Friday, December 12, 2008

More Ranger Stories

During my time as a roving reporter for The Houston Post I was sent to South Texas to cover a trial involving George Parr, who was the political boss of the area. Parr was serving as county judge of Duval County at the time and appeared in court wearing a gun. The Post sent a gung-ho photographer named Keith Hawkins to take pictures. Keith shot a picture of Parr. This was resented by Parr, who jumped up and grabbed Hawkins and might have shot him if I had not intervened. We were going around in an unbalanced circle, Parr hold Hawkins and me holding Parr when a Texas Ranger named Joe Bridges intervened. He took Parr by the arm and led him out of the courtroom, then he turned to me and said: "I ain't being paid to babysit you reporters. Why don't you leave?" I took Hawkins outside and told him to go back to Houston. He showed up with a black eye and claimed that Parr had beat him up and the story, including a picture of him, ran in the Houston Post with a headline claiming that Parr had beat him up. The upshot was that the judge postponed the case. I was in nearby Alice when the county attorney of Duval County called me and asked me to come to the Duval court house and shake hands with George Parr. I went to the meeting and Parr shook hands with me, but he was still hostile. I made it a rule never to linger in Duval County.

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