A History Lessened
I read your article concerning the Texas State Historical Association [“Come and Rewrite It,” July 2023], and I was disappointed by how uncritically the story accepts many of the claims of one side. The author repeats the assertion by TSHA “traditionalists” that Mary Jo O’Rear’s appointment to the board, which occasioned J. P. Bryan’s lawsuit, shifted the balance of board members to “academics” even though decades of TSHA precedent show her to be an independent scholar.
The TSHA’s chief historian, Walter Buenger, is a traditional historian, and his statements about the Alamo’s use as a symbol of white supremacy are hardly controversial among scholars of modern Texas. Yet the story describes him as “a progressive” who “has drawn the ire of more-traditional historians.”
The article never examines the content of TSHA publications. The April 2023 issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, for example, features one article profiling an Alamo defender who was an abolitionist and another pushing back against slavery’s importance to the Texas Revolution. This is excellent historical scholarship, something that Bryan and his allies should be celebrating instead of attacking.
Benjamin H. Johnson, Chicago
Rockport Overlooked Again
Your article remembering Hurricane Harvey [“The Time It Wouldn’t Stop Raining,” July 2023] was interesting, but I was let down that there was no mention of the storm’s landfall. Harvey hit Rockport head on, and we were horrified when the media shifted focus to Houston and the rain. There was a mile-long debris field in Rockport that, as the months went on, grew to a debris mountain range. We lost businesses that have never returned. Going out to dinner? Forget it. The more affordable restaurants are still only open until 2 or 3 p.m. Our homes and businesses were flooded too, but they were also literally ripped apart.
Cheryl Robinson, Rockport
I enjoyed the Texanist’s column on tall tales and “wholly invented creatures” [July 2023]. Please let him know that the “gwinter” likely has a cousin in Scotland. It’s the noble “wild haggis,” an admired and celebrated creature in that country. The haggis, like the gwinter, has two legs on one side that are shorter than its two on the other side. This “mutation” evolved over thousands of years to allow it to outrun any predators around mountains and hillsides and never lose its balance.
John Hoopingarner, Lakeway
Editors’ note: In the August 2023 issue, the article “Wacowabunga!” incorrectly stated the date of a death after an incident at the BSR Surf Resort, in Waco. The incident occurred in 2019. Also, the article “We Don’t Go to Mexico Anymore” misstated the location of Nuevo León. It is to the west of Tamaulipas.
This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Roar of the Crowd.” Subscribe today.