1979 Bum Steer Awards
It seemed like a bad idea at the time. Why were 60,000 Texans, presumably otherwise sane, singing happy birthday to an animal of the bovine persuasion? That the animal was Bevo, the University of Texas mascot, and the occasion was last fall’s game between UT and SMU helped to explain the singing, but wasn’t it a crazier moment than even a football game should inspire? But then this was the year of Cullen Davis, the year the farmers struck and the Rangers and Astros struck out, the year we lost Dolph, John, Bob, Joe, Price, and Phyllis George, and the year of all the preposterous events on the following pages. Clearly those 60,000 fans knew that in the face of so much craziness, you need to be a little crazy just to get by. So . . . Happy birthday, dear Bevo. Happy birthday to you.
THE LORD GIVETH AND THE REVEREND TAKETH AWAY
After friends requested that Corpus Christi housekeeper Rosa Garcia’s salary be raised to the minimum wage, her boss, the Reverend Henry Romer of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, fired her.
SHE WASN’T ALPHA XI DELTA MATERIAL ANYWAY
An Alpha Xi Delta sorority rush party at the University of Texas went on as scheduled after a freshman rushee collapsed and died of a heart attack. “All I know is, you’re spoiling our rush party,” a member of the sorority told an inquiring reporter.
ONLY IF YOU DIAL WITH YOUR TOES
After her daughter injured her foot on a disconnected telephone, an Austin woman sued Southwestern Bell, claiming that the phone’s design was faulty.
OH BRAD, POOR BRAD
Texas Ranger owner Brad Corbett spent millions to bring in new players who could win a pennant for his team, but the Rangers only tied for second, and Gaylord Perry, one of the players he got rid of, won the Cy Young award as outstanding pitcher in the National League.
OVER 12 SOLD
After buying the reserve grand champion steer at the Fort Worth Stock Show for $15,500, restaurateur Don Hansen turned it into hamburgers, which he sold for $2000 each. He got thirteen orders.
LBJ CARRIED IT IN ‘48
Tarrant County commissioners created a new voting precinct that contains only the Mount Olivet Cemetery.
SOUNDS LIKE A CASE FOR ELLERY QUEEN
A Dallas bowling alley installed an automatic camera system in the men’s room and posted a sign on the wall that read, “Cameras are installed in this room to protect against vandalism.” The sign was stolen.
THE NEXT MONTH HIS RENT WENT UP $24, 287
After his landlord raised the rent on his townhouse $50, Houston Tax Assessor-Collector Casey Fannin ordered a revaluation of the property, which increased the landlord’s taxes by $24,337.
AND WE’LL BE COUNTING ON BILL’S SUPPORT FOR THE 1980 DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
At a Dallas campaign fund raiser for Republican Bill Clements, Ronald Reagan said things “look great for Hill.” In Austin, Gerald Ford said he wanted to help Clements become governor of “the great state of California.”
I’M SORRY, SIR, BUT BANK POLICY PROHIBITS CARS WITHOUT CHECKING ACCOUNTS FROM USING OUR LOBBY
After a Galveston drive-in bank teller told an angry customer to take his appeal concerning an uncashed check to the main lobby, the driver proceeded up a flight of stairs into the lobby—still in his car.
THAT’S RIGHT, SOME OF US ARE JUST RIDICULOUS
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence V. Skloss enjoyed a $2783 dinner at Austin’s La Tour restaurant in order to show that Texans aren’t “a bunch of cowboys and Indians.”
A CLEAR BID FOR SUPPORT FROM THE MOUNT OLIVET PRECINCT
Governor Dolph Briscoe asked the Senate to confirm the appointments of four dead people to state boards.
HELLO, HON. IS THIS SELF-SERVICE?
When a caller threatened to set off a bomb at a Lubbock service station, the female attendant obediently followed instructions to strip and stand at the service station’s window before realizing the call was a hoax.
LET US KEEP OUR OIL AND WE’LL PROMISE NEVER TO SEND YOU JIM COLLINS AGAIN
Congressman Jim Collins of Dallas told the U.S. House of Representatives it was time to renegotiate Texas’ 1845 annexation agreement with the U.S.
WHAT A FUN GUY!
While his lawyers were negotiating a settlement to insure that Coastal States Gas Corporation wouldn’t have to refund more than $1 billion in overcharges to beleaguered customers, Coastal States chairman Oscar Wyatt threw a lavish prenuptial dinner in Paris for Princess Caroline of Monaco.
MY GOD, WHY HAST THOUGH FORSAKEN ME?
Evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton, Jimmy Carter’s sister, prayed for a location for her new headquarters that would be near an airport, with a mountain, water, and lots of trees. She ended up in Bartonville, near Denton.
HINT: THE FATAL BULLET STRUCK THE BACK OF MY NECK, EXITED THROUGH MY THROAT, AND LODGED IN GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY’S ARM
A news quiz in the San Antonio Light posed this question for history buffs: “I succeeded Dwight D. Eisenhower as President of the United States in 1961. Documents recently released by the FBI show that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated me in Dallas in 1963. What is my name?”
When the Austin Independent School District asked the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare why the district had lost $440,000 in bilingual education funds, HEW told AISD it would have to file a freedom-of-information request to find out.
A San Marcos land title expert discovered that the historical marker locating the site of the vanished town of Jonesville had been in the wrong place for 42 years.
JUST CHECK THE TIRES AND THUMP THE MELON
State Commissioner of Agriculture Reagan Brown proposed that watermelons be used as fuel.
THEY SURE DO
While campaigning for governor in Seguin, Bill Clements expounded on the subject of Indians: “How did the Indians feel? Well, ignorance is blissful. Is this area of Texas more productive, more fulfilling of God’s purpose—are we playing our role of destiny with this broad expanse of Texas—than when there were five thousand Indians here eating insects? These questions sort of answer themselves.”
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE THE PROUD MOTHER OF A NINE-POUND ORANGE-AND-WHITE GOPHER
A UT graduate put a sack of Dallas dirt under her delivery table in Oklahoma City so her baby could be born on Texas soil.
The state’s first recorded head-on bicycle collision involving bodily injury occurred in broad daylight on the Texas A&M campus.
AND FURTHERMORE, DON’T BOTHER US AGAIN
When Elese Carter of Houston asked Social Security authorities to investigate why she had not received more than $1000 in benefits, the government wrote her a letter explaining that payments had been stopped because she was dead.
AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL YOU HAVE TWENTY CENTS
A Houston city jail inmate waiting in the basement to be transferred to county jail, told a jailer that an officer had let him in to use the phone. The jailer unlocked a door and ordered him out of the building.
FIRST PRIZE WENT TO “VD IS FUNNY”
Texas Tech advertising students placed second in a national contest designed to combat sexually transmitted diseases with a project entitled “VD Isn’t Funny.”
After a Saudi sheik put a copper roof topped by an airline beacon on his Beverly Hills mansion and decorated the grounds with plastic flowers and lewdly painted nude statues, a Saudi prince complained, “This man is behaving like a Texan.”
IT’S SO HARD TO FIND GOOD HELP THESE DAYS
A retired merchant seaman in Houston was assaulted by a team of hit men, who shot and stabbed him, ran him down with an automobile, and beat him with a tire tool. But he survived the attacks to tell his story in court.
THERE MUST BE AN EASIER WAY TO MAKE A LIVING
An Austin child molester told young girls he was a scientist doing a foot survey and paid them to let him sniff their feet.
AT THOSE PRICES I’M THE LAST ALLIGATOR YOU’LL GET HERE!
A nine-foot bull alligator was removed by state wildlife workers from the parking lot of a Port Arthur restaurant.
NO RUNS, NO HITS, NO LEFTOVERS
A Houston softball team accused its rivals of baking softballs in a microwave oven to make them harder.
TO US, CHARLENE, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE A THESPIAN
Houston police stopped using the word “actor” to describe suspects in criminal cases as the result of a protest organized by local actress Charlene Bigham.
NO MORE SKINNY-DIPPING ON DUTY
City council members in the Fort Worth suburb of Watauga repealed a rule that forbade policemen to be seen in bathing suits.
McDonald’s recalled 180,000 containers of grape jelly that its Dallas supplier had made with hot pepper sauce.
WE AIN’T TAKING NO MORE TESTS
After learning that 535 Dallas first-year teachers were out performed by high school students on a mental ability test, Houston teachers refused to take similar exams.
WARREN BEATTY WAS BETTER ANYWAY
Natalie Wood told a Dallas reporter that she turned down the lead in Bonnie and Clyde because “I didn’t think it would be good for my mental equilibrium to spend that much time in Texas.”
DROP THAT ROCK OR I’LL SWEEP
A teenage clerk foiled a robbery at a San Antonio convenience store by using a broomstick to dissuade a would-be robber armed with a rock.
BUT NOT EVEN ROTTEN EGGS CURE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS
A Texas A&I social scientist said there is documented evidence that raw eggs are a cure for the evil eye.
THE WIFE IS ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW
A 41-year-old man robbed a Dallas bank and was filmed in the process by the bank’s automatic camera system. When his wife saw the film on television, she turned him in.
I DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT JUNK BUT I KNOW WHAT I LIKE
Two Dallas city maintenance workers welded together some scrap metal and placed it among the abstract sculptures on display at the new city hall. It remained there for a month before the prank was discovered, meanwhile receiving favorable comments from John Mondale.
WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR
Houston set a new record for murders, surpassing on October 13 the 1977 record of 352.
WHY DIDN’T WE THINK OF THAT?
After a highly publicized contest to select a new name for Reunion Arena attracted more than 4000 entries, the Dallas City Council settled on the winner—Reunion Arena.
GRANDMA, WHAT BIG EYES YOU HAVE
An 82-year-old San Antonio woman pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a pound of marijuana.
ALL CARS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR 33 ½ THIEVES, PECULIAR WALK
Thieves stole four suitcases from a Houston-area salesman’s car. Their haul: 67 shoes—all for the left foot.
MR. NICE GUY
YOU MEAN 64 CONTESTANTS
A Dolly Parton look-alike contest at Gilley’s honky-tonk in Pasadena attracted 32 contestants.
IF YOU’D JUST GOTTEN HERE A MINUTE SOONER
After Baptist lay minister Hans Mullikin of Marshall crawled 1600 miles to the gate of the White House, he was told that President Carter was too busy to see him.
JOAN MONDALE LOVED IT
Both Dallas newspapers printed photographs of paintings by modern artist Frank Stella upside down, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram printed one reversed.
FOR A GOOD TIME CALL BADGE #707
A Waco policeman was suspended for writing obscene graffiti in the police station men’s room.
THEY FORGOT TO CUT THE ANCHOVIES
Radio station KXOL of Fort Worth made the world’s largest pizza, but the local health department wouldn’t allow the four-ton creation to be eaten.
WE’RE DOING A GREAT JOB HERE AT THE TEXAS STATE HISTORICAL ASSOCATION
The Texas State Historical Association awarded a $500 prize for the most important book on Texas published during 1977 to the authors of the supplement to the Handbook of Texas—written by the Texas State Historical Association.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT A FOOTBALL WITH ALL THOSE X’S ON IT?
As auctioneer for an Austin Woman’s Club fund raiser, former UT athletic director Darrell Royal started the bidding at $50 on a football autographed by the Texas A&M football team. He had to buy it himself when no else would bid.
BUT THEY SURE FOOLED HUNTERS
Charley Rosheger of Beaumont began manufacturing rubber duck feet for hunters to attach to their decoys because, he said, footless decoys do not fool ducks.
YEAH, LADY, THAT’S RIGHT, I DIDN’T TELL YOU NOT TO RUN INTO THE BUILDING, BUT . . .
In Garland, a 58-year-old woman practicing for her driving test crashed into the Department of Public Safety testing center. In Sherman, a 72-year-old woman smashed into the testing center with the DPS testing officer still in the car.
DON’T ORDER THE SAUSAGE
Listed under “Kennels” in the 1977-78 San Antonio Yellow Pages is “Texas Best Bar-B-Q.”
AFTER A SIX-MONTH NATIONWIDE SEARCH
Although Everett DeLong had a long criminal history, had been on probation, had lost his license to practice medicine, and had once been judged criminally insane, Travis County Sheriff Raymond Frank named him head medical officer of the county jail.
PUT UP OR SHUT UP, YOU DIRTY COMMIES
A state disaster-emergency official announced that the Texas city in maximum danger of being annihilated in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union was Wichita Falls.
SO WHAT? WE’VE GOT LOTS OF OTHER BOOKS
The University of Texas lost several valuable Rembrandt prints and a complete manuscript by Copernicus.
WHY? BECAUSE IT’S THERE
A Houston police helicopter made a crash landing on top of a moving automobile.
FOR OREGANO THEY KEEP YOU A YEAR
Otis Winfree, Jr., unsuccessfully sued Harris County Sheriff Jack Heard for $300,000, claiming that he was held in jail for nine months after dismissal of charges for possession of marijuana that turned out to be granulated parsley.
THROW IN THE MINERAL RIGHTS OR IT’S NO DEAL
For $4.95, a Corpus Christi firm offered a framable deed to a small piece of land that was Farrah Fawcett-Majors’ early childhood home.
RACEHORSE HAYNES WAS BUSY
James Calvin Jones of Dallas, charged with threatening to kill his common-law wife, acted as his own attorney. He spurned an offer of three years probation, argued the case before a jury, and was sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary.
THE LORD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS
More than 8000 people made pilgrimages to the home of a New Mexico woman who saw a facial image of Jesus on a tortilla.
THE THREE INELIGIBLES CAN TAKE STUDY HALL
The Midland School Board agreed to allow sex education classes for the first time, but only for retarded students.
NOW FOR A PROGRESS REPORT FROM THE WAR ON DRUGS
Harris County narcotics officers arrested a man who sold them seventeen pounds of heroin, only to discover it was a common antihistamine. In Oklahoma, three Texans were busted for selling undercover officers eighteen kilos of alfalfa. And in Denton, a DPS informant stole almost $10,000 that officers intended to use for drug purchase.
TAKE THE EXTRA-CRISPY OR I’LL BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF
A Houston robber who had locked up the employees of a fried chicken stand tried to avoid suspicion by waiting on some customers who came in, but the fingerprints he left on the tongs led to his arrest and conviction.
THEY WENT BLIND THE FIRST WEEK
The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent fifteen chimpanzees to a UT laboratory near Bastrop to start a chimpanzee breeding project. All fifteen were males.
THANKS A LOT
Immediately after Potter County commissioners gave a raise to their highest-paid hourly employee, construction worker L. R. “Buster” Moncrief, they announced they would have to lay him off because they didn’t have enough money to pay him for the entire year.
BUT OFFICER, IT’S ONLY TAPIOCA
Billy Powell of New Summerfield in Cherokee County was indicted on charges (later dismissed) of smuggling into the U.S. a substantial quantity of bull semen.
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT GETTING SHORTED ONLY A DOLLAR IS A SIGN OF GREAT HONOR IN LEBANON
After waiting an hour and fifteen minutes to be served at a Fort Worth Lebanese restaurant and then getting shorted a dollar in their change, four diners decided not to leave a tip, whereupon the waiter followed them outside, yelled at them in Arabic, and assaulted one of the men.
NEXT TIME TRY HANDING OUT THE MONEY AT THE COCKTAIL PARTY
A Pakistani businessman went on a spending spree in élan, a Dallas disco, buying champagne for the house and handing out more than $2 million in checks. He later stopped payment on the checks, confessing that the giveaway was a ploy to publicize his message that the free world is in danger. “I went through the conventional channels,” he said. “I dressed up and went to the right cocktail parties with governmental officials . . . but no one would listen.”
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The City of Austin spent $54,000 for Austin’s first car pool lane. It was one block long and led to an immediate increase in the percentage of single-occupant cars using the route.
IS THAT WHAT EX-CON STANDS FOR?
Believing that a robbery suspect had swallowed two diamonds valued at $25,000, Houston police fed him laxatives for four days.
HE’S WANTED ON A HIT-AND-ROLL CHARGE
A man in a wheelchair served as lookout during the robbery of a small Houston grocery. The robber made his getaway pushing his accomplice down the street.