OBIE JONES –Staff Photo The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. Thoreau Oixas Obstrurr An Independent Liberal Weekly Newspaper We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. VOL. 46 APRIL 11, 1955 AUSTIN, TEXAS NO. 52 Tom Reagan’s Story To this town and to this came sick and dying Sam Maceo, deeply worried about the preacher’s campaign against the Maceo syndicate’s gambling operations in La Marque. The publicity was,I9 coming unbearable for the ,..6ndicate: the reform might spr’ead. Rev. Burch sat in the front room of his home and remembered the day when Sam Maceo telephoned. “He said he’d like to see me,” he said. “I wasn’t going to Sam Maceo, so I told him I’d be here every afternoon. I asked him if he was coming alone, and he said he was. “The next afternoon I was sitting in ,my study, and a big black car came into the driveway. We introduced ourselves, and he said: ” ‘This affair here has been very badly handled by my men. I’ve been in bad health or it wouldn’t have happened.’ “‘Well, Mr. Maceo,’ I said, ‘we want a clean town here. We want a town that if you wanted to come up here and raise your boys, there vouldn’t be any evidence of gam ‘He wks smooth, Maceo was?ry amiable. He was a good front ,nan, very pleasant talking.” They talked a little more, and Maceo said he’d be back the next day with the decision of the syndicate on whether they would pull the slot machines out of La Marque. But before Maceo left the preacher’s study, Rev. Burch said he would like to pray with him. Maceo said allright, and Rev. Burch recalled: “We got on our knees and we prayed. I said, God, teach him and all of us the difference between right and wrong, keep us away from the evil and corruption that brings curses on us all, help us to right our ways, to try to find the good principles, and to lead our REV. HARRY BURGH lives by them.” Sam Maceo got up off his knees and drove away. The next day he came back and told Rev. Burch that the machines would go. They were carted off on trucks and have never come back. Soon thereafter Sam Maceo died. Thus did a small-town pi eacher do what neither a 100-man Galveston Island reforzrnitte all the law enforcement officers of Galveston County nor the Texas Rangers have done he whipped the Maceo syndicate. Though his congregation supported him wholeheartedly, Rev. Burch met resistance in La Marque. Some of the businessmen who were profiting from the machines resented him. A restaurant owner refused to serve him and ordered him out of his place. The syndicate even sent people to join his congregation. Nothing worked. He was visited by many of Maceo’s henchmen before Maceo came himself. Phil Barbera came to his home many times, arguing that if the reverend would just let them set up the machines in back rooms, where kids wouldn’t See them, ev ‘I’m a White Christian And I Think You Are,’ Suspended Cop Says .. By BILL BRAMMER Associate Editor The Texas Observer SAN ANTONIO “Are you a gentile ?” Tom Reagan asked me. He stood behind the screen door, peering out at the porch. He a big manthe six foot, 200-pound type. He was dressed well, but it was hot and he had his shirt front unbuttoned. He had been out campaigning on election day. I told him I thought I was a gentile. He opened the screen door. “Come in.,” he said. We walked into a big, high-ceilinged living room. There were about 15 framed pictures of Reagan and his family on a dining room table. , He asked about my newspaper and who was editor and owner. “Are they gentiles?” he asked. I told him that as far as I knew they were. “Are you sure you’re not from one of these San Antonio papers?” he asked. “I don’t have anything to do with them any more. I won’t even talk to ’em. They sent their Jew photographers out here one day, and I ran ’em off.” r ; ght, -,,presc aria, have` -apparefitTy been making Tom Reagan pretty miserable since the middle of February. They found out he was president of the Texas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement and Protection for the Majority of White People, Inc. He was a San Antonio city policeman at the timehe’s now on suspensionand ‘As used by .. . Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says in part in its definition of gentile: “As used by the Jews, one of a non-Jewish faith, or race; as used by the Christians, one not a Jew; a Christian as distinguished from a Jew; formerly, as used by Christians, a heathen …” they began writing stories about his movement. When city officials started threatening to have him suspended, Reagan filed for a place on the city council, hoping for a kind of vindication. I decided to drive down from Austin and talk to him on election day. I looked up his name in the telephone directory. I found a T. H. Reagan listed and dialed the number. The operator told me it had been disconnected. I called the city desk of the Light and asked if anyone there could help me find Tom Reagan. “He has an unlisted number now,” said a reporter. “We don’t know it or even what he’s doing now. He won’t talk to ushe’s getting jumpy about newspapermen.” I told the reporter I thought I’d drive out to his house and try to see Reagan anyway, and he wished me luck. Reagan lives on the east side of San Antonio in an old but cohifortable neighborhood. There are And a Little Boy Plays Cops and Communists With a Water Pistol Latin American and Negro families living nearby. Reagan’s house is a two-story affair, a colonial type, with big white columns in front. It’s a bit rundown, or at least badly in need of a paint job on the sides. The front has been painted recently. There was a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the front yard. Inside, I asked him if he’s moving. “Yes,” he said. “I’m getting out of this neighborhood. The Negroes keep coming in. I’ve got ’em in back of me, and they’re also in front on the next street. They haven’t reached this street yet because I’m living here. … They’re scared of me; they know how I feel.” I asked him a few questions about the NAAPMWP and he -stiffened. “I don’t think you’re from Austin at all,” he said. “You sound In addition, Coffield and Pickens testified they lent the East Texas Novelty Company $292,000. Joe Steele of Houston financed his marble table operations with this money. Coffield’s lawyer, Prentice Wilson, quotes Coffield as testifying he understood the company used the money to buy 800 marble machines. Wilson said Coffield testified that he either had an agreement to get 20 per cent of the stock in the company or 20 per cent of the profits, he was not sure which. The loan occurred around 1950. Coffield said further that neither he nor Perkins had anything to do Galveston IslandIV Maceo in Prayer man LA MARQUE This nondescript and weedy little town is a few miles’ shot across the coastal plain from Texas City. Galveston Island is a fifteen-minute drive to the south. One would naturally expect it to be spotted with gambling halls and brothels like the rest of the towns on the county mainland, but it isn’t. The reason is a preacher named Harry Burch. Rev. Burch is pastor of Paul’s Union Church in La Marque. He lives with his wife next door to the church in a chapel-like home his parishoners built for them. He is a righteous man, and he looks you square in the face. Prison Board Member Is Party in Fraud Suit AUSTIN Whiskey-selling and marble table operations are threatening to erupt into another political explosion, this one involving a recent re-appointee to the Texas Prison Board, _ ‘Coffield. a 9,c_rauf s to I_ tild a privatez:144ied ‘toll hi g l from Houston to Dallas, was prominent in the 1954 re-:election campaign of Governor Allan Shivers. He is a former commissioner of the Texas Good Neighbor Commission. Several legislators have developed a pointed interest in testimony read into the public record at an $8 million fraud suit filed against Coffield and Dallas oilman W. L. Pickens by Houston oilman DeWitt Langford in 20th District Court in Cameron, Texas. Coffield was appointed to his second sixyear term on the Prison Board on March 10, 1954, by Shivers. Langford testified in the civil suit that Coffield and Pickens marketed a large quantity of bulk whiskey bought by Langford in Chicago in 1945. It is alleged that the whiskey was sold for $3 to $5 over the ceiling price during Office of Price Administration days. Veterans’ Land Statement by Solons Urged AUSTIN Rep. Obie Jones of Austin is the cause of some extreme discomfort among some of our Texas legislators these days. He is insisting on a House vote on his resolution to require every legislator to state publicly if he ever represented anyone in connection with the veterans’ land program for a fee. If an informal poll of some of the House members is cor rect, the resolution will pass at once if it comes to a vote. Jones is determined that it will. “They’re scared to bring it up,” he said, “so I’m going to start riding it hard. The whole House is suspect as things stand now … the people are demanding something like this. I represented some buyers once, without fees, and I want to swear that I didn’t take fees.” The House has been recessing from day to day. This has meant that no period is set aside each morning for resolutions since the douse technically is not starting a new legislative day. Jones intends to ask Speaker Jim Lindsey to let him bring it to a vote soon. When asked about the resolution, Lindsey told this newspaper last week: “I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.” Jones told The Texas Observer in an interview for publication: “The Speaker says he’s afraid of itthat it would damn everyone who ever went before the Board to represent buyers. There are a lot of us here who have done it, most of us without any retainer fees.” Of 18 House members polled by an Observer reporter, 15 said they thought the resolution would be a good thing and three said they had no objection, but it was a matter of indifference to them. Rep. Moyne Kelly, Afton, said that the land scandals have caused “a terrific reaction in the minds of the people, and it’s surprising how it has affected all of us in public places.” He said there is a general feeling “wherever you go, to whomever you talk, a kind of reaction.” Senator Jimmy Phillips of Angleton, a member of the Sen ate committee looking into the scandals, said during a visit to the House chamber that he thinks the resolution would “help the investigations.” He said it would be “a healthy thing” and would “clarify a situation in which unwarranted rumors are circulating about individual members of the Legislature with no fact or foundation.” Jones says he is sure it will pass if it ever reaches the House floor. “They’ll have to vote for itsort of like voting against sin,” he said. “But there are a lot of ’em who will fight to keep it out.” He believes it would “help, not hurt” the legislators. “A lot of members here for the ,first time and the first thing they get asked when they go home is, ‘Well, what did you get outa this?’ ” Jones said. It would help clear the legislators with their constituents, Jones believes. Jones’s resolution says “the public has become alarmed with alleged influence Peddling by certain public officials”; legislators “desire to restore the confidence of the public in their state officials”; re
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