TEXAS POLITICS Biracial Politics Conflict and Coalition in the Metropolitan South CHANDLER DAVIDSON. An in-depth critical analysis of contemporary Negro politics and the difficulties blacks face in Houston. “An excellent, scholarly case-study of Houston politics … Davidson’s study seems to justify hopes for a new populism in the South, thus suggesting a new direction for black political activity.”Nathan Irvin Huggins, New York Times Book Review 336 pages, $11.95 The Changing Politics of the South Edited by WILLIAM C. HAVARD. This comprehensive stateby-state analysis by 16 distinguished authorities includes “Texas: Land of Conservative Expansiveness” by 0. Douglas Weeks. “A magnificent symposium on politics, parties, and elections in a changing South . .. a worthy sequel to V. 0. Key’s distinguished and monumental Southern Politics in State and Nation.”Franklin L. Burdett, Perspective 784 pages, $17.50 Louisiana State University 00 Press Baton Rouge 70803 AIN real impressive. We’re ready to forget taste here in the netherworld. But before we’re allowed to see daylight they spring the same thing on us again, this time in the room with the bore hole in the ceiling where they let Jack Bigham down. Before a milky flowstone with water working its way across the surface in minute waves, we are asked to sit. We do. Lights out. A male voice this time, with the following advice: Here by the Flowing Stone of Time, let’s pause. . . . Think of Him who created. . . . Then, I swear, church bells! Followed, in this orgy of quiet meditation, by a reading from Genesis! “Let there be light, and there was light!” Could you, a world’s fair planner, resist the impulse to hit the lights on that line? No, sir. The Flowing Stone of Time is awash with His own eternal radiance, while the dark narrow hole overhead through which, less than ten years ago, a man was suspended above the utter darkness of this chasm, poking his flashlight into a void, that hole remains stubbornly above us, a star in the Devil’s own sky. Jenny Roquemore gets invited back Things look bad at Cascade Caverns. My photographer’s face tightens up when she sees the souvenir/campground/trailer park complex that bars our entrance to the cave. This girl has had enough: if anything like the High Mass we’ve just experienced in Inner Space attacks us down here I think Jenny might desert, dropping my unloaded camera on some poor helectite and wiping millenia of growth off the rocks as she scrambles out. But the mask of journalism gives us strength. We walk inside and present our credentials. “What kind of paper is The Texas Observer?” “It’s a sort of, uh, bi-weekly.” “Oh. Kind of like the Texas Star.” “A little.” But it gets better. A natural entrance all tortuous and womblike, a friendly girl serving as guide who seems almost relaxed in the universal language of tourguides, with the joyless intonation and the dry emphasis on simple ‘verbs: “Now these boulders did fall into the entranceway,” or “This crack is known as a joint.” Cascade Caverns is a big, friendly, wet cave, so active it makes Inner Space, even with all its glistening formations, seem uninspired. Huge slung-over rocks form the roof of the entrance passageway, glazing the floor below with the water that constantly drips off them. It is primitive down here, with the actual feel of darkness and constant sound of water. And despite the good-natured wisecracking of the tourists and the genial drone of our guide, there is a solemnity here, a refreshing hellishness a little like Keats’ Cave of Quietude: There lies a den, Beyond the seeming confines of the space Made for the soul to wander in and trace Its own existence, of remotest glooms. The tour, after weaving through an impressive series of low, seamed ceilings, around countless growing formations, past the Turtle, the Little Brown Jug, the Dinosaur Peeking Over a Cliff, the Elephant’s Trunk, reaches its furthest point of penetration into the cavern: a large grotto from which in former years a waterfall used to pour into a now-dried-up reservoir. At the bottom of this reservoir is a kind of concrete tunnel rising vertically from the floor, a silo through which spelunkers enter the lower chamber, an unpaved region of deep mud ending on the shores of an underground river. After being teased with descriptions of the sacrosanct depths which we are not allowed to enter, we’re led back to the surface for a leisurely visit to the anti-gravity house. Dodging a woman at the postcard rack only to find himself between a kid and a tray of rubber spears, John Bridges, the owner of Cascade Caverns, explains his modus operandi: the crud, the curios, the swimming pool, the KOA-esque campground, remain on the surface, the cave remains clean. The cave is not exploited for profit, merely developed enough to make it reasonably easy for people to see it. Schizoid, certainly, but Bridges cares more about his cave than what goes on top of it, and there’s an obsessive honorableness in that. A spelunker himself, he remains unimpressed with undergound light shows. “Sure. The most successful caves are the ones that are practically man-made, but I’m not interested in doing a production job like that. “They show you where the waterfall used to be? Right now we’re working on putting it back, just like it was, using the same source and everything. We want to restore it to it’s natural state, and that’s all.” He asks us if sometime we’d like to go back down through the rabbit hole into the lower chamber. Jenny replies with an enthusiasm that eclipses her serious responsibilities as photographer. “I knew it as soon as I saw her,” Bridges says, “that was a girl who likes caves!” I forgot to mention that Cascade Caverns is located a little to the left of the city limits of Boerne, a little town that seems content to soak up the vibes from the Comal River. Five or six miles below Boerne there’s another cave, Century Caverns, formerly Cave-Without-A-Name, the kind of place you could never find on your own. Between the directions we’ve December 15, 1972 15
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