From the Annals of the Hoteliers – In 1859, The Menger Hotel opened on what is now Alamo Plaza in San Antonio. The hotel was the idea of William Menger was a local brewer. Menger hired an architect, John M. Fries, along with a contractor, J. H. Kampmann, to build a two-story, 50-room hotel which would be the first top rate hotel of its kind in San Antonio. The Menger has been in more or less continuous operations under several owners and has expanded several times since its opening. It is renown for its mahogany paneled Menger Bar (where Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders), the Spanish Patio Garden, an elegant and spacious main lobby and the Colonial Dining Room. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although remodeled, the original part of the hotel still stands and one can imagine the wonder of travelers at finding such an oasis in San Antonio. The Menger continues to serve as a center for meetings and other social affairs in San Antonio. And it is one of Red’s favorite hotels in Texas.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Jim Bowie arrived at the Alamo in San Antonio. Bowie was notorious as an Indian fighter, duelist and land speculator. He was actually involved in one of the largest attempted land swindles in U.S. history in Louisiana, but was never able to complete the scheme. He was not only a slave owner and trader, but a slave smuggler as well with a scheme that made him rich off of smuggling, buying and selling slaves. After coming to Texas, he renounced his U.S. citizenship, became a Mexican citizen and married into the influential Veramendi family of San Antonio.
He arrived at the Alamo with about 30 volunteers and initially was of the mind that the crumbling mission was indefensible against the Mexican Army on the march. He later became convinced that San Antonio must be held at all costs – most likely by the commander James Neill. One of his cadre, James Bonham circulated a resolution decreeing that The Alamo must be held and Bowie signed it. It would be his death warrant along with the other defenders of The Alamo.
From the Annals of the Warrior Chiefs – In 1737, Spanish military forces captured Cabellos Colorados (Red Hair). CC was a Lipan Apache chief who had staged repeated raids on the Spanish outpost at San Antonio de Bexar. The historical record on Cabellos Colorados is scant but his name appears in Spanish colonial records as figuring prominently in a number of raids. There was a raid in 1731 and again in 1734 when his band seized two Spaniards. He was also reported as having stolen horses from San Francisco de la Espada Mission and killed Indians from the missions of San Juan Capistrano and Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña. After more raids in 1736 and 1737, he was captured and imprisoned at Bexar until October 1738, when he was sent as a prisoner to Mexico City.
From the Annals of Spanish Texas – In 1783, Fernando Veramendi was killed by Mescalero Apaches near the presidio of San Juan Bautista in Coahuila while on a business trip to Mexico City. Veramendi was born in Pamplona, Spain and moved to Texas in 1770 first settling in La Bahia. While conducting business in San Antonio de Bexar he found a bride, Doña María Josefa Granados, and thus, married into one of the influential Canary Islands families who were the primary Spanish settlers of San Antonio. Now well-connected, Vermandi opened a general store, lent money to other settlers, and acquired large tracts of ranch and farm land. He built a large home on Soledad Street that later came to be known as the Veramendi Palace. He was a civic leader and was elected as an aalderman in the ayuntamiento of 1779, and later as a senior alderman in 1783. He was killed while on a business trip to Mexico City. He had five children the most prominent of who was his son Juan Martín de Veramendi who served as governor of Coahuila and Texas in 1832-33.
Photo of the doors from the Veramendi Palace displayed at the Alamo. The building was demolished in 1910.
From the Annals of the Freedom Loving Germans – In 1854, delegates from various local German political clubs met at the annual Staats-Saengerfest (State Singers’ Festival) in San Antonio. The meeting might otherwise have escaped notice, except that the delegates adopted a declaration against slavery declaring it to be evil. The declaration went on to state that abolition was to be the work of the various states who should seek help from the federal government (in the form of payment for freed slaves) to help end the moral abomination of chattel slavery. The Texas Germans were falling in line with other organizations such as the Freier Mann Verein (Freeman’s Association) from Northern States who had enacted similar declarations. As one might imagine, the declaration was not well received in the strongly pro-slavery (and virulently racist) Texas of the time. In conjunction with ongoing antislavery newspaper articles in the German language press, many Anglo-Texans grew more and more hostile to their German-Texan neighbors. This was clearly evidenced at the outset of the Southern Rebellion by the murder of many German Texans who were attempting to go north to fight for the Union.
Captain Gus of KENS-TV – Channel 5 in San Antonio. Captain Gus was the host of an afternoon children’s TV show that ran from 1953 to 1979 – an amazing run for the format. Gus hosted a live audience of children with some cornball gags, interviews with the kids and prize drawings from his Wishing Well and featured Popeye cartoons.
Under the crazy red wig and handlebar moustache was pioneer broadcaster Joe Alston, a World War II veteran who had been chief announcer at KTRH-AM radio in Houston before joining KENS as an announcer in 1953. Alston also appeared in several movies including “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “T-Men” and “West Point of the Air” (about Randolph AFB’s pilot-training program).
As a child, Red did not fully appreciate the nihilistic world view presented in Popeye cartoons – the eternal and ultimately unwinnable struggle against oppressive enemies, the male-domination of the species, the all consuming importance of brute force, the insatiable appetites (Wimpy) driving all human endeavor and the consummate self interest of all mankind.
From the Annals of the Missionaries – In 1709, an expedition led by Franciscan fathers Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares and Isidro Félix de Espinosa reached the site of current day San Antonio. Olivares and Espinosa were escorted by Capt. Pedro de Aguirre and fourteen soldiers. The small expedition left San Juan Bautista on April 5 with the goal of contacting Tejas Indians living on the lower Colorado River. The Fathers encamped at site near the springs that they christened as San Pedro Springs. The expedition continued on and reached the Colorado near Bastrop on May 19. However, the Tejas were living further east and the Fathers did not have authorization to proceed farther than the Colorado. , They had also learned that the Tejas were likely hostile to the Spanish and the expedition returned to the Rio Grande.