DeGolyer Library Exhibits Special Collections

An Evening Reminiscing

The Wittliffs and Virgil Musick
L to R: Bill Wittliff, Virgil Musick, and Sally Wittliff


On February 23, 2017, Bill Wittliff and Virgil Musick reunited for the first time in 20 years. Bill and Sally Wittliff, creators of the Encino Press, joined Virgil Musick, a faithful collector of their work, for an exhibition opening and panel discussion at the DeGolyer Library. Brought together nearly 30 years ago by Musick’s admiration for Wittliff’s talent creating fine press books, the three spent the evening reminiscing about the years the press was in operation. Before the panel discussion began, the special guests browsed among the cases of Wittliff’s materials that comprise the exhibit, Bill Wittliff, Texas Man of Letters: Selections from the Virgil Musick Collection. On display are awarding winning books from Wittliff’s time at the SMU Press and Encino Press as well as broadsides, exhibit catalogs, and photographs.


Bob More book
J. Frank Dobie
Bob More, Man and Bird Man
Dallas: The Encino Press, 1965
Introduction, design, and inscription by William D. Wittliff


Wittliff recounted that publishing houses in the Southwest were significantly fewer in number in the early 1960s than those found on the East Coast, and fine presses were even scarcer.  Nonetheless, the Wittliffs jumped in. Although his degree was in journalism, Wittliff had a knack for selecting typeface, paper, and colors, which when combined resulted in a distinctive Encino Press style, something noticed by Musick. Wittliff thanked Musick not only for collecting the works of the Encino Press, but also for being a “paying customer,” not always a given in the early years. The Wittliffs agreed that despite working out of a carport for a time, a warehouse fire that destroyed a significant part of their inventory, printing mishaps, and more, the years of the Encino Press were wonderful times. Musick shared the sentiment, clearly enjoying the opportunity to trade stories and recollections with the Witliffs. He related an anecdote about one of the last Encino Press publications that he tracked down years after its publication and joked that his wife never did know how much he paid for it.


Panel Discussion
Panel discussion with Bill Wittliff (L) and Virgil Musick (R)


The exhibit runs through June 1, 2017, in the Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall.

DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Remembering Blackie Sherrod

Bill Millsaps of the Richmond Times-Dispatch once commented on Texas sportswriter Blackie Sherrod’s writing abilities by saying that, “John Kennedy once said Winston Churchill marshaled the English language and sent it into battle. Blackie invited the English language up on the porch, gave it some four-alarm chili and a Dr. Pepper, and sent it out to make the sports world laugh.” Sherrod, during his lengthy career, was recognized as a legend in sports writing, and influenced other notable Texas sports journalists, including Dan Jenkins.

Blackie Sherrod, ca. early 1950s
Blackie Sherrod, ca. early 1950s

William Forrest “Blackie” Sherrod worked for nearly sixty years as a sports columnist and editor for several Texas newspapers (Temple Telegram, Fort-Worth Press, Dallas Times Herald, and Dallas Morning News) until his retirement in early 2003. A native of Belton, Texas, Sherrod was born on November 9, 1919. During his years at Belton High School, he competed on the football, basketball, and track teams. While in high school, he also wrote for the Belton Tiger, the school newspaper.

Sherrod attended Baylor University for one year (1937-38), but transferred to Howard Payne University, where he graduated in May 1941 with a BA in English. He served in the United States Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theatre, completing 22 missions and earning three medals. Following the close of the war in 1945, he returned to Texas and began writing for the Temple Telegram in 1946.

The following year, he moved to north Texas, working for the Fort Worth Press from 1947 to 1957. His tenure at the Dallas Times Herald began in 1958. While there, Sherrod worked as both a columnist and as sports editor. Although his primary occupation was covering sports, his work as a journalist also included national events. For example, Sherrod reported on the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the 1969 Apollo moon landing.

Blackie Sherrod's Notebooks, 1987
Blackie Sherrod’s Notebooks, 1987

Blackie Sherrod transferred to the Dallas Morning News in 1985, and continued his writing there until his 2003 retirement. He wrote regular columns, including his Sunday “Scattershooting” section, as well as authoring several books: Blackie Sherrod: Scattershooting (1975); The Blackie Sherrod Collection (1988); and Blackie Sherrod at Large (2003). Sherrod also co-authored two other books; one with University of Texas Football Coach Darrell K. Royal, and one on University of Texas football player Freddie Steinmark.

Honors Sherrod received in recognition of his lengthy and notable career include induction into the National Sportswriter Hall of Fame, the Red Smith National Sportswriter of the Year award, and an honorary PhD from his alma mater—Howard Payne University—in 1997. Sherrod also received the Texas Sportswriter of the Year Award over fifteen times. He donated his papers to the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University in 2003.

Blackie Sherrod Attending the Cotton Bowl
Blackie Sherrod Attending the Cotton Bowl

Source: Finding Aid for Blackie Sherrod Papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University