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* provided by the of music. Yea, no kidding. Russian ‘Modern Progress and Old World Charm’ ‘That’s the Way It Still Feels’ SA’s Slums: Old Poverty, New Unemployed medical school branch would be built close in, to ease the present load at Robert B. Green and to help the indigent cases who can’t afford a long bus ride into the suburbs. The old grandmother who must baby-sit could never go. She finds it hard to make it even the three blocks to Robert B. Green. The father of the family of nine children had come to Munoz three days earlier begging for work. “He broke down right there in the office,” said Munoz. “He wept. Fm new at this work and it got to me, I’ll tell you.” It got to Mrs. Munoz too. She went out and bought a box of canned goods and took them to the man’s family. “They didn’t even heat it up,” she recalled. “They just ate it out of the cans. They were literally starving.” She said one baby was covered head to toe with boils because of malnutrition; two others had severe cases of diarrhea. Father Wagner said boils and diarrhea from bad diet are “quite, quite common.” Dr. J. C. Ellington, public health director, views the West Side health problem with less alarm. “Sure those people have lots of diarrhea,” he said. “They’re not rich and they’re ignorant. It’s a health problem, but not as bad as some people think.” He said the venereal disease rate is low in that section, but he conceded that the tuberculosis rate is “higher, but I don’t know how much higher.” The city-county tuberculosis control board says that there are more than 9,000 known TB cases in Bexar County, that at least 85 percent of these are Latin American \(and probably most of them percent are reached and helped each year. Munoz, who runs an employment clearing house for the predominantly Latin American neighborhood, was lucky enough to find work for the father of nine. It was construction work at $1 an hour. “That’s not just ordinary construction work,” Munoz explained. “It’s foundation labor, really hard work.” “This fellow wanted a job so bad he went out there and worked liked a wild horse,” Munoz said, “so his employer has promised to raise his pay to $1.25 an hour next month.” The C of C industrial promotion booklet stresses low pay as a selling point. Profit and Fun Under the Sun reads: “Less than 10 percent of San Antonio’s industry is unionized and work stoppages due to labor unrest are virtually unknown. Figures * U.S. Department of Labor Statistics prove that prevailing wage rates in San Antonio are considerably lower than in other cities of comparable size. Specific information on San Antonio wage rates will be furnished on request.” Desperate for Job There are, it seems, thousands of people in San Antonio who would consider $1 an hour a real windfall. Some of these workers were found in Milam Square, better known as Plaza de Zacata, or plaza of grass. Here dozens of men leaned against the trees or lounged on the ground, waiting. It was a natural employment office that just “grew up.” Employers needing temporary help learned that the Plaza de Zacata was a favorite hangout for the jobless and they started going there to recruit. Munoz drove up to the curb and honked. Immediately a dozen men jumped up and ran to the car, trying to push their heads in the window. A furiously eager conversation ensued, with Munoz translating after he drove away. “I told them you wanted 15 men to dig a sewer,” he said. “They said that was mighty hard work and they would want $1.25 an hour for it. I told them you would pay 60 centsI guess you saw the dirty looks .they gave you thenand they said okay. they would take the job for 75 cents an hour. Get that? In this heat, it’s at least 98 right now, they’d dig ditches for ’75 cents an hour. Huh! You could get them for 50 cents. . They’re desperate for work.” Munoz, who hung around the park a lot when he was doing research for his sociology degree at St. Mary’s University, clearly felt a real affection for these idle men of the plaza. “Each side of the park is a different employment agency, so to speak,” he explained. “There are groups that stick together, kind of fraternities of hunger. They are very interesting. They get into group discussions while they wait for work. “I remember hearing a debate over whether the car is superior to a horse, and an old man winning the argument by saying a horse will take you home without guidance when you’re tanked up. “They’ll discuss anything. Sometimes several of them will each chip in a penny and get enough together to buy a newspaper, and then one of them will read it to the others. I heard one discussion Had any of them heard any Russian music? I doubt it seriously. But that didn’ stop them. “They bring their lunch, if they have anything to bring, and wait for the call. But if they don’t get a job, they’ll seldom eat their lunch. Oh, they’ll eat it eventually. Hell, you can’t keep it forever. But as long as they can, they’ll save it for tomorrow. They consider it a big defeat just to come down to the park to eat lunch.” Service Rewarded Lack of unionism shows its effect on every side. One 45-yearold woman who recently applied to Munoz’ employment service for help had just been firedwithout any chance to appeal the dismissalafter working for a cigar company for 25 years. She came to Munoz because she said she had to earn $50 at once in order to send her son to the school for mentally retarded in Austin, and the cigar company refused to take her back. He said he had a standing order from a laundry for hired hands, “but it’s hiird to get women to take the work because they can earn only $15 to $20 for a 40hour week, they tell me. That’s 50 cents an hour and less, for some mighty tough work. No wonder employers with a heart like that don’t want a minimum wage law passed in this state.” Hard pressed as the Bishops’ Committee’s employment office is to find jobs at any season, it’s task becomes especially critical in the fall. By October 1 farm work will begin playing out and by that date Munoz expects 1,000 migrant families to have returned to San Antonio. Only about eight percent of them will have jobs waiting. Unemployment has officially risen more than 30 percent in San Antonio since 1950, but, says Father Wagner, these official statistics “do not count the unskilled and therefore all but unemployable workers.” “Latin Americans in this bracket lack education, lack language, lack skills,” he said. “They can handle only the lowest menial jobs and there are far too many of these people for the jobs available.” For this reason Father Wagner, Munoz, and most other Latin American spokesmen in San Antonio deplore the continuation of the bracero and the commuter labor programs \(which allow Mexican nationals to commute daily to jobs on this side of the “With unemployment in Laredo at 15 percent, why bring in more workers from Mexico?” asks Munoz. “It affects more than the border towns. San Antonio has a stake in it too, because a U.S. citizen put out of work on the border may move to San Antonio. More Destructive “Goldberg \(labor keeps saying we can’t stop the bracero program immediately, can’t change things overnight. You gonna tell hungry people to be patient? You can’t put patience in a tortilla.” Father Wagner believes the visero program is even potentially more destructive to American labor than is either the bracero or the commuter programs. Viseros are Mexican aliens who have entered the country on passports issued solely on the authority of the Immigration Service. When U.S. employers ask for the admittance of groups of less than 25 Mexicans, the labor department has no control over their use. It is all under the Immigration Service. These viseros are free to stay in the country as long as they wish, so long as they register once a year, are free to travel anywhere and work at anything. The Immigration Service has never said how many viseros it has admitted. “They may have let in 50,000 or 75,000,” said Father Wagner. “Maybe more. It is a very dangerous program. Jerry Holleman told me he had repeatedly asked for a count of these workers, but the immigration authorities refuse.” The effect of commuter labor in Laredo is striking, said Munoz, pointing out that the going wage for non-skilled workers there is $12 to $16 a week, “if they can get a job. Kids just coming out of high school, they got to take off. Not a chance if they stay home.” Laredo. is Munoz’ hometown. His uncle, a skilled mechanic in the Ford agency there, earns $30 a week. Happy to Strike Munoz used to be an organizer for the International Typographical Union, and back in 1947 the printers in the Laredo paper asked the ITU to come down and help them win a contract. The ITU sent Munoz home to do the job. “We asked for a contract,” he recalled, “and they just laughed at us. They locked us out and hired printerS from Monterrey. Well, there we were. I told the ITU they better help those boys or labor couldn’t show itself on the border for another generation. The union came through with strike benefits. It picked the lowest ITU wage scale in the country, and then took a fraction of that as the strike benefit pay. It came to $42 a week per worker. And you know what?that was more than twice what they had been earning for a 40-hour week!” Little by little Munoz was able to place the printers around the state and now, instead of the $20 a week they were making in Laredo, they are earning $120 to $140. Many of the new Mexican aliens wind up in San Antonio slums where, says Father Wagner, they are satisfied and even happy for a time. “Like the Puerto Ricans in the slums of New York, they think a one-burner stove is pretty good. Better than wood. New York is mecca to them. San Antonio is mecca to the Mexicans. They’re so happy in our slums it takes them a generation to get started.” He said that slums are even growing up in the smaller towns, such as Hondo and Poteet and THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 2 Sept. 9, 1961 Kenedywhere migrants prefer to settle in the off-season -rather than in San Antonio. Tight Island But the West Side isn’t the only slum area. In the southeast part of the city is an area not even serviced by city water. Water is bought at 20 cents a barrel and used communally. And in the north is Kenwood, a locally famous island of blight. On one side of tlVfcCullough Avenue are $40,000 and $50,000 homes. On the other side is Kenwood, a bizarre tract cut up into lots with 25-foot frontage. The common architecture is the “shotgun house”one narrow room wide but long like a railroad car. Kenwood was born back in the days when this area was outside the city limits. “Cops used to take the toughs and rowdies out to the city limits and dump them out and tell them to keep doing,” Munoz explained. “Some of them did. But some of them threw up tin-can and cardboard shacks and settled down. Now it’s valuable property, but they won’t sell out.” Father Wagner, who used to work the Kenwood area, said “there used to be a pitiful amount of hunger out there. I guess it’s still pretty bad” Munoz told of finding the body of a 30-year-old man hanging in an outhouse in Kenwood. He only earned $200 or $300 a year doing yard work and Nvas the sole support of his mother, but one day some boys teased him by asking if he filed an income tax return. He said no. They said the FBI would get him. He worried over this several weeks, then committed suicide. “No, he wasn’t nuts,” said Munoz. “He was just scared. These people are isolated from society. They live scared. The community started by being cut off, by being kicked in the ass by society, and that’s the way it still feels.” Heart Attack Fatal to Dallas 9 Lynn Landrum DALLAS Lynn Landrum, the controversial and free-wheeling columnist of the Dallas News, died of a heart attack last week at the age of 70. His editorial column, “Thinking Out Loud,” had been a regular feature of the News since 1938. Landrum, a staunch conservative who seasoned his writings with a homespun rural idiom, was born in Whitevvright, Texas, in 1891. At the University of Texas he was editor of the Daily Texan, and he never failed in later years to joust young liberal editors, whom he often called “tax-eaters.” He came to Dallas from Vernon, and served as an editorial writerlater chief editorial writerof the old Dallas Evening Journal, then published by the News. He joined the News when the Evening Journal was sold. The News editorialized this week: “He has gone where he lived that he might go. With unswerving fliith, he walked this earth in righteousness and good will, for he wanted this ,day to be one of victory, not of sorrowa day of reunion with a heavenly host whose lives had always guided his . . . “That was Lynn Wiley Landrum, a friend of man, a man of God, a master of words to whom editorial leadership in the right direction was the highest of challenges.”