IN THE SUMMER OF 1983, the center of the pro wrestling universe, in terms of time and space, was indisputably Friday night, Dallas, Texas, in a white, corrugated-tin coliseum called the Sportatorium. Grandfathered out of city building codes thanks to the political connections of Fritz Von Erich, the imperious don who ran Texas wrestling, it stood defiantly—exposed wiring, iffy plumbing, no AC—in an increasingly sketchy area near where Industrial Boulevard runs under Interstate 35.
WHEN MY ALARM WENT OFF AT 6:01 A.M., I found a paper plate covered with my daughter Vivian's handwriting outside the bedroom door. "Please don't wake me up in the morning," it said. "It's 3:00 a.m. I can't go to sleep because I'm thinking about Mark. I've just laid in bed for two hours, but nothing works."
It was already sweltering in early May on the King Ranch, the South Texas humidity so fierce that by midmorning your shirt was pasted to your back. There was talk of a long, dry summer to come, but for the moment, the managers of the ranch’s cattle division could not contain their euphoria. The roundup for the fall calf crop was just beginning; more than nine thousand calves had to be weaned in a mere three weeks, and they were the heaviest on record, many weighing seven hundred pounds. A sense of urgency filled the air.
Like many physicians Dr. B did not read the contracts carefully. He didn’t note the clause stating he could be fired at any time. The idea that an insurance company would dare tell him how to practice medicine never crossed his mind. Sometimes while he was waiting to be fired, Dr. B found himself wondering how something so obvious could also be so secret. America’s largest insurance companies had taken over the practice of medicine, yet no one seemed to notice.
They first laid eyes on one another in the spring of 1986, when they were both admitted to the cystic fibrosis wing of Dallas’ Presbyterian Hospital. Kimberley Marshall was then sixteen, thin and winter-pale and beautiful, her red hair falling down the back of her pink nightgown patterned with little white hearts. David Crenshaw was eighteen; he wore his usual hand-me-down T-shirt and faded gray pajama pants and oversized glasses that turned dark in the sunlight.
Marie was seven years old today, and the sweat was for her. She arrived at the sweat lodge clutching a baby doll and a bottle of Mountain Dew. Gayle Niyah-Hughes, her mother, had brought along a Care Bear birthday cake for afterward and some prayer ties that she had made herself.
Spring is the best of seasons in Duval County. The dust that hangs in the South Texas air for the rest of the year has returned for the moment to the pebbly soil, tamped down by the rains that accompany the dying thrusts of winter. The huisache is in bloom, and for once the brush seems almost benign. Spring is the most welcome time in Duval County for another reason. It is the season for politics, an activity that has attained the status of a sport in the land the patróns once ruled.
Editor’s note: You could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing the name Clinton Manges when news broke of his death in a San Antonio nursing home on September 23, 2010. Some readers may have remembered that he was the owner of the short-lived San Antonio Gunslingers, which were part of the now-defunct USFL and featured a young Rick Neuheisel at quarterback.
A psychohistory of Mary Cleave would begin at the age of two, on the potty, where her mother taught her to read. From that time on, Mary always associated toilet training with higher education, eventually earning a doctorate in the field of sanitary engineering. Her mother was a high school biology teacher in Long Island, the third generation of a line of naturalists; her father was a trumpet player and conductor. For extra income the Cleaves operated a summer camp on Lake Champlain, in the cool Adirondacks.
In May of this year Woody Dinstel sat down at his desk in Houston to write a letter. First he looked at the watch. It was a gold Hamilton Masterpiece, slim and heavy. On the back was engraved WOODY DINSTEL UPON RETIREMENT FEBRUARY 1, 1978, EXXON.