Come right to the point at once, and never use two words where one will answer the purpose. “No county in the state has a corps of officers who attend more strictly to’ their duties than this has; and in point of morals, even, we see no cause for complaint. “The young man who passed through town this week and bragged to a boy about his exploits with horse-thieves, will likely learn, before he is many years older, that it is best to stick to the truth even in a joke. “Tobacco in great variety at R. W. Gillespie’s . . . Call around and buy a piece and take a chew. R. W. Gillespie. “Mr. A. W. Capt was generous and public spirited enough, when the appropriation by the county for the digging of the town well was exhausted and the work only about half finished, to step forward and advance the balance something over $60so that the well might not be left uncompleted; trusting to his fellow townsmen to refund to him at least a portion of the amount . . . Though we have no doubt but he would have done just as he \(lid, even if he had known that not a dollar of the money would ever have been made up to him. MEN! Do you have any aggressive tendencies? Do you feel imperialistic when you get up in the morning? If you do, there’s only one thing that will relieve youjoin the Indian Army, Karnes County Brigade. Haven’t you ever wanted to ride the Punjab with Pandit, to perambulate the Kashmir with Krishna? Get your commissions now: Maharajahs $10, Rajahs $7.50, Brahmins $2.00, Untouchables 50c. Send your contributions to Dan D. Strawn, Star Route 2, ‘Kenedy, Texas. Who’ll go to Goa with old Dan Strawn? 7C 1\( happy new year from THE OBSERVER and FUTURA PRESS, Inc. MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 HUMANISM The movement which attracts Independent Thinkers! Ethical, humanitarian; nonpolitical, non-supernatural. Interested? American Humanist Association welcomes you; local chapters, publications. Send $1 for 3month Trial Membership or $5 for a year: American Humanist Association, Dept. TO-2, Yellow Springs, Ohio. EIGHT YEARS FOR A WATCH Life, Death, and Morality in 1880 Texas “There were three convictions last week in the district court two white men and one Negro Rutland for horse-stealing sentenced to the penitentiary for six years but took an appeal. Hostoff, for cow-stealingsentenced to the penitentiary for three years but got a new hearing. “The Negro, whose name we didn’t learn, was sent up for eight years for stealing a watch.” ‘Internal Humors’ The advertisements would never slip by the Pure Food and Drug Administration nowfor instance, the one for Dr. Clark Johnson’s Indian Blood Syrup, which cured kidney and liver diseases, regulated the bowels, purified the blood, quieted the nervous system, promoted digestion, “carries off the Old Blood and makes new,” and most important, “neutralizes the heriditary taint, or poison in the blood, which generates Scrofula … and all manner of skin diseases and internal humors.” The St. Louis & San Francisco Railway advertised that it owned “about one million acres of rich farming and mineral lands, located along its completed line of R’y. in southwest Mo., which are being sold at low prices and upon easy terms for payment. Free transportation is furnished land explorers who purchase land from the company . . .” Houston & Texas Central Railway advertised “Over 5,000,000 acres of land for sale in Texas, at from $1.50 to $10 per acre.” The Blanco Hotel announced its willingness to take a few regular boarders. “Comfortable rooms, nice beds, and the table supplies with the best the country affords . . . Also a splendid stable in connection with the Hotel. Stages from Austin and Fredericksburg arrive and depart daily from this House. . . . Terms to suit the times.” At the Cattle Exchange, it was advertised, they kept “constantly on hand a full supply of choice liquors, cigars, and tobaccos,” not to mention Ice. The general stores sold everything from boots to crockery to school books. The Beef Market “Sells fresh beef on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; on odd days , pork or mutton.” That week in Blanco, George Joseph Wright died. No one reads obituaries any more. In Blanco they read this about George Joseph Wright: “Another good citizen of Blanco is gone. Brother George Joseph Wright has gone home to die no more. . . . He suffered long and much, but was ever patient, sometimes even cheerful. In anticipation of the time when death would put a period to all his sufferings he said, ‘Ma, when my troubles end here they are all over.’ .. . “To his mother I would say: Pass a few fleeting days or years and you shall see your child again. “The grave may hold till Jesus comes but must release him then.” Evidently there had been a number of deaths in Blanco around that time, and lest readers in other towns get the wrong impression, the editors offered an explanation. “The rather numerous obituary notices . that appear from time to time in the Star-Vindicator,” they wrote, “would seem to be a contradiction of the boasted health of our locality,” but it needed to be remembered that many people came to .Blanco with “one foot already in the grave; and while our salubrious and genial climate restores many of them to health, some of course are too far gone to be saved; and this it is that raises our mortuary report above what it otherwise would be. . . . They pose of regaining the health they have lost, stand a very good chance of finding what they are in search of, unless they have deferred their visitas many do till it is too late.” Gossipy and Historical There was, in this old paper, a willingness to mix the current with the basic, the gossipy with the historical, the commercial with the poetic. This was the kind of newspaper culture in which Brann effloresced. Think what that fiery classicist of invective and parody would have done with this frontpage letter in the Star-Vindicator, an account from the Baptist Record on the subject of dancing: “We prefer to state some facts touching the practice, and leave everyone to do his own thinking, and reach his own conclusions: “1.It is a fact that the dancing mentioned approvingly in the Bible was carried on by the sexes separately . . . “2.It is a fact that modern dancing … adds no worth to the character. . . . “6.It is a fact that mixed dancing becomes extremely fascinating. “7.It is a fact that much valuable time is lost by this species of reveling . . . “10. It is a fact that young ladies permit familiarities in the ballroom which public sentiment universally condemns as dangerous to purity . . . “12. It is a fact that the best of young men, even of those who dance, do not wish their sisters to attend balls, and they don’t wish to marry dancing girls . . . “17. It is a fact that the best people in the world never dance . . . “22. It is a fact that the most ardent ‘advocates of dancing always change their views in the presence of death.” From these compelling facts the Baptist Record of the times did, in spite of its restraint theretofore, permit itself to draw the conclusion, “Reader, if you are a Christian . . . you will never dance.” Times have changed in many ways. In many ways they have not. In good and in terrible ways they never will. But those were the clays, weren’t they? GETTING AROUND THE CONSTITUTION AUSTIN All legislators, as legislative bird-watchers know, at some time in their careers run up against constitutional restrictions that bar their way from doing something they feel “duty-bound” to try to do. At that point they begin a series of legalistic contortions meant to circumvent the constitution. Some critics. deplore this as being disrespectful of the constitution, but actually it is a type of compliment because the legislators by their very gyrations give evidence that they consider the constitution a very living and real force to be reckoned with. Usually the constitution wins out, but not always, and when it does not, the results are sometimes a mammoth mess. Millard H. Ruud, professor of law at the University of Texas, has shown in a recent publication issued by the Institute of Public Affairs the kind of chaos that can result when the legislators strike upon a gambit that does indeed get around the state constitution. Ruud points out that the Texas constitution prohibits with certain exceptions, the passage of laws applicable to a particular area of the state or applicable to particular persons or corporations a prohibition he traces back to abuses prevalent in the past century when legislators \(unlike looked after special interests. “Being a means of granting special privilege,” he writes, “local legislation invited the corruption that commonly accompanies the seeking of special privilege. Vocal special and local interests clamored so loudly for attention that legislatures too often found their energies consumed in dealing with these matters, leaving little time for important state-wide matters. “Since 1845, the Texas Constitution has contained some prohibition against special or local legislation.” He refers the reader to Article III, Section 56. That statute was established by an amendment in 1873. And have legislatures abided by this constitutional provision ever since? Well, hardly. Texas lawmakers, being inventive men, quickly decided they could get around this restriction and still take care of special local interests by not mentioning a specific locality in their bills but by simply pinpointing them through a population bracket. That is, instead of introducing a bill in which the town of Whistlestop is specified, the legislator for that area would simply introduce a bill covering towns of “between 5,168 and 5,172 population” which would take care of Whiswell, without applying, in all probability to any other town in Texas. But in 1931, says Ruud, the court “declared that a law drawn so that it applies to only one city and can never apply to any other violates the constitutional rule because it uses isolation and not classification in describing to whom it is applicable. This case established the rule that there be an open or open-end classification. The open-end classification requirement means that cities, for example, which acquire or lose the characteristics of the class must move into or out of the class. In general, therefore, any law using the population figures of a specified census to describe its applicability violates the special and local law prohibition.” The fact that few populationbracket laws are in court does not mean that they have passed the constitutional test but that “there are very few persons both with the legal standing to question such laws and a sufficient economic interest in the matter to motivate the bringing of law suit to question such laws.” Ruud says that the legislature as a whole rarely takes any real interest in particular populationbracket laws, that these laws are seldom published in Vernon’s compiled statutes, and that “population bracket laws, even in the session laws, are indexed only by subject matter and not indexed by population bracket.” What is the result? Lawyers, who practice out of Vernon’s are ignorant of the population-bracket laws. They are doubly ignorant because the areas to which these laws apply fluctuate from census to census, unless the laws are amended to compensate for population changes, which is seldom done. “Why are there not more amendments of the population classification of laws designed to keep the law applicable to the places to which they are applicable under the earlier census?” asks Ruud. “A possible explanation may be that some officials simply treat the law as if it continued to be applicable to the original places. Careful track may not be kept of these laws by those who encouraged their launching. “In other instances, the proponents may be aware of the law and its changed applicability but not interested any longer in having the benefit of it and so do not seek its amendment or repeal; the proponents may just abandon THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 2 Dec. 29, 1961 their product. These abandoned population bracket laws constitute a risk to the unwary, they may, nice the legendary ghost ships of old, be a hazard to legal navigation.” But there is another explanation, says Ruud, an explanation pointed up by a court decision in 1932, which was that an amendment to keep a county under a population-bracket law was proof that the law was intended only for that county and thereby violated the constitutional prohibition against local laws. Several hundred “ghost ship” population-bracket local laws are listed by Ruud as still drifting about, changing course from census to census, bumping into cities and counties for which they were not originally destined. For example: A county unit system for counties of 8,600-9,000 population was meant to cover only Goliad County, and did so under the 1940 census, but it no longer covers Goliad. Now it covers Brooks, McCulloch, Stephens, Castro, and Lee countieswhether they like it or not. A law concerned with the leasing of facilities to the federal gov
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