The founder of the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association and a former publisher of the Madisonville Meteor is the subject of a new biography by longtime East Texas journalist and writer Gary B. Borders.
“Yours Faithfully, J.A.: The Life and Writings of H.B. Fox, the Circleville Philosopher,” is now for sale at the Madison County Museum, 201 N. Madison. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the museum.
The author will hold a book signing at the museum from 10 a.m.-noon on June 9.
For more than 50 years, Fox wrote humor column that he and his family helped mail to as many as 150 newspapers throughout Texas and the country. While publisher of the Meteor, in 1939, Fox was named the best country newspaper writer in the United States. He wrote for Collier’s, Harpers and other national publications. Well-known humorists John Henry Faulk and Cactus Pryor were friends. Faulk delivered the eulogy at Fox’s funeral.
“Henry Fox is a fascinating character, a funny prolific writer whose columns were published across the country, including in many East Texas newspapers,” Borders said.
In 1941, Fox created the imaginary Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association, and published rules governing who could wear cowboy boots and hats without punishment, such as being dunked in the stock tank on the courthouse square. A number of newspapers published stories about the association. Soon, he and friends actually formed the association “to keep the papers from being liars,” as he put it.
Borders conducted extensive researching, gathering virtually all Fox’s columns published from 1935 to his death in 1989, interviewing family members, such as Carol Fox and John Fox, who still live on the family homeplace in Circleville, near Taylor.
Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle’s “Native Texan” columnist, wrote, “Gary B. Borders’ affectionate biography of the late H.B. Fox, Texas newspaperman nonpareil, is an eloquent reminder of the role small-town newspaper editors have played since the earliest day of the republic.”
Carol Fox wrote, “Borders’ extensive research recreates a simpler time when individualism, civility and honor were celebrated, yet the foibles of human nature skewered in weekly newspapers across the country… Borders has captured the essence of the man who was my father.”
Borders worked as a writer, photographer, editor and publisher for newspapers throughout Texas and Kansas for more than 40 years. He began writing a weekly column in 1982 and continues to do so at garyborders.com. He also records weekly commentaries for Red River Radio, the NPR network for East Texas, Western Louisiana and Southern Arkansas. (redriverradio.org).