Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – My Parent’s visit – The Alamo and Natural Bridge Caverns.

After the drama of the aftermath of our anniversary party Fire ants and nearly lights out…we headed to San Antonio for a visit specifically for my father.

My parents enjoyed going to the cinema and they passed their love of movies on to us. My mother was more into romantic dramas, and my father loved thrillers and westerns, so we got introduced to a great mix. My first real memory of going to the cinema was my fifth birthday, which was in February and usually cold and wet. My mother told me we would catch the bus and go to Portsmouth and go to the beach. I think she actually had a day’s shopping planned at the then Handley’s (now Debenhams) department store. However, it tipped down with rain and instead she took me to Fareham, our nearest town to the cinema.

I can remember the film vividly, even if I did not understand a thing about it. The Key was set in 1941 and starred Sophia Loren, William Holden and Trevor Howard. I remember wartime action at sea, and also Trevor Howard banging on the door to Sophia Loren’s apartment and shouting loudly. I never did like him as an actor from then on!  Following this, during our time in South Africa from the age of 10 to 12, my father, in addition to his other duties at HMS. Afrikander, was film officer. This meant that my brother and I would go to all the Saturday morning children’s movies (Lassie etc), and he would also bring home a projector and the latest film doing the rounds to bases and ships. It was usually either a musical or western and would be the after dinner entertainment for my parents and their friends. I would sneak up the corridor and sit cross legged outside the door to the lounge which was left slightly open to allow the cigarette smoke to dissipate! If someone got up to visit the bathroom I would scuttle back down to my bedroom and then resume my position when safe to do so. This meant I watched a lot of films, but missed chunks!

Later on back in  England Saturday afternoons were reserved for my father to watch a football match on television. This clashed with the musical or Hollywood epic on BBC 2 that my mother wanted to watch. We would all settle down to watch the football, with my mother and I nonchalantly sat on the sofa. About ten minutes into the football match, my father who had enjoyed his steamed steak and kidney pudding and apple crumble with custard, would drop off in a post carbohydrate slumber, snoring away happily in his recliner. With that my mother would give me a nudge, and I would dash across to the television, switching it to BBC2 and the musical (no remotes in those days). A sign that my father was stirring, was usually indicated by a change in the snoring tempo. My mother would nudge me again and I would dash across and turn the TV back to the football. It was a lucky day when we got to watch most of a musical, and I would turn back the television to the end of the match, a few minutes before my father woke up and remarked what a great game it had been!

This was unless there was a Western showing on BBC2 instead, particularly if it had John Wayne, in which case my father would forgo the football and watch the film instead, remarkably staying awake for the entire movie. His passion for cowboy films included the film The Alamo released in 1960, produced, directed and starring John Wayne (his idol). We must have seen that film ten times, and I knew that taking my father to the actual Alamo would be very special for him. We kept our destination a surprise and just told my parents to pack for a night away in a hotel.  Once he saw the sign posts to San Antonio he cottoned on to our surprise and was thrilled by the prospect of visiting the museum. They were also blown away by the Marriott with its magnificent atrium with part of the river diverted through the foyer. A stunning location and I am sure equally so today.

When we visited the The Alamo museum in 1985 it was not as extensive as it is now, and I do recommend that you take a look at their website and try and time your trip to when they have one of their re-enactment weekends.

However, we spent two hours there with my parents and it was extraordinary for me to see the look of wonder on my father’s face as he stood in front of the museum for the first time and during his slow and studied tour of the exhibits . Over dinner that night in one of the Mexican restaurants along the river walk, he could not stop talking about it, and seeing his animation and delight was such a treat for us. It was also their first introduction to Mariachi music and seeing their enjoyment still makes me smile 33 years later.

On the way back from San Antonio on the Tuesday we stopped off at the Natural Bridge Caverns 30 miles north of the centre of the city. My mother was a bit claustrophobic (well a lot) and had no wish to go underground. But my father was definitely up for it, so we left Mollie at the coffee shop (I think it was not very big at the time unlike today) and we went into the bowels of the earth.

Amazing experience and one I can recommend for all the family. I seem to remember it being pretty basic then but it has been expanded and is now well lit and offers a great many more experiences and tours.

Not sure I have this photograph the right way up.. I am sure someone will tell me!!

Thanks for coming along on this trip down memory lane.. next week we head to the coast during the last week of my parent’s stay.

You can find the other posts in this series here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/letters-from-america-1985-1987/



38 thoughts on “Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – My Parent’s visit – The Alamo and Natural Bridge Caverns.

  1. Loved the tour Sal and the background of your younger life. Just one more comparison between us as I too used to hide out at the top of the stairs to listen to shows and especially my mother’s gossip. Your dad must have had the thrill of a lifetime. ❤ xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. No doubt you had wonderful times together. Memories last a lifetime. It has been a long time since I was at the Alamo so maybe I should head that way in a year or two. Glad you enjoyed the journey with family.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a super treat, you knew just what he would love. I went on the river walk in 2006. I liked the shops and restraunts, the Irish bar and singers in punts serranading anyone who looked their way. One day If we go back I hope I get to the Alamo and that museum. I loved the nudge that meant turn the TV over. What a great post. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Ellen so pleased you enjoyed. Part of me would love to revisit all the places we did 85/86. We have been back to places like New York and Las Vegas and in some respects I wish we hadn’t. They are so much busier and more commercial and part of the charm then was that it was much smaller and less stressful.. But very happy memories and now I am looking for new places to create more.. hugs xxx


  4. I always enjoy your Letters Home, Sally. I don’t remember this one. Those caverns would be a nice break from the heat at this time of year. I remember my dad watching westerns — funny, I was just thinking about that this morning. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am not sure Rob. I think they were a generation that grew up with the westerns with a new one it seems almost every week. The precursor to Sci-fi – another world, completely alien to their own (in the UK) with strong men who vanquished the bad. Life was pretty humdrum after the war and without television so it must have been one of the few exciting moments. For me it was the musicals that were so prolific in my childhood and teen years. These days there are so many different genres it is tough to pinpoint a winner but it would probably be video games. I must say that having seen the original Jaws it plucked up the courage yesterday to go and see The Meg…. it has reinforced my determination to not swim in open water..xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What wonderful memories for you and your parents. I am sure your dad was so pleased to be at the actual site of the historic Alamo. I will always be glad I took my mom and dad to Hawaii twenty years ago. The look of wonder on my father’s face brings a smile to my face every time I think of it. Love, love these posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Memories of movies with my family are strong! I recall seeing The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, and Mary Poppins all at the cinema as a family. It was a magical time, each time and gave me an appreciation for being in a crowd of people who were all there for the same reason. The feeling of mounting excitement was transformational and could almost float you right out of the building.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fun story about the area I lived from 1966 – 1983. Anyone who came to visit San Antonio for the first time, they had to see the Alamo. Downtown got so touristy, we hated going. I haven’t been back to SA since 2005 and it had changed so much I didn’t recognize many parts of the city. I would suspect your visit was after I left. HUGS

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Family film time – oh for the days when there was only one television in the house. In Perth, TV hadn’t been going that long when we arrived and when Mum and Dad eventually caved in and rented a set it was a treat to stay up and watch the Friday night film.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Delightful, Sally! I still love a good John Wayne movie. We had a small black and white TV with a makeshift coat hanger antenna. Seems like not so long ago. What a treat for your dad to get to the Alamo!


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