Tower-and-Bush-endorsed regime in Harris County has as its executive director James Reed, who was an assistant to Cong. Ed Foreman of Odessa in Washington. V The Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Houston Chronicle have a series on academic freedom in Texas. . . . The Sar. Antonio Express ran a long piece against repeal of 14-B by a union man whose identity the paper withheld. . . . The Edinburg Review has been reprinting the Observer’s political intelligence \(with full Brooks” in the flesh? That name is signed to many items in the Dallas News’ political “Weathervane.” V Vice-President Hubert Humphrey is to address, by remote, the Texas AFLCIO convention Aug. 3-6 in El Paso. . . . Cong. Adam Clayton Powell and Speaker Ben Barnes are to speak to the pro-Connally Negro United Political Organization Labor in Texas is preparing to automate its membership lists for political and other purposes. Texarkana, Tex. I was in town with nothing more im , portant on my mind than buying a blue belt. Suddenly a baby-faced young man with a shorthand tablet, accompanied by an older, bored-looking fellow with a camera, stopped me. “Pardon me, ma’am,” the young one said politely, “We’re from the Gazette and are taking an opinion poll on Viet Nam. Would you answer some questions?” “I’ll be glad to,” I said, and the two men maneuvered me around the corner to a quieter part of the street. After I said I was for negotiations the sooner the better and that I was disappointed in President Johnson, the reporter asked, “Would you just allow the communists to take over the country?” I became agitated at the question, and said, “Why not let the Vietnamese people vote on a government without our interference, and then if they choose a communist one it’s their business.” It was a loaded question. Most East Texans would be quick to react with an emotional NO and, presto, old Lyndon would win another poll. I guess this is what happened, too. On the front page of the Gazette the following Saturday was the headline, OPINION FAVORS VIET NAM POLICY. And under it, “A sampling of opinion in Texarkana indicates that most people favor the United States’ commitment in South Viet Nam.” The Gazette did not mention what questions were asked by the reporter, but the paper quoted such statements from the interviewed persons as “If we were not over there the communists would take over” and “I don’t think we should let the communists run over us.” V The Texas Industrial Union Council has suggested its members join the ACLU. goo Texas labor’s enthusiasm for the Demo cratic Coalition may have been diminished when the state PASO convention elected Albert Fuentes its new chairman, succeeding Albert Pena. Dr. Ramiro Casso of McAllen was to be elected, but withdrew, and Fuentes won over Charles Albidress. Juan Cornejo, former mayor of Crystal City, ran for PASO vice-chairman but got only a few votes. The PASO convention was militantly anti-Connally and called on Sen. Yarborough to run against the governor. A ringing bow-out speech. by Pena opposed PASO support for anyone who voted against the 1964 civil rights act, which Cong. Jim Wright of Fort Worth, a likely U.S. Senate candidate in ’66, did. \(As though in answer, Dr. Hector Garcia’s American GI Forum invited Wright to resolutions endorsed demonstrations where needed, accused Connally of a massive power grab, opposed expansion of the state Senate. I was the lone dissenter in the poll. It probably isn’t too important but I was quoted out of context. For instance, I was asked if I favored a limited war and I answered, “I doubt if the families of the dead Vietnamese and Americans are comforted by the fact that the war is a limited one. Persons get killed in a limited war too. I’m against all war.” Now I am proud of that answer because it’s pretty good for me. I’ve never been able to answer a quick question with eloquence and reason. I’m like John Steinbeck said he was in Travels With Charley. He lay in bed one night going over a conversation he’d had and while in bed he thought of things he could have said, things “incredibly clever and cutting.” Anyway, my answer just didn’t sound the same when the paper quoted me as merely saying, “People get killed in a limited war, too.” MY LITTLE EXPERIENCE taught me not to blindly believe an opinion poll. And I learned something else: how to deal with crank callers. While the papers were going out all over the Texarkana area with my picture and comments early Saturday morning, I was taking a bicycle ride in the country. When I got home around 7 a.m., my husband greeted me with “You’ve had some phone calls. One man said he’d call back.” I immediately got nervous. “Oh well,” I said, “it’s probably that piano salesman I talked to yesterday.” “Or a CIA agent,” my husband said darkly. Then he reminded me what Vivian Knedler down in San Antonio said to do about crank phone callers: “Get their name and address and tell them to talk slowly because you’re taking it down in shorthand.” It wasn’t long before the phone rang. I answered apprehensively and a man’s dull, flat voice said, “Have you had any calls this morning?” “A man called. I guess that’s you. Boy, I figured it was a CIA agent.” I giggled nervously. There was no humor in the man’s voice. “Yes, I called.” I got hold of myself and said very businesslike, “May I have your name and address, please?” He gave it to me and I said, “Now talk slowly. I’m taking everything down in He told me I was all wet. He kept saying I was all wet and I didn’t know what I was talking about and that I was either all wet or a communist. “Now did you get that down?” he asked belligerently. “Yes sir. Did you know you could be sued for calling me a communist?” “Now just a minute. I said you were either all wet or a communist. Now you choose. Just which are you?” I didn’t know which I was by then, and after a few more exchanges I thanked the man for calling and hung up shakily. I went over so many times what he said and the incredibly clever and cutting things I should have said that when he called back in a couple of hours I felt like we were old friends. Or at least old acquaintances. Evidently he had spent those two hours brooding about my taking down his every word in shorthandincluding his labeling me as all wet or a communistbecause he asked, “Have you fixed me up yet?” I laughed and said no. “Now honey . . .” he said. I broke in, “Now you’re calling me honey.” “I still say you’re wrong. You was . . .” “As an English major in college,” I interrupted again, “I believe the correct verb is were.” “I don’t know about that,” he said. “But about Viet Nam. . .” By then I had discovered another rule on how to deal with crank callers: outtalk them and keep them on the defensive. I said, “Sir, do you believe in democracy?” “I…,, “Do you?” “Why, yeah . . .” “That’s all I was advocating, that the people of Viet Nam settle their differences and then vote on a government. Did you know that no people have yet voted in a communist government?” Every time he said something I interrupted him \(after all, I’d had two hours’ either you’re wrong or I’m wrong.” “Yes, and I respect your opinion. I hope you respect mine.” “Well . . “And isn’t it wonderful we live in a country where we can both express our opinions freely?” I gushed. “Yeah,” he said without enthusiasm. S 0 MUCH for polls and crank calls. And I still haven’t bought that blue belt. El July 23, 1965 5 Phooey on Polls Fran Burton Presley
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