Blog 29 August 8, 2014

The Texas Theater: Jeanine Price raised a question about the Texas Theater. Here are photos I found on the Internet:

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Opened in 1926 for the Publix-Paramount chain, this large downtown theater was designed by the Boller Brothers firm, and was done in Spanish Colonial and Rococco style. Its fantastic terra-cotta facade, complete with columns and multicolored arches decorated with gilded medallions, in addition to its huge vertical marquee, were as spectacular as the interior, which was one of the city’s finest movie houses of the 20s, along with the Empire, Aztec and, later, Majestic Theatres.

Hailed by Publix as ‘San Antonio’s Two-Million Dollar Showplace’ when it opened, it was the site of the premiere of Paramount’s “Wings” less than a year later, which was filmed near San Antonio. Stars Buddy Rogers and Clara Bow were both in attendance.

However, after many years as a successful first-run house, even thriving during the Depression era, the Texas began to decline, and closed in the 70s. Unfortunately, just as interest in saving many of the area’s historic buildings was starting to pick up, the Texas was razed, in 1983, but its facade was salvaged, and incorpated into the modern office building built on the site. When Southwestern Bell took over the building, it meticulously restored the Texas’ terra-cotta facade to its 20s appearance.

Below is the interior. Wish it were in color.  And look at this great view of Houston Street.  All the old signs are gone.

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This is how it looks today:

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Does anyone recall: When we had to figure out our schedule at the start of each semester, the strategy I recall was to arrange a third period class in or near the cafeteria wing. I generally opted for Spanish, just down the outdoor arcade by Mrs. Hicks’ rose garden. Or you could do history upstairs or math or typing or whatever was near the first floor main entrance. Back then, we had the precursor of today’s fast food stores. There was a small kiosk on both the boys and the girls side, where you could get hamburgers, and maybe hot dogs. Does anyone remember what else they sold there? I do recall the burgers were pretty bad, but fast. The early McDonalds. People like Jim McNeel and Ben Williams worked in the booth. I don’t remember who else. The good old days. I will bet that the boys and girls are not segregated now. I wonder why it was done back then? Anyone have a clue?

The lockers: When I visited Jeff last March for an open house, all of the lockers still line the hallways, but most appeared to be empty. The combination locks are gone and a few had padlocks. I recall with the combination locks, you could stuff a small piece of paper in the mechanism so that the locker would not lock. Some of us managed to get a paper stuffed into the lock of one of our classmates (nameless, of course), so that we had access to it. He was not aware and dutifully unlocked it every time he needed something. We used to leave notes, re-arrange things in the locker, and generally make him wonder what was going on. Don’t know if he ever caught on or not.

I hope today’s comments have triggered some of your own memories that you will share. Thanks to all who have made a comment.

Beth Wilcox: Sadly, Beth Wilcox passed away last Saturday, August 2.

 

8 thoughts on “Blog 29 August 8, 2014

  1. Jay Weidenfeld

    Re. The Texas Theater and W. Houston Street; I worked across the street from the theater Saturdays and some school holidays at the Majestic Men’s Shop. Levis 501s – the only kind available in the fifties – were $4.25 a pair. If you have a pair of those now there’s a custom denim shop in San Francisco, probably also in other cities, that will reweave the frayed denim, repair the tears and stretched buttonholes, all for $40/pair! Lunch, down the street at the Manhattan, was two enchiladas (yum) for 75 cents. High living!

    Truly, we’re all pushing eighty and no, I can’t quite get my head around that. What happened to that wisecracking kid who thought he was indestructible? He may still be in here somewhere but the aching joints don’t seem to think so.

    Yes, every day’s a gift and it’s necessary to embrace whatever brings you joy.

    Condolences to Beth’s family and rest in peace.

    Reply
    1. jeffclassof54 Post author

      I remember the Manhattan–today, there is the Mexican Manhattan down town. Also the Majestic Men’s Shop, which is now a coffee shop, was just down the block from Coney Island hot dog place. I don’t think I ever ate there–the smell was too awful. Do you recall the newspaper hawkers, standing on the corner offering the newspaper for a nickel. Our paper today is a very thin shadow of its former robust self. Rupert Murdock bought the Express-News and later sold to Hearst Corporation. Hearst owned the Light all those years, but when they bought the Express-News, they shut down the Light.

      Reply
  2. Jeanine Kliefoth Price

    Thank you, Jack, for the info on the Texas. I think this is the one that had parking behind it by the river. It was always spooky walking from there to the movie. There was, however, a small jewelry store on the side that had the prettiest earrings. I never did go in the store when it was open, but I surely admired them on the walk. Now, about the burger kiosk…they sold hamburgers (bun, pickle, meat) and cheese sandwichs (bread and cheese). They also sold chips. The burgers and cheese sandwichs were 10 cents each and the chips 5 cents. Then the coke machine spit out a coke for a nickle. I don’t remember them being divided between boys and girls, but I know the boys in sports worked there. 30 minutes was really a short lunch time.

    Reply
    1. jeffclassof54 Post author

      I must have stuck to the hamburgers, because I do not remember the cheese sandwiches. Of course, I always went through the line on Wednesdays to get the greasy chili. And also on alternate Fridays when they had the sloppy joes. The only jewelry store I remember was Hertzbergs.

      Reply
  3. PAPTJP@aol.com

    Hi Jack, I always bought lunch at the kiosk. Very boring: cheese sandwich with one pickle slice a bag of fritos and a soda pop. Not very healthy but fast and we were always in a hurry to get out in the hall to gossip. Great memories. Patsy

    Reply
    1. jeffclassof54 Post author

      The Jeff cafeteria has been remodeled and those kiosks are gone. They probably still sell junk type food, though schools have been trying to re-educate students on proper nutrients. then I read that when they students get healthy foods, they throw much/most of it away. They just don’t care about those starving children in China or India or elsewhere.

      Reply
  4. Jeanine Kliefoth Price

    Looking at the view of Houston Street, it looks one-way. I remember it as being two-way. My mom would take me to town and parallel park, stopping traffic. I always wanted to hide because of the cars she stopped. To this dayI will not parallel park. The store that gave each girl graduate a birthstone was Alamo Jewelry Store at 209 Alamo Plaza. Maybe I should get it put in a setting. Just think, 60 years old…..hmmm, priceless. Jack, how do you find your information? I want to know about the old Groos National Bank and what happened to the building. My grandmother’s sister was married to Adolpho Groos and my grandfather worked there. My grandmother’s youngest brother was married to Beale Frost and I wonder if the original Frost Bank is still on Houston Street. You are really bringing back memories.

    Reply
    1. jeffclassof54 Post author

      I thought Houston was one way in our time, going East and Commerce Street was one way going west. Who can give a definitive answer? Back then, Houston was four lanes. Today, it is two way and narrowed to two lanes and wider sidewalks. This was done in the 80s or 90s for some obscure reason.

      Reply

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