Page 10


future governors. You, Governor Daniel, are the elected conscience of the people of Texas. How many governors have had this courage, to display, in this sense, the conviction of Christian charity and mercy? “I plead with you, Governor Daniel, to give these men of violence and brutal crimes a chance to live: commute their sentences to life imprisonment. “James W. Presley, Box 2025, Texarkana, Tex.” One of the four condemned men was Joe Sneed, a Dallas Negro, 30 years old. Convicted of raping a Dallas white woman in 1960, he had maintained that he was innocent. Just after midnight January 3, he was taken from his cell and strapped into the electric chair at Huntsville and, at 12:05 a.m., electrocuted. He was pronounced legally dead at 12:07. Just after midnight last Sunday, Bennie McIntyre, a 20-year-old Negro from Rosebud, was electrocuted at Lucius and I were on a hay deal. It was December a year ago; the frost was on the cornstalk, cottonstalk, guarstalk, and worst of all the Johnson grass stalk. All that remained to bale for hay was buffel grass, but because of the frost and rain it had turned white, which is not the most salable color for hay. However, a cold norther had blown in and the cattle had turned their hindsides into the wind, a sign that augured good for the hay business. We decided to go ahead and bale it, Some nut would buy it. The food value was entirely carbohydrate; there was no protein involved, unless the cow bit herself. It wasn’t like pure green alfalfa, but it would fill the cows’ bellies and keep the burned prickly pear from running through them like a dose of epsom salts. In quest of an unwary customer, I presented myself at the local auction ring. When I drove up, the old man 10 The Texas Observer Huntsville for the rape of a white woman in Lynn County in 1961. He had told a reporter, “I am guilty and I am prepared to die.” He was a farm laborer. Three other men now await execution on Death Row, according to Jack Ross, member of the board of pardons and paroles: Joe Edward Smith, 20, Negro, convicted of murder in Harris County, to be executed on March 5; Leo Daniel Luton, 33, white, convicted of murder in Dallas, on Feb. 20; and Leslie Douglas Ashley, Houston, 24, white, murder, on March 30. Carolyn Lima, a 19-year-old girl from Houston, white, a prostitute, is being held at Goree farm, sentenced to be executed at Huntsville, also on March 30, for the murder of which Ashley was also convicted. No woman has been executed in Texas since 1859 or 1860, when a Latin-American woman named Chepeta was hanged in Patricio, near Corpus Christi, for murder. in charge shouted something about a hay swindler and said he didn’t want “no more of that damn flax straw.” This was very discouragingan auction ring is usually the least discriminating of all hay markets. A winter of so before, there had been a severe drouth, and the Johnson grass crop was short, but there had been a considerable amount of flax straw left in the field, and it had been summarily baled up with the Johnson grass. Now flax straw has a relatively high protein .content for straw, but it is an indigestible protein. However, the cows aren’t concerned with that insignificant detail, because they can’t chew it anyway. It is the fiber from which linen is made. The owner of the exchange had commented that the hay I sold him lasted longer than any hay he had ever bought ; in fact, he still had some. I pointed out that the cattlemen couldn’t complain about their not throwing any hay to the cattle, since it would always be plainly available in the trough, but my -cheering re mark didn’t seem to placate him any. To epitomize the discussion with him, the humors within, him were giving rise to a choleric distemper which boded ill for the hay business. Lucius and I were disturbed over how we were going to get rid of the stuff. The auction wouldn’t buy it until February, when hay would be much scarcer, but the hay was lying in the field and we had no place to put it; not that we thought it was worth hauling out. WE WERE DRIVING around trying to think of a likely prospect when the salivary conditioned reflex precipitated by an hour’s abstinence struck us. Lucius was a Bohemian, in the literal as well as the bacchanalian sense. I inquired where we could obtain that refreshing beverage, beer, for the fewest coppers, since it didn’t look like we were going to sell any hay. He volunteered to be the guide for the two of us, as we were in his territory. “Turn here,” he said, instructing me on a series of turns and convolutions that circled the whole town. Eventually we rolled up to a beer joint. “I didn’t want nobody to see me get no beer,” he explained. He was pretending to be a Baptist. “Put that beer in a sack,” the astonished barkeep was told. “I don’t want nobody to see me take beer out of this place.” Later in the day we entered another beer joint on the other side of town. The owner didn’t know me, so Lucius introduced me as the son-in-law of an old girl friend of the owner. Apparently she had seen better days. “I just wanted to tell you,” Lucius told the proprietor, “that we’re taking up contributions to help her out. This here’s her son-in-law and she’s in bad shape. We knew you’d help her out, because you was always friends, already. . .” “Are you really her son-in-law?” the owner asked me with an embarrassed grin. “Sure he is,” Lucius replied, following the hapless bartender to the other end of the bar, where he was making a futile effort to escape. After the bartender had been driven to utter distraction, Lucius put his soul at peace and earned his eternal gratitude by informing him that I was not, after all, the son-in-law of the woman he had been friends with. We drove out in another field where Lucius had some hands working. A white man was running the hay rake, HAY SALE Dan Strawn