ALAMO III Johnson’s Labor Role Ladies Prepare for Battle in the Plaza SAN ANTONIO “Now there is where I really draw the bloody line cutting down a tree to park Buicks.” So said one San Antonio defender this week as the natives took their posts, and off the plains “No Quarter” sounded, for the Third Battle of the Alamo. \(The First, in 1836, has been adequately reported elsewhere. The Second ended with the purchase of the Alamo to prevent Several weeks ago the city council here voted to sign a contract with Marmom and Mok, architects, for a design for a tourist information center in front of the Alamo. Whether it is to be oneor two-story is not yet decided, but since it is supposed to cover 1,000 square feet, two stories may be called for. The plaza in front of the Alamo is regarded by some San Antonio connservationists as “the Alamo park.” One of them argues, “The plaza is just as sacred as the building, because the battle took place thereit is part of the old Alamo compound. The real danger is the destruction of the whole forecourt of the Alamo.” The project was first proposed by James Picone, who is working on industrial development for San Antonio with the Municipal Advertising Commission. It was not cleared with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who are charged by law with maintaining the Alamo, or with the San Antonio Conservation Society, whose 1,200 members in San Antonio politics are as strong as the Citizens’ Council is in Kilgore. Mrs. James B. Graves, president of the Conservation Society, told the Observer, “Of course we’re going to fight.” MRS. EDWIN R. SIM1VIANG chairman of the Alamo Committee of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, agreed. “They’re just going to put an information tourist center in the Alamo Plaza park,” she said. “Of course we would be against it. We give out information in the Alamo. We have a very fine historian in the Alamo who gives out the information to the tourists.” The legislature made D.R.T. custodians of the Alamo, Mrs. Simmang told the Observer, yet, with respect to the tourist center, “We were not consulted at allwhen they let the contract is the first we had heard any reference to it. Probably they thought they could slip it through.” Mrs. Simmang also said: “This building is to be built in the Alamo Plaza Park, which was a part of the fortress during the war … While we are not opposed to a tourist information center in San Antonio, we do vigorously appose it being placed immediately in front of the Alamo. “Such a building placed on this small plot of ground in front of the Alamo would be misplaced and add nothing to improve the beautiful and historic landmark which this park and bandstand has been for many years. PAUL THOMPSON, the San Antonio News column is t, ducked his head and ventured to criticize the Conservation Society ladies for opposing any new buildings on San Antonio parkland. He argued: “Most everyone who comes here likes to look in on the Alamo, THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 September 11, 1959 cradle of Texas liberty. What do they see? In the immediate neighborhood, hawkers, old folks, loafers, and plain bums sun themselves around the bandstand, and sex deviates \(though shooed from ters out of the public men’s room. It you say, ‘Arrest the deviates,’ the answer is: ‘No man can be imprisoned for acting like a woman.’ ” Thompson said the city’s proposed information center would provide “modern, well-ventilated, and easily policed rest rooms, lounge for visiting ladies, information booth where polite young men and women can greet tourists, answer their questions, and pass out brochures of all the local sights.” Mrs. Graves replied to this argument, “They said, of course, there are so many perverts around there. Of course, they said that about Travis Park, too. If they police it they can clear it up.” “The Battle of Travis Park” was fought after plans were announced to build a parking lot underneath Travis Park, which is a green park on a block adjacent to the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. The Conservation Society ladies just beat that plan to a pulp. Whether they can hold off the touters of a tourists’ building in front of the Alamo, complete, some conjecture, with many parking spaces, remains to be seen. Should some improbable cause draw you toward Del Rio sometime, miss notif you care for desert rivers, deserted towns, cacti, and hidden campsitesthe spin along the road to Langtry. Ciudad Acuna is not unlike other border towns. One can buy there for $10 or $12 a tolerable guitar made in Michoacan, the merchant says, and demonstrated by a young Adonis in rags. The liquor salesman not only sells you Ron Castillo with a recommendation, he gives you a sip out of his own stock, which he evidently keeps open for the occasion of his frequently occasioned thirst. The portable merchant who greets you on the street, unabashed by disinterest in his rings, suggests you buy some of his related line of merchandise, Spanish fly. The Devil’s River, running shallow and fast toward the Rio Grande, is only knee-deep at the bridge, but its waters ripple around your body much more sensuously, one would guess, than the massage machines on Broadway in San Antonio. Those of a mind can camp there. The Pecos flows under this road, too, in the bottom of a desert canyon. The highest bridge in Texas, 273 feet from the water, arcs the road across the chasm on two graceful legs. A “roadside park” at the end of a side road overlooks the bridge, the canyon, the river, and the abandoned low-water road, part of which disappears into the river. Though camping in a roadside park leaves one vulnerable to passing thugs, this off-the-highway park might do. A LITTLE BEFORE sundown we reached Langtry. It’s always easiest to camp before sundown, but we had no plans. Judge Roy Bean’s Saloon and the Highway Department’s superb collection of cacti and plants therearound kept us engaged an hour. 1/ In the aftermath of the labor law battle, the Washington Post speculated that the senator whose presidential hopes were hurt most of all may have been Lyndon Johnson. Said the Post: “The senator would have to be at least on speaking terms with the unions to have any hope for the nomination. The signs are that no such amicability now exists. The big union leaders reportedly blame Mr. Johnson and fellowTexan Sam Rayburn for a parliamentary ruling that dashed their final hope for a deadlock that would have prevented enactment of the bill.” 7 A different reading came V from Dallas News political editor Allen Duckworth, who called the House-Senate agreement a “political coup” for Johnson. Duckworth’s appraisal: “Johnson had no small part in helping to work out a compromise and to write a bill that apparently will be acceptable to both liberals and conservatives. … In some respects, it is a ‘states’ rights’ bill in that it will not interfere with right to work laws in states such as Texas.” 7 As for the effect of the bill V itself, a concensus is that strong, old-line unions will be little affected but that small, weak unions will be restricted and the unorganized workers, including the hundreds of thousands of Latin-Americans in South Texas, will be harder to unionize. I The business climate in Texas v has already “suffered some damage” through state legislation, Fred Husbands, executive vicepresident of the West Texas Evidently the department keeps a full-time custodian at the irascible and often senseless Judge Bean’s ghostly stomping ground. As for the town itself, it needs neither custodian nor historian: it can’t have changed much in the last 50 years, except that many of its structures have been abandoned, and a few souvenir places have been opened. Around the old “courthouse,” Bean’s two-room saloon, the state has planted in the sand these cacti: pin cushion, visnaga, century plant, pataya, candellia, algerita, barrel, tasajilla, yucca, prickly pear, fishhook, living rock, rainbow, Spanish dagger, Texas Campgrounds-1V devil’s head, varigated agave, seguaro, cholla, lechuguilla, ironwood, greasewood, lantana, buckhorn. On the square of the town on, because it’s elevatedthere is also a type of cactus shaped like a screw. The plants include the ocotillo reed, conspicuous on desert scrubland; sotol and sacahuista grass; blooming a little; brittle willow, and kinikinik, a crescent of green among the grays and yellows; and the retama, mesquite, and huisache trees. Missing was the creosotebush, the staple of the desert to the west. THE SPINE of the town is a gravel road, which we fol lowed idly, thinking we might find a place to sleep. At the Rio Grande the International Boundary Commission has strung a cable to Mexico which supports a hand-operated cable-car from which the river flow can be measured. Off to the side, up and down the plateau overlooking the dense riverbed, the public have made ,roads and left behind their Chamber of Commerce, told luncheoning Lions Clubbers in Abilene. Though state taxes on business are generally favorable when compared to other states, high local ad valorem taxes upset the balance, he said. “My organization favors a general sales tax under certain conditions … economy in government, postponement of capital expenditures, and efficiency in collection of taxes,” he said. He told the businessmen they must support “good candidates … with campaign donations because … business cannot tolerate more taxes.” Political Intelligence / A columnist has laid blame V for the House’s one-vote failure to override Eisenhower’s public works veto on junketing Texas Congressman Rep. Bob Poage of Waco. Houston Post’s Jim Mathis noted that three other traveling representatives flew back for the vote while Poage, attending the Interparliamentary Union meeting in Warsaw, said he intended to remain in Europe until October. 7 Freedom In Action’s most inv defatigable speechmaker, exRep. Jack Cox, talked on “Americanism” again. His press releases say he has made 2,000 such talks during the last ten years. This time the audience was the Permian Basin Landmen’s Association in Midland’s Ranchland Hills Country Club. Cox, executivesecretary of the conservative Houston-based political organization, is vice-president of the Pico Drilling Company. fireplaces shaped from the rocks. In his surprise my friend said “I think we’ve found a nest on the ground.” Across the Rio Grande, muddy from rains upstream, are raw, high cliffs, and the wind has scoured caves in them. As we started a fire of the greasewood we found we became aware we were in a kind of declivity, a middle level of the canyon; as the stars came out bright white, the bowl we were in gave to the sky a responsive feeling of the curved dimension. It was a natural park, with a friendly bird flying low through the camp; wasps and later mosquitoes to cope with; wind-eroded rocks all around us, especially at the edge of the plateau over the river, wind fingerings intersecting like rivers, or dug into the head of a rock like bullet holes. As I lay on the cot that night, the orange, yellow fire licked actively, as the erosive breeze blew at it, around the blue charred coffeepot on the grill. I had become ill, and I leaned on the mutually-tolerated selfindulgences of friendship as my companion fixed what he called Spanish c h o w d e rhamburger meat, onions, green pepper, chili pepper, jalapeno, beansand ate it alone. In the morning I saw at the foot of my cot a ragged mesquite tree and was renewed by the calm of plant life, rooted and passive under wind, rain, heat, and insects. The sun brightened the cliffs, and we reflected on the way a legal boundary changes the feeling of a landscape, as the culture of old Mexico made the other bank feel different from the Texas where we were. In the short-cut syntax of quick, accurate meaning, my friend said “This is too good to have been planned,” R.D. / Rep. Joe Burkett says a sales v tax will be forthcoming next session unless labor wins enough seats to make it a corporation income tax instead, according to Austin Report. The newsletter noted that Comptroller Bob Calvert estimates the cut in the deficit accruing from the bookkeeping bill has resulted in about as much “new revenue” for the state as the tax bill produced. The deficit as estimated before the bookkeeping measure: $67 million; after passage, $32 million; latest estimate by Calvert: $26 million. The new figure, plus the surplus money resulting from Gov. Daniel’s line item vetoes will give the state just about enough cushion, figures Austin Report, to avoid going in the red when gas pipeline company lawsuits attacking the new severance beneficiary tax delay the state’s use of the revenues.” ./ The Fort Worth Star-TeIev gram, noting Governor Daniel’s veto of the appropriation for new buildings to replace the firetrap Confederate Home in Austin, warned “There should be every precaution to prevent a disaster at the home from fire or other cause, for the state has assumed the care of the elderly inmates and is responsible for their safety. Then the debate on how new facilities can be afforded can be resumed at leisure at a special session in prospect for January.” / The September “Lulac Bullev tin of the San Antonio League of United Latin American Citizens condemned legislative failure to approve “Lulac objectives,” abolition of the poll tax, a minimum wage law, migrant labor standards, loan shark curbs, “repeal of segregation legislation,” adequate aid to the needy, aged, and blind, and “effective lobby control.” V
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