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.

Talking….

Shopping…

 

Storytelling…

Wildlife…

More wildlife…

And really wild life!

AND REMEMBER THE ALAMO!?!?!

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.

The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

When visiting the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio with my cousins June and Nancy, a huge sculpture immediately captured my attention.

It dominated the back wall of the entry hall, a 3D rainbow of recycled paper, cardboard, and plastic.


The sculptor, Lisa Hoke, titled the piece “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be” in a nod to baseball player Yogi Berra, who was famous for employing the English language in surprising and humorous ways.  I don’t know exactly what Lisa intended when she chose that title for this piece, but it seems appropriate.

This work of art features colorful patterns created by discarded packaging of consumer goods, mostly paper and plastic.

Trash, really.


But Lisa has mindfully and creatively transformed refuse into something beautiful– and useful, too—for art satisfies the senses and stimulates thoughts and feelings.

Here’s what this piece brought to my mind: We are trashing our planet.  Landfills are overflowing and oceans have become dumping grounds.  Imagine if we could do what Lisa has done, only in our real lives and on a larger scale–by making less garbage, of course, but finding ways to make the most of it.

Our deck is made of recycled plastic.  Paper products like toweling, books, and stationary are made of recycled paper.  Instead of adding countless plastic grocery bags to the landfill, cloth shopping bags can be used again and again.

There’s no doubt that Yogi was right—the future ain’t what it used to be.  But wouldn’t it be a fine thing to recycle the old future into a better one for ourselves and our children?

All photos and words c 2013Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Sculpture.