Amon Carter: A Lone Star Life
By Brian Cervantez
Do you know the man
Who helped make Fort Worth?
If you’ve lived in Fort Worth any length of time, you’ve heard or run across the name Amon G. Carter. The name is emblazoned on the TCU football stadium and of course the museum that bears his name, for starters.
For those of us who have been around the Town of the Cow for a little longer, how many times have we seen even older timers – upon hearing that Fort Worth has been snubbed somehow – shake their heads in disgust and mutter, “Never woulda happened if Amon Carter was around.”
That’s usually followed by a hail of hosannas saying, “Damn right.”
So even though he’s been gone more than 60 years, it can still feel like Amon is still hanging around.
So I was more than a little interested when I saw there was a new book on the man who did more than a little to put Fort Worth on the map.
Brian A. Cervantez, an associate professor of history at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus has written Amon Carter: A Lone Star Life ($29.95, University of Oklahoma Press).
I’ll admit I haven’t finished the book yet. I’ve been reading it college-style, taking notes as I go and – very often – saying things like, “I didn’t know that,” or “Wow,” or “Hmmm.” I’d say that’s a good sign for the book considering I feel like I have a decent grasp of Fort Worth history and have read Jerry Flemmons’ bio of the man.
In case you’re a Fort Worth newbie, here’s a short sketch of the man who meant so much.
Born in 1879 and raised in a small North Texas town in one of those apocryphal one-room log cabins, Carter eventually became the founder and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That was only a small bit of his story. Like many publishing barons of the early 20th Century, Carter used his power to build wealth – not just for himself, but for the city and area he loved. He also established Fort Worth’s first radio station and the first television station in the Southwest. He helped bring businesses to the area such as American Airlines and what eventually became Lockheed Martin. He forged relationships with powerful people like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Will Rogers, H.L. Mencken, John Nance Garner and his friend – and occasional competitor – William Randolph Hearst. While Carter is best known for his Fort Worth boosterism, he touted West Texas, helping establish Texas Tech University and Big Bend National Park.
I’ll have more on the book later, but for now, why don’t we take an Amon Carter quiz? Let’s.
What year did the Fort Worth Star, where Carter was the advertising manager, come together with the Fort Worth Telegram?
A. 1908, with the two papers merging to form the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as “1909 dawned,” according to the book.
How did Carter thank William Randolph Hearst for a job offer he made to Carter in 1919?
A: He sent the legendary publisher a sack of Texas pecans.
Carter started WBAP, the radio station, in 1922. What did WBAP stand for?
A: According to the book, Herbert Hoover, then Commerce Secretary, named the station himself. WBAP stood for “We Bring A Program.”
What baseball team did Carter support?
A. The Fort Worth Cats, of course. But he was a Chicago White Sox fan, probably because of his frequent trips there and his friendship with club owner Charles Comiskey.
Where did Carter want General Motors to build its plant?
A. Either on a site on Camp Bowie or in south Fort Worth. Certainly not Arlington.
When did Carter have the slogan “Where the West Begins” added to the Star-Telegram nameplate?
What was Amon G. Carter’s real name? (no this isn’t a trick question like Groucho’s “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”)
A. Giles Amon Carter. Named after his uncle, he changed it sometime later. Giles A. Carter Stadium? Oh my.
Did Carter really take a sack lunch when he visited Dallas?
A. Don’t know. I haven’t finished the book yet.
Amon G. Carter is having a bit of a resurgence in 2019. A one-man play about the Fort Worth legend hits the boards in May: