The Future County Judge In Shades Of Gray

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Clarification: Even my wife Rosemary says, “Don’t you think you should write about something else besides Texas?” I do not concur. This is a diary and I write about anything I want to write about and put in any pictures I feel are the right ones. Since this blog of mine is my personal and de facto magazine and this magazine happens to be on the web (aka unlimited real estate of space) I can post as many pictures as I want without having to deal with conventional magazine art directors who are restricted by space and personal taste. In short I do what I want. Perhaps I will run out of Texas steam eventually. Until then read on or have a rest.

One day when I was riding with Michael East, returning from his son’s house we were turning into the driveway to the ranch house when we were met up by a largish man driving a Jeep station wagon. I was introduced to him and his name was Juan Escobar. After his business with Michael East was over I had a chat with him. He told me he had been in the US Marines during the Vietnam war and after the war he was attached to a Marine Corps group that dealt with funeral ceremonies at the White House and in Arlington, Virginia.

He said this had been quite an honor. After the Marine Corps he became a member of the US Border Patrol. It was here that he met up with officers who saw the world as either black or white. Escobar explained to me that to be a good border patrolman you had to follow the letter of the law but still see it in shades of gray. You had to be human and have compassion. He hinted that some border guys were much like machines. They were impersonal.

It was then that we discussed the forthcoming Arizona law on immigration. He thought the law was ill-advised particularly if you took into consideration what was happening in South, Texas. When Mike puts ads in the paper requesting the services of cowboys, none who are from these parts ever apply. The only real cowboys left are Mexicans. If the US Government makes it hard to bring in these Mexican cowboys, ranchers in these parts cannot produce America’s chief food of choice, meat. They (the US Government) should be facilitating not hampering cattle ranchers.

Later I found out that for a while (after he left the border patrol) he had been hired by Michael East as his chief of ranch security. With his expertise in the border patrol he also helped Michael East with the normalization of the documents of some of his best Mexican cowboys so that they could stay and work in the ranch. Michael East also revealed that Juan Escobar (there are no pictures of him here) had been elected County Judge for Kleberg County and that sometime in the beginning of the next year he will be based in Kingsville, Texas.

I took the last picture in one of the many tables with framed photographs in the large living room of the Santa Fe Ranch. On the left is Juan Villareal who used to saddle Alice Gertrudis Kleberg East’s (Michael’s grandmother, and seen in the centre photograph) horses. Alice East was a photographer in her own right so she does not appear in too many pictures. She also shot with a windup movie camera. Above, centre is Michael as a young boy in the company of his eldest sister Alice East.

Link to: The Future County Judge In Shades Of Gray

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