TALES FROM EAST TEXAS/Carol Countryman
Not so Harmonious in Harmony, Texas
The story has taken on a life of its own, so says Glenn Evans, reporter
for the Longview News-Journal. Evans, a new hire at the Journal,
was assigned to cover the growing disharmony involving the Harmony Independent
School District board of trustees.
Harmony, you may remember from one of my previous columns, was the school
district that made headlines several years ago when the district fired the
agriculture teacher for, well, for teaching more inventive ways of castration.
It seems he lectured the class, of whom at least one was a total doofus,
about the old-fashioned means of castration -- namely, biting the testicles
off with one's very own teeth. The doofus decided to act on the lecture
and proceeded to bite a pig's balls off. It didn't go over well with the
kid's parents. Or the pig.
In the latest brouhaha, the tiny town of Harmony was split in half, divided
by the growing controversy over whether or not to give the superintendent
of schools another year on his contract.
The school board opted not to extend it. The following week, supporters
of the superintendent organized a political function at the school, passing
around a petition for folks to sign saying they were in support of the embattled
"super." Unfortunately, that meeting was infiltrated by the super's
It wasn t long into the meeting when a brawl broke out -- between a brother
and sister, both alleged adults who reverted to their childhoods, and decided
to settle the matter through fisticuffs. The woman s husband soon jumped
into the fracas, followed by the two brawlers' father, all of whom were
pushing, shoving, and choking each other.
Ever the consummate reporter, Evans took notes throughout the brawl. When
he stepped outside to ask the names of those involved, he reportedly was
grabbed rather forcefully about the head, chin and throat by the father,
and told "If you print one word of that, you're done."
According to eyewitnesses, Evans, red -- yet rapidly turning bluish of face
-- continued taking notes, quoting the fellow whose hands were wrapped about
The father has since apologized to the reporter. The sister, however, has
filed assault charges against her father and brother. And all of this, of
course, is the typical outcome of family reunions and school board meetings
in East Texas.
The world's attention was focused on Huntsville in early February, everyone
holding their collective breaths in anticipation of the execution of the
first woman in Texas since before the Civil War. Folks came from all around,
even Arkansas, to either protest or support the state-sponsored murder of
Karla Faye Tucker, an admitted pick-axe murder.
There was no fanfare, no satellite trucks, no news anchors, and nary a protester
at the execution less than a week later of Steven Renfro. Unlike Tucker,
who had spent 14 years on death row, Renfro spent less than a year waiting
to die. It was his choice, asking that no appeals be made to spare his life.
While strapped to the gurney, Renfro apologized to the families of his three
victims, one of whom was killed when after Renfro pumped 150 rounds from
his assault rifle into the man's trailer house. Renfro was the 37th prisoner
put to death in Texas in the past year.
In early May one of the youngest on Death Row is set for execution. Napolean
Beasley was only 17 when he and a two friends saw a Mercedes Benz that they
wanted. They followed the driver, a Tyler businessman, from the interstate
to his home, where they shot him to death and stole his car. Four years
later, Beasley's appeals have been expedited, and the 21-year-old will die
for his crime.
I'm Just Mad About Oprah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know all about Oprah's big beef with Big Beef. What
you don't know is how much (more) of a circus Amarillo has turned into since
the trial began. Forget that for many years the feed industry was turning
cattle into cannibals. Forget that prices fell for beef cattle fell shortly
after Oprah aired her show in which she announced she was stopped cold from
eating another burger. Forget that said prices may have had something to
do with high feed prices and the worst drought to hit Texas in 50 years.
Hell, forget about mad cows.
What you really need to know is that when the trial began the official Texas
A&M Kazoo Band high-tailed it to Amarillo to show their support for
Big Beef. Unfortunately, whilst their attention was so focused on playing
their little tunes on their little kazoos, they accidently marched smack-dab
over one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, knocking the poor fella to the
ground. Oops. Hope he doesn t sue.
You know what they say -- you can lead a kazoo player to the court house,
but you can't make him think.
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