ROB WOOD’S ILLUSTRATION ON THE COVER of the July 1996 issue is wonderful. I especially found the “face” within the funnel pertinent, considering the damage twisters do.


THE 1957 DALLAS TORNADO PHOTO in “Blown Away” [July 1996] reminded me of my mother’s report. Just east of Parkland Hospital (merging into the horizon on the right edge of the picture) was Braniff Airline’s offices. The employees on the sixth floor of that building watched the funnel cross Oak Cliff, trek through the river bottom, and plunge directly toward their glass house. At Industrial Boulevard, at their parking lot, it veered away, to the Southeast.
College Station

HAVING BEEN BORN AND RAISED IN LUBBOCK, I am somewhat familiar with tornado watches and the often strange phenomena (twisted logic?) that twisters produce. Your cover story reminded me of an incident in the sixties, when my son was six or so. My wife and I, in an attempt to impress on him the unusual quirks associated with tornadoes, mentioned that there had been documented instances in which broom straws were found imbedded in tree trunks in the aftermath of a twister. After giving the information some sober thought, he responded, “Well, one thing’s for sure. From now on I’m going to stay away from brooms.” JERRY W. JACKSON
Fair Oaks, California

Pall in the Family

IF YOU ASK ME, MRS. BURROUGHS should be behind bars right along with her daughter [“Poisoning Daddy,” July 1996]. That so-called mother may as well have put that poison in the beans herself.

Being a divorced mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter, I know how important it is to let your child know you will never abandon her. Too bad Mrs. Burroughs waited so long to let her daughter know she is always there for her. As for Mr. Burroughs, the message was quite clear—his step-daughter found out what a jerk he was, and he couldn’t face that every day. It’s a tragic example of what we have done to our children.

I WAS DUMBFOUNDED THAT MARIE’S GRANDFATHER, the father of the late Steven Robards, said that Marie should be forgiven and offered a probationary sentence. Marie’s mother mentioned that total strangers could meet Marie and sense something special about her, that she is such a beautiful person. What does that have to do with Marie’s acknowledging her criminal actions? Why don’t the family members tell Marie that she has committed a horrible crime and must accept responsibility?
Berwyn, Illinois

IF MARIE ROBARDS HAD STUDIED HAMLET SOONER, she might not be in prison today. Three scenes before Claudius’ soliloquy—a reading of which prompted Robards’ sudden confession of patricide—Hamlet utters these prophetic lines: “I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at play/Have by the very cunning of the scene/been struck so to the soul that presently/They have proclaimed their malefactions./For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak/ With most miraculous organ.” That’s a pretty clear warning for all murderers—and proof that it pays to brush up on your Shakespeare.

Nature Studies

NO DOUBT THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY (ICW) is causing its share of environmental problems, but for Gary Cartwright to say that the natural processes at work at Sargent Beach are caused by the ICW is too far a stretch of the truth [“Eerie Canal,” July 1996]. What is happening at Sargent Beach is an example of Mother Nature at work in her own slow, steady way. Hundreds of years ago, the Colorado River from north of Wharton to the coast followed what is now Caney Creek, and it constructed a delta into the Gulf of Mexico for a mile or so. About six hundred years ago, the river changed to its present course that discharges into the Gulf near the town of Matagorda. The old Colorado delta at Sargent Beach continues compacting under its own weight, as all deltas do. However, with its sediment supply cut off, it is compacting and submerging; and no amount of granite blocks and wishful thinking will stop it.
Corpus Christi

BLAMING THE ICW FOR THE EROSION AT SARGENT BEACH is like blaming the School Book Depository in Dallas for John F. Kennedy’s death. Sargent Beach is eroding because it has no barrier island. It will continue to do so until one forms a few hundred or thousand years from now.

The upper and lower Laguna Madre is covered with sea grass, even along the edges of the ICW. Anyone who has fished or boated there can see there is no shortage of sea grass. Cartwright seeks to inflame the reader and advance the cause of the “green brigade” (environmentalists and preservationists without reason or common sense), whose agenda seems to suggest that the world would be a much better place without humans. The biologists bemoaning the alleged loss of sea grass want power over the land and the Laguna Madre. If they can convince enough people that sea grass destruction is occurring, then they just might keep people out of hundreds of square miles of the lagoon. We may have to visit it by helicopter some day soon, unless the helicopter’s shadow would be cause for alarm—the shadow crisis!

There is no crisis with the ICW. The spoil islands provide nesting habitat for birds and structure for fish. Most people wish there were more of them. The only crisis we have now is the loss of freedom and property to the state and federal government because of “feel good” laws that protect slugs and snails instead of people.
Sugar Land

Affirmative Reaction

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN now that the U.S. Supreme Court has elected not to review the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision prohibiting race as a consideration for admission to UT’s law school [State Secrets: “Four-Flusher,” July 1996]? That the law school would have a reputation for accepting only the most qualified students? What a horrible disgrace! Would it truly be difficult to recruit faculty? I sure hope so, if the faculty members we hire are not concerned about their students’ qualifications or ability to comprehend and learn. Perhaps the most ridiculous concern of all is the fear of boycotts. Who would boycott? Students who failed to gain admission? Let’s all take a reality break. A school with a reputation for accepting only the best and the brightest from across the U.S. would have people standing in line to gain admission.

How insulting it must be for the women and minorities of this country to have their accomplishments diminished by the stigma of affirmative action. This beast of social engineering has to die. Competition made this country great—parity only weakens.
San Antonio