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The. Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Volume 53 TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 15, 1961 15c per copy Number 24 * * * * Most Vicious Storm in Decades Sweeps Coastland; Brothers Remain ‘Just Figure You’re Gone TEXAS COAST Three of the salty but aging Munsch brothers decided to weather out the thing in Port O’Connor. They had been Port O’Connor people since 1912; they had been through plenty of hurricanes before. Edgar Munsch had built a two-story house near the water in 1950and he’d built it to stay, on sunken cement piling’s. Sure they would be safe there. The three brothers stashed some fresh water, fruit, and cookies upstairs and sacked in for the duration. Willie is a boat captain. Edgar retired from the Coast Guard after 25 years with them. M. F. runs a hardware store in Port O’Connor. As the storm rose they kept moving things to the second floor, out of the rising tide. The wind did seem uncommonly fierce. And the water: it never went over 34 inches in the 1942 storm. And so longthe high winds were lasting so long. Hurricane Carla had whiplashed around the Gulf of ‘Mexico Capriciously. For a couple of days it drifted south of Galveston on a northerly course. Then it veered west toward Corpus Christi. By simply breathing in every direction for 300 miles, it threw up tides five to fifteen feet higher than normal from Brownsville to New Orleans and forty and fifty foot waves. About noon Monday it decided to spin onto the land, not through some well-equipped, Observer Notebook AUSTIN WHERE does the South end and the West begin? A young man from Sweden was in town last week and wanted to know. He had been doing the South, talking to Freedom Riders on bail and in jail. By the time he reached CenTex, he wondered if he had imperceptively passed the barrier, silently and in the dark of night, or if the South were still upon him. Larry Goodwyn, for instance, says the South ends at the Balcones Fault. We were sitting at Scholz’ late one afternoon and Larry, in one of his dramatic flourishes, pointed out toward the gathering blue mists along the ridges and said, “The South ends two miles from here.” A slightly intoxicated colleague demurred. “The South ends right here at Scholz’,” he said. “This is the last outpost of civility. It is an enclave in a bad, bad land.” ANOTHER FRIEND says the South ends on the other side of Lampasa .S. We were driving out to far West Texas and he advised as we went through Lampasas that the Confederate soldier lounging in that familiar frozen posture on the inappropriate rocky lawn was the last we would see. After him, as we drove west, the old dignities and graces give way to the land of seawalled port of entry like Corpus or Galveston, but through the open little fishing village of Port O’Connor, below Port Lavaca. Upstairs in Edgar’s house, ‘M.F. had put on his life jacket and was trying to talk the others into putting on theirs. He couldn’t swim and he knew they couldn’t for long. He stood in the middle of the hall, staring through a room at the window. Willie stood along the hall a way; Edgar, in the bedroom where he kept barometric readings throughout the storm. Ronnie Dugger Bob Sherrill About 2 o’clock, they began to doubt. It seemed to these veterans of many hurricanes that the wind was approaching 200 miles an hour. The water was seven and a half feet deep in the yard around them. Outside was the tireless roar. Then, at precisely 2:05 by Edgar’s time, the house came loose. “It just took off easy as a bird,” says M.F. “We didn’t know it was movie’. We saw that little barn movin’, we thought it would be likely to go. About that time that mulberry tree came by and they said, ‘Hell, no, we’re movin’!’ The house floated a way and settled down again. “From 2 o’clock till 2:30 we didn’t figure we’d be able to come out of it. Sheets of tin were flying right by the windowit had to be, you couldn’t see ten feet,” Edgar said. “One outfit flew up and flat exploded,” said M.F. What was it? “You can’t tell,” said Edgar. During that half hour, the three brothers argued about what they should do. “You’re just helpless,” Edgar said. “But also you don’t want to leave anything until you know it’s ‘gone. Willie was ready to leave and take his chances out in the weather. You just figure you’re gone.” To the North In the outskirts of the hurricane south of Luling, eerie silver light brought out the russets and greens in the fields. The rains waved and curled like mists, and even a heavy Chrysler wavered on the road. Inside the car the air had weight; it was wet and hot. As the first strong crosswind pushed us a foot or so to one side, we began to see roof shingles lifted like eyebrows, water towers overturned, mesquite’ trees splintered, cattle huddled into corners of fences. We detoured around a chinaberry tree fallen full across the road, snapping a branch as we passed on the shoulder. The rain ran nearly horizontal. When he stopped for a traffic light in boarded-up Cuero, the hard winds moaned and whispered past the windows from behind. We had entered the counterclockwise storm that had crushed Port O’Connor, ravaged Port Lavaca, and was now reported bearing in on Victoria, thirty miles away. On the Victoria radio, a Texas Mexican translated the warnings and instructions for those who do not speak English. Just before the station snapped off the air, the Anglo-Texan announ6er said that winds in Victoria had reached 94 miles an hour and were increasing. ‘Under a massed grey sky, in the buffeting rain and crosswinds so strong we drove down the middle of the highway to keep on course, we could see but, a short way ahead. The rain fell, in every direction, even upward, wind-lashed from the fields that seemed covered with magical clouds of spray. It grew warmer in the car. As we reached Victoria, leaves and twigs blew through the air around us; larger missiles had punched holes in billboards along the streets. From the sheltered porch of a two-story mansion where we first took refuge, we could watch a pecan branch tearing slowly under the relentless gutting winds \(the radio, on again off again, soon reported their speeds of 125 miles an hour in the were the storm in Victoria, breaking plate glass windows, snapping AUSTIN The major Texas defection from the Democratic to the Republican Party’ has taken place with a stinging announcement from Jack Cox of Breckenridge that the Democrats are “dedicated to a course which can lead only to the destruction of the basic political and civil rights guaranteed by our Constitution” and that he is enlisting as a “buck private” in the GOP. Cox, a prominent conservative from Breckenridge who has served as executive secretary of Elwood Fouts’ ultra-conservative movement, Freedom In Action, polled 620,000 votes to Price Daniel’s 909,000 in the gubernatorial race last year. He served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives in the late ‘forties and in 1952 came within 436 votes of unseating Cong. Omar Burleson. Cox’s statement that he was joining the bottom ranks of the resurgent Texas Republicans has been greeted lightly by workers in both parties, however. Only four days before he announced his decision,. the 39-year-old drilling contractor said he would again run for governor if Daniel tries for re-election. And ranking Republicans seeking the strongest possible candidate for that position are known to be giving their prize defector top-level consideration. His 620,000 votes against an incumbent governor has its attractions. Tad Smith of El Paso, state GOP chairman, commented: “Jack Cox and all other Texans who are now swinging to the Republican Party are welcome and are urged AUSTIN Mexican-Americans of political, bent in Texas and the Southwest have formed a political action organization, “PASO,” which could have decisive impact on future elections. Born from the marriage of the “Viva Kennedy” clubs and the Kennedy-Johnson campaign, the organization proposes to unite the political interests of the Southwest’s 4 million citizens of Mexican descent. Albert Pena, the Bexar County commissioner and the temporary chairman of the informal Liberal Forum which met again in Austin last weekend, is the Texas chairman of “PASO,” the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations. In Texas, Pena says, during the 1960 presidential campaign the Mexicanos in the non-boss counties of Texas showed they can outvote those in the boss counties by more than four to one. “The bosses are realizing it is better to go along with us,” Pena says. The two statewide campaigns to assume positions of responsibility and leadership as Republicans.” He said he hoped Cox “can be persuaded to exert his great talent for leadership” within the Party. Sen. John Tower, whose election has touched off a full-scale effort to enlist conservative Democrats into the GOP, said “it is a great pleasure to welcome this great American to our ranks. It is certainly a wholesome thing for such a prominent conserva * of Sen. Henry Gonzalez of San Antonio have caused a steady increase in political participation by Texas Mexicans, Pena says. For instance, in Houston, paid poll tax holders among , the population of Mexican extraction have increased from less than 1,000 in 1958 to an expected 5,000 in 1962. Spinning off the “Viva Kennedy” program, the present organization was launched in Victoria last year as .”1MAPA,” Mexican-American Political Action. Sixty or seventy Mexican-American leaders met subsequently in Phoenix, Ariz., and changed the name to PASO. Members of the Texas branch adopted the new name in San Antonio and last August, meeting again in San Antonio, discussed poll tax programs and policy questions. “It’s strictly a political action group,” Pena says. ‘The Grass Roots’ PASO has adopted, as its statement of principles, an article written by Dr. George I. Sanchez, professor of the history and philoso COX OF BRECKENRIDGE Major Defection To GOP in Texas The House That Moved . , . Blown From Its Moorings With Brothers Munsch Inside tive Democrat to recognize that the Republican Party affords the only effP:ctive vehicle for those i with conservative political persuasion and conviction.” Both Tower and Smith predicted that, in Smith’s words, “large numbers of Texans from all parts of the state will be swinging to the Republican Party in the next few months.” Earlier switching among a number of conservative Democratic workers and leaders had occurred in Harlingen and Littlefield. “I’ can no longer support nor be a part of the Democratic Party ‘PASO’ Political Interests Of Latins United