Archive for: October 2015

A Grave Matter

Jess Brown, Victoria Espinoza, Mary Huber and Karla Martinez

The Historic Cemetery Master Plan, adopted by city council Sept. 17, aims to restore Austin’s five municipal cemeteries to their former glory.

The city’s parks and recreation department works to breathe life into the city’s five municipal cemeteries, which hold more than a century of history and more than a century of misuse.

By MARY HUBER

Saundra Kirk buried her mother Willie Mae two years ago in an east-facing grave just off the main road that runs through Evergreen Cemetery. She marked the spot with a red granite headstone and places flowering plants in the grass there from time to time.

“Mother, she was one who was always a doer,” Kirk said of Willie Mae, who was an educator, community organizer and early champion of civil rights in the city. “She had a reputation in the community of being very generous and very big-hearted.”

At Willie Mae’s head lies Kirk’s brother, Lee, who died in 2004, marked with a simple, gray headstone. To the left and right are prominent community members – police chiefs, firefighters, public servants.

While alive, most resided in a close-knit community, from Seventh to Nineteenth streets, East Avenue to Airport Boulevard, when the city’s Jim Crow laws forced segregation of the African American population to a small pocket on the eastside. In 1926, Evergreen was plotted as their designated resting place. It was a time when the separate but equal doctrine bled all the way into the soil that buried the dead.

“You wouldn’t know going there now what an important place it is,” said Kim McKnight, the parks and recreation department’s preservation planner, who has devoted herself to restoring the city’s cemeteries and making sure people care about them again.

McKnight worked with contractors and landscape architects to create a master plan that improves conditions at the city’s five municipal cemeteries – Evergreen, Oakwood, Oakwood Annex, Plummers and Austin Memorial Park – which were deteriorating when the parks and recreation department took control of them in 2013.

At 510 pages, the Historic Cemetery Master Plan brings together historical accounts, photos, design plans, maintenance recommendations and a catalogue of every tree on the cemeteries’ combined 160 acres. It suggests improvements unique to each cemetery and was approved unanimously by city council Sept. 17.

If funded, it would allow the department to plant trees, reset gravestones, raise new fences and construct columbariums, where cremated remains can be stored.

It would also install signs and other wayfinding systems to help visitors find their loved ones’ graves, a challenge at all the city cemeteries, whose records are still handwritten and haven’t made the transition to the digital age.

Kirk has spent many days walking through the rows of gravestones at Evergreen, searching out old friends and lovers, teachers, people Willie Mae used to talk about around the kitchen table growing up.

“I might be in a particular section on a certain day. And it’s a pretty day. And I just start walking and looking at stones,” Kirk said. “It’s almost like discovering hiding places for people.”

Kirk commissioned the placement of 13 monument stones at the resting sites of her family’s unmarked graves. It brought her to the cemetery many mornings and many afternoons.

“Evergreen,” she said, and sighed. “There’s just a sweetness to it.”

In the 1950s, her family had a house between East Eleventh and Twelfth Streets, on a hill with a view of the university and Capitol building. Kirk was quiet, a loner, and she often wandered through Oakwood Cemetery, which was closer to her house.

“I would go in by that back side gate and just kind of be enchanted with it,” she said.

The city’s first cemetery, Oakwood was plotted in 1839, when Austin was established as the capital of the independent Republic of Texas.

Today, many of its gravestones sink into the foundation. Some are chipped and cracked by mowers, crumbled pieces left scattered in the grass. Years of drought have sucked the water from the roots of its historic trees, so that almost half have died.

Dale Flatt founded the non-profit Save Austin's Cemeteries in 2004 to bring attention to the problems at local burial grounds.

Dale Flatt founded the non-profit Save Austin’s Cemeteries in 2004 to bring attention to the problems at local burial grounds.

At the north end, Dale Flatt points to a box tomb that’s broken in pieces, either from vandalism or heavy weather.

Flatt is the founder of the nonprofit Save Austin’s Cemeteries, which was established more than a decade ago to help the city repair its cemeteries. He also leads groups, where he shares the histories of the people buried in these sacred spaces.

“We view the cemetery as an outdoor museum,” Flatt said, noting the graves of Governors Hogg and Pease and many of Austin’s original founders.

All were buried in Oakwood before 1910. The cemetery stopped selling plots long ago.

“The cemetery is really the only piece of property you sell once, but you’re expected to maintain it forever,” Flatt said.

This creates a struggle when funding improvement projects. The only two active city cemeteries are Evergreen and Austin Memorial Park, where the sale of burial spaces contributes revenue to the parks and recreation department.

In order to finance the master plan, the department will have to secure funds from the city at the next bond election. Additional money will come from donations and partnerships with foundations in the area.

However, the cost is significant.

“We have education needs, affordable housing needs. We have people living in poverty. Why would you invest in a cemetery?” McKnight asked, aware of the strains on the city. “But I would argue that how we care for these spaces are kind of indicative about who we are as a people.”

McKnight said it is a process of setting priorities and confronting one problem at a time, beginning with the renovation of Oakwood’s Gothic Revival chapel, a $1.2 million project that is expected to break ground next year.

The rest of the recommendations could take as long as 25 years to complete.

But that doesn’t deter McKnight, who said she is proud of the work she completed with her team, the compilation of information that spans decades and acres, the connections she has made with people along the way.

“There has not been a single meeting that I have facilitated that I don’t have somebody who is letting me know that their parents are buried here, their children are buried here, their siblings are buried here,” McKnight said. “You’re got people with tears in their eyes telling you, ‘You are making plans in a sacred place to me.’”

One was Billye Schulle, who came to every planning meeting, rolling her oxygen tank behind her. Several months into the project, McKnight got a note that Schulle had died. Several of the staff attended her funeral. Her husband Ross came to the meetings in her absence.

Schulle is buried in Austin Memorial Park, tucked away amid the live oak trees that wrap between its graves.

And just five miles to the south, Kirk, now 71, reserved her space at Evergreen, in the L-shaped cluster of plots beside her mother Willie Mae.

A WALKING TOUR OF AUSTIN’S CEMETERIES

 

FUNDING THE AFTERLIFE

FUN FACTS

TALKING DEAD

Off the Stage: Life After “The Voice”

Cassandra Jaramillo | Jade Magalhaes | Sandy Marin | Jan Ross Piedad

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Luke Wade, season 7 contestant of “The Voice,” takes the stage at Stubb’s Barbecue in Feb. with single “Doctor Please” from his album “The River.” [Photo by: Jade Magalhaes]

After the curtains closed, the spotlight stopped shining and the microphones switched to silent on set of one of the most popular talent television shows in America, what stayed behind was a musician’s desire to share his art in its purest form. 

From season 7 of hit NBC show “The Voice”, a soulful artist from a farming community in Dublin, Texas landed a spot among the show’s Top 8 singers. Lucas Anthony Wade, the so-often labeled soulful singer-songwriter has no desire in being classified by such conventional categories, he just wants to be known as Luke Wade.

 “The best thing an artist can do for themselves is make their names a genre,” Luke said. “Look at Ben Harper, Dave Matthews and Incubus. They use their names to describe other people’s music and to describe genres.”

In his 2014 blind audition, Luke turned four chairs and impressed superstar coaches Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton with his version of Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” Luke ultimately chose singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer and fashion designer Pharell WIlliams as his coach. The duo fought through the battle rounds, the knockouts and the live playoffs, but Luke did not come out as the victor.  

Throughout the television journey, Luke did not lose sight of his roots. Music is Wade’s sole focus, but according to the artist, singing and songwriting wasn’t necessarily part of his original life-plan. It was something he stumbled upon.

 “It’s so much more complicated than a year or a time,” Luke said. “I accidentally became a singer, songwriter and musician. All of the music stuff came after my story and my need to find a common thread with other people to make myself feel less alone.”  

In a candid attempt to psychoanalyze himself briefly, Luke describes his young self as the sore thumb in a small town, population 200 at the time. Mom was a dancer, dad was a painter and due to health problems, Luke was a wisp of a little kid.

 “I just wanted to be like everybody else, but I just wasn’t,” Luke said. “I was told to be myself, but there was no middle ground. If I was myself, I would never fit in.”  

Luke’s struggles were amplified in a hot Texas summer at age 13, when his right eye was hit by a paintball. The accident took him out of contact sports, made his physique scrawny and left him half-blind. With the feeling that he had something to prove, Luke took up running. But he ran until he gave himself a heat stroke.

The stroke left emotional scars, but also literally left young Luke without the knowledge of who he was. Or who his parents were.  

“I came back to school and that’s whenever I found art, whenever I found self expression and when I started of instead of looking at everybody else to try and be happy, I started looking at myself,” Luke said.

That turning point led Luke to music.

 After getting his feet wet with writing and performing, the aspiring artist formed the band Luke Wade & No Civilians, with whom he still performs. Together, they produced two albums: “Tomorrow’s Ghosts” and more recently “The River.”  

Many things came out of ”The Voice”. It gave Luke the perfect platform to expose his art,  gain more followers and get invaluable training from coaches and advisors who have, once upon a time, been in his same shoes.

“I learned how to respond to pressure,” Luke said. “No matter how tough things get, ultimately everything is going to be OK. There is no reason to worry about whether you messed up or what someone thinks about a thing that you did, it will all be OK.”

 This November, over a year after walking off “The Voice” stage, Luke found himself in the live music capital of the world while touring the country with his band. After a performance at The Parish, he walked a crowded 6th street and took shots with friend and season 5 contestant Jonny Gray.

There’s no longer thousands of people watching Luke take the stage. But he performs as if there were a million.

Data on Google Searches of First 5 Season Winners   Editor’s Note: The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.
 

Interest Over Time on American Music Talent Shows Editor’s Note: The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.

Sustainable Food Center and the Future

Michelle Sanchez Alexa Harrington Claire Rodgers

Click here for story

Celebrating Life and Remembering the Dead

by Mariana Muñoz, Arthur DiVitalis, Julia Farrell, and Karen Martinez

The third annual Día de los Muertos festival in Austin, Texas.

Día de los Muertos is becoming a larger occasion in the capital of Texas. The third year annual festival was held in Austin on October 17, though the holiday is on November 1 and 2.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, started out as an Aztec ritual that began almost 3000 years ago. Today, the Mexican community uses altars, candles, and food to commemorate the loss of loved ones.

“It’s about loved ones and their memories and keeping it alive and celebrating their life as well – not just their death, but their life,” said Sabrina Garcia, festival participant.

Jennifer Perez, one of the participants at the festival, made an altar in honor of her father who died last year.

“What better way to keep a loved one’s memory alive than to have an altar dedicated to him and the people that we love,” said Perez. “It just brings the family together and makes sure that person is not going to be forgotten.”

Altars are traditionally placed at grace sites to provide food and treats to the deceased. They are also found in the home, at church, or at local restaurants. Altars can honor one or many people.

While death is often seen as a negative concept in our society, the point of the holiday is not to mourn the dad, but rather to celebrate their lives.

“It’s very important to not think of death as a bad thing and to where you can bring out colorful things instead of dressing in all in black,” said Jeanette Docasar, participant at the festival. “You can actually be colorful, beautiful, remember people, dance, and celebrate.”

Although Día de los Muertos is most often associated with Mexican culture, it is a holiday that can unite people of all different backgrounds.

“Nowadays it brings together many cultures. It’s celebrated everywhere in the world,” said Docasar, who celebrates with Spanish relatives. “It’s always been such a beautiful thing for us.”


West Campus Construction Impedes Usual Bus Routes

Taylor Wiseman, Celina Fontenot, Katherine Recatto, Lucy Chen

The idea of construction disrupting the daily flow of life is nothing new to the residents of west campus. Large drills breaking through concrete at 6 a.m. can be heard two blocks over. Detour signs found on two-way streets effectively change them into one-way streets forcing buses and cars to alter their routes.

The drive to build newer and larger apartment buildings has created a problem for students and drivers in the college neighborhood.

Sneha Patel, a resident at Chelsea Condos, an apartment complex next to a hub of construction, said that she doesn’t use the west campus bus system to get to school.

“In theory, riding the bus would be a faster way to get to class,” Patel said, “But now with all the detours, I actually get there later than I would if I just walked.”

The average time to walk from Chelsea Condos to her class on Dean Keaton St. is 10 minutes. It takes about 25 minutes by bus.

The Old Bus Route
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The New Bus Route
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Juan Gonzales, a construction worker for JeDunn Construction, said that the small space in which he’s expected to work in has been a challenge.

“Trying to move a large cement truck into the construction area is difficult because there are many cars and people also on the streets,” Gonzales said, “People only care about themselves.”

Nastassja Hutchinson, a west campus bus driver, said the changing of the bus routes has extended the time it takes to drive to campus.

“Turning onto 24th St. is particularly difficult because there are no lights,” she said, “I have to wait until there are no cars and pedestrians in order to turn and that might take a while.”

This was the first time Hutchinson experienced a change in the bus route, and she said some students have not been happy about the increased route times.

“Sometimes students get mad at me for not getting them to class on time,” she said, “But at the end of the day, there’s not much I can do about it.”

Construction that impedes the usual west campus bus route is not expected to finish until next July.

Keep Austin Beautiful Celebrates 30 years

By: Will Bruner, Nicole Rusli, and Shelby Hodges

For 30 years, Keep Austin Beautiful (KAB) has been a resource for local organizations and communities to engage the public about the environment. In commemoration and celebration of their 30th Anniversary, KAB is hosting 30 projects in 30 days during the month of October. These projects will include events of environmental education for youth, beautification of different natural locations in Austin, litter pick-up and gardening sustainable food.

Ashley De Jong leads the Volunteer Board of Directors for KAB. Her job is to oversee the strategic direction of KAB and ensure the organization is accountable by using funds wisely.

“I know we have completed over 50 projects already! We wanted to celebrate our 30 years by engaging the community, that’s what we have always done. Our partners are always surprised how easy we make it to get a few people together and dramatically change the environment,” said De Jong.

The Concho Community Garden is one of the many projects represented over the course of 30 days. Lily Nguyen, Director of the garden and volunteer coordinator for Keep Austin Beautiful, believes that sustainable agriculture is important to improving the environment in Austin.

“Conventional agriculture, it impacts pretty much every single part of our natural environment in a bad way…through the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers that cause eutrophication in the oceans,and it has less nutrients. It is not as conscious or sustainable as organic produce, which is returning as much as you take from the earth. It’s giving it life, it’s giving it nutrients and doing it with a respect for the environment that conventional agriculture never thinks about,”said Nguyen.

On Nov. 18, Keep Austin Beautiful will end their 30 year Anniversary by awarding businesses and organizations for their activism at an event called the Beautiful Bash. De jong will be one of the hosts for the event.

“Keep Austin Beautiful has been the resource people come to when they want to do something good for the community. We will always be that resource, but we’ll also be more pro-active initiating projects and engaging the public about what our city needs and where. We’ll do whatever we need to do to make Austin the most beautiful city in the world,” said De Jong.

The Hashtag #mybeautifulatx was used to promote the 30 projects in 30 days initiative.

Hurricane Patricia Spits on Texas

By: Haley Cavazos, Kyle Cavazos, Danny Goodwin and Danielle Haberly

Hurricane Patricia drenched the dry lands of Texas this past weekend, spurring flooding and large amounts of rainfall across the state.

The city of Austin alone received over eight inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service; a small amount for the strongest hurricane ever recorded.

“It was the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere,” said climate and weather expert Dr. Kris Wilson.

According to Dr. Wilson, it rained in Austin for over 31 hours.

Although Hurricane Patricia broke records, the damage was nothing compared to the likes of past hurricanes, including the Central Texas Memorial Day floods, which resulted in extensive damages and deaths.

“When it got here, we didn’t even have any severe storms, we had very little lightning,” said Dr. Wilson.
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Many prepared for the worst this past week, including the employees of Whole Earth Provisions on Lamar, who recently reopened after a five-month closure following the Memorial Day floods.

Tyler Frazier, a manager of the Lamar location, described the preparation process leading into the rainfall.

“A lot of people were pretty concerned about the rain,” Frazier said. “We made this special flood door for the front and sandbagged every other door. We were definitely preparing for the worst.”

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Ultimately, the store came out unscathed.

“Nothing happened and we opened at our regular time,” Frazier said.

The regular Texas humidity made for more manageable showers, which also fell at a calmer rate instead of torrential downpours . Closed roads on Saturday reopened following the weekend.

With the massive size of Patricia, there was some speculation that Texas might experience one of the wettest records in history.

“That’s very difficult to tell this far in advance,” said University of Texas Senior Climate Lecturer Troy Kimmel. “The current patterns, as suggested by the people at the Climate Prediction Center, is it’ll be a wetter than normal winter.”

This past weekend’s deluge alleviated some of the lack of water in Austin, but not enough to make a major dent in Texas’ usual dry spell.

“There really is no guarantee we’ll see the drought go away across Texas,” said Kimmel. “We’re just hoping that the above average rainfall pattern can take the edge off the drought and get us some important soil moisture that we need around here.”

While we only saw a mild storm in Austin, Hurricane Patricia’s path isn’t over quite yet.

“I see another three to five inches of rain maybe again by Friday into Saturday,” said Kimmel. “It’ll all be runoff, and that’ll contribute to the potential of flooding.”

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Campus carry approval sparks UT community debate

By Danielle Lopez, Danielle Haberly, Danielle Vabner, Haley Cavazos

On Thursday afternoon, as classes let out and students made their way through campus, chants of “UT Gun Free” echoed through the West Mall.

More than a 100 students, faculty and parents had gathered in protest against the Texas Senate’s approval of campus carry, which will allow licensed holders to have a concealed weapon on campus. Originally organized by Gun –Free UT as a solely anti-campus carry protest, the rally featured appearances from all sides of the issue.

The bill, which passed in May, will make Texas the eighth state to allow people to carry a concealed handgun on campus and in buildings. The legislation is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 1, 2016 which also marks the 50th anniversary of the UT tower sniper shooting.

The new legislation has been a controversial subject of discussion among many members of the UT community. Thursday’s rally was just one of many protests, forums and debates.

In an interview with CNN, UT Chancellor Bill McRaven said he can’t change the law now, but plans to implement it the best he can. He said some parts of campus will remain gun-free but that won’t prevent staff from being on edge.

“I like guns but I just don’t think having them on campus is the right place,” McRaven said. “Now, are the faculty going to be concerned about raising controversial issues for fear of somehow alienating or making mad someone with a weapon?”

Gun-Free UT, founded by radio-television-film professor Ellen Spiro, is an organization of more than 300 faculty members who oppose concealed campus carry. In early October, economics professor emeritus announced he will withdraw from his position at UT come next fall.

According to UT, officials estimate fewer than one percent of students have licenses to carry. Although there is no way to determine exactly how many students have concealed handgun licenses, the estimation is made based off of other UT demographic data.

Spiro said this law the supposed one percent would come out to about 500 students on campus with weapons. She said professors who are teaching lecture classes of 450 students don’t know if they’re going to have somebody come to campus from the other states because Texas has reciprocity laws.

“Anyone with a concealed weapon can be on campus from any state,” Spiro said. “It’s scary. There’s a lot of fear. We’re all afraid but those of us who are speaking out are doing it in spite of the fear.”

French and Italian assistant professor Paula Bonifazio, who is part of Gun-Free UT, said she was against SB-11 before its approval and now wants her voice heard.

“I’m afraid of guns so I don’t want them in my classroom,” Bonifazio said. “It’s clear it’s not just a faculty movement, its not just something of a niche — it has a very wide response from staff from students.”

Government sophomore Allison Peregory, chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas, created Texas Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. She said in an interview with CNN concealed carry on UT campus is not a radical new concept — for the past 20 years, UT has allowed concealed handguns on school grounds just not inside buildings.

“I don’t think UT will suddenly become the ‘Wild West’ with open carry and guns flying,” Peregory said. “Knowing that you can make that decision [to carry a weapon] and you can make that for your own personal liberty and self defense is an empowering decision.”

Nursing senior Malcolm Mundy, who is pro-campus carry, said it’s important to be well-armed and ready in a precarious situation.

“Essentially, if you have a well-armed population, nothing will take on a bad guy better than a good gun,” Mundy said.

Anthropology senior Colin Healy said people need to listen to both sides of the story. Although he leans toward anti-campus carry sentiments, he said campus’ success in dealing with the new legislation depends on the population’s ability to listen more to each other.

“Just do your own research,” Healy said. “Don’t just believe what everyone is telling you. We have this idea that we need to have guns because the constitution said so. Well, the constitution was also used to disenfranchise people and oppress people for years so it’s not a perfect document.”

Austin refugee organizations aid in international relocation transition

By Alex Cannon, Kyle Cavazos, Estefanía de León, & Danny Goodwin

A young Syrian boy washed ashore, a news reporter kicking fleeing immigrants; while mainstream media was flooded with these powerful images for a period of time, the Middle Eastern crisis has abruptly faded from most news outlets.

However, while the situation may go underreported, the crisis remains far from over.

“What they’re having to deal with now, they’ve always had this problem, regardless of if there’s a crisis or not,” said Sam Karnes, president of the Liberal Arts Refugee Alliance (LARA) at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Refugees seeking asylum in the United States go from living in a state where leaving the house means risking your life to American communities where safety is an assumed guarantee. Karnes hopes to assist refugees in the Austin area by connecting with them on a personal level.

Allocations for Refugees entering the U.S. FY16

“A lot of the time they come here and they don’t know anyone, and they’re stuck in their apartments, they don’t have cars and stuff, so we look to kind of provide a filling for that gap and just show them that Austin as a community is welcoming of them,” Karnes said. “We enjoy them, we appreciate the aspect of their culture that they bring to this community, and we want them to feel at home here.”

LARA works with a few Austin based nonprofit organizations such as the Refugee Services of Texas and Caritas, as well as the Center for Survivors of Torture. These resources help connect volunteers like those of LARA with incoming refugees, both those new and those familiar to Austin.

“Usually they’ve been here like one or two months, or they’ve been here a year, but occasionally we come across someone that’s been here just for a few weeks,” Karnes said.Refugee Program Arrivals by Country-2

According to Karnes, the entire process of a refugee moving from their home of origin to the United States can take up to “five or six years.” This process includes seeking referral for movement, clearing multiple security processes, receiving clearance from several DHS associated departments and, finally, preparing for the actual move.

Refugee Services of Texas and Caritas offer migration services to international refugees moving to Austin and help facilitate the arduous process.

 

“We feel like housing is kind of the foundation to lasting self-sufficiency and stability so it’s hard to get a job or address medical or mental health issues when you don’t have a safe place to sleep at night,” said Lindsey Dickson, Caritas’ communication manager. “We’ve got a food services programs that includes a community kitchen where we serve lunch and then a food pantry for our clients where they can get weekly groceries during the time that they are trying to get on their feet.”Refugee Program Arrivals by Status-2

Although these resources help adjust refugees with their abrupt culture change, admission to the United States doesn’t guarantee them long term stay. Many seek the path to full U.S. citizenship in order to solidify the new life they’re taking on.

Sarah Stranahan, Director of Operations at the Multicultural Refugee Coalition, knows how difficult and challenging this process can be, as well as the necessity to gain citizenship.

“In here, we call it Pathways to Self Sufficiency, and right now what we have is this citizenship class, tutoring them and drilling them so they can pass the citizenship test hopefully,” Stranahan said.

 

 

No matter how many funds and efforts these service organizations put toward these programs, the success comes from the willingness and openness of the refugees taking on this monumental move.

“Every refugee’s outlook on life is incredible because they work so hard to get to the country,” Karnes said. “At that point, they’re just excited to be in a country that isn’t threatening their safety on a daily basis.”

 

Refugee Admission to U.S

Galindo the Great

The Magical Life of Ramon Galindo
By: Erika Sauceda

How-to magic DVDs are stacked on shelves while a motley collection of card decks sit beside them. His walls are adorned with the many awards he’s received and even a picture of his favorite magician. Trophies are lined up on a desk and video equipment is set-up right across the room. After a lifetime of magic, Ramon Galindo has the experience and stories to show for it.

Born in northern Mexico in 1921, Galindo’s family brought him to the United States a year later. He grew up in central Austin with his parents and siblings. His family owned a tortilla shop and his father also worked as a gardener, making a dime per hour. It was with that dime though, an hour’s worth of work, that his father purchased a magic trick, the most memorable from Galindo’s childhood.

“He had a glass. My dad would do that trick with the little mouse. He’d make it come up the glass then down the glass,” Galindo explained. “‘That’s witchcraft!’ my mother said. ‘You’re going to have to sleep outside.’ And my father was laughing and laughing. She was fuming,” he said while laughing.

As Galindo grew older, World War II had started. When the US officially entered the war in 1941, he and his younger brother enlisted together. Attempting to join the Army Air Corps, he was turned away because he was not an American citizen, while his brother was able to become a pilot. Still wanting to contribute to the war effort, Galindo was able to join an anti-aircraft battalion. He recalled the thought of looking up at the sky wondering if his brother was flying over him, while he was on the ground shooting down enemy planes.

When the war was over and the brothers returned home, Ramon opened a tailoring business. His clientele included cheerleaders from the University of Texas at Austin, former Texas governor John Connally and though only a congressman at the time, even Lyndon B. Johnson.

After retiring from tailoring, he continued to practice magic. His show has been seen all over the world in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Spain and China. “Anywhere you can get a good crowd,” Galindo responded when asked about his favorite country to perform. “When you get the cheers from the crowd, it gives you a lot of energy.”

Though he started out as a juggler, Ramon Galindo has used every year of his life to perfect his craft. From doing local shows to touring across the globe, he believes his journey is far from over. “I’m not quite finished yet.”

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