Drawings by Ben Sargent probably don’t even remember those annual reports that used to come out, the ones telling how many lynchings took place every year. That kind of stuff around here the sheriff hardly ever wrote upcountry boys out on a tear. If it happened now, it’d be all over Africa and half of Paris before morning. You think blacks are getting a fair shake now? Didn’t say that . . . know better than that; fair’s fair. Just remember that when you started they couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain’gainst the law. Maybe you don’t remember when a bunch of ClOers ran through the packinghouse over in Fort Worthused to be a big one there . . . stunk like helland tore down all the White Only signs on the crappers and water fountains. A white stock wrangler, name of Pittman, headed that up . . . died later of TBdon’t hear much of that anymore. Tuberculosis? The white-killercame from overwork, crowded living and poor eating .. . pretty ordinary among the lintheads in the cotton mills and some other jobs. I could tell you a lot about that. All those eastern places like New Jersey and New York used to ship their lungers out herebuy them a basket of fruit and a one-way ticket to El Paso, anywhere west, to get rid of themtalk about dumping atomic waste. It almost caused a small war in the tent city outside Denvernobody wanted them in town . . . scared of the germs. Doctors told everybody to move west, stay in bed, drink goat’s milk, and boil the water. My family went as far west as Kerrville from San Antonio. Now they say TB’s wholly curable. That’s some kind of progress. That’s medical progressnot what I’m talking about. Well, can’t you stop wringing your hands for a minute and clap a little for that? Look at smallpoxit was a killer, too. Read the other day where they can’t find a case of it in the world. I thought that should have been on the front page under a headline as big as a billboard, instead of a little squib back on page 18. They got all that vaccine and no one to stick it into; they’ve done killed the -germ. Can’t you put that down as one behind us? Look how long it took the World Health Organization to get around to doing something about it in Asia and Africa. The UN was here before I was. Only ten years. It does take time. Besides, malaria’s what’s decimating Africa today. You know, that used to keep a lot of us around here in bed? My God, now you never hear of it. How about plague, diphtheria, whooping cough. mumps, rubellathose lousy German measlesand how about polio? You got to look hard to find any of those today. Whooping cough is as scarce as hen’s teeth. We worry more about the whooping crane. I read where about two years from now there’ll be no more measles in this countryain’t that something? And how about this: there’s hardly a kid in school today who’s ever seen a harelipped child, a kid with a cleft palate trying to recite through that hollow in his head, or those tow-headed kids with rickets and spongy knees, or those with big, red, swollen birthmarks splashed on their faces like they’d been burned. They do something about most of those now so that the kid doesn’t have to suffer so much. They get medical care under social security from day one. Ain’t that a plus? It’s little enough with the wealth of this country. Takes more than wealthtakes resolve. Resolve has a funny way of coming about in this country, but once it jells, it’s set in concrete. It’d be too early for you to remember the county poor farmsthat’s what they called them stuffed full of senile people, and those other warehouses smelling of Lysol and urine where the mentally damaged, the crazies, were kept. Snakepits, they called them. Even Allan Shivers, the worst governor people like you and I can remember having, put up new buildings with trees and lawns and got them run by people who knew and cared. You can’t take that away. We still don’t have a national health program. True. Truman tried to pop that one out. He got knots on his head for trying. However, Lyndon got a piece of it through for the youngsters and the oldsters when he agreed to cut the doctors, hospitals, and health plans in on the gravy. It’ll come. The doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies are ripping off that whole program. Son, this country started as a ripoff, nothing new about that. What do you think Jamestown and Santa Fe were all about? Those guys didn’t come over here to help anybody out, they came to rip off. We been trying to work our way back to something better ever since. That’s one of the abiding beauties of this countryit does make a move now and then to disown its past and square accounts with Indians, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Panamanians, and others we done ineven buffaloes and snail darters. Of course, we’re not about to be ready to give Mexico back the half of their country we stole in the name of Manifest Destiny back when Americans thought they had a God-given right to whatever they wanted. No one says that out loud anymore, and maybe we shouldn’t trouble ourselves about giving anything back to Mexico; at the rate things are going it looks like they’re coming one by one to get it themselves.