ustxtxb_obs_1955_08_10_50_00006-00000_000.pdf

Page 4

by

\(A legal report to the Observer from lawyer Dave Bennett in East Texas on some dogs, some cows, some hogs, and some of their two-footed SHEPHERD The Justice Court for Precinct No. 2; San Jacinto County, was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by the Honorable William A. Elmore, Justice. The Judge called for trial Cause No. 183, The State of Texas v. Frank Smith. A jury having been waived by defendant, the County Attorney, Hon. Robert F. Atkins, read the complaint signed by Bruce Thomas that the defendant “did then and there shoot and kill a dog not his own, to-wit: a dog belonging to Bruce Thomas.” The defendant, through his attorney, James E. Faulkner, pleaded “Not guilty.” The first witness for the State, Bruce Thomas, testified that he and one Collis Everett had taken a bunch of dogs down on the range to round up some cattle belonging to Thomas and had turned them loose to hunt and bring the cows out of the woods. They were about a half mile from the house of defendant, and within a few minutes after they turned loose the dogs, they heard three shots that sounded like they were from a shotgun. After a while, when the other dogs had brought most of the cows up, they missed one pup. They went looking for him, and their search carried them to the house of the defendant. Upon reaching h i s house, they inquired whether he had seen the missing pup, to which he replied that he had not, whereupon they returned home. The next day they went back to find the pup, and as they ap proached the defendant’s house, he testified they met a Negro woman who told them she had seen the de fendant shoot the dog. They at once proceeded to the defendant’s house demanded of him whether he had shot the pup. He replied then that he had shot the pup because and chewing on the defendant’s hogs. At this point, Thomas offered to pay the defendant for any hogs that had been ruined by his dog, but the defendant did not produce any hurt or wounded hogs. Thomas and Everett then looked around and found the dead pup, which had been hit square by three loads of squirrel shot. Thomas informed the defendant that it was his dog and demanded payment therefor. The defendant refused to pay, whereupon Thomas went to the County Seat and got the sheriff to come doKn. The defendant told the sheriff that he had shot the dog to protect his hogs. The State then called its second witness, Collis Everett, who testified substantially the same as had Thomas and added emphatically that the dog had not had time to chew on anything from the time they had turned him loose to the time they heard the shots. The Negro woman was then called and testified that she had not seen anything. The State rested. The defense called the defendant, who testified that Thomas and Everett were always bringing their dogs down there to round up their cows, but that the dogs seemed more interested in his hogs than in their cows and always chewed on their ears and hams. He said this particular dog was chewing on a hog, and that he had gone into the house to get his shotgun, brought it out, and shot over his head to scare him off, but had accidentally hit him. On crossexamination, the County Attorney asked him why didn’t he show Thomas the hog that had been chewed on, to which he replied that the hog had run off into the woods. “They always do that whenever anything gets after them.” The Justice returned his verdict, Guilty, $25 and costs, to which defendant gave notice of appeal. DAVE BENNETT CLEAR CHANNELS AUSTIN You may not win $64,000, but see if you can answer this question : Have y o u ever found yours elf wondering about, even slightly interested in, the breeding habits of frogs and toads ? If you can reply, without flinching and without guilt feelings but with an unhesitatingly firm and unequivocal “no,” please read on. It is not likely, of course, unless you are indeed an unusual person or had an extraordinary zoology teacher, that you’ve given much thought to this problem. How does the spadefoot toad recognize his own kind and so mate with other little spadefoots rather than with frogs or toads of other species? Put yourself in place of the toad for a moment and you will see that this could become serious, very serious. For almost three years Dr. W. Frank Blair, University of Texas Professor of Zoology, has been studying the mating calls of frogs and toads as part of a national Science Foundation study of vertebrate interbreeding. A few weeks ago a University of Texas alumnus on the staff of NBC’s “Monitor” picked up a copy of Newsweek Magazine which reported a speech Blair had made in California. An idea! The Simple Way Out Having repeated about a hundred times every week-end their commitment to “going places and doing things, “Monitor” had a request to make of Professor Blair. Could he provide recordings of the mating calls of four or five species of spadefoot toads? Blair could and did, with the assistance of the University’s Radio House staff. Maybe you heard the result on NBC’s “Monitor”: The Texas Mind THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 August 10, 1955 “Croak, croak, croak.” In fact, Blair went the network one better. He recorded, with our encouragement, his own description of the project and the procedure followed in recording the voices of these animals. He told how rain stimulates the males of most kinds of frogs and toads to go to pools of water where they can sing their mating songs. Other males and females are attracted to the calls. The mating occurs in the water. “Monitor” took the simple way out: “Croak, Croak.” Blair told how trips were made to the native haunts of spadefoot toads during and after heavy rains to record the mating choruses. In a flooded field in the Rio Grande Valley, Blair” found the Sonoran Spadefoot calling with a few Mexican toads and narrow-mouthed frogs. Said “Monitor”: “Croak, croak.” Blair carried his recorder into a flooded ravine in the mesquite brushlancA southeast of San Antonio to find the Texas spadefoot, a second type, crowded in the water with woodhouse toads, common tree frogs, and Strecker’s chorus frogs. With remarkable fidelity, NBC reproduced Blair’s tape: “Croak, croak.” After a cloudburst in the Panhandle, Blair located the plainS spadefoot in an enormous congress of frogs and toads. He found the desert spadefoot making love in a flooded arroyo in the Big Bend. He managed to record these types also. “Croak.” Finally, Professor Blair described for “Monitor” how these taped calls were analyzed on a sound spectrograph. Mating calls for each type were found to be different, thus providing each species with a good clue ‘as to where to find a mate. More Background, Please Now you may not care one whit whether a spadefoot ever finds a mate or not. But you can never decide where you stand on the basis of a few croaks. Few of us would forbid NBC from “croaking” to its heart’s content. But croaking is not enough; the sound of frogs, for sound’s sake, is insufficient, especially on a series that’s “going places and doing things,” and has forty hours every week-end to do it in. If anything, the sound of the spadefoot toads would be more interesting and far better motivated if we had been given more background on the subject. We must acknowledge, too, that there is no satisfaction to be found in raising the false issue of educational versus commercial broadcasting. While our commercial broadcasters seem frequently to search out the bizarre, our educational broadcasters too often find the stodgy, the dull, the overly-academic. If you stand on either sidewalk, staring off into space, the end of the road may never come into focus. But out in the middle is the traffic, the listeners and the viewers, including all of us, for whom all education should be entertaining and all entertainment educational. A lofty aim, granted. But sureLvord ,, we deserve more than a few “croaks.” JACK SUMMERFIELD Men, Pigs, and Dogs Voice of the Spadefoot RIDING TO HOUNDS IN DEEP EAST TEXAS \(Dan Strawn’s story of the dog hating veterinarian i n South Texas two months ago apparently was disturbing to our Deep East Texas correspondent. He has let some of his other woodsy characters rest a week while he enters a plug for man’s best friend. By LEONARD BURRESS Deep East Texas Correspondent The Texas Observer Cap Tom carefully looked over the broken window at the back of his general store where the third burglary in as many weeks had taken place. Something had to be done. The goods missing did not amount to a great deal in value, but the recurrence of the crimes called for drastic action. Cap went into the store to telephone the sheriff’s office. It was early daybreak on a Sunday morning. Five miles down the road Peter Randolph was greeting the last arrivals at Magnolia Hall for one of his famous hunt breakfasts. Peter, like many another descendant of the early slave owners of the country, had been forced to migrate to a city to earn a living away from the old family plantation. levertheless, he had never lost his yen for the aristocratic way of life. Good roads had at last made it possible for him to retain his city work while living at a restored Magnolia Hall. He was to learn that a “restoration” of such places is possible only for those of extreme wealth, unless there should be an immediate reversal of the decision of Appomatox. Yet, it must be said that Peter and his brother Edgar captured as much of the ease of living known to the Old South as could be expected. Peter fancied a pair of bloodhounds that he proudly maintained had been trained for professional work. The hunts he had inaugur ated were a bizarre mixture of an English fox hunt and a posse chase of the Old West. At dawn, he would send a hired hand out to make a trail through the woods and eventually climb a tree. When comfortably out of reach from the ground, this treed quarry would fire his pistol. `Skoals’ In the meantime, the hunt \(as been organized at the Hall. Peter insisted on serving one and all with his own alcoholic concoction called a “skoal” since the day one of the happy hunters had so exclaimed, lifting high his glass and then gently sliding to the floor and temporary oblivion. Enough “s k o a 1 s” said and downed, the hunters would mount horses, the blood hounds would be maneuvered onto the trail, and the hunt was on. It always ended with much baying at the treed hired hand. There were those who said the hounds were really trained to go to the place from which came the sound of pistol fire. Peter resented this, as he did the remark of brother Edgar that he would be darned if he would spend $200 a month on dogs and horses just so his wife would allow him to take a drink before breakfast on Sundays. But Edgar was not married to Peter’s wife, and there were still others who said the drink was cheap at half the price if the arrangement but stilled her tongue. DALLAS Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was in Dallas this week, conferring for several days with officials of the Dallas Theater Center Inc. on designing a proposed half-million dollar playhouse here. Wright arrived in Dallas Monday from his home in Spring Creek, Wis. The theater is to be located on wooded ground over Cap Tom twirled the crank on his telephone box just as Peter lifted the receiver on his to call in about a delayed guest. They were on the same party line, and rural line etiquette required that Peter listen attentively to Cap’s call before making his. Besides, when it became apparent Cap was trying to reach the sheriff, Peter could not put the receiver down. As the news of the burglary was related to the sheriff, Peter at once saw a chance to re-establish the tarnished reputation of his bloodhounds. He interrupted to offer their services and suggested that since the hunters were all on hand he should bring them along to see the efficiency with which his hounds could catch a true criminal. They would come in their automobiles, and he would bring the hounds and their handlers to the store. The sheriff could come along, and when the hounds found the burglar, he would arrest him. Cap and the sheriff were not as hopped up at the idea as Peter, but they were willing to go along to avenge the good name of man’s noblest friend. It was agreed for the hunt to reassemble at the store, and after regrouping, to proceed in quest of the burglar. The hounds would be given the field, and next would come the sheriff and Cap, to be followed by the well-skoaled group from Magnolia Hall. looking Turtle Creek. The site was donated by Dallas artist Sylvan Baer. “Since I participated in the design of the great auditorium in Chicago, I have never built a theater except for my own use and to test certain ideas,” Wright said. “It long has been my dream to design a theater, and I hope things will work out.” The General Store We should know something of Cap’s background before proceeding with the hunt. He was a middle-aged bachelor who truly occupied the center of community life in Pottsville. As keeper of the general store, he necessarily played a part in the life of every sharecropper and-landowner within his trade territory. Community life in Pottsville not only centered around Cap Tom’s general store, it almost failed to exist beyond its influence. Cap had come to Pottsville from Georgia when cotton was kind in East Texas, and a sharecropper never even thought about getting out of debt “at the store.” It was all a man could expect to have Cap carry him through when there had been a crop failure, and advance the down payment on a jalopy when the crop had been good. In between, Cap never failed to see that his debtor’s family received medical care, and when the men folks would run afoul of the law, Cap was ready to go bond. Sure they paid a high rate of interest at the store, but they received services not nominated in the bond, as the lawyers say. The first diaper for the baby, and the shroud and coffin for the aged deceased could be found in this single building. Rope, horse collars, axes, and aspirin were on sale, as well as bacon, straw hats, calico, and hair dressing. There were work pants and zoot suits, aprons and gaudy print dresses, rubber boots and ladies’ slippers. In between were the staples of life: food, farm tools, harnesses and wagons. Yes, Cap was the good provider, if for a price. He was expected to