I had decided to leave Dallas and practice law elsewhere. At first I thought I might want to go somewhere north but then decided I would like to move to a small Texan county south of San Antonio. I decided to visit some of those towns and to take with me some cassettes which I had made concerning Texas law which I could listen to in the car while traveling. I thought listening to the tapes would be interesting since I hadn't studied any Texas law in quite a long time and since I was still thinking of practicing law in Texas.
I went to a county south of San Antonio and soon found myself in the county courthouse where some people who appeared to be clerks were standing around. I didn't know what they thought about my being here, but I figured seeing someone new here was unusual. Two lawyers were sitting at a long cafeteria-like table playing cards. One was about 40 years old and overweight. The other was James O'Briant (a Dallas attorney) who had moved down there from Dallas. I asked O'Briant how many lawyers were in this town and he replied, "Three."
I thought the card game they were playing was five card poker and I sat down to play with them. For each hand of cards that one of the lawyers won he was appointed by the court to be the attorney for someone. First, notices of foreclosure sales which had been posted at the courthouse were dealt out and I looked at the five which I had received. One of my notices was based upon a 1962 mortgage. At first I thought whoever had the notice based upon the earliest dated mortgage would win the hand.
Each of us wrote down the dates of the mortgages on scraps of paper and we then used the scraps of paper to bet with. We were then dealt some regular playing cards. Suddenly O'Briant laid down his cards. He had a 4, 5, 6 and 7 and another 5. He said he won because he had four cards in a row. I thought he would have needed for all five cards to be in a row, but apparently he indeed had won the hand.
Another hand was dealt. I still didn't understand the game and I asked the other, older lawyer what to do with the older mortgages. He said they were wild. I asked, "Well, what year do they begin being wild?"
He wouldn't answer me. I still couldn't understand the game and finally I said, "Well I'm just going to have to set out and watch a little while."
I did so. I didn't think I was going to get any court appointments anyway, and besides, I wanted to visit several counties today.
In the next hand, for some reason, O'Briant was dealt about ten cards – all face cards and aces -- but he couldn't seem to hold the cards right and seemed somewhat confused. I remembered that he had always seemed like a somewhat duffless character.
I thought, "There's really not much to look at in terms of these lawyers here. It would probably be pretty easy to come in and gain the confidence of the people in this town."
I was still unsure I wanted to move into a small town like this because it might be too confining. I wanted to travel a lot and only practice law about 4 months out of the year. Some cases might compel me to stay here against my will. I still wanted to visit some other towns and make the rounds of those southern Texas communities.
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