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 of a working oil rig on the county fairgrounds. It struck oil.
Muse Air, which uses chairman Lamar Muse’s signature in its logo, had his handwriting analyzed by experts to be sure that competitor Southwest Airlines couldn’t say it was the signature of a demon or maniac.
AND WE KNOW WHO IT IS
Donald Lee Laisure of Greenville married his 36th wife, former Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins, who is serving a life sentence in California. Said Laisure, “You can be married many times, but there’s only one real love in your life.”
THEREBY PROVING THAT ONLY 40 PER CENT OF SMU FRESHMEN CHEAT ON TESTS
After a five-week cram course in grammar, SMU freshman took a test on basic English. Sixty per cent failed.
AND HIMSELF AS “YOUR MAJESTY”
State district judge Jerry McAfee of Houston was publicly reprimanded by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for issuing courtroom rules requiring attorneys to address each other as “Doctor.”
Q.—HOW MANY AGGIES DOES IT TAKE TO STAB AN SMU CHEERLEADER?
A.—TWO. ONE TO DRAW THE SWORD AND ONE TO POINT IT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
When SMU cheerleaders ran onto Kyle Field to celebrate a touchdown against Texas A&M, Aggie cadet captain Greg Hood drew his saber and charged the cheerleaders. In the skirmish that followed, the cheerleaders were unscathed and Hood ended up on the ground.
CAN 79 WOMEN BE WRONG?
B. D. Currey of Hurlwood placed this ad in a Lubbock shoppers’ guide using the nom be plume Running Bear: “Running Bear got lonesome life. Have teepee. Have ground. Have cow. Have horse. Need squaw, wash feet, keep warm teepee fire, make cornbread. Maybeso squaw leave first day. Maybeso squaw stay six months, one year. Try heap much spoil squaw, so after squaw leave, squaw remember good things. Maybeso squaw interested send up smoke signals.” Seventy-nine women responded.
A PUBLIC OFFICE IS A PUBLIC TRUST
• Seventeen present and former county commissioners in East Texas have been indicted as part of a probe into corruption in county government.
• The FBI arrested the chief of the Bexar County sheriff’s task force on charges of extorting money from massage parlor operators.
• Mayor J. J. Meza of La Porte was indicted on charges of tampering with government records certifying him as a peace officer after Meza signed a statement that he had attended the required number of hours of training classes at a peace officers’ academy. Academy coordinator, Leonard Toups, a chief deputy constable who was also indicted, said that the mayor had actually attended none of the classes.
• Houston fire chief V. E. Rogers was arrested at 12:15 a.m. on charges of public intoxication and posting political signs along a freeway access road.
• Police chief Tom Holland of Selma, the notorious IH 35 speed trap north of San Antonio, resigned after he was arrested for DWI.
• A jury found that Houston mayor Jim McConn had conspired to award cable TV franchises to political allies. Although the trial judge later ruled that McConn did not have to pay damages, he described the mayor as “an active co-conspirator.”
• Former Texas Supreme Court judge Don Yarbrough, convicted in 1978 for perjury, skipped bail and failed to show up for sentencing.
DON’T EXPECT THE PRIME RATE TO DROP AT:
The Snyder National Bank, where president Roger Mize unveiled his new car, a 24-karat-gold-plated DeLorean valued at $85,000, in the lobby.
TAKE TWO SALTPETER TABLETS AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING
The Texas A&M medical school graduated its first class of 32 doctors.
THE TRUCK WAS COMING DOWN THE PIKE, THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA, AND MANTA RAY BLUE THE WHISTLE, BUT THE TRUCK DRIVER WAS HARD OF HERRING. SPRAT! IT WREAKED HADDOCK. A LICENSED STURGEON CAME, BUT HE SMELT THE AIR AND SAID, IN A BASS VOICE, “COD IS DEAD”
More than four thousand pounds of fish headed for the Borger fish fry caught fire when the truck carrying them ran into a train.
THEY WERE MIGHTY. THEY WERE POWERFUL. EVERYONE SAID THEY COULDN’T LOSE, BUT…
The bus driver for the Marlin Bulldogettes junior varsity girls’ basketball team, which was scheduled to travel 87 miles west to play Lampasas, missed the turnoff and drove 178 miles south to San Antonio, causing the team to forfeit.
THAT’S NO MISTAKE. THAT’S OUR NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY
State health officials reported that 37 canisters of contaminated low-level nuclear waste scheduled to be shipped to an out-of-state landfill had been dumped by mistake into a trash bin in the middle of Laredo.
BUT WE DO TAKE SWISS FRANCS
When Louis Webster of Houston attempted to pay $250 on his MasterCard balance, the Houston National Bank refused to accept cash and made him buy a money order instead.
NO, NO YOU IDIOT! I MEANT GO CHECK OUT THE CREAK
While two Dallas cops were checking out noises coming from a pickup sitting in a field, their patrol car malfunctioned and rolled backward into a creek.
IF ONLY THE SAME COULD BE SAID FOR CHILI
John McCrerey of San Antonio was arrested for selling booths in advance for a chili-off that never existed.
TAKE ME OUT OF THE BALL GAME
Eddie Chiles, the politically prominent owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club, used the PA system at Arlington Stadium to urge fans to support the Reagan administration.
WE AGREE WITH BROWN
In a dispute over California’s failure to control the medfly, Texas agriculture commissioner Reagan Brown and California governor Jerry Brown called each other idiots.
BUM SEER AWARD
Richard Kieninger of Garland is offering 250,000 tickets priced at $4000 each for seats on airships that will lift off on May 5, 2000, when he predicts the crust of the earth will collapse.
DON’T SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER. HE’LL SHOOT BACK
Sales boomed when the Goodman Music store of Dallas offered a free shotgun with the purchase of any organ or piano.
THE SMART CUSTOMERS USED FEDERAL EXPRESS
Patrons of Corpus Christ’s Gulfway National Bank put $25,000 in a U.S. mailbox after thieves placed a sign over the night depository reading, “Out of order. Please us other mailbox.”
BUT ESCAPE ATTEMPTS ARE DOWN TO ZERO
Sheriff Raul Arevalo complained to Willacy County commissioners that loose steel plates in the jail allowed prisoners to climb into ventilating shafts, raid the room where confiscated marijuana is stored, and return to their cells to smoke it.
BUM STEERS GIFT GUIDE
For the man or woman who has nothing.
• State treasurer Warren G. Harding cut his first record, a 45-rpm release with “Texas” on one side and “Beautiful, Beautiful Texas” on the other.
• Dallas photographer Christie Jenkins published her first book, A Woman Looks at Men’s Buns.
• Bifano’s furriers in Dallas offered “Cowboy Blue”—a dyed blue and white mink bomber jacket in Dallas Cowboy colors—for $2995.
• Wes Read and Curtis Sarrels of Odessa bid $20,500 for the entire used artificial turf at the Dallas Cowboys’ Texas Stadium, then offered it for resale in small pieces.
• Austin jeweler Charles Leutwyler surrounded a Timex Mickey Mouse watch with 36 diamonds totaling 2.16 carats to produce “the world’s most expensive Mickey Mouse watch,” valued at $10,000.
WHY THE RUSH?
After cost overruns totaling $3.3 billion and delays totaling six years, the Houston Lighting & Power Company fired Brown & Root as engineering supervisor at the South Texas Nuclear Project.
AND NOW OUR FEATURE ATTRACTION, A SHARPSHOOTING EXHIBITION
The Dallas County Historical Commission proposed that the county dedicate its latest office facility—the refurbished Texas School Book Depository, from which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy in 1963—with a parade including floats and bands, a street fair, and poster and essay contests in the public schools.
NOW GEORGE PRAYS FOR A REMATCH
When a preacher grabbed his arm and wouldn’t let go, former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman of Houston filed assault charges.
THE BIBLE SAYS BRUCE LEE IS BETTER
Fort Worth radio evangelist Joe Montana was fired from KWJS-FM after a dispute over his on-the-air plugs for James Bond movies.
ON SECOND THOUGHT, THAT’S OFF THE RECORD
During debate over a federal appropriations bill, Dallas congressman Jim Collins held a press conference to announce that he would add an antibusing amendment to the bill. When Collins returned to the floor to offer his amendment, he found in his absence the House had already passed the bill.
BUM HERD AWARD
The Texas Legislature, in an unprecedented effort to streamline the redistricting process, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on special computers and left the Capitol to hold public hearings throughout Texas. Result: its plan for the House was overturned in court, its plan for the Senate was vetoed by the governor, and its plan for Congress couldn’t pass at all without a special session.
WELL, DO YOU KNOW WHO’S BURIED IN GRANT’S TOMB?
After Jewish community leaders in Fort Worth complained that the nondenominational Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast featured the song “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” event chairman A. M. “Aggie” Pate explained, “I didn’t know ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ was a Christian song.”
IT HELPS TO HAVE THE RIGHT KIND OF CUSTOMER
The Housing Authority of the City of Houston paid $300,000 for an IBM computer that is already obsolete, now sells for just $8000, and cannot handle numbers large enough to work with the agency’s budget. Asked to explain the purchase, the agency’s executive director said, “These computer people are damned good salesman.”
THE JURY WAS INTO IMPRESSIONISM
Fort Worth artist Bill McLean was arrested after he terrorized a museum meeting on the survival of artists by bursting into the meeting room waving a fake pistol and brandishing bogus Molotov cocktails. At his trial McLean unsuccessfully argued that his conduct was merely “performance art.”
YOU’D QUIT TOO IF THEY KEPT CALLING YOU COACH ROACH
Herschel Roach, new football coach at Rockdale High School, resigned after one practice.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Please spare us in 1982 from:
• CROOKS WHO COMPLAIN
David Ruiz. The former Texas Department of Corrections inmate who was in the plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to court-ordered reforms of the Texas prison system, Ruiz was rearrested and charged with armed robbery in Austin.
• POLITICIANS WHO PANIC
Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Under pressure from Governor Bill Clements, Hobby abandoned his personal opposition to the worst bill of the session and led wiretapping to passage by masterminding a series of parliamentary maneuvers.
• KILLERS WHO COLLECT
Vickie Daniel. Shortly before going to trial and being acquitted of murdering her husband, former House Speaker Price Daniel, Jr., Vickie Daniel sold an option on the television and motion picture rights to her life story.
• BROADCASTERS WHO BIAS
ABC-TV. The network invited Brownwood coach Gordon Wood to appear on Good Morning, America to defend high school football, then introduced him by showing a film clip of another coach, not identified, who was slapping and punching players.
• MILLIONAIRES WHO MEDDLE
Bud Adams. The Houston Oilers’ owner fired coach Bum Phillips because of the team’s unimaginative offense, but new coach Ed Biles returned to the old offense after four games, and the Oilers failed to make the play-offs for the first time in four years.
• CHRISTIANS WHO CHEAT
Ron Meyer. The SMU football coach, who calls himself “a totally committed Christian,” won the Southwest Conference championship with a team on probation for numerous recruiting violations and said in a midseason speech that a coach has a right to hit a player.
THEN STOP RECRUITING OUR FOOTBALL PLAYERS
Oklahoma public health officials blamed Texas for a 100 per cent increase in syphilis cases.
AFTER YOU KEN
Kenneth L. Smith of San Angelo was arrested for shouting “Jump!” to a distraught man threatening to leap from a bridge.
While a San Antonio police officer was radioing headquarters that he had found a stolen car, a thief jumped into it and drove off.
UT BEEN BERRY, BERRY GOOD TO ME
The University of Texas gave a track scholarship to a broad jumper from Ghana on the basis of a newspaper article the athlete mailed to UT recruiters. When his performance didn’t approach his press notices, UT athletic officials discovered that the recruit had altered a story about a different jumper by substituting his own name.
OH, HOWARD, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE
Southwest Airlines employees received their first Christmas bonus ever—a recording of then-company president Howard Putnam singing “White Christmas.”
IT WORKED WHEN THEY TRIED IT ON EACH OTHER
Chillicothe public schools had to be evacuated for a month due to chemical contamination after three school board members fought a lice problem among students by personally spraying classrooms with an insecticide designed solely for use on cattle.
WE’RE SHOCKED TOO. CAN WE GET ON YOUR MAILING LIST?
Morality in the Media, a Houston organization supporting antipornography legislation, distributed a packet to legislators that included numerous photocopies of hard-core pornography.
OR WE COULD USE THEM TO FILL POTHOLES
Houston mayor Jim McConn, upset over frequent political demonstrations by foreigners that required the presence of police officers, suggested that the city should stop the demonstrations by taking hostages.
FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AND HE’S STILL NOT DRY
Vivian Touchstone of Austin found a live ten-foot boa constrictor in the dryer with her clothes.
THEN HE TOOK THEM OVER TO VIVIAN TOUCHSTONE’S
San Antonio animal control officer Albert Morgan was fired after he drove animals in open cages through a car wash.
AT LAST, A POLITICIAN WHO’S NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK THE TRUTH
Announcing his decision to leave office early to run for Congress, Fort Worth mayor Woodie Woods said, “I am convinced that I can better serve the people of Fort Worth by resigning.”
LISTEN, SISTER YOU GOT JUST TWO HOURS TO GET OFF THE BUS
A woman flagged down a city bus driving through a Dallas housing project, but when it stopped she discovered it contained only Mayor Jack Evans and three city councilmen on a tour of city housing facilities. She thereupon introduced herself as the Chocolate Stone, performed bumps and grinds, and gave the mayor a prolonged kiss.
TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST MARAUDING REPORTERS
In a story on the background of unsuccessful presidential assassin John Hinckley, the Washington Post described Texas Tech as a place where students frequently take guns to class.
THEY’RE GETTING THE KIDS READY FOR TEXAS TECH
Clear Lake Elementary School in Southeast Houston offered a class to teach children in grades two through five how to shoot guns.
After a 55-gallon drum of ethyl mercaptan spilled in downtown Beaumont, office buildings were permeated with a skunklike smell.
THE REAL TRICK WAS FINDING AN AVERAGE AGGIE
A study by two Texas A&M psychology professors found that college football players are “less aggressive than the average student.”
THANKS ANYWAY, BUT WE’LL STICK WITH CUTTY’S ARK
Tom Crotser of Frankston, who previously claimed to have found Noah’s Ark, announced that his new expedition had located the Ark of the Covenant.
FERDINAND AND ISABELLA JUST LOVED RHINESTONES
After a treasure hunter challenged the authenticity of an exhibit of sixteenth-century Spanish treasure at the San Jacinto battleground museum, state archeologists admitted that one third of the artifacts were phony.
YOU KNOW. LIKE POLICE CHIEFS
Houston police chief B. K. Johnson, concerned that 70 per cent of his recruits were Northerners who had recently moved to Texas, complained, “Yankees are like hemorrhoids. If they come down and go back up, that’s fine. But if they come down and stay, they can be a constant source of irritation.”
EAT A BALL PARK HOT DOG AND AN HOUR LATER YOU’RE HUNGRY AGAIN
Following a brawl on a chartered bus after a Texas Rangers baseball game, Rick Rose, a Dallas County district attorney’s investigator, was fired for biting off part of another man’s ear.
FRESH LIVER TODAY!
An Abilene pathologist complained to Taylor County officials that the lack of county medical facilities had forced him to perform autopsies in the alligator pen at the local zoo.
LONGNECKS AND RHABDOMYOLYSIS. NO PLACE BUT TEXAS
The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a twenty-year-old complaining of severe thigh cramps and blood-red urine had a case of “urban cowboy rhabdomyolysis,” a condition resulting from riding mechanical bulls.