THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEW WITH: Jettie McCoy Holleman
DATE: May 24, 1989
PLACE: San Antonio, Texas
INTERVIEWER: Mary Burrow
B: Okay, . why don't you tell me first. why you. went to school
on Avenue E.
H: It was the only school available at that time, for 7th
grade in San Antonio.
B: Had you gone to another school?
H: Before that? Oh, yes, I . went to - . well I'd gone to
Roberts' Beacon Hill School when it was a two-room school,
and from there they transferred me to Marshall Street. And
it was so crowded they transferred me to Bowie #9 and I was
scared to death there. Because I'd never gone to school
with so many different children.
And there was so many grown in the same class I was. I
called them grown and, of course, they . . were only three or
four years older than I .was but to me they . . were grown
people. And, they were mean. I sa.w one thro.w an ink bottle
at the teacher one day. And it scared me to death because
she was my favorite teacher. And it hit the wall and broke
on the wall and I looked around and there was broken bottles
allover the wall. And I'd never been in anything like that.
H: I was to young and innocent.
B: Well , how did you get to school? The school on Avenue
H: Well there was a street car ran and it made a loop -
went North Flores Street and up across - there used to be a
golf course way out on Beacon Hill - and on Grand Avenue.
And then came back d~wn, I've forgotten. what street, but it
came out where Cincinnati comes in now. And back down
Fredericksburg Road. And we could catch the bus down at the
corner. No, not the bus, the streetcar. And we rode for
two and a half cents. Bought tickets and we rode for two
and a half cents. But we d idn' t do that. We always saved
our tickets and stopped at that York Bakery. By the time
we'd get started there'd be a crowd of us. We would start
out with two or three and pick up children as we went down
the line, all of them saving their money, so they could buy
cream puffs at York ' s Bakery and we'd all buy those great
big cream puffs and .walk to school all the .way down to
Avenue 8 .
B: Were there sidewalks?
H: Oh, n'J.
B: Walking in the mud?
H: The street was paved with cobblestones. Flores Street
was paved with cobblestones. That's the way. we got to
Avenue E. After . . we got d()wn to.wn, Houston Street .was paved
with mesquite blocks. And when it rained they'd all puff up
and jump up and be allover the street until the people come
H: and them - the .werkers weuld ceme back and pushed them
back dewn in there again. Hammer them dewn. The street car
sat way up - the street cars were epen. They. weren't clesed
up. They were all epen cars. Just like that little transit
thing. Net like that because they were larger than that.
And they had a cenducter en ene end and a meterman en the
B: Well, how did yeu get invelved with the Alame?
H: Well, there was a great big .wareheuse in frent ef it.
It .was Schmelzer's wareheuse, built in frent ef the Alamo..
Yeu ceuldn't see the Alamo. at all frem Alamo. Plaz3. And,
the city gave the Alamo. to. Mr. Schmelzer to. tear dewn and
build his wareheuse there. And Clara Driscell said: "Oh,
no., yeu den't tear dewn the Alamo.. " So., she invelved the
scheel kids and anybedy she ceuld get and I was in Avenue E
Schee l so., naturally, Iwas always a smart aleck anyway, so.
I velunteered to. carry this banner "Save Our Alamo." and we
marched areund and areund the Alamo. until eur tengue. weuld
hang eut because there was no. such thing as buying a Ceke.
They didn't have Cekes then.
B: Did she just ceme ever to. the scheel and recruit yeu?
H: Yes, I remember she did. Because that scheel, that
Avenue E Scheel was clese to. the Alamo..
B: What did it leek like areund the Alame?
H: Herrible. Just an eld breken-down thing.
trashy leeking. But it was still the Alamo..
The Alamo. was
And the deer
was still en it then. But it was grewn up in weeds and just
H: a horrible looking thing. Just an old - like - well
nobody remembers what the missions looked like then 'cause
they were gro.wn up in weeds and falling down. They have
been replaced. The Alamo has been rebuilt and a few stones
stuck back in place. where they. were gone.
It was falling
B: Were there any other buildings around there?
H: Shacks. Mexican shacks.
B: The hotels weren't there?
H: Well, the old Menger was there. And there was Scholz'
Garden across from the Menger. I had forgotten about that.
B: Tell me about it.
B: It was a beautiful thing. And it had a garden - way up,
a high ceiling. In the Geneva Hotel in Mexico City they
have a garden room just like the old Scholz Garden there.
And the plants were hanging way up in there and it was just
beautiful. They served beer and - well, you didn't have
Cokes - Cokes were just starting to come in - and lemonade
and beer. And tables people sat around. It was a nice
place, a family place the people could go to. You kno.w,
just take the family and go there. And they served
pretzels. I do remember that. They had pretzels and beer
and lemonade, pink lemonade if you wanted it, and a place
for a family to come in. It had big high fans in it.
B: Was it in the hotel, or separate?
H: Oh, no. It was across the street from the Menger Hate l.
And the Menger had a bar. I remember that bar at the Menger
Hotel because they told us that's where Teddy Roosevelt rode
H: horseback into the - where the bar was.
B: Was the Crockett Hotel there then?
H: Uh, huh. The Crockett was a nice little hotel that -
. well, I guess traveling salesmen and cattlemen, when they'd
bring their cattle in, . would stay at the Crockett Hotel.
And the old Gunter was there. Of course, it didn't look
like it does now. The old Gunter and the Maverick and the
postoffice. was on Alamo Plaza. It didn't look like - I
think now it's something else. Federal Building I think. I
don't know what it is now, but it didn't look like it - it's'
B: How about Joske's?
H: Oh, yes. Joske's was just a little tiny store. And old
man Joske was just the sweetest little old man you ever
knew. I know, . . we' d come in in the buggy and he .would come
out and take the - I wish somebody was as old as I a~. I
wish I knew somebody as old as I am that knew something.
And they had an iron thing that was, I guess, about 12
inches around and it had a hook in it. You could hook the
thing from the bridle down into that and that kept the horse
still because if it moved that thing hit him on the hocks
and he wouldn't mov~.
And Mr. Joske would come out and hook that thing do.wn
for us to get out and go into the store, and Uncle Leonard
always bought a grey suit. He would always go in to do the
buying, his buying, and she'd come out and she'd say: "Did
you buy a new suit, Leonard?" c( , He'd say: "Yes. What color 1S
it?" He'd say: "Grey." "Why did you buy another grey suit?"
H: "You think I'm gonna. wear a blue one?" He was a
And so she gave us all - let's go back to her. Mrs.
Driscoll. She was a dynamic woman. And we just - anything.
She. was our leader. Anything she told us to do, we'd do.
We'd fix our big signs: Save Our Alamo, and march until our
tongues hung out. You could have water but you didn't have
such things as Coca Cola and cold drinks or anything. But
you marched. We got the. weeds all packed down around the
Alamo. Because it was covered up with weeds.
B: How long did you do this?
H: Oh, I guess for days. I can remember doing it for days
because I'd go horne from school and I'd be late and Papa
would wonder where I'd been and I told him where I was.
Well, that was alright for me to march around the Alamo,
save the Alamo, and, of course, you know what he called the
mayor of the town that had given the Alamo away. Because he
believed in saving the Alamo too.
B: Who was the mayor then?
H: Seems like to me it was Jim Calla - Bryan Callaghan but
I don't think it was, because he was mayor 29 years and
everybody loved him. 1 had an uncle that. was a policeman
and ~e had a son and he named him Bryan Callaghan Neal. We
thought he was crazy but it would up that my daughter is
married to his great grandson now - James Bryan Callaghan.
B: Well, now, about the barracks. Was that involved
wi tn ...
H: They were all shacks. And the wall around the Alamo was
H: all fallen dew~. It wasn't there. That wall that's
there new. That wasn't there. That was weeds. Jehnsen
grass •. weeds. It. was just a kind ef a trash spet because
tewn, Jeske's, that Alamo. Plaza was .where the town stepped.
And eut en the ether side ef that it was ceuntry, trashy.
On dewn Avenue E and the streets en this side ef Avenue E
there were seme nice hemes.
B: Well, is that. where the Irish Flats were?
H: No., the Irish Flats were just the ether side ef these
nice hemes. They are still there. There are seme ef the
eld heuses still ther8.
B: On Avenue E?
H: No., net en Avenue E, back behind there. The street gees
different. Avenue E gees - runs nerth and seuth, sert ef
nerth and seuth, but. where the Irish Flats were ran east and
west. We had a let ef them. Nice heuses. I thought they
were. The flats was white because the perch eut in frent ef
them was just as flat as it ceuld be and eur heuse was built
up and I wendered why they'd built them. They were built
eut ef reeks. Nice - they always kept them nice and clean,
B: When was Celene I Neal in cemmand ef the Alame?
H: He was in cemmand when the war started. When they
started fighting. And when San Jacinto. when (I can't think
ef his name ne.w) anyway when he was bettled up de.wn there he
called fer Neal to. ceme dewn there and help him to.
strengthen, yeu knew, to. build that up so. they ceuld fight
there. And Travis, he gave Travis the cemmand ef the Alamo..
H: And about that time Col. Neal's wife died, or got sick
or something, I can't remember. what it was, and he had to go
home for a little while to bury somebody in the family, I
can't remember who it was. Then he came right back.
B: Where was his home?
H: His home was in Atascosa County. Because that's where
the Neals settled. Atascosa County. And, then he went back
and Travis had come in then. They knew it was all
happening. They knew the war .was starting. And so Sam
Houston sent for Neal to come to him and put Travis in
charge ther8. I guess that's all that saved his life, of
course. He lived on, lived forever. When he moved from
here he started going west, wound up in El Paso and then
finally went on into New Mexico.
The Neals all settled in New Mexico. That bunch of
Neals. The other brother stayed in Atascosa County. His
name was Andrew Jackson, the one that settled in Atascosa
County. Andrew Jackson Neal. He was born in 1827 or died
in 1827, I can't remember which.
B: Dates kinda run together sometimes.
H. There .. was a McCoy in the Alamo, and an Evans in the
Alamo, and a lot of people that I remember their names.
The~ were old timers around San Antonio, even the ones that
were dead in the Alamo, they had families, and the~were in
the Alamo. Strange they came. I've always .wondered why so
many of them came from Tennessee. They must have been
explorers and they just wanted to go where the adventure
B: A lot of people came to Texas from Tennessee.
H: Well, that's why they call Tennessee the Mother of
B: And, I don't kno.w .. why.
H: Well, because so many of them came from there. I know
the Keiths, and that's from the other side of the family,
Papa's mother's people, they came to Texas before the Texas
Revolution, settled in Gonzales County, the Keiths did.
There were so many boys in that. The only girl that left
was Papa's mother, and she stayed in Tennessee because her
husband was killed by carpet baggers coming home from the
I . went to the cemetery. They told me. where the
cemetery was. It was 12 miles from Sewanee to Pelham and
they said the cemetery was just halfway between there so I
went to the cemetery to see if I could find his grave and it
is grown up in great big oak trees. They didn't take care
of that but they did take care of the one in Pelham; they
took care of it. The Confederate cemetery. And the one in
Sewanee because I found Papa's mother's grave there and she
died in 1820 something. No, in 1862 is when she died. I'm
crazy, because that's when Papa was born was 1860 and she
died two years later.
B: Do you remember anything else about Mrs. Driscoll that
we might ...
H: Oh, we worshiped her. That's about the main thing.
Because she was so dynamic and anything she wanted us to do,
we did, because we just worshiped her. We thought that she
H: alone could save that Alamo and rebuild it. Because we
were - I happened to be in the grade then that was studying
about the Texas Revolution. Of course, it was very
important to me and to be one to get to save the Alamo. The
very idea. Oh, how we hated the mayor and hated everybody
that would want to tear that down. We finally got the old
Schmelzer warehouse torn do_wn and then they started
beginning to take care of the Alamo and look on it as
something that was it was really important then. But
before that it was of no importance.
B: Well, now, _ was this warehouse built on the Alamo
H: Right out in front of the Alamo. You couldn't even see
B: Oh, it just hid it completely.
H: Hid it completely. But he wanted to expand it and they
said: Well, tear the Alamo down and take that place. So,
that's why Mrs. Driscoll said: No, you don't. Save the
Alamo. So we marched round and around and around it. We
thought we - I guess we thought we were soldiers because I
know I was every bit of 12 years old.
B: And your father thought this was okay?
H: Oh, certainly. It was all right for me to stay down
there and march all I wanted to.
B: He didn't mind you being a reactionary?
H: No. Well, I'll tell you. I think I always_ was because
he said: Uh huh. He always knew I was going to do exactly
H: what I wanted to do, and it was all right with hi~.
Just so I didn't get in trouble.
B: That's good. Well, do you think of anything else that
you could tell me that we haven't talked about before, or
that we have talked about, that we need to include in this
H: Not about the Alamo except that we did get it saved and
the warehouse got torn down and they did start trying to
clean it up but it was a while after that before they really
did start working on the Alamo. She still kept - Mrs.
Driscoll still kept trying to get that Alamo straightened up
and made a shrine as it should have been. She had a hand in
all of it and she was a dynamic. woman.
B: About how long did it really take?
H: Well, it took several years before there was anything to
it. I was - I know it was 10 or more years, more than that,
before they ever really got it anything done about it. She
was doing a little bit all the time but it was a long drawn
out procedure. And then they finally got a gardener for it
and started cleaning it up and built that wall around it.
That wasn't there. That rock wall that's around it.
B: Was it kinda touch and go, like maybe we •••
H: No. ~verybody started getting into the spirit of it,
you know, and thinking .w ell, it . .w as really a shrine, it was
something we should be proud of. But by that time we had a
lot of newcomers coming in that weren't Texans and hadn't
been here a long time. They weren't as interested in it as
H: the oldtimers. They were more interested in the Plaza,
the Market Plaza where the chili queens were.
B: Did they have vendors around the Alamo?
H: No, and that's the disgrace of the Alamo right now.
They have those Mexican vendors selling that raspa and all
of that stuff in front of the Alamo. That is a disgrace.
I'll tell you, I want to fight every time I get down there
and see that. Don't you think it's horrible?
B: I don't think they belong there.
H: They don't belong there at all.
B: I'd rather they weren't there.
H: No. That cheapens it.
B: I think so.
H: They shouldn't be selling things out there in front of
the Alamo, I mean like raspas and ••.
H: That's right. That's disgraceful.
B: They are getting the busses moved out of the plaza, and
that's something. I think they are just loading and
unloading now, and then they park over under the
H: That's fine. Well, you feel, there's a feeling when you
walk in that door that just - I don't know what it is ~ but
it really means something to me. To go in and get those
books and read the books. I have a 48-star regulation flag
I've given to them but I can't ever get anybody to take it
down there. It's so heavy I can't lift it. It has all the
trappings on it. All the brass rings that hang it. They
said they'd clean a place out on the wall to put it, the
H: 48-star regulation flag. It's 12 x 15. I have a 48 and
I have a 49, because when they put out the 49, took down the
48, it broke my heart. And when they put out the 49 I said
I have to have one, so I bought one and I still have it. I
just got to fly it a few days.
B: There wasn't 49 stars very long.
H: Until we got 50 and I thought that was wonderful and
then I bought a 50th. I've always flown the flag • .llmerican
and the Texas flag. This Christmas I had just gotten a
brand new Texas and American flag and put them up and they
hung three days and Christmas Day my daughter called me and
said: Where are your flags? and I looked out and someone had
stolen my flags. It broke my heart because I've always
flown the flag. Especially after my son - we had five boys
right in the family that were - they are all dead now from
the war. My last one was just about three months ago.
B: Well, I don't have any other questions I want to ask you
right now. Thank you for putting this on tape for me.
H: Well, you are welcome. I don't think it was very much
but if I stop and think I guess I could remember a whole lot
more, but, I'm getting old too.
END OF TAPE - SIDE A only.
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