In Texas a man may gamble in oil and pro football franchises but he cannot place a bet on a horse. To V. E. (Red) Berry of San Antonio this is plumb unfitting, improper and un-Texan. In fact, Berry, a retired ("I'm not reformed, just retired") gambler, has been elected to three terms in the Texas House of Representatives on a one-plank platform: bring Thoroughbred racing back to Texas by legalizing pari-mutuel betting.
Every so often Berry thinks bigger. He once proposed a constitutional amendment calling for the division of Texas into two states. One, the state of South Texas, he envisioned as a tax-free paradise where horse racing, the sale of liquor by the drink (also illegal in Texas) and tourism would flourish.
This spring Berry ran in the Democratic primary for the state Senate. During the final week of the campaign he put on several hour-long TV specials, which consisted, in the main, of films of famous horse races narrated by Berry. The most famous was a race in which he had a winner paying $87.
Primary Day in San Antonio was May 7, which was also when the Kentucky Derby was run. The night before, Berry devoted the greater part of an hour and a half of paid political time to a discussion of Derby entries and odds. The next day he won the election laughing.
Although his pari-mutuel bill has been regularly defeated, Berry, like all long-shot players, is undaunted. He figures about 20 "first-class funerals" among his fellow legislators would make for a clear track.
And in Texas trout fishermen are about as scarce as horseplayers, despite the lure of there being no legal limit to the number of trout you can take. How come? Easy. Until April there were no trout in Texas, except for one private fishing hole high in the western mountains; elsewhere the water was too warm. However, when Canyon Dam on the Guadalupe River was completed, it was discovered that the water released from the bottom was between 49� and 54�, comfy for rainbows, and a San Antonio brewery was persuaded to put up $10,000 for 10,000 adult rainbows to stock the stretch below the dam.
On opening day hordes of voracious anglers lined the 10 miles of fast, clear rapids and, using popcorn, marshmallows, cheese, worms, minnows and one verified saucepan, hauled in 4,000 trout.
Horrified conservationists pleaded with the state to impose a limit to give the fish a break. But rainbows wise up fast. The surviving 6,000 fled to the deepest pools, where they are living happily ever after. An occasional fly fisherman may still get a rise out of one, but the trout are now so chary and elusive that the question of a limit is academic. You can still keep all the trout you can catch in Texas.