47 Chapters
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Medium 9781603442015

Texas Rivers and Tributaries

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

I HAVE photographed the living waters of Texas for over twenty years, but at the beginning of my photography career I was more interested in places like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the mysterious slot canyons of southeastern Utah. I took pictures in Texas only when I stopped to rest during the long trips out west. But as the good images piled up, I found the streams and springs of my home state, from the West Fork of the Frio River or the wetlands of Aransas Wildlife Refuge to the Neches River bottomlands and the watery canyons of Big Bend Ranch State Park, to be the most extraordinary places of all. And I know there is much more to be found on private land, like a waterfall I have seen in deep East Texas that has never been photographed and doesn’t even have a name.

Yet just as Edward Curtis photographed the “vanishing Indians” one hundred years ago, I sense that I am photographing the vanishing waters of Texas. The Rio Grande in Big Bend is now more like the “Rio Poco,” the Middle Fork of the Pease River has dried up, and Jacob’s Well in the Hill Country stopped flowing for the first time in 2000. Larry McKinney, in his 1973 essay “Troubled Water,” states that “of the original 31 large springs (in Texas), only 17 remain. None of those springs stopped flowing because of natural causes.”

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14 German Village and Country Life

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

Children wait for their daily measure of milk. The lady has a horse-drawn wagon which she stops at each street corner, ringing a bell to rouse the nearby housewives.

Gardelegen, Ger—23 May ’45

Little fellow makes his way to the Mulberg town bakery balancing on his head the pie his mother sent him with.

Near Gotha, Ger—9 June ’45

Farmhands are exceedingly scarce these days. Age is no exemption from manual labor. Youngsters usually come to the fields with their folks. Another way of thinking about this photo is as “War’s Residue, the Very Old and Very Young.”

Sangerhausen, Ger—11 May ’45

They couldn’t help giggling at the two American soldiers who stopped their Peep and walked clear out in the field just to take pictures of them. The youngest is ten, and they work about nine hours a day.

Near Gardelegen, Ger—29 May ’45

Husky and hard-working, but not eager to be photographed in such a role. The German people are surprisingly alert to the propaganda possibilities of pictures and hence object to posing for any that might show them in an unfavorable light, not so much as individuals, but as representative Germans.

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1 Battle for the Remagen Bridge across the Rhine River

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

Statue of Beethoven amid the ruins of his native city, Bonn. Official pictures of this by Sig C got quite a spread in US papers.

That’s T/3 Kitzero standing there, he’s an army photographer like me.

Less than a block from this statue was the photo shop basement where by match light I located the 40 rolls of size 127 film without which this would have been among the last photos for me.

Bonn, Ger—14 March ’45
Verichrome Film

I have chosen to write in the clipped style of my field notes. “Sig C” means Army Signal Corps.

Partially ruined cathedral of which I was to see many, later. The Germans found them too effective as OPs.

Bonn, Ger—14 March ’45

OPs are observation posts.

Unusual position for a Sherman Tank, but the tanker was hunting an unusual prey. The army, still jittery about the newly won Remagen Bridge, feared the enemy might destroy it by a one-man submarine or floating mines. So that’s what this tanker is looking for. Also searchlights were even used to watch the river by night.

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4 On Leave in Paris for Training

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press 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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Postcard

Byrd M. Williams IV University of North Texas Press ePub

BYRD WILLIAMS SENIOR, A TENNESSEAN ENTREPRENEUR, sold his hardware store in 1880 and moved to Texas for a new economic start. Byrd purchased a small farm and then promptly opened a hardware/dry goods/general store on the south side of the square in Gainesville, Texas, where he hawked a wide variety of products including photographic items. He began to shoot his own photographs, printing them on the new Kodak postcard stock and offering them for sell on his counter top: The BYRD photography endeavor started here.

Byrd's vendor franchises supplied him with all the latest in darkroom paraphernalia, viewing devices, and archiving materials such as fancy family photo albums. By the time the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago rolled around in 1893 the hobby of postcard collecting was in full tilt. Around this time, the US government lowered the postage rate on cards to a penny. The “craze” became an industry.

Small towns could not, for economic reasons, attract the large-scale publishing companies that might invest in “Eiffel Tower-type” tourist postcards. The equipment and materials were available to produce small runs of local interest postcards, so Byrd and his sons began to roam the state in search of regional tourist attractions.

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The Bays and Estuaries of Texas An Ephemeral Treasure?

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Ben F. Vaughan III

CHARLES KRUVAND’S coastal photographs in The Living Waters of Texas are works of art, but even they are inadequate to portray the riches all Texans have inherited through the public ownership of the bays and estuaries along our Texas coast. My fond hope here is to explain how the health of Texas bays and estuaries and their freshwater inflows are so precious to me, to the fifty thousand Texas members of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and to everyone. So important indeed are these resources that we dedicate ourselves unstintingly to their continued maintenance and future enhancement.

Our interest and our dedication may have stemmed from our personal experiences. Perhaps it started with the toe in the water, a gull’s cry, a whelk’s moan, a perch’s nibble, or a chandelier-like spray before the bow of a boat running into a southeast breeze. Such indelible impressions are memory makers not easily forfeited to the political expediency demanded by the shortcomings of human imagination.

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A Taste of the Marsh

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Susan Raleigh Kaderka

AS we walked down to the saltmarsh near the observation tower on Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Cathy Porter bent over and broke off a sprig of saltwort, a spiky succulent that grows in clumps by the water’s edge. “Taste it,” she said, offering me a piece and putting a bit into her own mouth. It was an idle gesture, something she’s probably done countless times leading groups of schoolchildren on tours of this 7,000-acre Nature Conservancy preserve. She had been naming off the various species of marsh vegetation for me—seablight, Gulf cordgrass, saltmarsh bulrush—and just come across one worth tasting.

True to its name, the plant tasted salty. As Porter no doubt points out to visiting students, it is well adapted to the conditions of the Texas Gulf Coast, thriving near salt water in a sandy soil. But as I chewed it, a different landscape suddenly came to mind. For a moment, I was back in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, where I lived up to the age of six.

Like most children growing up in the late 1950s, I spent almost all of my free time outdoors. This habit was not evidence of any special affinity for nature. It did not prefigure my later work in wildlife conservation. It was not unique to me at all; it was what everyone did. Childhood pretty much took place out of doors. If you were indoors, it meant it was raining, or nighttime, or, later, that you were in school. Even in winter we played outdoors, bundled up in hooded snowsuits, rubber boots, and mittens. Snapshots of my sister and me in the snowy field opposite our house show us smiling out at the camera from jackets so thick our arms stuck out from our sides. But unquestionably we were outside.

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On the Banks of the Bayous Preserving Nature in an Urban Environment

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Mary Ellen Whitworth

AS I sit on the banks of Buffalo Bayou waiting for the bats to emerge at Waugh Street Bridge, it is hard to imagine that this bayou was once the source of drinking water for the city of Houston. Early settlers pumped the springs dry, polluted the bayou, and logged the beautiful magnolias that lined the banks. Today, during dry weather, the sediment-laden flow is mostly treated wastewater effluent.

Yet a canoe trip down this bayou still reveals its hidden beauty. Although rare, a few large forested tracts remain, such as those at Memorial Park and St. Mary’s Seminary. These provide much-needed habitat for the variety of birds and mammals that depend on the bayou. Pines and oaks line the remaining banks, which are still subject to severe erosion. As the bayou winds through downtown, thanks to the work of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the banks have been “laid back” and planted to add beauty and protection. The water quality still does not meet state standards for protecting the health of people recreating in the water, but it is good enough to support a wide variety of fish and bottom-dwelling organisms. Raccoons, possums, armadillos, rabbits, coyotes, and alligators have all been spotted on the banks.

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Texas Water Politics Forty Years of Going with the Flow

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press 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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6 Civilians during the War

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

An old shepherd leads his sheep out to pasture while GIs watch the show.

Blankenheim, Ger—25 April ’45

T/3 Jack Kitzero had a little after-dinner sport with a German youngster. She and a handful of others were eager to play and got a particular kick out of my helmet and liner. They scrambled for the chance to swing between our arms as we headed back to the billets.

Blankenheim, Ger—25 April ’45

Old duffer sits and puffs contentedly on his pipe. He speaks to us of a brother he has in the States.

Marktleuthen, Ger—28 April ’45

Main street of this city—its only straight stretch. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and the military curfew keeps all civilians off the street. A “Dog’s Life” is not so bad in this case.

Marktleuthen, Ger—29 April ’45

The street has quickly come alive now. Everybody’s busy shopping and visiting while their time lasts. Curfew rules allow them onto the streets only from 8 to 9 in the morning and 4 to 5 in the afternoon.

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11 Wartime Destruction

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

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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Where the First Raindrop Falls

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

David K. Langford

BEFORE Lyndon B. Johnson was a politician, he was a child of the land. Growing up in the Texas Hill Country amid grazing sheep, cattle, and sparkling, clear springs, he inherently understood the relationship among sky, land, and water. Like most Texans, LBJ felt a strong kinship to the land because, since the days of the Republic, our lives and our livelihoods have been shaped by the diverse landscape that characterizes our home.

Although the former president was not part of my biological family, he was part of a large extended family of clannish, pioneering souls determined to eke a living from the Hill Country’s rock-strewn terrain. We were not kin by blood, but we were bound by shared experiences.

My biological family is like the ancient live oaks that dot the Texas Hill Country. For as long as there are memories, we have sunk our roots into the shallow soil and battled to survive in a place whose beauty belies its harshness.

Seven generations of my family have called Gillespie County and Kendall County home. From the beginning, my family has had a love affair, for lack of a better phrase, with water. The Hill Country can be unforgiving when you’re trying to coax a living from the soil. Water was the one thing that made the land hospitable—and offered the promise of a future.

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Hooked on Rivers

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press 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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Studio

Byrd M. Williams IV University of North Texas Press ePub

Dad's Westcliff Studio

DAD WORKED HIMSELF TO DEATH for 50 years in a Mom and Pop style photographic business. I was there for 30 of them. Our family was of the secular variety whose devotional piety was not directed toward any religious enterprise but rather to that postwar American work ethic that drove the entrepreneurial mental prison of the 1950s. We were in the evidence business. A wedding happened and for $59.95 you could buy the artifact proof from us. Indeed, participant testimony was piffle compared to full-color documents filled with aunts and uncles and in-laws and drunks. Same with the portrayal of family happiness. Stiff topographical maps of faces with awkward smirks in bad suits that displayed, however sterile, the family unit intact. One wonders what posterity will think of our culture 500 years hence. All 300,000,000 of us in the same J. C. Penney's uniform, the same sneer, the same phony grouping of eternal oneness. It may be a good thing that the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans had no Olin Mills. These records of our appearance, our existence, even our sentience will become our headstones.

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8 Russians in East Germany Part II—Russians Occupy the Land

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

Some of the advance party of Russians stop to exchange a few German words with part of a small group of GIs left behind temporarily as security. The signpost holds German, American, and now Russian signs pointing to Arnstadt.

Ichterhausen, Ger—4 July ’45

This Russian occupation took place about two months after the linkup.

Russian tank rolls by our Peep.

Ichterhausen, Ger—4 July ’45

Wagon after wagon rolls by as the Russian occupation of Thuringia goes on. All US Troops have left except three photogs and a few Medics and hospital cases awaiting evacuation by C-47s that are several days overdue.

Gotha, Ger—5 July ’45

“We Greet the Red Army,” the big red banner reads in German and Russian. “We Fear the Red Army” would be more literally true of the German sentiment. Accused of being two-faced, the people absolve themselves of any guilt by saying that the Bergermeister ordered the banner hung. The Little People don’t feel they have or want a say in the way things are run.

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