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Ann Richards Had Balls!


by: Glen Maxey

Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 00:55 AM CDT


(A number of people have asked and plan to write about memories and stories of Ann Richards. In her honor, I will be promoting selected memories through the day to the front page. Plenty more will be found in comments or the journals. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

It was 1982 and I was a candidate for the Legislature in Brazos County, an uphill race against the chairman of the House Appropriations committee.  The campaign volunteers had already made the decision to go have evening margaritas at the Ramada Inn bar as part of the daily routine, since the campaign sucked. 

So one day Erma Jefferson, one of the most outrageous Democrats I had ever met, asked the group if Ann Richards could beat the incumbent in her race for State Treasurer.  Someone in the group responded, "Hell no.  You gotta have balls to win in Texas!".  The group laughed.  Fast forward three months.

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I"m now in Austin (unsuccessful in my bid for the Lege) and working for the 1982 coordinated campaign.  I"m working for Jim Hightower, and the other great team that year (Richards, Mauro, Mattox, et al).  Erma Jefferson and friends show up in Austin.  They've come with a gift for Ms. Richards.  And they asked me to deliver it.  When I did, and Ann opened the velvet box, it held a real set of jewels.  There on the velvet pillow  were two balls accompanied by a note: 

  Dear Ann:

  You can't win in Texas without a set of balls.
  We hereby donate Glen Maxey's balls, since he doesn't need them.

  Sincerely,

  The Women of Brazos County

Well, I don't know who laughed the hardest -- me or Ann.  I know I was probably as red as I'll ever be.  (I was still very much in the closet as a gay man at this point in my life!)

So the saga began that continued over the next almost decade.  Every time I was in a room with her, Ann Richards would say to whomever was there (and once this was to a group at the National Women's Political Caucus in San Antonio which included Geraldine Ferraro, Olympia Snowe, Bella Abzug and others),  "Do you know what this man did for my campaign?  He donated his balls.  I've had my pants tailored, and it has given me a whole new outlook on my political activities!"  She'd go on and on about my manhood and her career.  Always to my great embarassment, and to everyone else's glee.

Well, Ann went on to run for Governor.  I served as her Travis County campaign coordinator (69,000 vote margin in Austin, thank you), and upon her election decided to run for a vacancy in the Legislature.  It was truly a amazing campaign and when I won that election as the first openly gay official in Texas, Ann was the first to call to congratulate me.  And then, almost as an afterthough,  she asked me for a favor.  Of course, I said I'd do anything she'd like.  She said, "Would you give me the honor of swearing you into office?" 

By tradition, the Speaker of the House usually does this chore, but I certainly was almost bowled over by her request.  And so it happened...

Hundreds of folks packed the House Chamber that night in 1991.  TV cameras were rolling, and I was nervous as hell.  I sat on the podium with my mentor, Senator Oscar Mauzy (then Supreme Court Justice Mauzy), Governor Ann Richards, and my mother.

As I'm trying not to obsess about a speech I'm going to give in my biggest "prime time" engagement, my 70 year old mom and Ann talked about fishing for flounder and red fish in the Gulf.  And I recall  Ann calling my mom a liar for telling a "fish story".  I had to tell them both to be quiet and then had to interrupt them to make Ann pay attention to Mauzy's introduction of her to swear me in.

So as I put my hand on a Bible held by my mother, and repeated a solemn oath to uphold most of the laws of Texas, I became a member of the House.  At that moment I turned and kissed my mom, and Ann leaned over to whisper something in my ear.

The crowd's thunderous applause filled the Chamber at that moment.  Most everyone was watching Ann Richards congratulate me on this high achievement.

But what no one really knew was what Ann Richards would choose to say to me before I had to deliver this speech of my lifetime:

She drawled in my ear,  "Now Glen, I'm going to do someting now that I promised myself I'd never, ever do.  I'm giving you your damn balls back.  Because whether you know it or not, you're going to need them more than you can imagine to work in this damn place."

And that, my friends, was the best gift Ann Richards could ever give me.

She game me and thousands of people like me the balls to go do things outside our comfort zones, to take on challenges everyone says we shouldn't try, and to always get up off our butts and take charge when we see things that need to get done.

So don't mourn Ann Richards' memory.  Celebrate Ann Richard's life by taking on the bastards and fighting back.  One vote, one precinct, and one day at a time.



Copyright Burnt Orange Report, all rights reserved.
Do not republish without express written permission.


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Yep (4.00 / 4)
She sure did, Glen. She sure did.

I thought she was going to have this cancer thing licked for sure, if only on pure Texan bravado.

She will be missed.


Thank you for sharing this (4.00 / 4)
Governor Richards will be missed!!!!

Here is my podcast to her memory.

Farewell to Ann Richards

Doing My Part For The Left,Left Of The Rainbow


Wow... (4.00 / 4)
Great story.  It is hard to find politicans with the character that Ann had.  Ill keep her family in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks (4.00 / 4)
That's a great piece, Glen.  Thanks for posting it.  Soooo characteristic, as you know.

So many of us will miss her.


An Insult to her Memory? Hardly. (4.43 / 7)
This morning someone emailed Karl Thomas and me about this post. They wrote:

Karl,

Please have Glen change the headline.  I would have posted to BOR, but I don't want to take away from Ann's memory.  Think about it.  'Complimenting' a woman by saying she has male gonads is extraordinarily rude.  To imply that the only people with guts and nerve have male sexual organs is ridiculously sexist.  Ann did a lot for women.  Why insult her?  I know you and Glen did not mean an insult in anyway, but you have insulted Ann's memory.

From the Dallas Morning News first words in her story - Former Gov. Ann Richards, who opened the doors of government to women and minorities
From the Austin American Statesman first words in her story - Ann Richards, the feminist groundbreaker

BOR first words - Ann Richards has balls

See what I mean?

GLEN MAXEY RESPONSE:
I just wanted to respond publicly.  Anyone who knew Ann up close and personal would hardly think this sullies her memory or who knows me would think I'm a sexist. 

For her entire lifetime Ann Richards fought sexism and racism.  She did it most effectiviely with humor.  Who can forget all the characters and stories she told:  Harry Porko and the pig nose, Glen Maxey and his balls, the Christmas cards from Dallas in the early years, and hundreds of other stories and tales. 

Because of this wonderful talent for pointing out the outrageousness of racism or sexism  and doing it in a way people laughed, istead of in a hurtful way, she taught so many people and changed attitudes of hundreds of thousands.

I knew Ann Richards well.  She told this story on dozens and dozens of occasions. 

Insult her memory?  Hardly.  Ann Richards wasn't a saint, she was a down to earth, strong willed women with a wicked sense of humor.

For most of us, her memory IS her wit, her humor, her sarcasm, and all that went with it.

It's what made Ann Richards the icon we adored.


Damn, Glen (4.00 / 4)
Thanks for donating them in the first place, and massive thanks to Ann for giving them back!

You're right.  We have to keep fighting in her name.

¬°Ya Basta!

Disclosure: Former Political Director for Lee Leffingwell for Mayor of Austin ('09)


cajones! (4.00 / 4)
I remember sitting back in North Carolina as a kid wondering why we didn't have a governor like Ann Richards. We had some of the most boring politicians known to man running the state-- Jim Hunt.. zzzzzz.

The same was true when I lived in New Jersey prior to that-- Tom Kean of 9/11 Commission fame.. boring!

So I'm glad Texas had a real governor. One with some cajones!


ann had balls (4.00 / 4)
I'm so glad she gave yours back, Glenn. Thanks for the story today- it was perfect Ann and perfect Glenn.  Now [if I could quit crying] I'd say something useful about inspiration and the impact of her spirit on all the lives she touched. I will miss the comfort of knowing her wit and wisdom were out there working, shoring up the fights in which we Dems find ourselves embroiled.
Ann's light went out too soon.
Jamie

Glen & Ann (4.00 / 4)
Glen -- thanks for sharing your story.  It's a sad day for all of us, and you made me laugh.  Don

Ann had both (4.00 / 4)
She had the "set of balls" you needed to run and win in Texas and she had the "set of ovaries" to be a good Governor.  While this diary might make some feel uncomfortable, that's just Texas folks.  And Ann would probably be laughing at all the fuss.  Ann grew up when you had to be part of the  good old boy Texas network, so he wouldn't have been offended by people telling her she had balls.  This is a blog where we can speak more candidly. Ann certainly left her mark in public office paving the way for the millions of women she inspired.  She could walk the line with the toughest in the Legislature and still be a caring and compassionate woman, mother, and friend. Now those are a set of ovaries all women can admire. What a great woman.

Bless you Ann Richards and thank you for your dedication to a better world.


indeed (4.00 / 4)
ann would have laughed at the "discomfort" the headline caused.

she had a great sense of humor, as evidenced by the many remembrances posted here and elsewhere.

she was the texas grand dame and was such an inspiration.

thanks for sharing this story glen.  it made me laugh for the first time since last night.

Fudd's first law of opposition: Push something hard enough and it will fall over.


[ Parent ]
Ann Richards Had Balls! (3.00 / 1)
Amen!

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