Sages of Texas town blame Elvis Presley, the Beatles

September 23, 1990|By Ellen Uzelac

McLEAN, Texas -- Every day for the past 20 years, 92-year-old L. L. Rogers and "the boys" have had morning coffee at the Rexall drugstore where they josh with the waitress and solve the world's problems.

As far as Mr. Rogers -- the elder statesman of the group -- is concerned, the nation's plunge into immorality occurred when a singer named Elvis Presley started wiggling his hips.

His more liberal cronies in this Texas Panhandle community of 1,160 beg to differ.

They believe the nation's moral decline began with the British Invasion -- not the Revolutionary War but the Beatles.

Sam Haynes, the mayor of what's known as "The Friendly Town" along old Route 66, wonders at daytime soap operas that "open every single time with two people in bed."

His brother, rancher John Haynes, blames the sorry state of affairs on the breakdown of the American family and warns: "Before you know it, we'll be like France."

And John Holland, the town policeman, worries about people's general "uncaring," an attitude he says extends from one's self-esteem to the personal and property rights of others.

Carl Dwyer, the former school superintendent, is optimistic.

"I'm seeing changes in our kids in school," said the 63-year-old Mr. Dwyer.

"They're dressing neater. They have more pride in themselves. There's still that sense of 'I want mine, and I want it now,' but I think maybe that's changing.

"But, of course," he says, "nothing changes fast enough for an old man."

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