Sunday, October 19, 2014

Giant Iguanas, Record Setting Boots and Six Dancing Frogs - The Art of Bob 'Daddy-O' Wade

 

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade said it all started for him with one gigantic iguana.  If you go by the entrance of the Fort Worth Zoo, you'll see the current resting place of the Iguana. But it more infamously sat atop the Lone Star Cafe in New York City during the 70s and 80s. (aka  The Unofficial Texas Embassy)

The Lone Star Cafe, the Unofficial Texas Embassy - The Most Famous Iguana Perch

   Before it's New Your City days, the Iguana lived near Niagara Falls. The lizard was created for display one summer in the 70s for Art Park, a music and art venue near Niagara Falls. After the summer, Wade had to find a new home for the Iguana. Through friends, he contacted the Lone Star Cafe who purchased the Iguana for their roof.

   Some New York neighbors felt the Iguana was an eyesore, an oversized code busting advertisement. A court battle designated the Iguana as art, but nonetheless, the owners of the Lone Star Cafe lowers the sculpture below the roofs parapet, so it wouldn't be seen from the street, thus quelling neighborhood dissent.

   In 1983, Mayor Ed Koch lef an effort to have the Iguana redisplayed (after tiring of wrongly directed complaints that he banned the lizard)  The rededication of the Iguana was attended by Ed Koch and Texas Governor Mark White, (who just happened to be in New York City on state business that week).

The Iguana being lowered by helicopter at the Fort Worth Zoo

   When the Lone Star Cafe closed in 1989, the iguana went though series of hands, including an east coast horse ranch and a pier in Tribeca. It was finally purchased by patrons in Fort Worth, where it sat in a barn for 11 years. Eventually it found a home atop the Fort Worth Zoo, where it was delivered by helicopter.  (check out the trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Iguana)

   
                   


   The notoriety of the giant Iguana begat the World's Largest Cowboy Boots, perhaps San Antonio's most iconic site, following the Alamo and the Riverwalk.


The boots were created in 1979 for the Washington Project for the Arts. The large scale work of public art was constructed and displayed just a few blocks from the White House for over a year on 12th and Avenue G. After the exhibit was over, the Rouse Corporation offered to buy the boots to place outside North Star Mall.

The Boots being constructed for the first time in downtown Washington DC

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade across the street from his boots

   The transportation of the giant boots was an adventure in itself. The boots got stuck in an overpass before leaving the Washington DC. The trucks transporting the oversized footwear had to take back roads all the way to Texas to avoid police, using CB radios to alert the drivers to possible trouble.
   
The boots being reassembled in San Antonio
   In the early days at the mall, KTSA radio became the talk of the town when they built a broadcast booth atop the boot.  For a short time, a homeless man had made a home inside the boot. Today the World’s Largest Pair of Boots has become one of San Antonio’s most recognizable sites. 

   The Iguana begat the Boots, the Boots begat the Frogs.  The six frogs were originally located in Dallas on lower Greenville Ave atop a club called Tango were Bob Wade's next iconic commission. The club was opened by Shannon Wynne, the son of Angus Wynne, the developer of Six Flags.

   The club was originally to be named Six Frogs over Tango. Like the Iguana, Dallas neighbors complained about the frogs. Eventually, the frogs were removed and took a circular tour of Texas. For a while they rested above a gas station south of Dallas called Carl's Corner.

The Frogs atop the Chuy's in Nashville
   Today, 3 are in Nashville atop a Chuy's restaurant and 3 are back on Greenville Ave atop the Taco Cabana which sits at the same address as Tango. 

The Frogs at Taco Cabana





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Saturday, October 11, 2014

San Antonio's Cotton Bowl Team


Next time you're bellied up to the bar at The Esquire,  challenge the crowd to this simple question. The odds are in your favor that someone will owe you a cold one.

Q. Name the only team from San Antonio to appear in the Cotton Bowl.
A. The Randolph Field Ramblers


   Never heard of them? Few people remember them. The year was 1943, and World War II was in full swing. Many military posts had athletic teams filled with professional athletes and ex-college greats. Randolph Field was no exception. The Ramblers were stocked with many players who had already used up their college eligibility.


   The team was led by former Tulsa All-American quarterback Glenn Dobbs (who also played for the professional Chicago Cardinals before the war). One of Dobbs' favorite receivers was player-coach Major Raymond Morse, who had played college ball for Oregon nine years earlier and also had some pro experience. Martin Ruby played on the line for Randolph. Two years earlier, he was rated the best lineman in the Southwest Conference while playing for A&M. The team was coached by Lt. Frank Tritico and had University of Texas baseball great and former coach Bibb A. Falk (as in U.T.'s Disch-Falk Field) as their trainer.
   The team was picked to face Texas in the 1944 Cotton Bowl. Both teams had one loss and both teams were relatively close to Dallas. Travel was restricted during the war. The Longhorns, coached by legend Dana X. Bible, were an 8-5 favorite in the contest. Texas had a faster team and deeper reserves. A sellout crowd was expected for the game, and the contest was being broadcast by Mutual overseas for American armed forces.

Leslie "Tex" Aulds scoring the only touchdown for Randolph

   Thirty-two thousand tickets were purchased for the game but only 15,000 people showed up due to a downpour. The game was bogged down by a muddy field. Despite the horrible conditions, Randolph's quarterback Dobbs had a great day, but he only managed to reach paydirt once. The game ended in a 7-7 tie, the first tie in Cotton Bowl history.

   Both teams received championship watches.  Texas coach Bible let the Randolph players take the championship trophy home.
   

In 2007, the fitness center at Randolph was dedicated to the Ramblers. Walt Parker, the last surviving member of the team was their for the dedication.



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Sunday, October 5, 2014

In Search Of: The KMAC Clock


   I've always been fascinated with the green neon KMAC clocks that used to be very prominent in San Antonio. With each passing year it gets harder and harder to find any. In fact, today, I only know of one that still is on display. In the Nix Hospital Parking Garage, (Downtown, above Dick's Last Resort on the Riverwalk) there is still one that you can see from the street.





   KMAC was a radio station that existed in San Antonio until the early 1980s (the station was at 630 kHz).  According to the late Joe Anthony, formerly of KMAC radio and the self-professed "godfather of rock and roll," the clocks were part of a radio promotion from 1956 to 1958. The green neon clocks were given as a bonus to businesses which bought thirty-two one-minute commercials for 250 dollars.

   Most establishments that had the clocks reported that they have never owned a timepiece that kept better time. Many owners received offers for their clocks that exceed their original investment, few ever parted with them.

   I searched the internet for a picture of a KMAC Clock and I only could find two, including thisfrom this photo of the old Hot Wells Motel. If anybody knows of any other KMAC clocks still on display or perhaps for sale, please leave us a comment. 



UPDATE:  I wanted to include some photos of KMAC clocks that readers have sent me.  If you have one and want to share, send a picture to Mark@TheTravisClub.com







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