Wednesday, March 16, 2005

St. Patrick's Day

In 1982, my daughter, Coral, and I lived in San Antonio and worked together at the River Terrace, an outdoor café on the San Antonio River. We had arrived in San Antonio at Christmas time, in 1981, and had decided to try to build a life together, acquiring an apartment and making friends. Almost immediately, we discovered the River Walk, a wonderful water-oriented thoroughfare below street level, with steps down to the water from many locations along the developed area.

Working on the River Walk was fun and exciting. I would arrive at work early in the morning, and help with hosing down the terrace; setting up tables, chairs, and umbrellas. The sounds of birds, and other morning sounds, reminded me so much of Paris.

Tourists would arrive for breakfast, and for lunch, and it was always interesting to wait on them, exchanging pleasantries. I even met a family that knew my brother in the Air Force, in Kansas, because he had been named Airman of the Quarter three times then, just missing being named Airman of the Year. He was eventually transferred to San Antonio, when I had already moved to the Gulf Coast, and I was able to attend his commissioning as an officer, along with my other daughter Carrie.

I became well acquainted with many establishments along the River Walk, and even obtained a second job at an Italian restaurant across the bridge, Michelina’s. I worked there during the dinner hour. Tourists were generous with tips at both restaurants, and I decided that being a waitress wasn’t a half-bad job, especially when I could be outside enjoying the fresh air and scenery.

There were several hotels on the River, all quite grand, and the newest of them had a section of the River flowing through it. Many were older, historic appearing buildings, and the new edifice had many stories with glass elevators running up and down from the glass-enclosed atrium where the River ran through.

Tour boats cruised along the River, and it was fun to watch them while waiting on customers. There were parades on the River for many occasions, rather than on the streets above, with decorated boats - genuine floats. One of the most celebrated events was St. Patrick’s Day, when the River was dyed green, just like Chicago, and green beer flowed at every café and restaurant. It was so great to participate in the festivities; I can see it now.

I have been back to the River Walk many times since I left the area, and was there at a time when the whole place was buried in snow, a very unusual occurrence. I wish that all of you would have the opportunity to visit this great place. It is one of the locations in this country that I truly love.


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