Happy 52nd Birthday to ZZ Top!!!
On this date in February 1970, ZZ Top played at a Knights of Columbus Hall on old U.S. 90, a gig booked by Beaumont radio personality Al Caldwell of KLVI, who would later also broadcast the band’s first recordings.
This would be the band’s first show together with their now-iconic lineup of Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard installed. Gibbons started the band in late 1969 and the pieces soon came together.
Yes, “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” the baddest blues-rock trio ever to ooze from Houston, cooler than a polar bear’s toenails, began its life together at a meeting hall of U.S. 90 of all places.
Bassist Hill mentioned via email that he was missing a key piece of equipment for that show.
“I had to borrow a bass for that gig. I didn’t actually own one. It was the Knights of Columbus Hall and though I didn’t meet any knights or royalty, there were a lot of cool people who came out to hear us play,” Hill writes.
The Beautiful Emily West
The "Yellow Rose of Texas” was a popular Civil War-era song about a beautiful woman that was responsible for victory at the battle that won Texas Independence from Mexico.
The Yellow Rose of Texas is also a legend about a beautiful mulatto woman that supposedly seduced Santa Anna on the eve previous and morning of his defeat by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. History remembers that woman as Emily Morgan — also known by her birth name, Emily West.
Emily, a woman of color, was contracted as an indentured servant to Colonel James Morgan, a wealthy Texas landowner.
It is also well known that there was a woman called Emily West captured by Santa Anna’s troops as she and other Texas residents fled from the Mexican onslaught outside of the revolutionists’ Texas capitol at Morgan’s Point, near the present-day city of Houston.
Emily was presented to Santa Anna (reportedly a womanizer and illicit drug user) and the general became enamored by her charm. It is because of their alleged amorous encounter that some historians believe Houston was able to defeat Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto. Numerous witnesses reported seeing Santa Anna emerge from his tent, pulling up his trousers as Houston’s forces attacked the Mexican Army.
Santa Anna’s being distracted could explain why the ragtag group of Texians, outnumbered 2:1 and largely inexperienced as a combined fighting force, were able to overwhelm the Mexicans. It took Houston merely 18 minutes to defeat his adversary and suddenly liberate the citizens of burgeoning Texas.
There is information that Emily West was confirmed as having been on the battlefield the morning of the surprise attack by Houston. Therefore, one can see why a story of a beautiful, flowery-skinned woman and a liaison with Santa Anna has developed into a romantic legend.
There exists that connection between Captain Morgan and Emily West, in the form of an application for a passport to the United States in 1837, which bears her signature. Emily West was thereby further documented within the archives as a real person in Texas in 1836.
But, as with many legends, there is a Texas twister! By coincidence, there appears to have been another Emily West — a second Emily West! Additionally, the historical record establishes these two Emily’s were both at Morgan’s Point, at the same time. It also appears that they both left on the same schooner traveling to the eastern United States in early 1837 after the end of the revolution. The biggest coincidence is that witness accounts described each of the women, referred to as Emily West, were “amazingly beautiful”.
When the Emily of legend was captured by the Mexicans, a Mexican national, Lorenzo De Zavala, is known to have just been commissioned as the first Vice President of the newly formed revolutionary Texas Government at Washington on the Brazos in March of 1836.
History remembers that Lorenzo De Zavala was married to a beautiful lady and her name was also — Emily West. Can’t make this stuff up.
A little back story. Before the Texas Revolution, in Mexico City, Lorenzo De Zavala and Santa Anna were acquaintances and political competitors while Mexico was entertaining the idea of emulating the United States’ path as a constitutional, democratic republic.
Santa Anna was president of Mexico and De Zavala was simultaneously the Governor of the State of Mexico. De Zavala asked Santa Anna to support a bill that would ensure Mexico had “separation of church and state,” as did the United States. Santa Anna told De Zavala he would support his bill, so De Zavala introduced it to the Mexican Congress.
However, Santa Anna betrayed De Zavala’s trust and backed the Catholic Clergy in their efforts to stop the bill, instead. This created a very personal divide between the two relevant, political contemporaries.
During previous, better times, Emily and Lorenzo attended society balls and parties along with Santa Anna and his wife. The De Zavala’s were most likely aware of Santa Anna’s notorious womanizing. Being so beautiful, it is not difficult to imagine that Santa Anna must have been enchanted by Lorenzo’s wife.
Because of the betrayal by the President of Mexico, De Zavala, a popular political figure, abandoned Santa Anna’s service and left Mexico to join the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna and De Zavala became bitter rivals.
Soon thereafter, Santa Anna left Mexico with a large military force on an extended march to Texas in the middle of winter, hell-bent on crushing the rebellion. Santa Anna ultimately engaged in hot pursuit of General Sam Houston and the fleeing Texas renegades across Texas, during what is now referred to as The Runaway Scrape.
Is it too far-fetched to imagine General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was, secondarily, in pursuit of the couple? Was Santa Anna chasing Lorenzo because he wanted to both eliminate his chief political rival, and earn Emily’s favor?
More importantly, history remembers that De Zavala was a very clever, intelligent and opportunistic man. Is it too lascivious that he and Emily (and Houston) could have conspired to have Santa Anna capture Emily so Houston could surprise the Mexican forces while Santa Anna was preoccupied with her? After all, the De Zavala’s knew Santa Anna as a womanizer and knew that he secretly desired Emily.
Could it have been “this” Emily West - De Zavala's wife - who Santa Anna captured at Morgan’s Point in April of 1836?
Historic Factoid: Remember Colonel James Morgan, the wealthy Texas landowner who contracted Emily West as his indentured “servant”? Well, Morgan had a "business partner" in his Texas enterprises, that fronted capital for most of his enterprises, that was also his good friend, and his name was, wait for it — Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala!
What are the chances that early Texas had two beautiful women named Emily West at the same time, known by the same people, and at the very same locations during such important events in Texas history?
One thing is for sure. Emily West, some have said, gave us Texas on a golden platter.
And, years later, a song would be written in her honor and she would be forever remembered as “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Emily West was a true Patriot of our Texas Revolution.
Popular Hit Song
In September 1955, for six weeks, Mitch Miller had a Billboard number one hit with "The Yellow Rose of Texas", and 13 months later, Miller's hit version was used for a key scene in the 1956 Texas-based film Giant.
Miller's lyrics used the words "rosebud" and "yellow" to indicate either the rose or the singer was a person of color. The 1955 song became a gold record. And achieved the #2 position in the UK and the #1 position in Australia.
This post is dedicated to all of Emily’s descendants living today in Texas and around the world who continue to carry the torch handed down to them by Emily D. West aka Emily Morgan - a true patriot of our revolution — to the great benefit of Texas.
Emily West, Thank You for your service, deeds of bravery and heroic devotion to our Republic — Texas!
Texas Heroines — Never Forget!
• The Uncertain History of Emily Morgan
• Emily D. West, Wikipedia
• WEST, EMILY D. TSHA Texas State Historical Association
I Am Rejoiced At My Fate: Three letters in January, 1836 Part 1
Back in January of 1836, three future Alamo defenders sent their last known letters back home from the road to martyrdom. One of the letter writers was the famed David Crockett. It was an encouraging letter, letting his loved ones back home know how his scouting expedition was going. It is a rather touching farewell, full of hope for a prosperous future he would never get to see.
"St Augustine Texas Jany 9 1836
My Dear Son & Daughter this is the first time I have had the opportunity to write to you with convenience I am now blessed with excellent health and am in high spirits although I have had many difficultys to encounter I have got through safe and have been received by every body with the open arm of friendship I am hailed with a hardy welcome to this country a dinner and a party of Ladys have honored me with an invitation to participate with them both in Nacogdoches and this place the cannon was fired here on my arrival and I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world the best land and the best prospect for health I ever saw is here and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here there is a world of country to settle it is not required here to pay down for your League of Land every man is entitled to his head right of 4000 - 428 acres they may make the money to pay for it off the Land.
I expect in all probability to settle on the Bodark or Choctaw Bayou of Red River that I have no doubt is the richest country in the world good Land and plenty of timber and the best springs and good mill streams good range clear water and ever appearance of good health and game plenty It is in the pass where the Buffalo passes from the north to south and back twice a year and bees and honey plenty.
I have a great hope of getting the agency to settle that country and I would be glad to see every friend I have settle there It would be a fortune to them all I have taken the oath of the Government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer for six months and will set out for the Rio Grand in a few days with the volunteers from the United States all volunteers is entitled to a vote for a member of the convention or to be voted for and I have but little doubt of being elected a member to form a constitution for this Province.
I am rejoiced at my fate I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in Congress for life I am in hopes of making a fortune for my self and family bad as has been my prospects.
I have not wrote to William but have requested John to direct him what to do I hope you show him this letter and also your brother John as it is not convenient at this time for me to write to them.
I hope you will do the best you can and I will do the same do not be uneasy about me for I am with my friends. I must close with great respects your affectionate Father
After being beaten at politics for defending the Cherokee against land hungry settlers and with a deep rooted hatred for the current president Martin Van Buren (a Jackson man), Crockett did what many Americans in history have threatened when someone they hated took power - he left the United States.
Texas was a foreign country then (still kinda is) as it was a northern state of Mexico. Crockett's fellow Tennessee failure, Sam Houston, already lived here and was quickly becoming a mover and a shaker. Some say he was also secretly trying to get Texas for Andy Jackson to annex...but that's another story.
Crockett, like Houston, came seeking rebirth as a big fish in a small pond. He'd been talking about moving to Texas at least since 1834. Most folks back then moved to Texas to start over and remake themselves into something grander than what they had been in the United States. Texas was a tabula rasa - a blank slate - for struggling folks in the United States, a "garden spot" overflowing with natural resources that the tiny population of Tejanos had thus far failed to exploit. Texas was a seductive siren for mid-life crisis men like Crockett trying to shake off their failures and start fresh.
Crockett very much needed a new start. Though he was a national superstar, he somehow managed to stay rather poor. He'd written a popular autobiography, made a public tour of the East coast, served in Congress, had popular stage characters created in his image, etc. but he still had to pawn a watch when he got into Texas in order to get a little spending money. Think of that. Here was a man who was literally a household name all over the US and he had to pawn his personal belongings to buy simple provisions.
The rumblings of the Texas Revolution had already vibrated east, so Crockett was well aware of the general state of affairs when he entered East Texas on January 5, 1836. He had been delivering "You can go to hell, and I will go to Texas" speeches over and over again as he traveled from Tennessee through Arkansas and into Nacogdoches. Once he arrived in Texas he very quickly decided to join the army of the provisional government and would later take the oath on January 14th, famously signing it only after insisting upon the insertion of the word "republican" in the document. He would only swear allegiance to the "Provisional Government of Texas or any future REPUBLICAN government that may be hereafter declared." Crockett had his belly full of American tyrants in the White House...he wouldn't risk his neck to prop up another in Texas. By then, he was fully committed to the Texian cause of liberty. He certainly also had an eye towards a future position in the new government. If you're going to bleed to birth a nation, why wouldn't you want to be rewarded with a position in the newborn government? But his insistence on the new government being republican in nature reveals a certain high minded idealism in his decision to join the army. After joining the army, he set his eyes towards San Antonio...and Eternity.
Whenever I read up on the events surrounding the Alamo, I am always struck by Crockett's situation. Here was a 50 year old guy, at that time well past middle age, trying to start completely over. He was a national celebrity but had to sell his own watch to get money. How embarrassing that must have been. He had little military experience but was now suddenly considered one of the most important leaders in probably the most famous siege in modern history. He was also one of the oldest defenders surrounded by 20-something single men who all revered him as a Paul Bunyan type figure. From the few eye witness accounts, it's more than apparent he took on a fatherly responsibility of the men, knowing he was the de facto alpha male because of his fame. He constantly worked to keep the morale up with jokes, encouragement, bouts of marksmanship and fiddle playing. Though I don't find him quite as fascinating as Jim Bowie, I think Crockett was one of the most moral men involved at the Alamo. He was there for the right reasons. As he told the citizens of San Antonio upon his arrival:
"Fellow citizens, I am among you. I have come to your country, though not, I hope, through any selfish motive whatever. I have come to aid you all I can in your noble cause. I shall identify myself with your interests, and all the honor that I desire is defending as a high private, in common with my fellow citizens, the liberties of our common country."
Crockett was in Texas because he fought for the Cherokee against the almighty Andrew Jackson. He was now fighting a brutal dictator in order to establish a republican government. He had the chance to slip over the wall and escape but never did. He stayed and fought it out till the end. He was a very simple man - too simple to succeed as a politician - but he was a heroic man more than worthy of his beloved motto "Be always sure you're right-then go a-head!"
REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE, 1840
The story of an independent republic that was declared and fought over 10 months of 1840 started long before, during the social turmoil that embroiled Mexico and its vast geographical domain. Coming out of a valiant and victorious struggle for independence in 1821, against the 300 year rule of the Spanish Empire, Mexico adopted the constitution of 1824, which favored a federalist form of government. Almost immediately, an independent movement began the northern providence of Texas. This Texan separatist faction based their secession on the change from the federalist form of government in Mexico to a centralist one in 1836.
On November 5, 1838, Antonio Canales of Monterrey issued a proclamation calling for the re-adoption of the federalist constitution of 1824. By 1839, the citizens of Laredo had joined the case. Helped by the French blockade of Mexican ports, the federalists were able to capture several towns. By March, however, the French lifted their blockade, allowing the centralists to devote more resources to fight the federalists.
Between May and September 1839, Centralists captured Saltillo, Tampico, Monclova and Laredo. Antonio Canales and his Chief Lieutenant, Antonio Zapata, retreated on the Nueces River and sought the support of the president of Texas, Mirabeau Lamar.
In 1839, Laredo was taken back by the Federalists. By January 7th , 1840, the “Republic of the Rio Grande” was proclaimed by constitutional convention, and Laredo was named it’s capitol. On the 17th of that same month, Jesus Cardenas, a lawyer from Reynosa, was chosen president. Jose Maria Jesus Carbajal was appointed to represent the “Republic of the Rio Grande” in Texas, and enlist recruits for the army. Antonio Canales was named commander in chief .of the army, and Colonel Antonio Zapata served as commander of the calvary.
Almost immediately, the Republics forces embarked on a series of battles with Centralist forces, taking, losing and re-taking various villas along the Rio Grande, and even further south into Mexico. After a disastrous defeat at Santa Rita de Morelosin Coahulia (… in which Camale’s role was later described as cowardly and militarily inept) Federalist survivors of the battle were court-martialed, found guilty of treason, and shot. Zapata’s head was cut off, preserved in a cask of brandy, and returned to his hometown of Guerrero, where it was displayed on a pike for 3 days as a warning to others.
The armed struggle for the border continued through the summer months, and by the fall, it was clear Federalists could not prevail. In November of 1840, Canales surrendered his troops on the north bank of the Rio Grande at Camargo, and President Cardenas and his forces stacked their rifles and arms in Laredo. The “Republic of the Rio Grande” was no more. It had last for 283 tumultuous days, and now it lives again, to provide your fin dining experience. Enjoy your visit here at the Republic of the Rio Grande Grill and Cantina. “Viva la Revolution”!
TONY LAMA, SR. (1887-1974) STARTED HIS BOOT COMPANY IN EL PASO, TEXAS 111 YEARS AGO
Tony Lama was born to Italian immigrants in the year 1887. Orphaned at age eleven, his uncle apprenticed him to a cobbler in Syracuse, New York. As an apprentice, young Tony learned to be a cobbler and learned the properties of the different skins and leathers. He joined the United States Army and in 1910 was stationed with the Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas. Naturally he was assigned to duty as a cobbler and started hand-crafting boots for the soldiers. His expertise as a custom boot maker spread quickly among the cowboys and ranchers of the Southwest. Once he completed his tour of duty with the Calvary, he settled in the border town of El Paso, Texas.
Tony Lama started his company in 1912 as a small boot repair shop on East Overland Street. He continued to do business with the soldiers at Fort Bliss. That first year, with the help of one assistant, he repaired boots for the soldiers and hand crafted twenty pairs of hand-made boots. About this time, the Army started to phase out the Cavalry and Tony Lama concentrated on the western boots for his customers. Cowboys and ranchers would come to Tony Lama’s shop with hides, requesting custom made boots. He would hand craft custom-made western boots for his customers with unmatched style and comfort.
In 1917 he married Ester Hernandez and they had six children. The children became active workers in his company. He taught his children the boot-making skills which had made his boots famous across the Southwest.
By 1933 his factory was producing forty pairs of boots a day. During World War II the company had a difficult time due to scarcity of leather but as soon as the war ended the business boomed. In 1946 Tony Lama turned his business into a corporation. In fact, in 1948 he made of pair of custom-made boots for the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.
Business continued to boom during the 1950s as the company became an innovator in styles and technology. They made boots that were extremely stylish for both cowboys and the general public. Some of the characteristics were low heels and vibrant colors and designs. At this time the company employed 780 employees and produced 3,100 pairs of boots a day.
Tony Lama died in 1974. The legacy created by the cobbler from Fort Bliss lives on in legendary boots made with unmatched craftsmanship and innovative technology. Today the company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
San Antonio Riverwalk
The Shops of Aragon and Romula.
In early September 1921, the remnants of a "Category 1" hurricane brought damaging floods to areas of Mexico and the U.S., particularly in the San Antonio region. On Friday, September 09, 1921, the San Antonio River flooded, killing 51 people and causing millions of dollars in damages.
Houston Street downtown was under nine feet of water, and the military was called in. It was a catastrophic event for the city. As a result, the Olmos Dam was built just north of San Antonio for $1.5 million.
Then, plans also called for the river downtown to become a "paved-over storm sewer." However, that option was unpopular with local civic groups like the San Antonio Conservation Society, but no one had any other ideas to prevent future floods.
Later, local architect Robert H.H. Hugman, then 27, envisioned and developed plans for "commercial development" of the river downtown, which ultimately became the world-famous San Antonio River Walk.
Robert was born in San Antonio, Robert Harvey Harold Hugman. Robert attended and graduated from Brackenridge High School, and after graduating, Robert headed to Austin to attend the School of Architecture and Design at U.T. Texas at Austin. Robert H.H. Hugman graduated in 1924.
After graduation, Robert moved to New Orleans from 1924 to 1927. There, the vision for our river was born. The Vieux Carré Commission (Old Quarter Commission), established in New Orleans, was a close second to Charleston as America's earliest governmental historic preservation agency. This agency's efforts saved the French Quarter in New Orleans, which inspired Hugman to join those seeking to hold onto his city's "rich architectural heritage" when he returned to San Antonio.
In the early 1900s, San Antonio suffered a series of floods, with the worst occurring in early September 1921. As a solution to the "flooding issue," the city's engineers proposed converting the downtown part of the San Antonio River (horseshoe bend) into a "paved-over" concrete storm sewer. The engineers were proposing to eliminate the San Antonio River forever. They considered this the most practical and cost-efficient solution.
However, Lane Taylor and the ladies of the San Antonio Conservation Society, and other civic groups rallied to oppose the idea. Still, Mrs. Taylor offered no options for the "flood control" or "river beautification" concerns. Then, a local 27-year-old man announced he had "another idea" for this flooding and beautification river issue.
History remembers that on Friday, June 28, 1929, at 10 am, Robert Hugman met with Mayor Chambers, two city commissioners, property owners, and other civic leaders. Standing before his drawings and displays, Robert began his presentation by addressing the group: "San Antonio has doubled its population in the past decade, transforming it from a sleepy southern town - to a future metropolis."
"Gentlemen, I present to you my vision for our river."
At this historic meeting, Robert unveiled and introduced his vision for the San Antonio River, a proposal he called "The Shops of Aragon and Romula."
Robert Hugman knew that this project endeavor would be his opportunity to expose San Antonio and share its "Spanish Heritage," thus making the Riverwalk much more than just an architectural wonder.
He witnessed this in New Orleans, where he lived for three years since that city celebrates its "French Heritage." This inspired Robert, who wanted to follow this example and make the "Spanish architecture" evident in the river's surroundings by constructing buildings with "that Spanish flare," villas that were a beautiful reminder of this incredible culture.
Although he found many people who supported his vision, it was 1929, and a couple of months later – America would enter its "Great Depression." During the years of the Great Depression, Hugman worked as a planner for public works projects, redesigning Woodlawn Lake, Elmendorf Lake, Concepción Park, and others, including two new parks in Seguin, Texas.
Then fate stepped in. History remembers that in 1936 during the Depression, San Antonio hosted its 3rd Annual "Fiesta River Parade," and the local turnout was pretty decent. Still, the river was dirty and unappealing, yet the crowds had a great time. A hotel general manager on the river witnessed the "huge turnout" for this event. His name was A.C. "Jack White," and Jack was the manager of the Plaza Hotel.
Jack was convinced San Antonians had retained their enthusiasm and love for their river. The river just had to look - "beautiful." Jack was a "well-connected" man in San Antonio at that time and would later become Mayor of this city, but then, Jack was on his way to meet with members of the City Council with a minor complaint.
"Gentlemen, for the sake of local pride and beautification, clean up this dirty river that runs by my hotel!"
One city council member responded, "Sir,..let me introduce you to Robert Hugman." And that's when Jack first heard Robert Hugman and his vision for the first time - the "Shops of Aragon and Romula."
Jack White was probably the most qualified individual in San Antonio to bring Robert's River Walk vision to fruition. With his "contacts in the city and elsewhere" and business savvy, Jack took the River Walk Project to the next level. He started organizing riverside property owners, forming the "San Antonio River Beautification Committee." He then hired Robert Hugman and contracted with an engineer for "surveys and drawings" of Hugman's proposal.
The committee devised a plan to build "San Antonio's River Walk," and the funds required for this endeavor totaled - $400,000. Then Jack found financial assistance from Washington when funding became available through FDR's Works Progress Administration, which provided most of the necessary monies - about $325K.
For the balance, Jack asked the city to hold a local "Special Bond Election" to approve a tax of .015 cents per $100 valuation to raise the $75,000 needed to leverage $325,000 in WPA funds for river work.
The tax vote passed 74-2 in favor of the bond. And just like that, San Antonio got its River Walk. History remembers the 71 voters who voted in favor of the bond - "lived" at the Plaza Hotel, Jack White's hotel.
The project's chief engineer, "Edwin Arneson," the WPA's district director, was Hugman's boss and was a "powerful and enthusiastic" supporter of the River Walk concept. He was very instrumental in acquiring the needed federal funding. But sadly, just as things were getting underway, Arneson found that he had terminal cancer. Arneson River Theater is named in his memory for all his work with the WPA, but Arneson never drew a line for any of the River Walk. "W.H. Lilly" took over as chief engineer, and "Robert Turk" as construction supervisor to finish the project.
A year into his employment on this historic project, Hugman got into trouble when friction developed with the Mayor, Maury Maverick, who, earlier, as a congressman, had been a vital supporter of the River Walk. Hugman later said the mayor "pressed him" hard to appoint a "relative" as a landscape architect. Robert refused this "act of nepotism" because the relative's salary would be carved out of Robert's pay as an architect.
Meanwhile, Maverick had "another" but separate project with the National Youth Administration: restoring the historic "La Villita" neighborhood, which borders part of the river project. When Hugman discovered that materials ordered from the River Walk budget were being delivered to La Villita, Robert "rashly" took his evidence to confront the River Walk board. The next thing he knew, Robert was fired from the riverwalk project. The visionary was no longer involved with the vision.
One can only imagine what Robert Hugman felt or personally experienced at this point in his life. He had to realize that "his dream" for the San Antonio River - was no longer - his dream.
Even after losing his job with the River Walk project, Hugman continued volunteering to the chief engineer, W.H. Lilly, and the construction supervisor, Robert Turk, helping them follow his visions and plans without pay or recognition.
History Remembers that on a Friday, March 24, 1939, 10 years after Robert H.H. Hugman first introduced "The Shops of Aragon and Romula" to the city of San Antonio, a group of about 300 San Antonians assembled to watch the "groundbreaking" for the River Walk on the river level near the Market Street bridge. That day, holding a "golden shovel" in his hand, Jack White declared, in front of the media gathered that day, "Let us begin now to make San Antonio, once again, the first city in the state."
Hugman was not invited or mentioned at the groundbreaking.
Many years later, Hugman's reputation began to recover when HemisFair '68, the city's international exposition, brought worldwide attention to the River Walk's - unique beauty.
Visitors from all over the world asked, "Who designed and created this beautiful urban ecosystem?" San Antonio remembered the visionary. Then Robert was introduced to the world as the creator - the father of the River Walk. The "Bell Tower" at the "Arneson Stage" was named for him, and in 1978, just two years before his death, he was invited to be the first to ring its new bells.
In 2014, 9.3 million "non-residents" from around the world visited San Antonio to see, dine, and stroll our River Walk. Today, our River Walk represents 30,000 jobs and 3 billion dollars in annual revenues for our city.
Robert Hugman was a true Texas visionary.
A bridge over the river was named for him, and today, several plaques along the River Walk honor his vision as the "Father of the River Walk."
Robert, thank you for your hard work, inspiration, imagination, and vision for our city and river.
Texas History - Never Forget!
The Story of Pat & Larry Butler's Friendship with Willie Nelson.
By Leon Beck.
In 1957, a red-headed stranger wandered into the Esquire Ballroom on Houston’s Hempstead Highway. He was a singer/songwriter/musician - and he was broke and hungry. He was there to sell his songs for food for his family.
Larry Butler & his band, the Sunset Playboys, the house band at the legendary Texas honky-tonk were on stage rehearsing. The stranger asked a waitress if he could talk to Mr Butler, a popular recording artist, bandleader & DJ in the Houston area. The reason he was there, he told the waitress, was he wanted to sell some songs to Larry Butler.
The waitress told Larry that there was a Mr Willie Nelson who wanted to see him and Larry said, “Well, tell him to come on in & sit down at the table over there. If he wants a Coke or beer, or whatever he wants let him have it. I’ll be off the bandstand in a few minutes.”
Willie asked for a Coke & two packets of cigarettes. Larry stepped down from the bandstand and went over to Willie. “Mr Butler,” Willie said, “I’ve got some songs I’d like to sell you.”
Larry, who had several No 1 songs on Houston radio, including “Exactly Like You” & “Find Your Place In Life,” listened to the young songwriter sing “Night Life,” “Crazy,” “Family Bible” and a few more songs. “ I told him, ‘Mr Nelson, I won’t buy ‘em.’ He said ‘Why?’ ‘Well they’re too good.’” Larry told Willie.
“He thought I was crazy. I said, ‘One of these days you’re going to be a big star and you’ll need your songs.’ He said, ‘Well I can write more songs but right now I’ve got my wife and kids out in the car and we’re starving. Ten dollars a song would look real big to me right now.’
“It would have made him rich,” Larry laughs. “Ten dollars would’ve. I wouldn’t buy ‘em but I said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll help you out. I’ll put you in my band and you go to work for me. In that way if you need any money or anything, I’ll help you out.”
Larry told the club owner, “I need to hire another guy. He’s down on his luck. He’s a songwriter and one of these days he’s going to be a big star.” But the owner of the club really wasn’t interested in hiring a new band member. “I said, ‘Well I’m going to hire him anyway and I’ll pay him myself.’ So I went back there and told Willie. ‘I’ll give you some money to get you started. Be here tomorrow night, or tonight, whenever you can and I’ll start you working in my band.”
Larry had his wife Pat buy Willie some groceries and rent him a house. Larry also split his $25 nightly pay with Willie. “I helped him get going and we’ve been friends and have worked together ever since. We’ve never had a cross word. He’s just one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet.”
Larry, who had a Saturday radio show on Pasadena radio station KRCT ( the station later changed it’s call letters to KIKK) got Willie a job on there as a DJ. “I kept Willie in my band until he got on his feet, and he was with me off and on while he was there in Houston.”
“In ‘59, Willie had the itch to move to Nashville - ‘to push his songs.’ He and I talked about it, so I gave him some money to get up there.”
A year later while Larry and Pat were in Nashville attending the DJ Convention, they stumbled upon Willie at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. “He was asleep on one of the steps there at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. Pat told me, ‘Larry, that looks like Willie over there.’ I said, ‘Well, I think it is. Go over there and see.”
“She had high heels on, and she went over to see if it was Willie - she bent over and fell right on top of him,” Larry laughs. “She said ‘Willie, what are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I’m still pushing my songs.’ So we took him up and put him to bed in our room that night.” Larry put the top mattress on the floor for Willie to sleep on and he and Pat slept on the springs that night.
“The next day we got all our money together, we didn’t have much money left with us, and gave it all to Willie and left him to push his songs.”
“And he did!”
Footnote - They remained close friends until Larry's death in 2017.