Thursday, 7 March 2013

A trolleybus of information and observations

There were several infeeds of information and commentworthy material during the past twenty four hours.   Each was equally important.  The first, perhaps, is having to be minded and disciplined by ones own daughter....a person knows what geezer means....who writes in with edits and corrections to the text, spelling, and arrangements of the blog and web pages.  Perhaps there is no greater complement for a father.   The corrections were necessary and had been overlooked because of a certain relatively cumbersome edit procedure that is required for the blog's sidebar, but that bespeaks more to the laziness of El Gringo Viejo than anything.    It is rather much like the practice we have tried to avoid...successfully in recent years....of buying a dozen or so serrano peppers to make a decent salsa ranchera, and then never gettting around to making it...until one day the serranos are discovered, blackened and useless in the vegetable tender of the refrigerator.
      Then there is my cryptic son, El Gringo Viejo, Jr. , who knows that the front page of the Old Grey Lady will never darken the door of this humble cave.  But, he cares naught and fears less.    He reads that inceasingly irrelevant part of the obsolete media and passes along salient stuff on frequent occasion.   Once again, it is a humbling thing to have a daughter and a son both helping the old geezer along with his being given a nice walking stick or cane that belonged to Whistler's Mother, or the like.   But it is certainly a point of pride for an egotistical old fool to have such accomplished children investing their time in such matters.   The son forwarded these observations from the pages of the New York Times, concerning the passing of another of Be'elzebub's nephews:

      El Gringo Viejo, Jr. writes in response to the attached posting the day before,
     " I was reading an article in the Old Grey Lady, that pretty much attests to the rightness of your posting through first hand accounts. Here is a concluding excerpt from the article:
"...I experienced the power of his performance firsthand in 2007 when, as The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, I appeared on his weekly show, “Alo Presidente,” in an episode held on a beach. Invited to ask a question, I asked whether abolishing term limits risked authoritarianism.
The host paused and glowered before casting the impertinence out to sea and making it a pretext to lambaste European hypocrisy, media, monarchy, the Royal Navy, slavery, genocide and colonialism.
“In the name of the Latin American people I demand that the British government return the Malvinas Islands to the Argentine people,” he exclaimed. Then, after another riff on colonialism: “It is better to die fighting than to be a slave!”
On and on it went. Christopher Columbus. Queen Elizabeth. George Bush. In vain I responded that I was Irish and republican, and that European monarchy was irrelevant to my question, which he had dodged. This provoked another tirade.
It was theater. As the cameras were packed away, and we all prepared to return to Caracas, the president shook my hand, shrugged and smiled. I had been a useful fall guy. No hard feelings. It was just a show....".
     This is from the pen of an NYTimes reporter who had had the occasion to interview Hugo Chavez.   He could just as well have been interviewing Barry Soetoro.

     Then, attention was turned to Mr. A.S. Haley, the author of one of my top three landing sites, The Anglican Curmudgeon....and the fact that the Curmudgeon himself, while trying to be on a bit of a vacation (holiday, for my Brit OROGs) urged his large flock to distract themselves for a bit by tuning in to A Gringo in Rural Mexico, and to read the Gringo Viejo's notes about certain aspects of the personalities and events swirling around the conflict of 6 March 1836.   As one might imagine we had a considerable avalanche of visitors.   Both our front counter and back counter almost overheated.
     We could barely believe the entry in his blog, The Anglican Curmudgeon -  - and were overwhelmed by a true sense of humility and unworthiness by said recommendation, but one must receive any gift offered according to Southern and Texian traditions.   It was one of my high honours in this life.
       If the OROGs will forgive a bit of unabashed ball spiking in the end-zone, they can visit this blog entry of the Anglican Curmudgeon A Whale of a Good Read on the Alamo Anniversary .   The entry pertains as well to issues related to the rapacious assault upon the Diocese of South Carolina by the now nearly completely popularised and secularised Protestant Episcopal Church of America (ECUSA).    Another case in San Joaquin, California has enjoyed a very recent positive ruling interior to a case of Diocesan rights and discretion in a dispute with the Episcopal Church, USA.   As an aside, as though manna still falls from the hands of angels, judges on two separate coasts of the American Union have given hope in the recognition that Episcopal Dioceses are free standing, joining and leaving any greater subdivision of the Anglican Communion at the collective will of the parishioners throughout the various Bishoporic divisions.   There is hope for tradition and local control....there are embers beneath the ashes.



     In our description of aforementioned events and personalities pertaining to The Alamo, a commentress wrote in with a compliment and a pointed question.   She wanted to know how it could be that we would refer to William Barret Travis as an aristocrat...or having been aristocratic should have been the way it would have been better expressed by me.   My response was lengthy, and attempted to show that we had some level of academic familiarity with the personality of Travis, and we attempted to colour him in the finest hues available. 
     Most real Texians know that Travis was....not a perfect man.  Most real Texians also do not bear any rancour against the common Mexican in the Centralist Armies brought up by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, for instance.   None of the soldiers were saints, but many were decent men, several of the ranking officers were known and respected by their enemies as honourable soldiers.   Only one general officer was Satanic in the truest sense.   But, Travis?
     Travis was not a perfect man.    I tried to be gentle with my response because the lady had indicated that she was a descendant of one of the Travis lines....he had nine brothers and sisters, and he had two wives, one of whom he abandoned along with his two children by her, in Alabama when he went on the lamb to avoid problems with various debts....and other issues.    Some of these issues could be reviewed in a diary that he kept, written in correct Spanish, of his various "encounters" with women of all types and stripes and social stations.  Suffice to say, the diary had many pages, and some of the "ladies" were almost certainly from the privileged classes.
      We also pointed out to our correspondent that Travis was well-educated, at academy, and was a school-master at the age of 19.   He became a barrister,  was appointed adjutant of a formal Alabama militia regiment at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason.   His father was a respected person and had businesses as well as significant farming holdings with numerous well-fed slaves, and William himself owned three slaves, which in and of itself was a considerable investment and fortune.
     The problem with William is that a man was measured in the South by the way he cared for his property (including slaves).   Jefferson Davis and his brother, for instance, promoted a slave to overall superintendent of their properties....outranking whites, free Negroes, and slaves and empowered with the pen and ink of contract with any and all.   Mark Travis, William's father was known to be a fair and honest man.   But William had problems with general husbandry of assets.  Caring about and providing for Wife, children, slaves, property, animals, crops, office duties, providing true legal counsel without taking advantage of privileged information.....those were problems for William.   These are things real Texians know.
     In any regard, we avoided the hundreds of pages available about the Alabama past of William.   We even disregarded William's propensity to turn any disagreement into a confrontation.  We did not mention his particular hatred for an Anglo Mexican, Col. Juan Bradburn whose major defect was that he was loyal to his orders and was a reasonably unreasonable military authority for the Mexican Centralist government.

      When we responded carefully to this very civil and well-spoken lady, she then returned with the following:
(name withheld by El Gringo Viejo in deference to the writer)

"Your blog on The Alamo was very good and much appreciated.
I think history may have been very kind to Col. Travis and probably because of his stubborn and heroic defense of the fort and his eloquent and patriotic inspirational "Letter from The Alamo".
(Which I just now heard Sen. Cruz read on the floor of the Senate)
His reputation among my branch of the family was as a man who abandoned his family, ran from creditors, of shady character who defrauded many with smooth words and 'get-rich-quick' schemes, who, if not for dying at The Alamo, would probably have been killed over debts, a woman, or a drunken fight.
Several yrs ago when visiting the Alamo, I picked up a copy of his Family Tree, which gave his father's name as "Mark", and you say "Tom". Neither matches my research, and I also read another, which doesn't' match any. Makes me wonder if every Travis family wants to claim him because of the nature of the history associated with him. I don't have much confidence in any

My family's relationship with him would have been very distant, but not something they wanted to brag about."
      The difficulties Travis had with Bowie, Seguin, and the Latin principal office holders in San Antonio pointed to other problems he had, possibly associated with a sense of birthright superiority.  He apparently could not understand that the Latins were as much enemies of Lopez de Santa Anna and his Centralist, dictatorial disposition....perhaps moreso....than the Anglo resisters to that horrid ogre.    It was known among all Texians of all stripes at that time that Lopez de Santa Anna had essentially exterminated from 12,000 to as many as 30,000 Constitucion de 1824 supporters, military AND civilian, in Zacatecas only two and a half months before his arrival in San Antonio.
Now, we are done.   We appreciate the time and patience invested by the OROG in our submission to all this morning.
El Gringo Viejo