TAMI Flashback

TAMI Flashback: A Man Who Left Town, and One Who Didn't


The Man Who Left Town

This article is the fourth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

Austin's population has grown dramatically, increasing almost nonstop for the last century. But while the River City is famous for turning newcomers into lifelong Austinites, not everyone stays here. (This may be hard to believe as we watch development gobble up acre after acre of land.)

This first video in this month's TAMI Flashback is the story of one such Austinite, a young man who moved away for lack of work. The Man Who Left Town, a 1961 episode of KTBC-TV's Project 7 public affairs series, is a classic exercise in chamber of commerce boosterism, lamenting Austin's lack of industry and discussing ways to foster economic growth.

Directed by legendary Austin cameraman and director Gordon Wilkison, The Man Who Left Town introduces us to Wendell Baggett, a native Austinite and freshly minted University of Texas graduate. (I'm guessing at the spelling of Baggett's name; the credits don't list the characters or say whether they're real people.) As the story opens, Baggett and his young family are moving out of the Brackenridge Apartments. They want to stay in Austin, but are leaving because Wendell can't find a job as a chemical engineer, as Austin isn't a hotbed of chemical production or research. (It still isn't, especially after Huntsman Petrochemical shuttered its sprawling Austin facility in 2005.)

TAMI Flashback: November 22, 1963


Kennedy Assassination Newspaper

This article is the third in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

President John F. Kennedy's assassination has been exhaustively documented on film; not surprisingly, the TAMI collection includes dozens of assassination-related videos.

Because TAMI is home to so many amazing bits of Texas ephemera, it's also not surprising that one of those bits is a film of Cactus Pryor interviewing J. Frank Dobie about the assassination. Filmed the day before Thanksgiving in 1963, Cactus Pryor Interviews J. Frank Dobie is a rare, fascinating and thoroughly Texan take on the week's tragic events. The two Texas icons -- Pryor was an Austin TV pioneer, Dobie a folklorist, teacher, writer and patron saint of all things Austin -- discuss the assassination and, more importantly, the hateful climate in which it happened.

The interview lasts barely 19 minutes. Dobie rambles at times (at 75, he was in the last year of his life), but he fills many of those minutes with his famed insight and folksy wisdom. He discusses Lee Harvey Oswald's life in some detail; obviously, he had done his homework. He also laments the widespread hatred of Kennedy, along with a more general disrespect of the presidency. Recalling America in his father's time, Dobie tells us that "certainly nowhere in that country was there any hating of the president. The president was respected even though opposed, and it's possible to oppose a president or anybody else without hating him. Hate is modern towards presidents." (Dobie may have had an overly rosy view of presidential history.)

TAMI Flashback: Texas in the Civil Rights Era


Civil Rights in Texas

This article is the second in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

"You're not a Texan unless you're for segregation." –-- Indignant White Citizens Council leader Bobby Joiner

Although Texas cities weren't as newsworthy as Little Rock, Selma or Birmingham, the state was very much a battleground during the civil rights era. This TAMI Flashback article highlights three intriguing videos about the fight for racial equality in Texas. One is a slickly produced film about desegregation in Dallas. The others aren't slick at all; they're collections of raw news footage shot in Austin -- and they're far more powerful statements about race relations in Texas.

Dallas at the Crossroads is a film with noble intentions. In 1961, a federal court ordered Dallas to desegregate its schools. To discourage the violent opposition that happened in other cities, the Dallas Citizens Council produced Dallas at the Crossroads to defuse racial tension and encourage Dallas citizens to accept desegregation peacefully.

TAMI Flashback: Central Texas Fun in the Sun


A Boat Is Not a Car

This article inaugurates Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, it's great to be back on the Slackerwood TAMI beat. Since our first TAMI series ended in December 2011, TAMI has added a zillion or so new videos to its ever-expanding collection. The site also has undergone a slick redesign with lots of helpful features, including a monthly article highlighting new releases.

I'm kicking off this new series with a trio of 1970s vintage videos about outdoor fun in the Texas Hill Country, a popular destination for Austinites as the 100-degree heat of summer gives way to the crisp and refreshing 90-degree chill of fall.

Produced circa 1972 for the Highland Lakes Tourist Association and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Ballooning over LBJ Country is a tour of the Highland Lakes, starting 85 miles northwest of Austin at Lake Buchanan and ending at Lake Austin. As a balloon drifts over the lakes and shows us stunning Hill Country landscapes, an earthbound family travels the same route in an RV, visiting Hill Country towns and landmarks.

TAMI Flashback: The Legends of Austin


Legends of Austin

This article is the twelfth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

I'm wrapping up a year of the nostalgic TAMI Flashback series by featuring a doubly nostalgic video. The Legends of Austin -- itself nearly a half-century old -- examines more than 70 years of Austin history that came before it.

Produced in 1962 as part of Austin National Bank's Progress Report Austin series, The Legends of Austin is a sequel to a similar program that aired a year earlier. (Sadly, the original video is not in the TAMI library.) This fascinating program presents an eclectic montage of the city's history, with plenty of old photos and stories about Austin's famous citizens.

Much of the film's content is familiar; we've all seen photos of an unpaved (and hopelessly muddy) Congress Avenue, an equally muddy Sixth Street and various long-gone courthouses, hotels and other buildings. But other images are less common, such as a shiny new Braniff airliner at Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in 1935 and a slightly erroneous sign at 11th Street and Congress Avenue marking the Chisholm Trail. (Austin was on the trail, but no one drove cattle up Congress; the herds crossed the Colorado River near the Montopolis Bridge and below Mt. Bonnell.)

TAMI Flashback: Thunder Over Our Town Austin


Our Town Austin

This article is the eleventh in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

It is a pleasant city, clean and quiet, with wide rambling walks and elaborate public gardens and elegant old homes faintly ruined in the shadow of arching poplars. Occasionally through the trees, and always from a point of higher ground, one can see the college tower and the Capitol building. On brilliant mornings the white sandstone of the tower and the Capitol's granite dome are joined for an instant, all pink and cream, catching the first light. -- Billy Lee Brammer, The Gay Place

In The Gay Place, Brammer painted an astonishingly accurate -- if somewhat idealized -- portrait of the idyllic burg that was 1950s Austin, a city of "sweet curving streets and graceful sweeping lawns and the unequivocally happy sound of children always at play."

Many Austinites of the era no doubt shared Brammer's reverence for the River City, just as many of us do today. And few were more smitten than the producers of Our Town Austin, a relentlessly optimistic promotional film touting everything from Barton Springs to Austex Chili. While Our Town Austin's portrait of Austin is far less poetic than Brammer's masterpiece, the film presents the city in a similar light and is no less reverential.

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