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Padre Steve Remembers the Alamo

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“I Messed With Texas and Now I Have a Rash” General Antonio López de Santa Anna

I remember the Alamo.  I have seen the movie, at least a couple of them and been to the Alamo. Needless to say the actual Alamo did not live up to the movie billing.

It was on this day in 1836 that the garrison of Texans defending the outpost across from te Burger King and Walgreens in downtown San Antonio was overwhelmed by the Mexican Army. Led by William Travis, James Bowie and his brother David, Fess Parker or John Wayne playing David (Davy) Crockett the other 133 Texians as the called themselves, outnumbered and outgunned by about one million Mexican troops finally succumbed to the inevitable after a 13 day siege. They were slaughtered but the cry “Remember the Alamo!” reverberates to this day.

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I always felt misled by the media about the Alamo. From my time watching Disney and John Wayne movies about the Alamo I assumed that the fortress was well out of town, preserved for the sake of posterity and surrounded by parking lots and souvenir stands. However that was not the case and I found out this bitter truth in the summer of 1983 while going through my Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston.

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Those were the times of the heady Reagan military build up and my class had no room to stay on the base. We were billeted in amid the squalor of the Riverwalk Marriott Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Having to take a lowest bidder Bluebird school bus to and from the base every day was a difficult task for we newly commissioned officers however, we made do.

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One day I had to stay late to do some research and missed the Army bus. I had to take a city bus from the base to the hotel. However the bus did not drop me off at the hotel. It dropped me off in Centennial Square, near a large granite phallic symbol which I later learned is called a “Centopath” a now extinct life form from the late Neosporin era. As I got my bearings I noticed the Walgreens, the Burger King and the venerable Joske’s department store. But nestled among them was a small and less than impressive building. I thought to myself that “that looks like the Alamo.” However I immediately dismissed the thought because I knew from the movies and Disney TV shoes that I had seen that the Alamo was on the outskirts of town and surrounded by parking lots. I then thought, “what a stupid place to put a replica of the Alamo” and proceeded to my hotel.

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When I got to my room I told my roommate, then 2nd Lieutenant Barry Mitchell, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel about my discovery of this “fake” Alamo. Barry looked at me like I had grown a third head. He knew that I was a history major. However, in my defense I studied Europe and Nazi Germany, choosing to learn my American history from the movies and the Bible like everyone else.

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As I looked at the expression on his face I realized that I had been had by the media. Barry said “that is the Alamo” and I replied “but the Alamo is out of town surrounded by parking lots…” Barry looked at me and told me that indeed that this was the real Alamo. It was humiliating.

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So the next weekend after I had drank too much at Dirty Nelly’s tavern on the Riverwalk I went and made pilgrimage to the Alamo. I was supervised on the tour by some women from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who had seen the battle in person and shepherded through the exhibits, maintaining a certain reverence for the site of this battle.

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Now since then I have been to the sites of many battles in the United States, Europe and Asia and never seen a site so unremarkable as the Alamo. The fault is not that of the building, or the brave men that died defending it, but by the callousness of the citizens of San Antonio who allowed the hallowed ground to be reduced to about a city block surrounded by crappy looking commercial structures and an horrible monument.

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Now the fact that the Mission building remains at all is because of these very long lived women that supervised my tour. Those brave women, who echoing the Isley Brother’s song “Fight the Powers that Be” fought the powers that be to preserve the site much as had Colonels Travis, Bowie and Crockett in 1836.

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Now admittedly the Alamo holds a special place in the hearts of all that love Texas, Fess Parker and John Wayne. I will also never forget to “Remember the Alamo” but not for the reasons of so many Texas patriots. I will remember it because it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

So my friends, Remember the Alamo!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, Just for fun, movies, purely humorous

Has Anyone Seen a Big Wooden Boat and a Lot of Animals? Floods and Rain Outs in Norfolk

rain at harbor parkFlooding at Harbor Park Wednesday- Norfolk Tides Fan Photo Facebook.com

I have never been a big fan of rain.  Yes I know we need it to live, for plants to grow, birds to sing, fish to drink and all of that.   I also know that rain means water coming from the sky and that water coming from the sky usually means that I end up wet or that the baseball game that I want to see get’s rained out.  If I had been a soldier in World War Two I would have stunk up the works a Guadalcanal or any of the other rain and vermin infested hell holes of the South Pacific.  On the other hand I would have done pretty well in North Africa out in the desert with the Afrika Corps.

Now the Hampton Roads area has two basic seasons, cold and wet and warm and wet.  The operative word is wet. In the cold and wet phase which general lasts through April and even May when you are out in the rain you get soaked to the skin and freeze your ass off.  On the other hand in the summer when it is warm and wet or even hot and wet, and I don’t mean like married couple or significant other kind of hot and wet, but the miserable sticky humid and hot weather that makes you feel like a wet postage stamp on a credit card bill.  Unfortunately we are in this part of the year now in Hampton Roads and though we were graced with an incredibly cool and dry May through July, the steam has been turned back on, I’m sloshing through mud to get my garbage out and having a field day using legal biological agents to kill mosquitoes.

A one who worships at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish, I patently pray to the Deity Herself that no rain will ever cancel a game here, especially now that I am a season ticket holder.  Yesterday it seemed that not only had the Deity not answered my prayers but in fact our adversary the Devil himself seemed to be out to ruin the rest of this short home stand against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.  Yesterday not long before the close of business I was readying myself for the jaunt over to Harbor Park for game three in the series.  Just before I was to leave I was talking with my deputy department director when  the heavens opened and unleashed a deluge of which proportions I have not seen since my days at Fort Sam Houston Texas where deluges like this would bring rapid flash flooding inevitably leading people to drive into raging torrents of water that were plainly marked as to how high the water was.  If you have lived in San Antonio you know what I am talking about, I think they have a special segment on hte local news just for such occurrences.

The rain came so hard and fast in Norfolk, Portsmouth as well as parts of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach that flood warnings were issued.   Some places in Norfolk and Portsmouth reported standing water 2-5 feet high after 4-6 inches of rain came down in a relatively short period of time.  Figuring that this deluge had to let up and knowing that the game was already canceled I set out from work for the trip home.  Patently this was the first really bad really bad storm that I have had to commute home from in what seemed to be an event of biblical proportions.  I was beginning to look for a big wooden boat with an old guy looking like John Huston standing at the door beckoning pairs of animals to come in.  What greeted me were roads, including the ground floor of our parking garage flooded.  Trusting the Deity Herself I set out knowing that things would be bad, but not this bad.

There is a reason our area is called “the Tidewater.”  It is simply that it is very low lying, adjacent to the ocean and the word Tidewater is a lot nicer sounding than swamp.  When we get a lot of rain in a short time, there is simply nowhere for it to go.  Low lying areas with which the area abounds flood quickly and low lying intersections and roads with poor drainage become small rivers in which vehicles can become immersed in.  Thankfully I have a good idea where the higher roads are in the area of the hospital and zigged and zagged to avoid deep waters and areas where other drivers were sinking. Only once having to go down a very wide sidewalk to avoid what some rather deep water which I did not feel my 2001 Honda Cr-V could not traverse since it is not amphibious.  I figured that since the sidewalk was as wide as my CR-V and was a good 8-10 inches higher than the flooded intersection that it would do, I drove up and over the curb, drove down my elevated roadway about 100 yards before using a driveway to re-enter the road at a better fording site.  Just before I had left work I had checked the weather and traffic conditions, especially the “Jam Cams” at the Downtown Tunnel.  The cameras showed traffic moving well and only the normal rush hour backlog to get in.  However, by the time I got to the entrance road to the tunnel I saw that it had been closed and traffic divert off of I-264. I decided to pick my way down another main street only to see cars immersed ahead of me.  I made a quick U-turn and headed back to I-264 and headed west away from my house.  I used it to get to I-64 west, which actually is heading east through Chesapeake in order to pick up I-264 to get back to Virginia Beach.  The trip took me about an hour and forty-five minutes.  I understand that some people took 3-4 hours to go less distance than I had traveled.  One amazing thing that I noticed was the lack of accidents on the Interstate highways.  Normally in good weather people around here can’t drive nails much less motor vehicles. Thank the Deity for small favors.

norfolk floodingFlooded Streets in Norfolk- Virginia Pilot Photo

The game was long postponed and Judy and I went to Gordon Biersch and then came home, both exhausted from our day.  It is amazing what nearly two hours on the road fighting downpours and floods will do to you. Today the Tides and Yankees were scheduled for a double header.  Game one had a rain delay but despite this the game was played with the Tides winning 4-2 with solid pitching by Chris Waters, Dennis Safrate, Kam Mickolio and Alberto Castillo.  As Earl Weaver said “Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.”  A bit after 3 PM with the game over and a 40 minute break between games I left work to try to see game two.  Once again I looked at the weather radar and saw a bit of rain coming up from the southwest.  However, it looked like it would not be heavy and pass by quickly.  When I got to the tunnel it started to rain pretty hard but nothing like the other day.  As I got to the stadium parking lot the rain was already beginning to let up.  I got my Tides Dog with Chili and a beer, found Elliott the Usher and Chip the Usher sitting on the concourse and pulled up a seat.  We talked about our travels yesterday; Elliott the Usher had gotten stuck on a bridge because or water at the foot of it which had flooded a viaduct and Chip the Usher had had to turn around due to high water as well.  As we chatted the grounds crew came out and began to remove the tarp from the field and with the skies lightening we all thought that the game was going to be played.  As the crew moved equipment to mark the batter’s box and foul lines into position an Umpire came out of the Yankees dugout and gave some kind of signal.  When that happened the grounds crew began to put back the tarp and about 10 minutes later we were informed that the game had been canceled.  After the game I picked up a signed card of Tides infielder Justin Turner, who had a double and two RBIs in the first game and is the team leader in hits for the Tides.   I also made my next installment on the 1967 signed Willie Mays that he has reserved for me.

This was disappointing to me to have two chances to see the Tides play be rained out on consecutive days.  I decided to question the Deity about this and was once again informed that “the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.”  With that I shut up, walked back to the car and started home, with almost no rain whatsoever.  The way I understood things was that the field was not deemed safe to play on due to the latest round of rain.  Next week the Tides come back in town after making a road trip to Charlotte.  The Tides moved back into a game and a half of Durham and three and a half of Gwinnett in the IL South.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, hampton roads and tidewater, Loose thoughts and musings