Weekly Newspaper 30, 1957 10c per copy No. 51 The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. Thoreau Vol. 48 OrYPI Obsrrurr %60-0,0. XAS APRIL 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. East Texas Justice AUSTIN A 22-year-old white boy who confessed to the killing of a 16-year-old Negro boy and the wounding of two younger Negro girls in a wanton spray-bullet shooting has been turned free by an East Texas trial jury. The trial lasted the whole day. The jury was all white. The defense tried to prove the gunman, Perry Dean Ross of Tatum, acted from race prejudice, while the state maintained this had nothing to do with it. Leaning close to the jury barrier, a defense lawyer said: “This boy wanted to scare somebody and keep the niggers and the whites from going to school togethernow that’s the truth about it, and this boy is the result of other trouble …. “Could a Gregg County jury go wrong in saying to a 20-year-old boy, if you mark a straight and narrow path, if you let the nigger and the white question be handled by somebody else … we’ll give you a suspended sentence.” Paul McClung, assistant district attorney of Gregg County, reviewed the night of October 22, 1955, when Ross and a sidekick drove down a highway outside Longview at 85 miles an hour and Ross pumped nine bullets into a Negro highway cafe with the nickelodeon going, lights on, cars and people outside, and the teen1 agers dancing inside. “How wanton can you get?” he asked. “What’s to be done with a person who can do such a thing?” Asked DA Ralph Prince: “Is that what you’re gonna do, give him a permit to come over to Gregg County and fire up and Ronnie Dugger down the highway? I don’t want a man like that in Gregg County, you can have him …” The jury was out an hour and a half. Its verdict on the state’s charge of murder with malice: guilty of murder without malice. Its sentence: five years in the penitentiary, suspended. Perry Dean Ross reached his senior year at Tatum High School but didn’t finish. His principal said he just failed to pass his courses. At the time of the shootings he was working at a munitions plant in adjoining Harrison County. He is working in a pipeyard now. He has lived at home all his life, except when he was in the Army. His parents are poor white peo ple. His father, Edwin Ross, a red-faced, slow thinking man who wore a light gray,suit at the trial and looked uncomfortable in it, has a paper route \(he delivers the ‘Dallas News and the mother appeared at the trial in a black dress with a plain whitelace collar. Her shoulders are bent, her back humped over from hard work. Edwin Ross said he told his son they were too poor to hire a lawyer and a confession would be the cheapest. way out. The immediate provocation of the shootings was the location of a new -Negro school; basically it was the issue of eventual integration. At the noon recess of the trial in a courthouse corridor the father told the Observer: “The niggers wanted a school at Mayflower. the people in Taturn ‘uz gonna have to pay for it. That fella Shaw and them others ‘uz hatilin”em in from other counties. They proved where seventeen were brought in froM other counties. “What got ’em riled up ‘uz, them niggers just took over that election … That Mrs. John Beckworth an’ the niggers jus’ took over the election.” How did integration figure? “It figured in a general way. There was all this unrest over the entire United States.” And Perry Dean didn’t like it? “No, he didn’t. He didn’t have nothin’ against the niggers. It wasn’t no racial issue, in a way. What it was, they ‘uz talkin’ about what they ‘uz gonna have to do about them niggers, an’ them damn fool boys went an’ done it.” The ,Confession What really happened? The answer is contained in Perry Dean Ross’s signed confession. Some of it was . admitted as evidence at the trial; some was excluded. This is its text, with the excluded portions within parentheses: “…. On the night of October 22, 1955, I picked up Joe Simpson in Tatum at about 6 o’clock and we came to Longview. We went to a beer joint and had a couple of beers and then we beer and put it in the car, then we went’ to a Drive Inn Theatre and saw one show and most of ‘a second one, and it was about 11 o’clock P.M. when we started on back to Tatum. I told Joe Simpson, ‘Let’s go on a raid,’ which was the name we used for shooting at the negroes in the Mayflower community. He said allright, and asked if I had my rifle and I said yes. I had a Mossburg .22 automatic rifle in the back seat and Joe Simpson loaded the rifle with about 10 or 11 shells. I was driving my car, which is a 1949 Ford 2 door, club coupe, and it is dark blue in color. a SLUMS GROWING H STOWS CENTER HOUSTON A disease is growing unchecked in the heart of big, booming, prosperous Houston. Its slums and blighted areas are growing at such a rapid rate, at least one expert thinks that in ten years, barring some radical treatment, the vast area bounded by Wayside Drive, Bissonnet and extension, Shepherd Drive, and the North Loop will be infected. This is a circle with a sixmile radius from the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston and ineludes thousands of people and Houston’s ‘most conveniently located property. Some surface work is being done in combatting the very worst of the slum housing, but the people in charge of enforcing the city ordinances, which are weaker than those of Dallas and most other large cities, admit they are scratching the surface and can “never catch up with the problem under present conditions.” The average Houstonian, caught in a bubble of speculation and money-making, hardly thinks about the slums, yet his future Kathy Smith may be tied up in their unimpeded development. “If we don’t do something about it, we’ll reap a whirlwind,” Ralph Ellifrit, city planning director, said. ” -A city can’t continue to grow and have its heart eaten out by slums. People and industry are mobile. They’ll go somewhere else.” Houston h a s several broad areas of real slums, each surrounded by areas of blight and decay which if left to deteriorate will soon become slums. You can drive for an hour down main thoroughfares, without doubling back, and see nothing but these slum and blight areas. Go down west Gray from Main Street, turn down Taft, cross to Memorial Drive, turn off on Houston Avenue, north to Crockett, east cn Crockett across North Main. to Hogan, continue to Jensen, turn right and go south to Lyons and deep into the whole fifth ward district. Then down Jensen to Navigation for a couple of miles, double back to Canal, down Dowling to McGowen, to Gray once more … There are exceptions in these areas, of course, where a proud homeowner or landlord paints his buildings and keeps them in repair in an effort to stem the tide of decay, but these houses are conspicuous in their freshness and neatness. million that are in both of these water conservation resolutions 10 years ago they would have paid for themselves last week” by capturing and storing flood waters. He used the loquacity method talking two nad a half hours against the firemen’s and policemen’s bill. It has passed the House and may yet clear the Senate. The House limited the three years Governor Daniel’s proposed annual transfer of one percent from the permanent school fund to the available fund. Rep. Max Smith, San Marcos, said the transfer “won’t hurt the permanent school fund a bit.” He said a portion of the permanent fund should have been made available “long ago” for current use by the schools. Rep. Lou Dugas, Orange, sponsor of the bill. said it would provide $11 million the next two years for teachers’ only a new coat of paint and some new steps for the front porch to alter their neglected look. But there is also a threeroom shack with one side propped up by two-by-fours, in habited by 15 people and renting for $40 a month. There are blocks with 45 dwelings crammed onto them, because Houston has no spacing laws. There are shacks grouped., around a col&water faucet serving all of them. There are groups of shacks inhabited by ten families served by two outdoor flush toilets. There are three-room shotgun houses renting for $50 a month. The census of 1950 shows that Houston had 12,310 dilapidated houses, 3,990 houses in reasonable condition but lacking running water, and 8,140 with only cold water and lacking a private toilet. This adds up to 24,440 homes in Houston classified as “sub pay raises and that “future legislatures could stop it any time they are ready.” Rep. Scott McDonald, Ft. Worth led the bitter opposition. He said is is “absolutely the worst legislation I have even seen … absolutely dishonest” and would impair the permanent school fund.” He said Daniel is “so desperate for money or for re-election that he has dared dip his hand in the cookie jar of the education fund of the school’ children of Texas” and said if the legislature and the Governor “start the program of destroying the fund, they will go down in history as the blackest there was.” Rep. Joe Chapman, Sulphur Springs, said that in a time of prosperity the legislature ought not “to start dipping into the kiddies’ piggy bank.” He and Rep. Louis Anderson, Midland, said houses in Houston at that time. Urban Renewal Urban renewal is considered by Ellifrit to be a gOod answer, although not perfect. This plan, which provides for a condemnation of slum areas, is a federalmunicipal program under which the federal government gives up to $2 for every $1 put up by the city. It could mean that the worst structures would be torn down and replaced, those worth saving would be repaired, and blighted areas could be improved without \(Continued on Page A NEW SENATOR WASHINGTON Junior Senator Ralph Yarborough took the oath of office administered by Vice President Richard Nixon and moved into the office formerly occupied by Price Daniel and more recently by William A. Blakley. At a luncheon given in his honor by Senate Leader Lyndon Johnson, Texas’s new senator restated a position of firm Democratic Party loyalty and pledged to work for “harmony and unity.” Yarborough said he had supported Johnson in every election. “He said he was a Democrat and supported the ticket and the policies of the party. I ran on that same platform,” explained Yarborough. Outcome of the special April 2 election was “no personal victory of mine,” Yarborough said, but was instead a result of the work of people all over Texas who believe in the principles of the Democratic Party He said his fights for Demo cratic victory had been hard because “the citadel of Republicanism in Texas lay right within our Democratic organization.” AUSTIN With adjournment targets moved back a few weeks, the legislature this week settled down to pass or defeat the session’s major proposals. Fillibuster fever hit Sens. Ottis Lock and George Parkhouse as the clock ticked closer to the payless days. Lock, of Lufkin, limited the water program by his episodic filibustering, and Parkhouse, of Dallas, delayed action on firemen’s and policemen’s pay raises. Scores of bills continued to pass through both chartibers. Monday the House and Senate concurred in a conference committee report that would merely permit, and would not require private sources to match state tax money in the Texas advertising program. Monday the House passed a w o r k m e n’s compensation bill ‘which set the maximum benefit at $35 a week and retained \(by a court decision which favors injured workmen materially. The Observer will report next week. The Senate state affairs committee Monday afternoon passed out by voice vote Rep. Don Kennard’s slum clearance bill earlier adopted by the House, and an early Senate floor decision was expected. The Senate has passed ‘ a version of the measure already. Locke’s verbosity persuaded Parkhouse to accept four amend1, ments to the plan to provide $200 million for buying conservation space. They set the maximum to be spent on one project at $6.5 million, cut the total to $100 million, give river authorities and conservation districts death power over projects, and insert into the proposed amendment a statement I the program is not selfliquidating. Parkhouse told the Senate that “if we had spent all of the $400 Many of the other houses need standard”-13.7 per cent of all Adjournment Targets Set Back
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