Portrait of Frank Dobie, 1953 Chinese ink with Charcoal and chalk, 17 1/2" x 15" © James D. Lea

Portrait of Frank Dobie, 1953 Chinese ink with Charcoal and chalk, 17 1/2" x 15" © James D. Lea



I think the first job I had…was the illustrations for Frank Dobie's Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. I had met Frank in the summer of 1937 when Dad brought him to my studio and introduced him as "my old friend Frank Dobie." Frank spent the afternoon and the first portrait I did of him I made that afternoon. And Dad came by the studio after court and said, "Come on, Frank, and have some dinner with us." And we went [home] and Pomposa, the housekeeper that Dad had to take care of little Dick, [made] some real hot enchiladas. And Frank was used to that darned Tex-Mex stuff in Austin…And we stayed up, oh, it was past midnight in Dad's den, and by the end of that night, why, Dobie had said, "Well, I'm writing a book now, and Tom, I think you could do the illustrations."

…starting in July 9f 1940 Frank and I took a wonderful trip for, I guess, three weeks down all through the brush country and camped out, just moved along these ranches that had examples of longhorns. Old Frank met me in San Antonio, and he had two bedrolls, regular old suggans, and a tarp and two blankets. And we had a cooking pot, a dutch oven for making biscuits – old Frank was pretty good at making biscuits – and we had a couple of watermelons for desert in the car. And we just started out from San Antonio and went down into the brush.


Tom Lea speaking to Adair Margo, published in Tom Lea, An Oral History, El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press, p. 61.