ESTES, WINSTON M. (1917–1982). Winston M. Estes, career Air Force officer, novelist, and short story writer, the son of Thomas Marvin and Grace (Newsom) Estes, was born at Quanah, Texas, on October 31, 1917. He graduated from Quanah High School in 1934, attended Texas Tech in 1938–39, and joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. He spent two years during World War II in the Pacific. He married Sarah Spears from Florence, South Carolina, in 1946, and afterwards served in San Antonio, Lubbock, and twice at the Pentagon in Washington. His first book, Winston in Wonderland (1956), is a spoof on Pentagon life.
Estes began to write seriously in 1960. He composed over seven book-length manuscripts and 120 short pieces, of which one collection of short stories and four novels have been published, all but one set in Texas. Another Part of the House (1970), a novel of the Panhandle in 1933–34 narrated by ten-year-old Larry Morrison, portrays the family of a small-town druggist confronting the Great Depression, drought, dust, and, especially, the death of Larry's fifteen-year-old brother. It became Estes's most successful novel and was reprinted in paperback. One critic lauded its concern with "the uncommon decencies over which neither want nor plenty can prevail."
A Streetful of People (1972), eight humorous short stories set in the Panhandle reveals Estes's wide range of comic techniques. In A Simple Act of Kindness (1973) he develops a theme of disillusionment as Pete Hamilton, Fort Worth salesman, attempts to help a wartime friend's widow. In Andy Jessup (1975) Estes enlarges the scope of his typical small-town settings, minimizes humor, and explores the theme of environmental determinism in an account of a forty-year relationship between outgoing Norman Stuart and enigmatic loner Andy Jessup. Homefront (1976), Estes's final and only non-Texas novel, is his least successful one, although it captures meticulously the effect of World War II upon Georgia citizens in small-town Bentley and bustling Atlanta. Though initiation, disillusionment, environmental determinism, and gentle social satire provide themes in Estes's fiction, he ultimately focuses on the affirmation of the best in humanity. He was a lieutenant colonel, an Episcopalian, and father of two children. He died in Camden, South Carolina, on September 13, 1982.
Contemporary Authors, 1978. Bob J. Frye, "Humor and a Sense of Place in Winston Estes's A Streetful of People," Concho River Review 3 (Fall 1989). Bob J. Frye, Winston M. Estes, Western Writers Series, 103 (Boise State University Press, 1992). Bob J. Frye, "Winston Estes' Minor Classic: Another Part of the House," Southwestern American Literature 15 (Fall 1989). Quanah Tribune-Chief, April 2, 1970, September 16, 1982.
Bob J. Frye
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William E. Bard, "ADAMS, WALTER R.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fad08), accessed March 19, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.