Along about the time livery stables began to install gasoline pumps, my grandmother's brother Billy left Alabama for Texas, expecting to strike oil every time he dug a hole. There was plenty of oil, all right, but there were also plenty of men ahead of Billy. After leaving a trail of dry wells across Texas, he finally came down with pneumonia while sleeping in an unheated tent near Conroe and died. My grandfather never quite got over Billy's failure. "It just doesn't seem fair somehow," he always said, "because Billy was just naturally endowed to be a Texas millionaire. He was loudmouthed, opinionated, wore $2 shoes and never tipped more than a nickel in his life."
Texas millionaires have come a long way in the last 40 years. Some of them are dollar-pinching louts, to be sure, and some of them throw their money around with flamboyant bad taste, but most of them live richly and stylishly, wear ordinary hats and carry attaché cases, read books, attend plays, collect what passes for art and sometimes even ride to the hounds in pink coats. Yet it does seem to be a fairly conspicuous fact that Texas millionaires, by the very nature of things, are not altogether the same as ordinary people. In the whole splendacious state there probably is no more obvious example of this than Clint Williams Murchison Jr., a compact, brush-haired Dallas millionaire who is president and majority stockholder of the Dallas Cowboys' professional football team, as well as an all-round sportsman with a happy gift for mixing business and pleasure while doing his level best to make a profit out of both.
"I have never felt repressed by money," he explains pleasantly. "I think Joe E. Lewis, the comedian, had it about right when he said, 'I've been rich and I've been poor, and, believe me, rich is better.' "
Actually, Clint Murchison (pronounced Murrkisson) has never been poor, but he has long been—even by Texas standards—a most unusual millionaire. He wears horn-rimmed glasses, normally has a polite and deceptively mild manner, shuns ostentation, refuses to dabble noisily in politics and enjoys a bit of nonsense as long as it is not passed off as the solemn truth. So strangers sometimes conclude that the only reason Clint Jr. is considered unique is that he is a thoroughly nice guy who looks and acts pretty much like anybody's next-door neighbor. As far as it goes, this is true. He also has an IQ of 140-plus, which puts him near the genius category, owns a Phi Beta Kappa key, holds a master's degree in mathematics from MIT, shows an acerbic aversion to dimwits and climbers, sometimes is brusque with associates and always operates on the cocky assumption that the bigger a business opponent is the harder he will fall. So foes claim that Clint Jr. is unusual because he is as aggressive as Pecos Pete and as coldly calculating as an IBM computer. This also probably is true.
From the time he first set out for school with his lunch under his arm, Clint Jr. has been fiercely determined to make his mark in the world and to enjoy himself while doing it. He has succeeded admirably. Although he has not yet turned 40, his name not only is as readily recognizable as the ring of a bright silver dollar in any cow town in Texas, it also commands attention in oak-paneled citadels of finance from Wall Street to Manila. Since one of the things Clint Jr. enjoys most is a rousing good fight, he has mauled both the sensibilities and pocket-books of some pretty powerful and vocal opponents. He has also killed stone-dead an old Texas adage that any millionaire who begins his career with more than 50¢ in his jeans is hardly worth bothering about.
Nobody can deny that Clint Jr. started out with some impressive natural advantages. In the first place, he is the younger son and namesake of Clint Murchison Sr., a salty Texas entrepreneur of such awesome shrewdness and verve that he has become a legend in his own lifetime. Clint Sr., now 67, stacked up his first four or five million trading in oil leases, with another legendary trader, the late Sid Richardson, as partner. About the time Clint Jr. was born, Old Clint formed an oil-drilling partnership with Earnest R. Fain and eventually pieced together a sprawling financial empire that included everything from banks to book publishing. While Old Clint did not actually invent the technique of operating on credit, pledging the shares in one company to acquire a slice of another, he probably did as much as any one man to refine it into the ingenious art it has become today. Until a stroke forced him into semi-retirement half a dozen years ago, sniffing out profitable freewheeling deals had become something more than a business with him. Except for fishing, which he dearly loved, it was his favorite sport. He also was a horseplayer of distinction. He acquired control of Del Mar racetrack and diverted the profits into a charitable organization he set up called Boys Incorporated of America, which is now headed by Clint Jr.
Besides supplying his sons with advice, savvy and, most important, a well-filled poke, Old Clint has enriched Texas folklore with any number of pungent comments on life in general and wealth in particular, one of which Clint Jr. has adopted as a sort of working motto: "Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell."
Even Texas millionaires have to take the fathers they get, but they do have a free choice when it comes to picking business associates, so it is not altogether correct to say, as most people do, that another of Clint Jr.'s natural advantages has been his brother John, two years older, who is his partner and trusted sidekick. Yet the brothers work together so smoothly, complement each other so perfectly, and their combined assets give them such an impressive wad of working capital, that each is fully aware he could not have been nearly so successful on his own.
Like Clint Jr., John Dabney Murchison has inherited Old Clint's craggy features, which, while agreeable enough, look as if they had been hastily punched out of soft Texas loam. But John is taller than Clint Jr.—which probably is the reason he looks more like a Texan—and where Clint Jr. can be curt, John always maintains an almost courtly charm. Clint Jr. usually bustles along in a hurry, but it is virtually impossible to get behind John when going through a door. Clint Jr. is inclined to be quick on the draw in a business deal, snaps, "I'll take it." John likes to check the wind and adjust his sights, says, "I'll think it over." People often wonder how two brothers can be so alike in some respects and so utterly different in others. Part of the answer, at least, is that Clint Sr. planned it that way. Old Clint was solely responsible for his sons' upbringing because their mother died when Clint Jr. was 4 and John was 6. He suffered another blow when his youngest son, Burt, died as a child. The successive losses of his wife and son hit Clint Sr. hard and help explain why, no matter how busy he was with his many deals, he found such an extraordinary amount of time to spend with his boys and why he was so determined that they should have rugged Texas boyhoods even though he was an extremely rich man.
Clint Jr. posed a special problem. He was a frail and sickly youngster, and for a couple of years after his mother's death he was watched over so carefully by doctors and was so pampered by a succession of nurses that years later Old Clint described him as "the worst spoiled brat that any parent ever had to deal with." Finally, though doctors warned that Clint Jr. shouldn't swim, play ball or exert himself in any way, Old Clint made a characteristically tough decision. He sent the nurses packing, ignored the doctors' protest and started raising Clint Jr. as a normal healthy boy. If Clint Jr. suffered any bad effects, even at first, everybody has long since forgotten about them. To provide his children with plenty of room to grow in, Old Clint bought the grounds and clubhouse of the defunct Dallas Polo Club, a tract of 200-odd acres a few miles north of downtown Dallas. It was a noisy, high-spirited and competitive household, where the boys learned to play poker and practical jokes with Old Clint and his cronies, and there was enough acreage for them to ride and hunt squirrels and anything else that moved. Usually in the spring and fall the boys and their friends went to Murchison-owned Mattagorda Island off the Gulf Coast, where Old Clint taught them to fish and shoot quail. Besides being a renowned, wing shot, Old Clint was an expert on migratory birds and had a special permit from the state game commission to make a collection of the species that visited the Texas coast. The boys often trudged along with him while he used a special gun to collect a phalarope, dipwitcher or oyster catcher. His collection of more than 200 species was later presented to Southern Methodist University.
"Dad has always been close to the land," Clint Jr. said recently, "and he brought us up the same way." Old Clint was such a firm believer in the benefits of outdoor life, in fact, that when Clint Jr. was 9 and John was 11 he took them out of school for a year, loaded a pickup truck with gear and sent them on a prolonged camping trip throughout the Southwest.
In subtle and practical ways he also taught the boys the value and use of money. He sold them calves and small blocks of stock and took their signed notes to pay the original price plus interest. When the calves were grown and the stock had increased in value, the boys sold them, paid off their notes and also collected a profit for themselves. It was a basic business lesson the Murchison boys have never forgotten: a smart man can buy something and make a profit on it without using his own money.
All of this probably explains why old classmates at University Park Grammar School in Dallas remember Clint Jr. as a slightly undersized but sturdy little boy, frugally carrying his money in a Bull Durham sack but ready at the drop of a dare to prove that he could outspit, outrun and outrassle anybody at all. It may explain why to this day Clint Jr. is never too busy to keep his 5-foot 9-inch, 160-pound frame in tiptop physical condition. He lifts weights when he has the time and always does 50 push-ups, 50 deep knee bends and 50 sit-ups every other day. "It's like this with Clint," an old friend said. "He don't look big—but tangle with him and you've caught yourself the tallest man in Texas."
When the boys were ready for prep school, Old Clint shipped John off to Hotchkiss and Clint Jr. off to Lawrenceville. "Dad wanted us to go to different schools on the theory that each should make his own place in the world," Clint Jr. explains. At Lawrenceville, as in most eastern prep schools, a boy can make a name in either sports or studies. Clint Jr. was a terror at both. He consistently stood at the top of his class, was a scrappy halfback on the football team and one of the littlest but canniest members of the wrestling team.
Clint Jr. already knew where he was headed after Lawrenceville. When he was 12 he had read an article in FORTUNE that told about the tough curriculum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and resolved then and there that it was the school for him. When World War II came, John was at Yale, and Clint Jr. had indeed realized his ambition and was at MIT, playing halfback on its little-known football team and being the 126-pound star of its even less-known wrestling team. On the day after Pearl Harbor, John joined the Army Air Force and became a fighter pilot in the Mediterranean and China.
A year later Clint Jr. signed up for the Marines, also hoping to become a fighter pilot since he already had logged considerable flying time in an Aeronca. But the Navy took one look at his aptitude scores and shipped him off to Duke University to study electrical engineering in the V-12 program. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and top man in his class. At war's end, John went back to Yale to get his degree, and Clint returned to MIT for his master's in math. After getting it he was tempted to stay on and work for a doctorate, but since one requirement for a math doctorate is to make an original contribution in the field and he didn't have an original contribution in mind, he returned to Dallas in 1950 to team up with John for some original activities in other areas instead.
While his boys were away, Clint Sr. had been acquiring and cutting out of his own immense holdings a whacking selection of investments to give to them as a grubstake. He also gave them advice, drilling them in his own shrewd techniques. But it is almost axiomatic that fledgling millionaires lose a lot of their tail feathers when they begin to fly alone, and the Brothers Murchison were no exception.
There was, for example, the sticky business of the Martha Washington Candy Co., which the Murchisons acquired with $200,000 in cash and $500,000 borrowed from banks. They finally dumped the company and took almost a total loss. John took a drubbing when he bought up a sizable chunk of timber-land in the Northwest on the basis of what developed to be bad information. Clint Jr.'s enthusiasm for boats led him astray when he lost $200,000 in a seagoing firm called the Caribbean Shipping Co. The brothers took their worst shellacking when they bought uranium mining properties in Colorado and Oregon, built processing mills and obtained permits from the Atomic Energy Commission, only to discover, as John puts it, "There wasn't enough goody to justify the bait." They lost some $6 million, split down the middle with a group of partners.
More from preference than any special talents, the brothers decided at the outset that John would handle their banking, insurance, publishing and general finance interests, while Clint Jr. would ride herd on real estate, land development, home building and general construction. One of the first things Clint Jr. did was put down $20,000 in cash and a promissory note for $80,000 and buy the City Construction Co., a Dallas street-paving outfit. As a partner and operating head of this firm he took in Robert F. Thompson, a rangy New Mexico-born ex-Marine fighter pilot who has enough charm to coax partridges out of the mesquite. Almost anybody in Dallas can tell the story of how Clint Jr. and Bob Thompson won their first street-paving contract and then moved their equipment to the suburbs and paved the wrong street. The true story is much stranger. What actually happened is that with their first successful bid the greenhorn contractors landed a contract to pave two suburban streets. Not knowing about work orders and other technicalities, they had their bulldozers ripping up driveways and churning one of these streets into a quagmire when irate city inspectors arrived on the scene and pointed out that the bid specifically stated that the other street would be paved first. While angry householders gathered menacingly, Thompson had his workmen patch the ravaged street together as best they could and then moved to the proper street. After it was paved, city inspectors took a core drilling and decided the concrete did not meet specifications and the street would have to be torn up and repaved. When an inspector told Thompson this news, the ex-fighter pilot suddenly felt so sick he vomited. Clint Jr. took the news more calmly. "How do you go about ripping up a new street?" he asked.
What eventually happened to the little City Construction Co. gives an almost perfect picture of what happened to many of the other Murchison ventures as the brothers got their feet on the ground. Using the assets of City Construction as collateral, Clint Jr. gradually bought up other construction firms, dipping into cash reserves when necessary but, in imitation of Old Clint's technique, usually borrowing the money. From paving streets the company expanded until it could handle highway construction, then dam building and finally land development and heavy construction of all kinds. Along the way the expanding firm was renamed Tecon Corporation, and in 1954 it gained an international reputation when, with typical boldness, Clint Jr. bid on a contract to remove part of a hill that threatened to slide into the Panama Canal. Most big contracting firms had refused even to consider the job except on a cost-plus basis. The operation was so tricky that some engineers doubted that it could be done, and one expert felt it was his duty to go to Old Clint and tell him that if the hill fell into the canal there wasn't enough money in the whole Murchison empire to dig it out again. Nevertheless Old Clint gave his blessings to the project. It was completed successfully. The onetime City Construction Co. has assets of $10 million today.
By 1961 the Murchisons had doubled their original grubstake and, as nearly as anyone can tot up the value of interests in some 100 companies scattered throughout the U.S., they were worth $150 million and owned or directed enterprises worth well over $1 billion. They did not belong to that breed of financiers called company raiders and, in fact, they never have even mastered Old Clint's technique of luring people to them to ask for a deal they wanted all the time. They considered themselves progressive but sound businessmen, and there had not been a bit of scandal about their dealings. For this reason they were shocked, embarrassed and hopping with indignation when in 1960 they both were booted off the board of Investors Diversified Services, a financing corporation in which they had invested $40 million. The action was taken after an investigator for Alleghany Corp., the vast and powerful holding company that controls IDS, charged that they were using their places on the board to win special treatment in floating loans to finance their own projects. Although a special IDS investigating committee later reported that there was no basis for the charge, the brothers were not pacified; their honor had been impugned and a $40 million investment was threatened. As grimly as two vaqueros setting out on a blood feud, they mounted jets and rode up to New York and launched a proxy battle to seize control of Alleghany Corp. Their chief target was Allan P. Kirby, the 68-year-old head of Alleghany, an heir to the Woolworth fortune and one of the richest men in Wall Street. What followed was the biggest, bitterest, costliest and most publicized proxy battle in history and, when the skirmish was over, the brothers had gained control of Alleghany by an overwhelming vote, though they recently sold a large piece of their Alleghany holdings at a Texas-size (estimated $7 million) loss, making it far from clear who had won the war.
After their audacious foray into Wall Street, it was confidently predicted that the brothers would take it easy for a long time, consolidate their position and avoid controversy. They might have done so, except that even before the Alleghany fight started, Clint Jr. had laid the groundwork for another record-breaking brawl. To understand the circumstances, it should be known that over the years, from Old Clint and on their own, the brothers had acquired a prime selection of what might loosely be described as sports investments: Field & Stream magazine; a fishing tackle company; Daisy Manufacturing Co., makers of the famed air guns; Vail Mountain Ski Lodge; several country clubs and golf courses, including The Racquet Club in Palm Springs; and even a piece of the Daytona Speedway.
In addition, for as long as he can remember, Clint Jr. has been a genuine long-johns, freezing-hands-in-pockets, blue-face-in-north-wind football nut. He coached a YMCA little league football team for a few years, and as far back as 1952 he tried to buy the ailing Dallas Texans to keep them in his home town, but the late Bert Bell already had promised the franchise to Baltimore. Later on, Clint Jr. came within a whisper of closing a deal for the Washington Redskins, but George Preston Marshall demanded a 10-year management clause and soured it. An effort to get the San Francisco 49ers was equally unsuccessful.
Clint Jr. finally got his chance to acquire a pro team in 1959 when the NFL expanded and granted franchises to Dallas and Minnesota. At the time, however, few people realized the role he played in the birth of the Dallas Cowboys. He remained in the background and apparently even left some acquaintances with the impression that he was a reluctant investor. Bedford Wynne, a Dallas lawyer and member of Dallas' gold-plated Wynne tribe, was spokesman for the club, and it generally was believed that he was the prime mover in landing the franchise. Actually, the Cowboys were Clint Jr.'s baby from the start; he lined up the investors, negotiated the contracts and put up 65% of the money. He wanted Texas E. Schramm, the general manager of the Rams, to run the club, and he got him. He wanted Tom Landry as head coach, and he hired him away from the Giants.
But nothing is done by halves in Texas, and when pro football came back to Dallas it came back with a double-barreled bang. At the same time Clint Jr. was getting his team, Lamar Hunt, 10 years younger and the personable and popular son of Oil Millionaire H. L. Hunt (who is even richer than the Murchisons), was helping organize the AFL and, along with it, another home-town team, the Dallas Texans. Since both Clint Jr. and Lamar wanted a team, many people wondered why they didn't simplify matters by getting together and organizing a single club for Dallas. The principal reason was that Lamar was involved with an entire league, not just a team; he couldn't get out, and Clint Jr. had no desire at all to be involved in founding the AFL.
From the start it was clear that Dallas was not big enough to support, or peacefully hold, two teams. Still, although they clashed constantly over recruiting, the early rivalry was not too acrimonious. On one occasion, for example, Clint Jr. appeared at a Texan luncheon wearing a bright red Texan blazer, and Lamar once jumped out of a large cake wheeled into a Murchison party.
But now the nerves and the checkbooks are beginning to fray. The Texans, operating with much promotional razzle-dazzle—players once kicked 70 footballs into the stands—have an AFL championship team to boast of. Murchison's Cowboys, going about their business almost sedately, have an adequate National Football League team, and the reputation of that league behind them. The result is a millionaires' standoff.
Currently, the most popular suggestion is that the teams play each other, and the loser (or winner) leave town. Some civic leaders have expressed dismay because they claim the battle is dividing the loyalties of a city that has always been united. The Lions Club and the Jaycees, for example, publicly are supporting the Texans, while the more powerful Salesmanship Club has sided with the Cowboys. A note of class consciousness has also crept into the struggle: it is claimed that the more socially prominent people support the Cowboys because the Murchisons and Wynnes are more "social" than the Hunts.
After three seasons each team is drawing about 22,000 a game. Since a team needs an average attendance of 30,000 per game to make money, it does not take Clint Jr.'s computerlike brain to figure out that Dallas essentially is a rousing good football town but one team must go if the other is to be a success.
As long as the neck-and-neck stalemate continues, it seems unlikely that money alone will determine the winner, for in Lamar Hunt, Clint Jr. has encountered one of only a handful of people in the U.S. who can continue to match him dollar for dollar forever. There is a story, possibly true, that a friend telephoned old H. L. Hunt and warned him that Lamar stood a good chance of losing a lot of money on the Texans.
"How much?" Hunt asked.
"About a million dollars a year," the friend said.
"Well, in that case," Hunt said, "it will take him 150 years to go broke."
Lamar Hunt does have one advantage: Clint Jr. essentially is a businessman and he is not in the habit of pouring money into any enterprise that doesn't show a profit. Clint Jr. tells anyone who asks that he has no intention of taking a loss on the Cowboys forever, but it is obvious from the way he talks that he doesn't think he will have to. A Dallas newspaperman asked him recently if he thought it was smarter to move an unprofitable team to another city or hang on for prestige reasons. "It would be smarter to leave," Clint Jr. said. "If you stayed and threw away money, you would be a fool in everyone's eyes." Then he added, "That's why I think Lamar should start looking for another city."
Aside from his natural combativeness, another reason Clint Jr. is unlikely to give up on the Cowboys anytime soon is that he is having the time of his life. Along with a noisy, fun-loving, well-heeled contingent of friends he flies with the Cowboys to all of their games. He gets a special bang out of the antics of an exclusive band of fans within this already exclusive circle who call themselves the Chicken Club.
There are conflicting versions about how the Chicken Club, headed by his old friend and City Construction Co. partner Bob Thompson—-himself now a millionaire—got its name. But it is undoubtedly the richest and most ardent fan club in the history of football. To prove his fealty to the team, Thompson once led a horse decked out in a Cowboy blanket into a fashionable Washington restaurant. For reasons best unmentioned, George Preston Marshall, the autocratic owner of the Washington Redskins, is the special target of the Chicken Club and in the 1961 season some Chicken rooters almost got away with a plan to bring utter chaos to the elaborate Christmas half-time show Marshall stages with such care. Before the Redskin-Cowboy game, Chicken Club saboteurs sneaked into the stadium and scattered 10 pounds of chicken feed on the gridiron. Other saboteurs brought 76 crated chickens into the stadium and hid them in a dugout. As the massed bands marched onto the field and Santa Claus appeared in a sled pulled by huskies, certain Dallas fans were ready to release the chickens. Fortunately for the show (and probably for Santa Claus, who had to control the slavering huskies), a police lieutenant spotted the crated chickens and confiscated them. When Marshall heard about the abortive plan he said it was "childish and immature," and fired off a protest to National League Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Thereafter, for some weeks, Marshall's phone rang at all hours of the night. When he answered there was only a soft cluck-clucking at the other end.
Until they get to know him, most people are not aware of Clint Jr.'s sometimes prankish, sometimes wry and sometimes juvenile sense of humor. When a magazine correspondent friend was slugged on the head while covering the Freedom Rides into the South last year, Clint Jr. sent him a Cowboy helmet. When Toots Shor, the New York pub-keeper and Giant fan, agreed to let Clint Jr. use his box to watch Giant games when he was in New York in return for choice seats to the Cowboy-Giant game in Dallas, Clint Jr. sent him tickets to two whole sections in the Cotton Bowl. He made certain, however, that the bulky package was not delivered to Shor in New York until a few minutes before kickoff time in Dallas. Just recently, when Clint Jr. and John unloaded $17.5 million in stock in one of their companies and a Dallas newspaper speculated that the Murchisons might have overextended themselves in the Alleghany deal, Clint Jr. drove down to the newspaper and bought $108 of display advertising space. He wrote an ad saying that it wasn't true he was delinquent in his telephone and electric bills, and he signed it "Friends of Clint Murchison Jr." The paper persuaded him not to run the ad, but presumably it also got the point that a man really in financial trouble is not apt to make light of it.
Despite his heavy losses and avid interest in the Cowboys, Clint Jr. makes it a point not to interfere in the day-to-day operations of the club. "Clint doesn't second-guess us as much as most of the fans do," said a club official. "He's there when we need him—and believe me, that's nice to know—but he leaves all the decisions up to us." Clint Jr.'s personal sport is not football but skin diving and underwater photography, and whenever he has the chance he hops one of the 17 planes in the Murchison air fleet and flies off to Spanish Cay, the three-mile-long sand and coral island he owns in the Bahamas. He personally designed and helped build the $400,000 low-slung glass and masonry lodge on the island. Somehow it manages to be fabulous without being ostentatious and has literally everything to please a Texas millionaire as well as a serious fisherman. The main part of the lodge has a huge den with a spacious fireplace, a dining room, library, kitchen and immense storeroom. Around it are six guest cabanas, each with a lavish but tastefully furnished bedroom, dressing room and bath. The entire island is ringed by a white beach, and at its docks are Murchison's three fishing boats: Jumper, 36 feet; Runner, 45 feet; and Morning After, an 84-foot converted air-sea rescue craft. The island is the favorite vacation spot for Clint Jr., his wife Jane, a pretty and poised woman who was an SMU coed when they met and married 21 years ago, and the four Murchison children, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Typically, however, Clint Jr. also uses the island retreat for business; the lodge's guest book is a Who's Who of business, finance and political bigwigs, and some of his biggest deals have been cooked up in the comfortable study before a roaring fire.
The clear blue and green waters surrounding the Bahamas are among the finest in the world for skin diving, of course, and Clint Jr. has long been an underwater photographer of near-professional skill. He is perhaps the only skin diver ever to get a shot of tarpon cavorting underwater and, though experts say it can't be done, he is trying to perfect a workable underwater cinemascopic camera lens.
The truth is, Clint Jr. is daffy about gadgets, particularly gadgets that give him a chance to exercise his dormant electrical engineering skills. That is the main reason why, eight years after he started building an enormous ranch house on 25 choice acres on the edge of Dallas, the Murchisons continued to live as cramped as any ordinary family with growing children in a charming but unpretentious three-bedroom brick home in an upper-class Dallas neighborhood. Clint Jr. has supervised every detail in his new home, right down to the hand-finished teak shelves, and whenever he heard of a new gadget, anything from an orange juice machine to an advanced intercom hookup, he installed it, even when it meant ripping out equipment already installed. "I can't tell him to hurry up," Jane Murchison once explained, sounding as if she never really expected to live there, "because the house is really Clint's hobby."
Because he has lavished so much care and skill on it, the Murchisons' new home will be one of the most remarkable in America. When they hear about-the 12,000 square feet of floor space, the electronic bar that automatically dispenses almost any liquor, the ice-cream maker, the movie projection room and profusion of television sets, the elaborate intercom system with a switchboard the size of a mad scientist's think machine, most people wonder if Clint Jr. hasn't begun acting like an honest-to-gosh Texas millionaire after all. But if Clint Jr. can't resist a newfangled electronic gadget, he also is willing to spend a fortune to avoid show. When guests enter his new house they find it palatial and spacious, but also beautifully appointed—and without a gadget in sight. Even the TV sets are hidden behind mellow, hand-finished paneling; and, when a button is pushed and panels glide back silently, only the spigots of the electronic bar obtrude. The massive switchboard also is hidden. Even an underwater viewing room built into his mammoth swimming pool manages to seem unpretentious.
Yet football, fishing, skin diving and home building aren't enough to quiet Clint Jr. At the moment he is developing an interest in sky diving, and sometime in the near future he intends to give it a whirl. One reason this intrigues him is that not long ago he and John bought a joint insurance policy so huge that it took a bit of doing to find a company that wanted to handle it. "I want to have my picture taken," says Clint Jr., "jumping out of a plane door with a beer in my hand, and send it to them."