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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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April 15, 2015     Hays Free Press
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Page 4C COMMUNITY Hays Free Press * April 15, 2015 45th Texas Ladies State Chili Championship Center, Kyle, Texas, Next to Dominoe's E#dqe! Saturday, APRIL 18 9am - 6pro Chili, Craft and Food Vendors, -.~ Music, SUent Auction, Raffles, Family Fun! __~') BY THE ERS Judging begins at 12:30pm. ~~ VISITSEGUIN,COH 830"401-0810 120 port-o-pot.es 17,000 a.o deesove,, days l l youth competition Call 512-371-6286 today for Auto, Home, Life and Business. workshops 13,600 wristbands, of those 300 different beers on tap performers are artist/musician wristbands More Options. More Discounts. DAVID KLAUS 1501 GQFORTH RDSTE 104 KYLE, TX 78640-4730 DKLAUS@FARMERSAGENT.COM FARMERS INSURANCE Ln April 1934, a year after pari-mutuel horse rac- g became legal, Texas' fourth track opened in San Antonio under the name of Alamo Downs. Horse races and wagers on the outcome were com- mon in the Lone Star State as far back as the middle of the nineteenth century. Before the Civil War, fans flocked to the Hill Country hamlet of Harkeyville to place their bets. When the American love affair with the thoroughbred blos- somed in the 1880s, new courses sprang up at Dallas and Brownwood. Following the example of many other states, Texas exempted horse racing from the anti-gambling statutes in 1905. For four frenzied years, race tracks drew big crowds until scandals back east soured the public on the popular pastime. With the sole exception of Kentucky, which had the foresight to adopt the French system known as the pari-mutuel, crooked bookies were permitted to set odds and accept wagers. The shady char- acters regularly cheated. The inevitable result was an anti-bookie backlash that swelled into a national outcry for the abolition of horse racing. From New York to Texas, the ponies were put out to pasture. Of the 300 tracks that existed a generation earlier, less than 25 survived the purge. By 1930, however, lawmak- ers were taking a second look. The memory of past scandals had dimmed over the years, and state governments caught in the Depression squeeze were frantically searching for new sources of taxes. Hard times made the money from racetrack revenue suddenly seem not so and in 1933 alone eight states resumed racing. Texas legislators faced the same financial crisis but feared the consequenc- es of a recorded vote in favor ofthe nasty nags. To avoid risking their political necks, a round-about ap- proach had to be found. koozies s' fl This Week in Texas History by Bartee Halle Some clever fellows in the joint House-Senate conference committee came up with an ingenious solution. On the closing day of the 1933 legislative session, they presented the state budget for the next two years. Tacked onto the end of the appropriations bill, which could only be voted up or down, was an amendment legalizing pari-mutuel betting. After the screaming died down, outraged opponents conceded defeat. Under the circumstances, to veto the spending package was out of the question. They had been had. Their last hope was the governor, if she could be persuaded to convene a special session to cancel the controversial sleight- of-hand. But in the strong belief that horse racing was as good a way as any to raise quick cash, Miriam Ferguson refused to act. Practically overnight four first-class tracks were constructed. By far the most impressive was Ar- lington Downs, located on the future site of a famous amusement park. The brainchild of multi-million- aire W.T. Waggoner, "The Saratoga of the Southwest" ranked among the finest facilities in the country. Another track was soon built on the fairgrounds in Dallas. To avoid competi- tion with Waggoner's $3 million layout, this more modest venture featured Texas-bred entries instead of thoroughbreds. Twenty-seven thousand Houstonians spent Thanks- giving 1933 at their own local track, Epson Downs, and wagered a staggering $113,000 that memorable opening day. At San Anto- nio construction of Alamo Downs was completed in time for the spring sprints the next April. Meanwhile, under church leadership the vocal opposition coun- terattacked. Newspapers published complaints from irate merchants that cus- tomers were throwing away their money at the track instead of buying goods and services. And the occa- sional suicide of a compul- sive gambler always made the front page. Blasting horse racing as "a prairie fire of corrup- tion," attorney general Jim- myAllred of Wichita Falls won the 1934 Democratic nomination for governor. Once in office, though, his demand for a crackdown was ignored by the reform- deaf legislature. Though frustrated throughout his first term, Allred persisted in his second. Three different times he called for closing the tracks, but the question never came up for a vote. The governor then played his tromp card by summoning the rebellious lawmakers to a special session. Knowing full well the folks back home were watching their every move, the politicians politely applauded the crusader's emotional appeal and obligingly sent the ponies packing. The last pari-mutuel horse race was run in Texas in the autumn of 1937. Like prohibition and women's suffxage before it, the hot-potato issue regularly appeared on the ballot. After nearly half a century, the voters finally gave the taboo entertainment their stamp of approval. That was 28 years ago, and the horses as well as the greyhounds have been nmning ever since. Race tracks have become a part of the Lone Star landscape without, as the naysayers predicted, Texas going to hell in a hand-basket. Bartee welcomes your comments and questions at haile@pdq.net or P. O. Box 152, Friendswood, TX 77549 and invites you to visit his web site at barteehaile.com. Thyme SAF STARTS APRIL IS NATIONAL SAFE DI661N6 MONTH Know what below. Call before youdig. When it comes to digging safely, you make the call. Whether you're working on a large excavation or simply planting a tree in your yard, natural gas and utility line safety should always be job one - and that starts with calling 811 to have your utility lines marked. By doing so, you can be certain where your electric, gas, water and other important lines are located as well as avoid causing serious injuries, service interruptions or possibly costly fines for damaged infrastructure. Make the call. It's easy, and free. Respect the lines. Dig with care. After all, safety is in your hands.., but always on our mind. For more information on natural gas safety, visit CenterPointEnergy.com Always There? 4 il [ ifill I I " i Ii ! II II