Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Remember The Alamo

Today - it's about seeing San Antonio.

What a great looking downtown. I drove through the city, approaching it fom the South – it was so easy to navigate, just taking Interstate-10 all the way down and then heading left toward the tall buildings. I tried to find The Alamo by following the landmark signs, but couldn’t find it on the first go-around. So I parked the car at a meter and gave myself an hour (all the change I had), grabbed a chicken salad sandwich at a corner deli – pretty good, too - then walked until I found a part of The Riverwalk.

What a pretty set up. Howard told me about it and said I should check it out, which I did today. The Riverwalk is set down from the main street level so I walked down some stairs from Houston Street and followed the pathway as it wound down and around some shops, bars, restaurants. It was warm and sunny today, around 80, so I was able to sit on the grass for a bit and take in the sites, the quiet. This is the kind of city I’d love to be a part of again. Much less stressful. Sure, I miss NYC and found a kind of peace in Central Park when I’d run at the reservoir or sit near the Great Lawn. But, it’s not the same. You can feel the difference in the energy level, I swear it.

Anyway, I shot some photos, which you can see here.

I walked more and kept following signs to The Alamo, finally finding an entrance down to another section of Riverwalk, also beautiful. This section led me up some stairs and, when I came up to street level, I looked to my right and there it was. It’s funny how this always happens. You grow up reading about something, seeing photos in history books, seeing Davey Crockett movies and documentaries. Sure, I knew what the Alamo looked like and now, there it was, right in front of me.

I walked around the grounds, watching people make there way in and out of the building, (only a few spots of the actual Alamo are even left today. Much of the area has long been turned over to retail stores, sidewalks and new streets).

Flatbush Meets Texas
- Something funny happened on my visit. As I walked around the inside of the main building, I have to admit I found myself humming the Davey Crockett song while images of Fess Parker popped into my head. I walked into a side room, where there were some rifles on display, as well as a sheepskin vest and some law books that belonged to Davey Crockett. And there was a sign – “If you have any questions, feel free to ask “Arnold,” your guide for the day.” I looked up and saw a mid-sized, thin man, thinning hair, tan skin, glasses, wearing a red vest with a large name tag. Before I glanced down to the name tag, I had a hunch I was about to meet Arnold, who was smiling and fielding questions left and right as people passed through the small room. I could tell this man loved what he was doing and that he enjoyed history, as did most of the people moving through the Alamo, including me. I walked closer to Arnold as he answered questions. I always like to do that, sort of picking up on what others are asking and learning from the guide’s responses. As soon as I heard Arnold's voice, I knew I had to meet him but waited until there was an opening and no one was near him.

“So you’re a native Texan, huh?”

He laughed, looking down then back up at me, resting his hand on my shoulder.

“You know," he paused. "I’m from a little town called Brooklyn, USA. Ever hear of it?”

And that, of course, triggered one of the NYC bonding conversations, where I told him how both my folks were from Flatbush and Borough Park...

"Flatbush here," he smiled.

You gotta love it. Now who knew I’d come to The Alamo today and meet a nice Jewish guide from Flatbush, that he’d be 74 and possibly interested in Eldercation. I'm hoping he'll agree to let me do an interview with him, but we'll see. I gave him a card, shook his hand goodbye and took a slow stroll back up The Riverwalk, finding my car with about two minutes to spare. I didn't know what a parking ticket costs in San Antonio, but I didn't want to find out.

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