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Here are some changes — have we remained the same?

November 17, 2018

Perhaps you are familiar with the French phrase “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which translates, of course, as “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This thought can be comforting to those, which is almost everyone, who abhor change.

Most of us would agree that change is hard. As time and the world ebbs and flows, we try to latch on to some certainty, some permanence even though we know our time is limited. We continue, like Sisyphus, rolling the stone up the hill day after day because that is at least familiar, somewhat the same from day to day. For many, change, the unfamiliar, becomes the “enemy.”

Indeed, I have heard and read over the years that San Antonio has one of the largest groups of C.A.V.E. in the country. This acronym/abbreviation (it is both) stands for “Citizens Against Virtually Everything,” also referred to as “Cavers.” I have no experience nor have done any research comparing different cities to know for sure that our group is one of the largest, but some research of the history of San Antonio will show many instances of organized resistance to change, from opposing freeways, street closures, place or institution name changes to changes at the Alamo, to cite a few.

I decided to explore the idea of change further by using the technique of “living history.” That history would be me. (Note to Grammar Police: I know “would be I” is technically correct, but I choose not to use that.) When I was a teen, my family moved from France to Laredo. That was quite a change in and of itself.

In reply to bumper stickers touting “Native Texan” and such, instead of saying “I got here as soon as I could,” I prefer to say, “Texan by choice, not chance.” Obviously, I didn’t have a choice about arriving, but I did choose to stay.

At that time it was against state law to speak Spanish in public schools. This law was not well enforced in Laredo, however. Also, one had to pay a poll tax to vote. I recall it was something like $2, which would be about $15 to $20 today. Liquor by the drink was unavailable, except for the wealthy at private clubs. Many counties were totally dry, which made for good bootlegging.

In the spring of my freshman year at Southwest Texas State (changed later to Texas State), I was part of a student Senate that had meetings about the imminent desegregation of the college. This was many years after the Supreme Court ordered school desegregation. A small group of young African-American women were enrolled by a federal court order with, thankfully, no incidents.

If a college student became pregnant, she was required to leave school. Public school teachers were required to take leaves when their pregnancies became apparent.

On the geopolitical front, amid atomic bomb air-raid drills in schools, missile crises and the draft, the Berlin Wall went up. The Soviet Union seemed engraved forever in history. But both the wall and the union fell.

These are just a few vignettes of the times, but what do you think? Is it true that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

John Eubanks is author of the book “Life Support of Another Sort,” and a former teacher and actor who lives in Converse. He can be reached at joneu62@gmail.com

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