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Texas in South Africa

A diplomat's memories of Texas Jack Junior.

Texas Jack Junior

From the Abilene, Texas, Reporter-News, December 28, 1954.


"You're from Texas?" the new ambassador from South Africa asked the other night when introduced to a fellow from the Lone Star State. "That is the biggest and best place in the world, isn't it?"

His Excellency Elmer Holloway, the Union of South Africa's Ambassador and Plenipotentiary, to use the full title, was obviously off on the right diplomatic foot, although he has been in the U.S. for only a few months.

Dr John (Jack) Edward Holloway (1890-1979) – South African Secretary of Finance (1937-1950), Union of South Africa’s Ambassador to Washington DC (1954-1956) & High Commissioner to the Court of St. James (1956-1958)

"I have a reason for knowing how great Texas and its people are," he continued.

He had a story to tell.

It was about Texas Jack. He didn't know Jack's full name because even though almost everyone in South Africa knew him, no one knew any more of a name than Texas Jack.

Jack had come to South Africa around the turn of the century to start a circus. It was primarily an animal circus, and Jack took it on tours through primitive areas to get from town to town in South Africa and delight thousands of children.

The ambassador and his wife got to know Jack well. Then one day word got to them that Texas Jack was dying of tuberculosis.

"I went to see him," Ambassador Holloway said, "and found him lying on a cot seriously ill. By his side was a long whip made of cowhide, and, of course, I asked him why he had it."

Texas Jack told him he had to keep it at his side "because of that blasted turkey cock."

The wild turkey had access to Texas Jack's house and would frequently run to his cot to attack him.

"'Why don't you have someone cut off his bloody head?' I asked Texas Jack," Ambassador Holloway said. "Texas Jack said to me, "No, not that—I couldn't stay alive if I didn't know I had to fight that turkey cock."

The bird was smart enough to know that when Jack was coughing hardest, he was his weakest. So that is when the bird would go on the attack.

"But Texas Jack was always able to keep him away, and he died there without that bird ever having done him any serious harm," the ambassador said. "It was real courage."

The ambassador actually doesn't look the role of a diplomat physically. He looks more like the sort of man you would expect to see running a drug store on the square of a small Texas county seat than a foreign envoy with a ribbon across the chest.

Talking on, the ambassador said he has never had the opportunity to visit Texas—but he hopes he can before very long.

"I would love to see Texas," he said. "I have great respect for Texans and want to meet more of them."

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