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,P.:911WWFMMIFIFF”‘”‘”.05PAer7.17:..7.WW,O,. .414.1Pairmm never know. Bode’s grandparents, at the other extreme, on their plain Hill Country ranch, had all the rooted tranquility that the Houstonian reaches for. Bode, who can make the damnedest literary devices work, shows this with his grandfather Duderstadt’s “fullrattling, after-dinner cough” and what it said: It said that once again a day had passed its halfway mark on the ranch and everything had gone off all right: once again Gram had strained the morning milk and it was sitting in cool crocks in the refrigerator; the Mexican hand had ridden the fences and chopped brush for the goats and doctored all the wormy stock in the pens; the hogs were fattening and potatoes were growing in the garden and water was still coming up from the ground. . . . It said that even though Grandpa was getting old and retelling his familiar stories more frequently, he was still all right and thus the ranch was all right.. . ” The journalists who came down from Washington with Lyndon Johnson described the Hill Country as grim, stark, barren. The land they glimpsed and, on the whole, disliked was the land Bode grew up in, with its clear limestone-bedded rivers, its grave live oaks, and its three mild seasons of the year. Thirteen good big photographs, by Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, accompany the text of This Favored Place. As a bonus there are two more on the dust jacket which don’t appear inside the book. Looking at them, you can see the hard surfaces the visiting journalists saw in the Hill Country. But also long shadows and rich grass, and the steady lives that its inhabitants made there. My favorite the photograph opposite page 64 is practically a Bode sketch translated from the black and white of the printed page to the black and white of photography. Though short prose pieces may be as intricately made as a lyric poem, people tend to regard them as practice exercises, trifles, like those bits of Mozart and Schubert that children can play. These are fine, it is conventional to say, but how about a novel? No one ever thought of asking Walker Evans or Russell Lee to move on, or “up,” from photographs to photomurals covering a multitude of subjects and 191 square feet of wall. And no one ever denied that the collected photographs of these men add up to complex and powerful entities. Something of the sort applies to this work by Bode. His medium is the sketch, artful, exact, and clear. When you string the related ones together, you find that he has drawn the big picture, too, as sharply and as fully as a novelist can draw it. El V Red alert. Texas oil producers accused Garry Mauro’s Land Office of socialism for drilling its own well on state-owned land. Houston millionaire Michael Halbouty told the Associated Press he was outraged and that the drilling was an act of socialism. “If the state and federal government get involved in every aspect of private enterprise, then where does the entrepreneur come in?” he asked. Mauro explained the state had to drill in order not to violate the terms of the lease. By the way, the state struck oil. v Two important votes on American military policy came to the floor of the U.S. House in May, and only a handful of Texas representatives stood against the Reagan tide. The House narrowly approved $261 million in military aid to the El Salvador regime. Voting against the aid were: Bryant, D-Dallas, Brooks, D-Beaumont, Leland, D-Houston, Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, Paul, R-Lake Jackson, and Frost, D-Dallas. But nineteen Texans voted for the aid. They are: Sam Hall, D-Marshall, Wilson, D-Lufkin, Bartlett, R-Dallas, Ralph Hall, D-Rockwall, Gramm, R-College Station, Archer, RHouston, Fields, R-Humble, Pickle, DAustin, Leath, D-Waco, Wright, D-Ft. Worth, Hightower, D-Vernon, Patman, D-Ganado, de la Garza, D-Mission, Coleman, D-El Paso, Stenholm, DStamford, Loeffler, R-Hunt, Andrews, D-Houston, Vandergriff, D-Arlington, and Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi. Rep. Kent Hance, D-Lubbock, did not vote. A week later, the House approved continued funding of the MX missile. A vote to delete all funding for the MX was defeated 218-212. Voting to halt the MX program were: John Bryant, Jack Brooks, Jim Wright, Mickey Leland, and Henry B. Gonzalez. In both cases the funding of the MX and the aid to El Salvador’s military a change in just three votes from the 27-member Texas delegation would have made the difference. V The watchful editorialists at The Dallas Morning News mere apparently concerned about communist sympathizers in the media. The editorialists are a bit leery in the wake of reports that ABC will make a four-hour movie called Topeka, Kansas, U. S. S. R. From the network that brought you The Day After, the movie would show life in Topeka after the Soviets have taken over America. But how will ABC portray an America gone communist? Can they be trusted to show us how bad it would be? “One assumes,” the editorialists wrote guardedly, “that life in Topeka under the Soviets would closely resemble life in Moscow, Prague, Sofia, Warsaw, etc. i.e., robotlike, with jail awaiting those daring to speak with a free voice in any realm.” The Morning News went on to advise: “If ABC exposes the horrors of slavery as vividly as it exposed those of nuclear war, it will render a public service.” But if they make Topeka into a workers’ paradise, boy are we gonna be mad! V Two Dallas abortion clinics received bomb threats on May 2, according to Dallas police. The Texas Abortion Rights Action League warns that harassment of clinics “has assumed more ominous tones” as the right-to-lifers’ efforts “flounder in the legislature and the courts.” V U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio endorsed state Sen. Lloyd Doggett over Rep. Kent Hance for the June 2 runoff, because, he said, Hance is too much like the Republican running in November, Phil Gramm. “Texans are entitled to a better choice than a Gramm and a Gramm cracker,” Gonzalez said. V The strange and sad saga of Jesse Helms. . . . The senator from North Carolina criticized CIA meddling in El Salvador’s elections but because he thought it was unfair to Roberto d’Aubuisson, the leader of that country’s extreme right wing! Becoming an embarrassment, one would think, even to his own party, Helms said d’Aubuisson’s views are consistent with those of the Republican Party of the United States. V Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower said in mid-May that the Reagan administration should give immediate attention to the Texas farmers affected by the drought. “Family farmers and ranchers, facing their fifth consecutive year of declining net farm income, simply don’t have the money to protect their soil from wind erosion, irrigate their crops even where water is available, or to buy more feed grain for their livestock herds. . . . That’s why I’m calling on President Reagan and U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Block to gear up now to administer the various federal disaster assistance programs authorized by Congress.” Block, for his part, has said that THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE