Tag Archives: Bob Blake

Blog 42 February 20, 2015

Have you been to a wedding recently? As is the custom nowadays, a DJ playing music way too loud on over-sized amps will call the bride and groom to the floor for a first dance as newlyweds. The song will invariably be “At Last” (back in the day, it was “The Anniversary Waltz”, but who waltzes anymore?)

I did not just get married, but I am humming “At Last,” because the history book is in the mail, possibly delivered by the time you read this. Many thanks to Charlie and Dottie Griffin, Tas (Dorothy) Crawford McGraw, Sarah Belcia Yates, and Bob Blake for gathering on a cold, windy, wet Friday afternoon just past to get the books ready for the mail. The post office has them now, though I am scratching my head over that. The envelopes have a tracking number, and last night I tracked a few and it said they have gone to Dallas, even the local ones.

The Hertzberg clock is located downtown at Houston and St Marys Streets across from the Gunter hotel. Here is perhaps more than you care to know about the 137-year old clock.

Hertzbergclock 3159It seems odd that a 17-foot-tall landmark, standing on such a busy intersection of downtown, could be so camouflaged.

Most downtowners pass the 137-year-old Hertzberg clock at Hous­ton and St. Mary’s streets without noticing it.

A few years ago, the San Antonio Conserva­tion Society Foundation, the clock’s owner, re­ceived when it broke down

“We went down opened the door and said, “Geez, we have a complete restoration here.” said Ed Gaida, a now-retired repairman of clocks, or­gans and other complex mechanical devices, who led a team that restored the Hertzberg in summer 2008.

Built in 1878 by E. Howard & Co. of Boston, the clock was installed outside the Eli Hertzberg Jewelry Co on Commerce Street. In 1910, when Com­merce Street was wid­ened, the store — along with the clock — moved to the Gunter Office building on the corner of Houston and St Mary’s streets.

In 1979 the New York-based Friends of Cast Iron Architecture wrote that the “Hertzberg clock may be the last of these clocks operated by a system of weights. We know of no other that is hand wound, all others being electrified.”

Two of Hertzberg’s descendents donated the clock to the Conservation Society in 1979.  In October 1982, the clock was dismantled and removed by crane to make way for the Republic Bank Plaza, currently known as the IBC Centre. It was rededicated in December 1985, restored by London Watch and Clock Co. and Kurt Voss Metals Inc. of San Antonio. But just a few years later, it was removed again for Tri-Party upgrades that widened the sidewalks of Houston Street.

It was reassembled for the last time in 1990. A mechanical device, the Hertzberg clock runs purely on kinetic energy like the rocking pendulum and dangling weight system of a grandfather clock.

“It’s precisely the same mechanism, only it’s heavy duty,” Gaida said. “The wheels are bigger. The gears are stronger. The weights are heavier. Because, remember, it has to drive those hands and those hands are exposed to the elements. In a strong wind, it has to be powerful enough to drive those hands.

”The clock is supposed to be wound once a week, but Laven, a metal fabricator, winds it twice a week — Monday morning and Thursday afternoon— because it’s more accurate that way. Some of the key parts have been replaced or repaired in recent years, Gaida said. “Just off the top of my head, I would say it’s good for another 50 years, at least,” Gaida said.“There’s really not much that can wear out. They were built like battleships— all cast iron and brass.”

Hertzbergclock 2158

Here is the clock with the Gunter Hotel across the street.

Enough history for now. I am having some formatting problems with the inserted portion on the clock. More in a day or so.

Blog 36 October 7, 2014

Sorry for the delay in writing. I think irregularity (in the blogging sense, not the medical) causes interest to wither. My interest has not waned, but perhaps the handful who do read this have found other pursuits. This is a hurried effort to report in before Penny and I leave very early in the morning for a visit to explore Newport, Rhode Island, Cape Cod and other points of interest, maybe come across some autumn color.

Beverly Cole I had a good chat with Beverly Cole not too long ago. For our reunion in 2011, Beverly had appeared on our deceased list. Shirley Inselman came to me alarmed, asking, “When did she die? I just spoke with her last week.” Like Mark Twain, news of Beverly’s death was much exaggerated. I spoke to Beverly after that reunion, and she was happy to be found and living in Wimberley, TX. I called Beverly after missing her at our reunion. She commented that her health is not the best and then we had some fun reminiscing.

Beverly discussed candidly her mark of shame—she skipped out on a sixth period class not too many weeks before graduation and was caught. As a result, she was removed from the Senior Play, where she had one of the leads, and was stripped of other privileges. I had asked Beverly about her part in the Senior Class Day program where she and Bobby Rios did a dialogue from Saint Joan of Lorraine, about Joan of Arc. Beverly said Mrs. McDaniel went toe to toe with T. Guy, claiming Beverly had been punished enough. Apparently, T. Guy blanched and the show went on.

Beverly has an interesting tale about her life, but she is not going to share it in the history.

A dowdy old lady! Last week, Penny and I went to a performance at the Aztec theater. I did not take the theater tour at our reunion and I wanted to see the old girl. She still looked about the same regarding the motif, but the seating and lobby were changed. Next to the Majestic, it was like comparing fine china with clay crockery. I enjoyed the performance but was disappointed in the over all aspect. A recent article in the newspaper discussed the old fake Aztec sacrificial table that was in the lobby, and was moved to a Mexican food restaurant after the Aztec was closed the first time. Now it is in someone’s back yard.

The Class history: Bob Blake is proofing it now. On my return, I will be getting cost estimates to put it all together. It should have been finished some time back, but you all know about procrastination.

In haste, no photos this time. See you soon.

Blog 33 September 5, 2014

Seven weeks! From August 7th to September 18th, 1954—that is seven weeks—the number one song played on juke boxes, by disc jockeys, and sold in the stores was “Sh-Boom” by the Crewcuts. Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, and Eddie Fisher also had number one hits over the course of the year.

Top movies: The five highest grossing movies in 1954 surprised me:

  • White Christmas (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Kirk Douglas, James Mason)
  • Rear Window (James Stewart & Grace Kelly)
  • Demetrius & the Gladiators (Victor Mature, Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine)
  • The Caine Mutiny (Humphrey Bogart, Fred McMurray)

If you want to see the top twenty films and the gross sales, go to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_in_film

Class Day: Who can remember the Class Day on one of our very last days of school before graduation? Bob Blake sent me a program he found tucked away in his Monticello. I am inserting the four pages below and posing some questions. I vaguely remember the program, and others do as well, because several people have remembered a dance by Aleen Smith, Connie Mayes, and Shirley France. Here is, in all its mimeographed glory:




Can anyone answer any of these questions?

· How did one get on the program?

· Why did Bill Crocker give the invocation and Shirley Inselman the benediction, even though Paul Medley is listed as the class chaplain? I would guess that Shirley sand The Lord’s Prayer.

· What was the class gift that Jack Davis presented on our behalf? We had a senior gift committee of five people (see last page of program)

· Did Joe Coreth write the class poem? If not, who did, and why did Joe recite it? Does anyone have a copy of it? (Maybe I should ask, does anyone care?)

· Who were scholarship recipients? I was not one of them.

Finally, look at the last page, which is good for a chuckle.

  • What did the courtesy committee do? Really?
  • Were we all card carrying members of the class? Did it take five people to design the card or sign them or pass them out or check to make sure we were legal attending the prom or what?

Well, I am poking a bit of fun, as I am sure all of that was important to us back in the day. I vaguely remember going to the Olmos Theater to see some inspiring class movie about a singer with broken legs. Quite honestly, my preference would have been Marilyn Monroe or a John Wayne oater.

I do hope someone will shed some light on the questions above and add some of your own.

Sad to note: A friend from the class of ’55 recently passed me some news about Gary Valentine. Gary lives in Australia and suffers from severe dementia. The tales told were distressing. Remember how well Gary could sing? I knew Gary from elementary school on. Rumor had it that Gary’s father was the emcee on the nationally broadcast radio show, Dr. I.Q.  Or he may have been Dr. I.Q. I don’t know that was ever confirmed.

And closing with a couple of photos:


Bill Hundley, Fritzie Connally, Larry Byrd, John Patmore


Louise Dobbins, Mary Helen Bass, Janet Walker  (aka Rawlings, Bell, and Mathes)



Blog 32 August 29, 2014

So many memories! While I am not devoting eight hours a day to this history project, I have spent a fair amount of time this week, and it is taking shape nicely. It has brought back many memories, a lot of questions, and some idle thoughts. Also, several people have sent in memorabilia to share with you.

Darrell Hawkins passed away last year. Patsy Hatch Patterson mentioned that Darrell began carving after retiring, focusing on Santas. At Patsy’s request, Darrell’s widow, Donna, sent along a photo of some carvings, below. I believe Darrell was a dentist (someone can correct me if I am wrong) as my younger brother. I think dentists must have a special talent working with their hands. Here is the photo of Darrell’s work:


Bob Blake sent me a program from our Senior Class Day program. Thanks, Bob. I will scan it and share it next time. The program was produced on a mimeograph machine. Remember those? Someone had to type a stencil and then ink up the machine and crank out x number of copies, being careful not to smear the ink on the copies printed out.

Who remembers? In working on the history, I have been re-keying classmate memberships, activities, and accomplishments—many of which I have no recall. These listing of activities were like an early resume, with many citing some pretty obscure activities in which they participated. Does anyone remember the Girls’ Cadet Corps show? A bunch of the Corps listed the play as an activity, so one of you GCC alumnae, please recall the program for us.

Every activity and every advisory had officers. It struck me that every single activity had a historian, parliamentarian, and a chaplain. I doubt many of those clubs exist today; and those that have survived, such as MJR and Hayne, probably no longer have chaplains. I suspect that even the Student Council and class officers no longer include a chaplain. Does anyone else care to speculate?

Many clubs and advisories had reporters. Who did they report to? And what sort of collections and money-keeping did the treasurers oversee?

Reading the histories…Classmates have done fascinating things with their lives. Even those who say they have lead boring lives have provided narratives that I have found fascinating. I am sort of surprised to see the number of divorces along the way as well as the number who have lost children and spouses. The duration of some marriages inspires. And so many have travelled extensively.

Write-ups are still arriving. Today, I heard from Dan Winder, who emigrated to Australia in 1977.

Recall: I know everyone experiences some moment that triggers a memory of long ago. The other day, I heard the radio playing “Diane.” That is a song I will remember always—not because of some long ago romance. Far from it. Back in the sophomore year, maybe, someone had a party down at La Villita in the courtyard. Kay Haller comes to mind as a possible hostess. There was a juke box to provide dance music. Sad to say, the jukebox malfunctioned and would only play two songs, one after the other, continuously for several hours. One was, you guessed it, “Diane.” The other was Tony Bennett’s rendition of “Blue Velvet.” To this day, whenever I hear either of those songs, I am transported to La Villita. Surely someone else must remember, as there were a bunch of classmates there.

And does anyone remember the old “Five-Day Deodorant Pads”? I became acquainted with them when I was in the Navy. To get a mirror shine on a pair of shoes, you had to apply polish and then rub them with the five-day pads. The chemicals in the pads melted the wax and gave the high-gloss shine. I never knew how they were supposed to work as a deodorant though. They were circular pads. Maybe you swiped your armpits. It sort of made me wonder if it could melt shoe polish, what did it do to your skin? Well, they faded off the shelf long ago. And who polishes shoes anymore?

Memories of Coolcrest The banana trees and all the lush greenery are still at Coolcrest, which re-opened for business in the past year.  A group from the reunion went out and played a round.  There were a few holes in one and some remarkable shots. 


Jack and Marsha Davis tally their score.


Jay and Barbara Weidenfeld peering through the banana trees, clubs in hand.


Patsy Patterson lines up a shot. Where is the ball? Tom Patterson records the score.