4411.0 01101411/0414 GALVESTON On lazy, carefree Galveston Island, spring is the nicest time of the year. The richly blossomed oleanders nod in the Gulf breeze to visitors driving in on the freeway, and gawky gulls work the banks of Offats Bayou in search of leftover bait. Fishing will improve as gafftop cats join the gulf trout in forages for shrimp. Swimming weather will break, and soon the run of , suckers from Houston and upstate will start on the isle’s many games of chance. It is a time of the year Galvestonians rormally welcomebut this year trey are not so sure. Attorney General Will Wilson has announced that he’ll give Galveston until “mid-spring” to mend its law-violating ways. One purpose, Wilson said, n setting the spring house-cleaning deadline was to give new sheriff Paul Hopkins and District Attorney L. F. Benson time to put a stop to unlawful operations, if they could and were so inclined. Hopkins, who was elected with the backing of the Galveston Ministerial Association, recently went up to Kemah and raided the Boneta Club. It was the first gambling raid conducted by county officers in more than 20 years, and therefore, an historic event. The club operator, Ed Nelson,1 and seven of his “dealers,” among them T. J. Parker, whose only claim to fame was nationa notoriety a few years back as the “male madam of Postoffice Street,” were charged with gambling and $10,000 worth of gambling equipment was confiscated. Among the paraphernalia were several sets of crooked dice, a small arsenal of pistols and shotguns, and even more interesting, a tape recorder which was attached to record telephone conversations without giving the “beep” warning that the talk was being recorded. One of the records seized, it is reportecl. was a conversation between the club owner and a top-ranking county official in which the club owner Sudden Descent To Bexar County Now it is not an everyday occurrence to hear the moral leaders of tomorrow singing choir songs at the local beer garden. In fact, my colleague in hops testing, Bob Bray, observed that this was better than a floor show. right, the students of a local preachers’ seminary. These chaps and their cl.corotts but disarming damsels were celebrating the celebration at , which they celebrate their annual celebration. the the the upright, to say nothin of the was screaming to the county official about liquor men raiding his joint and forcing him to close at midnight. The new sheriff and his boys staged a highly successful raid on the Boneta Club. They caught the gambling operations cold, found bets on the table, and they show every indication of pressing the case through the courts. Incidentally, the attorney for Nelson is Jean Hosey, one of Galveston’s state representatives. In addition to the lone gambling raid, Hopkins raided the major mainland bawdy house and sent a deputy by some of the redlight spots on Galveston Island with warnings to suspend operations. Some followed his warning. Others apparently ignored him, since several are still open for business. The “people in the know” report that they aren’t worrying about any wholesale bawdy house Bob Bray and gambling crackdown on Galveston Islandso far as county law enforcement officers are concerned. Sheriff Hopkins told the Observer that he didn’t have the funds or the manpower to do the job overnight. He said he had many More pressing problems in the office and would work on gambling as the chance presented itself. He has consistently refused to make a public statement on whether he plans to raid the Maceo syndicate’s Balinese Room, and some say he has made private statements that he doesn’t intend to try to shut the island’s most plush gambling joint. ‘What’s more, it is highly probable that most Galvestonians agree with him. Attorney General Wilson and Governor Price Daniel are rapidly approaching the place where they will have to “call or pass,” since they dealt themselves into the game during the heat of last year’s election campaign. Both made unqualified promises, then, to crackdown on Galveston gam bling, saloons, bawdy houses, et al. However, local political observers are openly skeptical that Daniel will ever get around to taking much action on the matter. They point out that Jim Piperi, isle attorney who frequently appears as defense co u n s e 1 for certain recreational, leaders, took a leading role in pushing Governor Daniel’s campaign on Galveston Island. Wilson, on the other hand, has isle gamblers seriously worried. Since taking office he has bluntly stated that he intends to see that Galveston abides by the same laws that other Texans observe. There seems to be no question that under his insistence the Rangers and the State Liquor Control board agents could curtail Galveston’s illegal operations. There is strong indication that he will. But behind the scenes islanders already have started trying to pull the strings that have kept Galveston “open” in the past. , They are arguing that Galveston is open because not only Galvestonians, but the many Texans who visit there, like it and want it the way it is. They are talking to key officials in a language generally understood. The pressure is building up. Out along Seawall Boulevard, the well-mannered, smiling colored doormen still smartly open the doors of shiny cadillacs to let ermine-wrapped ladies and their escorts enter the B-Room. For those not so well-heeled there are dozens of spots downtown like the Rio Grande Club, where there’s gambling, a strip show, liquor by the drink, and what have you. Bookie joints run all hours open to the public. Tip books still get a tremendous play in the beer joints and both saloons and beer joints bristle with slot and payoff pinball machines. Will “mid spring” change all this? Will the string pulling be successful, or has the string snapped? You won’t find isle gamblers covering any bets on the matter at this point. a ridge of reaction, but finally it filled the old hall, stopped it dead in its jugs, and I take a solemn oath one of them preachers of tomorrow was beating time with his beer bottle. Well, that just like to flipped little blondie, the pious beer hall waitress. “That’s just the end!” she cried. “Sittin’ there guzzlin’ not jus’ drinkin’, mind you, but guzzlin’an’ …” Bray turned his back on the congregation and gurgled with laughter. He is a man as well acquainted with taverns as Hogan with golf courses. “I been around many a corner in many a tavern in ole Galveston,” he sez, “but I’ve never seen anything like this!” Now you can say all yoP want about Dallas, and what a fine town it is, and how sophisticated the people are, and what ritz they got at the Neiman-Marcus; you can rant rhapsodic about the organic tempo and breathless burgeon of Houston, its roaring furnaces and loW-fi millionaires; you can roam with suppressed pride in the Alamo and the missions of old San Antone, but no town but Austin’s got a place where the preachers can come and hold chapel and chorus with Budweiser for the text. Austin’s got it, man, that’s all. Let’s hope for the best. R.D. SAN ANTONIO The final week of this city’s Thirteenth Grand Opera Festival found the company descended from the heights it attained with its memorable production o f “Rosenkavalier,” thanks to the innate inferiority of “Martha” as a comic opera and to the apparent inability of all concerned with the production of “Rigoletto” to keep artistic standards from sinking so low that they simply w e n t underground and out of sight. As “Rigoletto” turned out to be tile mole of the season, I think we’ll consider it first and then press on to happier things, for “Martha” was graced by a fine production and did end the season on a most happy note. “Rigoletto,” though, was enough to finish off the entire year by itself. Only once by my notes and the recollections of my claque of pained aesthetes did the performance ever catch fire, and, rather unnecessarily, I add that “Rigoletto” had better be served up piping hot or it is nothing. Not until the Gilda-Maddalena-Sparafucile trio in Act IV did Victor Alessandro’s conducting, Anthony Stivanello’s staging, and the singing and acting of the principals belatedly fuse to transport cast, crew, audience, and all into Verdi’s passionate world of blood, thUnder, lightning, and death. We remained happily transfixed until Guiseppe Valdengo, seething with apathy, entered as Rigoletto and, frith a jolt, brought us all back down to Bexar County. Mr. Valdengo had been acting as something of a damper on things all evening. Physically, he brought to his role of the , misshapen jester little more than a tired commuter’s stoop, and, vocally, he was equally listless, per. ; forming with merely a sort of weary petulance. Only once did his behavior seem understandable: in the third act when in lieu of singing he suddenly went charging about the stage in an attempt to destroy Peter Wolf’s unit set. I wished him well in this laudable endeavor, but, alas, he had to stop before it was accomp’ished. I’m, afraid that his conception of Rigoletto is also in an equally inchoate state. BOTH EVA LIKOVA and Jan Peerce got off to slow starts, too, in their roles of Gilda and the Duke, respectively. However, by Act IV, Miss Likova was acquitting herself quite adthirably in both singing and acting, and Mr. Peerce, who makes a most unlikely lothario, was, after two tepid acts, responsible for the first really fine singing of the evening with “Parini veder le lagrime” and for some vocalizing off-stage that was as good as anything that had been done on stage all night. William Wilderman made a sonorous, ominous Sparafucile and Rosalina Nadell o a flirty, throaty Maddalena, but, unhappily, they could be with us for only brief stretches. As for the chorus, it was right where we left it in “Cavalleria”: at the footlights, leering with horrible glee while counting the house. Fortunately “Martha” went infinitely better. In fact, some of my friends were so taken by the San Antonio production that they claimed, had Von Flotow had the stature of Richard Strauss, this performance would have towered head and shoulders above last week’s “Rosenkavalier.” I frank ly feel that this silly little imbroglio about slumming gentility should be flown over Dallas and dropped in the lap of the State Fair Musicals. I also confess to a most uncritical sense of hostility that swept over me when I learned that San Antonio, which hasn’t given us Mgzart and Wagner in years, should suddenly feel the need of being delivered of Von Flotow. However, there’s no denying that as produced here, it made a very charming little conclusion to the 1957 season, if hardly a memorable one. The cast was easily the best of the season. Dorothy Warenskjold, who was a trifle rigid in “Rosenkavalier,” was simply perfect for the title role in all respects. Eugene Conley held himself in check for a while as. Plunkett, then unleashed so many ringing B flats that even I found myself brighteyed and eager for the reprise of “M’appiri” that Mr. Alessandro so generously granted. A conservative estimate of the worth of William Wilderman, FranceS Bible, and Emile Renan can only appraise them as invaluable. Happily, there was also a fine young chorus about this time, imported from Southwest Texas State. I Harris Green found. their attempts at comedy uniformly depressing; however, they sang and looked quite well and, in general, were a credit to their college and to their director, Betty Caldwell Goida. Mr. Stivanello, working with a fairly literal English translation, had much less difficulty in getting things organized this time and better luck with the San Marcos group. Mr. Alessandro, though he could do nothing with that trashy overture, kept the orchestra appropriately agile and lambent, and this seems about as good a place as any to praise the San Antonio Symphony for the generally high standard of musicianship it maintains for these performances. Even Peter Wolf’s unit setting proved painless. If we must have “Martha,” let it always be like this! NEXT YEAR, I understand, we are to have “Lakme,” with “Boheme,” “Carmen,” and “Figaro” as tentative possibilities. None of this is definite, of course, so maybe it’s not too late to urge the board of directors to draw up a more exciting itinerary for 1958. The Puccini and : the Bizet are to be back for the second time in five years, and while Mozart is always welcome, Delibes is not. Why should the region waste its time with such a tittering school girl .as “Lakme” when it has only a passing acquaintance with such rewarding types of ,”Falstaff,” “Forza,” “Boris,” “Cosi,” “Pel. leas,” and all those sturdy offspring of Wagner? I hate to brandish the rather horrid word “duty,” but I’m afraid that none other can be applied to the obligation that San Antonio has to this area. Other citiesand might add, much larger ones, too depend either upon sporadic amateur efforts or brief stopovers by the Met for what can hardly be termed indigenous opera. San Antonio, alone, has shown both the proper spirit and the results in the past. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 Feb. 19, 1957 Call or Pass, Gentlemen They broke into If a Body Had a Body or some like loutish tune for brewery outlets… The blonde at the ‘center table, upper level, turned her head to the boy beside Scholz’s is the kind of place the her and put him in his place. Germans would have had if they Then “it” happened, as the love had settled Austin. It is a barn, story writers say. A group of with two rooms, connected by two rebels in the seminary group or three steps easy to fall down, about six of thembegan singing, and a garden in the back, in which “Gimme that ole time religion … grow half a dozen trees, a gym gimme that …” Well, it didn’t dandy for the kiddies, and various i take too well at first, there was species of pebbles. Here congrea kind of fitful expansion that hit As we entered I was less surprised by the huge crowd on the lower level than by the sinking of my heel into a wet mop leaning against the wall. But soon we were to be advised by one of the girls, a fundamentalist type who doesn’t approve herself but serves it by the barrel-ful, that this was the annual razzamajazz of the seminary touts. Her colleague in brew dispensing, a less scrupulous girl, greeted our uproarious response to the news with the plaint: “Well, they’re as entitled to a little fun as the rest of us We couldn’t get any of the light it’s just once a year!” tap juice, as it had all been guzzled, so we had to settle for bottled brew. They were ganged on the lower level …but you don’t know about Scholz’s. AUSTIN gate the Austin open-air souses, Having just returned’ from the more restrained Tuesday night
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