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A Tale of Two O'Briens
I became acquainted with Mr. H. V. O'Brien of Eastland, TX. in this manner: our eldest daughter, Nancy Isham, called Mr. O'Brien about a perfectly valid check he had given the Comanche County REA -- he had forgotten to sign it.  In the course of this conversation, Nancy remarked that her maiden name was O'Brien, and she thought her Dad would like to meet him.  So H. V., who with his wife Gaynell O'Brien are co-publishers of some eight Eastland/Callahan County Newspapers, was kind enough to send me the genealogy of his O'Brien clan, an outstanding and talented lineage in the Eastland/West Texas area, including two very talented and eloquent Baptist preachers.

I wrote Mr. O'Brien that--much as I would love to claim kinship to such a fine group of people--since all his people are Baptist and all of ours are Methodists it seems unlikely.  However, his absentmindedness in failing to sign his check is certainly common to our O'Briens, so we must be kin.
I was not surprised when I recently read the May/June issue of The Messenger to find an article by H.V. O'Brien--after all, people from different parts of the country contribute articles to the magazine--but as I started to read this article by H. V. O'Brien entitled "A Simple Solution to Zippergate," I suddenly realized, that what could be a terrible mistake had been made.  It was my article.  I immediately called Charles Chupp, the Editor, to direct his attention to what had happened; H. M., instead of H.V.  Now, since some of my remarks had political implications, this could be a source of trouble to H. V. besides the embarrassment it might cause his family.  After all, I had never personally met this O'Brien--how was he going to react to this terrible mix-up?  What with people suing people, and government suing tobacco and lawyers suing lawyers, even peanut farmers like me might not be exempt. 

Charles told me not to worry.  He manfully assumed full responsibility, quoting the old adage: "Doctors bury their mistakes and publishers print theirs."  He further assured me that it was a typographical error on his part; that H. V. was a personal friend of his, and that we would explain to him what had happened. I don't think Charles ever got around to calling or writing H. V.  I think we both probably thought, "Well, maybe the other O'Brien might never know, and what he don't know wont' hurt him."  But, sure enough, he did. Charles received a letter from him saying, "I didn't do it!  That other O'Brien probably did it.  Please apologize to my friend, the other O'Brien."

What a nice guy, that cousin of mine!

Editor's Note: Thankfully, both 0'Briens and Charles Chupp are good-natured and have a sense of humor. I simply experienced a "brain burp" (what I actually called it was much less polite), and typed in the wrong O'Brien's initials. I apologize to both H.V. and H.M., to Charles, and to any O'Briens anywhere - regardless of their initials - who I might have inconvenienced. Some days, it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps and get out of bed.

Printed in The Messenger magazine, July/August 1998