Blog 28 August 1, 2014

Already over! It is jarring to see all the ads and banners for back to school shopping. Summer vacation is shorter that what we knew. As a kid, it seems like the summer was endless, long days spent playing outside and drinking out of the hydrant when we were thirsty. Then it was the sudden realization that the “summer project” had not been started, and the last week before going back to grade school was spent spatter painting, or pressing leaves, or whatever our mother’s dreamed up for our project.

Trivia you don’t need: In 1915, the mile was run by a male in 4:12 ¾ minutes. In our year of 1954, Roger Bannister of Australia broke the 4 minute mark. Today the world record for running the mile is 3:43:13 minutes, held by a Morrocan. The world’s record for women is held by a Russian at 4:12:56 minutes.

Sad news: It is never a happy moment to pass along sad news. Those of you at the reunion may recall Beth Wilcox, having a grand time. Or you may be one of the people she called several times about the reunion. Beth has had a severe health reversal in the weeks following the reunion. I learned last night that Beth was diagnosed with leukemia (terminal) a few weeks back and has since had a massive stroke. She has been moved to Methodist City Hospital Patient Hospice in Houston.


You all may or may not know that Beth earned her livelihood as an artist. She signed her work Lizabeth, and her oils were quite good. She also was successful hand-painting tee shirts. She painted the one she is wearing in the photo above.

The cost of gas—I filled my gas tank this morning and the cost per gallon was down from $3.39 per gallon to $3.17! Wow, what a great price! Then I remembered that a gallon in 1954 cost 22 cents. My senior year at Texas I took the old family Oldsmobile 98 (1949 model) that called for premium gasoline, which was 26 or 27 cents per gallon. To pinch pennies, I filled the tank with part premium and part regular. I probably saved 35 cents per fill-up, now that I look back. But then it was a significant amount, at least in my brain.

More on theaters. Jeanine Kliefoth Price posed the question about the Texas theater and what happened to it. If you recall, the Texas was located on Houston Street just west of the Hertzburg Jewelry Store at Houston and St Marys. (By the way, the old clock on the corner there is still in place, and I think it even works.) At any rate, when that block of land was coveted by some developer, the San Antonio Conservation Society attempted to save the theater. After lengthy negotiations, they only succeeded in saving the façade, which was incorporated into the high rise building. The entrance is there, compete with the ticket booth. Does anyone remember what type movies played there? I suspect they were A grade movies but maybe on a second run.

Last time, I posted some photos of the Aztec theater interior. Here are two from the Empire. If you recall, the Empire was where our parents told us not to go, because they showed B grade movies. So of course, that is where we went. I recall the Empire being totally white inside. It was refurbished 12-15 years ago and was taken back to the original finish, which had a lot of gilt. The floor has a flat floor and removable chairs for banquets and other functions. These are the only two pictures that were taken inside the Empire.

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Your comments are always welcome. More next time.


11 thoughts on “Blog 28 August 1, 2014

  1. Jay Weidenfeld

    Hi, all,

    I remember that the Texas Theater showed second run and ‘B’ movies, categories that seems to have disappeared in the era of Netflix, HBO and DVDs.

    As for the price of gas … I worked for a couple of summers at Southwest Research, which had what they called a ‘Fleet Lab’ which operated a number of cars driven many miles to test systems, parts and fuel. The lab usually had a surplus of the last batch of test gas, always premium, which they sold off to employees during lunch hours two or three times a week. The price was usually 15 cents a gallon. Cash only. I could fill up my Studebaker (everybody chuckle) and then drive home and get back in my dad’s Olds before lunch was over. One time the price went to 16 cents(!) and several people were distressed.
    Now we live in California and rarely see a gallon for less than $4.00.


    -Jay (Weidenfeld)

    1. jeffclassof54 Post author

      That’s a good tale, Jay. When was the last Studebaker produced? I remember when they introduced their radical design and all the jokes about it that followed, circa 1947 -1949. the last model I remember was the Studebaker Commander in the latter 50’s. Does anyone remember the Hudson or the Kaiser or Frazer? Our kids do not appreciate how much personality cars had back then. Everyone eagerly awaited till the new model was unveiled. Ed Davis and I could immediately identify every make and model and wondered why our parents could not and were not the least bit interested. Now I know.

    2. Jay Weidenfeld

      The last Studebaker built in the US was produced in the early 1960s. A few were manufactured later in Windsor, Ont. I believe. They made a wagon that featured a roof which slid forward from the rear leaving a partial open deck. They were popular with TV camera crews for quite a while who kept them running well past their sell-by date. I had one of those ‘Aero Nose’ models – a small 6 that could get pretty good mileage. Then I traded for a ’54 Lowey coupe with a V8, one of the (to my taste) most beautiful passenger cars ever built. I was always a sucker for a beautiful body.

      Men, you know.

      I drove it in 42 states, Canada and Mexico, but not until I came to California did I realize that it was slow, and couldn’t handle or brake. California has lots of twisty mountain and hillside roads.


  2. Jack Davis

    And,then it dropped again.When Marsha and I crossed the border from Arkansas to Texas in 1965,there was a gas war and we purchased (now Exxon) regular for 18 cents a gallon.and that was the last ime we ever saw gas that low.Cheers Jack and thanks,Jack Davis

  3. jeffclassof54 Post author

    Which reminds me: when we were living in Japan in 1976-79, we paid $1.00 for gas and could not wait to get back to the USA for that 50 cents a gallon gas. Our illustrious president then was Jimmy Carter, who made a statement that a fair price for gasoline would be $1.00 a dollar. And sure enough, when we returned to the USA in 1979, it quickly reached that level.

  4. Beverly Hime

    Such sad news about Beth. A reminder that every day is a gift from God–a reason to be thankful and enjoy each day!

  5. Gilda Ackermann Gunz

    Does anyone remember or still have the mini cedar chests given to each girl graduate by Stowers Furniture Store?
    Has anyone had a child who asked, “Did they play football when you were in school?”
    How have we survived our children becoming grandparents? What a humbling, sobering, mind boggling, experience! How can they be so old and we’re still so young? Life is good and we must pray for all posterity.
    Gilda Ackermann Gunz

    1. jeffclassof54

      I can remember my mother commenting with some disbelief in her voice, when she said about my older brother: “I never thought I would have a child who turned fifty.” The years have fled and 80 is around the corner for us. Now that is scary!

  6. Jeanine Kliefoth Price

    Ok, now I remember the Texas Theater having really good movies. Good old Gas Wars….when I moved to Harlingen in ’68 they were having one at 18.9 cents a gallon. Now I think each station has a link to the others to keep all prices the same…High. Yes, Gilda, I still have my little cedar chest and I still have the birthstone that was given to us by one of the jewelry stores. To you guys, my dad always took the family to each unveiling of the new cars and yes, I could name each one. I have no idea which car is which now. The Hudson…we found that the boat trailer that was holding our boat had a broken axle. So halfway between San Antonio and Port Aransas we had to find a Hudson replacement axle. That took awhile.

  7. jeffclassof54 Post author

    Whenever I get downtown, I will try to get a picture of the Texas theater façade and post it. Regarding those old cars, they all had personality back then. When I caught the buss for Jeff, my bus stop was across the street from the Packard Company, so I recall those models vividly. I totally enjoy seeing photos of all those old behemoths, especially the Stuts Bearcat, before our time.


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