Book's Title has Junior League's Lawyer Crying 'Genericide'...
Book's Title has Junior League's Lawyer Crying 'Genericide'...
By Barry Shlachter
It’s a real word. Honest.
Is Fort Worth writer Hollace Weiner guilty of genericide?
The lawyer for the Association of Junior Leagues International asserts that Weiner’s latest book, Jewish "Junior League”: The Rise and Demise of the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women (Texas A&M University Press) will probably cause confusion over the relationship between the defunct Jewish group and the Junior League.
In other words, said lawyer James Meyer, Weiner is engaging in "genericide" — taking a protected trademark and promoting its use in a generic sense.
Photographer: Glen Ellman
Told of the genericide charge, Weiner was taken aback.
"That sounds terrible," said Weiner, a former
reporter. "It sounds like a crime for which I would be hauled before the
Weiner explained that the book was a version of her master’s thesis and that A&M Press added the quotation marks to the title.
The book chronicles a group of
Weiner declined to address the genericide allegation, referring us to A&M’s attorney, whose office in turn referred us to an A&M spokesman who said the university has yet to respond to the association’s complaint.
Next we contacted the Association of Junior Leagues’ New York-based marketing chief, Barbara Taylor, who told us that the group did allow another book, The Devil and the Junior League, to slide.
No warning. No scary letter from a Philadelphia lawyer. Nada.
"But that was a work of fiction about a fictional
'Junior League,’ while Ms. Weiner’s book is nonfiction," said Taylor, a
transplanted Texan and a
Asked whether the quotation marks in Weiner’s title,
Jewish "Junior League,"
might just tip off readers that the book concerned something akin to,
yet distinct from her organization,
Moreover, she complained that Amazon.com was listing the book sans quotation marks.
Then we decided to consult a neutral expert, professor Megan Carpenter at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
Her gut tells her that Weiner has a strong defense. Carpenter, who teaches intellectual property law and has written numerous cease-and-desist letters as an attorney, went on to say that the Junior League’s action was expected. In fact, by not aggressively protecting one’s trademark, a famous brand could lose it. . . . . In Weiner’s case, she is talking about a Jewish organization "equivalent" to the Junior League, Carpenter said.
What should the author have titled her book? . . . Carpenter [suggested]. . . "The Jewish Equivalent of the Very Famous Organization of Charitable Women that is Exclusive?"
POSTSCRIPT: The publisher, TAMU press,
decided to place the words "Junior League" in quotes and not to respond
at all to the League's threatening letter. That is the last the
publisher and the author ever heard from the Junior League's legal team.
“Over a century ago, out where the tumbleweeds begin, Jewish women organized themselves for preservation. This is the story of the Fort Worth section of the National Council of Jewish Women. They minded their own spiritual, temporal, and cultural lives and prepared the social environment for the next generations as Fort Worth grew. They cared for their sisters and brothers as immigrants infused the state . . . these lionesses . . . lead in causes of feminism and general society . . . . They did more than pat unleavened bread. Ultimately . . . in 1999 the women formally closed shop—their daughters no longer critically needed the tight cradles of their grandmothers. The lights of Fort Worth and America beyond had brightened and shone on all. But the women’s endurance and elegant social weaving is a guidepost to all."
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Oct 2009
“As an organizational history, Weiner’s account would deservedly belong in the growing catalogue of work treating female associational life in Texas. The author, however, hunts larger game here. She infuses the narrative with ambitious subtexts illuminating the skill and savvy with which Council women carved cultural space amid extremes that constantly tasked their identifies. . . Weiner provides useful insights into Jewish women’s associational life in the state, and sheds needed light on the intrepid tactics through which Texas women blazed new paths to public visibility, influence and equality.”
-- Kevin C. Motl, Ouachita Baptist University.
Journal of Southern History, Vol. 75, No. 4, Nov. 2009
“Weiner has thoughtfully expanded a small topic
with deep archival research and a solid grounding in the literature of
women’s history.” Weiner fills a lacuna in the literature on Texas
women’s voluntary associations. . . .
-- Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, BrandeisUniversity, and author of American Judaism: A History
" . . . Cowtown loves stories true and otherwise, and local history buffs will want to add Hollace Ava Weiner's latest history tome The Jewish "Junior League" to their libraries. It's a fascinating look at the once-powerful Council of Jewish Women and the local chapter's impact on Fort Worth's social structure. Hollace, a top-notch writer and a good historian, has also penned Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and Their Work and Lone Stars of David.
-- MARY ROGERS, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 29, 2008
“…an important contribution to the field of women’s
and southwestern studies . . . could do a great deal to help us
understand change within a specific population, one that has worked both
to retain a unique identity while integrating with, and contributing
generously to, the larger community.”
“…well written, well documented, and a contribution to
the field of Texas women’s social history.”
"Hollace Weiner's beautifully crafted exploration of
Fort Worth's National Council of Jewish Women is an important
contribution to Tarrant County history and an inspiring testimony to the
power of one group of visionary women volunteers to enhance community
life for almost a century. It is also an engaging story."
American Jewish History, Vol 94, No.3, Sept. 2008
“Hollace Ava Weiner,
co-editor and driving force behind Lone Stars of David.... writes with
the ear of a journalist and the eye of a painter..... The richness and
readability of the volume is a credit to the talents of its editors.”
Journal of American Ethnic History
Vol 27, Issue 4
Weiner and Roseman have produced a work of popular
history that …raises fascinating questions for scholars. The book’s 21
essays suggest that cultural isolation forced Texas’s pioneer Jews,
often the only members of their faith in their frontier communities, to
pursue “blending in without becoming absorbed.”…Much of the last half of
the volume centers on colorful, compelling biographical sketches of
prominent Jewish entrepreneurs and politicians.
Atlanta Jewish Times
Oct 1, 2007
I wish Brandeis University Press, which published this
book, would do one on every state. It reads like a novel, but better,
because it’s all true. . . Each chapter is lavishly illustrated with
vintage photos. There’s even a photo of Lyndon Johnson at the dedication
of Agudas Achim’s refurbished sanctuary in Austin in 1963. He had
arranged for 42 Jews to emigrate from Poland to the U.S. in 1938. This
is a book well worth possessing for anyone interested in the
National Jewish Post and Opinion
Sept 12, 2007
“This oversized, well-illustrated volume . . . . is
based on extensive research an succeeds in illuminating the lives of
Texas Jews and their pioneering spirit.
This terrific book, with many photographs does an
excellent job of describing Jews in Texas and showing how people from
one culture adapt to another culture. . . . Chapter 8, “West Texas
Wildcatters: From Immigrant to Patron Saint Rita,” by Barry Shlachter, .
. . [demonstrates how] Jewish leadership in discovering oil in the
Permian Basin section of Texas led to much money for the University of
Texas and helped transform it into an elite university. . . . Chapter
17, “Minority Report: Dr. Ray K. Daily Battles the Houston School
Board,” by Lynwood Abram, shows how Daily . . . helped establish rights
for women and aided the development of two universities: Texas Southern
University, a historically black school, and the University of Houston.
“You can have a good time just leafing through these pages, but sooner
or later you'll want to read every word, because this is a book with a
fills in a lot of blanks regarding the role of Jews in
“I’m enjoying your book. Some
of the people in it I know – but I’m learning more about them. Of
course, like everybody else, I absolutely love Bob Strauss. There is
nobody I’d rather listen to . . . I will tell him how much I enjoyed his
foreword. The Dell chapter was particularly interesting to me.”
"Here is a moving history of contributions made by
the Jewish people and the pathos of their immigration, settling, and
integration into the
A wonderful collection, richly illustrated, these 21 chapters by three
dozen knowledgeable authors are charmingly readable."
“ . . . an insightful tabletop anthology.”
“From discussing women’s clubs
to early Zionism to the generosity of
“Among the recurring themes in this book: how to
balance and blend your identity as a Jew and as a Texan. . . . For the
most part, Texas Jews didn’t face anti-Semitism . . . In part that was
because they were white, in part because of the deep respect in the
Bible Belt for Judaism. And of course Jewish numbers in the state have
always been small."
"The history of Jews in
talents as a writer and reporter shine through in these profiles of
unforgettable Texans. Too bad most of these rabbis lived in an era
before prime time. The
" For New Yorkers who
"Melding her dual
career skills, Hollace Weiner casts a historian's truths into the lively
prose of a journalist. The reader fairly flies from 1873 when Heinrich
Schwarz settled north of
Star-Telegram reporter Hollace Weiner has cranked out a wonderful little
tome that aficionados of
". . . the men who led
"With talented pen
strokes Hollace Weiner sketches Rabbi Henry Cohen's personality so
vividly that he emerges as an acquaintance who won't be forgotten."
"The Bible Belt is
usually associated with Christian faith, but
fascinating biographical essays-filled with information about Texas and
American Jewish history, humor, warmth, the life of a rabbi, and
especially, human strengths (mostly) and weaknesses (occasionally).
Prodigious research, in archives and via interviews, combines with a
graceful style to produce chapter after chapter of rare fascination and
significance, and proves once again that the history of the Jews in
"The book is
beautifully written. Ms. Weiner's elegant and engaging writing style has
enabled her to bring the men and women she studied to life. . . She
possesses a strong grasp of the narrative and major themes in American
Jewish history and has added immeasurably to our knowledge of rabbinical
Hollace Weiner is a careful detective, marvelous writer, and even better
story teller. . . .
Her vivid character portraits, well
seated in cogent analysis, jump out of the pages. Her rabbis battle the
Klan, fight for academic freedom against recalcitrant governors,
patronize the arts, and serve as community spokespersons. They befriend
the downtrodden and weld ties with other groups. From rabbinic godfather
Henry Cohen to department store owner/lay-rabbi Sam Perl, these
spiritual leaders served as joiners, mixers, community and civic
builders, mediators, union supporters, social workers, cultural
raconteurs, symbols of Judaism, maintainers of the faith, and always
role models. As Weiner illustrates, they were also individuals who might
not have fit in or succeeded elsewhere but, deep in the heart of
--Mark K. Bauman, author and editor,
Centennials in General
Reprinted from The Rambler, newsletter of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, Winter, 2003
“The Synagogue is the most enduring, most persistent, most resilient, most participatory and least studied Jewish institution. . . . Its history is left to amateurs.” —Jack Wertheimer, The American Synagogue, A Sanctuary Transformed
When I began to write my congregation’s centennial history in June of 2002, few people understood why I was postponing out-of-town trips and spending my summer completing a 12-chapter, 120-page, footnoted, illustrated coffee-table book celebrating my temple’s past.
Why knock yourself out to produce something as narrow and parochial as a synagogue history, a commemorative book that most people would skim for the pictures, not the text? Everyone knows that working on long-term synagogue projects leads to tsuris. And what about the pay? All I would receive was a key to the synagogue so that I could burn the midnight oil while combing the temple archives.
The determination to write a
comprehensive centennial history of my home congregation, Beth-El in
How right he was. I have read synagogue histories galore that were “slapped” together. Yet, no matter how “amateur” or “flattering” they were, each synagogue history aided my research with dates, names, illustrations, and connections to larger events. The most disappointing centennial histories were those that regurgitated what had been previously written for the 50th anniversary. The best narratives examined the breadth of a century, complete with controversies and perspective.
That was what I sought to do.
Women continually took one step forward and two steps back. They made gains, then lost them. In 1923, women were guaranteed up to three seats on the temple board. Nonetheless, the board gradually returned to being an all-male domain. In 1949 and again in the 1960s and 1970s, motions passed placing women on the board. Each time, the move was hailed as an innovation, rather than a puzzling example of institutional forgetfulness.
The lessons of a century show
that Beth-El’s women were not persistent
enough to maintain their gains. A look back also shows that our rabbis
were not necessarily role models. Yes, this centennial history includes
the requisite “mug” shots of past presidents. Yes, it salutes those who
served in the wars. The title page also salutes Jack Wertheimer whose
words validated my focus on this “least studied” Jewish institution.
On the Green
It started out as a vanity book celebrating a historic country club, but River Crest Country Club: the First 100 Years evolved into something of surprising heft — physically and figuratively. Author Hollace Ava Weiner spent three years researching and writing and ended up with a work that comes in at a whopping 5 pounds with 544 pages including 950 photos and illustrations. The finished product is a unique, in-depth — though seldom hard-hitting — examination of Fort Worth’s exclusive Westside club and the role its members played in molding the city.
City pioneers with familiar surnames were among the early members when the club was established in 1911. Stripling, Meacham, Ryan, Burnett, Sampson, Waggoner, Bass, and other names seen today on street signs and buildings filled the rolls. Notable golfers such as Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson helped create a buzz about River Crest, along with fellow members Amon Carter, Van Cliburn, John Connally, and Elton Hyder Jr.
“The 100th anniversary was coming, and there [had never been] any written history of the club,” recalled former club manager Jodie Payne. “There were a lot of stories told verbally and whatnot. I started urging the board a good four years in advance that they should consider having a history of River Crest written.”
Club officials wanted more than a fluffy coffee-table book when they first began discussing the project in 2007. No hacks need apply. A book committee led by retired cardiologist Bobby Brown went on the hunt for an experienced historian with a knack for uncovering the past and describing it with vibrancy.
Fort Worth’s foremost sportswriter, Dan Jenkins, considered an offer but turned it down. The committee interviewed a handful of other writers, including Weiner, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter. Since leaving the paper in 1997, Weiner has established herself as the premier author on local Jewish culture with books such as Lone Stars of David, Jewish Stars in Texas, The Jewish “Junior League,” and Beth-El Congregation. Weiner blew away committee members with her energetic and passionate pitch to tackle the book.
“I ran into Dan Jenkins later after we got into the process, and I said, ‘Hollace is doing a wonderful job on this book,’ ” Payne recalled. “He goes, ‘You got that right. She’s one hell of a researcher — she’s telling me stuff about golf in Fort Worth that I didn’t know.’ ”
One of Weiner’s favorite chapters describes how Fort Worth became a major player in the evolution of women’s golf, a topic rarely explored in print.
“This city pioneered women’s golf in the United States, and it’s been forgotten,” she said. “All the golf books I found didn’t talk about it. I don’t want this to be forgotten. To me, that’s the most important thing in the book.”
Fort Worth was first city to host a state amateur golf tournament for women, in 1916, Weiner’s research showed. And the city and its jet-set crowd embraced Olympic champion Babe Didrikson when others wouldn’t. The Beaumont-raised Didrikson was brash and salty and hadn’t exactly been welcomed at other golf clubs in the early 1930s. Members of a Houston country club were turned off after she dared to play golf in pants rather than a skirt and erred further by playing hatless.
Didrikson established herself as an Olympic gold medalist in track and field in 1932 and later added golf to her list of sports. River Crest members Bea Thompson and Bertha Bowen took a shine to her despite her lack of social refinement. They created the Women’s Texas Open in 1934 to showcase her talent and allow her to compete against the country’s best female players. Didrikson married wrestler George Zaharias in 1938, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias would become a feminist icon, including being the first woman to compete in a Professional Golf Association men’s tournament.
Other chapters of Weiner’s book delve into the war years, clubhouse socials, and the city’s homegrown artists — a number of offspring from River Crest families would lead the city’s modern art movement in the mid-20th century. The book committee was fascinated by the variety of information that Weiner uncovered. A long-ago fire at the club had destroyed many historic documents, leaving Weiner to mine for archival gems the old-fashioned way.
“It means you have to go out and get people to tell you stories and pull their scrapbooks out of the attic,” she said. “It makes it a lot more interesting.”
Designer Garry Harman made the pages visually stunning with his generous use of archival photos and illustration.
River Crest is often characterized as the city’s first country club. But two previous attempts had been made to transform the rural property near the Trinity River’s West Fork into exclusive resorts and subdivisions. Both failed before River Crest successfully created its private club with an 18-hole golf course surrounded by high-dollar houses. Those early members even had access to a polo field and an airplane landing strip.
“A lot of the information that was compiled was an eye-opener for some members,” Brown said. “She was meticulous in her research.”
The book was intended to be about 250 pages. But Weiner kept discovering more stories and photos, and the stories often leaped past the boundaries of the club and into the wider history of a fledgling city and its development. Club officials encouraged her to go deep, and the book doubled in size. The club printed about 3,000 copies of the book, gave one to each of its 1,200 members, and allowed members to buy additional copies.
“It’s a phenomenal book,” Payne said. The history wasn’t intended for public sale, and so it has received no reviews or media notice. But copies are available for reading at Fort Worth’s Central Library and southwest branch, Tarrant County Archives, the National Archives at Montgomery Plaza, and the special collections at Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington.
“I want people to know about it and use it,” Weiner said. “I want all this research and effort to be disseminated in other books. I want it to be incorporated in future histories of art, golf, and Fort Worth.”
Somebody’s noticed. Historic
Fort Worth Inc. will present Weiner with a Preservation Achievement
Award on Sept. 20 at the Community Arts Center in recognition of
“significant contributions to the preservation of Fort Worth’s historic
Q & A: Hollace Ava Weiner
River Crest seemed more like a village than a country club, writes Hollace Ava Weiner, author of River Crest Country Club: The First 100 Years.
Boasting 544 pages and 950 photographs and illustrations, the hefty history is a sweeping celebration of Fort Worth’s second-oldest country club. Established in 1911 on Fort Worth’s west side, the exclusive River Crest was the first country club in Texas to include a residential housing development and was the first Texas country club to host a state women’s golf tournament, in 1916.
Weiner, a journalist-turned-historian, chronicles the clubhouse inside and out, with detailed stories of its many famous founders, members, competitors and guests. The who’s who group – folks such as Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, John Connally, Elliott Roosevelt, Davey O’Brien, Bobby Bragan, Van Cliburn and countless mayors, judges, legislators and city council members – not only created a long-lasting recreational and social retreat but also helped shape the city.
Weiner wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Baltimore News-American before receiving a master’s degree in history and archives from the University of Texas at Arlington. She has written and edited four books on Texas Jewish history.
The River Crest history took more than three years to research and write, and was privately published by the club, with a free copy given to each member. Members may buy additional copies for $100 plus tax. Copies are available for reference at the Fort Worth Downtown Central Library in the Genealogy/Local History area, Southwest Library, Tarrant County Archives, the Texas Christian University library, UT-Arlington Special Collections, Historic Fort Worth Inc. and Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
Historic Fort Worth recently presented Weiner with a Preservation Achievement Award for her significant contribution to the preservation of Fort Worth’s historic resources.
Why are you drawn to
What piqued your
interest in River Crest’s history?
Your book records
hundreds of River Crest stories, some never told before.
. . . Olympic gold medalist Babe Didrikson Zaharias was fun, brash, egotistical and mannish, yet the women in the Fort Worth golfing sorority accepted her and helped her soften the rough edges. They created a major tournament, the Texas Women’s Open, designed to help Babe’s golf career after the Dallas Country Club blackballed her, Houston country club women snubbed her, and the USGA kept her out of amateur tournaments.
. . . When River Crest opened in 1911, it had a polo field, ultimately replaced with a driving range.
Were you surprised at
how River Crest’s history is so interwoven with Fort Worth’s history and
What’s your next
~September 21, 2012, Fort Worth Business Press
Historic Fort Worth recognizes efforts
On Thursday, those heritage-minded folks at Historic Fort Worth handed out buckets of awards to people who have worked to keep Cowtown a distinctive sort of place in the face of growing homogenization.
Some were big projects, others quite modest but nonetheless praiseworthy. And there were categories for the written word.
Hollace Weiner, a Star-Telegram reporter-turned-historian and author, was one of four writers honored with a Preservation Achievement Award. Weiner got hers for a well-researched history, The First Hundred Years of Rivercrest Country Club.
Weiner's very thorough tome -- and heavy, at 544 pages with more than 900 color pictures -- used works of art long stored in the vault of the Modern Art Museum. It noted that a top NCAA swim coach, Don Easterling, got his start in Fort Worth, and that Olympian Babe Zaharias made her transition from track to golf thanks to a Fort Worth tournament designed to boost her career.
~September 24, 2012, Barry Shlachter, Sandra Baker and Jim Fuquay, Star-Telegram