Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31 in San Antonio History...

1907: The gambling houses in this city have closed their doors. The majority shut down operations only hours after hearing the governor had signed the anti-gambling law. Most feel there will be no more gambling in San Antonio.

1924: Mayor Tobin refused a permit for the Ku Klux Klan to enter a float in San Antonio’s Battle of Flowers parade.

1926: Several carloads of police surrounded the home of one of the four bandits who held up the San Antonio National Bank and recovered part of the $19,000 loot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30 in San Antonio History...

1896: Parents are becoming concerned about the growing number of youths patronizing opium dens in San Antonio.

1906: Residents of the San Marcos and Fredericksburg road area were thrown into a state of excitement today when a tribe of 12 Indians pitched a camp in the brush near there.

1926: Four masked and armed bandits entered the San Antonio National Bank and noon today and escaped with $19,000.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29 in San Antonio History

1887: Supt. Smith will investigate the keeping of savage dogs by janitresses of the public schools. The women keep their beasts in the public school yards, a matter of some consternation to frightened children.

1926: Local drug stores may soon be selling medicinal beer as well as medicinal whiskey. The new “health booster” will be sold by prescription only.

1945: Contractor Henry T. Warner got the first GI loan in the San Antonio district.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 28 in San Antonio History...

1897: The addition of the band tournament as one of the features of the Battle of Flowers this year adds interest to the event. Bands are expected to come from all over the state.

1925: Students held a mass rabbit hunt at Somerset when animals threatened to destroy crops.

1937: Army officers continue to display their preference for San Antonio by adopting the city as their home after retirement. Since Feb. 1 seven retired officers have settled here, swelling the list to 157.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27 in San Antonio History....

1924: Gasoline prices in most San Antonio filling stations advanced from 17 cents to 20 cents a gallon as major refineries posted wholesale price raises.

1935: A black blizzard from the plains shrouded San Antonio with dust.

1944: Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, wife of the American general, was a guest in the San Antonio home of her sister, Mrs. George G. Moore, Jr.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26 in San Antonio History....

1927: Two of them sickened by the heat and hard grind, the three Tarahumara runners were in San Antonio today prior to returning to Mexico. Although the runners had made the 89-mile race to Austin in a mere 15 hours, Texas University officials failed to produce either trophy or reward.

1934: Tax Collector Maury Maverick formally announced his candidacy for Congress as Bexar County representative.

1944: Harry S. McGlinchey, student at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, was named “Number 1” soldier in the area. His serial number: 11111111. His enlistment date: 11-1.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25 in San Antonio History...

1924: Mae West appeared at a vaudeville program at the Majestic.

1927: Breathing easily, the three Tarahumara Indians, making the 82-mile distance run between San Antonio and Austin, arrived at Kyle at 12:45pm, 23 miles from their goal. They left San Antonio at 3am.

1935: Acid dumped in the river during a warehouse fire killed all river fish in the San Antonio area.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24 in San Antonio History...

1904: The Empire Theater announced a new electric fan system and uniformed boys to distribute ice water to audiences.

1905: The Fort Clark cavalry was invited to parade in San Antonio for President Theodore Roosevelt.

1925: Kelly and Brooks field aviators awaited arrival of the new Maiden Dearborn plane built by Henry Ford.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23 in San Antonio History...

1895: The City Council said city employees could not be paid until delinquent tax bills were collected.

1926: San Antonio school teachers may not wear their skirts higher than their knees, the school board has decreed.

1944: Frank Sinatra made his San Antonio film debut in "Higher and Higher" at the Aztec.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22 in San Antonio History...

1896: A very novel sport, greyhound racing, is on the program at the Jockey Club grounds.

1906: A father and son got into a bloody fracas at their home because the father objected to the habit of his son to have roosters fighting on the bed.

1936: With the 1936 Battle of Flowers celebration only a month away, people have begun hauling their old buggies, covered wagons and surreys out of mothballs.

San Antonio Public Library: The Final Chapter of Censorship

Soon the library board dropped its support of Channel 9 educational television. Librarian Julia Grothaus and the library had been one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Channel 9. The board ordered library staff to stop all purchases of educational films and records. Library meeting rooms were to be closed to public meetings. The library was only to furnish books, pamphlets, periodicals, and other printed matter for circulating or reference. Library employees were ordered to arrange displays and reports on anti-subversive committees, while limiting space for important literature. The board ordered a great number of extremist right-wing periodicals and books. Gerald Ashford noted, “Many of them echo the Nazi propaganda line that U. S. participation in World War II was the result of a Communist plot…”

Again this was too much for the citizens of San Antonio. The San Antonio Ministers’ Association filed a complaint that the board was destroying progress and reneging on its responsibilities to the community. Maurry E. Boone, superintendent of then Northside Rural High School District, requested City Council prevent the “abolition of the visual aid department…” The Delta Kappa Gamma society wrote to the board not to curtail library services. The San Antonio Teachers’ Council and the Council of Parents and Teachers protested the library board’s actions. More and more individual citizens and local organizations filed protests with the library board and City Council.

At the December 1954 library board voted to remove films and records from the library. All the while the board refused to allow people to speak at the meeting. It adopted a committee report by trustees Leo Brewer, Sam Fly, and L. A. Winship that defined the public library as basically a collection of printed matter. This report was based on legal decisions in New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Fort Worth. The most recent case appears to have been the one in Fort Worth from 1938. Nothing was mentioned about “new” media of the 1950s and the role they played in libraries across the country. In opposition to City’s Lilly Master Plan of 1951 and Wight Library Survey of 1952 which called for expansion of the main public library building and creation of more branch libraries, the board recommended closing some branches and curtailing bookmobile service. The library’s book budget had remained at $60,000 for three years as San Antonio’s population skyrocketed and no additions were requested.

In February 1954 library trustees Brewer and Tanner resigned. With the 1955 City Council election the “Good Government League” came into political control. A new library board was appointed and the two-year siege of intellectual freedom came to an end.

San Antonio Public Library: City Council vs. Library Board

In a closed meeting on 5 June the City Council replaced all but two of the fifteen members of the library board. By the middle of June the entire nation was watching San Antonio. The Washington Post published an editorial supporting the library and condemning those Americans who “have departed from the fundamental beliefs on which this country grew and prospered now has come from San Antonio…” Even President Eisenhower in an address at Dartmouth College on 14 June brought up the issue.

“It isn’t enough to say ‘I love America’ and to salute the flag and to cheer as it goes by. Don’t be afraid to go to the library and read the books…That’s how we will defeat Communism-by knowing what it is. We’ve got to fight it by doing something better, and not just by hiding it.”

On 11 February 1954 the new Library Board of Trustees sought to end the controversy by adopting the American Library Association’s “Bill of Rights for Public Libraries.” The vote was six to five.

In May the City Council again ousted all but two library board members. By September the library board was split again. This time the issue was the titles of books to be purchased for the library. Tanner Freeman objected to the purchase of Iron Curtain over America as being anti-Semitic. Book committee chairwoman, Mrs. Roy Beitel, admitted that committee members had added 88 titles with strong right-wing slants to the proposed purchases recommended by library staff. Ramon Galindo asked, “Are you speaking for thought control or freedom of information?”

San Antonio Public Library: Censorship Divides the Community

How did this challenge to intellectual freedom get started? During November of 1952 the San Antonio chapter of the Minute-Women led by Mrs. Myrtle G. Hance and Mayor White’s wife went through the catalogue of the Public Library looking for authors who had ever belonged to or were suspected of belonging to Communist-front organizations. They created a list of authors and their books and sold it for fifty cents. The list contained 574 Communist books by 118 authors. Only nine of the authors were “admitted” Communists, but all the others were said to have had Communist-front affiliations. The list soon came to the attention of city politicians.

Back to May of 1953 when only a few days after threats to burn or brand books a Jefferson High School senior, Catherine McCarty, helped organize an anti-book burning meeting at Jefferson Methodist Church. A crowd of 75 including Maury Maverick, Amy Freeman Lee, Col. A. G. Hamilton (ret.), and Mrs. Marie Halpenny formed a permanent group to fight the censorship idea. Soon other local groups joined the battle. Then things began to settle down for a couple of weeks.

San Antonio Public Library Book Censorship

The San Antonio Connection

The fireworks began at a pre-City Council meeting on Thursday, 14 May 1953. Mayor Jack White:
“I would like to put a thought to the council that they should be looking into the matter of stamping books in the public library by known Communists.”

Acting City Manager Wylie Johnson:
“I think they should be burned instead of stamped.”

City Librarian Julia Grothaus was called in to clarify the library’s position.
“Of course the library has always had books on controversial subjects. … The library has never dictated to the people what they should have and what they should think. We do have material that will give people the information on both sides of the question. That’s the policy of my library serving the people.”

Later that same day library trustees met to discuss the proposals of White and Johnson. The unanimous decision announced by M. M. Harris, board president and a thirty-three year member of the board, as well as editor of the San Antonio Express, was that the library would not censor books. He said,
These are the very tactics which the Russians are using to fight us. … It is ironic that here in San Antonio, which prides itself on its freedom to think and act, that we shall run up against a sample of Communistic tactics.”

Johnson immediately called for the removal of all fifteen board members.

The City Council held a closed meeting on Friday May 15th. The Council was divided on stamping or burning the offending books. Councilman Henry B. Gonzalez called the burning of books “Hitler tactics.” That same day County Commissioner A. J. Ploch vowed to cut county funding if the library board was ousted.

San Antonio Public Library: 2009 Big Read

This year’s choice for “The Big Read” is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The idea behind “The Big Read” is to have as many people as possible to read the same book and discuss its implications for their lives.

Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, is a story of a then distant American future where Guy Montag, a fireman – professional bookburner, realizes the dangers of his society and gradually sees the need to save books. His America is an anti-intellectual one absorbed in a world of wall-to-wall televisions that offer immediate gratification to citizens, who then have no time to appreciate or reflect on their own lives or nature that surrounds them. This and other technologies are used to control people’s lives while books, that might start people to think for themselves, must be destroyed.

This all sounds vaguely familiar in to-days world. But, what is the San Antonio connection? Bradbury’s inspiration for book burnings was Nazi Germany.

Western Europe and the United States had feared Communism from the initial 1917 Russian Revolution. As the Soviet Union grew in political and military strength through World War II and the partition of Eastern Europe, the Cold War replaced the war with Germany.
Korea was divided into two zones in 1945; then came the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49; China fell to the Communists in 1949. Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957) was elected as the Republican senator from Wisconsin in 1947. Beginning in 1950 he became the vocal and recognizable critic of Communism in the United States, exploiting the fear of Communism. Adding to the hysteria was the Korean War which the United States entered under United Nations authority.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 21 In San Antonio History...

1895: The new city directory listed San Antonio as the largest city in Texas with 60,000 population.

1915: The Light began a series of war articles by correspondent Hillaire Belloc.

1946: Local police have brought to a dead stop the slot-machine gravy train that recently blossomed throughout the city.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20 In San Antonio History...

1904: Six men held up a West End streetcar and terrorized passengers with Winchester rifles before mounted San Antonio policemen arrived and jailed the gang for disorderly conduct.

1934: Officials of the San Antonio Junior College protested crowds of unemployed who lined up next door at the CWA’s Alamo Street offices for relief benefits.

1956: W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, who parlayed a flour barrel and hillbilly band into a major political upset, said today in San Antonio he is coming out of retirement to seek the governor’s office.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19 In San Antonio History...

1886: Mayor Callaghan’s “wonderful machine,” that famous steam roller, has been extricated from the mud and is now busily pressing gravel on a private road at the beginning of Fredericksburg.

1905: The legislature passed a bill barring minor boys from saloons and billiard halls.

1907: Mrs. General Tom Thumb, probably the most unique personage in the world, will put on an exhibition in San Antonio after arriving here with two other midgets, Count and Baron Magri.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18 In San Antonio History...

1895: The petrified body of a man hanged in 1858 was shown on Commerce Street.

1935: Sheriff Albert West began enforcing prohibition in Bexar County for the first time in history.

1944: Congressman Paul Kilday wired news 20,000 officers and men would be transferred from Miami to Kelly Field, making San Antonio the largest Air Force center in the United States.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17 In San Antonio History...

Happy St. Patricks Day!

1914: The paving of downtown Houston Street with thousands of creosoted pine wood blocks got underway near the Alamo intersection.

1935: The Daughters of the Republic of Texas dedicated the park on the Alamo grounds.

1955: Chief County jailor Bob Beckman released from jail all Irishmen who had two days or less to run on sentence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16 in San Antonio History...

1885: A Commerce Street liquor store advertised 6 quarts of beer for $1.

1907: After a bitterly fought contest yesterday the girl's basketball team from Thomas School defeated St. Mary's Hall 24-7. Though they fought mightily, the players from St. Mary's were handicapped by the extreme length of their dresses.

1947: A warning of the health menace caused by San Antonio's decaying sewers has been voiced again by the city health director. The sewers are said to be polluting the ground to an alarming extent.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15 in San Antonio History...

1905: George Maltzberger reported burglars crawled under his house, stole plumbing pipes.

1947: Income tax payers, bent on beating the deadline for such payments, swamped the San Antonio Internal Revenue Office. The office announced it would remain open until midnight through the 17th.

1956: The City Council, prodded by Councilman Henry B. Gonzalez, today took the first step towards repeal of its swimming pool segregation ordinance.