Wednesday, September 18, 2013

San Antonio is for Grandfathers

On a Tuesday in 1918, my grandfather Roy got on a train somewhere around Akron, Ohio and headed for San Antonio, Texas.  Army.  Basic training.  World War I was raging and he was headed to Paris.  The journey to San Antonio lasted long enough that he could post a letter home along the way.

Next week Mom and I’ll head to San Antonio ourselves.  We’ll visit with cousin Daniel and go to the theater and take in the sights.

I have never been to Texas.  Not even to drive through on the way to somewhere else.  Not even to land in an airport in between two points.  It’s quite an accomplishment to have reached the age of 58 without ever having set foot on Texan soil, particularly as I’ve crossed the country numerous times, the first when a little girl to visit my Granddaddy Roy when he lived in Arizona – a long, long time after his respite in San Antonio (if basic training in the Army can be called ‘respite’).

My granddaddy was in his late 20's when he went off to war by way of San Antonio, Texas.  Older than the 20th century by only a few years, he was sent to what was then, in his describing, a virtual desert.  I don’t think he got to the Alamo, for surely he would have said.  And I don’t know if there was a river walk then.

I wonder what he would think to know that one grandson now lives where he spent that time so long ago getting ready for war – the war that would end all wars . . . or so they said, so they believed, at the time.

I don’t know how my granddaddy felt about anything.  All I know (and it’s far too little to suit) is what he said.  From what he said, one would conclude that he was a jaunty fellow indeed, eager for the chance to fly fighter planes (he never did, although he did drop bombs from the back of the plane in France – by hand – and called it a good time).

We have so little in common it seems.  But as Mom and I walk with Daniel through the byways of San Antonio, it is my granddaddy I’ll be thinking of – as he was then – young, uniformed, optimistic – jaunty.


  1. I was born in San Antonio, and spent a lot of my childhood there in the '40s and early '50s. My dad "went to war" twice from San Antonio. I have not been back for a thorough visit in many years, but it has doubled in size and added much more to the River Walk (a must see) since the '80s. I loved the Zoo and the Witte museum, and went often by myself on the bus as a young child. There is a lot of wonderful history in S.A., including the Alamo. Hope you enjoy my hometown! I'm now in Austin... drop by on your way!

    1. Marilyn, Wish I'd carved out more time for a stop by in Austin - would love to meet up. And thanks for the heads up on things San Antonio. In typical American fashion, my granddaddy lopped off the 'io' - San Anton - what's up with us that we shorten everything? Definitely looking forward to it. Hugs, Beth