Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Case of the Missing 3 Ton Sculpture



   One might wonder, how could a three ton sculpture go missing, disappearing from the 1968 World Fair's site? That was a question that many were asking after Hemisfair closed.

   Such was the case of Asteriskos, a piece of modern art that was commissioned from New York sculpture Tony Smith by the Cato family for the fair. After Hemisfair closed, the piece, which sat between the Arena and the Convention Center, disappeared. It took a year for it to be rediscovered. Unfortunately, it was no longer intact.

   It seemed that Asteriskos was carted off after the fair by city workers who did not realize that it was art. It was blow torched into smaller pieces, fitted with wooden lids and turned into tool boxes and ice chests for afterwork beer parties at the Zarzmora Public Works Yard.

   The Cato family generously commissioned a replica from the artists and donated it to the city's McNay Art Institute, where it sits today.

    For the rest of the world it is art. For us San Antonians, it is a beer party waiting to happen.

Asteriskos II today




Like my blog, you may also enjoy my book, 
The Travis Club

Mystery + Intrigue + 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, September 25, 2013

Some of My Favorite Forgotten San Antonio Signs

    If you look closely enough, you might find an old forgotten sign, one that tells a story. Here are a few of my favorite.


                           

   How many people remember Handy Andy? The local supermarket chain once rivaled HEB for San Antonio's grocery dollars with 60 local stores and 30% of the local grocery business. The last 6 local stores were bought out in 2010, but most folks had long forgotten about Handy Andy.
   This sign still sits at a former location on Fredericksburg Road and Woodlawn Ave.



      This is the recently refurbished sign at Cool Crest Miniature Golf on Fredericksburg Road. The course recently reopened but the sign was the last part to be renovated. Read more about Cool Crest's reopening here


                                      

   This hotel in downtown San Antonio (now Apartments) harkens back to a time when air conditioning wasn't a given but a much treasured amenity. This historic building started declining in the 1970's, then sat vacant and in disrepair until the early 90s when it was refurbished and reopened.
   The 100% Air Conditioned sign still sits above the building on 1911 Travis




   One of the oldest Chinese Restaurants in San Antonio, if not the oldest. Hung Fong is on Broadway, and is known for the neon flags in the dining room.





    I always loved this sign on Broadway pointing to the Pearl Brewery. Today, it points to a redeveloped site that has spurred a tremendous amount of economic in the neighborhood.





   Sadly, on the other side of downtown, a sign pointing to the Lone Star Brewery slowly faded away and is partially covered by overgrown trees as the brewery awaits redevelopment. 

                                   



   Near the Pearl Brewery, is the former site of Playland Park, which closed in 1979. (not to be confused with Kiddie Park on Broadway)  The remnants of the sign at the main plaza still sits just a few blocks from Ft Sam Houston.



Like my blog? 
You may also enjoy my new mystery based in San Antonio, 

                                                           


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Rebirth of Cool Crest

Dedicated to Mark Stewart. He'll be so happy to know that it's back


      On June 30, 2013, Cool Crest Miniature Golf reopened on Fredericksburg Road. The historic course had been closed since 2007 when Maria Metzger, wife of the original owner, became too old to operate the attraction. She died in 2010 and the place fell into disrepair.

   Last summer, the Andry Brothers purchased Cool Crest and restored it to its original glory. 

  To celebrate the rebirth, a photo retrospective.


The Cool Crest sign on Fredericksburg Road, needing repair


The tropical decor had taken over since 2010



A photo from opening day after the Metzger's purchased Cool Crest



A party of teenagers enjoying Cool Crest in the 60s, the tropical decor in all its glory
Some San Antonians have been holding on to this card forever



Enjoy My Blog? You might also enjoy my San Antonio based book,
The Travis Club








Saturday, June 8, 2013

San Antonio's Enigmatic Tourist Attraction - Davy Crockett's Tomb

Author's Note: Readers of The Travis Club have asked my about numerous San Antonio historical references in the book, usually presented as short excerpt's from the main characters quirky writings. Readers have written me asking what is really true?
   For the most part, all the historical excerpts are true, with some minor changes to help advance the book's plot.
   I thought I would take the opportunity to point out a few of The Travis Club's most popular historical pieces and the story behind them
The oldest active cathedral in the US, San Antonio's San Fernando Cathedral


In my book, The Travis Club, I tell the story of a young writer who discovers that the contents of Davy Crockett's tomb in San Antonio's oldest cathedral are not what they seem. He quickly realizes, there will be consequences for his discovery.

  One of the most often frequent questions I'm asked, "Is Davy Crockett's tomb really in the back of San Fernando Cathedral?"

  Yes. And no.



The Tomb at the back of San Fernando Cathedral


   Yes, there is a tomb in the back of San Fernando Cathedral. And the tomb does state that it is the final resting place of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, Jim Bowie and the other defenders of the Alamo. But there is more to the story than meets the eye.

 
The outside of the tomb has photos of Travis, Crockett and Bowie.

This stone lays adjacent to the tomb.

   First we must point out that San Fernando Cathedral opened in 1728, 48 years before the birth of the United States and over 100 years before the Battle of the Alamo. But you may have noticed on the stone above, that the bodies were laid to rest in 1938, 100 years after the battle. That is our first clue that something is amiss.

  The controversy about the tomb starts in 1888, when Colonel Juan Segiun wrote a letter stating that he took the remains of the Alamo defenders and buried them beneath the altar at the cathedral. Most people dismissed the letter until nearly 50 years later, when on July 28 1936, workmen digging a foundation for a new altar, discovered charred human remains.

   Excitement in San Antonio grew as church officials realized the importance of their discovery. The remains were exhumed with a variety of witnesses on hand, including writer Frederick C. Chabot, Mayor C. K. Quinn, Postmaster D. J. Quill, Adina DeZavala, daughter of Lorenzo DeZavala and Mrs. Leita Small, caretaker of the Alamo.

   The remains were placed on public display for a year, then entombed on May 11, 1938. To quell rumors surrounding the findings, the diocese published a now rare book entitled The Truth About The Burial of the Remains of the Alamo Heroes.

   Most historians doubt that the remains of Crockett, Travis, Bowie are buried in the tomb. First of all, Santa Anna ordered the cremation of all bodies left at the Alamo. Most likely Mexican and Texan soldiers were burned and buried together.

   Secondly, Seguin did not return to the Alamo until after the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a month later. There is an argument that the remains are those of Alamo defenders, but it would be a bit presumptuous to assume they are the actual remains of Davy Crockett.

    In my fictional work, The Travis Club, a young writer discovers for the first time, the real story behind the tomb and the consequences behind his discovery.




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



Enjoy the story of Davy Crockett's Tomb? You might also enjoy my new San Antonio based novel, 
The Travis Club


"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, May 15, 2013

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About San Antonio's Ghost Crossing



For years, San Antonio teenagers have headed to the south side to experience the "Ghost Crossing." Local legend states that a school bus stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train at this crossing. Today if you leave your car in neutral, the ghost of those school children will push you across the tracks to safely.

Where: The crossing is on Shane Road where it intersects with the Southern Pacific Rail Line. Take Presa south off SE Military Drive. Turn right on Southton Road, travel under Loop 410 and right again on Shane Road. Continue to the train tracks.




What to do next: Turn off your engine. Put your car in neutral. Your car will mysteriously start to roll from a dead stop over the tracks.

Scary Scooby Doo Stuff:  After your car is pushed over the tracks, take some baby powder and dust the back of your car. You will find finger prints of the ghosts that pushed your car across the tracks.

Reality Check: Chances are pretty high that those fingerprints are yours, from the last time you got into your car's truck, unless of course, you wipe your trunk of fingerprints every time you access your hatchback.

More Scary Stuff: The subdivision nearby has streets named after the children who died at the tracks.

Reality Check: The streets are named after children. However, Bobbie Allen, Cindy Sue, Laura Lee, Nancy Carroll and Richey Otis are actually the names of the developer's grandchildren.

Even More Scary Stuff: If you listen closely, you can hear the cries of the ghost children in the distance.

Reality Check: There is a nearby farm, which has peacocks. The haunting noise you hear is actually the cries of the peacocks.

History of the Ghost Crossing: There is no record of a bus accident at the rail crossing. The story of the Ghost Crossing goes back many years. At one time, there was a version that a horse drawn cart was caught on the tracks.
There was a school bus that was caught on tracks in Salt Lake City in 1938. Twenty six children lost their lives in the accident, and the story was front page news across the nation.  Today it is law that school buses must stop at rail crossings and look for trains before crossing the tracks.

Reality Check: The Ghost Crossing - A Scientific Explanation: The Ghost Crossing is an optical illusion. The road is actually at a slight decline which causes your car to roll over the track. However, the horizon gives the impression that the car is actually being pushed uphill.

Similar Legends: Gravity Road in New Jersey is quite similar to the Ghost Crossing. Notice how close that legend parallels the San Antonio tale

The Ghost Crossing has received interest from a number of Television shows. Here is an excellent clip from one national broadcast which debunks the local legend.


                            


Enjoy My Blog? You might also enjoy my book, 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





         

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Forgotten Grave of Major Leaguer Rube Waddell



   On Block 5, Lot 182, Space 2 of the Mission Burial Park South in San Antonio, sits the rather impressive grave of George Edward "Rube" Waddell. Buried in 1914, the grave site doesn't get many visitors. Few in San Antonio remember him and even know he is buried here. If it wasn't for the generosity of baseball legend Connie Mack who paid for the monument, Rube Waddell would have remained interned in a unmarked paupers grave.

  Who is Rube Waddell? Perhaps the greatest left handed pitcher to ever play baseball.



   Rube Waddell played in the major leagues from 1897 - 1910. Some of his more amazing statistics:

- A lifetime ERA of 2.16
- A career total of 50 shutouts
- 4 20 win seasons
- Set record for strikeouts in a season (349)
- Only pitcher to win 10 games in one month (July 1902, Philadelphia Athletics)
- First pitcher to strike out the side with 9 consecutive pitches
- A career total of 2316 strike outs, 193 wins and 261 complete games.
- Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946

   More importantly, Rube Waddell was arguably the first celebrity in the fledgling endeavor known as professional baseball. Rube Wadell biographer Alan Howard Levy noted:
   "He was among the game's first real drawing cards, among its first honest-to-goodness celebrities, and the first player to have teams of newspaper reporters following him, and the first to have a mass following of idol-worshiping kids yelling out his nickname like he was their buddy."




   Many say that the upstart American League would not have survived had it not been for the draw of Rube Waddell. But is was not his blazing fastball and terrific curve that earned him the endearment of fans. Rather it was his eccentric behavior the also brought the nickname "Rube." 
  
   Often described as having the emotional and intellectual maturity of a child, Rube Waddell was a constant source of grief for his managers, but a favorite of the fans. 
   Between pitching performances, he would often disappear for days and be found playing in pick up games with neighborhood children. Once he disappeared from spring training in Jacksonville and found later leading a parade. 
   Opposing players often distracted him with shiny objects and puppies, which was said to put him in a trance like state while on the mound,
   He was so bad with his money, that once year the Philadelphia Athletics paid him in one dollar bills to keep him from spending it too fast.
   He had a fascination with fires and often would be found assisting local firefighters.
   Many feel that he probably suffered from a social disorder, autism or some other mental disorder that were not diagnosed in the early part of the 20th century.

   In 1911, Rube Waddell caught pneumonia after helping a town stave off flood waters from a nearby icy river. He never recovered and in 1913 was sent to San Antonio to live with his sister and later to a sanatorium to recover and regain his strength (It's often falsely reported that he was sent to a mental institution.) In 1914 Rube Waddell passed away and was buried in a unmarked grave. Connie Mack and his business partner Ben Shibe paid to have Rube buried with an impressive monument, just like they paid to have him cared for at the sanatorium. 

   Today in south San Antonio sits the grave of perhaps the greatest southpaw to ever play the game.  Upon his passing, Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson noted:

   "Rube Waddell had more sheer pitching ability than any man I ever saw. That doesn't say he was the greatest pitcher, by a good deal. Rube had defects of character that prevented him from using his talents to the best effect. He is dead and gone, so there is no need for me to enlarge on his weaknesses. They were well enough known. I would prefer to dwell on his strong points. And he had plenty."



Enjoy my Blog? Perhaps you'd enjoy my book,

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



   
            

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Travis Club -A New Novel About San Antonio

  In a cathedral in downtown San Antonio, just a few blocks from the Alamo, sits the tomb of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the other Alamo Defenders. Or so we have been led to believe. 
  What secrets really lie inside the tomb and what has a group of misguided activists known as The Travis Club stumbled upon? How far will the city's power brokers go to protect those secrets? 


   The Travis Club is my first foray into fiction. After writing about San Antonio's oddities and lost history in the first two editions of San Antonio Uncovered, The Book, I thought it might be fun to weave our city's rich past into a feisty little tale that captures the spirit of the Alamo City.

  I hope you enjoy this mix of true San Anotnio tales and a compelling story.

Mark Louis Rybczyk



   The Travis Club is available for a special eBook price of only $4.99. It is available for the Nook, Kindle and iPad. Find out more at The Travis Club website


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