Texas Monthly often tells the tales of justice denied, but in February, justice was—finally—served in two cases the magazine has chronicled extensively. First, former Burleson County district attorney Charles Sebesta, who persuaded a jury to sentence Anthony Graves to death in 1994, was formally disbarred. As executive editor Pamela Colloff explained in her story about the case (“Innocence Lost,” October 2010), Sebesta had withheld exculpatory evidence in order to secure a conviction for Graves, who was released and cleared of all wrongdoing six years ago. But that is not all. More than half a century after the murder of a young McAllen teacher named Irene Garza, the police have made an arrest. As Colloff wrote in a story about the then-cold case (“Unholy Act,” April 2005), the longtime suspect was Garza’s priest, John Feit. The 83-year-old Arizona retiree now faces extradition to Texas on murder charges.
And now, a sampling of feedback from our readers:
The House That King Built
A huge thank you to the King and Kleberg families for sharing the pictures of their historic house [“The King’s Palace”]. I live in Kansas and visited the King Ranch a couple years ago. I was very impressed that the family tries so hard to preserve the history of its ranch. Captain King was a true American success story. Thanks again for the great article.
Kevin Snider, Ottawa, Kansas
My father in his younger years was a butler-bartender in this seventeen-bedroom mansion. A year after I graduated high school, I was trained by three great men: Pablo Montalvo, Richie Gonzales, and, of course, my father, Jesus Garcia Senior. After 31 years, I continue to walk through those doors and work with some of the most wonderful friends I know. Truly a magical—and, yes, very mysterious—place.
Jesse Garcia, via Facebook
Fantastic article on Joe R. Lansdale [“Darkness on the Edge of Town”], one of the finest writers of our time, in any genre.
Thad63, via texasmonthly.com
Thanks for turning me on to a writer I’ve never heard of and, based on this article, I will now search out and read.
Massey Ferguson, via texasmonthly.com
Margo Martindale [“The American”] stole the show in Justified for a whole season, and I’ve seen her in bit parts including, at present, on The Good Wife. She may be the best character actor in Hollywood!
David London, via Facebook
I have always loved Margo Martindale . She seems like she could be anyone’s mother and they would’ve enjoyed their childhood.
Todd Emerson, via texasmonthly.com
Rough and Tumbleweeds
I grew up on the Caprock north of Lubbock and can appreciate Sterry Butcher’s “Something in the Air.” We used to talk not so much about the chance of drifting snow but of how high the tumbleweeds would pile up against the fence lines along the highway. They would just create their own ramps over which they would launch their attack on unsuspecting vehicles on the highway. During an epic sandstorm in the sixties, visibility was such that we couldn’t even see to the end of our car. All of a sudden, a shadow appeared; a tumbleweed the size of a Volkswagen rolled across the hood of the car, taking most of its paint with it—stripped it clean. I was six. I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
Jim Arnold, via Facebook
I enjoyed reading “The Last Gunsmith” in the February issue, but surely you knew someone would take you to task about the claim that he is the last gunsmith in West Texas. I am one such someone, because we have a gunsmith here in Muleshoe: David Wyer not only repairs guns, but like Mr. Aguirre, he also builds guns from scratch, from the blank wood of the stock to the piece of pipe for the barrel. As your article made clear, true gunsmiths are few and far between, and it will be a shame when they exist no more.
Alice Liles, Muleshoe
By George (P.)!
George P. Bush’s destiny [“The P. Q&A”] will be determined by whether he confronts the Texas GOP extremism or he silently acquiesces to the persons that hate his heritage. Texas awaits the answer.
RF Francisco, via Facebook
George P. appeared at a small gathering where I live. It was a semi-private event, and I was glad to be invited. I wanted to hear what this youngest Bush thought and learn more about his office. Unfortunately, over half of his speaking time was spent bashing the Dems in general and Hillary in particular. He did, eventually, get around to what he wanted to do here in Texas and within the scope of his office, but you needed a lot of patience to wade through the snipes, jabs, and insults to get there.
I was hoping that the younger generation might be more likely to tackle problems and avoid the demagoguery. I was wrong.
Enp1955, via texasmonthly.com
Let Them Eat Sheet Cake
I’m not sure which warmed my heart more: that Courtney Bond’s recipe [Vittles] for Texas sheet cake was almost identical to that of my late great-aunt Anna Belle Tabor’s, from Clyde, or the little recipe card shown in the article’s accompanying photo. When I was a bride-to-be, in 1973, the guests at my kitchen shower were asked to bring along a favorite recipe, and as a result I have several of those identical cards, embellished with the saying “Kissin’ wears out. Cookin’ don’t!” Today those cards are tucked into an old wooden file box alongside an odd assortment of recipes torn from magazine pages, scribbled on the backs of envelopes, or painstakingly typed out on three-by-five-inch index cards by my mother, a treasured gift she presented to all three of her Jolly daughters when they got married. These days, whenever I need a recipe I am more apt to reach for my iPad than that old file box, but such a method, while unquestionably more efficient and resourceful, will never replace those beloved cards, now splattered with 43 years of spaghetti sauce, turkey gravy, and strawberry frosting and bearing the handwriting of so many loved ones who are long gone. Thank you, Courtney, for the gentle reminder to savor the wonderful tradition, not only of Texas sheet cake but of recipe cards as well!
Lee Ann Jolly Lewis, Coral Gables, Florida
Oh dear heavenly God. I don’t eat a lot of sweets, but just reading this recipe is making my mouth water.
Anne Mora Dacy, via Facebook
You had me until I read the dreaded word “shortening.” EEEEWWWW and just SO unnecessary!!!
Gabby Goodman, via Facebook
Leave out the cinnamon. So much better without it. And don’t use shortening in the icing. Just use butter. Really, really good.
Rhonda Tierce Collins, via Facebook
I guess texas monthly has never been to the LaSalle County Wild Hog Cook-Off and Fair [5 of a Kind]. If so, it would have made your list of the best small-town stock shows in the state. Come check it out the second weekend of March, in Cotulla.
Clint Wolfe, via Facebook
Three out of five are on the outskirts of Houston and one on the outskirts of Dallas. Not exactly small-town . . .
Brandy Bird, via Facebook
Some “Texanist” you are. Even a newborn quickly learns that town’s name is “FoWuth,” pronounced as a single syllable.
Ned Benson, via email
To say I am appalled that you printed Travis Ballew’s response to the Texanist’s reply to Name Withheld is a tremendous understatement. However, when I gave it a bit more thought, perhaps it indicates that the [anti-Willie] boyfriend of Name Withheld and the [anti-Willie] Mr. Ballew are the only like-minded folks in the state! Hopefully the rest of us Texans realize what a treasure Willie Nelson is and how fortunate we are to say he hails from our great state.
Bill Brown, Wimberley