Remember The Alamo?

“You can all go to Hell: I’m going to Texas.”

–Davy Crockett—

Summer in Texas is hotter than hell.  I’m a sweater-weather gal from the Pacific Northwest; I just wilt in the heat.  I nearly died of heatstroke while visiting The Alamo while attending a storytelling conference there twenty-five years ago.  And don’t forget what happened to Davy Crockett.

But in a previous post I’ve told you a little something about my very cool cousins June and Haskell

…and the occasion was June’s 90th birthday, which I wouldn’t have missed for a hundred faux fur coonskin caps.  The party was in San Antonio.   I was going to share a room with my Seattle Cousin Nancy, which meant not only a birthday party, but a PJ party every night!

An added incentive was the chance to meet June’s daughters and granddaughters for the first time.  We had a lot of family stories and family history to catch up on.  June’s husband Haskell is a seventh generation Texan, and he spins a good yarn, whether waxing nostalgic about his childhood in East Texas, his service in World War II, or sharing stories of our own Aptekar family, which he knows more about than any of us born into it.  I didn’t want to miss out on that either.

We stayed in the famously haunted historic Gunter Hotel, on which site a hotel has stood since 1837, the year after The Battle of The Alamo.  (Remember The Alamo?)  Mostly the halls were haunted with Aptekar cousins, nieces, sisters and daughters zipping in and out of June and Haskell’s room for Happy Hour.  Best of all, the hotel was spitting distance from the San Antonio Riverwalk.

It’s a bend in the river that runs through the city, where flood controls were incorporated into the design.  Both sides are lined with sidewalks, shops, and restaurants.

In 1929, the Riverwalk was a bold and innovative urban design.

 They built it in a sketchy neighborhood that even military personnel were warned to avoid.  But the Riverwalk was a huge success.  It revived downtown San Antonio, attracting both locals…

…and tourists…

I’ll try not to whine too much about the heat, but understand that in Seattle, at eighty-five degrees, the city issues “Severe Weather Alerts.”   We strolled along the river that first night, after it had cooled down into the eighties.

Our walk was memorable.

The light…

…and shadows…

were compelling.

And we couldn’t have asked for better company.

The next day we all trooped over to the Historic Mexican Market, with my ninety-year old cousins leading the way there…

…and back…

…in a blistering 110 degrees.

I want to be like them when I grow up.

We had lunch at a restaurant…

…with enough local color…

…and twinkle lights to satisfy even my tastes.

Back at the hotel June opened birthday presents…

…and then we went back out to soak up even more of the local color.

Of course, a Mariachi band serenaded The Birthday Girl.

We packed a lot into four days!  Museums…

…and sculpture gardens.






More wildlife…

And really wild life!


Oh, yes, we went there too.

To escape the heat, in an air conditioned IMAX theater we watched The Price of Freedom, about The Battle of The Alamo.

It was a very good recreation.  Don Swayze, Patrick’s brother, has a role in it; those boys definitely came from the same gene pool. The fellow who played Colonel Travis looked strangely familiar–on the poster below he’s in middle of the lineup wearing the white hat.

It was driving me crazy.  I knew his voice, but his name–Casey Biggs–didn’t ring a bell, so I looked it up.  No wonder I couldn’t place him!  He played the Cardassian ‘Damar’ on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!  I learned that Biggs was called in to Paramount Studios to read for the part because the director had seen The Price of Freedom, and liked him.

Not only did The Alamo movie land Casey Biggs the biggest role of his acting career, the Texans’ defeat at the Alamo inspired an unprecedented rush of recruitment into the Texian army.  Right or wrong, eventually Texas was taken from Mexico and became a part of the United States.

And it was also a darn good setting for an Aptekar family birthday party.

I will never forget it.

c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia.

Click here for more interpretations of Jake’s Sunday Post: Urban Design.



  1. niasunset says:

    Beautiful so beautiful meeting… Thank you dear Naomi, Blessing and Happiness to you all, love, nia

    1. Dear Nia,
      Thank you for your visit, and for your kind words. Happiness to you, too!

  2. scillagrace says:

    I DO remember the Alamo, and the Riverwalk! I was there for an international Barbershop Quartet convention back in the 1980s. My husband was competing. The humidity was rather astonishing to a Southern California girl (at the time). Here in the Midwest, I am quite accustomed to heat & humidity! And my wish is to be just like your cousin June when I’m 90! Fit, happily coupled, and raising a glass of spirits. What more could you want?

    1. Hi Scilla,
      Nice to hear from you! They are great examples of people who know how to live well. June and Haskell were both widowed when they met a little more than twenty years ago. They took a chance, and have just celebrated their twentieth anniversary!

  3. katzmcmullen says:

    Holy Deep Space 9! You’ve found the connection. Hurray to the nonagenarians–or is it centarians?–Haskell and June!

    1. Hi Katz,
      If there’s a connection I will find it, especially if it involves Star Trek! I am so glad June and Haskell connected with each other, and I with them! They really do inspire me.

  4. What a wonderful trip, a 90th birthday is certainly worthy of celebration! I will be joining your heat-whine soon as I am leaving the Pacific Northwest Monday for a week of work in Texas…

    1. Oh, NOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! It was such a pleasure to come home to the Northwest, although I hear we had some unusually high temperatures, for us, that is. “Heat-whine.” I learned a new word, and it’s a keeper! Stay cool, Lisa, and come home safe. Stay in the shade and seek out the tiniest breeze to stay cool, and then come home safe to your big stack of sweaters and warm slippers!

      1. I will certainly be looking for some shade and cool air conditioning! My cozy slippers and fleece will be ready and waiting for next Friday night. 🙂

  5. Carol says:

    I visited San Antonio once about this time of year, but for a much less happy occasion. We did the boat ride on the Riverwalk, which was beautiful, but I fare poorly in the heat and humidity. Your trip looks like great fun.maybe I’ll try some December.

    1. Hi Carol,
      Honestly, our long walk in 110 degrees nearly did me in, although it was worth enduring the heat to enjoy the family warmth. December sounds like a much better idea!

  6. Ruth says:

    What a lovely story. Your blogs always make me want to be in your family. You have much more fun than mine does.

    1. Dear Ruth,
      That is so nice of you to say. I only connected with this branch of the family at an Aptekar Family reunion about ten years ago. We just clicked, and we made the effort to keep in touch. I really hit the jackpot when June introduced me to my cousin Nancy, who lives right here in Seattle, and I never even knew it! Now I can’t imagine a holiday without her.
      While June is a blood relative, we have also broadened our definition of family. In Yiddish, it’s called (I believe) mishpocha, which means your clan, and that can include blood relatives, relatives by marriage, and close family friends who are just like family. I love that idea–you and Roger can be mishpocha from the Turkish branch of the family!

  7. I’ve never been there- your pictures make it very inviting though I’d have to go in cooler weather!

    1. Oh, yes! Definitely a cooler time of year. June says that springtime, when the bluebonnets are in bloom is a nice time to visit.

  8. How wonderful to celebrate with June and Haskell and others in Texas! Lovely account in your blog. I have happy memories of visiting with June and Haskell many years ago when living in the Lone Star State. June is still just a ‘spring chicken’ at 90 compared to Marion, now 101!

    1. Hi Richard,
      We had a great time. June brought along the book in which she had found you for us to look at.
      I was very sorry to miss Auntie Marion’s party–I’d already bought my ticket to Texas–but I hope to visit Marion before too long, and I definitely plan on a trip to San Francisco while Bea is going to school there.

  9. I used to live in Texas. We visited a state park at the site of an old fort. I remember a quote from one of the Generals that commanded the fort: “If I owned Hell and Texas, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell.”

    Which is why I don’t live there any more; I don’t do well in the heat!

    Loved your account of your trip!

    1. This is the best story EVER!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing–it made me laugh out loud! Thanks so much for the visit.

  10. Thanks for letting me come along on your visit. I traveled to see a teaching friend and his new wife, and remember the Alamo, and the Riverwalk, too. Your photos are splendid!

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really is inspiring to see the investment in the city prove to be such a good decision. Thanks for the kind words, and the visit, and for taking the time to comment!

  11. Amy says:

    What a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday! 101 degree is unusual heat in San Antonio, but I was in north that week 🙂 Glad you enjoy the Riverwalk, McNay Musuem… More about Alamo 🙂

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thanks for sharing the link. It was another good perspective with some great photos. Oh, boy, I’m glad you missed the worst of the heat. It was one hundred and ten degrees on the day we walked to the market and back!

      1. Amy says:

        That is not a short walk under 110 F degree. You guys were bravery!
        Thank you for visiting the post 🙂

  12. Archita says:

    I always love your posts and beautiful photographs. 🙂

  13. Lynne Ayers says:

    I hope I can look so good when I’m 90 😉 I’ve heard San Antonio is a beautiful city, the river walk looks most inviting. Such a wonderful event for a family gathering.

    1. Hi Lynne,
      She is looking good, and staying active. After one tornado too many, they moved inland to a retirement community a few years ago, but June has her herb garden, and volunteers for Hospice. She and Haskell took it upon themselves to host the community’s first Happy Hour. Now they regularly host holiday parties, and Happy Hours, and musical jam sessions. ( Haskell plays the harmonica and the autoharp.) I really wish they lived closer, because I would be there with my penny whistle for Happy Hour all the time!

      1. Lynne Ayers says:

        Staying active and engaged is the key it seems. I should start saying that like a mantra 🙂

  14. reocochran says:

    Wow! Great stories and text, while beautiful and personal photography showed the meaning behind the words. What a wonderful experience, even though it was hotter than blazes!

    1. Thank you so much for the visit, and for taking the time to share your very generous response. I don’t know how they manage the heat down there, but I would do it again in a hot minute!

  15. ShimonZ says:

    Really enjoyed reading about this wonderful family get together, and he pictures are so beautiful and attractive. Hope you got to hear some of the music available on the river walk… or is that another river walk? I’m not sure. But in any case, I loved this post.

    1. DearShimon,
      Thank you so much! We had fish ‘n’ chips in an Irish pub, where there was a musician singing Celtic songs, and of course, there was lots of Mariachi music. (That’s all that I was aware of. I did bring my harmonica, but I don’t think that counts.) Thanks for your generous response.

  16. What a fab couple and post

    1. Thank you, Dallas!

  17. bulldog says:

    What a wonderful few days of fun, celebration and companionship… somethings become life memories and this trip I’m sure will be one of those…. lovely share thank you… enjoyed this immensely..

    1. That is so true! I will always treasure those moments. I so enjoyed my cousin and her daughters, who would be my kids’ third cousins. I really want my kids to meet them, so it might involve another trip to Texas. But if we can possibly manage to do so, it would be in the springtime, when I hear tell it is much cooler and the bluebonnets are in bloom.
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments–its always good to hear from you.

  18. adinparadise says:

    What an amazing visit, Naomi. You really did pack in so much. I love all your photos, but especially the ‘storytelling’ and almost empty IMAX ones. 🙂

    1. Hi Sylvia,
      It was a lovely time. It’s really fun to hear which are people’s favorite photos. Thanks so much for the visit, and for sharing your thoughts.

  19. Madhu says:

    Ah felt like I was there with you Naomi! Belated birthday wishes to your cousin June. I want to be like them when I grow up too 🙂

    1. Dear Madhu,
      So good to hear from you! I will pass those good wishes on to June. I think you are definitely going to be like them–you are the ultimate passionate travel pro!

  20. Leave it to you to make a birthday party I did not attend so much fun for the rest of us! Photos and narrative really made me feel like I was there and having a great time.

    1. Dear Sabrina,
      Thanks for coming! It’s always nice to hear from you. You are just cooking away. I saw the new cover for your book on your blog, and it was very spiffy!

  21. Celebrating a 90th birthday is special and this spry Lady June is a wonder. Another lovely photo journal yet again. I always enjoy them and feel I’ve been there right along with you.

    Wonderful pictures, Naomi. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Tess,
      90 is a big one! My mother-in-law celebrates her 90th in another month, although she is no longer so light on her feet. We might have to have a birthday card marathon, and believe me, she will take the day! Thanks so much for your visit, and for coming along for the ride. It’s always good to hear from you.

  22. Great photo’s and story. We had heat in the 100’s last week….very hard not to complain.

    1. Oh my gosh! With temperatures in the 100s, how can you NOT complain? A reader just taught me a new word, which I suppose could be either a verb or a noun–“heat-whine.” I love it, and will surely use it!

  23. Great post, I love the riverwalk. I lived in Texas and Seattle for a bit so I know what you are saying about the heat!

    1. You have been around the block a few times! What are the chances that you have lived in both Seattle AND Texas! Did you acclimate to the hot weather? When you were in Seattle, did you miss it? I am so acclimated to the cooler weather, and it was a such relief to go out this morning in 56 degrees.

      Thanks so much for your visit, and for sharing your story!

      1. t2van says:

        And now I really want to visit San Antonio! As always, you delight and inspire me…

        😀 Terri

      2. I was just in Texas for a summer, and despite having moved from the very hot Eastern US, I never did get use to it. It was that dry heat, I was used to humid weather. As for Seattle, I loved it there. Although, the constant drizzle for 9 months or so does get old. I would live in the Pacific Northwest again in a minute, I’d have to really think about Texas.

  24. diannegray says:

    What an amazing place, Naomi 😀 It’s sounds like June had a wonderful birthday!

    1. Hi Dianne,
      I know she did. She said it was the best of her life, and that’s a lot of birthdays! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  25. jakesprinter says:

    Thanks for sharing Naomi , I really love this post 🙂

    1. Hi Jake,
      It’s so nice to hear from you. I hope you are well. I KNOW you are busy!
      Best wishes,

  26. “ONE” time we went to S.A. in July….since then we plan it for early spring or fall…..and we are used to the heat! 🙂 Looks like you had a fab time in spite of it all. The riverwalk is where we like to stay as well. Were the twinkle lights at Mi Tierra by the market place?!? (the food is the best….the bakery items are to die for!!!) SO glad you were able to share such a sweet celebration! 😉 Hope you are now cooled!!!

    1. I guess you would be used to the heat, Paula. I remember reading your post about trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk! Yes, the restaurant was in the midst of all the market excitement–but air conditioned! Am happily wearing long sleeves in Seattle right now!
      Best wishes,

      1. Awww Naomi! You are making me think hard about heading to Leadville, CO! Enjoy your cool weather. ♥

  27. Ruth says:

    Sweet! You certainly captured not only the local color which was vibrant and varied but all the love of your family gathering in to celebrate your cousin’s 90th. Makes me happy looking at your photographs. A wonderfully illustrated and loving adventure. Never been to San Antonio but have an idea of what it must be like there thanks to your sharing.

    1. Hi Ruth,
      Thank you for your very kind words. I feel the same way when you give us a peek into your big happy family.

  28. I’ll have some of that heat, Naomi. Send it here. When it reaches 90 degrees in the UK, I’m super-energised when everyone else is wilting — just so long as I’m wearing my wide-brimmed straw hat and dark-glasses.

    That looks like a great visit you had to Texas, and thanks for sharing 🙂 x

    My next-door neighbour comes from there and he’s a bouncy ray of sunshine. I love hearing his Texan drawl sailing out of his windows or when he’s out in the garden.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      You and Eli are two of a kind! He loves it, and I want to crawl to the nearest air conditioned shelter and wait for the sun to go down.
      I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of a Texas in England! Your neighbor is not only a long way from home, but he could hardly have chosen a place more different than Texas!
      Thanks for sharing your story–it’s always good to hear from you!

  29. Roy McCarthy says:

    Fantastic tribute to your cousins and to that corner of Texas. If I return to the US (unlikely) then I’ll be adding San Antonio to my wish-list of the Deep South and Route 66.
    I remember the Alamo 1960 version 😉

    1. Thank you, Roy. One of the kids’ dreams is to follow Route 66, or the fragments of what is left of The Mother Road, at least throughout the Western United States. I think that would be very fun–but only in the early spring or late fall, when the temperatures are tolerable.

  30. elisaruland says:

    I always enjoy coming along on your warm family journeys. Your photographs are so colorful….so TEXAS!!

    1. Hi Elisa,
      Thanks so much for your visit, and for taking the time to share your response!
      Best wishes,

  31. dogear6 says:

    You got a lot of lovely comments! I just wanted to let you know I was by and loved the post – it was a lot of work, but so very worth it. Those guitars were incredible, but I really enjoyed seeing your family even more.


    1. Hi Nancy,
      So good to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your response. I did love those guitars too!

  32. Jamie Dedes says:

    Wow! Fabulous post/pics/story. What a lovely family gathering.

    I love, love, love the River Walk and am amazed that the Alamo is so small. After seeing the John Wayne/Richard Widmark movie, I guess I thought it was bigger than life.

    The bougainvilla grow larger and more deeply colored in Texas than they do in California … but you are right: the heat. Yikes! My headaches never leave and am happy to get back to SF and really hot hot sauce … a couple of bowls and the headache is gone.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip, Naomi, and collected a lot of good memories to go with your photographs.

    Be well and happy!

    1. Hi Jamie,
      I was also struck by the compact size of The Alamo, perhaps because the story and characters that dwell there are larger than life.
      I like your remedy for heat and headache! Can you take the cure with That was a good trip, but I was SO ready to come home to 80 degrees, and the drop down into the high fifties was heaven!
      chips or enchiladas?
      Thanks so much for the visit.
      Love and happiness to you too!

  33. Such a touching family visit. You showcased all of it in a way that made me want it go on and on and on. The colors were calling me. Vibrant and bright like happy rainbows bursting.
    Your cousin June’s face when being sung to is priceless. I want to be that way when I get to be 90. I’ve already started. What the hay … why wait til then???? Incredible post … loved it.
    Happy Sunday ….
    p.s. – I do remember the Alamo from school and a visit there.

    1. Dear Isadora,
      You hit the nail on the head. Why wait until we’re ninety? But you strike me as the sort of person who sees colors and stories all around her all the time, and that makes life so interesting.
      Thanks for the visit–so good to hear from you.

    1. Thanks, Elyse. Nice to hear from you. I hope you are well.

  34. nutsfortreasure says:

    Bravo!!! Such a nice visit you shared with us who hang on your every word!

    Enjoy your 80’s we will be once again 90’s to 100’s but I will take it any day over 4′ of SNOW 🙂

    1. Hi Eunice!
      You are so dear! Snow has very different associations to a trucking gal. I would prefer snow to hot weather any day, but then I wouldn’t try to drive in it–I’d just burrow in with a good book, a deck of cards, and a hot cup of cocoa until the snow went away. Thank goodness, in Seattle, it never stays more than a day or two, and more likely, only a few hours.
      So good to hear from you. I hope you are well.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        I love walking and playing in it shoveling the roof and moving it around the yard with injuries is just too much for this old hippie chick 🙂

  35. The Hook says:

    Best read and pics of the week!

  36. Tina Schell says:

    Quite the post Naomi!! Lovely photos that really brought your visit to life. I love the Riverwalk altho I agree with you about the heat! Best seen in the spring 🙂 Thanks for the memory and congrats to cousin – she looks very feisty!!

    1. Hi Tina,
      Thank you for the kind words. Feisty is a good word for June–she always has been, in her quiet ladylike way. But she held her own as a flight instructor during WWII! One of these springtimes…

  37. Wonderful collections!!! I love that the way of celebration!!!

    1. Thanks for the pingback!

    1. Most of them are adventures in my own mind, but it works for me! Thanks for the visit. I would like to know more about The Punchy Lands!

  38. susanissima says:

    I love the visuals and the honoring of people who you love in a challenging climate. Wow! San Antonio looks really different from when I lived there as a little girl!

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for your generous response. I knew that I could tolerate most any conditions for the few days that it would take to come and toast my cousins–even in Texas in July! Do you miss San Antonio?
      Thank you so much for the visit, and for taking the time to share your story. I would love to hear more of it.

      1. Hi Kate,
        Do I miss San Antonio? Hmmm…I don’t exactly miss it because I was so young then, but I definitely have a few memories burned in. Scorpions, the cool interior walls that I leaned agains at the Alamot…perhaps a few ghosts milling about, too.

  39. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I feel like I was right there with you on this trip. June looks amazing. Not a day over 75. 😉

    1. Hi Kourtney,
      She is amazing to me! She is as sharp as a tack, and still able to walk respectable distances in the heat! I will be sure to pass on your message, and I’m sure it will please her.
      Thanks so much for visiting.

  40. Rosemarie says:

    I’m not crazy about Texas, but your post makes it delightful.

    1. Hi Rosemarie,
      Honestly, Texas, especially in the summer, was the last place on my travel list. But I went for my elderly cousins, for whom travel is not so easy. The only reason I would go back (when there are so many other places that I haven’t been) would be to visit the family, but wherever I go, I always look for beauty and history and the stories all around me.
      I appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  41. fgassette says:

    A wonderful photo journey and a great celebration.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.

    1. Hi Francine,
      I love to stop by and see what you have to share. Your photographs are always amazing. Thanks so much for the visit, and your kind words.

  42. Grace says:

    I used to thrive in 100 degrees weather, but after living in Czech for 2 years, 85 degrees is already very hot. I understand how hot it must be for you.

    Anyhow, I am happy to see that everything turned out great. Those pictures are wonderful! 🙂

    1. Hi Grace,
      I can’t imagine thriving in 100 degrees! I hope you have also acclimatized to the Czech winters, but I would prefer them to unrelenting heat.
      Thanks so much for stopping by–it’s always good to hear from you. I have been out of the country for three weeks, and need to catch up. I’m thinking of you, and hope you are doing well.

  43. My Tropical Home says:

    Is it hotter in Texas or out here. hmmm. made me wonder…I can’t convert temps right now but we do get up to 40Cs and more here during our summer. I’ll probably survive in Texas somehow if I do get to visit.
    As always, lovely story with amazing photos. I caught that bit about Cousin June being a flight instructor in WWII – now that would be a very interesting story to tell especially to the young ones if she’s up to it 😉 My kids too want to see Route 66, the inspiration for one of their fave movies of all time
    Have a great week, Naomi!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I know only enough about the C to F conversion to know that the 40s C are HOT HOT HOT! What’s really interesting about June and Haskell is that during WWII they were both flight instructors, but they didn’t meet until after they were both widowed long after the war.
      My kids sometimes dream about traveling along what’s left of Route 66. I sure hope you and your kids can do that. What is the name of the movie that inspired them? I should tell my kids about it!
      Thanks for the visit–it is so good to hear from you!

      1. My Tropical Home says:

        A Rainy Midnight to you Naomi 🙂

        Before anything else, the movie, believe it or not, is Disney’s Cars 🙂

        Sorry I haven’t been around much, I don’t get to blog as much as I want to nowadays. School has started and I’ve been having a lot of refocusing on priorities. I’ve missed my favorite blogs and bloggers.

        Hope you have a great week 🙂

        Warm hugs,

  44. “Beauty and history and the stories all around” you. That truly is you, Naomi. What strikes me about your recounting of the birthday visit is your indefatigable optimism. Your sense of continuity. The family stories link us to who we are, I think, and nobody does it better than you. I enjoyed the photographs and I’m inspired by the birthday girl. 🙂 Mind you, not sufficiently inspired to set out on a walking tour here in July! I came from NC where the climate is a bit more amenable to human habitation… Chuckle… Chuckle…

    1. Dear George,
      Thank you so much for one of the best and most astute comments I have ever received. My Lushootseed grandmother, Vi Hilbert, used to say, “Our stories tell us who we are.” I think that’s true, and I do draw strength and identify with those family stories. Thank you so much, George, for your thoughtful and generous response.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s