Phases and Stages

Thank you for your outstanding article about what was for many of us the funnest of times [“That 70’s Show,” April 2012]. I remember one Friday night during that era when Willie was at Randy’s Rodeo, in San Antonio. In keeping with the outlaw lifestyle, I had begun popping Lone Star longnecks early in the afternoon. By showtime, I had already been asked by my date to take her home. The following week, after being snubbed by my friends for my outlaw behavior, I decided to head north. When I reached the three-lane part of I-35 near Onion Creek, I tuned in to Stereo 95 and heard Joe Gracey (“Old Blue Eyes”) proclaim, “This is KOKE-FM, your dippin’ and chewin’ station.” And with that I threw in a big dip of Copenhagen, cracked open a cold Lone Star, and knew I was home.

Darrell Wurzbach
San Antonio

That 70’s Show” gives credibility to my oft-stated belief that I was privileged to attend Willie Nelson’s last down-home gig. It was a weekday night at Floore’s Country Store, in Helotes, circa 1976. There, at Willie’s longtime sanctuary, I sat outdoors with some two hundred people on wooden fold-up chairs on the concrete dance pad. We swigged Lone Star, ate barbecued-sausage sandwiches, and watched a totally-at-ease Willie give his performance ten feet away. About thirty days later, he won a Grammy for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” And his affinity for intimate performances became a treasure to all of America. 

Al Fieldcamp
Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

When my father, Mike McFarland, created and organized the first Dripping Springs Reunion, in 1972, he didn’t believe that it would lead him down a path of addiction from which he would never recover or to an early grave. But that’s what happened.

What he believed was that people would remember the Reunion as a defining musical touchstone in Texas history, even forty years later. And they do.

I have one of the few posters that remain from that show, of my father’s guitar leaning against the Dripping Springs road sign. When I look at it, I don’t see the event that launched a movement and careers. I see my dad’s guitar, and I think about how sad it is that a few years later he had to pawn it.

History’s reduced him to an ancillary figure who didn’t know what he was doing, a dilettante responsible only for the event’s financial failing. And while there’s truth in that, he also knew exactly what he was doing from a cultural standpoint.

I wish he were around to see his vision validated. Finally.

Mike McFarland
Los Angeles, California

Action Reaction

While in general agreement with Paul Burka’s history of litigation involving affirmative action and admissions policies at various state universities, I take exception to many of the conclusions he set forth in “General Admission” [Behind the Lines, April 2012].

Although the Fourteenth Amendment was originally instituted to protect recently emancipated slaves from discrimination, it unfortunately did little to shield them from the tyranny of Jim Crow laws, Black Codes, or the Ku Klux Klan. I find it extremely incongruous, however, that “reverse discrimination” is judicially mandated through affirmative action on a segment of the population that was never involved in historical discrimination. The inability to punish those guilty of historical abuses (they are all long since dead) and/or compensate the victims (also long dead) can justify neither exacting penalties on those who did not commit these abuses nor granting favoritism to those who did not suffer them. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter the moral justification.

The “reasonable solution” expressed in this article—that no one has a right to attend a university—seems highly inappropriate for tax-supported institutions. Any and all taxpayers who meet the applicable admissions requirements, in conjunction with space limitations, should be admitted on an equal basis. A university supported by tax dollars should not be “free” to select the “types” of students it wants. And the suggestion that standardized testing is an ambiguous standard and “should not confer rights on some . . . and take them away from others” strikes me as absurd. If that were true, how can one explain the current reliance on the GED, TAKS, ACT, SAT, LSAT, STAAR, GRE, and numerous other tests? There has to be some standard for comparison, if for no other reason than to determine which students have the prerequisite knowledge to succeed, regardless of their racial status.

Lastly, the assertion that the more privi-
leged would receive protection “at the expense 
of the less privileged” if Fisher is decided in favor of the plaintiff is belied by the results of the top 10 percent law; as the article notes, “UT was enrolling more minority freshmen than it had since Hopwood . . . without using race as a criterion.” I applaud the top 10 rule (although UT seems determined to do away with it, since it ties the school’s hands on who 
is granted admission), which seems to promote the acceptance of the best and brightest. To my thinking, that is the way it ought to be.

Joseph D. Hanley

On Tops

Reading the Texanist’s clever yet misguided response to Mr. Rick Reichenbach’s inquiry regarding boot tops, I was stunned by the advice offered [April 2012]. As an apprentice at the famous James Leddy Boots, in Abilene, I have yet to hear of boot tops being referred to as “shafts.” So I quickly decided to consult perhaps the best living authority on the matter: Mrs. Paula Leddy, widow of James and a 46-year veteran stitcher of boot tops. “Mrs. Paula, what do you call the part of the boot there?” I asked, pointing to a pair of yet-to-be-stitched boot tops. She looked at me with slight disbelief and responded, “Well, Carson, those are the tops.” I explained that there was a certain columnist who claimed that most Texans call this part of the boot the shaft and that when one Texan desires to see another’s flamboyant stitching, he ought to say, “Let me see your shafts.” Mrs. Leddy’s confused look hardened to a wince. She paused, thought, and then blurted, “You tell that ol’ boy that I ain’t never stitched a shaft in my life!” Mr. Texanist, in Texas, we call the tops of our boots tops.

Carson Leverett