Peter is no stranger to death. Still, he finds himself unprepared for the passing of his grandfather, the first Dr. Ferdinand Herff to practice medicine in San Antonio.
His grandfather lies in state in the house on Houston Street, the home where the whole family has gathered every Friday night since before Peter emerged from his mother’s womb.
Approaching the coffin brings a smile to the doctor’s face. His grandmother arranged for her husband to be buried in his cape. He first wore the cape years earlier out of necessity after breaking an arm. Following recovery, Papa Herff decided the cape made him appear dashing so continued to sport it about town.
I had always heard the banks of the San Antonio River Walk were declared off-limits after dark for members of the military in San Antonio for many years, but I had never seen proof:
The area known as the “River Walk” is “Off Limits” during the periods 2400 hours to 0600 hours daily. It begins at Lexington Street, near the Auditorium, and extends about three hundred yards west of St. Mary’s Street, near the Plaza Hotel.
Office of the Provost Marshal, Fort Sam Houston, December 20, 1945
Although designed to serve as a warning to soldiers, this list was almost as efficient a guide for “those seeking a good time while in San Antonio, Texas,” as the 1911-1912 guide, The Blue Book. Col. Cribby’s list not only identified which places around town were “off-limits,” but why – whether because of immorality, prostitution, danger of venereal disease or gambling.
Gohlke’s post pertained to “San Antonio’s queer community,” but the list aided those in search of bisexual entertainment as well:
All a GI or WAC need do is read the list, understand the codes, and head out for a night of same-sex recreation. Ironically, the military imperative to regulate deviance facilitated the very behaviors such regulations were designed to stamp out.
Some of the same neighborhoods identified in The Blue Book were still hot spots flourishing under the eyes of lax local law enforcement three decades later.
But what about today? This is from the fact sheet for visitors of participants in Lackland Air Force Base’s Basic Training Program:
Off Limits Areas and Establishments
The San Antonio Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board has placed establishments off-limits to help maintain the health, morale, and welfare of Armed Forces personnel. Your Airman may not visit these establishments and will know which ones they will not be able to service prior to town pass.
The River Walk has been family-friendly for decades, but now I am curious about what places in San Antonio are deemed too or lascivious or dangerous for today’s military. This list, not nearly as clear and complete a guide to local entertainment as the 1941 blacklist, is from a 2009 edition of the Lackland Talespinner:
The following locations are off-limits:
• Cracker Box Palace – 622 W. Hildebrand • Planet K – all locations in the following counties: Bexar, Atascosa, Wilson, Guadalupe, Comal, Kendall, Medina and Bandera • Voodoo Tattoo Parlor – 202 Aransas • Players Club (PC) of San Antonio – 8235 Vicar • Boys Town – Acuna, Mexico • Widows Web Bar and Night Club – Acuna, Mexico • The Up and Down Club – Acuna, Mexico
With no Blue Book or more detailed list available on base, what’s a newcomer in search of a little lascivious behavior to do?
It’s so simple nowadays. Just follow those huge “come-hither” billboards around north Loop 410 or grab a free issue of San Antonio Current for pages and pages of full-color “service” ads.