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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Farewell to Presto

I was saddened to read that former Texas governor Preston E. Smith passed away yesterday. Gov. Preston E. Smith Inevitably nicknamed "Presto," Smith followed the vastly more charismatic and famous John Connally as the state's chief executive, and preceded the equally dull Dolph Briscoe.  Although Smith lived most of his life in Lubbock, he grew up, and graduated from high school, in my hometown of Lamesa, 60 miles south of Lubbock.  As a result, I got to march with my high school band, the mighty Golden Tornadoes, in his second inaugural parade in 1971 when I was a high school freshman.  I can still remember him greeting and thanking us on the Capitol grounds, dressed in a gleaming white Stetson with his trademark polka-dotted bow tie peaking out from beneath his raincoat.  (Oddly, he wore a "regular" tie in his official portrait โ€” a pity, that.)  I remember being vaguely disappointed that he wasn't taller.

Preston Smith wasn't a bad governor, although his political career ended badly with him placing third in the Democratic primary in 1972 after he'd been on the fringes of the Sharpstown scandal.  But memories of Presto have faded rapidly for most Texans old enough to remember him at all.  Texans seem to expect that office to be held by someone with a big personality โ€” like Connally, Ann Richards, or Dubya.

Posted by Beldar at 11:51 PM in Current Affairs, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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