The Belvedere Motel on Austin Highway

Belvedere Motel.jpgIn 1957 my Dad was transferred to Randolph AFB from Scott AFB in Illinois. When we arrived in San Antonio, Wherry Housing was unavailable–in other words, no ‘Quarters’ were ready so we stayed at the Belvedere Motel on the Austin Highway. That was 53 years ago. I was 11 years-old and I guess needy and perceived, in my limited way, that I was pitifully stunted emotionally because we had to move once again and although I had prayed hard for a baby sister, instead I got a baby brother. Pretty darned disappointing for about 40 years…but I like/love him a lot now. OK, back to the story. It was very hot and Mom and Dad encouraged swimming most of the day…this had to have something to do with having an 11 year-old and a 6 month old in a cramped motel room. So I hung out at the pool all day. I am pretty sure I was supervised, but then in those days children weren’t stolen or if they were I wasn’t in harm’s way.

For hours I swam in the pool just underneath the verrrrrrrrrry beautiful neon sign…a woman diving into the pool…she wore a one piece bathing suit and a bathing cap. I have searched the internet for hours to find this postcard of the motel and of the neon sign. It was so glamourous and grabbed my 11 year-old’s attention from the get go. This was a fiiiiiiine place. Probably the genesis of my love for hotels. Should have been a hooker, I guess! I digress again. So for hours and hours I was in that pool, swimming most of the time under water since I never could swim on top. There was a pretty youngish woman who was also there most of the time–younger than Mom anyway. She was verrrrrrrrrry glamourous too, just like the Belvedere Motel. I think she wore earrings with her once piece and red lipstick. I hung out with that nice woman every day for two weeks. I am not so sure she loved it as much as I, but maybe she really wanted a good tan. I am pretty sure I tried hard to make sure she liked me by being clever…whatever that could look like….silly probably. But here is the punch line: When housing was available, after about 2 weeks and it was time to go, I went to the pool to tell her I was leaving…so sure she would miss me. Anyway, so as I tried to say goodbye, I was reduced to sobbing. OMG. This event opitomized my need to belong and my propensity for dramatics. I am sure she was stunned.

Now years later I drive by the Belvedere Motel. It is still there…somehow not as glamourous as I remember. It is a painted, cinder block structure and they took the sign away. I would buy that sign in a heart beat to this day…even take out a home equity loan to get it. When I drive by I get a visceral, emotional rush like you do when you catch a whiff of something that triggers and emotional hook. Like Grandma’s cellar or my Mom’s cologne. Well, all that said and done. I asked Brother Bill about the motel hoping he would volunteer to take photos of it and send to me. Not. What he did tell me was that he THOUGHT it had been raided not long after 911 as a location where alleged terrorists lived. Blasphemy.

Well, that is my short story about being needy, hating to say good bye, being clingy, and some other things. Belinda and a colleague of Freud believe that you can tell a lot about people’s first memory. This isn’t my first memory but it reeks of my emotional health as a 11 year-old. I probably needed a hormone patch!

Next episode: I must write about is getting thrown out of the movie theater in Shawnee, OK when I was about 5.

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One Response to “The Belvedere Motel on Austin Highway”

  1. nancy baumann thurmond Says:

    Susan, you are SOOO funny!! I love reading your comments!

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