| Features | Books
by Janet Mace Valenza
and Fountains of Youth
University of Texas Press 2000
Review by John
is a book that covers more than the title suggests. While it's main
topic is worth the price of admission, the reader is also treated
to details of other topics liberally sprinkled among its 265 pages.
Besides being readable history, it's also boom-bust economics, tourism
history, hygiene, and hucksterism. There are even a few pages of geologic
As immigrants settled in Texas, water was the first consideration.
Today some of these water-born cities are thriving, even though, in
some cases, the original water source is long gone.
Sixty-five illustrations show the hotels, clinics, wells, products,
and the associated businesses and enterprises they spawned. From hillside
donkey rides in Mineral
Wells, to boarding houses in Marlin.
Most illustrations are from the author's postcard collection.
Bands were kept busy entertaining the aquaphiles between baths. Railroads
added spurs to accommodate the traffic seeking "the cure". Lemonade
stands served hot lemonade and hotels employed "boosters" who would
meet trains and lure guests to the hotel's empty rooms. The author
visited many of the waters included, and even took the drastic measure
of leaving the state in the name of research.
drinking from hot artesian spring in Marlin
TE Old postcard
|The most memorable
stories involve Marlin,
where many Northern Baseball teams would winter. The respectable families
of Marlin forbid their daughters from dating the players.
Conrad Hilton built his Eighth Hotel in Marlin,
but not until he had the competing hotel razed. A deal was struck
where a tunnel was dug under the city street to a favored clinic.
It's ironic that the automobile, which initially gave a boost to the
spas, was part of what led to their demise.
Falls Hotel, Conrad Hilton's Eighth
TE Old postcard
| Ms. Valenza's
book covers the entire state and her eight page County List of
Medicinal Wells and Springs is an Appendix that shouldn't be
removed (or ignored). Appendix B is a regional guide and the reason
to include this book in your travelling library.
There's also a detailed bibliography to provide further reading for
people who find the book as fascinating as we did.
I was reading your article on South
Bend, TX ghost town and saw that you used my mother’s book “Taking
the Waters” as reference. She passed away not long after the book
was published and I just want to let you know how much it would mean
to her to know that her book made a difference. I read the wonderful
description that you also have posted for her book. Thank you so much
for including this in your website! - Shonda Mace, Austin, Texas,
June 07, 2005