W.S. or Uncle Stuart as we called him grew up Iola, Texas in Northern Grimes County. His parents had moved to Texas as children after each family lost their land in Alabama during Reconstruction.
W.S. was a lifelong “Yellow Dog” Democrat, due at least in part to the misconduct of the Radical Republicans after Appomattox.
He was extremely successful politically as well as financially due to his drive and work ethic. He loved raising cattle and acquiring land to run them on. A deeply religious man, he didn’t drink or smoke yet he was not judgmental about those who did indulge. He started the original Business Man’s Bible Class and was a founding member of the Central Baptist Church in Bryan.
His oldest son, John M. Barron, Sr. (known as “John M.”), was also a talented lawyer but enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh. He had a Hemingway aura about him and was ruggedly handsome and adventurous. He loved to drink, fight, chase women and gamble as often as possible. He served as District Attorney and District Judge in Brazos County and served as a Justice on the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston.
Like his father W.S., John M. was a tough act to follow. His relationship with Squeaky was very complicated; being at once protective and abusive towards his eldest son. It always seemed to me that he favored his younger son David, who was both more volatile and more charming and personable than Squeaky.
The pressure of living in a small town with a legendary father and iconic grandfather who were both still active in the community was in many ways more than John Jr. could handle. As a result John was a shy, even withdrawn young man whose only escape was his alcohol and occasional mischief as related in Volume I.
He attended law school and returned to practice law almost as a duty or obligation rather than a choice. John Jr. was shortly afterwards appointed County Attorney largely on the strength of his family name. When he was facing a strong challenger in an election to keep his job; John M. tapped me to be his Campaign Manager. I will discuss the great Squeaky Campaign of 1978 in the next entry.