New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 21, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
4 A ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ Friday, April 21,1995
■ To talk with Managing Editor Doug Loveday about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, ext. 21
u n g
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“The press enables electorates to make informed choices, and there one set of troubles starts.”
Lord McGregor of Dorris, British statesman, 1992Architecture has Old World flavor
I T O R
Our Chm Backyard
Terrorist attack in Oklahoma City points to need for stricter U.S. border controls
The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor has beckoned the world's “huddled masses” and other souls to our shores for a century.
Individuals and families from every nation and race have responded, packing up their meager belongings and setting sail for this country.
Political and religious persecution has led others to seek sanctuary within our country, while others have tried to escape the stranglehold of poverty in their own lands by moving to the United States.
Now, apparently, we have a new breed of visitor to our country—the international terrorist. He brings to America skills and dreams, just like other immigrants and visitors. He sees this country as a land of opportunity.
But his vision and his plans are terribly wrong for this land and its people.
Early reports from the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have suggested the bombing at an Oklahoma City federal building Wednesday carries the signature of international terrorists.
The magnitude and configuration of the car bomb that devastated the nine-sto-ry building is similar to the bomb that blew up in the garage of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, leading some to speculate that Islamic extremists may be behind this week’s terrorist attack.
What does that mean to you and me? Just that our lives may be forever changed.
One security specialist who helped formulate a new security plan for the World Trade Center in the wake of that bombing predicted more terrorist attacks would he forthcoming.
After New York, the taboo had been broken. Terrorists had hit hard on American soil, and the secunty specialist thought more acts were sure to follow.
Unfortunately, it seems he was right.
Every indication is that the perpetrators and the know-how it took to pull off the bombing did not originate in this counuy.
President Clinton aptly described the terrorists as "evil cowards”, and now our government must track and trap these animals and put up barriers to keep likeminded extremists out.
It seems our way of life in Amenca will change, maybe not dramatically but certainly in regard to secunty matters.
While we must remain a free and open society, it's time we enact stricter checks and measures at our international points of entry.
Those entering this country, especially from areas of the world with known terrorists organizations, should be required to undergo stronger scrutiny by our customs agents.
Some European nations and Israel require visitors and other travelers entering their borders to undergo such measures. Those countries have learned lo take such precautions because of past experiences with terrorism.
Sadly to say, we now have that same expenence to draw upon.
(Today’s editorial was written by Manaboly Editor Dou# Loveday) .
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Currently, here in New Braunfels, a great deal of emphasis and interest is being placed on things German because of the Sesquicentennial. The recent historic home tours made me start thinking about German architecture in our fair city, especially since I started renovation of an old German Sunday House of fachwerk construction myself.
Interestingly, when I say Sunday House, many people ask,
“What is a Sunday House?"— even some people of German descent. So, in keeping with our 150th celebration, here is a little information and some personal observations.
In German-American Folklore, compiled and edited by Mac E. Barrick, he refers to “folk architecture” as that which is constructed by non-professionals with some traditional skills, following traditional concepts of room, size, and building techniques. Although settlers in the New World carried with them the mental concept of traditional housing and techniques and the tools needed to reproduce that concept, their resultant structures were influenced and altered by a variety of factors, such as climate, economics and available materials.
The use of log buildings has been ascribed to a Germanic source. Historians have noted the similarity between log buildings of the New World and those of the German-Slavic border area and also similarities of style in southern Germany and Switzerland. The American log building styles are a synthesis of those European influences. Log buildings and houses abound in the New Braunfels and Hill Country areas.
Another technique widely used by German settlers is one called “fachwerk,” or half timber construction. The framing members of the building are exposed. They are heavy, squared timbers mortised or pinned together, with the space between filled with brick or stone nogging, or with wattle and daub, which is a mixture of mud, dung, and straw or hair as a binder. This type of construction became popular in western Germany when wood became scarce in the Middle Ages. In his book, Mr. Barrick comments that few examples of this type survive even though it was extremely common among the Pennsylvania Ger
mans. Well, he needs to come to New Braunfels and Fredericksburg to see plenty of examples.
The Sunday House was extremely popular in the New Braunfels and Fredericksburg areas, and many examples remain today. The Sunday Houses were built by German farmers who came to town on weekends to attend market or go to church. They were simple structures on small lots, and most were of fachwerk construction. They usually had one or two rooms on the ground floor with a sleeping area in the half story above. The unusual feature of this house is that it has no internal stairway. Access to the upper level was once gained by ladders, but now open outdoor stairways are used in some. My particular house, which is located on two lots originally granted to German families in 1845, had 4 small rooms with 12-foot ceilings and with additional very high ceiling attics. There was no plumbing, electricity, or closets. Today, we call it primitive.
Since New Braunfels was primarily settled in 1845 as a farming community on lands granted the immigrants, I feel certain that many of the customs and superstitions from the Old World were part of the • heritage. Many people sought out the aid of “brauch-ers” when they thought their cattle or other farm animals were bewitched. The most common recommendation was that they draw a picture of the suspected witch on the bam and shoot at it with a silver bullet. The witch would be injured in the same part of the body which the bullet struck. Many hex signs and charms were placed on buildings to ward off evil spirits, fire, etc.
The best known of these protective charms is the Himmelsbrief (letter from heaven). The idea of a letter written “by God Himself’ dates from early Christianity, but most of those in circulation today purportedly date from one of several such letters found in Germany in the 18th Century. The letter generally promises protection from evil to anyone who believes it and carries it, often specifying that no fire or bullet shall come near such a person. Many Pennsylvania German soldiers carried them into battle during the two world wars, and numerous broadside copies hang in German homes to protect them from destruction.
A common view by experts is that “hex" is the Americanization of the German “Hexe” for "witch.” The term “hex sign” is of fairly recent vintage.
Before the 1900s, they were simply called flowers or stars or whatever. Tile most common designs on bams or homes were swastikas, stars and rosettes— all common mystical symbols from Europe with religious connotations and/or signs of goodwill or good luck.
I wish I had some such letter or hex sign to ward off the bad during my current construction and renovation. Almost, daily, there is something unexpected and frustrating as all who have done a similar thing are aware. However, the original house had, and still does have, 4 stars—one painted on each comer— so maybe I’m in for some good luck. I hope so, especially on lottery day.
Since this is the year of new construction and renovation few the Comal County Senior Citizen Center, maybe we can add a hex sign to the building to continue the good luck that has always been with us from the beginning of our original construction.
I checked out a book recently from the library— Martha Stewart’s New Old Home, and I laughed and laughed. Everything was so perfect, and so clean, and in the pictures, Martha looked so perfectly groomed, I couldn’t help but wonder why I have mud up to my knees and chipped nails, dust an inch deep on everything, and trash everywhere. Guess I’m just not neat. Anyway, it’s a good book, but I hope no one is taking pictures of me during this phase of my life.
In addition to the fachwerk and symbols on the old Sunday House, I’m particularly fond of the gingerbread trim. That probably was not added until the early 1900s, but I think all will agree as to its charm.
Those who took the local home tours this year probably learned a great deal more about the architecture and appeal of the historic homes. Even though it happened by circumstance, I am pleased to be a part of this year’s celebration by contributing a little bit of restoration to the heritage.
In the Sesquicentennial Parade Saturday, look for the Senior Center’s float. Kenneth Triesch and his band of volunteers are working on a parade float to represent all areas of activities at the Center. It sounds great! Look for it.
The Center has a new face on board. Erma Wilson has joined the staff as Manager of the Thrift Shop. Thanks to all our wonderful volunteers for giving her a warm welcome and their support.
Congress can’t reopen court cases
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most folks don’t lose sleep worrying about the relationship of tile federal government’s three branches. How Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton get along is for most a source of amusement.
Some Americans might recall a high school lesson or college lecture on the “constitutional separation of powers." But they’re probably willing to leave such highbrow stuff to the academics and the smarter of the politicians.
But nine American academics and politicians — the members of the Supreme Court — still care deeply about the 200-year-old concept, and they had some bad news for Congress on that score this week.
Their new decision’s immediate impact is marginal, but it may signal a shift in the court’s deference to Congress. It also reminds those in power that constitutional rules apply and are zealously enforced.
The high court said Congress doesn’t have the power to reopen a court case that has become final.
The ruling struck down a 1991 law Congress had passed to allow lawsuits by some stock investors who previously had their cases dismissed. The law, an attempt to undo a Supreme Court decision on filing deadlines,
required reinstatement of any lawsuit dismissed because of the high court ruling.
Led by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled that Congress had usurped judicial power by trying to resurrect the finalized legal disputes.
In a 30-page opinion that read like a history lesson, Scalia laid out for a six-member court majority a formalistic approach to separation of powers.
The doctrine, he said, “is a structural safeguard ... establishing high walls and clear distinctions because low walls and vague distinctions will not be judicially defensible in the heat of interbranch conflict ”
Such conflicts have been part of politically charged high court rulings:
—Congressional power to block presidential policy through a practice called the legislative veto was struck down in 1983.
—One version of automatic deficit-ieducing measures enacted by Congress, the Gramm-Rudman Act, was struck down in 1986.
—Congressional power to create a commission that came up with sentencing guidelines for federal judges to
follow was upheld in 1989.
—A federal law requiring the appointments of special prosecutors to investigate alleged crimes by highranking executive-branch officials was upheld in 1988.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, perhaps the court member most deferential to the overall power of Congress, wrote the 1988 opinion that upheld the independent-counsel law.
Scalia, a fellow conservative who does not share Rehnquist’s enthusiasm for congressional authority, was the sole dissenter in the 1988 case. He said the separation and balance of powers are what make the Constitution a unique and enduring document.
“In dictatorships of the modern world, bills of rights are a dime a dozen,’’ Scalia said back then, adding that shared and diffused governmental power is really what protects freedom.
Americans periodically are warned about the dangers of an “imperial presidency,’’ a "runaway Congress” or even an “unelected judiciary." But the United States never has succumbed to dictatorship.
Scalia this week borrowed from the poet Robert Frost in offering one of the reasons why: "Good fences make good neighbors.’’
Today In History
By The Associated Press
Today is Friday, April 21, the 11 Uh day of 1995. There are 254 days left in the year.<
Today's Highlight in History: On April 21,1918, Baron Manfret von Richthofen, the German act mown as the “Red Baron,” was killet in action during World War I.
On this date:
In 1649, the Maryland Toleratioi Act, which provided for freedom o worship for all Christians, was passel by the Maryland assembly.
In 1789, John Adams was sworn i as the first vice president of the Unii ed States.
In 1836, an army of Texans led b Sam Houston defeated the Mexicar at San Jacinto, assuring the indepei dence of Texas.
In 1910, author Samuel LanghoiT Clemens, better known as Mal Twain, died in Redding, Conn.
In 1940, the quiz show that ask< the “$64 question,” ‘Take It or Lea' It," premiered on CBS Radio.
In 1955, the Jerome Lawrenc Robert Lee play “Inherit the Wind loosely based on the Scopes trial 1925, opened at the National Th atre in New York.