1984 Bum Steer Awards

We knew it was going to be a great year for Bum Steers when the grand champion steer at the Houston Fat Stock Show turned out to be a phony. He was fattened up out of state, which is a no-no under the rules. Too bad, because there was plenty of fodder for Bum Steers right here. Just think of all that corn the federal government wouldn’t give to West Texans. Of course, the feds were more than willing to give them nuclear waste instead.

As you might expect, a year that was great for Bum Steers was terrible for sacred cows. Ross Perot drew a bead on high school football. Texas Instruments threw in the towel on home computers. The automobile struck out in Dallas, which opted for a rail system but not for expanding Central Expressway. Oil took it on the chin for the second year in a row, causing the state’s largest independent bank, First National of Midland, to go bust.

The biggest bummers, though, kept happening in Houston. Alicia was all wet. The grasshopper invasion was a plague. The Cougars choked away the NCAA basketball championship. The Oilers had the worst record in pro football. The Rockets got Ralph Sampson and still couldn’t win. The Hobbys sold the tattered remains of the Houston Post to a bunch of Canadians. Things got so bad that Houston lost the title of national murder capital.

But all was not lost in Houston. In the midst of all the doom and gloom, one person recaptured the glory days, when Houston was triumphant, can-do, on the move, and rich. Yes, we’re talking about Carolyn Farb, who emerged as Texas’ leading—well, at least Texas’ most conspicuous—socialite after her $20 million divorce settlement with Harold Farb. But don’t take our word for it. Let Carolyn tell you in her own words why she deserves to win the 1984 Bum Steer Award.

IT IS A FARB, FARB BETTER THING THAT I DO THAN I HAVE EVER DONE
1984 Bum Steer Award winner Carolyn Farb on Carolyn Farb, as told to W and the Dallas Morning News

On why she deserved her $20 million divorce settlement: “Before I met Harold, he was just known as a man who builds apartments. After we were together, I gave his life a kind of magic. It was like living a fantasy. That should be worth something.”

On the contribution she has made to the women’s movement: “I think when I won that case, I did something that has given women all over the country new hope. I did this for women everywhere.”

On the People magazine report that said her clothes closet is as big as a three-bedroom house: “That story was exaggerated. My closet isn’t even as big as a one-bedroom house.”

On food and marriage: “I always looked after him myself. I saw to it that he was very pampered. I banished chicken from the house because he hates chicken.”

On food and divorce: “No one will ever manipulate me again. I went out and ate Japanese food the other night. I could never eat Japanese food with Harold. He hated it.”

On why she likes Houston: “I think the buildings are so phallic-looking. When I’m downtown, I’m overwhelmed with the incredible sense of power.”

On her affinity with Jackie Onassis: “It’s so overwhelming. When there’s so much money involved, you’re just in the spotlight every minute. In the middle of all this I couldn’t help but think about Jackie.”

On her affinity with Nancy Reagan: “I’ve been misunderstood, just like poor Nancy Reagan. Nancy spends money and wears pretty clothes and gives parties to bring together talented people to help promote elegance and the arts. So do I.”

On her affinity with Elizabeth Taylor: “This is a very Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton divorce. We’re still so attached to each other.”

On her ambition: “I would love to interview the city’s artists, architects, and great divorce lawyers—the people who are shaping Houston.”

O GENTLE BEVO OF BETHLEHEM
The Reverend Jerold Shetler, pastor of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, chased a Longhorn steer through North Dallas after it escaped from the church’s traditional live Nativity scene twice in the same night.

THOSE WHO CAN’T, TEACH
After reports of widespread cheating by Houston teachers taking competency tests, the scores showed that 62 per cent failed the reading portion and 46 per cent flunked the math.

WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN A VASECTOMY?
After having his tooth pulled, a Dallas man returned to the office with a gun and opened fire, narrowly missing the dentist.

ONE OUT OF TWO ISN’T BAD
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that lethal injection drugs used to carry out the death penalty in Texas must be certified as "safe and effective."

THEN THE IRS PROSECUTED HIM AS A TAX CHEDDAR
Gary Allerheiligen of Independence, Kansas, ordered tax forms from the IRS office in Austin and received instead ten pounds of government-issued cheese.

JUST ADD WATER AND RUN
Public-spirited Bayside residents spent nine months working to build a new water tower. While its tank was being filled, it collapsed.

WHERE’S ROSS PEROT WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HIM?
Former all-pro tackle Mean Joe Greene was appointed to the North Texas State University Board of Regents.

THE BEST NUMBER WAS “THE SOUND OF SILENCE”
Rolling Stone magazine reported that Simon and Garfunkel’s August 17 concert in the Astrodome “went well.” The show had been canceled because of Hurricane Alicia.

ALWAYS TEST THE MILD SAUCE FIRST
A driver for the San Antonio Public Works Department lost control of his truck and crashed into a utility pole when it skidded on jalapeño juice that had washed from a factory into the street.

YES, HE’S A PRINCE, BUT HE SEEMS LIKE AN SMU STUDENT TOO
Prince Jurgen von Anhalt of West Germany gave a demonstration in Dallas of his “jet art” painting technique: hurling paint into a jet exhaust

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