The Dallas Morning News Summer Book Club, featuring The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, begins tomorrow (Sunday, July 26). You can join in on the discussion here.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this comprehensive, educational, fun book. There are a lot of highlights — but I think I laughed the hardest in the chapter “The Golden Years,” about the 1950’s. This was the decade when the big money was thrown around in such excess. Here’s my favorite paragraph:
There was the Houston heiress who always flew to Paris with two extra first-class tickets for her two toy poodles, each of whom traveled with jeweled collars and chinchilla furs — furs being something the ladies of Texas Oil knew lots about. In 1951, when a ranch home owned by the oilman L. M. Josey burned to the ground, the Houston Press reported that Mrs. Josey had fought the fire while wearing her mink stole. Irked, Mrs. Josey had her secretary write the paper. “Your story says Mrs. Josey battled the blazer clad in nightgown, robe and mink stole,” the secretary wrote. “We wish to correct this. Mrs. Josey was wearing her marten furs.” (p. 252)
Yes, Big Oil led the Big Rich to spend in very Big Ways — and to do their part to make sure other people knew just how much they had.