03. February 2011 · Comments Off on Book Talk at the Antique Store · Categories: Ain't That America?, Eat, Drink and be Merry, General, Literary Good Stuff, Old West

So, on the coldest winter day for several winters running in South Texas, Blondie and I set out on a book-talk excursion. This was unique – not just for the very coldness of the day, but also for the fact that this time the location was within city limits, and about a hop-skip-and-jump from the house. Previous book-talks have been as far as Beeville (twice), Junction and Harper, all of which were at least an hour and a half drive away. The weather being what it was, I don’t think we would have risked such an excursion, icy roads being a component. Too many drivers here freak out when it rains heavily – adding ice to the mix is courting disaster. As it was, we encountered the rolling black-out; our first clue being that the traffic lights were out for a good part of the way along Bitters Road, and in Artisans’ Alley.

The venue was to be at Back Alley Antiques, which is – suitably enough – at the back end of Artisans’ Alley. We love a couple of the little shops there, including the one who has a guardian Shi-Tzu dog named Harley – but our very favorite is Back Alley Antiques. Not that we’ve ever been able to afford much there, but what they do have in stock is enviably wonderful, from the large pieces of classic furniture, down to the linens, the accessories, the china and milk glass. (When I’m a best-selling author, and fit out my dream retreat in the Hill Country, a lot of the furniture for it will come from there and from the Antique Mall in Comfort, thank you very much.) The last time we were there, I had a nice leisurely chat with one of the owners, who took my card and seemed interested in the fact that I had written extensively about local history; and so in January, Rita C. invited me to speak to a small circle of antique enthusiasts which she belonged to, about the Trilogy.

Very fortunately, there was not much traffic out on the roads – also, even more fortunately, the power came back on, almost as soon as we walked in the door. It was a nice gathering of ladies about my age or a little older – could have been mistaken for a Red Hats gathering, save that everyone was tastefully dressed in other colors than red or purple – and all of us had on substantially heavy winter coats. They gathered around a couple of antique dining room tables, carefully decked out with equally antique place settings, silverware and linens, held the business portion of their meeting – and then, it was show-time!

I have notes, carefully printed up for the first book-talk that I did – an outline of early Texas history, about the adventures of the Adelsverein representatives in Texas, and the subsequent transmission of settlers from Germany, straight to the wild-n-woolly frontier, together with a short explanation of how I came to write about them. Didn’t look at the notes once, I’ve done this talk so often, since. Took a few questions – some of the lady members had heard in a vague sort of way about the German settlers, one or two – including one who owns a historic home in Castroville – had heard of the general specifics, but the mini-Civil War in the Hill Country was an interesting and fascinating surprise. We had bought along the few copies of books that I had, and some order forms and flyers about the Trilogy. After the meeting, we repaired to the Pomegranate for lunch – another nice round of conversation. Blondie and Rita C. explored a mutual interest in vintage pressed glass, and we had a lot of fun discussing how much more rewarding it was, finding splendid vintage and antique items at estate sales, and thrift stores. Another club member – who has fitted out an entire frontier town as a venue and B&B at her family’s hunting ranch – turns out to know one of my clients, the ranch broker – yet more proof, if any were needed, that San Antonio is just a small town, cunningly disguised as a large city.

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