On June 19, 1945, a first lieutenant wrote the folks back home in North Texas to ask if they had received the packages he mailed from Germany.
The fascinating story of Joe Tom Meador and the Quedlinburg treasure is, as you might have guessed, the subject of my column for the week of Wednesday, June 19 thru Tuesday, June 25. You can read it in your local paper, if it carries “This Week in Texas History,” or on-line as a private email subscriber.
On June 16, 1838 a bitter ex-President, back in Washington as a lowly congressman, began a one-man filibuster to keep the Republic of Texas out of the Union.
Seventy year old John Quincy Adams had a long list of reasons for his name-calling crusade, including the fervent belief that the Texas Revolution was nothing more than a pro-slavery land grab. When he finished his talkathon 21 days later, annexation had been put on the back burner for the next seven years.
Two months after President Harry Truman relieved him of command in Korea, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was given a hero’s welcome in Dallas on June 15, 1951.
It was quite a day for the controversial soldier destined to “fade away.” Four hundred thousand packed downtown Dallas for MacArthur’s made-to-order parade that afternoon, and that night he spoke to a capacity crowd at the Cotton Bowl.
Austin marshal Ben Thompson opened a parcel on June 14, 1881 to find a gold-plated target pistol with a pearl handle inscribed “Buffalo Bill to Ben Thompson.” The temporarily reformed gunfighter had rolled out the welcome mat for the Wild West showman on his recent visit to the Texas capital, and Cody wanted to express his appreciation.
The murder the next June of a San Antonio theater owner cost Thompson his badge and a drunken mistake in March 1884 cost him his life. He talked fellow gunman King Fisher into paying a visit to the same Alamo City theater, where three armed assassins shot them down when they walked in the door.
Thousands turned out in Austin on June 13, 1955 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Miriam A. Ferguson, half of the most politically powerful one-two punch in twentieth century Texas.
After husband “Farmer Jim” was impeached, removed from office and banned for life from the ballot, “Ma” ran for governor and won in 1924. She missed being the first female governor in U.S. history by just 15 days. Eight years later, Miriam came out of retirement to win a second term in the early years of the Great Depression.
Golf great Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open on June 11, 1950 a mere 16 months after nearly dying in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus east of Van Horn in Far West Texas.
Doctors told “Bantam Ben” (he was 5-foot-8) that with a little luck he might walk again but he could forget about ever playing golf. With courage and determination bordering on the super-human, Hogan returned to the PGA tour and soon picked right up where he had left off.
The subject of my column for the week of Wednesday, June 12 through Tuesday, June 18 is Oveta Culp Hobby, wife of Gov. William P. Hobby, mother of the longest serving lieutenant governor and a “jill” of all trades.
If your local newspaper does not carry “This Week in Texas History,” there are a couple of things you can do. First, tell ’em to get ahold of me and ask for the longest running column of its kind ever. Second, if they can’t see their way clear to grant your request, go to the “General Store” and sign up for a private email subscription for just $20 a year.
Those Texans, who wistfully yearn for the politics of yesteryear when everybody “got along,” need to study their Sam Houston. The General gave no quarter and asked for none in the no-holds-barred battles with his critics.
For example, in a delayed San Jacinto Day address at the battlefield on June 9, 1855, then Senator Houston called the “Galveston News” a “low, dirty sheet” and editor Willard Richardson “too mean to steal.” Richardson, nicknamed “Napoleon of the Texas Press,” disagreed with Houston on every issue under the Lone Star sun and regularly raked him over the coals in the pages of “The News.”
June 8, 1969 was a red-letter day in Houston, or at least it was supposed to be. Brand-new Intercontinental Airport opened out in the middle of nowhere north of the city and that same day Hobby Airport, far more convenient to most residents, was shut down.
But, as all air travelers know, that was not how it worked out. Just as in Dallas, where Love Field was closed only temporarily, Hobby soon sprang back to life.
In a rare escape attempt by German POW’s, eight fled a work detail near Temple on June 6, 1943 but none made it out of Bell County.
By June 1944, Texas had 33 prisoner-of-war camps with an estimated 75,000 “guests,” most of them German with a token number of Italians and Japanese. Climate, space and a willingness to warehouse enemy combatants contributed to Texas winding up with more camps and more detainees than any other state.