Motorcycles, JFK, Elvis, Steve McQueen and My Father

Growing up around motorcycles can teach you a thing or two about life.

Our father was a motorcycle cop in the San Antonio Police Department when my mother checked me out of my third grade class on November 21, 1963.

The night before, Dad had taken us to see “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” at the Trail Drive in Theater on S.W. Military Drive. Today, we were going back to Military Drive towards Kelly and Lackland Air Force Bases.

JFK motorcade in San Antonio

“We’re going to see Daddy and the President,” she announced. “He’s escorting him today.”

While we drove to the corner of  Military Drive and Zarzamora, President Kennedy was dedicating the new Aerospace Health Center at Brooks AFB. It would be his final official act.

For three years JFK spoke about a New Frontier. Addressing Governor John Connally, senators, congressional leaders and others, he emphasized “This is not a partisan term, and it is not the exclusive property of Republicans or Democrats. It refers, instead, to this Nation’s place in history, to the fact that we do stand on the edge of a great new era, filled with both crisis and opportunity, an era to be characterized by achievement and by challenge.”

“It is an era which calls for action and for the best efforts of all those who would test the unknown and the uncertain in every phase of human endeavor,” he said. “It is a time for pathfinders and pioneers.”

Although honored to see President Kennedy (his hair was more red than I imagined from photos) and First Lady Jacqueline (white dress, matching hat and red roses), I was more excited about Dad waving to me from his motorcycle next to them in the motorcade.

That afternoon, I reflected on seeing JFK while watching my favorite television show, “Supercar.”

This episode was entitled “Mitch For Space,” appropriately titled to support Kennedy’s space program. The shows protagonist was launched into the stratosphere in a space capsule like the Mercury rockets from NASA.

The next day, Gillette Elementary Principal Willis Raines announced on the public address speakers Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

My father had a shop during my teenage years at his car lot and later on our property on the Southside of San Antonio is the 1970s. But in the 60s it was common for our family to all ride on Dad’s ’59 Royal Enfield Indian cycle.

Sister Bobbi would set just behind the handlebars in front of him. Mom followed, with me bringing up the rear.

Dad looked forward to trailoring motorcycles to the Daytona 200 in Florida with other policemen, including Leroy Ferry and Doyle Soden. He enjoyed being on the pit crew for Ferry who raced several times in the late 1960s-early 70s. Founded in 1937, the 200 mile race was on the beach until 1961, when it moved to a paved closed circuit.

Being an Indian man, Dad was particularly proud when it was announced in 1967 that 68-year old Burt Munro made motorcycle history by setting a new official land speed record of 184.087 mph (with unofficial top speed of 205.67 mph) when he raced his heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout Streamliner across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Burt Munro

He loved motorcycles so much that he and Soden hired a mechanic and opened up for repairs at their used car lot in 1969. Later, Dad built a larger 30′ × 60′ shop at our property on Petaluma.

It was common to see policemen, some stopping by in their patrol cars or motorcycles, alongside bikers sharing technical or philosophical wisdom in the shop. Their shared passion was a uniting force.

“I like my women like my Harleys,” one old timer, Leon, who looked like he should have been a ZZ Top member before the band discovered beards, once grinned “About 20 years old with lots of problems.”

Mechanic extraordinaire and electrician Archie Maybry, was full of one-liners:

“Sometimes it takes a winding, crooked road to get your head straight.”

“I can tell the difference between people who come in here just toying around as a hobby. The hobby cats buy a new motorcycle and pretend. Real passion are those that are dovoted to keeping their old rides running.”

Dad took us to the Trail Drive In Theater almost every Wednesday, because police officers were discounted. We were always there to see every Elvis Presley movie. One of our favorites was Roustabout in 1964. Elvis played a motorcyclist who joined a circus.

In 1972, Dad was part of the protection and motorcycle escort team for Elvis from the San Antonio International Airport to the Hilton Palacio Del Rio for his April concert at the Hemisfair Arena. He also did the same at Presley’s August 1976 concert.

One of the most iconic motorcycles to ever appear on the silver screen, was the 650cc Triump R6R (disguised as a BMW 75) that Steve McQueen road in The Great Escape, one of Dad’s favorites.

By the Spring of 1972, Dad was a Detective-Investigator and had a special assignment he would always cherish: providing security for Steve McQueen during the making of The Getaway. Some of it was filmed at the old Sunset Train Station and the River Walk.

“By the time they finished filming in Huntsville (at the Penitentiary), he had already made his moves on Ali McGraw…and she fell for him big time–hook, line and sinker,” Dad said. “Well, she was married to a movie big shot, Robert Evans and it was important to him that we keep people away because they were at it hot and heavy.”

“Evans hired a private investigator and even flew to Texas himself because he knew something was wrong,” he continued. “But he (McQueen) didn’t give a flip about it.”

In San Antonio, McQueen and McGraw stayed at the Holiday Inn on Durango Street near IH-35.  The actor had one of his many motorcycles brought in so he could “ride it around and around the basement” of the hotel.

“I guess he was trying to work off some steam,” Dad said. It was apparent they both had motorcycles in common. After his shift one night, he had a couple of beers with McQueen.

“There is no doubt he was smitten by Ali McGraw,” Dad revealed. “He told me they were originally going to sign on Cybil Sheppard, and then Stella Stevens. There was a lot of problems between studios, producers, directors until finally everything was in place. He was real happy they hired her (McGraw).”

“There was an actor who played in The Godfather (Al Lettieri), that you could tell he wasn’t getting along with either.”

“One night we took them to a small party nearby downtown,” he said. “He was drinking pretty heavily and I thought they (McQueen and McGraw) were going to get into a fight. Right in front of her he started coming on to these two women–they were good looking women.”

“She didn’t say a thing. I could tell she didn’t like it one bit, but he kept on. It was obvious he was making a play for them. We finally took them back to the hotel. They had rooms upstairs next to each other, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t see those two women come into that hotel and go right on up to his room.”

“I heard later after they were gone the next morning, he had Ali come over and cook him some breakfast.”

“He needed to ride that motorcycle,” Dad noticed. “She had her young son, a toddler with her and I guess this was his escape. He was riding and drinking down there to stay out of trouble and work off tension. Yes, he was in love big time and later they married.”

Director Sam Peckinpah later talked about an incident on the first day of rehearsal in San Marcos: “Steve and I had been discussing some point on which we disagreed, so he picked up this bottle of champagne and threw it at me. I saw it coming and ducked. And Steve just laughed.”

Dad said they also talked about guns and he shared a couple of true police stories with him.

“He asked about robberies, guns, and how we approached and handled robbers and shootouts,” Dad recalled.

Packinpah talked about McQueen’s knack with props, especially the weapons he used in the film.

“You can see Steve’s military training in his films,” the director remembered. “He was so brisk and confident in the way he handled the guns.”

It was McQueen’s idea to have his character, “Doc McCoy” shoot and blow up a squad car in the scene where he holds two police officers at gunpoint.

His love for motorcycles and racing spawned two notable quotes from McQueen:

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And the one with McQueen’s picture with his motorcycle in The Great Escape. hanging up next to Dad’s tool room door: “I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”

Other words of wisdom seen or heard over the years included:

“Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.”

“Life might begin at 30, but it doesn’t get real interesting until you reach over 100 on the highway.”

“I believe in treating others with respect, but first you have to get their attention.”

Dad sat on a motorcycle his last time on a trip my sons Jack, Brady and I took to Dallas-Fort Worth from San Antonio on an Amtrak train the summer of 2012. At a wax museum in Arlington, there was a Harley-Davidson set up in the lobby-retail area. He couldn’t resist! It’s a smile I’ll always remember.

Walter “Corky” Dennis died the following December.

Rest In Peace Daddy.








Respected Meteorologist Says Earth is Greening Because of CO2

Government Scientists’ Agenda is to Push Man Made Climate Change to Keep Their Jobs

Respected meteorologist Steve Browne, a long time and popular television news weather personality in Texas, is known as a candid and reliable source of climate matters.

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Over the years he has been my go to person for weather and climate concerns. During our conversations, Steve demonstrates a talent for explaining complicated science in an easy way to understand. His degree in meteorology was from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell Tech).

“I have a lot of meteorologist friends, who like me, believe that CO2 has a minimum influence on climate change,” he said. “We believe our government is killing our economy based on fake and faulty science.”

“Many are afraid to speak up because of today’s politics regarding climate change,”he noted. “I’m retired. I can speak and feel obligated to speak out before science ruins our civilization.”

“Ask yourself these questions. John Holdren, who was Obama’s science advisor (no degree in atmospheric science) predicted that a billion people would die of starvation because of climate change by 2020,” Brown continued.

“Did that happen? NO.”

“Polar bears would go extinct? NO.”

“The artic icecap would melt by 2015? NO.”

“The Maldives islands would be underwater by now? NO.”

“How many predictions have to be wrong before you say the government funded scientists are incorrect?”

“I’ve been watching carefully for four decades and I have seen enough,” Brown stated. “…These are all government scientists that rely on government funding for their personal employment.”

“The have an agenda to push man made climate change to keep their jobs,” he explained. “So many of their predictions have proven to be untrue.”

“There is no consensus among scientists that CO2 emissions are having a radical negative influence on our climate,” Browne observed. “There is consensus that the earth is greening because of increasing CO2.”

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10 Questions I Would Ask Joe Biden With No Teleprompter Nearby

Joe Biden has held media interviews only 43 times since his White House residency, as of Nov. 2, 2022.

In comparison, at this same point during their terms in office, here are the number of media interviews for these presidents:

🔹Ronald Reagan: 97 Note that Reagan more than doubled the number of Biden’s interviews despite being shot in the lung in an assassination attempt shortly after he took office.

🔹George H.W. Bush: 94

🔹Bill Clinton: 89

🔹George W. Bush: 84

🔹Barack Obama: 236

🔹Donald J. Trump: 143

Since October 1980, I have met and interviewed Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the latter two after their presidencies.

If I had the opportunity to ask current White House resident Joe Biden just 10 questions without the use of his teleprompter, these are what I would ask in this order.

1. Is the first and most important priority of the president of the United States to protect the safety and security of Americans?  

2. How does this priority play into your illegal immigration stance and virtual neglect of the alien, crime, human and drug invasion on our southern border and other ports of entry?

3. Who is your boss? Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett or George Soros?

4. Who is their boss?

5. Should politicians like you use powerful government positions to enrich themselves and their families? Isn’t that pure abuse of power that should be investigated and/or prosecuted?

6. Why is your administration blatantly ignoring federal law when it comes to keeping illegal migrants out of America and covid mandates? 

7. Why did the Obama-Biden Administration separate children from parents at the border and keep them in enclosures, cages?

8. Why is the Biden/Harris Administration doing worse than the Obama/Biden policies who gave the U.S. economy the slowest economic recovery in seventy years?

9. As vice president, why did you take so many trips to stay at rental houses owned by Judge Emmet Sullivan?

10. What is your response as to why you inappropriately touch and sniff children in public so often?

What question would you ask?

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The Butcher of Elmendorf, a True Story in South Texas

One of the grizzliest true stories lingering around south Texas for the last nine decades is the account of “The Alligator Man.” Sometimes referred to as “The Butcher of Elmendorf.” The frightening saga joins the list of San Antonio legends such as “The Donkey Lady,” “The Bloody Torso Murder at the Gunter Hotel,” and “The Beheaded Angel of the Caped Doctor.”

John Gray, an off duty deputy sheriff in Bexar County, left San Antonio on the early morning of Sept. 23, 1938 to go dove hunting in nearby Elmendorf, a small community just southeast of the Alamo City. Not long after he arrived, Gray saw an older Hispanic man walking toward him with concern on his face.

The man told the deputy about a large barrel sitting behind the house of Joe Ball’s sister. He said there were flies all over it and it smelled bad, like something dead was inside it.

It was the same type of barrel Ball used for his liquor business. That evening Gray contacted another deputy, John Klevenhagen and they decided they would visit with Ball the following day. Both men knew Ball fairly well. In fact, Klevenhagen would occasionally go hunting with Ball, the owner of the Sociable Inn, a local tavern.

The Sociable Inn was the community place for residents and hunters to drink, dance, play cards and enjoy Ball’s “special entertainment” out back. When the World War I veteran returned home from duty in Europe in 1919, he wandered away from the family cotton business and drifted into bootlegging during the Prohibition of the 1920s. In 1933, Ball took advantage of the lucrative business of selling alcohol by opening the Sociable Inn.

Joe Ball, “The Alligator Man” (Examiner archives)

Ball would bring out a stray puppy, cat, rodent, chicken, raccoon, or some other animal to throw to the gators.

During the five years leading up to the officers’ visit, Ball grew his customer count by hiring pretty young waitresses and installing a cement pond behind the tavern. Klevenhagen knew that Ball had one large and four smaller alligators in his pit, surrounded by a 10-foot high fence.

Usually at night, to keep paying customers around and anticipating the amusement he planned for them, Ball would bring out a stray puppy, cat, rodent, chicken, raccoon, or some other animal to throw to the gators.

Now extinct: Alligator Farm in San Antonio(Examiner archives)

The two law enforcement officers were concerned because of the growing suspicions of Ball’s disappearing wives, girlfriends and barmaids. Jokes and gossip had turned into whispers and rumors, especially after the sudden disappearance of 22-year-old Big Minnie Gotthardt the previous year.

Big Minnie was a tough and bossy waitress who fell in love with Ball while working at the Sociable Inn for several years.  In June of 1937, Big Minnie was suddenly not around. Customers were hearing different accounts of why she had vanished. Various rumors evolved: she was pregnant by a black man and had moved to Corpus Christi, she found a job in San Antonio, or had moved back to her hometown of Seguin. When police were called by her family members the following September, they noted all of her clothes remained in her room at the tavern.

Not long before Big Minnie’s disappearance, Ball hired two more barmaids: Dolores Goodwin, 26, and Hazel Brown, 22. Ball married Goodwin in September, the same month Big Minnie’s family reported her missing.

Delores Goodwin

In January 1938, Ball’s new bride lost her arm in a car accident and, by April, she too had vanished. Some bar patrons had noticed that Ball had been giving Brown his affectionate courtesies even while his wife was still around. It didn’t take long before Brown was gone too.

…she confirmed there had been such a stinking barrel there.

When deputies Gray and Klevenhagen arrived in Elmendorf shortly before noon, they went to the barn to inspect the foul-smelling barrel first. It was gone. They drove to the Sociable Inn and saw Ball behind the bar. They began to question him, but Ball said he was unaware of any such barrel. The deputies took him over to his sister’s barn and she confirmed there had been such a stinking barrel there. Klevenhagen told Ball, he was sorry, but they needed to take him in to San Antonio for more questioning. He asked if it would be okay to close the tavern first and they agreed.

On the way back Ball asked them if they would like a beer before he closed the bar. When they told him no, Ball asked his old hunting buddy, “Do you mind if I have one then, before we go?”

“Sure,” Klevenhagen reacted. “Go ahead. Do what you need to do.”

Ball grabbed a cold beer, took a few sips, and went to his cash register. He opened it, hit the “no sale” key and grasped a .45 pistol that he had concealed under the counter. Ball pointed the gun to his heart, pulled the trigger, and fell dead on the floor.

Soon law enforcement officials from Bexar and nearby Wilson County arrived at the scene. They found an axe matted with blood and hair, with rotting meat around the alligator pond. With all the lawmen together, they were able to piece together pieces of a puzzle that included their separate recollections of other missing people, including a missing teenage boy who often hung out at the Sociable Inn.

Gray and Klevenhagen found Ball’s African-American handyman, Clifton Wheeler, took him in for questioning. Wheeler eventually admitted that when Ball found out his girlfriend, Hazel Brown, was about to leave and move away for another man, he approached her.

Hazel Brown

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During the argument she accused him of killing Big Minnie. The next day Wheeler took them and other investigators to a desolate spot along the nearby San Antonio River. When they began digging in the spot Wheeler pointed out, blood began oozing up and an unbearable smell began to emerge from the ground. It stunk so bad some of them started vomiting.  They retrieved two arms, two legs, and then the torso. Investigators discovered parts of a skull, including the jawbone, and some teeth at a nearby camp fire.

They buried the body parts except for the head.

Wheeler admitted that he and Ball had picked up the barrel from behind the sister’s barn and took it to the river. He said at gunpoint, Ball made him dig the grave and they pulled Brown’s body out and sawed the limbs and body into pieces. They buried the body parts except for the head. They threw it in their campfire.

Wheeler also confessed that they took Big Minnie to the beach at Ingleside, near Corpus Christi. After much drinking he finally shot her in the head and they buried her in the sand. He said Minnie was pregnant and Ball needed her out of the way because of his relationships with the other barmaids.

On Oct. 14, 1938, the men uncovered Minnie’s partially decomposed remains in the sand. The event became a spectacle with people dressing up to watch the tractors and digging equipment recover the body.

As time went on, the developing news of the murders and alligator feeds spread fear throughout San Antonio, nearby communities and eventually across Texas.

School children began devising games which included names like “Alligator Pond” and “Run from the Alligator Man.” Soon more names of the missing, such as 23-year-old Julia Turner turned up.

Elmendorf is southeast of San Antonio, Texas. The Social Inn is a private residence today.

Handyman Clifton Wheeler plead guilty in 1939 and was sentenced to two years in prison for his part in disposing of the bodies.

For generations, high school and college students continue to make stops through Elmendorf searching for ghosts of the “Alligator Man’s” victims.

A frequent campfire and ghost story version claim the alligators were released in the nearby San Antonio and Medina Rivers. However, little do the school children know that they could visit the deadly gators anytime they wanted—especially during their field trips–as they had been donated to the San Antonio Zoo.

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Murder at Gunter Hotel Room 636

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In February of 1965, San Antonio’s largest unsolved mystery would take place at The Gunter Hotel in downtown in East Houston Street. Each evening, when my father returned home from his shift as a city police officer, he would brief our family on the day’s investigation status.

Albert Knox checked into the historical Gunter on February 6th. He was a blond man, said to be quite handsome. A charmer, really.

According to some, Knox was coming off a drinking binge. According to others, Knox was still in the thick of that partying run, content to thrive on the chaos until he sobered up and went back home to his parent’s house.

For two days, guests of The Gunter saw Knox come and go with a tall woman. The inquisitive gazes that followed the couple labeled the woman as a call girl–a prostitute– though no one will ever know for certain that she was. And so the party raged on.

On February 8th, one of the hotel’s housekeepers was bringing some items to Knox’s hotel room: Room 636.

Maria Luisa Guerra noted the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, but paid it no attention. Most people tended to forget to take it down, even just before they were ready to be checked out of the hotel.

Guerra pushed open the door, only to stop dead in her tracks.

Standing at the foot of the bed, Knox stood with a bloody bundle in his arms. Blood splattered practically every inch of the guest room, like a mosaic of death that needed no explanation.

In the face of Guerra’s horrified expression, Knox lifted one finger up to his mouth. “Shhh.”

The housekeeper’s mouth parted on a scream, and Knox used that moment to dash past her and out of the room. It took forty minutes for Maria Luisa Guerra’s report to make it to management. By that time, Albert Knox had disappeared.

The evidence remaining in Room 636 was clear: somebody had died…and it was brutal.

In a 1976 interview about the crime, I interviewed my father for an article about the murder. I was writing for the University Star as student reporter at Texas State University (in the 1970’s, it was known as Southwest Texas University).

Dad, or Detective Walter “Corky” Dennis, passed away in 2011, but I will never forget his words.

“It was the bloodiest place I had ever seen up until then. The bathroom was especially bad and just sticky with blood all over the place. We [he and the other detectives] noticed the bathtub had a red ring around it like it had been drained of blood.”

(Some wonder if, after murdering the woman with his .22 caliber-weapon, Knox then butchered the body and flushed her down the toilet and bathtub).

The San Antonio police suspected dismemberment, and one of the witnesses description only further pushed this idea.

The day before the murder, Knox had visited the local Sears Department Store on Romaine Plaza in search of a meat grinder. When the Sears employee informed him that they didn’t have the larger size that Knox wanted, the employee offered to order one from the warehouse. For Knox, however, that would take much too long. He stormed off in a huff.

Little evidence was found inside the room. A lipstick-smeared cigarette, brown paper bags, and luggage from the San Antonio Trunk & Gift Company. The purchase for the suitcase had been made by a check from John J. McCarthy . . . who happened to be the stepfather of thirty-seven-year old Walter Emerick.

Emerick had disappeared on one of his “drinking bents” at the end of January and had stolen his parent’s checks and some of their items.

Police scoured the city for the woman’s body, so sure were they that someone had been murdered. They checked construction sites, and even sections of streets where cement was being laid down.

On February 9th, a blond man walked into The St. Anthony Hotel, just one block away from The Gunter. He came with no luggage. And when he requested to book a room, he made it known that he wanted Room 636. That particular room was not available, and after some arguing, he settled for Room 536. He checked in under the name Roger Ashley.

But the man had aroused the suspicions of the front desk attendants, and after tipping the San Antonio Police that the murderer might have just checked in to their hotel, the detectives rushed over.

They hurried up to Room 536. Banging on the door, the police tried to apprehend Emerick for the crimes. But as they struggled to open the door, they heard the single, hollow sound of a gun shot.

Walter Emerick had killed himself, and taken whatever information he had with him to the grave.

It’s now over fifty-five years that have passed since those fateful nights.  The woman’s identity has never been discovered and no missing reports have ever surfaced. About 20 years ago, however, the formal general manager of The Gunter received an envelope with no return address. It was directed to “The Gunter” (not the Sheraton Gunter as it is identified now) and the zip code dated to 1965. Inside the envelope was an old room key, the one for Room 636, and was the kind used during that period.

A bit of folklore to add to an already strange story? No one is quite certain, but many people have witnessed the murder replay in the years since then, as though the imprint of that devastating death has no choice but to reenact the scene over and over again.

Staff and guests both have reported such paranormal phenomena–one guest even witnessed seeing a ghostly woman who held her hands out and stared at the guest with a gaze that appeared almost soulless.

When I lived across the street above the Majestic Theater from 2007-2011, I would take guests to the hotel for sightseeing. In one case a clairvoyant from Florida wanted to explore the murder room. What she didn’t know was that room 636 today is not the same one it was in 1965. The original room has been remodeled and is now two separate suits. Current 636 is around the corner at the end of the hallway.

As we passed the murder location, she suddenly said “STOP!”

The lady placed her hand on the wall exactly where the doorway was in 1965.

Over the years, I have interviewed police officers, detectives, witnesses and hotel staff who were involved during the murder. Some of the most interesting people I’ve met were actual guests (that had no clue there was ever a murder there) who have experienced strange occurrences: screaming, crying, furniture movement, loud walking on the carpet floor and even ghostly images.

Today, the Gunter is a must see stop during guided downtown ghost tours that begin at the nearby Alamo.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What are Scientific Reasons We May Feel We are in the Presence of Ghosts?

If you believe in ghosts, you are far from alone. Around 45% of Americans believe in ghosts and as many as 18% of people will go so far as to say they have had contact with a ghost.

I will admit in 2007 actually seeing some type of apparition late at night during a misty rain at the downtown San Antonio, Texas headquarters of a major company I worked for (#20 in this article link) This occurance and my investigative nature intrigued me enough to study and become certified in “paranormal investigations” later in 2007.

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I observed, participated in and wrote articles (for Examiner) from 2009-2011 regarding central Texas investigations performed by several paranormal teams.

Often, I asked others what exactly they feel like when they are “in the presence” of a supernatural spirit.

Are there possible scientific explanations for that tingling sensation you get on the back of your neck, or the sudden feeling of uneasiness with an origin you can’t quite place?

Popular San Antonio folklore picture and description:

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Here are six potential explanations for that paranormal feeling that are rooted in science rather than the supernatural.

1. Low frequency sound

Just as the human eye can only see light at a range of frequencies—for example, we can’t see radio waves—the human ear can only hear sounds in a range of frequencies. Above ~20,000 Hertz, sounds are too high pitched for our ears to parse them, like the echolocation calls of most bats that fall in this ultrasonic range.

Similarly, human ears have trouble hearing low-frequency sounds below ~20 Hertz—known as infrasound—but such sounds do not go totally unnoticed. In a 2003 study, 22% of concert goers who were exposed to sounds at 17 Hertz reported feeling uneasy or sorrowful, getting chills, or “nervous feelings of revulsion and fear.”

So what are some of the more ordinary origins of such low frequency sounds? Weather events like earthquakes and volcanic activity or lightning, and communication between animals including elephants, whales, and hippos can all produce infrasound. And if you don’t live by any volcanoes or hippos but still think your house may be haunted? Humans also create low frequency sound via diesel engines, wind turbines, and some loud speakers or chemical explosions.

2. Mold

Breathing in toxic mold can be bad for your respiratory system, but it can also be bad for your brain. In several houses and buildings where I was involved in “ghost hunting” I noticed and documented mold.

Exposure to mold is known to cause neurologic symptoms like delirium, dementia, or irrational fears. So is it a coincidence that the houses we suspect are haunted also tend to be in disrepair and so quite possibly full of toxic mold?

Scientists have worked to draw a firm link between the presence of mold and reported ghost sightings, but so far the evidence is mostly anecdotal.

3. Carbon monoxide

Just as breathing in mold could lead us to see, hear, and feel things that aren’t really there, so too can breathing in too much carbon monoxide. We have carbon monoxide detectors in our homes to make sure we are not breathing in this odorless, colorless gas that slowly poisons us while going undetected by our senses.

During a significant effort to investigate and record any paranormal activity in a historically significant crime scene off of Main Street between downtown and San Antonio College, I noted the investigative team’s remote bus was emitting exhaust fumes where some of the members were resting against a fence near the street curb.

Bus command center

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Some were reporting light headedness and other symptoms. I mentioned it to the lead investigator who promptly had the mobile control center moved away to a safer location.

It is important to note that before a carbon monoxide gas leak poisons us, it can cause auditory hallucinations, a feeling of pressure on your chest, and an “unexplained feeling of dread.”

My father, a homicide detective for SAPD told me about a family in the 1960s who moved into a new house only to hear footsteps, see apparitions, and feel malicious paranormal presences. It turned out to be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a broken furnace.

4. The power of suggestion

Studies suggest that we are more likely to believe in a paranormal experience if someone else who was there can back up our belief. So while we might be able to convince ourselves that we were somehow mistaken about what we saw or heard, we tend to put more credence into someone else’s eye witness account if it also backs our suspicions. So our belief in ghosts can be catching.

5. Drafts

When I was young (in the 1960s) we didn’t have air conditioning in our schools and at home. We relied on fans, water coolers, and opened windows. I suspect as days get hotter and air conditioning becomes more expensive, some of us still rely on opening windows. Opening windows on opposite ends of a room can create a nice breeze, but it can also create cold spots as air flow outside changes, causing cooler air to enter a warmer room. Drafts can also sneak in through chimneys and cause doors to slam or door knobs to rattle. So before you schedule a séance, try closing a few windows.

6. We enjoy being afraid.

Neurologists have found that our brains release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure, when we are afraid. Exactly how much dopamine and how many receptors we have for receiving it can influence whether you are a person that enjoys being frightened or someone who would rather avoid scary movies or rides altogether. So for some, letting our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of cohabitating with ghosts, athough scary, may also produce a bonus euphoric high.

Of course, believing in ghosts also allows us to believe in an existence after death, which ultimately can be comforting. That is, if you can get past the feeling that someone is standing just behind you as you read this.

Here are some other articles on the subject:

Murder at the Gunter Hotel

The Donkey Lady

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Beto O’Rourke, Mosquito With Annoying Bark

Lifelong Democrat Jessie Contreras changed his mind and his political party in May 2022. The south Texan said it was at Beto O’Rourke’s distasteful appearance in Uvalde after the school shooting that left 19 children dead.

“We were grieving,” he said. “He came in posturing to get national headlines on the news that night. It wasn’t about him. It was about our children.”

“To us, Beto is about as welcome as a mosquito or a barking dog. Mosqu-eto the O’Rourke–the Bark. All bark and no bite.”

George Soros puppet and multi-time political failure Robert Francis O’Rourke, “Beto,” made a Houston campaign stop over in November 2021 and was met with an unfriendly crowd.

“Beto, I’m Robert. I’m a native Houstonian. On behalf of the ranchers, the oil and gas, the farmers, like Maxine Waters, I’m in your grill telling you don’t come back. We don’t want you here. Get the hell out!” he said after shaking O’Rourke’s hand. “Hey Beto! Come and take it. It ain’t going to happen. You lost twice. No means no.”

The crowd then started chanting, “Hell no! Hell no!”

The obsessed Beto ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 and lost to Republican Senator Ted Cruz. In 2020, he ran for president and failed again. During his presidential campaign, he promised to use the government to confiscate lawfully owned AR-15 sporting rifles. 

Describing his failed run for the presidency, Pollster Frank Luntz said it best.

“All of Beto was about him,” Luntz pinpointed. “It wasn’t about policy, it wasn’t about politics. It was cult of personality.”

His campaign was so bad Beto resorted to “the dumbest thing you could possibly do” by announcing a reset. That’s like “acknowledging that your politics don’t work,” Luntz said.

Perhaps the best part of Beto running again is knowing the tremendous amount of money being wasted from liberal-leftist donors from all over the country being poured into the losing efforts.

Again, the faux-journalists from corporate news repeat their chant to “turn Texas blue” in a tired and feverish pitch. While most real citizens rejoice in the Democrat PAC resources going up in smoke.

“One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street,” O’Rourke once wrote. “They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.”

“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two,” O’Rourke continued. “I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”

Perhaps Robert Francis O’Rourke’s most disturbing political stunt took place right after the Uvalde school shootings.

Governor Abbott had spoken on the tragedy and was about to hand the microphone over to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick when O’Rourke, tried to hijack the press conference.

“You are doing nothing,” Beto yelled. Texas Senator Ted Cruz told him to “sit down” and Lt. Gov. Patrick said, “You’re out of line and an embarrassment.”

He went after Abbott in a belligerent and disrespectful manner that turned out to be an appalling disrespect for the victims and their grieving loved ones.

“No. He needs to get his ass out of here. This isn’t his place to talk to, so…,” said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.

Mayor McLaughlin shot back, “Sir, you’re out of line! Sir, you’re out of line! Sir, you are out of line! Please leave this auditorium. I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a b-tch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue,” he shouted as Beto was escorted out.

Gov. Abbott reacted to the disgusting sideshow with strong words, “There are family members who are crying as we speak.” he said. “There are family members whose hearts are broken, there’s no words than anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts.”

“Every Texan, every American has a responsibility where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas, we need to focus on the healing and hope that we can provide to those who have suffered unconscionable damage to their lives and loss of life,” Abbott continued.

“We need all Texans, in this one moment in time, put aside the personal agendas, think of somebody other than ourselves, think about the people who are hurt and help those who have been hurt,” he added emphatically.

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Texas Hill Country is Becoming a Mecca for Movie Making

With the help of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP), the Lone Star State initiative  is designed to build the state and local economies through the moving image industry and create jobs in Texas communities.

BOERNE

Just 30-minutes northwest of San Antonio International Airport is the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Boerne, Texas, where I raised my family.

It has been discovered by Hollywood for years as the city offers a picturesque vintage backdrop featuring turn-of-the-century architecture nestled in its thriving business district filled with modern boutiques, breweries, and restaurants that are ready to serve.

Their bustling downtown, the Hill Country Mile, is a colorful canvas of quaint shops flanked by winding pedestrian paths and parks situated along the gorgeous Cibolo Creek. At its heart, Boerne is anchored by a 170-year-old traditional Main Plaza, complete with a historic gazebo and surrounded by heritage Oaks.

Boerne is one of now over 150 communities across the state in the Film Friendly Texas program, including the neighboring cities of Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Blanco, Bandera, and San Antonio.  

The Film Friendly Texas program provides ongoing training and guidance on media industry standards and best practices to help communities accommodate media production for film and TV. Film Friendly Certified Communities are trained to match local businesses with production-related needs and services while creating jobs for Texas-based crew members and residents.

Some notable productions filmed in Boerne over the years, including 1973’s The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn; 1997’s The Newton Boys, starring Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke; and 1999’s All the Pretty Horses, starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz.

Just minutes west of Boerne on Highway 46 is Enchanted Springs Ranch.

Enchanted Springs Ranch began as a Hollywood movie set in 2001 and has been a preferred filming location for over 20 years. The ranch features a large-scale Old West town that is perfect for filming movies, commercials, TV shows and music videos. The ranch is listed as an approved filming venue with the San Antonio Film Commission and works closely with the Austin Film Commission.

Texas-based TV travel programs like The Daytripper and YOLO TX have also filmed in and around Boerne.

SAN MARCOS

In the summer of 2022, San Marcos–home to Texas State University–announced the construction of a $267 million, 820,000-square-foot TV, film and virtual production studio.

City officials billed it as a studio set to bring in more than 1,400 industry jobs to the community.

“The multiuse project, located at the entrance of the La Cima master-planned community, will also feature modern lifestyle and collaborative workplace amenities, headlined by post-production facilities, a 50-seat screening theater and a full-service restaurant and coffee shop,” Hill Country Group said. “Twenty-five acres will be reserved for vendor and commercial space built to serve both the studio and surrounding community.”

MOVIES FILMED IN HILL COUNTRY

Some movies made in the Texas Hill Country region include (note movies I have appeared in are designated with “*” symbol):

Lonesome Dove

The Alamo

The Getaway

7 Days in Utopia

Boyhood

Time Trap

Miss Congeniality

Selena

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

STRINGS*

Piranha*

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Attack on Terror: FBI vs. Klu Klux Klan*

Race With the Devil

Viva Max!

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Remembering the Alamo and Jill Biden’s Taco-Gate Insult to Hispanics

The closest any Biden has appeared near the U.S.-Mexican Border while residing in the White House (as of this writing) was in July 2022. It was 145 miles away from the border in San Antonio, Texas. It wasn’t Joe who appeared. Nor was it Hunter. The dubious honor went to Jill Biden.

In Texas, Republican Mayra Flores won a special election for the 34th Congressional District in June.

Mayra Flores

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That was a seat that Democrats had held for more than a century. The district, which stretches from San Antonio down to the Rio Grande Valley on the Texas-Mexico border, is mostly Hispanic. 

So in July, Jill Biden flew into the Alamo City to tell a crowd of progressive Hispanics that the diversity of their community is “as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio, is your strength.”

“Did she just say that we being as unique as a breakfast taco is our strength?” Linda Castillo asked her friend, Catrina Chapa.

“No wonder we are ditching the Democrats,” Chapa responded as the ladies near them high-fived each other. People in the crowd noticed and felt insulted.

“First the Bidens put us in danger with an invasion of illegal aliens coming through the border and now they insult us by calling us Tacos,” Castillo responded.

Others noticed, including the National Association of Hispanic Journalists who called out Biden for her remarks in a statement, saying it “demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the diversity of Latinos in the region.”

“NAHJ encourages Dr. Biden and her speech writing team to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities. We are not tacos. Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by a variety of diasporas, cultures and food traditions, and should not be reduced to a stereotype.” 

Soon others joined in on Jill’s very own TACO-GATE.

“First there was ‘FJB.’ Then there was ‘Let’s Go Brandon,'” Chapa noted. “She just started her own ‘TACO-GATE” and the Bidens are going to learn you don’t call us Tacos. Never! Let the festivities begin.”

Here is a sampling of the “festivities”:

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Brother David Kimberly’s Devotional of Texas Oilmen

Half a block from the pristine Medina River in the beautiful Hill Country is the quaint First Baptist Church of Medina, Texas.

Over the years I have been a member of the Bellaire Baptist and Thousand Oaks Baptist Churches in San Antonio (where my two oldest children attended Awana and Sunday services). In 1994 I moved up IH-10 West and joined First Baptist Church of Boerne, Texas.

My youngest children attended preschool, Vacation Bible School and church services in Boerne. I moved back to San Antonio in 2007. Because I traveled so much, often I attended services at different churches and denominations across Texas: Waco, Corsicana, Breckenridge, Del Rio, Harlingen, Corpus Christi, Houston, Austin and so forth.

When Dodie (who lived in Arizona almost 40 years) and I married at the Boerne First Baptist Church in 2019, we soon moved to Medina.

Most recently we joined the First Baptist Church of Medina after over a year attending regularly. We absolutely love the community and Church Family here. Dodie is even on the Praise Team and can be seen singing in front each Sunday.

If you ever find yourself out this way (motorcycling the Twisted Sister, hunting, visiting Garner or Lost Maples State Park) on a Sunday, come by and visit our church. Maybe, afterwards you may feel like buying Dodie and me an ice cream cone at the Apple Store Patio Cafe (Hint. Hint.)

One of the reasons we love and decided to join the church is because of our interim pastor, Brother David Kimberly (pictured here between Dodie and me) who has been inspiring us with over 50 years of preaching experience and vigor.

Here is a recent devotional from Brother David:


Do you believe God gives divine appointments? Years ago as a student at Hardin -Simmons University I worked as a switchboard operator for Hendricks Memorial Hospital in Abilene, Texas. It wasn’t real busy that evening when a call came in that 3 men had been involved in an oil well explosion west of town.

The ambulances arrived with the men who were said to have been badly burned. As I sat there through my shift I couldn’t get these men and their wives off my mind.


Earlier I had seen the wives of two of the men, getting on the elevator going up to ICU, where their husbands had been taken from the ER.

As my shift was winding down God began to impress on me that I should go and pray with and offer comfort to the wives of the burned men.


Getting off the elevator I was uncertain how to proceed, so I introduced myself to the ladies. We talked a few minutes, I shared that God impressed me to come up and pray with them.

They told me that their husbands were burned over 50% of their bodies, and would not be able to be moved to a burn unit for several weeks.


I asked them if they would like to go down to the hospital Chapel and have prayer. They said “Yes.” We entered the Chapel and they walked down to the front. I had stopped about half way down when one of the wives turned looking straight at me asked, “Do you believe God will hear and answer our prayers?”


“Yes ma’am, because that’s why I am here.” Standing right where we were I believe the Holy Spirit took over as we prayed. After I had finished praying I saw the wives to the elevator and said good night, and they went back to the ICU waiting room.


The next day my shift began at 4:00p.m. and as I was coming into the hospital I met the wives and they said, “David, God answered our prayer and our husbands are being air flighted to the burn unit at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. We praised God right there and thanked Him.


Suffering hits all people including you and me.


Out of the suffering in our own lives we can offer comfort, encouragement, prayer, and our presence to strangers in the ICU, grocery store, at a locker in your school, or wherever God leads.
I challenge you to ask the Father to guide you to a suffering soul today.

Read Matthew 7: 7-8. Bro. David.

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.’ ~Jesus

Please note each Sunday at 11:11 a.m. (CST) CleverJourneys posts an inspirational devotional or “What Does the Bible Say About…?” article.

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Texas Drug Store Cowboys Celebrating 50 Years as Dancehall & Venue Legends

50th Anniversary will be on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 at John T. Floores Country Store & Dance Hall in Helotes, Texas. 3-7 p.m.

Admired by fiercely loyal fans, The Drugstore Cowboys have brought their electric energy to venues throughout the US and Europe.

The south side of San Antonio, in the neighborhoods surrounding McCollum and Harlandale high schools, are the childhood homes of many notable people in Country, Funk, Soul and Tejano Music.

Legendary Country Music DJ Hall of Famer and everybody’s “Cousin” Jerry King went to Harlandale in the 1960s. I can remember when King, along with other DJs and musicians, played with the likes of Willie Nelson and George Jones at a charity basketball matchup at the McCollum gym in the late 1960s.

During the 1972-73 school year Nashville recording artist Johnny Bush played on stage at the McCollum Auditorium. Country.

Down on Harding Blvd., a talented local newspaper country music and entertainment writer, John Goodspeed, served as an early inspiration for me.

The late Emilio Navaira, from the McCollum Class of 1980, was a Mexican-American musician who performed country and Tejano music nationally. His classmate from the year ahead of him, Yolanda Saldívar, is the convicted murderer of Latin music superstar Selena, and is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.

Especially in the late 70s and early 80s many of us would go watch Horizon perform. Southsiders Charlie, John, and Geoff Boggess joined classmate Freddy Carrillo and others (T-Bo Gonzalez, Bill Dudley, Larry Scott and Sahara Greer come to mind) and actually opened for the Commodores. The story goes they were offered to go on the road with Cool and the Gang but turned them down.

Through the years, southsider singers and musicians continued to play venues and dances as far away as Europe, on television and especially throughout the Lone Star State.

Some of the more enduring included Rex Allen McNeil, Walter “Tooter” Ripps, Ray Morris, Randy Potts, Lonnie Castleman, John Marsh, Leonard Wong, and the rockers, The Toman Brothers, Randy and Russell—and who could forget R

1972

In the fall of 1972, 17-year-old McCollum senior Dub Robinson had organized a country trio and began playing around a little bit. He went to go see Willie Nelson at the John T. Floore Country Store northwest of San Antonio in the foothills of the Hill Country town of Helotes.

Johnny Bush, Paul English, Willie Nelson

Nelson was to perform as a trio with drummer Paul English and Bee Spears on bass. The steel player didn’t show.

“I watched Willie play that gut string guitar and it didn’t lose anything,” Robinson remembers. Since age 12, Robinson had played professionally across South Texas, but on this night he was particularly inspired.

He called his drummer, Robert “Cotton” Payne, and his bassist, Tommy McKay the next day and proclaimed that if they could be a hundredth as good as Nelson was, they might have a chance.

They knew their taste in music was a blend of country, rock, and blues. McKay suggested the perfect name for their new band. It described the kind of “cowboy” who didn’t want to get his boots dirty.

I’ve followed Dub and other fellow McCollum Cowboys classmates over the years. He continues to be a favorite.

At a ten year class reunion in 1983 at the downtown El Tropicano Hotel Ballroom, Dub and his band honored his classmates as we danced in memories of “old times.” I was particularly honored. I knew the band was good, but when I was called over during a break, he asked me what Elvis song I was going to sing later that evening.

I suggested “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hearbreak Hotel,” and “Hound Dog.”

He grinned, and with guitar in hand, said, “Okay. Let me hear you sing them.”

1983 McCollum 10 Yr Reunion. Dub (guitar) was the ultra-professional. What an honor for me.

I only had to belt out a sentence or a few words of each. He immediately knew what key and chords to play.

Later, when some of our classmates were literally pulling my pants off while singing, I looked back at Dub. He was grinning big time. He and his band never missed a lick. I tried my best not to also. It remains a fun and wonderful memory in my heart.

In 2011, while interviewing George Strait and Ray Benson at a fundraiser for wounded veterans at Tapatio Springs outside of Boerne, Texas, Strait said something that reminded me of Dub.

“When everyone thinks of Asleep at the Wheel, they think of Ray.”

That’s exactly how I feel about the Drug Store Cowboys. When I think of them, I think of Dub Robinson.

The Drugstore Cowboys with Gary Stewart: Dub Robinson (left), Stewart, Randy Toman and Robert "Cotton" Payne.
Dub Robinson on the left.

Dub just announced the band will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new CD. What are his thoughts?

In his own creative words, the songwriter, musician and singer posted:

Originally, McKay lasted about a year and a half and Randy Toman, (who now performs with his brother Russell), became the bassist for 13 years.

They became the touring band for country stars Gary Stewart and Stoney Edwards. The Drugstore Cowboys also backed Johnny Rodriguez, Freddy Fender, Johnny Bush and Gene Watson.

Other artists they shared the stage with or even backed up include Nelson, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Frenchy Burke, Greg Allman, David Allen Cole, Charlie Daniels, the Mavericks, Jerry Jeff Walker, and even Asleep At The Wheel.

“They joined Stewart, who was known for such hits as “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” when his backing band could not make a gig at the old Kicker’s Palace,” Goodspeed once reported. “The owner told Stewart they knew all his songs and he gave them a try. Stewart hired them and they toured coast to coast. Robinson quit after four years.”

“I didn’t want to be somebody’s backup band the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m a songwriter first and wanted to do my own thing.”

In 50 years, at least that many musicians have played in The Drugstore Cowboys.

Some of the members went on to play for the Bellamy Brothers, Janie Fricke, Bill Anderson, and Judas Priest.

“I believe it’s all about the song. It’s a lot of work running a band, but I do it just to play my music the way I want to hear it,” Dub said.

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Austin City Slicker Goes Into a Bandera Bar


A city slicker from Austin rode his horse into Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, and stopped at a saloon for a drink. Unfortunately, the local wranglers always had a habit of picking on strangers, especially from Austin. When he finished his drink, he found his horse had been stolen.

He goes back into the bar, handily flips his gun into the air, catches it above his head without even looking and fires a shot into the ceiling.

“WHICH ONE OF YOU SIDEWINDERS STOLE MY HORSE?” he yelled with surprising forcefulness. No one answered.

“ALL RIGHT, I’M GONNA HAVE ANOTHER BEER, AND IF MY HOSS AIN’T BACK OUTSIDE BY THE TIME I FINNISH, I’M GONNA DO WHAT I DUN IN SAN MARCOS! AND I DON’T LIKE TO HAVE TO DO WHAT I DUN IN SAN MARCOS!”

Some of the locals shifted restlessly. He had another beer, walked outside, and his horse is back! He saddles-up and starts to ride out of town. The bartender wanders out of the bar and asks, “Say partner, before you go…what happened in San Marcos?”

The cowboy turned back and said, “I had to walk home.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

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