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l titiftfrelmess-m The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Volume 53 TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 9, 1961 15c per copy Number 19 Price-Fixing? Mortgages, Chicks A WEST *SIDE STORY `Neither Progress ‘Nor Charm, But Full-Scale Poverty, Social Blight’ GONZALES If the state government were moved away from Austin, or all the chemical plants were moved out of Harris County, or the military establishments were transferred from “San Antoniothose metropolitan centers would understand the fright that grips little Gonzales. No industry is being moved away from here, but the chickenraising business, on which an estimated 40 percent of the area’s economy depends, is rapidly being squeezed to deathand by dark forces that nobody seems to understand. As this is being written, Attorney General Will Wilson’s investigators are down here holding a court of inquiry, in case there is some price-fixing or other illegal shenanigans involved. Wilson will find it is a pretty complex mess, in which everyone from Jimmy Hoffa to the chain store grocery owners are suspect. No one we talked with expects Wilson to come up with the answer, unless he knows how to make a profit from selling chickens at 111/2 cents a pound that cost 13 or 14 cents a pound to raise. Henry Majefski, executive vice president of the Gonzales County Savings and Loan bank, said: “Unless this clears up fast, it’s going to knock us dead. Twenty-two businesses in this town are dependent solely on the chicken AUSTIN A winter and springtime of massed student box office stand-ins and picketing against the exclusion of Negroes from Austin movie houses has resulted in the integration of two of them. There are also indications that other theaters in Austin, San An tonio, and Dallas may soon be opened to Negroes. The integration of two theaters across the street from the University of Texas campus resulted from the militant demonstrations of students who organized them-‘ selves as “Students for Direct Action” and enlisted support from more than 200 U.T. faculty members, other Austin liberals on race, and students in other Texas and U.S. cities. At one point S.D.A. spawned sympathy demonstrations against theaters in a number of U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote admiringly of the Austin theater’ campaign. A spokesman for S.D.A., asked what that group will do next, responded, “other things.” He said two members of S.D.A. are now preparing for their participation as litigants in lawsuits against the University of Texas for main business. Many others depend on it indirectly. Then you take like over at Nixon, everybody there is in the chicken business. “Many an independent feed man and hatchery man is on the verge of going broke right now. Lots of the producers mortgaged to build more and larger chicken houses. I know about those mortgages because I’ve got a lot of ’em.” He said 60 percent of the producers are “in hock.” The chain stores are suspected by many for fixing prices at below cost. It is rumored eight or nine buyers for the chain stores buy 90 percent of the chickens and that these eight or nine buyers agree on their prices beforehand. Lynn Pruett, who used to be one of the biggest chicken raisers in these partsgrowing about 800,000 a yearis now getting out altogether, although he is hanging on to his feed company. Pruett pointed out that buyers can force their prices because “this is a very perishable item. You can’t take more than four days from producer to housewife.” He said the chain stores are “tough.” “There are no chickens in storage today,” said Pruett. “Texas only produces 50 percent of the chickens it consumes. We’re actually underproduced.” “Here’s what’s wrong in a nutshell out-of-state production,” said Majefski, meaning out-ofstate competition. “We’re living in changing times. Texas is larger than some countries that protect themselves with import-export laws. We need laws like that too. If we shut our borders to ‘foreign’ chickens we’d do wonderfully. We ought to at least put a tax on in tabling segregated University-approved living quarters. Last June, leaders of the Austin Jewish community made plans to buy the 900 seats in the Varsity Theater, the Interstate outlet on the University drag, for a special showing of “Exodus.” When they were told they could not sell any of the tickets to Negroes, they cancelled the plan. In the same day’s mail, embers of the Austin Jewish community received a letter from Varsity’s management urging them to attend “Exodus” and the letter of two rabbis and the president of the local B’Nai B’rith chapter suggesting that Jews should think twice before attending. It is understood that the demonstrations and pickets had hurt business at the two Drag theaters, especially the Trans-Texas chain’s art theater, the Texas. The “Exodus” episodes upset the theater managements further. SAN ANTONIO In its industrial promotion booklet Profits and Fun Under the Sun, the Chamber of Commerce boasts that the “magic” of San Antonio is attributable to “a romantic combination of modern progress and old world charm.” In at least a third of the city, however, there is neither progress nor charm, but rather full-scale poverty, property decay, and social blight. Bob Sherrill These conditions predominate on the West Side, which seems to catch most of the unemployed migrant farm workers who drift into the city, most of the unemployed aliens fresh from Mexico, aside from being the natural habitat of thousands of unskilled and largely uneducated natives of the slum sidewalks. Henry Munoz Jr., executive secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for the Spanish Speaking Migrant Labor Project, took an Observer reporter on a tour of San Antonio’s seedier sections this week. “They talk about depressed countries overseas,” he said, “as if our people were all getting along okay. Let me show you.” Immediately west of the new expressway, which arches like the rigor mortis of progress through the city, one enters the shanty section. Urban renewal projects will in a few months take a 100acre bite out of this area, but state representative Jake Johnson told the Observer later: “If urban renewal wiped out 2,000 Interstate is a subsidiary of ABC-Paramount. The ABC radioTV network is a part of the same corporate complex. Edward P. Morgan, commentator on ABC, was approached by leaders of S.D.A. and sympathetically presented their case on his program. Early in the summer, Rabbi Charles Mintz of Austin consulted with an official of ABC-Paramount in New York. Pressures had also been accumulating upon Leonard Goldenson, president of ABC-Paramount, especially from his friends in the Jewish community. The firm’s New York executives maintained that Interstate of Texas had autonomy in the matter. Sometime during the mid-summer, a decision was made, in New York, the Dallas offices of Interstate, the Austin offices of Trans-Texas, or perhaps all three places, to come to terms with the students if they would stop demonstrating. On August 4, a meeting in Austin was attended by Earl Podolnick, president of Trans-Texas; John Q. Adams, representing Interstate from Dallas; Houston Wade, who, with his now departed fellow students Chandler Davidson and Sandra Cason, laid down the students’ strategy from acres of slum it would just be a beginning.” Vast as the slum is, Munoz believes it is getting bigger. In this area, said Father Wagner, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for the Spanish Speaking, many of the people are so poor they can’t even get together bus fare for the trip to pick up relief food from the city welfare office. A nickle or dime to them, he said, is as unobtainable as $100. For lack of bus fare they walk many blocks to the Texas Employment Commission’s office. But now the TEC plans to move its office even farther away from the poor section. The Observer asked the ‘TEC office manager if this wouldn’t make it rougher on the people who need help most. He shrugged. “Austin said move, so we’re moving.” First stop on Munoz’ tour was not in the downtown slums but several miles west of the expressway in what is a kind of shantytown suburbia. Here are strange living quarters, such as a real doll house, about six by eight feet, in which four adults live. “There are no unoccupied homes here,” said Munoz. “That’s out of the question. Everything is used.” In many yards there were beds, not only because it was hot enough to sleep outside but because for some of the Latin Americans the yard is literally their home. It is true, as the Chamber of Commerce says in Profits and Fun Under the Sun, that “the delightful climate allows outdoor living year ’round.” A one-room shack sheltered a family of 11mother and father and nine children. The one room was roughly 25 by 30 feet, without partitions. “You can see they get lots of ventilation here,” said Munoz, pointing to the four windows over which cardboard had been nailed to keep out the flies. The kitchen was a sheet-metal bump on the side of the house, without windows. Rent for this place is $18 a month, plus utilities. This seemed to be the average rent anywhere in shantytown for one room or one-room and kitchen. For instance, at another stop, a couple and four children were found livhouse with kitchen and toilet on the back stoop. Every wall in the house had at least one hole in it. Rent was $15 plus utilities. Some Day, $2 At another spot near the expressway, rent was $18 plus utilities. This was for a house without a private toilet. One outdoor toilet served a hutch of six row-houses. The front room held two double beds, leaving just space to edge through the room into the kitchen, which contained no refrigerator and only a portable-size twoburner gas stove. In this home lived the 77-year-old-grandmother, a baby of less than a year, and the parents, both of whom worked. The baby was emaciated. The grandmother said she herself was ill”me duele todo el cuerpo, y las piernes, todo”moving her hands gently around her middle. Munoz asked her why she didn’t go to the charity ward of the Robert B. Green hospital. She said she had, waiting in line three hours, but nobody came to help her. But she had hope”Algun dia que tenga dos dolares voy con un doctor.” Father Wagner said the overcrowded conditions of Robert B. Green, with resulting poor service, was a common complaint among indigent Negroes and Latin Americans. This is why many people had hoped that the new Observer Notebook WHILE smoking a Lucky Strike at Dale Baker’s Barbecue the other day, we overheard, we really did, this exchange between two concerned young Americans, obviously University of Texas fraternity sachems involved in rush week : “We need more Indians this year, I tell you. We have far too many chiefs as it is.” “But this guy’s great. He’s got everything. He was captain of the football team and vice-president of the student body.” “Well, Wayne told me in no uncertain terms he’s gonna blackball him because he’s too. flashy.” “Ye Gods, man! After last year you know as well as I do we need some flashy daters bad. One more chief won’t hurt.” This at least illustrates Sen. Goldwater’s contention that the Greek system is American higher education’s greatest bulwark against subversion. SEN. BILL PROXMIRE, the plucky fighter from Wisconsin, tells in his latest newsletter why he opposed the appointment of Houstonian Lawrence O’Connor to the Federal Power Commission. “I did this,” he writes, “because there was a vast legal and economic case that had to be made to show the literal sitdown-strike against the consumer by the FPC . . . To put Texas oilman O’Connor on the FPC under these circumstances would mean a grimmer future for those gas bills of yours. O’Connor’s appointment represents the first time in FPC history that a man has been appointed from the gas-producing industry.” On Prox \(Continued on Page Agreement Reached Austin Theaters Give In