In the early 1950s, the threat of nuclear war and Communism cast shadows over much of the western hemisphere. And for a brief time, they darkened the pastures and hills of Central Texas more than anywhere else.
On April 3, 1952, this message broadcast from KHIT in Lampasas, about 70 miles northwest of Austin:
“Shortly after eight o’clock this morning, the Aggressor government took control of the city. In rapid order, banks, places of worship, and schools were closed. City officials were arrested and taken to places of confinement. Lampasas, Texas – the community with a history as colorful as any storybook fable – today added another chapter.”
It was a complete and quiet takeover. The 5,000 or so Lampasans didn’t resist as infantry crept into the city. The occupiers seized public property, media outlets, utilities, and banks. Schools and churches would stay closed until teachers and clergy could be properly vetted. The entire court system was downsized to a single magistrate. Dissent could be punished by death.