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Miss Ellie Ewing  in Dallas

"Ellie you havn`t changed since you were a girl. You were always fighting other peoples battles" - Matt Devlin, 1980

She has been called the Empress Dowager of the Lone Star State. With her regal carriage, inherent grace, irradiating warmth, and compassionate heart, Miss Ellie. is known as an awesome presence in the social and civic circles of Dallas County and beyond, With her keen mind and surprisingly adept business instincts, she is discreetly recognized as the safety net behind her boys, who are running Ewing Oil. But it is Miss Ellie's fierce pride in her heritage, her deep-seated courageousness, and her indefatigable belief in the strength of family that keep the Ewings a family rather than a splintered kingdom of personal fiefdoms.

Miss Ellie was born on Southfork Ranch and, with the exception of some of her school days, has never lived anywhere else in her seventy years. Her father, Aaron Southworth, taught her to ride before she could walk, and it is said in Dallas County that, until her mother made her attend Miss Hockaday's, the exclusive finishing school in Dallas, Miss Ellie had never walked on her own two feet. Indeed, she was a wild one, born with all the fiery spirit of the Southworth generations.

In contrast, Ellie's older brother, Garrison, seemed to be born in the wrong family. Though he liked the animals all right, the ranching way of life-Southworth style-was not for him. He preferred a quieter, more serene way of life and, much to his father's utter dismay, had a passionate attachment to, of all things, water and boats. So his father chose to ignore him, for the most part, and take Ellie as "his" child, bringing her to cattle auctions in Fort Worth when she was four years old, yahooing as she charged alongside him on her pony across the ranges, and winking his approval as she kept scores at rodeos. But Ellie had another side, one that she shared with Garrison. She thrived on music-country, classical, opera-as much as she did on the songs of nature. She was mesmerized by art of all kinds and, unlike any of the Southworths before her, had a gift for painting. Her subjects? Why, Southfork and its animals, of course.

She and Garrison were quite close, which Aaron thought all right, but . . . when he couldn't find Ellie, Aaron knew Garrison had her off somewhere, doing some kind of sissy stuff. And he hoped Ellie wouldn't go too far awry at that fancy schmancy school she was attending. Though Aaron knew he would have to leave Southfork to Garrison-it was unheard of to do anything else-he also knew that Ellie would have to run it behind the scenes, until she married a suitable rancher to take over.

Miss Ellie was popular in school, but more because of the social standing of her family than anything else. She was a Southworth-which counted for an awful lot, no matter what ~you were like-and was quite beautiful with her billowing mane of hair, blazing blue eyes, and simply dazzling smile. She was certainly not like the other girls. Where they took their lessons seriously-in etiquette, cooking, French, etc.-Ellie would burst into laughter over her own helplessness and disinterest, and where they groaned and yawned--at mathematics and natural science-her face glowed with anticipation. And she was restless, constantly, yearningly, looking out the window as if she were about to expire if she didn't get outside soon. And her way with boys! The other girls shook their heads in astonishment and then jealousy-you could hardly call her a lady, carrying on and hootin' and hollerin', as pretty as she was in a stunning silk dress, but really! The boys were mad about her.

When Ellie was sixteen, an older man, a wildcatter, caught her eye. He was the son of a Southfork ranch hand, but his connection to oil was enough to break the blood connection. Since her father claimed that "They (oilmen) ruined the ranges and stank up the air," she was forced to see him on the sly. Eventually, all of Dallas murmured at seeing Miss Southworth together with Willard "Digger" Barnes, one of the craziest wildcatters around.

Digger was fascinating to Ellie-gentle one minute, raucous and humorous the next. And his occasional wild bursts of forbidden drunkenness captivated her. At those times he told her stories of the oil fields, of his daring feats, of the danger, and he always, always wound up telling her how desperately he loved her. He never ever, not even at his worst, behaved as anything but a gentleman with her.

How he adored her spirit! Many years later Digger described Miss Ellie in those days: "She was a wee little thing, Ellie was, with a great big laugh and a way about her. Sweet as sugar one minute, come at you with a shotgun the next. Oh, that temper. Fierce. But fast, like a firecracker. Flare up real big and loud-boom!-and then go right out."

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