Tag Archives: Sarah Belcia Yates

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 26 July 14, 2014


Time flies…I have been spending some time on this humongous class history project that I thought would be pretty straightforward. Individual write ups are straggling in slowly. So many have whined that they have done nothing significant these past sixty years. Just last week, I was speaking with (nameless person). She swore she has led a most mundane life; but the more we chatted, the more I was impressed with what she has done, and I finally told her to playback in her head all she had told me and then write it up. Trust me, it is rewarding to read about the many different paths taken in our collective lives.

By the way—if you do not have a recent picture and were at the reunion, we can use one of those.

That history project is expanding just a bit more. With so much information available via the Internet these days, I am going to try and include as many obituaries as we can dredge up. We probably have around 25 so far, provided by classmates who clipped them as they came across them in the recent years. If you happen to have saved any or a date of death, please send along the names and I will advise if we have them or not.

Photos!  Here are a couple from our senior class play.

Do you recognize these photogenic people?


Well, the one in the dress is photogenic. That is Sarah Belcia Yates and yours truly. The one below is of Nancy Grauer, Bobby Rios, and again, yours truly.


What I especially like about this photo are the two pictures hanging on the walls, left and right. The left photo is my mother’s first cousin and the one on the right is my great aunt. I think Mrs. Mac designated them Sarah Bernhard and Isadora Duncan.

One sad thing: IF you notice in both photos, there is a mike on the floor to pick up and amplify the sound. However, it was only an aid for thespians in those days. Mrs. Mac taught us to project, using our diaphragms to expel the sound out the body to the back of the auditorium. If you have been to any theater presentation recently, everyone has a battery pack and body mike, usually looking like some facial disfiguration. And the sound is amplified to overload the ear drums.

The same is true at any music venue—major over amplification to assault the senses. Somewhere along the line, people began to equate loudness with quality. We were recently invited along to hear the Irish Tenors at the Majestic. I could have stood across the street at the Gunter Hotel and heard them.

Does anyone remember these?


Blog 18 May 13, 2014

People look at this blog! Records are kept as to how many people look at the blog and how often.  I just found and studied these today.  Records show that  933 have viewed since the first posting, including 94 on one day. That is encouraging, though on study, I discovered that 94 different people did not look at a particular blog, but that some came back to it more than once. A bit more disappointing is that there have only been 29 comments–disappointing because the original intent was to stimulate discussions and memories.

What’s next? The reunion is past, but work remains to be done. Maybe it is a fanciful idea that is too ambitious, but here is what I see over the next few months:

  • Those who took photos are sending them to me to do something with.  Most likely, this will be to put them in a slideshow format to post to YouTube, as we have with the past two reunions. That is easier said than done. It includes identifying and labeling each photo posted, tweaking them to improve the lighting, focus, sharpness for some, and finding some suitable music to download that is royalty-free. If you did not see these previous efforts, I will hunt down the website reference and post next time.
  • Creating a history of the class of 1954. The purpose here it to develop a document for our classmates and to present to the TJHS Historical Preservation Society for their archives. The vision is to coerce, beg, plead, for all classmates to send in a history of their lives since Jeff days, along with a recent photo and one from the yearbook.
  • Continue to hunt for lost classmates via the Internet. This is a spare time effort, of which there is little (spare time).
  • Create a current directory of classmates. This just takes some time but will probably be done early, as I have already received a dozen requests for addresses of classmates following the reunion.

So do any of you want to be a part of this effort? Here is what will help the most—and I know some of you know how to do this: Will anyone scan in all or a portion of the class of ’54 photos from the 1954 Monticello? Ideally, scanning and cropping into individual photos will help the most, but even just the pages scanned in will be a great start. And if several wish to help with this project, we can divide up the pages. If you are willing, let me know via comment here or email to jeff-54@satx.rr.com. With this help, I can move the project along much faster.

A pre-reunion casualty. Missing from the reunion was Sam Granato, who was scheduled to arrive in San Antonio several days prior to the reunion. After the reunion was finished, Sam sent an email that he arrived in San Antonio and ended up in the hospital with emergency surgery. We did miss you Sam and trust you are back on your feet by now.

Picture time

It’s the fight song with cheerleaders
Bettye Sue Conrad Dube,
Doug Campbell, and
Betty Stensland Saunders



                                               The blondes: Marcia Pittman, Texas Nowotny Myers,

                                                 and Sarah Belcia Yates