Smith, Preston 1972, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1988, 1990

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In this series of 10 tapes, former Governor Preston Smith discusses various aspects and accomplishments in his life and political career, including his movie theater business, political influences, his houses in Lubbock, water conservation in Texas, his papers that he donated to the Southwest Collection, and recollections of Harley Sadler. Tape 4 is a speech to the Texas Tech Pre-law Society.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Preston Smith

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: December 18, 1972; February 6, 1975; April 1 and September 22, 1976; December 17, 1979; June 24, 1983; December 8, 1988; June 28 and July 6, 1990

Location: Austin and Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: R. Sylvan Dunn, Sandy Henry, David Murrah, Richard Mason, Leo Goodsell, Beth Elmore

Length: 5 hours 8 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Comments on his papers which he contributed to the Southwest Collection, Lists people to be interviewed: Otice Green, Mrs. Ima Smith, Michael and Jan Smith, Vernon McGee, Dan Petty, Jim Oliver, Harold Dudley, Charlie Guy, Bill Collins, Parker Prouty, and Elo Urbanovsky, Smith classifies his role in education as most important, Emphasizes his support of Texas Tech University, Suggests persons for further interviews.

Tape 1, Side 2: Blank

Tape 2, Side 1: Born in Williamson County, Texas, Lamesa High School, Graduation (1930), Texas Tech, Working, Motion picture business, Harley Sadler, Tent Show, Voting record, Movie owners vs. tent shows (1920s), Resentment toward carnivals, Charlie Guy, Religion, Representation of people, Lobbyists, Sadler as an independent oil producer, Voting with major oil industry, Drilling well, Daughter’s death, Personal characteristics.

Tape 2, Side 2: Blank

Tape 3, Side 1: Importance of public opinion in governing, Office available to public, Papers reflect people, Governmental polling, Steering committees, Campaigns, Mistrust of polls, Reason for choosing Texas Tech for donation, Responsibility of helping communities, Speaking engagements, Correspondence, Progress in education, Traffic safety, Water conservation, Investment of taxes in education.

Tape 3, Side 2: Blank

Tape 4, Side 1: Texas Tech (1930-1934), Texas House of Representatives (1945-1949), Texas Senate (6 years), House and Senate comparison, Lieutenant Governor (1963-1969), Governor (1969-1973), Second campaign, Reminiscences, Presidential election (1976), Candidates, Limitations of Presidential power, Texas, State spending, Budget, Taxes, Legislative procedure, Election, Parliamentary procedure, Introduction of bill, Committees, Calendar, Amendments, Filibustering, Lobbying.

Tape 4, Side 2: Blank

Tape 5, Side 1: Smith’s house in Lubbock, Texas, Decorations and furnishing, Description of interior of present house, Memorabilia and gifts, Reasons for moving to smaller house, Landscaping, Reasons for moving back to Lubbock, Recalls involvement in Lubbock, Texas Bank, West Texas Savings Association, Renovation of previous house, Grounds of current house.

Tape 5, Side 2: Blank

Tape 6, Side 1: Rainfall and runoff inventory, Texas Research League, Constitutional amendment, Water importation, Effect on Houston voters, Architects, State water planning in Texas, Executive vs. Legislative order, Harry Burley: Executive Director of Texas Water Development Board, Water importation (again), In-state conservation program, Marvin Shurbert: Vice Chairman of Texas Water Commission, Resentment of Chairmanship rotation, Voter turnout on bond issues, Harry Burley (again), Process of selection, Tom McFarlane, Role played, Water importation (again), Political expediency, Water issue under Governor John Connally, Conservation program under Preston Smith, Senator Montford’s legislative program, Killed by politics, Potential for importation, Smith’s beliefs relative to a Texas water program, Smith’s priorities as governor, Change from rural to urban domination in Texas politics, Effect on water issue.

Tape 6, Side 2: Blank

Tape 7, Side 1: Background, Georgetown, Texas, Lamesa, Texas, Texas Tech, Business degree (1934), Eddy Lee, Opening first theater, "Second Choice", Independent theaters, Griffith Amusement Company, Business expansion, Joe Louis vs. Max Schmelling film, Borger Theater, Sunshine Theater in Clovis, New Mexico, Arcallian Theater in Lubbock, Griffith Amusement Company (again), Lindsey Theater, Lubbock Management Company, Motion Picture Industry, Studios, Technology, Sound, 3-D movies, Building contractors, William G. McMillian, Paul Jones, J. B. Maxey, H. R. Bundock, Motion picture popularity, Location of theaters, Celestino Luna, Impact of movie business on political career, Federal and state taxation, Impact on movie industry.

Tape 7, Side 2: Clifton Theater

Tape 8, Side 1: Early life, Education, Importance, Influence of Governor James Ferguson, Ferguson Forum, Weaver School, Sunset School (Gaines County), Jim Ferguson (again), Assessment of Governorship, Smith as a Populist Governor, Campaign, Otis Green, Grass-roots campaign, Influence of media on campaign, Teachers’ salaries, State sales tax, Price Daniel, Ben Barnes, Educational accomplishments, Pre-school program, Texas State Technological Institutions, Political influences, Vernon McGee, Otis Green (again), Weldon Hart.

Tape 8, Side 2: Avalanche-Journal did not endorse, Using newspaper editorials for endorsements, Texas Higher Education, Permanent University Fund, Bill to divide fund, Confederate Veterans Fund, Cecil E. Evans, Peveto Bill, Early business success, Lubbock businesses (1930s), Texas Tech Theater, "Naughty Marietta" (Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy), Lubbock Management Company, Medical Services in Lubbock, Texas Tech Medical School, Ronald Marcellos’ interviews with Smith.

Tape 9, Side 1: Parents, Marriage, Children, Preston Smith—early life, Childhood, Corn Hill, Texas (Williamson County), Farm life, Move to West Texas, First impression of Plains, Life in Central Texas, Move to West Texas (again), Farm life (again), Gaines and Dawson counties, Dust Bowl, Farm life (again), Entertainment, Eating rabbits (Hoover hogs), Interest in politics, Governor Jim Ferguson, One-room schools, Interest in politics (again), Desire to become governor, Farm life (again).

Tape 9, Side 2: Poverty, Move to Lamesa, Texas, Early employment, Desire to continue education, Father’s assistance, Lamesa, Texas, Schools, Family, Skipping school, Brothers and sisters, Texas Technological College, Travel from Lamesa to Lubbock, Great Depression, Boarding, Daily routine, Choosing a business degree, Financial troubles, Social life, Meeting wife, Changes at Texas Tech, President Grover Murray, Texas Legislature, Southwest Conference Membership.

Tape 10, Side 1: Permanent University Fund, Peveto Bill.

Tape 10, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1912-1973

Bulk Dates: 1920s-1973

Access Information

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