It was one of those years when nothing made sense. Bill Clements got a quarter of a million more votes than he did in 1978, but Mark White became the state’s first Democratic governor in four years. Ground level continued to sink in Houston, but the city council decided on a subway instead of an elevated line. The energy crisis turned into an oil glut, and the price of natural gas kept going up even though the demand for gas went down. SMU football coach Bobby Collins settled for a tie instead of trying for a perfect season and the national championship — and was promptly voted Southwest Conference coach of the year. Texas was supposed to be in a recession, but Braniff’s grounded pilots blocked a merger agreement that would have given them jobs but taken away seniority. The Public Utility Commission accused Houston Lighting & Power of mismanagement and as punishment awarded the company $290 million in profits for 1983. The pro football strike was supposed to be bad for everybody, but it allowed the Oilers to lose eight fewer games. It’s hard to love a year that was so mixed up —unless, of course, you love Bum Steers.
1983 BUM STEER AWARD
Texas A&M signed Jackie Sherrill to the richest contract ever given a football coach, $1.6 million. For their money the Aggies got:
• Winning football. In five games. Losing football in six.
• Stunning upsets. Heavily favored to win their opening game against Boston College, A&M lost, 38 — 16.
• Stoic determination. After the Boston College loss, Sherrill said, “It would be easy to say that there are no players here, that the program is terrible. But I’m not going to do that.”
• Daring gambles. With the Aggies trailing Houston by a touchdown with three minutes to go, Sherrill chose to kick a field goal. A&M never got the ball again.
• Strategic genius. After A&M lost to Texas, 53 — 16, Sherrill said that next year his kickoff coverage team would consist of ten students from the cadet corps.
• Hope for the future. Only five years left on the contract.
IT’S ONLY $848 VIA SAN ANTONIO, AND WE WON’T PAY A PENNY MORE
When Algerian tourists Kheira and M’hamed Mahallem arrived at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, unfamiliar with Texas and speaking virtually no English, they asked a cab driver how to get to their destination — a relative’s house in Odessa. The cabbie told them to get in, drove to Odessa via Galveston and Dallas, and arrived fifteen hours later with the meter reading $999.
LOOK AT THE BRIGHT SIDE: THE SHOWER IS ALWAYS HOT
After state health examiners said that the water in Jersey Village was contaminated with radium, local officials said the town would continue to use the radioactive water because treating it was too expensive.
DON’T FORGET KIDNAPPING
Jessie Thomas of Garland, after stopping his car at a fire, risked his life by entering a burning building to rescue a little boy. When he drove off, a police officer issued him a citation for backing his car over a fire hose.
OH, THAT VOODOO ECONOMICS
Vice President George Bush told the Houston Post that he’d never called Ronald Reagan’s economic program voodoo economics, and he challenged the TV networks to prove otherwise. The next day NBC produced a tape of Bush calling Reagan’s economic program voodoo economics.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MEET ONE PUBLIC SERVANT WHO IS AN EXPERT IN HIS FIELD
A Dallas federal grand jury returned an indictment for arson against Bennie Lee Hanna, the fire marshal of Angus.
I LOOK SO MUCH BETTER IN STRIPES
After a Houston community newspaper printed the names and photographs of two men who were suspected of robbing a pawnshop, Ronald Stanley was arrested and charged with burglary when he stood in front of a grocery store where the flier was posted and said to passersby, “That’s me.”
I SHOT AN ARROW INTO THE AIR / IT FELL TO EARTH I KNEW NOT WHERE / WHEN I’D DONE MY LITTLE SHOT / POOR R. O. CARDWELL’S HOUSE WAS HOT
A Dallas repairman, called to service R. O. Cardwell’s broken air conditioner, discovered that the condenser and compressor had been shot with a bow and arrow.
THE LORD IS MY SEISMOLOGIST, I SHALL NOT WANT
Houston oilman Andrew SoRelle drilled for oil in Israel according to directions he said he found in the Bible.
After patrol car number 13 was involved in five accidents, including being struck by an unmanned dump truck that went out of control, the Pampa police changed its number.
LOST: ONE MIND
Abilene oilman Jack Grimm, whose attempt to salvage the Titanic has proved unsuccessful, announced that he would award a facsimile of the Titanic, filled with gold coins, to the person finding a secret object in a treasure hunt. Grimm said treasure hunters could find it by following cryptographic clues, assembled by a former CIA deputy director that will run in the classified pages of the National Star beginning in January.
THE OTHERS ALL GOT PROBATION
Harris County commissioners named a new county building after former commissioner V. V. “Red” Ramsey, the only commissioner ever sentenced to prison for taking a bribe.
IN A DOUBLE ONION RING CEREMONY
Debby Beard and Rudy Lane of Jasper were married in the local Burger King.
STEP ONE: THERE’S A GOOD LANDING SPOT CALLED THE BAY OF PIGS
The Center for Strategic Technology at Texas A&M sent the Defense Department in Washington an unsolicited plan for the invasion of Cuba.
YOUR HONOR, HOW ABOUT IF SHE JUST FOOLS AROUND A LITTLE?
In a lawsuit between rival kennel owners over the choice of a mate for Castlebay’s Sprinter, a prize-winning female Labrador retriever, federal judge David Belew, Jr., of Fort Worth, issued an injunction to prevent the dog from being bred.
THE PRECEDING MESSAGE DOES NOT REFLECT THE SANITY OF THIS STATION
When Fort Worth oilman Eddie Chiles brought his “I’m mad”