Everything kept getting turned upside down in 1981, which made it a great year for connoisseurs of Bum Steers but a little confusing for the rest of us. The Legislature gave us interest rates that weren’t in our best interest and a water trust fund that nobody trusted. Houstonians got NASA’s space shuttle into orbit but couldn’t get MTA’s buses onto the street. George Bush was sworn in as vice president, but the most powerful Texan in the White House was his former aide Jim Baker. The Astros’ Nolan Ryan pitched his fifth no-hitter but lost the fifth and final game of the play-offs. The last patrón, Othal Brand, was elected mayor of McAllen, but Henry Cisneros became the first Mexican American mayor of San Antonio. And while Dallas worried about losing the Cotton Bowl to Houston, Houston tax officials managed to lose the 33-story First City National Bank Building, which was missing from the city tax rolls.
But of all the improbable stories of 1981 (or any other year), what can top the tale of the freshman legislator who, the police say, staged his own shooting for publicity? And so, our Bum Steer of the Year Award goes to MIKE MARTIN.
THE MARTIN CHRONICLES
After Mike Martin was wounded in the elbow by a shotgun blast, he (1) told the police that he didn’t see his attacker, (2) told an associate that the gunman wore a ski mask, (3) blamed unknown enemies, (4) blamed a satanic cult called the Guardian Angels of the Underworld, (5) promised to testify before a grand jury, (6) ignored two subpoenas to testify, (7) promised to take a polygraph exam, (8) refused to take a polygraph exam, (9) hid from arresting officers in a converted stereo speaker at his parents’ farmhouse after his cousin admitted pulling the trigger at Martin’s request, and (10) announced for reelection.
BUT IT WAS GOOD TO SEE HIM AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
After a lengthy legal battle, Marina Oswald Porter won the right to have the grave of her former husband, Lee Harvey Oswald, opened to verify her suspicions that the body in the coffin was not Oswald’s. It was.
THE DAFFY DUCKS WERE BETTER ANYWAY
Houston narcotics agents seized 5571 stamps imprinted with the Walt Disney cartoon character Goofy and saturated in LSD.
COMING NEXT ISSUE: THE BILL OF RIGHTS
The Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies Association newsletter printed its own version of the Miranda warning, which puts suspects on notice about their legal rights: “You have the right to swing first. However, if you choose to swing first, any move you make can and will be used as an excuse to beat the tar out of you. You have the right to have a doctor and a priest present. If you cannot afford a doctor and a priest or are not presently attending a church of your choice, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand what I have just told you—you #$S+#@!!!!?”
AND THEY ALSO WANT A RECOUNT
University of Texas Young Democrats voted unanimously last April to rescind their endorsement of the winning candidate in the 1954 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Allan Shivers.
WORK HARD, KIDS, DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, AND GET A GOOD LAWYER
Texas A&M invited Cullen Davis, class of 1955, to speak on “Searching for Values.”
AND THE DEVIL SAID, “KCOLC EHT DNUORA KCOR”
James Gilbert, minister of youth at the Kaufman Church of Christ, warned that rock music lyrics contain subliminal satanic messages that can be understood only when a record is played backward.
WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW IS, WHO FINISHED THIRD?
A professor of marketing at UT-Dallas did a study of dating habits and concluded that women go on more dates than men.
HE CLAIMED A BIG HOUSE PAYMENT
Steven Robertson, serving a life sentence in the Texas Department of Corrections, submitted a fraudulent income tax return and received a refund from the IRS.
ANYBODY ELSE HAVE ANY STUPID QUESTIONS?
Asked by state purchasing officials to justify fancy options like an eight-track tape player on new department vehicles, state comptroller Bob Bullock explained, “The eight-track is used with department training tapes, which can be reviewed while in transit.”
THEY SHOULD HAVE LAUNCHED A PRO-CRIME CAMPAIGN
In the first month after the Houston police launched an anti-crime campaign in the heart of downtown, statistics showed that crime in the area had increased 40 per cent.
I’M SURE I LEFT IT RIGHT BY MY KNIFE, OFFICER
Dwayne Enzell of Houston was arrested after he unwittingly left his wristwatch at the scene of an assault and later reported it stolen.
DO THAT TWO THOUSAND MORE TIMES AND YOU’RE UNDER ARREST
Two Dallas comedians were arrested for obscenity after performing the same act in local nightclubs for eleven years.
WHAT THEY REALLY CAN’T STAND IS SHINOLA
A jury in Floydada found that the smell of cattle excrement is not a public nuisance.
MOM TAUGHT ME NEVER TO CUT IN LINE
When bank robber Richard Richardson asked a teller at the First National Bank of Temple to fill a money bag, she told him to try another cashier because she didn’t have any money. Five minutes later police officers responding to her call arrested him—still standing in another line.
A herd of calves belonging to Richmond mayor Hilmar Moore broke out of a pen and ran loose down FM 762 into downtown Rosenberg.
WHO SAYS THERE’S NO JUSTICE?
One day before Dallas city councilman Rolan Tucker was scheduled to give a presentation urging the council to make it a crime for a motorist to leave the keys in his car, a thief stole his 1979 Cadillac after Tucker left the keys in it.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND CHANGE A TWENTY
The Houston Aviation Department sent airport parking lot cashiers to charm school classes sponsored by the Dale Carnegie Institute.
EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT, YANKEES
As part of Abilene’s centennial celebration, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce set up a demonstration