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The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro
Raúl H. Castro was the first Hispanic governor of Arizona, ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia, and Argentina, lawyer, judge, and teacher. His life and career serve as role models, not only to Mexican Americans but to all Americans. Born in Mexico in 1916, in 1926 he moved with his family to Arizona, where his earliest memories include collecting cactus fruit in the desert for food. Thanks to an athletic scholarship, he attended Arizona State Teachers College and later was accepted by the University of Arizona College of Law. He received his Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1949. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Castro U. S. ambassador to Salvador in 1964 and to Bolivia in 1969. Active in Arizona Democratic Party politics, he was elected governor in 1974 but his term was interrupted by an appointment as ambassador to Argentina. Raul Castro’s story suggests much about the human spirit, the ability to overcome institutional and personal prejudice, and the hope inherent in the American dream.
New and Selected Poems
The State of Texas has honored Texas Poets Laureate for seventy-three years, but much of their work has gone unpublished and unrecognized. In a significant step toward recognizing the achievements of the Texas Poets Laureate, TCU Press will publish a series of the work of the Poets Laureate, with a volume dedicated to each poet. The series begins with the 2005 and 2006 Texas Poets Laureate, Alan Birkelbach and Red Steagall, and will continue through the next five appointments. These beautiful volumes collect the finest work of each individual poet. While a single volume may stand alone as a valuable selection of a poet’s work, the series as a whole will draw their different voices together into a singular poetic expression of Texas. Alan Birkelbach writes of the Texas landscape and its people with conversational ease, a touch that makes his vividness of description shimmer through each poem’s lines, etching them into the reader’s memory. He balances the ordinary and the phenomenal, the factual and the suppositional, the temporal and the eternal, in poems remarkable for their depth of insight. As Billy Bob Hill writes in his introduction to the volume, “Birkelbach can disguise a mosaic of word music in plain sight hidden in conversational English.”
A Fort Worth Boyhood
Growing up in Fort Worth during the 1950s never lacked in excitement for David Murph. In his memoir, Murph recalls a mischievous childhood punctuated by adventures in driving, occasional acts of accidental arson, more than one trip to the jailhouse, and countless other tales. The cast of characters includes not only friends and family but also famous figures such as John Scopes, Bobby Morrow, and Frankie Avalon. Murph details an early interest in politics and an unintentional affinity for troublemaking that had more to do with an active imagination and intense curiosity than any ill will. His adventures included broken windows, brushes with blindness, bull riding, and a pet spider monkey, alongside lessons about life and death and the importance of family. Murph’s story brings to life a time when television was new and exciting, parents sided with the law, and people were to be trusted more often than not. As a close friend wrote in his senior yearbook, “it would take a book to recall our adventures.” Murph fondly recalls his active youth with clarity and humor. In many ways, though, Murph’s childhood was not all that unusual. Born in 1943 in Shreveport Louisiana, Murph moved to Tyler, Texas at the age of two with his family. He recalls moving to Fort Worth at the age of seven, feeling excited about his new home, and making new friends in the neighborhood and at school. In a neighborhood established around the time of World War II, he and his friends played war in their backyards. The child of a geologist and a homemaker, Murph vividly recalls the strong influence they were in his life. Murph’s story follows him from early childhood through high school graduation and leaving for college at the University of Texas. His enthusiasm for leaving home is tempered by the reality of what it means to leave his parents and younger brother behind—a sentiment familiar to any college-bound student.
Ricky Delgado works as a chicken hanger at the poultry plant in Rugoso, Texas, a small border town just thirty miles south of Laredo. His quiet, illegal lifestyle is disrupted when he learns that his brother Tomás has been shot and injured shortly after crossing the border. Together, Ricky and Tomás must make a decision: to risk their illegal status and seek justice, or remain silent and endure the injustices common to all “wetbacks” within the states. Meanwhile, Ricky is fighting a battle within his own body, a disease he acquired in the poultry plant, unbeknownst to everyone but the crooked manager and the company’s doctor.
The townspeople of Rugoso have long been used to Mexicans entering the states illegally. The street signs, billboards, and food labels are printed in both English and Spanish to accommodate more consumers. Even the judicial system has a growing number of authorities with Spanish last names, and Herschel Gandy is sick of it. A wealthy Rugoso ranch owner and self-appointed defender of the border, he has taken to firing warning shots at illegals crossing over on his ranch. But when he finds a bloodied backpack near the place he had been shooting, the repercussions of his cover-up game affect the entire town.
Warren Coleman, the best border patrol agent in Rugoso, has been struggling with his conscience since allowing a trio of illegal aliens to cross one morning. One was obviously injured. After stopping a van smuggling drugs over the border, Warren shoots and kills the driver in his partner’s defense. He is immediately thrown into national spotlight for his heroism, or brutality, depending on the source. While visiting his partner in the hospital, Warren again runs into the illegal with the injured hand. Fearing the consequences of his decisions, Warren must decide between leaving Rugoso for a new start, or pursuing his growing suspicion that there is more to discover about the Mexican’s injury.
The Chicken Hanger confronts the present-day controversy of politics and prejudice along the Texas-Mexico border. Rehder weaves between multiple perspectives and opinions of those protecting America and those hoping to become Americans, and asks whether a man’s worth is measured by his citizenship, or by the life he leads. Long-standing arguments about border control in the South and the motives of opposing sides create a suspenseful tale of one illegal immigrant’s fight for justice in the land of the free.
Comanche Sundown is the story of Quanah Parker and a freed slave named Bose Ikard. Quanah and Bose try to kill each other in a brutal fight on horseback in West Texas. But over time, through the chaos of war they forge a friendship. They change from violent unformed youths into men of courage and decency. In 2011, Comanche Sundown won the Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction from the TIL.
Comfort and Mirth offers a rare glimpse into the capital city of Texas during the years of World War I, the formation of the Texas suffrage movement, the prohibition, and the first round of controversies over the Jim Crow Laws. It traces the growth of Austin from a frontier town to a cosmopolitan southwestern city including such events as the arrival of the first motorcars to the dusty streets Congress Avenue, the opening of the Hancock Opera House, the formation of Elizabet Ney’s sculpture museum in Hyde Park, and the construction, flooding, and reconstruction of the great dam to form the Texas Hill Country lake system. Set early in the twentieth century, this novel traces a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and struggle for self-empowerment. Camille Abernathy leaves her home and widowed mother in Seattle to move to Austin with her worldly new husband who has accepted a position as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas. As she devotes herself to the tasks required to create a home of ease and elegance for her husband and her children, she is drawn into a whirling social circle of professors’ wives and introduced to the world of urban opulence and hypocrisy. Through the letters she writes to her mother, Camille learns to unravel the complexities of her new life by trusting in her natural instincts and relying on her greatest innate strengths—depth of philosophical and spiritual wisdom.
Treacherous Twin to the Pecos: 1535-1900
Devils River examines the history of this notorious river in southwestern Texas. Dearen describes the Spanish explorers and settlers from the Americas who encountered the river, their difficulties in traversing the region, and relates hardships, ranging from Indian attacks, impassable fords, unpredictable weather, and long routes with little water.
A History of Dinosaur Valley State Park
Where the Paluxy River now winds through the North Texas Hill Country, the great lizards of prehistory once roamed, leaving their impressive footprints deep in the limy sludge of what would become the earth’s Cretaceous layer. It wouldn’t be until a summer day in 1909, however, when George Adams went splashing along the creekbed, that chance and shifting sediments would reveal these stony traces of an ancient past. Young Adams’s first discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River Valley, near the small community of Glen Rose, Texas, came more than one hundred million years after the reign of the dinosaurs. During this prehistoric era, herds of lumbering “sauropods” and tri-toed, carnivorous “theropods” made their way along what was then an ancient “dinosaur highway.” Today, their long-ago footsteps are immortalized in the limestone of the riverbed, arousing the curiosity of picnickers and paleontologists alike. Indeed, nearly a century after their first discovery, the “stony oddities” of Somervell County continue to draw Saturday-afternoon tourists, renowned scholars, and dinosaur enthusiasts from across the nation and around the globe. In her careful, and colorful, history of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Jasinski deftly interweaves millennia of geological time with local legend, old photographs, and quirky anecdotes of the people who have called the valley home. Beginning with the valley’s “first visitors”---the dinosaurs---Jasinski traces the area’s history through to the decades of the twentieth century, when new track sites continued to be discovered, and visitors and locals continued to leave their own material imprint upon the changing landscape. The book reaches its culmination in the account of the hard-won battle fought by Somervell residents and officials during the latter decades of the century to secure Dinosaur Valley’s preservation as a state park.
ROBERT FLYNN is a native of Chillicothe, Texas, a town so small, he says, that one has to travel to nearby Quanah to have a coincidence. Flynn avers that his life’s work is “The Search for Morals, Ethics, and Religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser known parts of the world,” and his novels, North to Yesterday, In the House of the Lord, The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope, Wanderer Springs, The Last Klick, The Devil’s Tiger (co-authored with the late Dan Klepper), and Tie-Fast Country, attest to that fact. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Jean.
Essays and Memories
Elmer Kelton was a modest, kind man, always willing to advise a struggling writer or write a blurb for a first time published author, or assign publishing rights to his six masterpieces to a small university press. TCU Press is grateful for Kelton's work, and this volume attempts to explore what it is that made Elmer Kelton its leading author.