How a Lad Courts a Lass On the Mexican Border WORLD ON A TURTLE-BACK By THOMAS SUTHERLAND Here in Texas about two-thirds of the people are the Scotch-Irish stock still bearing the stamp of the hill hardness of Tennessee and further back the hills and bogs of the British Isles. About one-third of us are dividedthe word is especially aptinto two great social minorities, the Mexicans and the Negroes. There are three other national groups, small in number but congregating together enough to have their own folk life and lore: these are the Germans, Swedes and Czechs. To illustrate their variety in viewpoint and in cues, I shall take one instance from one folk culture the Mexican border culture of Texas, from one social groupthe rural, not formally educated group, and from one institutionlove and marriage. “How to fall in love and get married in the country” was told to me the other day by a citizen of Mercedes, Texas, as follows: Let us say that your name is Epimenio Lopez and that you live in a small settlement of Spanishspeaking people like yourself not far from Mercedes. You have reached the time in your life when you should fall in love and get married. The procedure for doing this is not simple but it is well known to you as part of the business of belonging to the particular society to which you belong. Step one. You go to a social gathering, say to a dance or a bautismo, which is an all day affair. There you see various girls with their parents. You look at them, One of them returns your look. That is the beginning. You look at each other very solemnly, fatally, as if the world were coming to an end. No one smiles; that would be going too far. \(In the impatient cultures, whose institution of courtship is in a much more rudimentary stage of development, this would be unbearable; the man would say something or do something. But not you, Epimenio, Step two. You find out all about the girl. Her name is Maria Ramirez; she is fifteen; she lives at a ranch settlement, La Coma; she has five sisters and brothers; they all work; Maria is the youngest; she does not have a novio; she did not look at any other boys at the bautismo. You probably already know most of these things; but if you don’t, you find them out. \(In another culture in which love is not so serious an institution you might read a newspaper, look at a few magazines with pictures of girls, and go to a movie about love. But in a folk culture real informaHaving this information you write a letter to Maria Ramirez, or, if you do not write well nough for your satisfaction, you get a friend to do it for you: “This day in my hand I take a pencil to say to you a few words. TOM SUTHERLAND is former executive secretary of the Texas Good Neighbor Commission. Right now he is running a public relations office in Austin, a farm on the road to Round Rock, and a family of his wife and seven girls. He first set down these thoughts on folklore in a paper for the Texas Folklore Society. Congratulations and Best Wishes CRESCENT INDUSTRIES Custom -Bilt Furnishings 903 Waller St. Austin “Maria, this letter serves me to say hello to you and to tell you that I saw you the other day at the bautismo of Tio Juan. I am sending you this little message to tell you that I wish you to accept this letter. I wish that we may have relations of friendship. Your secure servant, Epimenio Lopez.” A gringo might think you have not said a lot in this letter, but he doesn’t know your cues. You have taken a very important step. Step three. The letter comes to the girl by the hand of one of your friends who happens to be going to La Coma to deliver a part for a tractor. He doesn’t have to be told to deliver it clandestinely; he also knows the cues. By now she knows all about you. Perhaps she has found out that you looked at other girls at the bautismo. That is enough. Your approaches are not sufficiently serious. Relations of friendship with you are not to be trusted to lead to relations of marriage. She returns the letter untouched by her hand. But no, this is not the case. The report on you is satisfactory. Maria Ramirez replies and telling no one in her family, gets the reply back to you: “Joven Epimenio Lopez. “This afternoon Lupe Contreras came and delivered to me the letter that you sent. I should like to have a picture of you from the waist up, and with a dedication made with Step four: You have never yet spoken to each other. You have exchanged letters, a number of letters. Time has passed. Now Maria takes the initiative: ‘ she writes, “Saturday we will go to town and buy groceries at Don Luis Salinas’ store.” That is all. You are there ahead of time. \(After all, she is bound to find out when you showed up in the neighget out of the store; she has to match some ribbon down the street. This is your cue. You leave the group of friends with whom you have been waiting under a palm tree, and speak with her. Very briefly, but enough to agree to meet her in the picture show on Sunday. \(Across the river in Mexico it would be in the Plaza, perhaps. Before the last war Maria would have had to come with other girls, but now Maria might get away from the house alone for a couple McNay ‘Under 100’ Exhibit Has 300 Items Special to The Texas Observer SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 13The McNay Art Institute here is exhibiting about 300 art objects from ancient and modern civilizations in its “Under One Hundred” exhibition. In its second loan exhibition, the Institute is showing pieces from Egypt, China, and contemporary France and America. All of them are on sale for prices from $3.50 to $100. A group of Chinese ceramics, the earliest dating from the eighth century B.C., will be on display. Other objects include a group of Japanese prints; items from the Sung and Ming dynasties; several Renaissance and Baroque drawings; about 40 samples of pre-Columbian sculpture; and work by Whistler, Audbon, and George Catlin. Woodcuts and lithographs by Fernanda Leger, Picasso, Miro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonhard and Sutherland are also being exhibited. The exhibition extends through Jan. 2. It’s smart to buy for Christmas gifts BEA HARPER’S ANTIQUES 112 E. 8th 8-8432 The Texas Mind Page 6 December 13, 1954 THE TEXAS OBSERVER ‘What’er You Thinkin’?’ He Asks; ‘Why Do You Ask?’ On this page, when it appears, we will ask what millionaires and labor leaders are thinking, and legislators, and a Negro man living somewhere in East Texas, and even professors. We will find some Folk Lore, tell what we can about little theaters and symphony orchestras, review a few books, talk abotu Texas writers, and hear from some. Don’t hold us to the figure too stiffly \(we may even tread beyond the Red and the Rio to help find out what goes on in that resonant cavern. The Texas Mind. If we go off the mark. we hope it will be because of confusing reverberations instead of puzzling silences. Si am Houston On Committees In Private Life Before the revival of political heresy as a sin in our present era, Americans most of the time lived in an atmosphere of political independence. Those seeking to impugn the character of a man often, therefore, relied on stories of moral offenses. Sam Houston, after losing the affection of his wife, resigned as Governor of Tennessee and went to live on the Indian frontier in 1829. He called it his “darkest, direst hour of human misery.” Afterwards, a committee of local citizens published a report containing what Houston called “a wanton and insidious reflection upon my character.” Houston addressed himself to the principal member of the committee \(The Writings of Sam. Houston, The University of Texas Press, Vol. I, if . . Was it thro’ me, or my agency, or seeking, that this private and domestic circumstance was ever extended beyond the family circle, and promulgated in society? No, clearly not as my letter published by the committee chews! Yet all the consequences resulting even in exile, and the wilderness! Had a moment of public excitement produced a committee; when the circumstances had recently occurred, there might some excuse have been found for such a proceeding but when twelve month had passed by, it seemed to be uncalled for, except by idle suggestions, and information, upon which the committee thought fit, to found their formal report against me. In the character of the committee, I discovered an imposing array of Titlesas I presume, to render the proceedings of the committee at a distance most weighty and dignified. As individuals the members of the committee had a right to think of, and animadvert upon my ‘conduct’ and character as they might deem fit, \(but not as a body to adin society, had the undoubted right to do the same, and no more! When has society before witnessed the convention of a committee for the purpose of taking up the private and domestic circumstances of a Private person, and in public and solemn manner reporting thereupon?” Stanford Payne The Land Merchant Texas farms, ranches, subdivisions, quality homes. Capitol National Bank Building 88507 26320 BY GERALD LANGFORD Written for The Texas Observer In 1894 William Sydney Porter, the man later to become known as 0. Henry, was a thirty-one year old Austin resident, a teller in the First National Bank, and the new owner of a printing press which he had bought for $250. Thus equipped, he began to publish the Rolling Sstone, a weekly comic paper which made its bow with the following an. nouncement: The idea is to fill its pages with matter that will make a heartrending appeal to every lover of good literature, and every person who has a taste for reading print and a dollar and a half for a year’s subscription . . . Each number will contain stories, humorous sketches, poems, jokes, properly labeled, side-splitting references to the mother-in-law, the goat Governor Hogg, and the States of the weather and Texas The Rolling Stone appeared every Saturday \(or most of the SaturApril, 1895, not only edited but almost entirely written by Porter himself. Since the circulation never went above 1500, Porter finally realized he could not expect to make his living from the venture, and he suspended publication six months after losing his job at the bank \(on the embezzlement charge on which some three years later he was tried and, -rightly or wrongly, While it lasted, the paper was a remarkable demonstration of its editor’s versatility and industry. Though he expressed himself mainly in humorous accounts of local affairs, he spoke out freely on state national affairs. In his own words: The politics of The Rolling Stone is Independent, with an inclination toward Presbyterianism, and the theory that the world is supported on the back of a mud, turtle. Our platform might be stated in the following words: We believe in treating everybody square all around, backing the winning horse, and closing all accounts with a note when pressed The 1894 gubernatorial campaign was a hot one, and from the start Porter made known his anti-Hogg sentiment in cartoons, articles, and verses such as the following: Jeems Hogg has left the capitol, A railroad man to be; He squeezed all the wind from heaven And the water from the sea. In more serious vein he wrote of one of the candidates seeking to succeed Hogg: John H. Reagan has lived a long and honorable life, has moved and mixed with the great men of our generation and has earned and enjoys the esteem of all. Porter’s cartoons are among the most effective features of The Rolling Stone. In the characteristic make-up of the paper, the first page GERALD LANGFORD is an associate professor of English at The University of Texas with a special interest in O’Henry. was a title page occupied entirely by a large political cartoon. He gave pictorial advice to the Populists to “get into your cotton patch andkeep off the grass.” He showed Culberson facing a desk piled high with the problems left behind by Hogg. He pictured Foreign Capital hoping to enter a fenced Texas locked by a gate flanked’ with “States Rights, Politics, Alien Land Law, Empty Treasury, Disturbed Titles.” Though entirely untrained in the medium, Porter was a cartoonist who, in the opinion of one of his biographers, “would have made a mark equal to that he attained as a writer had he developed his genius.” Typical of the issues on which Porter expressed himself in cartoons, in three-line jokes, in morethan-half-serious articles, was the emancipation of women. Concerning the new-style girl he wrote: She says “hello” and catches young men by the sleeve on the street when she talks to them, which is every time she meets them. She rides a bicycle if her figure justifies it, and sometimes whether or no. She chews gum. She goes on excursions to other towns and up the river with young men whose reputations and intentions are well known. She is losing that delicacy and spotlessness that a man may not look for in companion for a boat ride, but demands in a wife. With her own hands she is brushing that bloom from the grape, that morning dew from the rosebud,
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