In Memory of a Remarkable Man

For the past ten or fifteen years, Jesse E. Moreno engaged in a personal writing campaign rebutting accusations of racism against his beloved home town of Three Rivers, Texas. Often he was the target of prejudiced criticism by those making the accusations.

But he persisted against all odds hoping that in his lifetime a true and corrected story would be published in a major newspaper. He read that story January 7, 2012.

The article, “Consider the Other Side of the Longoria Story,” written by columnist, Bob Richter, appeared in the San Antonio Express-News January 7, 2012. Jesse was interviewed by Richter for the article just weeks before the story ran in the newspaper three days before he passed from this life. Jesse lived to see his dream fulfilled.

Jesse’s Legacy

And now Jesse’s legacy supersedes his lifetime, for Richter’s article has since been reprinted in mySouTex.com, a web-newspaper comprised of four newspapers in South Texas: The Beeville Bee-Picayune, The Karnes Countywide, The Progress, and the Refugio County Press. The Progress, originally named The Live Oak Leader, and its affiliated newspapers have been publishing news since the late 1800’s covering a five county area in South Texas.

Jesse E. Moreno passed away at home Tuesday, January 10, 2012, at 11:30 a.m. following a short illness. He was a month shy of 76 years old. Memorial services and burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. in Battle Creek, Michigan where he lived the past 40 years.

Jesse’s youngest son, Jamon, said this of his father’s legacy: “My father taught his children to treat everyone fairly, respectfully, and with integrity regardless of color, culture, or race. He also encouraged us to strive for excellence through higher education. My father loved people. He loved learning. He loved life.”

Jesse was named "Friendliest" by his Three Rivers High School classmates his Junior year in 1956 and his Senior year in 1957. Indeed, his smile and friendly manner exemplified his life showing that a person who makes him or herself friendly has many friends.

Jesse also loved Three Rivers, Texas, and its people. Even though Jesse lived thousands of miles away, he has been among the town’s most ardent supporters. A true friend of Three Rivers, Jesse will be deeply and sorely missed.

Jesse Moreno's Last Editorial in Defence of Kennedy and Three Rivers, Points Out Errors in THE LONGORIA AFFAIR

Editor's Note: Jesse Moreno was born in Three Rivers in 1936. He lived and worked there for thirty-six years. "In a small town like Three Rivers, you knew everyone and everyone knew you," Moreno said. "And most everybody is related in someway."

 

So, he wrote to film producer John Valadez via Michael Getler, PBS Ombudsman, pointing out serious errors in The Longoria Affair and questioning Valadez's claim that he "spoke with many people from Three Rivers."

 

Jesse Moreno's letter is quite long, but it is well worth reading as he goes into detail about life in Three Rivers leading up to the Longoria Incident in 1949 and why and where The Longoria Affair is "grossly inaccurate and completely off base."

 

Incidentally, Mr. Moreno was frequently recommended to film producer, John Valadez, as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for Three Rivers life and the Longoria Incident in particular. Valadez consistently presented petty reasons for not interviewing him.

 

TO:            John Valadez                                                                    DATE: February 7, 2011

                  PBS/ITVS Producer of the “The Longoria Affair”

 

FROM:      Jesse Moreno (from Three Rivers, Texas)

                  74 Meachem Ave

                  Battle Creek, MI 49037

                  (269) 962-2006

 

c/o:      Michael Gettler, PBS Ombudsman (ombudsman@pbs.org)

            Lois Vossen, ITVS (lois_vossen@itvs.org)

           

Re:       Response to Mr. Valadez’s letter re The Longoria Affair 

 

      It has taken me a little longer to answer your letter, because I felt that it deserved the time and effort. You say that since Sara Posas is 10 years older than me that maybe she saw things that I did not. For your information, there is not too much difference in time to cause things to disappear or practices to be abandon in just a short time. For you and Sara's information things just do not change overnight, as you would have me believe.

      Also you make references to the fact that maybe I should talk to the older people in Three Rivers about how things were then. You seem to forget that I grew up with the people that you call older people in Three Rivers and the fact is that I know everyone of them and they know me. As a matter of fact, I lived among this older generation for a lot longer time than Sara Posas, who moved to Corpus Christi with her family before World War II, so most of her remembrances about Three Rivers span a very short time. Also for your information, I grew up with the children of the older generation and then the children of the next generation and on down the line. Have you ever given it any thought, how many generations can be born in 36 years? This span of time is over three times Sara’s experiences of Three Rivers, and her time was as a small child while mine lasted far into middle age. I offered to be interviewed. Why didn’t you interview me?

      In your letter, you say that you talked with many of the older people in Three Rivers about how things were back then.  You roll out the word “many,” but you do not give names to whom you spoke. It would be nice to know the names of the many people that you “spoke” to, so I could verify the merit or the truth about what you were told. Give me some names, I dare you! Since I still remember most of the people that I grew up with, it would be easy for me to verify fact or fiction. You know, I am an older Three Rivers resident who knows the town and people (both Mexican and Anglo) extremely well. Why didn’t you interview me? So don’t take me for a fool and say you talked with many.  I can easily spot double talk about facts pertaining to Three Rivers.

      What I find almost laughable is the fact that you say you talked to many people and yet you only use Sara Posas to make statements on camera as to how bad things were in Three Rivers. Where are all those “many people” you say you talked to that were not allowed to make their own statements on camera? The only one that is older than me is Jane Kennedy, but she was not born in Three Rivers, as you well know it for a fact. The fact that you used both Sara Posas and Santiago Hernandez to be spokespersons for the people of Three Rivers is an insult to those of us who really lived there. It is truly insulting that you portray them as citizens of Three Rivers when Santiago never lived in the little town even one day in his life! He was born in Corpus Christi, in 1963. He grew up there! He lives there now and this is fact! You only used him for his sing and dance, not true history.

      Mr. Valadez, I would have thought that according to your own very words about talking to the many people in Three Rivers that you would have at least used several of them to backup your story. But you choose to do the documentary according Dr. Garcia and Dr. Carroll, which is why you used Sara Posas and Santiago Hernandez because for them the two Dr’s words are the only true authority and everyone else labeled “racists”!

      You claim that in talking to others you heard countless stories from Mexican-Americans in Three Rivers of discrimination and exclusion. Mrs. Posas was one of them who claimed to recall the “No Mexican Allowed” signs. You brought Sara Posas in as a hostile witness, but you didn’t ask what caused her bitterness.  But those of us who lived with her and her family before they moved from Three Rivers when she was 10 know something about what caused her bitterness and it wasn’t Three Rivers. It was something else more personal and in her family, but she has taken it out on an innocent town. What really amazes me is that Ms. Vossen accepted what you said without full proof. What sensible person would accept this kind of double talk?  You "heard countless stories, but only reported what Sara Posas' “remembered”? Mr. Valadez, since I have been around much longer than you and I lived in Three Rivers for 36 years from the time I was born in 1936, what leads you to believe that I am a fool for your double talk? You may fool many others, but eventually someone will produce the truth you hide. Then I won’t be the only one.

      By-the-way, in “Justice for My People” Sara said she was made to sit in the balcony of the Three Rivers theatre because she was Mexican. When Sara lived there only a one-story theatre existed and we kids with our Mexican and Anglo friends all sat on the front row. Sara should remember that. A little research around town would have revealed that Sara had moved from Three Rivers ten years before a new theatre was built with a balcony. It had opened only weeks before the Longoria incident and Mexican kids still got to sit anywhere they wanted. You knew Sara lied about the theatre and yet you took her word on the “No Mexican” signs.

      If there were "No Mexicans Allowed" signs, how do you explain Guadalupe Longoria's statement in the January 17, 1949, Laredo Times that "the Latins are not barred from any business establishment" in Three Rivers. Guadalupe came to Three Rivers in 1923. Surely he would have seen such signs. But he told the Laredo Times he hadn't. Posting "No Mexican Allowed" signs would have "barred" Mexican-Americans from doing business in town. Since Guadalupe said, Latins were "not barred from any business," then the only conclusion is that signs prohibiting Mexican-Americans did not exist in Three Rivers. But for you Mr. Valadez, it seems the "No Mexicans Allowed" signs had to exist because Sara Posas said they did. I realize Sara Posas lived in Three Rivers ten years before I was born, but Guadalupe was 44 years old when he settled in Three Rivers in 1923. He said there were no such signs. I would believe a responsible 44 year old adult man before I would believe preadolescent childhood memories. 

      I understand others from Three Rivers have told you that "No Mexicans Allowed" signs were not posted as the film shows? Even a former CEO of Dell Corporation who grew up there and saw the film’s screening! Seeing such a sign makes the film more emotional and makes the town look more racists. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? This was your statement! But what about the historical accuracy? Is that not important to you? I think that you said something about this being "artistic license" at the screening in Austin, Texas. In fiction this is understandable, but in a documentary? Why is this exception tolerated in the film? It seems to me there is a higher standard for documentaries, but I don't see you using it.

      The above paragraphs dispute your letter which called into account my pleasant memories of Three Rivers and which you called into question also about my intelligence because my witness runs against what Sara Posas told you. According to Guadalupe Longoria's statements to the Laredo Times, it proves that I was right that no such signs existed and Sara Posas was all wrong. You can see in Sara’s face before your camera that she is bitter and not telling the truth and as much as you may deny it, she is saying what you coached her to say. Poor Sara has to live with this inside her even if this makes her miserable in life.

      Now, regarding the Floore Report: Why did Shag Floore and Peter Dunne speak with the town leaders only? Because Guadalupe’s daughter, Carolina Longoria, prevented them from speaking with her father, that’s why! How do we know? Reference her March 1949, sworn statement where she says, "I made the men go away whenever they came to the house." Floore says in his report he and Peter Dunne told Dr. Garcia that they were going to Three Rivers the next day to investigate. This was Friday, January 14, 1949. Carolina says that she "made the men go away whenever they came to the house." When Floore and Dunne showed up in Three Rivers Saturday, January 15th, Carolina called Dr. Garcia who advised her to send her father out of town to Laredo, Texas. In her sworn statement Carolina says, "It all got so bad finally, though (because federal and state authorities show up to investigate) that Alberto had to take Daddy away to Laredo to get some rest." He was only gone until Floore and Dunne left town.

      The Laredo Times reported January 17, 1949, that Guadalupe Longoria sought "a momentary respite...Sunday ( January 16) to spend a day in a city..."away from Three Rivers" on Dr. Garcia's urgent advice (See Carroll's book p.136, "At the doctor's suggestion, the youngest son Arturo, took his father to Laredo in order to escape the harassment.")  This "momentary respite" or escape" just happened to be while Floore and Dunne were in Three Rivers asking their questions. This questioning, of course, would have been construed as "harassment" to justify Guadalupe's skipping town in lieu of answering Floore and Dunne’s questions. This plan to send Guadalupe to Laredo happened immediately after they spoke with Dr. Garcia Saturday, January 15. Carolina, by her own admission, "made the men go away." Dr. Garcia advised her to get her father out of town in case Floore and Dunne persisted in trying to speak with him. Floore and Dunne were prevented from questioning Guadalupe Longoria; therefore, they visited with town leaders because they were willing to answer questions. I can understand why Valadez would have omitted this information. It sounds better if the Anglos appeared biased and it certainly casts doubts on a very creditable report that would destroy the story Valadez wished to tell.

     Finally regarding the historians, it is not my intent to disrespect these "remarkable people who are highly-regarded in their field."  It's just that I expected more objectivity from these highly-educated historians like Dr. Carroll where the producer seems to have gotten most of his information about the Longoria Incident. To me, Dr. Carroll's objectivity is compromised when he says in his book acknowledgements that he "agreed to write this account...in return for Dr. Hector P. Garcia's donation...," or that the "book  represented the first down payment on our pledge to use Dr. Garcia's documents," or that "Dr. Garcia contributed as much to the writing of this book" as Dr. Carroll did, or that Dr. Garcia flattered Dr. Carroll with a name tag that read " "Dr. Pat Carroll, Special Assistant To The Founder, Dr. Hector P. Garcia" whenever he attended patients with Dr. Garcia at the hospital.

      In viewing The Longoria Affair it is very obvious to me that you, Mr. Valadez, stick very close to Dr. Carroll's book. If I question Dr. Carroll's objectivity and the film is based on his book, then I naturally question your objectivity. Knowing what I do know from first-hand experience, I question the thoroughness of your research. I have in fact, proven by the preceding documentation that there is every reason for PBS to question the film's accuracy and your purpose for writing and directing it. If your judgment has been compromised by strictly adhering to Dr. Carroll's book and the information supplied by Dr. Garcia, then the film is biased, because the film is based on the opinions of Dr. Garcia and leaves no room for a rebuttal from an opposing side.

     Now the Floore Report, which you refused to use because you said that it dealt more harshly with Three Rivers – I have a copy of the true Floore Report and I find that the report deals more harshly with Dr. Garcia for what he was doing behind Beatrice Longoria back without her knowledge. He wired the Fort Worth Quartermasters Depot instructing them to send the remains of Felix Longoria to Arlington, VA, for burial without Beatrice's foreknowledge. This is unforgivable! Shag Floore's commander sent him to talk to Dr. Garcia about this and to investigate the mess that Dr. Garcia had created. Shag Floore teamed up with Peter Dunne of Dunne's Funeral Home, who was a Director for the Texas Funeral Association and who was conducting an investigation for the Texas Funeral Home Association in regards to Rice Funeral Home in Three Rivers. This leads to the question, why was Dr. Garcia so afraid that he had Guadalupe Longoria spirited out of Three Rivers to avoid talking to Peter Dunne and Shag Floore and answer their questions. Dr. Garcia was afraid that Shag Floore would inform Guadalupe Longoria that Dr. Garcia was attempting to ship his son’s remains to Arlington, VA, without Beatrice's foreknowledge and permission.

      All of this hidden agenda caused by Dr. Garcia must be revealed before any healing takes place. It would have happened if Dr. Garcia's promise made to Shag Floore and Peter Dunne had taken place and Felix's remains had been returned to Three Rivers for burial. But my guess is it was more important to Dr. Garcia to bring his GI Forum into existence on the lives of the Longoria and Kennedy families than to tell the truth. Since Peter Dunne is mentioned in the Floore Report as conducting an investigation for the Texas Funeral Home Association, that report does exist, or at least it did at one time. Mr. Kennedy was allowed to keep his license to be a funeral director, which means Peter Dunne’s report found no act of discrimination on Kennedy’s part.

     My sincere hope is that PBS rethinks about, whether it wants to promote The Longoria Affair or force Valadez to remake the film to include the Floore Report to clear the air on this issue.  If they don’t future generations in Three Rivers may be subjected to another attack by a person from Corpus Christi or someplace else by a Dr. Garcia “wannabe” seeking personal acclaim.

      In 1999, the Hector P. Garcia Foundation received a large donation to build a museum, but Dr.Xico Garcia, one of Dr. Garcia's brothers with the founding GI Forum in Corpus Christi sued the foundation for half of the $100,000 dollars. They got $50,000 and spent it on a grand convention. When the foundation reported to the IRS where $50,000 went, the IRS began turning up the screws on the National GI Forum. The founding Forum (Corpus Christi) had refused to explain where the money had gone. Finally the National GI Forum revoked the founding Forum’s Charter. This got their attention. It was about this time that Santiago Hernandez and a group of his Longoria GI Forum chapter showed up at a Three Rivers City Council Meeting wanting to rename the Post Office. I often wonder if this was an attempt to bring a dead horse to life. The latest effort for revival has been John Valadez’s attempt to breathe life into that same dead horse with his patronizing documentary.

      Maybe it is time for PBS to pull the plug and make Mr. Valadez redo the documentary under the supervision of several trustworthy and knowledgeable historians to include the Floore Report and other deliberate omissions of valuable information, or take his documentary off the air. It is up to PBS, since the ball is in their court. It is time to be honest with the public that supports public broadcasting. The town and people you, Mr. Valadez, malign in your so-called documentary is the same town and people PBS maligns every time The Longoria Affair is shown. If I were PBS I would drop you like a “hot potato” and recall all the DVDs that have been sold and/or placed in colleges and universities.

 

Respectfully,

Jesse Moreno

Three Rivers citizen from1936 to 1972.