The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 66
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
such pageantlike figures are deadly. Perhaps the best way to catch the
meaning of the Alamo story is obliquely, from some original angle of
vision. This kind of treatment appears in a short story by Dave Hickey,
published in 1964 in Riata (University of Texas). Hickey's story, set in
modern-day San Antonio, traces the actions of a sensationalist televi-
sion news manager against the historical background of modern war-
fare." A key scene details some film footage of a group of beauty con-
testants being photographed in front of the Alamo. Seeing the raw
footage, the protagonist, Garland Marlinberg, a newcomer to Texas,
muses to himself:
He watched them slink up and down, smiling furiously on the steps of the shell-
pocked old church where over a century ago one hundred and seventy-nine
wild Texians were slaughtered by Santa Anna. Garland Marlinberg knew that
some of those men died for principles, but most of them, he was sure, stood
there in the flames and died out of sheer contrariness, absolute cussedness. He
had seen it in the Pacific. Then, he could understand: men who did things the
hard way, who didn't strive towards goals but rose to opposition, sought it out.
It was as necessary to them as food. And today, he thought, I am getting my fair
share of it."
The story later incorporates this historical perspective into its central
action. When Marlinberg callously orders graphic footage of a terrible
automobile accident to be shown, including the on-camera death of a
young Mexican, everybody is shocked and offended. But the youth's
family comes to the studio; they don't own a television, and they want to
see the film. The mother, who is Indian, accepts completely this magi-
cal opportunity to experience her son's last moments; and Marlinberg
imagines her thus:
She could have been one of the squaws who stood in the distance and watched
Santa Anna's army converging on the Alamo, who did not blink at the roar of
the cannon, who pulled her shawl up over her mouth against the dust raised by
the marching army and watched impassively." "
We will be lucky indeed if the Sesquicentennial year leads to any imagi-
native reconstructions of the Alamo as emotion and history, both of
which it was. The Centennial year clearly did not. All one can say for
certain is that the story of the Texas Revolution, which in popular culture
is essentially the story of the Alamo, will continue to be told and retold.
L"Dave Hickey, "Garland Marlinberg." Riata: The Student Literary Magazine of the L'nivetitv
ofTexas (Spring, 1964), 13-22. My thanks to Dave Oliphant of the Humanities Research Center
of the University of Texas for his help in unearthing this story and the poem by Borges
"Hickey, "Garland Marlinberg." y.
' Ibid., s1.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/92/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.