I L_ , 4=1.1111111111.11111111111111. 41111MI! I was hoping to give you a real look at what 1978 holds for Texas in this letter. Sad to say, I’m afraid I can’t. I trusted some star friends to tell me, as stars are supposed to do, and all I got for my trouble was a raft of gossip and rumor. About as much first class information on 1978 as you could get from a member of the Texas Legislature. Here’s what happened: the other night, one of those crisp, cloudless Madison County nights, I went out behind my barn, where I could talk to these three star friends of mine in private. “Deneb,” I said to the first one I spied, “Look over yonder in 1978, and tell me what you see happening about April in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. “I see nothing but lots of people yawning,” he replied. “What about the candidates?” “Can’t see any. Wait. Yes, I can. I can see them now. Pretty fuzzy, though. There’s four of them. Three men and a woman. Now hold on! There’s something quaint! The woman and one of the men are running for re-election. Plan to share the governor’s office again. I’ll be damned! Never saw that before.” “Better get your future-gazer overhauled, Deneb!” I commented. “That lady’s not a candidate. She’s just a devoted wife helping her husband get reelected governor.” “You might be right,” he shrugged, “but she seems to know a lot of things about the governor’s office that the man don’t.” “Like what?” “Like where it’s located. She knows it’s in Austin.” “Well, where the hell does he think it’s located?” I wanted to know. Deneb smirked, “Some place called Uvalde.” “Dammit, Deneb, you’re just playing around. Cut it out and get serious,” I said. “If you think that governor’s race is so silly, forget it. Don’t be making snide remarks about our politics. We’ll go on to the United States Senate race. What do you see in that one?” Deneb put on a big show of peering and squinting. “Democratic side’s like it always is; too gummed up in a family fight to tell heads or tails about. But I can see the candidate that’s running for re-election real clear. It’s September, and he’s chugging along the road to Election Day in that same old beat-up car of his. Looks from’ here like an Edsel.” “Is he leading the field?” I asked. “Can’t tell from here. Just a minute. There he is in the middle of September ’78, getting frantic. Look! He’s suddenly in a frenzy. Joining the Sierra Club. Joining the Audubon Society. Joining Friends of the Earth. Joining Friends of Wildlife Club. Watch him go!” I was dumbfounded. “You sure you’re looking at the right candidate, Deneb? One I’m thinking about hates environmentalists worsern he hates Democrats. He wouldn’t be joining any outfits like those.” “He’s not interested in the environment,” Deneb kept peering. “He’s just interested in one aspect of conservation: the endangered species list. He realized he’s on it!” Nothing bores me more than a firstrate star, lowering himself to small planet humor, and I told Deneb so. Then I turned to Vega. John Henry Faulk “See anything big coming up for Texas in 1978, Vega?” I asked. “Nothing very big,” he allowed, gazing toward the new year, “but I see something sort of sad.” “Well, go ahead and describe it,” I said nervously. “I see a man. My stars, what a handsome dude! He’s positively gorgeous! Why, I believe he’s the handsomest man in the world. He believes so, too. Hey, he’s looking in a mirror. He’s talking to the mirror. Yessir! And I can hear what he’s saying! He’s chanting, ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who’d make the bestest president of all?’ The mirror’s embarrassed. It won’t answer. The man keeps chanting the question. The mirror won’t answer. The man’s getting madder and madder. He is sticking his tongue out at the mirror. He’s in a huff. “Now the man is traveling through 1978, and into ’79. Traveling and talking. Traveling and talking. “What’s he talking about, Vega? Still asking the same question?” “No. He’s not asking anymore. He’s stating it as a fact now. Everywhere! He’s reminding people of his qualifications. Unique qualifications, I must say. Now he’s reminding them that he’s the only candidate who has been Texas governor three terms. They remember. Now he’s reminding them that he’s the only candidate to hold a series of cabinet posts. They remember. Hold on! Something’s changing. Now I see the people reminding him. He’s forgotten. They are reminding him that he’s the only candidate for the presidency who was ever indicted and tried on a felony charge. He reminds them that it didn’t take a jury but five hours to find him innocent. They are reminding him that the foreman of the jury said they didn’t find him innocent. They only found that he was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “Now he’s getting mad. Like in front of the mirror. Now he’s in a huff. I see him going home. He’s making a decision. He’s deciding to do what he does best, run cattle auctions.” “That is sort of sad, Vega,” I said. “Can you see what kind of cattle he’s auctioning off?” “Different breeds,” Vega replied, “but only beef. No dairy cattle.” I must say, I was a little disappointed with Vega, so I didn’t ask him about anything else. I spotted Altair, who has always shot pretty straight with me. “Altair, if you don’t mind, take a gander at 1978 and tell me if you can see anything remarkable coming up.” “Well, let’s see. Yes! I see something that you Texans might call remarkable. It doesn’t seem important to me. I see Dallas being moved out to the west side of Fort Worth.” “The hell you say!” I gasped. “What in the world are they moving Dallas for?” “Strip mining. I see the Texas Utilities Systemthat big holding company, you know? It’s found lignite coal all under Dallas County. I see them getting ready to strip mine the whole county. “Good heavens! What are the people of Dallas doing about it?” “Oh, some of them are up in arms,” Altair wagged his head, amused. “I see Ned Fritz and the environmentalists raising hell. I see The Dallas Morning News carrying daily editorials defending the strip mining, scorching the environmentalists for wanting to stop growth and progress. It’s a real battle. But hold on. Opposition to the strip mining is dying down now. The strip mining folk have quieted the opponents with an important announcement. I see the opponents applauding the announcement. Now all Texas is applauding the announcement.” “Can you .hear the announcement, Altair?” I asked anxiously. “Just a moment. Ah, now I hear it,” he was straining. “The strip miners have promised that the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport will be the first area of the county to be strip mined.” I thanked Altair. But not very warmly. I walked back to the house, wondering whether my star friends were prophets or lobbyists. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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