By Steve Kopiski
William Pointer was born in Ennis Texas in 1923. Common for young men of the time, he left home in his teens for independence and gainful employment, (and to gather the nickname “Tex”). His early years had him in the Western states and branching out for business, and ultimately answering the call to his generation, enlisting in the Navy in support of the war effort.
“Tex” Pointer couldn’t move through his careers or society in a manner you’d find typical. This was a time of struggle for most Americans, but Tex had crucial challenges. Conflict of identity and heritage, a persistent sense of guilt. He was able to partially unburden himself in his writings and carry on. A manuscript he wrote, published posthumously by his children is entitled “I Pass As White”. Tex Pointer was an African American man who lived as white in the America of the 1940s to the 1990s.
Best available estimates have Pointer and his small but growing family settling in Hudson @ 1957. Family memories have Tex as a fisherman, home builder, furniture craftsman, farmer, caterer, machinist, horseman, host of outings and events to name a few. Over time in town, this was a man you either knew personally or knew who he was on sight. Tall, thin, often in his cowboy hat and boots, and involved in whatever scene might be underway. In no way did he keep a low profile.
When researching a specific individual, local newspaper archives are a convenient resource, except perhaps when you search returns a few hundred mentions and by-lines. Tex maintained a frequent voice in matters of town planning and legislation, a voice more than once awarded the expression “Spoke at great length…” In January 1982, he commanded the front page of the newspaper with an account of his prepared speech (6 Pages!). Here on the subject of Planning Board matters, he stood against proposed changes placing rural spaces in residential zoning to inhibit industrial/retail sprawl. He also pressed for board members to be elected, rather than appointed by the selectmen (Tex himself an appointed planning board member of long standing.)
Then there was Water, getting in and out of it, getting over and around it, even managing its depth weighed on Pointer’s mind and moved his advocacy. Proper concrete public boat ramps for both Robinson Pond and the Merrimack River (Tex highly in favor,) involved sometimes years-long and even heated debate back and forth, and neither succeeded. In typical Tex fashion, he states “I don’t swim, and I don’t own a boat. I have no personal interest in this boat ramp” then launches into a half-page letter to the editor advocating the Merrimack River proposal. Then there was the critical control of the depth of Robinson Pond, the necessity of a dam, the issue of beavers building dams, even the rumors of clandestine dams constructed in secret by residents! And of course the long debated matter of additional bridge(s) to Nashua across the Merrimack going back to the early 1960s. Pointer was a member of a delegation to study, leading him to proclaim himself the “town’s most frequent user of the bridge”. The amount of leverage this permitted was not recorded. And while it’s true Tex was reliably outspoken on many issues, colleagues from the time recall his committed interest in what he felt was for the good of the town.
And who knew, for example, that in 1913, the first motorized truck in NH was owned by the “Hudson Volunteer Hose Co. #1”, later the Hudson Fire Dept.? Largely a volunteer force until the 1970s, in the early part of the 20th century, firefighters would pay $3 to join the brigade, buy all their own equipment, and pay fines for missing meetings, fire drills, and actual fires. Pointer laid out the whole history in four full-page installments serialized weekly in the then Hudson News. Also in that paper, Tex took the front page for his two-part history of the Presentation of Mary Academy. And on occasion, when humor took the place of history, Tex offered musings in the column “I Remember When…” where he’d poke fun at town foibles and citizenry (without naming names.)
Likewise, Tex was a reliable and prolific scribe for local publications, notably the Nashua Telegraph and Hudson (later, Hudson – Litchfield) News. “Twin Valley Area News” was a weekly feature in the Telegraph and for a good while in the mid-60s, Tex was its Hudson correspondent. Here he reported on political news, town happenings, social and charitable events and such.
Notable citizens engage their community. They participate and contribute their time and talents for its betterment. In an excerpt from cover notes in Tex’s book; “What if you could change the direction of your life? Would you have the strength to make the sacrifices to get there? Bill Pointer had that strength… every day was an uncertainty to Bill. His story is about the past and future of a race, as well as that of a person.” Overall it is instructive. Envisioning a place where judgment by appearance can be removed from our experience as Tex succeeded in demonstrating, what remains is our common humanity.
Acknowledgements: “I Pass as White” by William “Tex” Pointer is available at major on-line booksellers for interested readers. The Pointer family generously provided personal recollections and collected archives for this article. Written by Steve Kopiski, a member of the Genealogy and Research Committee of the Hudson Historical Society.