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GRUENE HALL: MAKING MUSIC HISTORY SINCE 1878

 

I reckon by now it’s no secret that I love Texas and its history, but history is more than just dates, stories and battles. It must also include the intangibles that make up the unique culture and character of a place; that which shapes and gives expression to its citizens. For Texas, that intangible is our music. Whether it be Country, Rock, or that most Texan of sounds, Rockabilly, our music has shaped and defined us since our state’s beginning, and the epicenter for Texas music is Gruene Hall.

Gruene Hall has been the place for beer, music, and dancing since 1878, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Most weekends will find Gruene Hall jumping to the sounds of live music, dancing, and one of my favorite pastimes, drinking beer. In recent years, the stage at Gruene Hall has been graced by the likes of: George Strait, Loretta Lynn, Leann Rimes, Chubby Checker, Roseanne Cash, and Willie Nelson.

It is Texas’ oldest dance hall, and in a hundred and forty years it has remained more or less unchanged. It has an open-air dance floor that is perfect for our hot summer nights, and when that’s not enough, the bar is always stocked with plenty of ice cold beer. While there are plenty of music venues in Texas, none offers the connection to the past or the sense of being part of something special that Gruene Hall does.

Many of the biggest names in music have played Gruene Hall on their way up the charts, and most of them still take the stage there from time to time. The love it for its intimate setting and for the history that has been made under its tin roof. Some of the hottest up-and-comers of today can be found taking the stage on any given Friday or Saturday night, continuing the tradition of making music history.

In the fast paced world we live in, where everything seems to be in a constant state of change, it’s nice to have places like Gruene Hall. There’s nothing fancy or cutting edge about the place, but it doesn’t have to be. For almost a hundred and fifty years it’s been providing what the people want; a release from the pressures of the daily routine. So, the next time you’re in the Hill Country, plan a trip to Gruene Hall, and whether you go for the music, the dancing, or just to drink a beer, take a moment to remember that you are part of a Texas tradition that has been going strong since 1878. Perhaps you’ll see a little history being made to boot, and that ain’t bad. Get out there today and enjoy all that our great state has to offer.

 

©05/25/2017

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Buffalo Soldiers: True American Warriors

 

African Americans have proudly served this country, even before it was a country. Beginning with the American Revolution, Black soldiers have served with distinction and unmatched bravery, earning the respect of fellow soldiers and enemy alike.

Depiction of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment during the Revolutionary War

 

During the Plains Indian Wars, the Native Americans were so impressed with their fierceness in battle that they began calling them Buffalo Soldiers, and it was a name that the soldiers of the African American regiments wore with great pride.

After helping to secure America’s Independence in the Revolutionary War, Black soldiers played an important part in securing their own freedom and keeping the Union together during the Civil War

Buffalo Soldiers during the mid to late 1800’s

Over 180,000 African Americans fought for the Union Army, 30,000 served in the Navy, and 33,000 gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the Civil War. Twenty-Five African Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in battle, seven from the Navy and eighteen from the Army.

 

Following the Civil War, Congress authorized the formation of the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments, and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry Regiments. These newly formed regiments were sent mainly to the Southwestern United States where they saw action during the Plains Indian Wars. They also were instrumental in building roads, protecting stage lines, installing telegraph lines, and guarding freight and mail coaches. During engagements against the Indians, Buffalo Soldiers were known for their tenacious fighting spirit, as well as their cunning and bravery. These were the same traits that the Native American Warriors possessed, and why they held the Buffalo Soldiers in such high regard.

Buffalo Soldiers on Parade at Fort Davis in 1875

On this site, I try to stick to stories that have a Texas tie-in, and this one is no exception. In 1874, the 9th and 10th Cavalries took part in the Red River War against the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Southern Arapaho, and in 1880 they pursued Apache Chief Victorio from Fort Davis across West Texas, eventually forcing him into Mexico.

Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper was the first African American Graduate of West Point and served at various West Texas Frontier Forts.

For all they did to help build Texas, perhaps the biggest service they gave to the state of was protecting the railroads and cattle herds, thereby allowing the burgeoning beef industry to grow, which was our life blood for many years.

Buffalo Soldiers were often given the harshest and most thankless tasks the Army had to offer, and served in the most desolate posts on the frontier. The African American soldiers excelled at every miserable task they were given, seeing them as an opportunity to prove that they were every bit as capable and intelligent as their White counterparts. They had to scratch and claw for the respect of their officers, but earn it they did, achieving accolades in every aspect of military service.

Fort Davis, Texas in 1885

Before the signing of Executive Order 9981, which ended segregation in the US Military, the Buffalo Soldiers served with distinction from the rugged terrain of the American Southwest to San Juan Hill, and from the trenches of France to Guadalcanal. They showed a devotion to duty and heroism that their own country would not show them in return for decades.

 

©05/18/2017

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The Old German Bakery and Restaurant: The Best of Fredericksburg, Texas

 

Howdy folks, it’s good to talk to you again. If you’ve followed my advice, then you have already planned your trip to Fredericksburg, and by now you’re probably wanting a tip on where to eat. Well, I’ve got you covered on that as well. For breakfast and lunch, the best place in town is the Old German Bakery and Restaurant.

I’m not a tourist snob, as a matter of fact, when I travel I make a point of stopping at the cheesy “tourist” establishments. From dining destinations to souvenirs, I am an unapologetic lover of everything kitsch, but at some point on my vacation I am going to want an awesome meal. It is for that reason that I always believe in going where the locals eat, and that’s how my wife and I chose to eat at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant for the first time. It’s definitely a favorite with the locals, but if you’re going for breakfast I suggest you go early (they open at 7:00am), or plan on waiting a bit for a table, because many of the good citizens of Fredericksburg make this café their first stop before work each morning.

If you’re anything like me, then you believe every good breakfast has to start with an excellent and bottomless cup of coffee, and I promise you will not be disappointed on this score, as their coffee is strong and the wait staff make sure you never see the bottom of your cup. So, now that the most important issue has been settled, lets move on to the food.

Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day, but at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant, it is the most delicious. Their Eggs Benedict is the best I have ever tried, and I’ve had Eggs Benedict in some of the finest establishments around. For something on the sweeter side, try the German pancakes, a thin crispy cake covered with powdered sugar and drizzled with a little lemon juice.

They also provide typical breakfast fare such as; bacon, eggs, waffles, and omelets that are just as good as you’d expect from a small-town café. But wait there’s more, and I’ve said the best for last. Like the name implies, they are also a bakery, and they have the best selection of pastries, Kolaches, and fresh bread that I have ever seen in one place. For a day full of hiking, antiquing, shopping, and exploring, you need to fuel up, and you absolutely cannot go wrong by starting your day at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant.

But maybe you’re saying, “Hey, John, that sounds great, but I’m looking for a place for lunch. I want a juicy burger, or hey, I’m in Fredericksburg and I want some German food.” Well, not to fear, they’ve got you covered here, too.

Around town it is well known that they have the best burgers around, and that no brag, just fact. You will never go wrong by sampling some of the local German Fare, and the Old German Bakery and Restaurant provides a huge assortment of schnitzel, wurst, and German sides. I would suggest a leisurely stroll around town after lunch, because the portions are large and filling, and besides, it’s always good to have another excuse to enjoy beautiful downtown Fredericksburg.

The Old German Bakery and Restaurant is open daily from 7am until early afternoon. Prices for breakfast are under $10.00 a plate, and lunches are all under $15.00.

As always, I appreciate your readership and your support means more to me than you could possibly know, so get out there and enjoy all that the great state of Texas has to offer. I’ll see you down the trail.

©05/07/2017