“Today people think of Austin as a pleasant, artistic, quirky, music-crazed town, bursting with smart people, cool restaurants, and reclaimed dive bars,” said Author Jesse Sublett. “But just beneath the surface simmers a spectral past–a weirder, sleazier Austin, one that the Chamber of Commerce brochures and real estate brochures don’t talk about. Back in the sixties and the fifties, the rapidly transforming area east of I35 around Cesar Chavez was home to a white trash thug culture that fed the conveyor belt between the Travis County jail and the Walls Unit at Huntsville, as well as the federal prisons.”
Dallas Heritage Village, in partnership with the Dallas Historical Society, presents 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime that Rocked the Capital with Author Jesse Sublett, on Thursday, October 8, 6 p.m. (reception); 6:30 p.m. presentation, followed by a Q&A and book signing, in Browder Springs Hall, at Dallas Heritage Village, 1515 S. Harwood, Dallas, Texas 75215.
Jesse Sublett, author, musician and artist from Austin, Texas, will share the story of these Austin miscreants who rose to folk hero status despite their violent criminal acts.
Sublett will share the story of Timmy Overton of Austin and Jerry Ray James of Odessa who were football stars who traded athletics for lives of crime. Overton fought in Golden Gloves in the mid-fifties and graduated from Stephen F. Austin High in 1958 with a full ride scholarship, recruited by Darrell K Royal. Overton attended UT for two years and played under Royal in the Cotton Bowl Classic against the Syracuse Orange, New Year’s Day 1960. But Overton’s football career crashed and burned after as he was seduced by Austin thug culture. Royal knew Timmy was a troublemaker when he offered the scholarship. The second time he was arrested, Coach Royal booted him off the team and turned his back on him.
Embittered at Royal’s treatment, Timmy schemed to get even. One of the most interesting episodes in “1960s Austin Gangsters” is that of Timmy’s heist of the UT Co-op safe during the Thanksgiving Day game between Texas and A&M 1964–a clear case of revenge against Darrell Royal.
These original rebels without causes, nihilists with Cadillacs and Elvis hair, the Overton gang and their associates formed a ragtag white trash mafia that bedazzled Austin law enforcement for most of the 1960s. Tied into a loose network of crooked lawyers, pimps and used car dealers who became known as the “traveling criminals,” they burglarized banks and ran smuggling and prostitution rings all over Texas.
Sublett’s publications include Rock Critic Murders; Never the Same Again; Broke, Not Broken; and he has contributed to Texas Monthly, Texas Observer, New York Times, Texas Tribune and the Austin Chronicle. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, his seminal Austin rock band, “The Skunks”, was inducted in the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Jesse lives in Austin with his wife, Lois Richwine. His blog can be found at JesseSublett.com.
“We are thrilled to feature the multi-talented Jesse Sublett in another great partnership event with Dallas Historical Society,” said Melissa Prycer, president and executive director, Dallas Heritage Village. “These lectures provide wonderful and unique evenings of entertainment and education.
Light refreshments and beverages will be served prior to the lecture, which is free and open to the public. Event is free but reservations are requested at dallasheritagevillage.org or by calling 214-413-3669. For more information, visit www.dallasheritagevillage.org.