James Carroll "Jim"
of Rice, Navarro County, Texas
"I Wish I Could Tell You"
A big, blue and white banner reading "Welcome Jim Sewell" was stretched across
the front of R. S. High's insurance office in Blooming Grove, Texas (pop. 821).
Jim Sewell couldn't read the words, but he could sense what was going on.
Jim grew up in around Blooming Grove, was on the U.S.S. Hornet in Manila Bay in
1944 when an unreleased bomb on an incoming plane exploded. A fragment struck
him in the head, injured the optic nerve, left him almost totally blind.
After training in schools for the blind, Jim enrolled at the University of
Texas, got fellow students to read to him, was soon on the honor roll. His
prewar sweetheart married him, and they bought a house with his G.I. money. Last
October, he passed the state bar examination, ranking fourth in a group of 300.
He had developed a phenomenal memory, not only for what was in the books, but
for the sound of people's voices. He learned to follow a conversation by
shifting his eyes from one speaker to another, instead of turning an ear as
blind people are apt to do. Hearing the Cellophane on a cigarette package
crackle, he would have a light extended by the time the smoker was ready.
He got interested in politics, ran for the state legislature, got elected. There
he memorized long sections of bills, quickly in his freshman term became a
leader. His principal fight: for a new natural gas tax for roads and schools. "I
enjoy politics," said Jim, "and it's a good way to do good for your country."
Last week the citizens of Blooming Grove and Texans for miles around turned out
to honor 39-year-old Jim Sewell. He came up from Austin with his wife Janet and
their two-year-old son Jimmy to give the commencement address at the
Consolidated High School. Next day, a big truck trailer was pulled up in front
of the First State Bank for a speakers' platform. There were speeches and
telegrams predicting that he would one day be governor. Mrs. G. E. Ramsey, who
taught him grammar, said: "Jim, I'm wearing red shoes and a red flower and two
coats of lipstick and my earbobs, all for you."
Then some big Texans hauled out a huge, walnut-finished, brass-trimmed desk and
a leather-upholstered chair.
The citizens had bought it for the law office Jim intends to open. They made him
sit in the chair, try the drawers of the desk.
"I had a speech all made up," said Jim with tears in his blind eyes, "but I got
so flabbergasted I can't make it. I wish I could tell you what's in my mind."
Navarro County TXGenWeb
Edward L. Williams & Barbara