommate Needed”or one from the equally plausible “Passenger toSeattle Wanted,” a thin, cracking voice from anunseen source startled me, “May I help you?”It was summer break. The only open dooron the entire ﬂoor led to what I’d taken to be abroom closet.
HE BEST THING THAT THE UNIVERSITY OFTEXAS EVER DID FOR ME WAS TO STICK A CAMERA IN FRONT OF MY FACE AND OFFICIALLY JUSTIFY WHAT I ALREADY WAS: AN OBSERVER, A RECORDER, A VOYEUR, AN INTROVERT DRIVENBY INSATIABLE CURIOSITY.
I peeked in. It was a small, windowless ofﬁceupholstered from ﬂoor to ceiling with teeteringpiles of paper. At its center was a slight, elderly man, his pronounced buckteeth displayed ina friendly smile. His manner was courtly in anold-fashioned way, more Southern than Texan,more country than city.The old gent seemed to have all the time in theworld and an inexplicable eagerness to spendevery second of it chatting with a clueless strangerfrom New Mexico. I took him to be some sort of emeritus presence, a former professor so belovedthat he was allowed to linger long after retirement.Though I left feeling as if I’d had an audience witha skinny Buddha, I didn’t take the application he’dgiven me for his “program” seriously. I stuffed itin my backpack and forgot about it.Until three days later. I was at work on the ﬁfthﬂoor of the LBJ Library, unloading big brownboxes of miscellanea—photos of Lynda Bird’smakeover for her date with George Hamilton;letters from schoolchildren outraged that Presi-dent Johnson had lifted his beagles, Him and
In my ﬁrst photoclass at UT, we were allissued Polaroids and wentof to Pease Park to click ofshots o each other.
This cowgent epitomizescowboy cool at an Old-timersRodeo in Cameron, Texas.In rodeo broken bones andblood are worn as proudly aslicense-plate size champion-ship belt buckles.