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16. Parks in a Changing Texas



Parks in a Changing Texas

I rotated off the National Park Foundation with deep regret but fired up with knowledge gained during my time on the board. In the summer of 2000 I sought out my friend Andy Sansom, who was executive director of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), serving with great distinction and vision. I explained that I wanted to put my national park enthusiasm and experience to use in Texas. After an hour or so of conversation and exchange of ideas, Andy wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it up, and handed it to me. On it was one word: “Money!”

“George,” he said, “the department is underfunded, particularly the park system, but we also need increased appropriations for fish hatcheries, wildlife areas, and a number of other conservation venues.” I told Andy while I knew the legislative process, I had not worked on conservation and parkland issues and did not know the legislative or conservation players across the state. However, I thought I could raise enough money from friends and associates to give me breathing room to learn, while at the same time begin to build an organization diverse and strong enough to succeed. Andy suggested several people I ought to meet and in December of 2000 introduced me to the constituency groups he had assembled over the years to explain the upcoming legislative budget and issues situation. That was of immense help to me, as I met people who signed on with my next project early and who to this day I count as supporters and friends. This was the genesis of what would become the Texas Coalition for Conservation (TCC).

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4. Weatherford, Texas



Weatherford, Texas

Weatherford, Texas, in 1950, was about one hundred honky-tonks, body shops, and revival tents west of Fort Worth. Back then I don’t think moral standards dictated that honks and the canvas crowds had to be zoned five miles apart. The bar owners knew there would be backsliders and the bible thumpers knew that dancers and boozers needed saving—at least once a month, if not every Sunday morning and Wednesday night.

The town itself was protected by rolling plains and its own set of serious church congregations. Of course we joined the First Baptist Church. It’s where I gave myself to the Lord and was full-body baptized, totally submerged. If I remember correctly, both sides of the family, Methodist and Presbyterian included, came from all over to give witness and support for this Baptist equivalent to bar mitzvah.

Not that I knew what a bar mitzvah was. I don’t remember meeting a single Jewish person in those years of my childhood. There may have been a synagogue in Weatherford, but I never saw it. I’m not sure I even knew Jews existed as living people, although the Bible of the Baptists was chock-full of references to them. Jesus was one. Jesus was never a Christian, which came as a shock to me thirty years or so later when I began to revisit religion.

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3. Orange, Texas



Orange, Texas

Orange, Texas, was a brief one-year stopover for us. The town is located near the Gulf of Mexico in Deep East Texas on the Sabine River. My snapshot memory says our time there was about crawdads, Brooks and Nellie Conover, a near hurricane, Korea, and “the bomb.”

I am not sure why we left Denton in August 1949. I think it was because Mother, who was still working on her master’s in library science, needed library work to complete her degree, and her dear friends, the Conovers, helped her get a position at Orange High School where Brooks was the head football coach.

We moved into a duplex with the Conovers on St. John Street. For a Texas plains kid, the street was strange: crushed oyster shells with ditches on both sides, brimming after rain (which was often) with crawdads. Being so close to the Gulf, Orange was always wet it seemed. When it wasn’t raining, it dripped, or steam rose from the saturated ground.

Early on, Brooks and Nellie took us to see the mothballed fleet at the naval yard on the river. For what seemed like miles, ships of every sort, World War I and World War II vintage, lay at anchor. Hopes that these would never go to war again changed on August 29, 1949, with the explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb—followed by the takeover of China by communists. Those two events saturated the newspapers and radio broadcasts. People talked at the grocery store and at Friday night football games. Even my fourth-grade classmates talked about these events, perhaps not intelligently but constantly. We had photos of the bomb and worried about the possibility of an attack. We practiced climbing under our school desks as quickly as possible. Anchors were weighed, and the mothballed ships sailed off.

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2. Denton, Texas



Denton, Texas

Our first home back in Denton was a summer-vacated girls’ dormitory near campus. It was perfect. It had a piano in the lobby and a great kitchen and was just down the hill from the college swimming pool. Because Granddaddy Donoho was a faculty member, we had pool privileges and it seemed every afternoon we swam there, even though polio raged across Texas and the country. Mom’s position was fatalistic: the dreaded disease would or wouldn’t hit us, regardless of what we did. Many parents kept their children indoors. Aunt Donnie and Uncle Brooks wouldn’t let Don and Judd venture out often, but sometimes they came over and we had a splendid time being together and swimming.

Restrictions to going out did not apply to churchgoing. I suppose most thought that God’s house was a sanctuary against not only sin, but also disease. There in the summer of 1947 and for the next two years we continued to learn about Jesus, prayed, and after church walked or drove with Granddaddy’s friends to the cafeteria at the college for lunch.

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Here at the inlet cove of a high mountain lake,

the water is lined with boulders perfectly placed,

lily pads smiling and three clear hues shining in

morning light:

an ebony ess along this leftward shore,

deep, flagrant blue toward the center,

white sun-catching ripples at the eastern edge—

a fetching body of water pocketed by slopes

of golden meadow grasses gone to seed,

spiked with bright lemony clumps of

arctic willow

and crimson studs of Salix planifolia,

and backed by dark forests of spruce and fir

that sweep to timberline, with sheep slopes


sharp ridges, steps, buttresses, cliffs, and


leading up to turrety peaks that scratch

against the almost flawless sky—marred only by

three thin mare’s tails of high-stretched cirrus,

and that’s not all of it.

Call it perfect if you will.

I do and nearly gasp,

reach for a camera, think better of it,

knowing how a shutter’s snap diminishes

and sensing, too, in cirrus

that this whole September scene

is just about to change

Tomorrow the wind will shift

from warm south to raw northwest,

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X My Running Fight


LEW came in to Denver with the waggon from the ranch, to find me completely mended up. We went round town together to see our friends, and right there in Gus Cheever’s office we ran on to a man who had for sale just the very thing we thought we wanted next, namely, a bunch of cattle.

The owner of the cattle was Major Oakes, and he had them down at a ranch some way off on the Platte where they were kept. I rather think the ranchman had them on the shares; that was a common arrangement in those days. We went down there with the Major and we liked the cattle; they certainly seemed all right, and we bought the lot. They were American cattle, that is to say, the same breed as our English dairy stock, quite unlike the tall, gaunt, long-horned Spanish stock that came from Texas which were now pouring into Southern Colorado. There were about fifty of them and the cows were broke gentle to milk; the head of the herd was old Charley, a big white bull with red ears, the same colour as the wild white cattle of Chillingham, and many of the calves and young stock took their markings from him. We also took over a bay cow-pony who as well as the bull was called Charley. Both the pony and these American cattle were perfectly quiet, so much so that Lew and I settled to take them straight down over the Divide to the ranch, he driving the waggon and I herding the cattle along.

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III Three Per Cent


I WISH I could remember more of that first Western stage drive from Cheyenne to Denver. There were several of us passengers on Wells Fargo’s coach, but the man who caught my attention from the first was the coachman or stage-driver, who was Bill Updike. He was a singular being: his closest attention was fixed unremittingly upon the horses he controlled so deftly with the four lines, the word he used for reins, held in his two hands, the near reins in his left, the off in his right; but he kept the other side of his brain free as air for lively and humorous talk with his passengers. I was by no means the only tenderfoot on board, and for all of us alike Bill did the honours of the new Territory we had just entered, as he himself would have put it, in ·A number 1 style. From Cheyenne the road ran due south for over a hundred miles, keeping parallel the whole way to the main range of the Rocky Mountains; Long’s Peak, thirty miles to the west was by far the highest of them that we could see, rising as it did to an elevation of nearly 15,000 feet, or some 9000 above the road we were travelling. Between this great peak and the Plains rose endless minor mountain ranges mostly from 8000 to 12,000 feet high, while the road itself took its course out on the Plains, still farther to the east so as to avoid the almost impassable mountain gorges. Rocky mountains they truly were, both in name and nature. Their sides, when not bare rock, showed dark with pines; but, east of them, where our road ran, the country consisted of bare treeless rolling downs covered with yellow grass, which Bill informed us was cured by the sun as regular as the year went round into natural hay of the finest quality.

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XIV A Texas Nursery


ON a blazing hot noon in early summer I was riding around over the range looking for a stray horse. The endless rolling surface of the prairie seemed absolutely bare of cattle, so far, at least, as one could depend upon what the eye told one. For it was one of the days when the “smoke” was strong, “smoke” being the name we used to give to the mirage. Out in Colorado all the baffling uncertainty of vision that makes for mystery, all illusion, all glamour, belong to the dazzling hours of midday and not to the gloaming.

In the early morning, and towards evening, there is no “smoke” and no mystery, for out there on the great plains, five thousand feet above sea level in the very driest part of the American continent, the air is of an incredible transparency. Forty miles from my ranch the huge red granite dome of Pike’s Peak heaved up its beetling crags against the western sky, and at sunrise every crack and crevice of the rocks showed as sharp and clear-cut as though they were only half a mile off. Northwards the stem of one solitary pine, ten miles away, made a thin black line against the sky, and I once knew a single horseman detected by the keen sight of a frontiers-man standing in front of my ranch over on Holcombe bluffs across a distance of fully two leagues.

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IX The Expanding Bean


NO, I hadn’t lost any Kiowas, neither had Lew and I lost any Utes. The fact was, our Ute scare had rather put both him and me off the notion of taking up that Saguache ranch. Lew had two women to think of, and the mere thought of the awful position of the two Godfrey women when those Utes held us there in the hollow of their hand was enough. True, the Plains Indians, if they ever got hold of you and yours, were every bit as bad, but then their range was fifty times the size of the Utes’: they had the whole of the great Buffalo range, the Plains, to wander in, about a million of square miles: that allowed all parties a little elbow room, and, with any luck, one might settle on the Plains and never see an Indian.

So Lew and I made tracks back to Denver again, where we joined up with his friend, Ex-Governor A. C. Hunt, and with him we went out on the Plains south of the Divide to look for another site for a ranch. Hunt told us he knew of a place that he thought would do for us, and he took us there all right. It was on the head of Black Squirrel Creek, one of the many dry creeks running south from the Divide to the Arkansas. The spot we pitched on lay about twelve miles south of the Bijou Basin and ten miles from the great pine forest that covered the top of the Divide. Forty miles away to the west stood Pike’s Peak, its glorious red granite dome towering 14,000 feet into the sky, over double the height of our ranch, which was but some 6,000 odd. We were fifty miles due north of the Arkansas River, thirty miles east of that Manitou Spring I had already visited, and twenty-five miles east of the place on Fountain Creek where Colorado Springs was afterwards built. You could locate it by these bearings on the map in a moment.

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Postscript: The Death of a Man, the End of an Era


As Evans prepared to celebrate his seventy-seventh Christmas, he passed from this life. On December 6, 1954, the white community of Farmington and the Navajo community surrounding Shiprock became aware of his death. His obituary announced that he had died quietly after several months of failing health. But it was a peaceful farewell, as his wife, Sarah, three sons—Ralph, Richard, and David—and daughter, Gwen, paid their last respects.

To the Navajo community, Missing Tooth [Awóshk’al’ádin] had “gone away.” In Window Rock as the Navajo Tribal Council held session, Chairman Sam Akeah brought the news to many of the tribal advisors who had known and worked with Will. He had often noted in his “Navajo Trails” column, which he wrote right up to his death, the passing of another elderly Navajo with a piece of the tribe’s history. He also mentioned that, sometime, the two would meet again. That time had come.

The white community again recognized Will for his accomplishments—his authoritative study of the Beautiful Mountain uprising, his knowledge of Navajo lore, his stint in the state legislature (1928), his service as police judge, and his presiding as justice of the peace, before retiring from public life. His artistic creations were another tangible means by which he was remembered. Indeed, on August 30, 2002, an open house at the Farmington Museum featured an exhibit entitled “Painting with a Passion: Will Evans and the Navajo.” There the public encountered his close-to obsession in using Navajo symbols to beautify his home, on everything from lampshades and tables to vases and wall hangings. His art has now become a collector’s item.

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9 Adapting to New and Different Cultures


Am I in Amish Country yet? I wondered as I drove through the rolling hills of Lancaster County. I couldn’t be; there was a gas station back there. On the pavement of the two-lane highway, there were white circles every twenty meters; I later learned that these are there to warn cars to keep a two-circle distance from one another to prevent tailgating. As I drove around a turn, I spotted a horse and buggy trotting along on the shoulder of the highway. No way; this is so unreal, I thought to myself. But there they were, a little girl and her father riding in their own lane next to the heavy car traffic. If not for the large reflector on the back of the black boxy buggy, I might have overlooked it as it was obscured in the shade of the trees. So the reflectors are important modern additions. I drove slowly and carefully as I approached from behind. I could hear the horses’ hooves pounding the pavement and was eager to catch my first glimpse of the Amish.

When I finally arrived, I searched for a place to eat and found a “Pennsylvania Dutch” restaurant. I didn’t recognize any dish on the menu. I ended up eating chicken croquettes, Amish breaded chicken. It was so good, I wanted every other dish I’d never heard of. From the window of the booth I sat in, I saw a line of horses and buggies following one another to a park across the street. I decided to walk over and see what the occasion was.

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4 Not Just about Me Anymore


Show me what you’re doing here. Show me how to weld,” the reporter commanded. It was my first day working for Local 83, and I had little idea about what kind of work a boilermaker actually does. Regardless, there I was standing in a welding lodge with a reporter from a local Kansas City TV station. Luckily, I had taken metal shop in high school, so I knew how to strike up a torch and cut through metal; and for everything else, I had Randy Cruse beside me to explain it to the reporter.

“We build and maintain power plants throughout the Missouri Valley,” Randy noted. Randy, the president of the Brotherhood for Boilermakers, was to be my mentor for the week. “We are employed in repairing, repiping, and retubing commercial steam and hot-water boilers used for heating and domestic hot water in commercial buildings and multifamily dwellings,” he elaborated. Though I grasped the basics, I was eager to know how all the pieces of this profession worked together. In many ways, the job of boilermaker reminded me of my project. Though I knew what I was doing on each particular day, I didn’t always understand how everything fit into the big picture until more time passed.

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Experience 1 Reality Hits But No Turning Back


As he handed me a check for $250, my dad made no effort to hide his doubt that I could complete my journey. “See you in three weeks,” he uttered skeptically. With tears in her eyes, my mom sprayed Windex across my car windows and promptly wiped the glass clean. Standing beside us, my brother videotaped my departure with the precious Sony camera I had purchased on credit just a few days earlier. I took two cases of water from my dad and put them on the floor of the car. With every move, my body shivered. Anticipating the journey ahead, I was shrouded in uncertainty. My throat choked up as though bricks were stacked from my stomach to my neck. I swallowed the emotion, climbed in my Jeep, and reversed out of the driveway.

This is it; no turning back. My mind raced as I repeated the words: No turning back. I was scared. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t succeed, but I had flushed the possibility from my mind. Failure simply wasn’t an option, no matter what obstacles I encountered over the next fifty weeks. While I drove slowly through the familiar streets of my hometown toward the on-ramp of the highway — the on-ramp of my journey — the car was silent. I had turned off my cell phone. The radio was off. But my mind was rambling. Where am I going to end up tonight? Where will I eat? Do I have enough money to eat? Should I cash the check my dad gave me? Ambivalence hammered through my thoughts like static noise, and I needed to drown it out before it got the best of me.

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1: The Final Epidemic


Into the eternal darkness, into fire, into ice.
—DANTE, The Inferno

The decisions that influence the course of history arise out of the individual experiences of thousands of millions of individuals.

ON REFLECTION, MY ENTIRE LIFE had prepared me for a moment of extraordinary challenge. I was already middle-aged when I began an emotional and intellectual journey through rugged and uncharted terrain. I risked credibility and even retribution when I joined forces with a perceived enemy to contain the unparalleled terror of nuclear war. The enemy became a friend, and together we launched a global movement.

This is both my story and the story of an organization founded to engage millions of people worldwide in a struggle for human survival. To a large extent my own identity and that of the organization became one. Building the organization became a preoccupation, even an obsession. Although I continued my professional work with fervor, as clinician, cardiologist, teacher, and researcher, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) absorbed even more of my energy.

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Appendix: IPPNW Time Line


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