Texas Vexes

Roar of the Crowd

Your story concerning Longhorn athletics really brought back memories [“ Come Early. Be Loud. Cash In ,” November 2008]. I remembered how my wife and I struggled for eight years to put our two children through the University of Texas, scrimping and practicing the frugality learned in our careers as educators to pay for just one more semester of tuition. I remember how my daughter always worked double shifts at her part-time job during Thanksgiving and Christmas because she needed the extra money for rent and expenses. I hope we in Texas someday have a university with enough revenue to lavishly fund an education experience for all its students, one that even a UT athlete would envy.
Norman W. Baxter
Scurry

There seem to be two glaring omissions from your cover: Rick Barnes and Eddie Reese. What was the reasoning for this?
Brandon LeBlanc
Round Rock

Editors’ note: We’re glad you asked. Both coaches, of men’s basketball and men’s swimming and diving, respectively, were on the recruiting trail when we shot our November cover and could not make it back to Austin to be photographed with their colleagues.

Scale of Injustice

As the mother of David Pope, one of the 37 exonerees Michael Hall wrote about in the November issue, I am grateful for this further exposure of the grievous injustice suffered by these men [“ The Exonerated ”]. I know how false imprisonment—in David’s case for fifteen years—can lay a burden of tragedy on the family as well as the victim.

David was very fortunate in being able to use the prison experience to develop his mind, body, and spirit; to grow from a boy into a man of strong character and conscious values; to complete an associate’s degree and learn to articulate his feelings well in writing letters. One surprise to me—and surely to others who have talked to men of like mind—is that the life he had while institutionalized he has yet to find in the free world: comradeship, connection to the humanity of others.

The money he got after his release came to him only because a Christian friend in Texas told him a bill had been passed a few days after he was “pardoned” (a misnomer, because he had done nothing needing pardon) providing for restitution. It was paid in two annual installments, spent in two years, and federal taxes are still being negotiated by a pro bono Innocence Project attorney.

And though he made good use of the money while it lasted—living in a nice apartment, exploring career paths, raising the standard of living of a destitute family in the Philippines, as well as helping his own family—it was not enough money, and once it was gone, he had no access to therapy or job help, and he was not informed that he was entitled to claim it by the state that had robbed him of those fifteen years of his life.

Thanks to Texas Monthly , more people will become aware that the word “exoneree” does not mean “free at last” but carries the drama of a nightmare that takes extraordinary courage, work, and hardship to wake up from.
Patricia Pope Pall
via e-mail

“The Exonerated” just blew my mind. You might assume this is the sort of writing that would appeal to bleeding-heart liberals. But this old law-and-order, far-right-wing guy was touched emotionally. Truly.
Richard Gribbins
Polo, Illinois

Editors’ note: In our introduction to this story we incorrectly stated that Dallas County accounted for 20 of the 37 exonerations. In fact, it accounted for 19. We regret the error.

Beach Bummed

It breaks my heart that so many lost so much in Galveston during Hurricane Ike, but it is the risk you take to live in paradise [“ My Frail Island ,” November 2008]. If there is anything left of my 401(k), I hope to retire there. As the saying goes, “A day at the beach is worth a month in town.”
Linda Dobbs Willis
via e-mail

Editors’ note: In one of the photographs documenting the damage done by Ike, Spanish Grant Beach was misidentified as Pirates’ Beach. We regret the error.

Battleground State

I’d like to commend Gary Cartwright for his wonderful article on the vigorous denigration of the Alamo and the surrounding battlefield by the encroaching entertainment district [“ You Aren’t Here ,” November 2008]. For too long the Alamo Mission has been used and abused as a cash cow by the city instead of being revered as a sacred one. The degüello is sounding and the die is cast on Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the rest of the circus. It’s time to tear down these gross distractions from the Alamo and rebuild the historic plaza anew.
Sloan Rodgers
Austin

Trap Flap

What’s the difference between Bill Applegate, the president of the Texas Trappers and Fur Hunters Association [Reporter, The Working Life , November 2008], and the four high school boys featured in an earlier issue who trapped and pummeled a helpless deer? This man has been torturing and killing animals since he was eight years old. He claims that panthers are his favorite, but if he had a trap sit for three years before he caught one, that should be a clue that there are too few in this part of the world to “knock out,” let alone “dispatch” with a .22 revolver.
Joseph Guyer
San Antonio

Dramalada!

Shame on you, Texas Monthly ! I can’t believe you published the recipe for tamales in your November issue [Reporter, The Manual ]. Not everyone has the knowledge to throw a tamalada. That is reserved for us few who put in the countless hours amongst the old-timers while our cousins were outside in the lumbrada drinking a cold one. I labored in the kitchen listening to my tia’s stories for the tenth time, trying to gain the information that you now give away so freely. Even my most highly guarded secret of using pork stock was revealed.

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