Welcome to the Gallery
The JamBios Memory Gallery showcases user submitted memory stories from around the globe.
Each month selections are hand curated by Annie Cusick Wood and the JamBios creative team. They are chosen based on how the memory touches our heart, makes us laugh or inspires us.
To submit your memory story, start your free JamBio and invite the Memory Gallery to read one of your Chapter sections. Select Reader "Memory Gallery" at MemoryGallery@JamBios.com.
By RUDY ESCAMILLA
Alamo encounter 1961
JOURDANTON My friend Melchor Pacheco was a senior. I was a junior, both attended Jourdanton High School. Melchor ask me to go with him to the Federal Post Office building next to the Alamo. Back then that's where you signed up for the Armed Forces. I told mom -this was the only time I would ever cut class- that I was going with Melchor because he was joining the Navy. My brother Nemecio was already in the Navy and I figure mom had a soft spot for sailors so … she thought briefly and consented to my juvenile venture while indicating that she forbade congress between my friend and I and strangers. Aww mom!
DOWNTOWN SAN ANTONIO
By 11 in the morning Melchor has joined the Swabbies , aka USN and his reporting for duty date is sometime in the future. He is in the navy and we are free for the day. We are walking out of the building and see a crowd in the distant Menger Hotel, balloons flying, a batallion of police has gathered, a band playing John Philip Sousa military marches, etc. We are now standing at the northern corner of East Houston and North Alamo [street]. Two country kids. Unbridled freedom in the city. Curious and wanting excitement. Time on our hands. We look but can't decide what to do. San Antonio offering us an insouciant afternoon with the Menger Hotel Mango ice cream in our thoughts.
Melchor: Want to go over there? I want to eat something.
Me: I don't know. Do you? How about a burger? You hot? Going to get muggy and hot soon so we
better eat so we can go home. Poker face. Smiling.
Melchor: Grinning shamelessly. Yea. Maybe. What do you think it is? Nodding toward the Menger Hotel.
Me: Frowning as the sun glares at me. Where is your car parked? Looks like people are getting in their cars. Check that crowd out. [With animation and spirit in my voice.] Hey,this is getting cool. Must be a movie star or some big shot over there. Looks like there are at least a couple of convertibles too! People are smiling happily, milling around us with American flags, kids are present too. What is this about?
By now the sidewalks are filling on both the eastern sidewalk that runs north/south in front of the Alamo, Menger Hotel, etc. and the western side. Tourists have by now had their breakfast and meander around trying to figure out the commotion. It's a motorcade with American Flags, police cars with flashing lights. Nearby offices buildings have windows open with gawkers pointing toward the growing excitable crowd. Lots of police cars are now swerving around each other to get into some semblance of order and slowly, very slowly, inch away from the Menger Hotel known for all manner of ghosts that dwell in the night and the place Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders had made famous. The sky is clear but muggy. Fall leaves in nearby trees sway as they seem to gently wait for cooler weather along with some in the crowd holding lightly tinted parasols.
Two country boys, blue jeans attired, certainly not dressed up like the crowd around us. We hadn't the foggiest idea what to do downtown or where to go. Melchor and I are two wanna be high-school slackers who are spending a day off from school like Matthew Broderic in the 1986 "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". We’re frozen in awe of this big city scene. Stuck to that spot Forest Gump-like. Something is up. Clearly, we had not kept up with San Antonio news, politics, etc. Two boys spreading their wings away from their small hometown some 40 miles south of the Alamo. Both Melchor and I are downright copacetic though. We're cool. Worldly. Ha! Blissfully ignorant boys enjoying the momentary excitement.
Someone has a transistor radio next to their ear. Full blast. Loudly blaring current rock and roll hit song, “Travelin' Man" by Ricky Nelson. Yea. A real scene of Americana. It is an Apple Pie, Motherhood, and the New York Yankees moment in a surreal scene developing and unfolding while we remain clueless about the hoopla. Emotionally, I sense this moment is something special while not understanding why. We are hyped up! I sense a drop of clear salty saline solution secreted by the lacrimal glands and gently wipe both eyes with the back of my hand too embarrassed to acknowledge tear drops have trickled down both cheeks. This is so cool and freaky!
Then it happened.
Secret Service guys running with their coats clearly showing their gun on their side forming a wall around the big heavy convertible as it moves towards our direction. Police in front give the "MAKE MY DAY" stern gaze at anyone they don't like or looks suspicious.
It was President Dwight D Eisenhower visiting San Antonio. And he is heading our way. He is riding in a convertible, Texas Rangers wearing cowboy hats and Secret Service guys wearing sun glasses looking for any trouble makers, television crews moving about while the crowd is yelling out in cheeriness. Crowd aiming cameras at the President. His Ike smile etched permanently for all to see. He is a lame duck president and the presidential candidates are in the news as they campaign around the country but he is just enjoying being back where he spent so many years as a young cadet. San Antonio is Ike's town. The sky is sunny and a little breezy. And humidity is typical for September weather. Luckily, we are at the right spot as the presidential car traveling north veers in our direction very close to the street curb to allow Eisenhower to glad hand the citizenry. We could have literally reached over and touched him as he was waving his arms. The screaming, shoving, and previously unencountered noise shrewdly told us to just enjoy those vanishing seconds as the motorcade went by just a foot or so from our perch on the sidewalk.
We were at ease now having realized we had got so far with no seemingly obvious faux pas’ antics. All our reticence went aside as we exchange jolly banter between the two of us. And just like that ... the motorcade passes by and it's over. I push Melchor with my left forearm and he replicates it with his right forearm. Our facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth. This is just great. We will remember this forever. Hot diggity! We saw President Dwight D. Eisenhower about as close as anyone can get.
We decide we have had enough excitement and go towards the car. Starved we stop at Bud Jones on SW Military Drive to scarf down whatever will fill us up before heading for home. Finally, feeling the dull torpor of exhaustion, we drove home having convinced each other we were suave, smug, excessively smooth young guys and we were ready to face the world. Fonzie would be proud of us.
Then it dawns on us that due to our Ferris Mueller's Day Off shenanigans we couldn't very well arrive in our hometown high fiving everyone. Would our school authorities punish us for truancy? Well, we had been truant. Disappointed, for the following months we limit our little excursion exploits story to those we knew. Mom thought it was cool that I had seen the President.
Pictures? Not a one. Cool experience though. Today there are fissures of a memory made unreliable by time and aging brain cells and a little misadventure. Did this happen? Yes. A couple of years later serendipity will occur again in Europe while in the US AIR FORCE.
But that's another story.