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Bob Bullock's Memory - 1970's


Back in the 1970's, 80's and 90's there was a great politician in Texas by the name of Bob Bullock. I say that he was great not because he thought the way that I did, but because he got things done. I remember that he was the State Comptroller and then Lt. Governor and probably something else before that time.

But here's the story.

Over the years I had met Mr. Bullock many times at receptions and ribbon cuttings and meetings of different types. His political persuasion was probably a good bit to the left of my thinking, but that was not something that he and I had ever discussed. I can recall that at one time I disagreed with him when he said he was open to the unionization of the employees in the Comptrollers office. I didn't think this was a good idea at all.

Well, one day I was visiting the South Austin Rotary Club and he was the speaker. He gave his usual fine address, and then asked if there were any questions. There were several, and during a bit of a lull, I asked Mr. Bullock about his open stance about unions in his office. Of course he said, "I'm glad you asked that question," as speakers often do. He then proceeded to respond, which took about five minutes. During his response I could not detect that he had touched on the subject matter at all. When he was through, the room was quiet since no one seemed to really understand his response, so I simply responded to Mr. Bullock, "Did that answer my question?" He indicated that he thought he had.

I didn't see Mr. Bullock for three of four years so I assumed that he had completely forgotten about me. Not so. One evening Helen and I were attending a reception at a distinguished old West Austin residence that a rich artist had converted into her studio. She had hung a lot of her paintings in the house and hoped that people would see them. Helen and I moved from room to room and as we moved through one door standing immediately to the right was Bob Bullock with a drink in his hand. I don't think that he could have seen us until we stepped through the door, but immediately as we did he said, "Vic, you got any questions for me?" I greeted him warmly, introduced him to Helen, and told him that I had no questions.

I am convinced that good politicians have good memories. He certainly did. He also knew how to call in his chips when just before his retirement and death he passed an eighty million dollar piece of legislation that resulted in the construction of the Bob Bullock Museum at Congress and MLK. It is a really fine facility.

There is a lesson here: A good memory can payoff.

Vic Mathias - April 10, 2010