“I THOUGHT I SAW A PUSSY CAT.” Visit Texas! Dazzling Suns, Falling Bricks AUSTIN An Observer reader in Houston, noting all the talk about a $300,000or-so state program to attract tourists, suggests we publish a lively little brochure listing the more indigenous facts about our Lone Star attractions. The editors would recommend that the propaganda piece be entitled Sunny Texas: Living Museum, Land of Fossils and Teddy Walker. This way we might at least snare a goodly quota of sociologists, curators, archeologists, masochists, admirers of Arizona department store owners, and leading lights of the Midwestern Win With Walker Committee. Tourists in Texas have too long depended on Stuart Long’s Austin Report and the Hoiles chain, and have missed much real information. Our brochure, patterned after that snappy Fielding’s Guide to Europe which the editor threw in the North Sea in July, 1957, would go something like this: SUNNY TEXAS . . . . *See historic San Jacinto Monu ment, but beware falling bricks and if detect more than usual dropping plaster get hell out quick so before nightfall you may: *See cleverly interlacing network state parks, but beware weeds, cockleburrs, rattlesnakes ; bring own cabin ; leave small donation and please mark “appropriations”. *See magnificent, undeveloped Padre Island, exotic States’ Rights Memorial ; beware seaweeds, land developers, shifting Sandlin. *See quaint, rustic migrant labor ers, barefoot, happy, softly singing in unlicensed trucks ; colorful panorama older age ; bring own Edwin Markham. *See historic Pease Mansion, Aus tin; home historic A. Shivers; let kiddies count Cadillacs in back, Democrat& inside. , *See colorful millionaires romp, frolic, picket federal mailboxes; note colorful homes, quaint trees lanterned, mossed , note also quaint per capita income, 32 in nation, superb local color. *See honest-God typical industrial accident ; luckier yet, genuine explosion, Port of Houston, \(no admisSunny Texas spurned dangerous Wisto appease deadening modern age with industrial safety act, spurns example all other deadening industrial states, ly, colorfully independent, no factgathering agency industrial accidents; independent spirit thrives under dazzling seasonal suns, dazzling explosions \(half-price Sundays, kiddies *See, close range, crime rate ris ing under dazzling seasonal suns; criminal code amorphous, quaintly recalling Renaissance ; in Houston weekend, watch hubby, kiddies closely, beware flying bullets ; police brutality exhibit, 50 cents. *See quaint buffalo roam wild-life refuge, but travel Oklahoma if wish see them; see quaint juvenile delinquents roam city streets unmolested, untutored, unsung, staunchly independent barring chance encounter one of Sunny Texas’ five parole officers. *if in hurry see state, legislature sil exhibit, state Senate. *See state senators, lobbyists, recalling quainter, more relaxed era, writing tax, appropriations bills together in charming atmosphere enchanting Headliners’ Club, historic Austin ; allow kiddies flush them behind curtain, back room. *See quaint, old-world slums, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston ; roughing-it in Sunny Texas. *See Sunny Texas’ next Big Drouth ; see dazzling seasonal sun ?; staunch independence reflected state water program ; glass water half-price Sundays. *See LBJ Ranch, Johnson City; prize LBJ Herefords; LBJ flag; LBJ beagles ; LBJ birthplace \( manger *See hotel restaurants, dine in quaint bad taste, order all beer before midnight ; if prefer hard liquor bring if permitted, place between feet, beware crawling Baptists. *See quaint, colorful Jim Crow, East Texas, state university ; see motto “You shall know . . .”; local color, stonecutter made typo, strike last word, please insert “white”. *See state welfare department for indispensible local color; staunch independence : old age assistance, no. 42, aid dependent children, ditto, aid permanent, totally disabled, no. 39; note quaint state welfare workers toiling happily under dazzling seasonal suns, heaviest case load in Union quaintly challenging; Sunny Texas individualism typified total welfare HUNTSVILLE It may come as a surprise to some that George Beto, Lutheran educator and former member of the state prisons board, reversed his previous refusal and took the job of director of the Texas prisons system. They may even be surprised that he was offerc:l the jobnot that he isn’t a good man but because he is not an experienced penologist. Jack Heard, the young former Houston chief of police who understudied 0. B. Ellis from 1956 until Ellis’ death a couple of months ago, was generally thought to be the man marked for the directorship, unless the prison board went out of the state for a bigger name in penology. But aside from Heard’s probable disappointment, it really doesn’t matter. Ellis, in his 14 years as director, brought the prison system off dead center and gave it such a mighty thrust forward that its momentum will carry on far past any reasonable period of apprenticeship needed by Beto. Aside from that, Beto is going into office with the kind of staff that makes bearable the otherwise unbearablely drab thought of institutionalization. There’s Heardwho, since he survived as chief of police under two Houston mayors, must be an excep-: tional guyand there’s the other assistant director, Dick Jones, who worked with Ellis in Memphis and followed him here, and is probably more deeply imbued with the Ellisian philosophy of firm kindness than any penologist in the country. Howard Sublett, warden of Wynne prison and with the system 14 years, said of Ellis: “He was like a father to me.” One of Sublett’s majors who has been with the system 30 years and has seen it evolve from brutality, added, “3 worshipped that man.” These are the kind of staff members Ellis left behind. Obviously Beto has a good beginning. T HE FINEST EULOGY that Ellis could have is the comparative indifference with which the state, and especially the state’s newspapers, now watch the changing of the guards. It is far different from the churning demand for reform and the excitement with which the state greeted Ellis in 1948-. After hearing piecemeal for years some of the grosser brutalities existing in the prison system, Texas citi programs, no. 40 state, local funds; typical initiative young civilization on way up : gets more federal Yankee money than 35 states, proving dazzling ingenuity in staunchly independent peoples. *See poll-tax drive in flesh;_only four other states make that statement ; signifies civilized attitude: state holding out in defense poor whites, darkies, Mexicans, must be taught cash value of vote, learn appreciate American heritage. *See Sunny Texas education sys tem, No. 32 per child, staunchly independent, surpassing Russians football, twieing, applied cooking gaining fast. *See, feel, healthy climate new in dustry ; absence state minimum wage inspires self-respect, staunch independence, socialistic 50-cent minimum. balked by quaint TMA, quainter CofC, won’t play Russians’ own game, refuses emulate socialist Chiang-KaiChek’s $1-day Chinese coolies; Sunny Texas not China. *See history before it happens; Sunny Texan only Sunny Texas, no more, no less, mainly less ; independent spirits under dazzling seasonal suns; beware falling bricks, both physical, verbal ; historic spot in every sense. W.M. \(paid political advertisement by California, America’s second lead zens were really aroused to action in 1947, largely through a series of stories written by newsman Harry McCormick and through revelations made by the newly-established prisons board. Typical disclosures: four bars of soap issued to a tank of 75 convicts ; rampant and open sex perversion; filthy clothing; beatings; starvation diets. Ellis, who had gained some quiet fame as director of the Shelby County Prison Farm in Memphis, where the inmates called him “Pappy,” was hired to make the transformation. And he made it. Working it out was a complex matter, but the basic formula was simple. The Ellis theory of handling convicts : “Bathe them, work them, feed them, listen to their troubles, give them a ray of hope that good behavior may win them a second chance.” We were talking to Don Reid, the Huntsville newsman, about Ellis the other day. Reid, who had a uniquely intimate view of the regime, summarized Ellis’ contribution like this : “He brought dignity to the systeth. It didn’t have it before. Now even the convicts are aware of that dignity and, I think, try to build on it.” AS FOR THE “Ellis attitude” among the convicts, the best way to illustrate this is to point out that although there are twice as many inmates today as there were when Ellis took over, and although the crowded conditions are even more acute today than they were when he took over, there are very few fights, practically no self-mutilations, and a remarkable lack of tension in the air. In some dormitories the doubledecker bunks are jammed so close together, one is reminded of the holds of troop-carrying Liberty ships. And the analogy goes farther, for the inmates seem to take it with the attitude of soldiers at seathe trip will have to end sometime; meanwhile they are being given the best treatment they can receive under abnormal conditions. In this instance the abnormal condi tionsthough not abnormal for Texas are a legislature that will neither staff an adequate parole force to get more convicts out of prison, nor build adequate quarters for those kept in. B.S. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 Feb. 16, 1962 ELLIS MOMENTUM
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