Loved the dance hall stories, especially those about Floore’s and the Quihi Gun Club [“Step Right Up,” December 2009]. I sure knew I was home in Texas, after twenty years of wandering the world with the Air Force, when I attended a wedding at the latter, surrounded by four generations of families and friends. My mother likes to reminisce about dancing with her husband, her son, and her daughter (I taught her the cotton-eyed Joe!). It was a truly amazing and quintessentially Texan experience.
Peggi Parkhill

I received my very first issue of texas monthly on November 19 and was so excited to see the Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall profiled. Coupland holds a special place for my husband and me, as we met each other there . . . on November 20, 1999! During our courtship, we spent many evenings at Coupland, boot-scootin’ till the wee hours of the morning. Thanks for stirring up the memories!
Theresa Hobratschk

Order in the Court

Thank you for your article on the two women—Cathy McBroom and Donna Wilkerson—who brought an end to Judge Samuel Kent’s rule in Galveston [“Perversion of Justice,” December 2009]. I am a lawyer who had the pleasure of working alongside a strong woman who, like the women in your story, stood up against a judge who was unprofessional and sexually inappropriate with females. Her battle to get this judge removed was long, and the reaction she got from her peers was shockingly mixed. But her hard fight made a huge difference in the entire mood of the courthouse; inappropriate behavior on all levels ceased immediately when judges knew that they would be held accountable for their actions. I have never known what it is like to work in a sexually abusive environment because one woman who went before me put an end to it. It sounds like Cathy and Donna have helped countless women in the same way.
Amanda Peters

Sweet Remembrance

Thank you for sharing the stories of “People We’ll Miss” [December 2009]. The Texan I will always miss is my father, John Webb, who left us last February, at the age of 74. He was born in Mississippi, and the Air Force brought him to Texas in the mid-fifties—so I had the good fortune to be born a Texan. When he retired, in 1973, he headed back to Austin for good. He was a popular singer in south central Texas weekend jam sessions and country music shows, the direct descendants of barn dances, where people in rural communities set aside their work and picked up their fiddles and guitars not to make money but to entertain one another. He worked hard, took care of his family, and sang to make other people happy. These gifts are priceless, and I treasure them every day.
Kay Webb Mayfield
Fairfax, Virginia

Hart Problems

We are writing in response to an article published in your December issue titled “Wealth Care.” In your publication Patricia Kilday Hart asserts the following: “The article [‘The Cost Conundrum’], later seized on by President Barack Obama, questioned whether the business model of physician-owned facilities such as [Doctors Hospital at Renaissance] gives doctors an ‘unholy temptation’ for the overutilization of tests and procedures.”

At no time did the New Yorker or writer Atul Gawande ask the above question in “The Cost Conundrum.” The above phrase quoted by Hart was made by Gilda Romero, COO of McAllen Heart Hospital. Romero’s hospital, operated by Universal Health Services, is a competitor of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Failure to properly attribute this quote to Romero and instead declare it an underlying conclusion in the overall article is extremely misleading.

Coincidentally, Hart states that Maverick County is adjacent to Hidalgo County. That statement is false.
Jim Darling
General counsel, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance

Patricia Kilday Hart responds: Jim Darling is right. Atul Gawande does at one point attribute to Gilda Romero and others the argument that physician-owned hospitals give doctors an unholy temptation to order often unnecessary treatments. But it is clear from reading the story that Gawande himself also reaches a similar conclusion. To take but one example from many, he states, “About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this. But they failed to discourage those who did . . . A medical community came to treat patients the way subprime-mortgage lenders treated home buyers: as profit centers.”

I believe my cursory summation of Gawande’s conclusion is fair. Readers who want to judge for themselves can find the original story at

As for the inaccurate description of the proximity of Maverick and Hidalgo counties, we regret the error.

Bird’s Swan Song

I was disappointed to learn of Sarah Bird’s plans to vacate the back page after the December issue [“Hedda Garbler,” December 2009]. Sarah’s writings—like Kinky Friedman’s before her—have been the sweet ending to each issue’s savory serving of stories and missives. I doubt I can think of Texanist David Courtney as the cherry on top of the texas monthly sundae, but perhaps he can be a digestif.
Rodney VanSickle

One of the more compelling cohesions of texas monthly over these past 45 issues has been the engaging end-piece articles by Ms. Sarah Bird. Not only is she one of the reigning divas of the printed word, she has the intelligent, wry, edgy wit that few display these days. And she’s one of us, a Texas person.

As you go on sabbatical, Ms. Sarah, keep us in mind while out there in the limestone hills. And as you emerge post-Paisano, we’ll be looking forward to what comes of it, both here in our texas monthly editions and at our friendly local bookstores.
Fleet Lentz
San Antonio