Life in a San Antonio Slum J. B. Rackley of Luling, who has been called the world’s champion slingshot artist, challenged a Camp Bullis private who is also alleged to be wicked with the forked stick. “I’d like to see some organization sponsor a contest between me and this sergeant so we can just find out who is the best man with a slingshot,” Rackley said. -Ai-\( Another Texas shrimp boat, Gail D, was picked up and charged with fishing in Mexican waters, only six miles from the coast, and taken into Tampico for fining and confiscation of fishing gear. -A. Paul Thompson of the San 1-1 Antonio News launched a campaign against Kenwood, a slum area inhabited by about 2,000 Latin-Americans and Negroes in San Antonio. He wrote that “nobody cares” about what happens there “beatings, cuttings, the pregnancy of little girls, dope sales, Sunday morning liquor bouts, 24hour gambling and boy gang raids ….Lots of couples shacked together arc unmarried. But the women have babies like clockwork. Many Negro men and Latin worl1C11, and vice versa, set up joint housekeeping.. _There’s a pool hall on Joy St. which will sell you most anything at any time if you know the right people.” A Baptist clergyman in the area told Thompson the same things would happen in posh Olmos Park “if they had anything else in it besides private homes and two food stores. We are poor but we are doing our best.” * Robert Chambers, 25-year-old from Big Spring who skin dives, sustained a punctured lung when his spear gun accidentally went off during a spear fishing tournament off Port Aransas. But for the fact the prongs had been broken off just before the mishap, he probably would have been killed. On Immersion and Re-immersion * Abner McCall, executive vice president at Baylor University, told the Goodfellows class of the Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville that everyone has a different conception of God, some more adequate than others, and that this is the only way possible for independent, individual believers, which he said Baptists are. He said Baptists are ‘not named Baptists because of immersion they practice, but because they believe in re-baptism after a person becomes accountable for his acts. * Eight thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses convened in Corpus Christi. One event on the program: total immersion of 311 of them in Corpus Christi Bay. The convention was told by John Gibbard of Louisiana, “wafer baptism merely confirms before witnesses that you have previously agreed to do God’s will. Baptism imparts no spiritual benefits to you directly. What is important is what you do after your dedication and baptism.” * In Houston a Montgomery County filling station opera tor, 35 and white, was found guilty of murder with malice and given five years suspended for shooting a 16-year-old Negro in the back two years ago. They had been involved in a minor traffic accident. The white man said that when the boy turned toward his car, he “assumed” he was going to get a gun and shot him in self-defense. Harris County Asst. D.A. asked the jury for a eon viction for “cold blooded murder,” “brutal and senseless,” asked if the boy’s right to live was “any less than your or mine because of his color,” and warned that suspending the sentence would be “declaring open season on Negroes with a limit of one free Negro killing.” AThree new skyscrapers arc going up in Houston. In addition to the new Humble building, to be the tallest west of the Mississippi, they are the new First City National Bank skyscraper and the Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel being built by the Lincoln Life Insurance Co., Lloyd M. Bentsen president. Journalist With a Secret Ai ‘Headline from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, “Nothing To It, If You Know How: More People Find Unlimited Thrills in Water Skiing.” The Way of Life Paul Crume, Dallas News, noted that First National Bank in Commerce received this letter, illustrating how business is done up there: “Dear Sir, This is to pay off our note due in Sept. If this is not enough money let me know. If it is too much send me some back.” * The Star-Telegram devoted a second section to the fine arts in Fort Worth: the Fort Worth Ballet Arts Company, the 1,232 member Art Center, the Commu nity Theater and Casa Manana, the symphony orchestra, TCU art programs, the Fort Worth Con servatory of Music, and the 600 MOTHER NEFF STATE PARK Twenty miles east of Gatesville rolling farmland descends into a closely and diversely forested concavity. Here the state has set aside Mother Neff State Park. A gravel road winds through the forest, past circles for parking and rock steps down to improvised rock basins for fires. A sign announces no horseback riding, and cars cost $1 a night. The best campsites are a few circling roads by the Leon River, which is about 35 feet ; across here, dusty-colored and casual, and evidently only a few feet deep most places. In earshot of the stream, on the other side of a thicket of manhigh weeds, I sit in the mid-day at a table of stone slabs at the base of a triangle formed by three tall oaks;. an arc of pecan trees at my back. Last night I had just opened the cot and slid into the sleeping bag when the caretaker drove up in an old Chevrolet. I’d pay in the morning if it would be all right. “Urn hum,” he said. “Beer is what I’m interested in. They been a-cominn’ in and havin’ pretty good parties. Man come in from Austin and want it stopped. Settlers around her don’t like it, you know.” “I’ve got four beers in my icebox but I won’t crack ‘ern out.” “I don’t pay no attention to a can of beer. But they been comin’ in here and Navin’ some pretty good parties. A can of beer, I don’t pay that no mind.” As he was leaving I asked, “Mosquitoes bad?” “They have been pretty bad,” he said, “but not now. YOil might find one or two, not many.” I sat up in the night air a few .three, more than the quota for the night, e,:awfished back into member American Federation of Musicians Local 72. From Nine to Eighteen A nine-year-old boy in Cor pus was turned over to juvenile authorities after he tried to bribe a police officer with $4.35 of $4.85 he had swindled from an ice cream vendor. The boy offered the officer the money for “keeping his mouth shut.” \(He had threatened the vendor with an outcry if he didn’t give him his change from a $5 bill *18-year-old Harry Davis of Abilene took a spin through his home town at speeds estimated by police who tracked him at from 80 to 120 miles an hour. Three of the five cars had to give upone had a blowout, one burned out its wiring, one tore up its engine. His punishment: $200 fine. *Four girls, three 14 and one 17, hid the car keys from a boy, 18, and wouldn’t let him take them home; so they partied all night, at the foot of Chicon Street on the bank of the Colorado in Austin. Police found them at 5:30 a.m. One of the girls was sent to the juvenile authorities. In a discussion on salaries for social workers, A. J. Ploch, county commissioner for South San Antonio, remarked, “You no more need a man with a sociology degree than you need a B-59 to go from here to Joske’s.” * A Latin-American couple in San Antonio who have given away eight of their children and are charged with murder by permitting the starvation of a ninth faced a suit to have two more of them declared dependent and neglected. the sleeping bag. I tried pulling the flap over my head, but even with a breathing opening this was too hot; besides, one of them got me on the lip. I laid a handkerchief over my face; one of them raised a welt on my forehead. Under the flap again, the heat set in. The moonlight was bright enough to cast shadows as I burst out of the bag for fresh air., They were as friendly as possible during these few moments of mutually naked confrontation: one does not often find a human considerate enough to lie beside a Texas Campgroundsli river overnight without insect repellent or mosquito netting, and they wanted me to know they appreciated it. I might have slept with them all night if, in their enthusiasm, they hadn’t started the dive-bombing. I could hear them hovering; taking their barrel rolls; zuzzzzz, they’d bounce against my neck, or ear, or handkerchief. At 1:30 Sunday morning every’thing was closed in Gatesville but the Dairy Queen and a filling station, nor were there any rooms at the courts. I slept until dawn in the car; Rexall Drug opened up, and equipped with “Rexall insect repellent spray,” which “repels mosquitoes, biting flies, sand flies, chiggers, gnats, and fleas,” I returned to the river for a little work and lunch. Evidently the mosquitoes of the Leon River are as sensitive to an affront as any mistress of the house along Turtle Creek: not one of them acknowledged my second call, spraygun in hand. There is a chapel-shaped meeting here, open at the sides. The caretaker and his wife maintain a concession stand of sorts, ALICE The road south out of San Antonio down US 281 curves into some of the most unpredictable wastelands on the continent. A little too wetin most yearsto qualify as desert, this southern plainsland is also too dry to support sustained farming. The miles of once-cleared, now unused land is mute testimony to the blighted hopes of the earliest settlers who marched out of the piney woods to the new lands, then recoiled under the scaring dryness of periodic drouths. Yet the word unpredictable still applies, for a 150-mile drive from San Antonio into George Parr’s lingering domain offers its own peculiar blend of variety, human and geographical. Just south of San Antonio, German and Polish farmers still battle the sub-humid weather, though in diminishing numbers. In the area’s main farming community, Pleasanton, latter day American culture has definitely intruded. A sign proclaims the “World’s Largest Air-Conditioned Dairy Queen” and in the next block is “Ora Lee’s House of Beauty.” Stepping up to 60 m.p.h. again on the highway, you instinct\\ ely let up on the accelerator at the sight of a careening white sedan. But it is not a police caryou catch a glimpse of the emblem on the side as it flashes by: Humble Oil and Refining Company. Out of Wilson County into Atascosa, the starkness of the land hits you, Here is natural blight stunted live oaks, a plethora of cactus, and the wild tangle of brush they call shinnery. Here and there an occasional windmill of another era, a motionless and they have decorated the openarch hallway which houses it with a bizarre collection of photographs’ and artifacts \(a loom, a fragment of an old harrow, a log cut by beavers in Wisconsin, a piece of a boat containing handmade copper nails, picked up by I asked the lady if she had any literature on the place where she is spending her daily life, evidently without too much enthusiasm, and she replied, “No, they don’t send any from Austin.” \(Litpeanuts that fell out of the machine for a nickle were soggy. Toward the road there is a group pier F. -te.d. Sunday noon a lot of i ,:_oOe were milling around there at a picnic. The Robinson Annual Reunion, it was. Edging close, I noticed that the boards on the underside of the roof had been painted with thought-provoking homilies, and, not to be deprived of learning, I noted down a few: “Bad men excuse their faults, good men abandon them.” “Let your failures prove stepping stones to success.” “Think less about your rights, more about your duties.” “Be either a pusher or a puller for the good things of life.” Just as the B.B.C. has to be careful not to indulge in controversy lest the Britons think their government dispensing propaganda, so the state is careful that the ideals expressed iii its park sheds not offend the American compromise between ambition and social work. But toward the back of the shed, in truthfulness I must. report, I found, “Heresy is what. the minority believe.” A little axiom is a dangerous thing ruler over an unwanted land. A sudden evidence of “Progress”: neat piles of white gravel lining the shoulder. With $783 million in tax dollars, the Highway Department apparently can afford to invest in the county’s future even if the natives can’t. THEN, REINFORCING the un predictable, you come upon oil wells. You count nine of them. blue-painted pump jacks silently whirling on either side of the highway. A sign on one of them reads: Katz Oil Company Owner: Chas T. Troell Acres: 160 more or less This is the South Pleasanton . field, a relatively small one which washes the highway in two spots. Less than a mile down the road you come upon another sign: RANGE LAND Rootplowed Seeded With Blue Panic & Buflegrass Planted by J. A. Palmer, Feb. 1957 It is professionally painted in two colors, blue and black. With the stranger’s wonder, you note that Mr. Palmer is more explicit about his panic grass than Mr. Troell is about his oil wells. You speed south out of Three Rivers \(“A City Growing Bigger plant with its quiet, imposing labels: Goliad Corp. and Continental Oil Company. Cactus dominates the fence lines rimming the uncultivated fields. Occasional signS interrupt the miles of desolation to signify the new way of life: Acme Butane Company, Houston Pipe Line Company, The Crocker Ranch Sulphur Company, Willoughy Ranch, Reynolds Ranch. The natural resource companies ring their properties with crisp new steel fences, but the ranchers, less public relations inclined, greet the public with forbidding edicts “Private Road, Travel at Your Own Risk”; “No Trespassing”; “Posted and Patrolled.” The gentle hills of the brush country flatten out north of Alice, which edges the coastal plains. You note with some relief that farming is in vogue here and, as proof of the land-based prosperity, Alice tosses out the glitter of a growing aggressive young city of 20,000 or so. Then, an unwanted harbinger at the outset of a fishing trip, it begins to rain. In the filling
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