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. 



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




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