Where Sheep May Safely Gaze

Reporters covering the latest round of mass shootings may benefit from

from some background information, although it is already public record,

and should be familiar to anyone for whom the past is forever present.

Uvalde, TX is about 85 miles (136 km) west of San Antonio. The nearest

border crossing (near Eagle Pass) is about 60 miles (96 km) away; the

town of Del Rio is about 70 miles (112 km) distant. Uvalde used to be a

major railroad depot, back in the day, Today it is the furthest point in the

Hill Country. Its most famous resident was John Nance Garner, a native

Texan who practiced law there, beginning in 1890, then entered politics

in 1902. He was a Congressman for thirty years, until he became Vice-

President of the U.S. for the first two terms that FDR was in office (1933-

1941). Garner retired to Uvalde, where he led a quiet life, managing real

estate holdings, playing with his grand-children, and fishing. (His house

is now a museum). Uvalde also boasts the oldest Opera House in Texas,

although the screams that echo from inside its walls are faint compared

to those heard in schools, homes and churches all the way to the border,

and far beyond it. Garner did not distinguish himself in office; indeed, his

role was so minimal that no one knew he was in Washington, DC until he

has left it. However, “Cactus Jack” (as he was called by those who knew

him) became famous after he withdrew from public life, not least for the

sagebrush advice he once gave a fellow Texan. When LBJ asked him

about accepting an offer from JFK to serve as his running mate in 1960,

Garner replied “The Vice-Presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.”

(The word that Garner actually used wasn’t ‘spit,’ but damn close).

LBJ ignored the advice, and the rest became history, albeit with a

macabre twist. On November 22, 1963, JFK telephoned Garner

to wish him a happy 95th birthday. Reporter Dan Rather (also

a native Texan, and, like his boss, Walter Cronkite, a UT-alum)

interviewed Garner on that occasion, before flying to Dallas to

cover the President’s arrival there. Also present at Garner’s

ranch was a local beauty queen who had just been named

Miss Texas Wool. (Even in an era of fake news, there are

some things you just can’t invent). Rather’s crew filmed

the whole interview, ‘phone call and all.. Rather took the

film with him to Dallas, dropped it off at the local CBS-TV

studio (now a Fox News affiliate) and headed downtown.

It was never aired; it may still be stored there, in a vault

(For details, see the Wiki entry on “John Nance Garner”).

Garner died on November 7, 1967, two weeks shy of his

99th birthday. He still holds the record for the longest-

lived former V-P in U.S. history. He contributed another

legacy, which left its mark on the entire region long after

his death. To wit, “throughout his career he maintained

allegiance to the white landowners who controlled the

voting booths in South Texas. He regarded his Mexican

voting base as ‘inferior and undesirable as U.S. citizens’”

(Bill Minutaglio, “A Single Star and Bloody Knuckles: A

History of Politics and Race in Texas” [Austin, TX, 2021],

68 ff.). Today, Uvalde is 80% Hispanic, yet Texas is still

trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. If this keeps up,

it will be time for anyone who is still starry-eyed to shuffle off

to Buffalo, in search of a better way of life–a loner in Canada,

past Niagara Falls, where seldom is heard a murderous word.

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Signed: Dennis Rohatyn