ANY GOOD TEXAS-BRED FEMALE does not have to be a “buckle bunny” to fall for Ty Murray [“Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” May 1999]. The story, by Skip Hollandsworth, was so well written that my heart beat faster by the line. What smart girl could resist a man with such determination, self-motivation, confidence, and “try.” Not to mention that the guy would pose for a picture with his dog licking his face.
H. Dawn
San Antonio

SPORTS IN GENERAL NEEDS more class acts like Ty Murray and fewer classless acts like Dennis Rodman. By the way, the rodeo stock Mr. T and Wolfman mentioned in the story are not broncs but bulls.
Bill Roberts
Iliff, Colorado

YOUR ARTICLE ON TY MURRAY was basically informative, but it stopped just short of hero worship. To present a balanced picture of the businessman-cowboy, you should have mentioned his “non-attempt” at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this past winter.

It seems that Mr. Murray had already qualified for the all-around title, based on his first two events, and was entered in a third event. However, because of scheduling conflicts with another rodeo in which he could possibly qualify again for the all-around title (and monetary awards), he chose to sit on his third entry in the chute and get off before the chute door was opened. In this way he could post a “no score” and not have to be in Houston the next day for the finals of that event, therefore allowing him to compete in the other rodeo.

Does this sound like a cowboy only interested in the next ride, or is it the next payout?
Sherry Reed

I ENJOY A GOOD RODEO AND THE SKILL REQUIRED, and I hope Ty Murray wins many more titles. But I was somewhat irritated at the lack of knowledge Mr. Hollandsworth seems to be endowed with concerning the American cowboy. Yes, Mr. Hollandsworth, we’re still here, moving cattle, working cattle, even breaking our own horses.

Though times and methods have changed, the fact remains that when a man gets on a horse to match wits with cattle that don’t respect the ways progress tries to force on them, the same skills are required today that were required one hundred years ago.

Mr. Hollandsworth’s assertion that ranch skills are irrelevant is pure ignorance on his part. The truth of the matter is that many cowboys (note the lack of any adjective) have used their ranch skills well to compete in rodeos. The same is not true when rodeo cowboys (note the adjective), who have learned all they know about cattle and horses in an arena, ply their skills on a ranch. There’s a world of difference between a plowed arena and a rocky, brushy draw; a chuted, flanked bucking horse and a horse that picks his own time and place. We’re not highly visible, and crowds don’t pay to see us, but our “tiny fraction” is indeed here, helping to feed the nation and the world.
Larry Mcwhorter

Literary Criticism

THE ARTICLE ON JAMES CARLOS BLAKE, by Jan Reid, leaves me wondering again about the human mind [“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Next Cormac McCarthy,” May 1999]. Your apparent satisfaction, along with his, about his pleasure in writing about extreme mayhem and violence makes me ask, Why? What good, beauty, usefulness, or art is there in describing utterly vile, sickeningly bloody, and sad things that might possibly happen to people? J. Frank Dobie did include some violent paragraphs in his work, but not to the extent of making a person sick: It may have been the result of a series of actions, but the violence was not rendered in a bloodbath to titillate those who enjoy reading about other people’s misery.

In this day and age, what we see more than anything on television shows, in the paper, and on the news is needless and horrific violence. My feeling is that anyone who finds this entertaining needs some help, and that we all need to focus more on thought-provoking and soulful writing with real meaning to the human condition rather than hardening society even more to what violence does in real life.
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Jan Reid replies: Touché.

Melting Pot

THE IDEAS EXPRESSED BY SOME of the Muslims in Helen Thorpe’s article “Tex Mecca” [May 1999] are an affront to our society. The statement by one of the Imams, “Do not melt into this society, do not be enchanted by these nonbelievers and their worldly life,” represents an idea totally foreign to this country. The Muslims came to this country for some reason, presumably to improve their lifestyle and their chance for freedom. “Do not melt into this society”? And that with the equally offensive statement by one of the Muslim children, “I want to go over there [Palestine] and fight someday. I hate Jews.” Shame on you for printing such nonsense.
James S. Melbert

Stars Struck

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER FALL in love with ice hockey (and Canadians and Northerners too), but here I am eating crow [“Ice Guys Finish First,” May 1999]. Not only is the game fast, but its players are so likeable. The Dallas Stars are wonderful, and role models for our kids—the last Boy Scouts. They are nice to the fans and to the press. (Cowboys, are you listening?)

I stopped watching professional football about the time that Jerry dismissed Tom. Football has turned into a league of criminals and thugs who only love themselves and think they are stars when they aren’t. Thank you, Dallas Stars, for getting this cynic to love a professional sports team again!
Diana Prichard

Pool Sharp

MANY THANKS FOR TURK PIPKIN’S “In Over My Head” [First Person, May 1999]. It was most timely, as my next- door neighbor is just starting the construction of his pool in the same manner described by Mr. Pipkin:

1. Arrival of a small, wheeled backhoe.
2. Digging and hammering for a few days.
3. Some days of silence.
4. Arrival of a huge, steel-tracked backhoe.
5. Digging and hammering for a few days.
6. Departure of both backhoes.
7. We are now in the silent period again.
Manfred Groth
San Antonio

Fess Up

I WAS DELIGHTED TO COME ACROSS THE ARTICLE on Comanche war chief Quanah Parker by Anne Dingus [Texas Primer: “Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker,” May 1999]. I have always been an admirer of his great loyalty and heroism. In fact, when I was a young boy, I had hoped that somehow I was related to him. My son recently had a new addition to his family, and I was honored to be able to name his new son Jack Quanah Parker.
Fess Parker
Los Olivos, California