Mooney’s Musings Essay

Above: Booth Mooney (and Harold Preece) at a Lone Scout Conference in August 1927. Photo from

One of the more interesting folders in the Tevis Clyde Smith collection (housed at Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives) contains Booth Mooney’s letters to Smith. The letters are undated, but since they all appear to have been written while Mooney was the editor of The Junto, they are from between April 1928 to May or June 1929. There’s plenty of internal clues to give some of the letters more specific dates (for example, one of them mentions a national election; so that one is circa November 1928), but I haven’t gotten around to all of them yet.

Anyway, I thought readers of this blog might find some of the following mentions of Bob Howard interesting. So, without further ado, here are the good parts:

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From Mooney’s first letter to Smith, probably circa March or April 1928:

Bob says that he considers you [Smith] the coming poet of the age. He further informs me that you have the true fire. Also, he says you wish to receive The Junto. You will. NOW: I want you to contribute.

The next letter in the stack mentions the death of Herbert Klatt, so it’s circa May 1928:

Bob Howard tells me that you are going to enter the First Novel Contest conducted by Dodd & Mead. Good luck to you. Bob also inquired whether I should enter; I shall not. I am much too lazy to write a novel—it requires enough energy to hammer out short articles and poems.

The next letter mentions the return of the “June issue” of The Junto; since Mooney was only the editor for one June issue, this letter must be circa June/July 1928:

I received the June issue (in which your “Collegiate” was featured) of The Junto back today. Some of the comments proved rather interesting. For example: Bob Howard—”Let’s have more by Smith; the rougher, the better; every man for himself and Hell for all.”


Howard’s “Dust Dance,” Sandburg’s “Chicago,” and others of like type kindle within me a consuming fire, an irresistible thrill to the words and the meaning and the wild chant of the work.

Based on Mooney’s comments about college, and a mention of a meeting “next spring,” the next letter is probably circa early fall 1928:

I, too, find that college is a terrible bore, and I’m not learning a damn thing. I don’t think that I shall go next term. As Bob says, “about the only thing colleges is good for is that they enable one to get a line-up on semi-humanity.” Hell, I don’t see why I ever wanted to attend a Baptist college, anyway.

Finally, based on when the Howard material mentioned was published, the following is circa October 1928:

I suppose that you have seen Bob recently, as a letter which I received from him yesterday was sent from Brownwood. Bob’s a genius. He sent quite a lot of material for The Junto. A poem, “Swings and Swings,” was very good, as were also several articles, principally about him, you, and Truett.

“Swings and Swings” was published in the November 1928 issue. The articles mentioned are probably “To a Man Whose Name I Never Knew,” also published in the November 1928 Junto, “The Galveston Affair,” published in December 1928, and “Ambition in the Moonlight,” January 1929.

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