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kind of strangeness and displacement left me. Once I drove down the Rio Grande on the Texas side from El Paso to Brownsville, dipping across the border in a dozen places. I kept notes all along the way, as though there was something formally valuable about such an expedition. Another time I was in the Lower Valley when a political leader of the Mexicans in a little border town offered to take me with him to a wedding across the ferry on the other side, in Mexico. After having been kept waiting a seemly time, we were invited to join the wedding fete in the community hall, and were honored like visiting royalty; their severe pride was not dispelled by the swarms of flies at the feasting table, nor was my appetite, to my friend’s relief, and mine, and maybe theirs. In passing down that way let me tell you about an old fellow in Harlingen the Mexicans call “El Samaritano.” Frank Ferree is the ungainliest and unlikeliest saint you can imagine, but he is the only one in Texas I know of. He has given up everything he had to the needs of the poor he attracts or seeks out in the Valley and on the other side of the river. He has many faults, trying to cure their physical sicknesses with “Curital,” for instance, but no one else seems seriously to have been trying to cure them with anything, before he went to work; at least he tries something. Most of all, this is all that he does do, try to help the Mexicans who are starving and sick, and who use even the cardboard he brings them to keep the cold out of their hovels. Many people in the Valley ease their consciences by helping Ferree so he can help the poor for them; they give him old buses, used pieces of soap from motels, damaged cans of food, and day-old bread. They trust him because any day you can go to the shambles he lives in and see him, say, opening a damaged can of cold beans for his evening meal. Ask him why and he will answer, in him rambling inarticulacy, that he is doing what Christ says do, helping the poor. I do not see why it is considered more reasonable for writers “about Texas” to tell you about H. L. Hunt, Glenn McCarthy, Clint Murchison, and other tycoons, than Frank Ferree, but generally, it is. TO A TEXAN a car is like wings to a seagull. Our places are far apart and we must dip into them driving. For as often traveling man like myself, the junctions in the highways and the towns are like turns in a city well known. We must drive fast from Austin to El Paso to make it in a day. One time another family and the one I am in set out for there, but ran out of light, so we doubled back to an old railroad car watering place that happened still to be by the side of the road. We built a fire and ate and slept there the night, and woke to the dawn too literally rosy to be a good thing to try to describe. You have to feel a fire by a railroad siding in the West Texas desert to know what we felt together, how casual and friendly it was that night and morning, on that desolate and sunbitten land. 2 The Texas Observer One of the drives I like to take is the ferry out of Galveston up the coast past High Island and into Port Arthur. You drive along the waves almost laving your right tires, you could drive on in if you’d had enough, and then you veer away from the water into Port Arthur through the -gothic fantastics of an oil refinery. Workmen in orange helmets walk and chug around amidst the legs of these giant spatial structures, orbs, catwalks, skeletal obelisks, like technological dreams weighing down the men who sleepwork within them. In Texas City a few weeks ago I was brought, one morning about 4 a.m., to a complete stop in the middle of the highway leading out of town through a chemical plant by the scene behind the picture window of a great rectangular control room: three helmeted workmen in overalls, sitting casually with their backs to the window and me, watching gauges. There was not another person anywhere else in sight. All night, one supposes, the plant goes on making America more abundant and some Americans richer, provided the workers the gauges replaced find some way to buy the things the gauges are making. TEXAS: back to Texas. \(Where is this place? This can’t be Texas. No millionaires, no oil derricks, no Stetsons, no government scandals. Lightolier fixturespiped-in musicpink ceilingpastel-lemon light bulbswell, yes, it is named the “Eatwell Cafe.” Fit name for a cattle towns. Try Fort Worth. Or worse, try the restaurants near the stockyards there, one of which is the nearest New York will ever Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the State Week and Austin ForumAdvocate. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Editor and General Manager, Ronnie Dugger. Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. Business Manager, Sarah Payne. Contributing Editors, J. Frank Dobie, Larry Goodwyn, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Willie Morris, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shattuck, Dan Strawn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. Contributing Photographer, Russell Lee. Subscription Representatives: Austin, Mrs. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos, HO 5-1805; Dallas, Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; Fort Worth, Mrs. Jesse Baker, 3212 Greene St.. WA 7-2959; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Lubbock, Doris Blaisdell, 2515 24th St.; Midland, Eva Dennis, 4306 Douglas, OX 4-2825; Odessa, Enid Turner, 1706 Glenwood, EM 6-2269; Rio Grande Valley, Mrs. Jack Butler, 601 Houston, McAllen, MU 6-5675; get to the fragrances of cattle ranching. Well, let’s go on about places to eat: In Austin if you drive far enough out East Seventh you will come to Alba’s and El Azteca. These are places a few Mexicans and fewer Anglos go to get thick flour tortillas and fried goat. The Austin Chamber of Commerce has not noticed and the neon sign business has not prospered in consequence of these free enterprises. In the hills near Austin there’s a place Fred Schmidt, a labor boss turned pursuer of truth for its own humane sake, \(hudeer under coals, and after dinner they all went into the tent to sleep. I slept out, which amused them; in the morning Fred took his boy to find another deer but they did not. The best place I ever went out to eat was a level space at the base of a hill of rocks above a meadow on a ranch twenty miles west of Austin. The ancient fellow Roy Bedichek, who wrote books and quoted Herodotus and used key books to identify plants and birds, was my host. We spied on birds and swam in a water tank full of leaves. The supper menu was beer and lettuce-and-sardine sandwiches, without any bread; celery and potato soup; strips of dried beef, and hot coffee. It rained thorough supper, and all morning, and for lunch we had leftovers, sitting around the fire .and under towels we dried there. The price was the sadness of what we exchanged and the time we passed. There is a place I always go in Galveston, Giusti’s. Long and windowed from one end to the other, it stands on the seawall across the street from the Gulf. You can sit at one of the white tables and eat and read and they never bother you. San Antonio, Mrs. Mae B. Tuggle, 531 Elmhurst, TA 2-7154; Tyler, Mrs. Erik Thomsen, 1209 So. Broadway, LY 4-4862. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. The Observer solicits articles, essays, and creative work of the shorter forms having to do in various ways with this area. The pay depends; at present it is token. Please enclose return postage. Unsigned articles are the edi tor’s. Te Observer is published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd., biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5.00 a year; two years, $9.50; three years, $13.00. Foreign rates on request. Single copies 25c; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk orders, on request. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin 5, Texas. Telephone GR 7-0746. Change of Address: Please give old and new addresses v.nd allow three weeks. THE TEXAS OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South 58th YEAR ESTABLISHED 1906 Vol. 56, No. 3 74MID February 7, 1964