I just got back day before yesterday from San Antonio. I don't remember the first time I went there some 39 years ago as I was less than one year old. In the intervening time, I've lived there, visited there and vacationed there. This last visit left me feeling just a bit cool.
The first time I REMEMBER going there was just before I turned seven. My step-dad had gotten posted at Lackland. I remember getting stuck on the road outside of town because a rancher was moving his flock of sheep across the road. We were in a convertible and ended up in the middle of a sea of sheep. This was an amazing visual image not to mention exceptional olfactory experience.
While l lived there, I had adventures. My recollections are of creatures. I had a school mate who insisted in putting daddy long-legs on me. Looking back I realize that he was trying to show me that they were harmless, but I was unnerved by the spidery creatures. Not so nice where the scorpions who collected on our porch every night under the porch light. The area we lived in was newly developed and there were lots of these friendly arachnids in the neighborhood. I didn't much like the tarantula that visited me during the night one night.
Taking all of these "creature" visits into account, I LOVED San Antonio. The Breckenridge Park, the zoo, the Alamo, the sunken gardens were all amazing and wonderful to me. My very first school field trip went to all of these sites. I never had another one as good. I still remember my amazement when I saw the giant carp at the Alamo. I thought my dad was out of his mind when he told me they were the same as goldfish. I left San Antonio thinking it was a scary and magical place.
When I was in high school, my best friend moved to San Antonio. I was lucky enough to get to spend some of my summer and my Spring Breaks with her. My view of San Antonio changed. We inhabited the River Walk from early to late. I remember sitting on the steps of the Chamber of Commerce to put on my make-up. We explored every store, every nook and cranny, and I'm sad to say that at age 15, I ordered and bought a shot of Southern Comfort at the Hemisphere Plaza. We spent time at MacArthur Park which was lovely and we would go hang out at a "castle" north of where my friend lived in the Northside district. We'd wander through the woods to this site that appeared to be the ruins of some fortification. We were chased by the Alamo Heights police as my friend sped down Broadway. Interesting and colorful teenage memories.
As a young parent, I vacationed in San Antonio. I found it to be a reasonable amount of entertainment for my dollar. I took my children to the places that were magical to me when I was small. They were mildly amused, but after Matamoros, South Padre and Corpus Christi, they weren't too entertained.
Last weekend I went with a group from my school. I recognized so many of the same sites, but everything had such a commercial glare. Everywhere I turned there seemed to be traps for tourists and their money. Although the view was similar, the charm was lost. San Antonio seems to have pushed too hard to be a tourist attraction and has lost the wonderful ambiance it once possessed. It is worthwhile to take my children to the Alamo and on the mission tour, but we have a Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor up the road from home, I don't need to take them across the state to do amusement parks.
I miss the days of the "sea of sheep" and the heat lightning. I even miss the daddy long-legs. San Antonio is not better for progress.
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Oct 5, 2010
Feb 12, 2011 09:06 PM UTC
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One of Spain's first steps toward colonizing Texas, San Antonio remained a strategic stronghold until the Texas Revolution. Today, many Texas families trace their roots to the original Spanish Canary Islander colonists. San Antonio holds a ten-day celebration for its patron saint each April, including art exhibitions, the coronation of King Antonio, a pilgrimage to the Alamo, and fireworks. San Antonio's library, constructed in the the city's characteristic spirit of celebration, is a great red enchilada poised among more traditional buildings.