Commentary

Snow: Hard-hearted Texas tougher than Tarheelia

asnow@newsobserver.comJuly 27, 2013 

A lot of folks these days think they’re being pushed around unmercifully by a Republican-dominated legislature that has seemed especially hard-hearted with legislation affecting women, the poor and middle class.

They should be glad they don’t live in Texas.

Local historian J.C. Knowles in his “North Carolina Minute” blog noted recently that the Texas legislature two years ago even discontinued the traditional “last meal” menu choice for condemned prisoners.

I pursued the matter further and learned from The New York Times what prompted such a hard-hearted move: Prisoner Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered a last meal of chicken fried steak with gravy and sliced onions; a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños; a bowl of fried okra with ketchup; a pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread; a pizza; one pint of Blue Bell ice-cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge; and three root beers. When the monstrous meal was delivered, Mr. Brewer didn’t eat a bite of it. He said he wasn’t hungry.

That did it. “Last meals” now consist of the same menu served other prisoners.

Incidentally, Texas leads the nation in executions since 1976 with 502, compared to 43 in North Carolina.

When I called Central Prison to check on its “last meal” policy, I ran into a brick wall.

“That’s not public information,” a spokesman said tersely.

Ye gods and little fishes! What next?

Regardless, prison chefs haven’t been overworked preparing special menus. There hasn’t been an execution in North Carolina since 2006.

The magic words

During a recent visit, my 10-year-old grandson would occasionally spontaneously hug me and say, “I love you, Snowdaddy.”

That’s an expression that seems to have come in vogue these days. During my childhood, it was rarely heard, although we children somehow felt secure and loved.

A friend of mine, the late Rev. Dr. R.F. Smith Jr., once commented on the absence of the expression in the growing-up years of my generation.

He said that much of the insensitivity can be traced to psychologist John Broadus Watson, whose writings during the 1930s greatly influenced the way in which children were reared.

He cited an excerpt from Watson’s book, “Psychological Care of Infant and Child.”

“There is a sensible way of treating children ...” Watson wrote. “Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning.”

Too many children, even today, have been victimized by such cold, calculated restraint on what should be an almost instinctive use of the most powerful three-word expression in the English language: “I love you.”

Street names

I’m a fool about unusual street or road names.

The latest addition to my mental collection is Crooked Creek Lane in Durham, where reader John Dendy lives.

That ranks close in originality to Tater Wagon Road and Rattlesnake Ridge in Surry County. Also, I have relatives living on Possum Trot Road in nearby Iredell County. Near our house in Raleigh is Sleepy Hollow Drive, which isn’t bad at all.

Speaking of names, while driving to and from the beach, we pass Raleigh’s Jones Sausage Road. Once a passenger in the car commented, “I wonder if the people who live out there ever think about changing the name of their street?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I do remember that some years ago the matter came before the Raleigh City Council and the residents vehemently opposed the change, saying, in effect, ‘Mind your own business!’  ”

Attention, all y’all

Charles Holmes of Atlantic Beach sets us straight on the Southern usage of y’all: “‘Y’all’ is singular while ‘all y’all’ is plural.”

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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