52 Chapters
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Hooked on Rivers

ePub

Myron J. Hess

I LOVE being outdoors. Those rare times when I am able to step back from the frenzied pace of everyday life and feel in rhythm with nature give me an incredible sense of peace, of calmness. And, if you throw in a flowing river or stream, I can get close to achieving a state of nirvana. The love of nature came early. The appreciation of the special role of flowing streams developed a bit later.

As the youngest of seven children growing up in Cooke County in rural North Texas near the Oklahoma border at a time when TV watching was still an occasional event and computer games were science fiction material, I spent the bulk of my early childhood outside. When my siblings were home, I followed them around as much as they would let me. When they had all started school and I was still at home, the yard became my preschool and kindergarten classroom. Fortunately for me, farmyards can be incredibly interesting places: chickens and ducks to observe, ground squirrels and lizards to stalk, insects and toads to catch, and bird and mouse nests to discover. I think my dad was relieved to see me start school so he didn’t have to spend so much of his time answering my questions about what I had found or seen, and he could get back to farming full time.

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Falling in Love With Bottomlands Waters and Forests of East Texas

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Janice Bezanson

I FELL in love with East Texas bottomland forests while trying to protect them. for most people it’s the other way around: they love them first, so they want to keep them from being cut down, paved over, turned into pasture, or flooded by reservoirs. But I got involved in conservation issues as an activist first. The late Ned fritz, legendary for recruiting people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do, coaxed my husband and me into representing Texas Conservation Alliance, then called the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, in permit hearings against a proposed reservoir on Little Cypress Creek in the Cypress Creek Basin in northeast Texas. This boondoggle project wasn’t needed for water supply and would have flooded 14,000 acres of wonderful forest wildlife habitat.

A glance at history suggests that I’m not the only one who loves bottomlands. People have always lived close to rivers, seeking the basics of life—water, food, transportation, and shelter—from the river and the fertile land it nurtures. Rivers are the essence of the southeastern United States—land formed by the ebb and flow of ancient beaches and shaped by abundant rainfall, rivers, and the passage of time. Small ephemeral streams bubbling up from drift sands become creeks that converge and gather in ever-increasing volume. They become winding rivers that spill across wide floodplains and spawn diverse bottomland forests. These rivers and their “bottoms” capture the imagination of poets and musicians and the hearts of settlers who revel in their beauty and mystery and abundant life.

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Landscape

ePub

Self portrait on college notebook, Austin, Texas. BYRD II 1903

“The edge of the photograph dissects familiar forms, and shows the unfamiliar fragment. It creates the shapes that surround objects. The photographer edits the meanings and patterns of the world through an imaginary frame. This frame is the beginning of this picture's geometry. It is to the photograph as the cushion is to the billiard table.”

–JOHN SZARKOWSKI

Byrd Williams II began to photograph the landscape around the turn of the century. When he finished his bachelor's degree in Austin, he took a number of survey and construction projects around the west in search of permanent employment. This could entail any number of duties from drafting to site photography of project progress. During this period he voraciously photographed the American landscape with an eye for visual starkness and geometric efficiency.

Letter From Mary Alice Williams to her son Byrd II

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4 On Leave in Paris for Training

ePub

The trusty C-47 that took us safely to Paris for a week of “schooling” by the Army. Two mornings and one afternoon were spent screening some of our own movie footage and getting a critique of it—both technical & how well it told the story (gave coherent information).

However, some of us who carried bags bulging with cartons of cigarettes, dozens of chocolate bars, and beaucoup soap had other priorities.

Euskirchen, Ger—1 April ’45

After much jockeying for a position, I got this angle shot of the Eiffel Tower along with three very cooperative planes. According to our guide, two daredevil flyers had flown under the tower in times past, but since the war who is the pilot who cannot brag of the feat?

Paris, France—6 April ’45

GIs Evans, Rosborough, and Randolph pause from their sight-seeing and snap-shooting for a glass of wine, vin rouge.

Paris, France—6 April ’45

A sculptor’s idea of love adds atmosphere to the real thing. Yes, they knew I was taking their picture, afterward. No, they didn’t throw anything or seem to care at all. Americans do the darnedest things.

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Night

ePub

WHEN I WAS A KID MY FRIENDS AND I WOULD HANG OUT on the street corners at night under the mercury vapor lights that provided a 200-foot circle of pasty illumination. If one of us had a paper route with the Fort Worth Press or Star Telegram, we were allowed to remain until sunrise when the newspapers had to be rolled and thrown to neighborhood subscribers. Our parents were more than happy to encourage our entrepreneurial spirit, inadvertently handing us the key to the city…at night.

For a twelve-year-old, it was one's first taste of unencumbered freedom. The summer sidewalks were still warm but the breeze was cool and no authority what-so-ever was in sight. Of course there was a bit of early ‘60s mischief, but for the most part, it was just fun being there.

I continued to roam the city at night for the rest of my life, as did my Dad. We never talked about the source of our fascination with gloomy urban spaces, but I know mine and can guess his. Cities are lit like movie sets.

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Texas Water Politics Forty Years of Going with the Flow

ePub

Ken Kramer

EVEN after forty years I can still visualize it. The “it” is the cover of the first issue of the biweekly Texas Observer I had ever seen. The year was 1969, and I had just embarked on my first graduate school experience—starting work on a master’s degree in political science at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches in East Texas. The professor in one of my classes had offered his students the opportunity to participate in a class subscription to the Observer, a liberal journal of opinion that provided exceptional coverage of Texas politics and government (and still does). Although I was a Republican at the time, I was extremely interested in politics, and, political philosophy aside, the Observer was touted as a good source of information about the state’s political comings and goings; so I signed up to receive one of the copies twice a month.

As it turns out, that was a momentous decision in my life—although not perhaps recognizable as such at the time. The first issue of the Observer I saw was devoted in its entirety to something called the “Texas Water Plan”—about which I knew nothing although I was already interested in environmental issues. The cover, which struck me so profoundly, showed a cartoon of several leading state officials, including then former governor John Connally and then governor Preston Smith, waterskiing or otherwise frolicking in or around some body of water. These folks were promoting this thing called the Texas Water Plan.

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1: Simplicity ~ Pristine Light

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1

SIMPLICITY ~ PRISTINE LIGHT

White-Painted Woodwork Meetinghouse (1820) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

MONOTONE MASS

The radical simplification produced by a single exterior color, characteristic of Shaker architecture, serves to unite each form, while accentuating the play of light over a surface, enveloping the whole in a subdued atmosphere. These monochromatic effects, free of either visual friction or excitement, range from the absolute purity of a white meetinghouse, to the monotone crust of stone or brick around a dwelling, or continuous coat of yellow paint on a workshop.

White Limestone Façade First West Family Dwelling (1811–12) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Yellow-Painted Volume Brethren's Shop (1810) Hancock, Massachusetts

PURE WHITE CAVITY

A spotless surface of smooth plaster and white paint serves to purify Shaker space. This image of perfection reveals the slightest sign of dirt, is devoid, one might even say absolved, of darkness, and is inherently ethereal, reduced to nothing but sheer light.

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A Tear in the Lens

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A Tear in the Lens

Roy Flukinger

Sometimes the well dent is visible, where once a spring oozed; now dry and tearless grass; or it was covered deep, not to be discovered till some late day, with a flat stone under the sod, when the last of the race departed. What a sorrowful act must that be, the covering up of wells! coincident with the opening of wells of tears. These cellar dents, like deserted fox burrows, old holes, are all that is left where once were the stir and bristle of human life … henry david thoreau, Walden

The great educator Robert Coles was once showing the work of a number of Farm Security

Administration photographers—those lean and rich documents of America in the 1930s—to some young students. One student in particular, Lawrence Jefferson, was drawn to the work of Marion Post Wolcott—one of the less well-known but perhaps the most ethically committed of all these federal photographers. Coles was curious to know why and Jefferson had a succinct but telling response: “She’s more upset with what’s wrong than anyone else.”

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9 Gardelegen Atrocity

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On the day before US Forces took Gardelegen, over a thousand slave laborers were burned and shot to death here. They were herded into a barn, the floor of which was covered with gasoline-soaked straw. A grinning 16 yr. old SS boy struck the match. Victims who tried to smother the flames or escape the barn were shot—machine guns being emplaced around the building. About one in twenty was identified as Jewish.

Near Gardelegen, Ger—20 May ’45

Mayors were brought from all the towns in Gardelegen County, made to view the 300 charred bodies and the makeshift grave for the other 700. All able-bodied males in the city of Gardelegen were forced to exhume the bodies in mass graves and bury all in individual plots with white crosses.

Near Gardelegen, Ger—20 May ’45

Sign marking the cemetery entrance. As it implies, each grave has a Gardelegen family charged with keeping it forever beautiful. As we were leaving this area on May 30 the British, who had taken over, saw to it that flowers were placed on each grave.

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Leaving a Water Legacy for Texas

ePub

Ann Thomas Hamilton

THE color of the water was like fresh-brewed orange pekoe tea—clear dark amber. The river was originally named Lumbee, from an Indian word meaning “black water.” Upon submerging my wiry little white body into the slow-moving current, my skin instantly took on a brown tone—the same color as that of the Lumbee Indians who long ago inhabited North Carolina’s Inner Banks region. One of my fondest childhood memories was of swimming in the river with my sister and cousins during warm summer days when we visited our grandparents in Lumberton in eastern North Carolina. Lumberton, the town where my mother was born, was founded in 1789 and named after the river. I truly believe my love affair with the mystery of naturally flowing water came from those sublime summers in that river some sixty years ago.

Because Lumberton was near the Carolina coast, the family would also visit a beach near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the site of the first airplane flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright. Of course, this historic site did not mean much to a little girl who loved the water. I just leaped into the Atlantic Ocean with great abandon without any understanding that the water from the Lumber River on the Inner Banks permeated downstream through the rich coastal marshes and wetlands before becoming a part of this vast ocean on the Outer Banks. It was the crashing waves, the sand, the salt filling my nostrils, eyes, and mouth that captured me as I floated tirelessly day after day in the invigorating surf.

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13 Displaced Persons, or DPs—A Nice Name for Slave Labor

ePub

By hand and by cart these former slave laborers move their “households” onto the waiting trains for Russia, where, their homes perhaps destroyed, they must begin again from scratch.

Chemnitz, Ger—2 June ’45

Having just piled off American trucks, these Russian DPs haven’t just yet found out how to get their duffels to the train.

Thousands of these people are arriving here daily from all over American-occupied Germany. We had just filmed a story of 1,200 being brought from Ohrdruf, 85 miles distant. Finding ourselves for the first and last time with a little freedom in a Russian-occupied German city, we snooped a bit. The Germans we talked to were glad to see Americans, wondering how long we were going to stay, and complaining about the skimpy ration of food.

Chemnitz, Ger—2 June ’45

Polish children hungrily munch an afternoon snack of rations that were once in the Red Cross PW Packages. This is part of the DP Camp’s nursery program.

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Plates

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11 Wartime Destruction

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This greatest synthetic oil plant in Germany, the Leuna Werk, was bombed 22 times and was forced to cut its production to ¼ its capacity. This and other interesting facts I got from a French slave laborer who worked in the office of the plant and kept track of all the raids. He now is serving the American Military Govt in the city as an interpreter.

Near Merseburg, Ger—6 May ’45

On Nov. 2, 1944, during the 12th raid on this vital Leuna Werk, the B-17 that my friend, Bob Campbell, was piloting was hit by flak, set afire, and forced down.

Near Merseberg, Ger—6 May ’45

Huge statue of Emperor Ludwig, the Bavarian, stands serene in the desolate city center. 171 winding steps bring fools and photographers groping through pitch blackness up to the top of the 125 ft pedestal. See next photo.

Darmstadt, Ger—13 May ’45

Burned-out shells that once were the city’s important buildings. The Air Force must have had a grudge to settle here. All damage is said to have been caused by a single raid with incendiary bombs. View is from a statue-topped tower.

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Toxicological Myths

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Toxicological Myths

Dr. Marvin Legator

In the never-ending battle to clean up our environment and make our world safer for humanity, individuals and organizations that profit from polluting the environment have developed a series of scenarios to obfuscate the human effects of exposure to toxic substances. The underlying assumption of toxic waste facilities, and frequently state and federal agencies, is that they know more about the technical aspects of toxicology than the victims of chemical exposure. This arrogance is often manifested in the unnecessary use of technical jargon and misleading or confusing factual information. Informed residents who are knowledgeable as to the adverse health effects of chemical exposure have repeatedly challenged the toxic waste facilities and frequently persevered in obtaining necessary remedial action. The informed citizens of Winona, Texas, are outstanding examples of how to fight for environmental justice and challenge the questionable assertions of the toxic waste facility as well as state and federal agencies. In 1997, moses (Mothers Organized to Stop Environmental Sins), under the leadership of one of our present-day environmental heroines, Phyllis Glazer, was instrumental in shutting down the major polluting facility in the community of Winona.

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12 People on the Move following Victory in Europe, May 7

ePub

Part of the lineup waiting to cross a narrow bridge. Traffic was one way at a time and very slow. The VE Day news is out, and many of these people are former slave laborers making a break for it.

Weissenfels, Ger—8 May ’45

Young German farm folk, looking a bit amused at the prospect of having their pic taken. They are stopped at a checking station at the end of town and an MP is investigating their wagonload behind for stowaways etc.

Sangershausen, Ger—11 May ’45

The CIC and Photo Units of 3d Armd. pause for a rest and ration stop on the autobahn to Frankfurt.

Between Sangerhausen and Frankfurt, Ger—12 May ’45

Presumably in VE Day glee, American fighters swarm playfully over Frankfurt.

Near Frankfurt, Ger—12 May ’45

Wreckage in the streets of Frankfurt am Maine. The nuns wearing packs and carrying suitcases appear to be on the move to some more habitable city or place of greater need.

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