ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
David Martin Davies and Yvette D. Benavides
(San Antonio: Maverick Books/Trinity University Press,
Reviewed by Dr.
December 1, 2020
the vein of James Glassman's THE
HOUSTORIAN CALENDAR: TODAY IN HOUSTON HISTORY and Dr. Gary C.
ON THIS DAY: 500 YEARS OF HISTORY, both of which I reviewed earlier
for TEXAS ESCAPES, comes this terrific little volume, which "tells
the city's history in day-to-day episodes." Lone Star history enthusiasts,
particularly those interested in the rich heritage of the Alamo City,
need to read this book. Davies hosts THE SOURCE and TEXAS MATTERS
on Texas Public Radio. A commentator for TPR, Dr. Benavides teaches
creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University in San
Antonio. "Our hope," observe Davies and Benavides in their introduction,
"is that SAN ANTONIO 365 captures the excitement of city-shaping events
while also showing how they shaped the city we live in today." Although
a number "of these stories are well-known…others have been plucked
from the mists of almost forgotten history."
To understand what this enlightening and entertaining study offers,
consider the following dozen dates.
On January 28, 1947, Bob Luby and Charles R. Johnston opened
the first Luby's Cafeteria. Located on North Presa Street, it seated
approximately 180 customers and had 25 employees. Luby and Johnston
opened a second cafeteria in Alamo
Heights the following year, and the business expanded from there.
Luby's became an iconic company, beloved by hungry Texans.
On February 3, 1924, William Jennings Bryan delivered a memorable
speech at Beethoven Hall, condemning atheism, evolution, and whiskey.
Governor Pat Neff introduced The Great Commoner, calling him an "unyielding
defender of truth."
On March 6, 1836, following a 13-day siege, the
Alamo, commanded by William B. Travis, fell to General Santa Anna's
Mexican force. "The
battle has become a symbol of patriotic sacrifice," assert Davies
and Benavides, "and the story continues to be retold with varying
layers of complexity."
On April 10, 1939, the first issue of the SAN ANTONIO REGISTER
appeared, founded by Charles Bellinger, San Antonio's "black political
boss." Circulating throughout the South, Bellinger's paper concentrated
on "issues important to African Americans," reporting on "lynchings
and other horrors of Jim Crow violence that were routinely ignored
by the mainstream newspapers." The REGISTER ran for 47 years.
On May 28, 1857, a gunfight exploded at the corner of Alamo
and Market Streets between Assistant City Marshal Frederick Fieldstrup
and three outlaws. Fatally injured in the confrontation, "Fieldstrup
is considered the first San Antonio…officer to die in the line of
duty since the establishment of a police department."
On June 5, 1969, the University of Texas at San Antonio was
established. Governor Preston Smith, in a ceremony held in front of
the Alamo, "signed the law creating" UTSA. Before the school's founding,
"San Antonio was the only major American city without a public university."
On July 10, 2015, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas ended
their 110-year custodianship of the Alamo, the Shrine to Texas Liberty.
"In an emotional service," Davies and Benavides declare, the "Daughters
turned over authority of the hallowed grounds to the Texas General
On August 7, 1954, future country music superstar Johnny Cash,
stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, wed Vivian Liberto, a San Antonio
native, at Saint Ann's Catholic Church. Although Johnny's classic
song "I Walk the Line" was written about his dedication to Vivian,
she "filed for divorce in 1966, citing Cash's drug abuse and his many
affairs, including one with June Carter, whom Cash eventually married."
On September 3, 1866, a terrible cholera outbreak erupted in
the city, eventually killing 292 people. Residents fled San Antonio
in large numbers. To halt future eruptions, the San Antonio Board
of Health urged "reforms such as paving sidewalks and grading streets
to provide gutters that would drain stagnant waters."
On October 6, 1968, HemisFair '68, which claimed 6,384,482
visitors, ended its run. HemisFair '68, the authors contend, "boosted
the city's economy, recast the city's image, and left a legacy of
downtown buildings an infrastructure to build a tourism economy."
On November 17, 1934, Lyndon B. Johnson and "Lady Bird" Taylor
were married at San Antonio's Saint Mark's Episcopal Church. Following
the ceremony, the newlyweds dined at the Saint Anthony Hotel and spent
the night at the Plaza Hotel.
On December 21, 1916, labor organizer-civil rights activist-educator
Emma Beatrice Tenayuca was born in San Antonio. Nicknamed "La Pasionaria"
(the passionate one), she struggled "on behalf of the working poor"
and is best known for "organizing the largest pro-labor action in
San Antonio history, the 1938 Pecan Shellers' Strike." She died on
July 23, 1999.