REFINING THE LIMITS OF THE HILL COUNTRY [“The Ultimate Hill Country Tour,” April 1996] is touchy business, and just when you draw a line on the map, someone is sure to challenge. Well, here you have it. Joe Nick Patoski says that Llano is “on the fringe of the Hill Country,” and Burnet is not in the hills at all because it is north of the Colorado River. Sorry, but the billion-year-old fact is that Enchanted Rock, which lies mostly in Llano County, is the geologic center of Texas—the hard core around which the land mass of Texas formed—and it is surrounded by hills. As for Burnet County, you can hardly find a level place to stand. It’s all Balcones’ fault. The Balcones Escarpment lies to your left as you drive north on I-35 from San Antonio. You are traveling at the base of the Edwards Plateau. On top of that is the Hill Country. At Austin, turn to the Colorado River when searching for hills, because the land to the northeast is full of them and they do their share to define the river. Upstream is Goldthwaite. I have more than a passing acquaintance with this area because I was born in San Saba and my great-grandfather John Green Kelly (Texas-born in 1858) is buried in Goldthwaite. So is my Cherokee great-grandmother, Sarah Jane, and my Grandma Rosa. I know they’ve rolled over in their graves at the notion they’re not in the Hill Country. And I imagine Fred Gipson, the Mason author of Old Yeller, The Home Place, Hound Dog Man, and several other Hill Country novels, has done the same. I’d like to compliment Mr. Patoski on an excellent article that is of immeasurable service to the area, but I know your readers would enjoy another piece, complete with photos by Will van Overbeek, taking in the rest of the Hill Country. If I can ride along, I’ll buy the gas.
Editor-Publisher, Enchanted Rock Magazine, Llano
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, our Hill Country map put Burnet County where Llano County is supposed to be.
THE STORY ON GERRY GOLDSTEIN [“The High Times of Gerry Goldstein,” April 1996] was incomplete in that it failed to mention some of Mr. Goldstein’s other meaningful yet low-profile endeavors. For about ten years, Mr. Goldstein served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law. Throughout this time, Mr. Goldstein provided all of his course materials to his students free of charge—a gift not lost on struggling law students. Mr. Goldstein also used his teaching salary to fund the Eli Goldstein Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law. In effect, his beneficence continues today. On a more personal note, it was Mr. Goldstein, along with trial lawyers Alan Brown and John Torigian, who persuaded this ninth-grade dropout to get an education.
GERALD E. HAWXHURST
New York, New York
LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT: Gerry Goldstein wouldn’t dare represent Terry Nichols of Oklahoma City infamy, who might be innocent, but he will represent the human scum who flood our nation with narcotics that wreck millions of lives because the victims are anonymous? Could it be because these drug dealers are able to enrich one Gerry Goldstein to continue all that wonderful skiing that he so enjoys? Terry Nichols, being a dirt farmer, obviously doesn’t qualify.
SCOTT TOWNSEND HAYLEY
IN HER ARTICLE ON GERRY GOLDSTEIN Mimi Swartz describes San Antonio attorney Maury Maverick, Jr., as being “barely solvent.” I’m surprised he’s doing that well. In the early sixties I would ask him from time to time for legal aid for some migrant farm workers. When questioned about a fee, Maury would invariably answer, “Oh, if his wife can cook, have her bake me a cake.” This pecuniary acumen was inherited from his father.
after reading jan reid’s article on Robert Earl Keen [Music: “The Cult of Keen,” April 1996], I was heartened to know that my husband and I are not the only longtime Robert Earl fans who can no longer attend his concerts because we cannot endure the behavior of the rowdy following that he attracts. It seems that no venue is too sophisticated or too intimate to deter the drunken “young people” who seem to feel that they, rather than Mr. Keen, are the performers the other patrons paid to see and hear. Real fans of Mr. Keen’s talent will be happy to know that there are places one can actually hear him sing; however, with the possible exception of the Kerrville Folk Festival, they are not in Texas. We were fortunate to catch a Robert Earl show at a Berkeley, California, coffeehouse called the Freight and Salvage. It was a decidedly mellow crowd, as one might expect, and we could hear him sing every word. The packed house listened intently to his cultural explanations before each song and enthusiastically applauded after each number. They begged for more when he was finished. It was a wonderful experience, but having witnessed that he is greatly appreciated elsewhere, I fear that once Mr. Keen himself can no longer endure his Texas following, we may permanently lose this favorite son to more temperate climes.
SUSAN M. HART
By the Book
GREGORY CURTIS’ ARTICLE “The Fourth Tramp” [Behind the Lines, April 1996], about Ray and Mary La Fontaine’s witty, original book Oswald Talked, does a disservice to the readers of Texas Monthly. The La Fontaines’ book, in my view, is the most persuasive and professional book on the Kennedy assassination since Gerald Posner’s 1993 Case Closed.
I confess a professional interest. In 1994 I published a lengthy article by the La Fontaines, titled “The Fourth Tramp,” in the Washington Post’s Outlook section. Along with my fellow editors, I found the story of John Elrod, a short-order cook who spent several hours in the same Dallas County jail cellblock as Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, to be an important contribution to the evidentiary record.
Curtis’ article did not mention, much less describe or analyze, two thirds of the interesting new evidence that the La Fontaines present.
John Elrod’s story strongly suggests that Oswald had knowledge of the activities of a group of Dallas gunrunners. These same weapons traffickers were, according to an FBI report, talking in the fall of 1963 with a group of Miami Cubans about an invasion of Cuba. It was supposed to take place at a specific time: the last week of November 1963. Moreover, the La Fontaines report, these anti-Castro Cubans were funded by the CIA—though agency officials acknowledged privately that they were not under CIA control. And, the La Fontaines note, these Cubans sought to purchase their weapons for this invasion from a Dallas gun dealer who was one of only two gun dealers in the whole area who sold the type of Mannlicher-Carcano bullets that struck President Kennedy and Governor Connally. Might there be a connection between the Cubans’ planned invasion and Oswald’s actions on November 22, 1963?
Curtis’ suggestion that the La Fontaines are just two more Americans driven nuts by their emotional need for conspiracy is unfortunate. One of the greatest pleasures of Oswald Talked is its many humorous asides about the scoundrels, lunatics, and lost souls obsessed with the Kennedy assassination.