If J. Frank Dobie were still ruminating on Philosopher’s Rock, he might take a shot, verbal or otherwise, in the direction of the Lorenz compound in Spanish Oaks looming to the west of his ranch. If he did, I don’t think he’d miss [“Range War at the Dobie Ranch
,” News, June 21].
I was a Dobie Paisano fellow in 2007-08. When I arrived in September, bulldozers broke ground on that adjacent property and roared louder than the lions in the nearby Austin Zoo. At the end of my residency in February, nail guns punctured the silence. And when the program celebrated its 40th anniversary, arriving fellows were shocked at the monstrosity jutting above the cedars.
Dobie Paisano Ranch is the rarest of sanctuaries for writers, providing four to six months of uninterrupted time in solitude and silence. All that’s been changed by trespass. I don’t use the word lightly. In Texas, people have been shot for less.
During my residency, I was walking my dogs and came across a trail of blood near the house. Five minutes later, a hunter with a high-powered rifle came out of the woods, trying to finish what he’d started with a bad shot. More recently, I’ve heard that a drunk crashed through the gate in an SUV and ended up in the part of Barton Creek that flows through the ranch. One could say that shit happens. But the real insult is that UT is so reluctant to protect the treasure it received from the Dobie family. If it weren’t for the real stewardship of Michael Adams and the alumni of the program in fundraising for badly-needed repairs, the place would have been condemned long ago.
Although I’m shocked and saddened by the latest flagrant trespass, I’m grateful for your in-depth article. The first shot has rung out. Hopefully, the aim is true.