Sunday, November 19, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders in San Antonio






  Teddy Roosevelt was the assistant secretary of the navy when he first thought to form a cavalry regiment of Wild West types to fight the Spaniards in Cuba. The "Rough Riders" ended up being a mix of westerners and East Coast Ivy Leaguers. Some of the frontiersman included "Rocky Mountain Bill," "Rattlesnake Pete," "Lariat Ned," and "Bronco George," a man who had already downed five men. The westerners drew less attention than the nattily dressed, refined East Coast college educated men, who stood out in roughshod San Antonio.

Contrary to popular belief, Roosevelt was not the commanding officer of the Rough Riders. Feeling that he lacked enough military experience, the assistant secretary chose Colonel Leonard Wood, who had seen action in the Indian campaigns, as the head man. Roosevelt became a lieutenant colonel under Wood. Roosevelt arrived on May 15, 1898, and recruited members for his crew from the lobby of the Menger Hotel. The bar at the hotel was the site of many impassioned speeches by the future president. The Menger Bar is still intact and has been renamed the Roosevelt Bar.

Plaque outside the Mender Hotel Bar where Teddy Roosevelt recruited Rough Riders.  The Bar was later renamed the Roosevelt Bar and looks the same today as it did when Roosevelt visited. 



The First United States Volunteer Cavalry trained on the site of Riverside Golf Course, near the water hazard on the sixteenth hole. On May 30, 1898, the volunteer cavalry left by train for Florida, then they went on to Cuba. The Rough Riders suffered many casualties, due to both war and disease. After three months, the Rough Riders were disbanded. Lt. Colonel Roosevelt went on to bigger and better endeavors.





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The Book that Inspired the Blog, now in its 3rd Edition

I LOVE this book . . . Has a lot of great stories from the best city in the world!! . . . Wonderful and surprising facts . . . Thought you knew this city? Better read this . .  . 
Great for natives and transplants like me.



The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio

"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How San Antonio Got The Spurs



In 1967, the Dallas Chaparrals where one of the founding teams on the upstart American Basketball Association. The team had never drawn well, averaging less than 3,000 fans a night. By 1973, the owners were desperately looking for a buyer.
Without a single offer, the Chaparrals turned to San Antonians Red McCombs and Angelo Drossos. They offered them one of the most unique deals in all of sports. The leased the team to San Antonio for two years. At the end on two years, they could own the team outright for two payments of $800,000.
   The team, renamed the Spurs, had its own attendance woes. It didn’t improve in San Antonio until the Spurs bought the contract of a skinny young player named George Gervin. With Gervin, the team quickly improved and attendance rocketed by the middle of the first season. 



   Drossos then contacted the Dallas owners with a bit of a bluff. He told them he had run out of capital and they could have the team back. The last thing they want was the team back because they’d have to find a new buyer. They struck a new deal. San Antonio could have the entire team immediately for one payment of $800,000.
        In 1976, the Spurs along with 3 other ABA teams were absorbed by the NBA. 


   In 2014 the Spurs won their 5th Championship. The average value of a NBA franchise is now at $630 Million. 



The original inside of Hemisfair Arena, before the roof was literally raised to add an upper deck

The roof being raised on Hemisfair Arena to add an upper deck


The NBA's Spurs 'Bruise Brother's' Poster from 1980


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San Antonio Uncovered - The Book






Click on Cover to Order


"This detailed book is at once a tourist's friend and a native's reference. Rybczyk says it was written for the curious native (whatever that is) and secondly for the newly arrived who may wonder "What's so special about San Antonio?" Notice who it was written for first.
Every landmark, legend and myth of San Antonio is here - from the ugliest statue to the histories of the railroad stations. It's a smorgasbord of overlooked and under-appreciated jewels from all over the city. The obligatory shrines and sites are here too - every one of them. Throughout the book's pages Mark employs the rarest type of humor - humor with genuine affection.
Mark corrects the old saw that said San Antonio is "a small town wanting to be a big city." It is, as he says, "A big town that desperately wants to be a small town." With this book as your guide, it's almost as though San Antonio gets its wish."

John  Troessler   Texas Escape






The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon Reader    



Click on Cover to Order

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sam, the Space Monkey - From Outer Space to the San Antonio Zoo.



It took me a while, but I finally found a photo of Sam the Space Monkey. Sam went from a trip to outer space to a n extended stint at the San Antonio Zoo



   Sam was the first Texan to travel into space. Born in 1957 at the University of Texas, Sam, a rhesus monkey, was designated for the U.S. space program because he was a stand-out at the U.T. Balcones Research Center. On December 4, 1959, Sam was launched into space from Wallops Island, Virginia. After a seventeen-hour countdown, Sam was launched fifty-five miles into space and spent a total of twelve minutes there.
   After his famous flight, Sam was brought to the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, where he was put under medical scrutiny. The space chimp made the cover of Parade magazine in 1960, but his fame was short-lived when John Glenn became more popular.
   Sam was kept at Brooks AFB for a mere eleven years when the air force figured they had gathered enough evidence on the effects of twelve minutes of space flight on monkeys. Sam then moved to a cage at the San Antonio Zoo where he was given a companion, though he was now too fat to mate. A plaque on his cage told zoo goers of the accomplishments of Sam.


   The space pioneer passed away on September 19, 1978. The chimp's body was taken back to Brooks for an autopsy, where more was learned of the effects of weightlessness.

As Featured in the book San Antonio Uncovered

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Construction on The Tower of the Americas

  A recent discussion of the Tower of the Americas drew disbelief when I mentioned that the observation deck was built on the ground and later raised up the elevator shaft when completed.

  I found this photo (courtesy of the San Antonio Express News) that shows the day the Roundhouse was raised to the top of the tower, shortly before the start of the 1968 World's Fair



On our recent Travel With Hawkeye Podcast I shared my observations and comparisons of the Tower of the Americas and Seattle's Space Needle


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Neon Sign That Predicted the Weather


   One of the most iconic signs in San Antonio's skyline was the neon Alamo National Bank sign. Not only did it tower over most of downtown. The sign also predicted the weather.


The Original Sign atop San Antonio's Alamo National Bank Building

From the Express News   December 28, 1968




A key to the flashing neon,  found on back of Alamo National Bank Matchbooks

The sign today, atop the redeveloped Alamo National Back Building, as see from the Drury Suites Rooftop pool







Alamo National Bank Building's New Life as a Hotel


Originally built in 1929, the the 24 story Alamo National Bank Building was one of the San Antonio's tallest office buildings for many years. In 1961,  a parking garage and drive thru banking lanes were added. Ironically, the garage faced the riverwalk, which illustrates what people thought of riverfront access before Hemisfair. 

In 2005, the building was readapted to use as a hotel. The Drury Plaza Hotel lovingly restored the lobby to it's original grandeur. The neon tower above the sign was partially restored, but no longer forecasts the weather. (If the lights on the tower lit in an upward direction, the temp was rising, etc)

                           

The Drury Suites as seen from the Riverwalk



The building today with the new San Fernando Tower atop the parking garage. The San Fernando Tower has a rooftop patio that overlooks the riverwalk, Main Plaza and the Cathedral.




The exquisite stone work. Taken atop the new rooftop pool



The hotel lobby,  restored to it's original grandeur. Notice the stained glass above the entry. 


The Alamo depicted in stained glass on the Commerce Street exit. Notice the side panels. 

These panels originally hung in the lobby. They appear to be metal, but they are actually painted fabric. 

When the parking garage was built in 1961, it backed up to the Riverwalk, but offered no access to the river.  (in all fairness there was no sidewalk outside the parking garage until years later)
The bridge from he hotel connects the hotel to Main Plaza, which originally had limited access to the Riverwalk. 



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San Antonio Uncovered - The Book



Available on Amazon.comBarnesAndNoble.com, Apple iBooks


"This detailed book is at once a tourist's friend and a native's reference. Rybczyk says it was written for the curious native (whatever that is) and secondly for the newly arrived who may wonder "What's so special about San Antonio?" Notice who it was written for first.
Every landmark, legend and myth of San Antonio is here - from the ugliest statue to the histories of the railroad stations. It's a smorgasbord of overlooked and under-appreciated jewels from all over the city. The obligatory shrines and sites are here too - every one of them. Throughout the book's pages Mark employs the rarest type of humor - humor with genuine affection.
Mark corrects the old saw that said San Antonio is "a small town wanting to be a big city." It is, as he says, "A big town that desperately wants to be a small town." With this book as your guide, it's almost as though San Antonio gets its wish."

John  Troessler   Texas Escape






The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Monday, October 31, 2016

11 Scary San Antonio Ghost Stories

Every town has tales of spirits that inhabit the area, and San Antonio, Texas is no exception. Here are eleven of the city’s most popular poltergeists.
ONE: The Ghost Crossing
Perhaps the most popular tale, the ghost crossing has enticed thousands of San Antonians to trek out to an obscure southeast railroad crossing to participate in an eerie phenomenon. The ghost crossing is on Shane Road, where it intersects with the Southern Pacific rail line. According to the legend, a school bus full of kids stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train. Today if a motorist stops before the tracks and places the car in neutral, the ghosts of those children will push the vehicle over the tracks. To visit the crossing, take Presa south off SE Military Drive. Turn right on Southton Road, then right again on Shane. Turn off your engine and give it a try. If you’re brave, visit the crossing at night. You will be amazed when your car mysteriously moves across the tracks. Is it an optical illusion? Are you really moving downhill? Or is your car being pushed across by ghosts? Part of this ghostly tale is that the nearby subdivision has streets named for the children who perished in the supposed accident. Actually they are simply the names of the neighborhood developer’s grandchildren.
TWO: The Ghostly Nuns
The basement of Santa Rosa Hospital is said to be the haunting grounds for these spectral beings. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits of five nuns who died on October 30, 1912, after trying to rescue children from a burning orphanage. The
wooden building of the St. John’s Orphan Asylum, which went up in flames that night, was located across from the hospital at the corner of Houston and San Saba Streets.
THREE: The Menger Ghost
Said to haunt the old portion of the Menger Hotel, Sallie White was a hotel chambermaid who was murdered by her husband. This poltergeist is rather stubborn, appearing only when she pleases.
FOUR: The Alamo Ghosts
Many guests who have stayed at the Menger Hotel in rooms that overlook the Alamo have said that they have spotted the ghosts of the Alamo defenders. Legend states that General Andrade of the Mexican army planned to destroy the Alamo after the Battle of San Jacinto. But when he ordered his troops to do so, the ghosts of Travis, Bowie, and the others appeared with flaming swords, screaming, “Do not touch these walls!” On Nacogdoches near Loop 1604 sits a stone tower atop a hill. It is said that this tower is also haunted by ghosts from the Alamo days. Lights are often seen at the tower at night, and many believe that the tower was a lookout post for the Alamo and that the lights belong to the spirits of the sentry.
FIVE: The Dancing Diablo
The site for this terrible tale is the El Camaroncito Nite Club, located at 411 W. Old Highway 90. It’s said that in the 1970s a debonair patron was dancing with many different women one evening, and at some point, one lady looked down and noticed that the dapper dancer had the feet of a chicken. This is of course the sign of the devil, so the woman screamed, and El Diablo ran from the club. El Camaroncito Nite Club is now closed, but the chicken-footed dancer has been reported at other establishments throughout the years.
SIX: The Ghosts of Milam Square
Few people realize that the public park between Santa Rosa Hospital and El Mercado was once a cemetery for the Canary Islanders. It is said that if you pass through the square with evil thoughts, you will be visited by spirits.
SEVEN: The Converse Wolfman
Set many years ago in the area of Skull Creek near FM 1518, the legend tells of a thirteen-year-old boy, who spent most of his time reading. The father thought the boy was too much of a bookworm, so he bought him a rifle, thinking that by forcing
the child to go hunting, he could reform him. After his first day out with the gun, the boy came home and told his parents of a wolfman-type creature in the woods. The father, not believing the boy, told him to go out and not to return until he had killed something. When the young hunter did not come home, a search party was organized. At the creek, the boy was found dead, and the wolfman was feasting on his body. The wolfman supposedly returns to the creek during full moons, and when he does, the water in the creek turns blood red.
EIGHT: The Donkey Lady
Also called La Llorona, the donkey lady was a beautiful poor girl who fell in love with a rich aristocrat. Because they were of different classes, they were forbidden to marry. The young lady thus became the man’s mistress and bore him several children. Some versions say she drowned the children because she was poor and could not afford to keep them. Others say she drowned them because she was evil.
Regardless, because of her awful actions, she was condemned for eternity to be a ghost with a donkey’s head on her beautiful body. La Llorona has been reported on Applewhite Road near Zarzamora and at the intersection of Blanco and Lockhill-
Selma. She also has been spotted by teenagers who go to Espada Park to neck. The legend is often told by superstitious parents to warn their children of the ghost that haunts youngsters who play near forbidden waters.
NINE: The Navarro House Ghost
This downtown landmark is the former home of José Antonio Navarro, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Believers in the paranormal have heard footsteps and spotted furniture that has been moved under mysterious circumstances. Some say the ghost is the home’s namesake; others say it is a slain prostitute, a murdered bartender, or a Confederate deserter.
TEN: The Seven-foot Chinese Woman
This large Asian ghost haunts an old cemetery near Stinson Field. One version of the tale claims the seven-foot-tall local woman killed herself because her Chinese contemporaries ridiculed her for being so tall. Some say she died in a fire. The
same area is said to be haunted by a bearded lady as well.
ELEVEN: Midget Mansion
This legend was fueled by the overactive imaginations of teenagers who attended Marshall and Clark high schools. For years, students went after dark to an old abandoned home situated between Datapoint Drive and Medical Drive near the Medical Center to tell the story of a mansion run by evil midgets.


Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my books,

San Antonio Uncovered - The Book



Available on Amazon.comBarnesAndNoble.com, Apple iBooks


"This detailed book is at once a tourist's friend and a native's reference. Rybczyk says it was written for the curious native (whatever that is) and secondly for the newly arrived who may wonder "What's so special about San Antonio?" Notice who it was written for first.
Every landmark, legend and myth of San Antonio is here - from the ugliest statue to the histories of the railroad stations. It's a smorgasbord of overlooked and under-appreciated jewels from all over the city. The obligatory shrines and sites are here too - every one of them. Throughout the book's pages Mark employs the rarest type of humor - humor with genuine affection.
Mark corrects the old saw that said San Antonio is "a small town wanting to be a big city." It is, as he says, "A big town that desperately wants to be a small town." With this book as your guide, it's almost as though San Antonio gets its wish."

John  Troessler   Texas Escape






The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers



Friday, July 22, 2016

The Alamo Was Once Used as a Grocery Warehouse?


   Many don't realize the Shrine of Texas Liberty was once used as a Grocery Warehouse.  French Merchant Honore Grenet bought part of the compound in 1877 and used it for his wholesale  grocery business.  Previously the US Army used the Alamo chapel as a warehouse. 

    A few photos of the Alamo chapel in it's less than glorious days. 










Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my books,

San Antonio Uncovered - The Book




"This detailed book is at once a tourist's friend and a native's reference. Rybczyk says it was written for the curious native (whatever that is) and secondly for the newly arrived who may wonder "What's so special about San Antonio?" Notice who it was written for first.
Every landmark, legend and myth of San Antonio is here - from the ugliest statue to the histories of the railroad stations. It's a smorgasbord of overlooked and under-appreciated jewels from all over the city. The obligatory shrines and sites are here too - every one of them. Throughout the book's pages Mark employs the rarest type of humor - humor with genuine affection.
Mark corrects the old saw that said San Antonio is "a small town wanting to be a big city." It is, as he says, "A big town that desperately wants to be a small town." With this book as your guide, it's almost as though San Antonio gets its wish."


John  Troessler   Texas Escape





The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yes, Dwight Eisenhower was the St. Mary's Football Coach

Dwight Eisenhower first played football as a youngster in Kansas. Though it was never his life's passion to be a football star, he was a lifelong fan of the game. The young Midwesterner soon became a football star at West Point. In 1912 Eisenhower was a running back on an army team that included Omar Bradley. He was nicknamed the "Kansas Cyclone," and a New York Times correspondent called him one of the most promising backs in the East. An injury during a game against Tufts ended Eisenhower's football career at the academy during his freshman year.

After graduation in 1915, the newly commissioned lieutenant received orders to report to Fort Sam Houston. During the fall of that year, Eisenhower was approached by Peacock Military Academy to coach its football team. The school offered him $150 for the season, a tidy sum considering a lieutenant's pay. At first he refused because he felt, as an army officer, he would have no time for football. The head of the academy was a friend of post commander General Frank Funston. Funston learned of the offer and asked Eisenhower to accept it, citing it would be good for the army. The new coach won recognition for his handling of the prep stars. A San Antonio Express correspondent wrote, "Those who have seen this officer operate with a football squad believe him to be one of the best coaches in Texas — bar none." The army officer delivered a winning season for the 1915 Peacock Military Academy football team.

Lt. Eisenhower in his Army Uniform, in the middle of the third row

The year 1916 brought about a new set of challenges. Eisenhower was now married, and Peacock had acquired a new coach. St. Louis College (now St. Mary's University) was now after Dwight to coach their team. The college team was dreadful. They had not won a game in five years and were coached by a group of priests. Not only did they not win, lopsided scores of 50-0 and 80-0 were common. The small squad tied its first game under Eisenhower, then went on to win its next five games. St. Louis lost its last game and finished the season with a record of 5-1-1. Present at every game was the coach's young wife, Mamie. Quarterback Jim Sweeney told the Express, "We thought more of him than we did of any other coach we ever had. We respected him from the time he showed up until he left, and we fought as much for Mamie and the Douds (her parents who also attended the games) as we did the school. He was very frank and honest and we learned more about honor and discipline from him than we did anywhere else."

Mamie was the only woman ever to receive a St. Louis or St. Mary's football letter. The fathers were so pleased with the season that they gave the coach and Mamie a victory dinner, and a long-lasting relationship between the school and the Eisenhowers developed. The president last visited the school in 1962 to talk to students and faculty. In 1987 David Eisenhower, the former president's grandson, visited the school and discussed his grandfather's connection to the university during the school's annual President's Dinner.

Lt. Eisenhower and Mamie on the steps of St. Mary's College

Eisenhower also spent some time helping out with the school's baseball team. Ernest Stecker, a civilian employee, recalled to the Express in 1956 how he incurred the wrath of his coach during a close game. St Louis was behind by one run with two men on, and the team's slugger was in the on-deck circle. Stecker received the signal from Eisenhower to bunt but decided to swing away. On the next pitch, Stecker slammed the ball for a triple, but instead of congratulations, all he received was a stern look. He had disobeyed orders.


“Coming to San Antonio for my birthday is like coming home. I guess there isn’t a city or town in the whole world that holds more happy memories for me.”
Dwight Eisenhower, while visiting San Antonio in 1952







Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my books,

San Antonio Uncovered - The Book




"This detailed book is at once a tourist's friend and a native's reference. Rybczyk says it was written for the curious native (whatever that is) and secondly for the newly arrived who may wonder "What's so special about San Antonio?" Notice who it was written for first.
Every landmark, legend and myth of San Antonio is here - from the ugliest statue to the histories of the railroad stations. It's a smorgasbord of overlooked and under-appreciated jewels from all over the city. The obligatory shrines and sites are here too - every one of them. Throughout the book's pages Mark employs the rarest type of humor - humor with genuine affection.
Mark corrects the old saw that said San Antonio is "a small town wanting to be a big city." It is, as he says, "A big town that desperately wants to be a small town." With this book as your guide, it's almost as though San Antonio gets its wish."


John  Troessler   Texas Escape




The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers