as the San Diego bus station; so Parr had the bus terminal moved to another location and then he got a taxi stand established in front of the store, effectively removing all of Serna’s parking space. Freedom Party people were simply not allowed to make a living in Duval County. Jacob S. Floyd, an Alice lawyer, was generally considered the brains behind the Freedom Party. He was a puritanical Baptist, outraged by the political excesses of the Parr clan. The Latinos called Floyd El Vibora Seca, the dry snake. George Parr just happened to be the Duval County 6 The Texas Observer sheriff in 1952. The regular sheriff had resigned and Parr, for the only time in his career, chose to take on the job himself. One of Parr’s deputies, Nago Alaniz, called Jake Floyd in Alice on Sept. 8, 1952, and urged Floyd to meet him immediately at a lunch stand on the outskirts of town. Alaniz insisted that Floyd leave his own car at home and take a taxi instead. Floyd did as he was instructed and the two political enemies met at the Jewel Cafe, Alaniz told Floyd that he was to be assassinated that night, and that he, Alaniz, was to furnish an alibi for the leader of the killers, home and when he arrived he found the body of his son lying in the driveway beside the family car. Buddy, a 22-year-old law student, had been shot in the head. The gun, found in a nearby trash can, belonged to Sapet. Sapet owned a bar in San Antonio but he also had a card from George Parr designating him a Duval deputy sheriff. He had previously been in jail for murder, armed assault, vagrancy, and drunkenness. Sapet was tried and sentenced to 99 years in prison. The actual gunman was a Mexican national, Alfredo Cervantes, who was reported to have complained on his return to Mexico that he had killed the wrong man and that the people who hired The capital of Parr country San Diego San Diego, county seat of Duval County, home of the late George Berham Parr, looks like a dying town. The 1974-75 Texas Almanac says San Diego’s population is 4,500, but it seems a whole lot smaller. There is no industry in San Diego. The nursing home provides a few jobs and so do the filling stations, the drug store, the funeral home, the bank, Jerry’s Restaurant, and the 25 or so cantinas that dot so many corners on the impoverished north side of town. The cotton crops that used to be ginned in San Diego have long since withered and the oil is playing out. What used to be the downtown area is full of derelict or gutted buildings. The fine brick Hoffman Bank Building is now a county welfare office. In 1940, Duval County had a population of 20,505. By 1970 it was down to 11,772. Some say that the Parrs drained the county of its vitality. A farmer who lives 10 miles east of Duval in neighboring Jim Wells County said that 30 years ago there were many little dairies in the area. The dairies would separate the milk from the cream and the skim milk, leche flaw in Spanish, would be fed to the pigs. The farmer remembers, “The Mexicans used to say that Duval County was George Parr’s milk cow. They said that he was keeping the cream and giving the leche flaca to the people.” The Parrs discouraged industry, unless they could have a share in it. Outsiders are reluctant even to buy land in Duval County, because strangers end up paying exceptionally high taxes. \(Clinton Manges -is one of the few newcomers who has been able to carve a niche for himself in Duval County. A few months ago, the Duval commissioners court reduced Manges’ 1973 and ’74 tax bills by 75 percent because Manges argued that his property The biggest business in Duval County is the county itself, which has a budget of about $31/2 million a year. Until the recent challenge by Manges and the Carrillos, George Parr and his friends had exclusive control over county jobs. That’s why politics has always been so important in Duval County vote the wrong way and you might well lose your job. Those who stayed loyal to the Parrs found jobs teaching in the county schools, working on the county roads, working for the sheriff or the county auditor or the director of the water district. Some of Parr’s Old Party people were rewarded very well. Many of them live in a nice middle-class housing development on the south side of town, near Archie Parr High School. The poor folks call the development Clavelito or Little Carnation, but it really has a double meaning. Clavar in Spanish means “to take.” The sick or the hungry could always get a handout from Archie or George Parr. Alfredo S. Herrera, an Alice industrial arts teacher who grew up in Duval County, says George Parr always “helped the people who helped him. I can remember that when the Parrs were in power, the day before the election there was work for everybody, cleaning the graveyards or the roads. We’d get $1 an hour and that was great.” Citizens got paid for their votes too. Herrera said that when he went back to Duval last year to campaign for Ernestine Glossbrenner, an anti-Parr candidate for the Texas House, “people would ask how much Ernie paid for a vote.” Today most of San Diego’s young people leave home. Duval citizens are proud of the number of their youngsters who go to college. Juan Zurilla, a Mexican social anthropology student who is studying San Diego as part of his PhD program at the University of Manchester in England, said that San Diego has 20 to 30 students attending the University of Texas in Austin. The Parrs helped pay for many of the local students’ education. Some say it was for humanitarian reasons; others say it was to encourage the brightest young people to leave home. For those who don’t get a college education, the Army offers the most attractive ticket out of town. Zurilla, who has been studying San Diego since the first of the year, is fascinated by the degree to which San Diego has remained a Mexican community. He describes it as “intensely nationalistic.” The town is about 98 percent Mexican-American. Spanish is the native ‘language. English is used to politely address strangers, or “Americans,” as visiting anglos are called in this isolated fiefdom. Zurilla believes that Duval County is one of the few places in the United States where newcomers are assimilated into the Mexican culture rather than the American one. Zurilla tends to take a sympathetic view of the Parr regime, because he thinks the system enabled Mexican-Americans to retain a strong sense of cultural identity. Contrary to most of the Parrs’ critics, Zurilla believes that the Parrs helped keep San Diego and the other small towns in Duval County alive. “Things could have been a lot worse for these people,” Zurilla said. “In San Diego, there has been positive discrimination in favor of the local people. You have to be from Duval County to get a job with the county,” he said. “By providing jobs for local people, taxes have become a way of redistributing county income.” It may be leche flaca, but it’s something. K.N.
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