The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, April 26, 1979, Image 18

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rri o g fn
C3 cannot
n oar,
he’s unhandicapped in life
(Continued from page 1.)
As public relations officer, he
is in charge of the dorm news
letter. “I haven’t written one
lately,” he said. “We have two
big parties coming up — been
too busy.” He is also in charge
of publicity for all of Moses
Hall’s social functions.
Coombs said he doesn’t just
publicize the events; he attends
them all, too. He especially
likes the dances, he said, be
cause dancing is one of his fa
vorite hobbies. So is reading
science fiction books.
Coombs, whose deafness
was caused by spinal menin
gitis, said he didn’t know how to
dance when he came to Texas
“I didn’t dance when I first
came here, but I learned fast. I
guess I’m just a natural,” he
said with a laugh, “I’ve got good
Coombs said he watches
other people to get the initial
beat and then continues on his
Country-western is his fa
vorite kind of dancing and he
also likes rock-n-roll.
But not disco, he said, be
cause he’s never heard that
kind of music.
“I don’t have any idea what
disco sounds like. I can re
member going places with my
parents and playing the
jukebox, before I went deaf,
and I heard rock-n-roll and
kicker music.
“But disco didn’t even exist.”
When asked about his
nickname, “D.G.”, Coombs
said, ‘‘I like to think that it
stands for ‘damn good’.”
Actually, he picked it up
when he went out for the dorm
football team his freshman
year, he said.
“Some dude named Big
Jake kept saying, Tell that deaf
guy to come here!’ And the in
itials just stuck.”
Coombs said his biggest
problem is getting people to be
lieve that he really can’t hear.
Once Coombs and some of
his friends went dancing in
Houston with a Dallas Cowboy
cheerleader, he said, and she
wouldn’t believe that he was
“Then, while we were doing
the two-step, they (the band)
changed to a polka — but I
didn’t. She believed us after
Even though he can’t follow
professors in lecture classes
because they talk too fast,
Coombs was named a Distin
guished Student last semester.
“I don’t understand a word
they (the professors) say. I
copy other people’s notes, but
sometimes they don’t write ev
erything down because they
can remember a lot of what
they’ve heard.”
As for studying, he said, “I
hate to study — never do. I just
cram before exams.”
Coombs was asked if he
knew of any other deaf stu
dents here. He said that he
knows one other “deaf guy”
who lives in Davis-Gary Hall but
that he doesn’t know him very
“I don’t like to fraternize with
deaf people,” he said, laughing.
“I’m like the dachshund that
thought he was a great dane.”
Galveston Bay oystering
will never be the same
United Press International
TEXAS CITY — Theodore “B.B.” Hillman’s
calloused 55-year-old hands squeezed as
suredly as his knife dug into the knot on the out
side of a long-empty oyster shell.
He punched it open to expose the gray-tan
edible muck of a baby oyster.
“There’s a small oyster. See? He’s growing
right there. That’s a spat,” Hillman smiled. “It’s
just a small oyster that’s growing on some other
shell. It starts out as a microscopic organism.
“Each oyster will put out a half-million to a
million seeds every year. In two or three hours, if
it doesn’t catch on something hard — an old
shell, a tin can, a bottle — it’s dead.”
The recent failure of Galveston Bay spats was
the reason the oystermen who gather for morn
ing coffee at Hillman’s dockside cafe — as well
as related businesses —just ended their hardest
oyster season in recent memory.
It was virtually a non-season. Last December,
shortly after the November-to-May oyster season
started, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Depart
ment closed Texas’ most productive bay to oys
Parks and Wildlife partially reopened the bay
in February, but only to oystermen with private
leases, small stretches to which the state leases
them exclusive rights. Non-leaseholders working
public reefs remained excluded.
“It was thought necessary because we had
had about three years of poor spat setting,” ex
plained state biologist Bob Hofstetter. “The oys
ter population was down to about its lowest level
in 25 years.”
He said production on the increasingly indus
trialized bay peaked in the mid-1960s at 4 million
pounds of shucked meat a season. In 1977, it
dropped below a million pounds.
“We’re not really sure of all of the reasons,”
said Hofstetter, who said human activity has both
good and bad effects. “I think it was mainly be
cause of the fresh water coming into the bay at
the wrong time (largely due to flooding).”
Oysters are brackish water creatures, requir
ing a mix of salt and fresh water.
“In the latter part of 1978, we finally had a
good spat set with young oysters coming along,”
Hofstetter said. “We wanted to protect as many
of those as we could and increase the harvest for
the coming year.”
But good reasons were not much comfort to
Dwayne Forque, 28, of Pearland, who made
$7,000 during the last open oyster season in
1977-78. Or David Gillis, 24, of Dickinson. Or
Bobby Collins, 29, of Texas City.
Each finished high school and went straight to
the boats. They have oystered and shrimped
most of their lives. They figure loss of an oyster
season cuts a third from the $20,000-plus in
come they enjoy in good years.
"You can’t put no price on the loss,” said For
que, who took his boat to bays further down the
Texas Coast which were not closed but which
accounted for less than one-fourth of Texas pro
duction in the best years.
“I lost living expenses, time around the house,
not getting as good oysters.”
Still, though winter was economically tight, all
three expect to survive their oyster loss through
active shrimping from now until autumn. Forque
made $15,000 last year on shrimping alone.
Lloyd Gaston, 52, a retired carpenter, will join
them “chasing shrimp like a wild bull,” although
for the past three years he had relied solely on
“It (closing of the bay) just knocked me in the
dirt,” he said.
Stanley Rutland of the SBA’s Houston district
office said only nine applications had been pro
cessed completely but “about 50” more were
expected before the October deadline.
Hofstetter conceded the oystermen had been
hurt economically but said most appreciated the
long-run wisdom of a temporary shutdown.
“I think most of them believed what we were
doing is the proper thing,” he said. “You’re al
ways going to get a difference of opinion, espe
cially among individuals like fishermen. Some
are mad because we didn’t close the bay soon
Hillman agreed there were many more oysters
back when he was hand-tonging — using the
now outdated posthole digger-like device — in
stead of dredging for oysters as oystermen do
“It’ll never be like it was years ago,” he said.
“When we first started in business down here, it
was good. Them oysters was 40 to 50 foot deep,
solid oysters.”
Even though Bill “D.G.” Coombs, deaf since the age of
eight, can’t follow professors in lecture classes because
they talk too fast, he was named a Distinguished Stu<
dent last semester. Phot ° 8 by Lynn Blanco
Focus is published every Thursday as an
entertainment section of The Battalion.
Policy: Focus will accept any stories, drawings or
photographs that are submitted for publication, al
though the decision to publish lies solely with the
editor. Pieces submitted, printed or not, will be re
turned upon request. Deadline is 5 p.m. the Friday
before publication.
Contributing to this issue were: Doug Graham,
Lee Roy Leschper Jr., Kris Wiese, Mindie Rolfe,
Judie Porter, Jeanne Graham and Lynn Blanco.
Editor: Beth Calhoun