had a son, Christopher. The marriage fell apart, but Rusty never forgot his son, diligently sending $200 per month in child support from Texas, according to Kristie, even though the mother would never let Rusty visit the boy. “At some point in time he wanted to have a real relationship with him,” said Kasia Zinz. “That was one of the things he lived for.” Zinz and her longtime companion Steve Williams were two of the first people Rusty met when he came to San Marcos; he was eighteen, with no high school diploma, no job, no friends, and a serious drinking problem. The middle-aged couple became surrogate parents to Rusty. He sobered up, got a job as a short-order cook, and then drove a Pepsi truck for several years before becoming an electrician’s apprentice at Olsen’s Electric in Wimberley. He developed a reputation as a quiet, extremely dependable, even-tempered, and likable man. He was also known by both his friends and the police as someone who liked guns. Rusty’s mother had taught him how to shoot in Florida at a very early age, and his grandfather had given him his first gun. In Texas, Rusty became an avid outdoorsman. He spent much of his free time hunting with Steve Williams, who also introduced him to arrowhead collecting. By the time he died, Rusty had a considerable collection of both arrowheads and guns. Steve’s landlord, a Pearl Harbor veteran who also enjoyed hunting, allowed the two friends to build a backstop on land behind Steve’s trailer in Wimberley, where the two could safely shoot whenever they wanted to. Five years ago, Windle bought an AR-15 at a Wimberley flea market for eighty dollars. The gun, a military assault rifle resembling an M-16, didn’t have a receiver, the mechanism that loads and fires the bullet. It became a project for Rusty and Steve to get the gun working again. Rusty eventually found a receiver for it, though not the correct one. “I’m a Vietnam vet, and I can take ’em apart and put em together,” Steve said, but they never got the gun working the way it was designed to. Eventually, the two got it to fire by inserting a metal pin into the receiver, but the semi-automatic rifle would never fire more than one shot at a time without jamming. Rusty kept it anyway. It was a decision that changed his life. A TRIPLE BAD DEAL The politics of pot smoking in San Marcos reflect the vicissitudes of national drug policy. In 1974, the city council sent a resolution to the Legislature calling for decriminalization of the drug. Nationally, the push for drug policy reform had also peaked, encouraged by a surprisingly receptive Nixon administration. By the midnineties, the pendulum had swung to the opposite extreme: more people have been incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes during Bill Clinton’s tenure than during any previous administration. In Hays County, prohibitionist sentiment has reached a fever pitch, particularly in the battle for the hearts and minds of young people. The prohibitionists are led by Sue Cohen, director of the Hays Caldwell Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Cautious, middle-aged, and with a background in business rather than social work, Cohen agreed to an interview in her office only after repeated assurances that the subject would not be marijuana legalization. “We don’t want to be accidentally interviewed by one of those pro-marijuana papers,” she explained. Like enforcement, drug education has also been federalized, with about 70 percent of the funding coming from federal grants. Curriculum and results are Joe Ptak, KIND Radio Jana Birchum closely monitored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the early nineties, San Marcos received millions from the Partnership for a Drug Free America campaign, with the goal of making San Marcos a “model zero-tolerance town.” But Hays County had no more success with D.A.R.E. and other school-based educational programs than any other Texas community. Rates of usage for all age groups in Hays County remain considerably higher than state averages. “Marijuana activists will say, ‘You’re losing the drug war,’ but my answer to that is, what if we didn’t have these programs, then what would our numbers be?” Cohen asked. It’s hard to imagine that they could be any higher. Surveys of self-reported drug use taken annually from 1991 to 1996 showed that after five years of pep-rallies, t-shirts, and red ribbons rates of marijuana use among Hays County high school students had more than doubled, with use among eighth graders increasing over 500 percent. The school district’s response was to stop doing the high school surveys. Cohen lays much of the blame on her major adversary, the “prolegalization lobby” in San Marcos. A couple of miles down the interstate from Cohen’s office, in a cramped one-car garage attached to an inconspicuous two-bedroom frame house, sits the nerve center of the legalization camp, KIND radio. In 1997, local marijuana activist Joe Ptak founded KIND \(“kind” is a reference to top-quality transmitter, to support a local medical marijuana initiative. Spearheaded by Southwest Texas State University psychology professor 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 29, 1999
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