A Guide to the Wick Fowler Collection, 1944-1991 (Bulk dates: 1944-1945, 1965-1978)
3 boxes and 4 oversized boxes (9.25 linear feet)
Abstract: Journalist and chili enthusiast Wick Fowler (1909-1972) was born Homer Thomas Wilson Fowler in Big Sandy, Texas and grew up in Victoria, Texas. The Wick Fowler papers span 1944-1991 (bulk dates: 1944-1945, 1965-1978) and document Fowler’s journalism work as well as the Chili Appreciation Society International and Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili product.
Journalist and chili enthusiast Wick Fowler (1909-1972) was born Homer Thomas Wilson Fowler in Big Sandy, Texas and grew up in Victoria, Texas.
Fowler began his newspaper career at the Austin American Statesman, then joined the Dallas Morning News, and later became editor of the Midland Reporter Telegram. During World War II he served as the only Texas news correspondent, writing for the Dallas Morning News, and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Italy with fellow journalist Ernie Pyle. He followed the 36th Infantry Division, which was partially comprised of men from his former National Guard unit.
During the Vietnam War Fowler shipped out to Vietnam as a war correspondent for the Denton Record Chronicle. Again Fowler told the story of Texan soldiers. He returned later to cover the local boys for 15 Texas newspapers, and again with Texas businessman H. Ross Perot in attempts to return prisoners of war.
Fowler helped found the Chili Appreciation Society International and created Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili product, both of which are still active. Both ideas were born of a chili cook-off first held in Terlingua, Texas in 1967, in which Fowler competed against Francis X. Tolbert, a friend and colleague at the Dallas Morning News.
Fowler was also a humorist, writing columns such as the “Towering Texan,” “Fowler Fare,” and “The World’s Fare” from 1947-1968. He brought Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili on his trips to Vietnam, and was called on to cheer the troops in World War II. Fowler also wrote on local issues such as the John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas in which Texas governor John Connally was injured, crime and safety, and boating.
Wood, Sam, “A tribute to Wick Fowler…,” Texas State Directory, ca 1973, page 33.
Handbook of Texas Online, Alice M. Shukalo, “Fowler, Homer Thomas Wilson [Wick],” accessed August 18, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffo50.
Scope and Contents Note
The Wick Fowler papers span 1944-1991 (bulk dates: 1944-1945, 1965-1978) and document Fowler’s journalism work as well as the Chili Appreciation Society International and Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili product. The collection is arranged in 7 series: Biographical Information, Writings, Chili, Correspondence, Audio Recordings, General Newspapers, and Printed Material. The largest series, Chili, documents the chili cook-off in Terlingua, the Chili Appreciation Society International, and Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili product, and contains articles and clippings, a scrapbook, promotional materials, photographic materials, and artifacts. Note that the while the scrapbook largely contains Chili-related clippings, awards, posters, advertisements, and a draft by Fowler, it also contains articles by Fowler on World War II, the Vietnam War, crime, and boating.
The second series, Writings, documents Fowler’s career as a journalist. Subseries are World War II, Vietnam War, Humor, John Connally Assassination Attempt, Crime and Safety, and Boating. Each subseries contains clippings and columns by Fowler, including his “Vietnam Diary,” a special insert for the Dallas Morning News on February 27, 1966. Other items of note include articles on journalist Ernie Pyle, clippings documenting Fowler’s trip to Vietnam with Texas businessman H. Ross Perot, photographs of daily life in Vietnam and published photographs by Fowler. Also of note are two folders of notecards containing jokes, one-liners, and subject matter for speaking engagements.
The Correspondence series is also divided into periods, which are World War II, Vietnam, Chili, and family condolences. An exception to this is the Letters to Fowler, found in Writings-World War II, which includes hand-written and typed notes from various colleagues.
Many materials have been placed in oversized boxes. Researchers should note the box number on the container list as they are not always consecutive.