The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 176
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
interest them than the average reader, there is also material of general interest
about life in Texas in the twentieth century, which would engage even the casu-
Texas Historical Commission MICHELLE M. MEARS
The Hzstory and Mystery of the Menger Hotel. By Dora Schultz Williams. (Plano:
Republic of Texas Press, 2000. Pp xii+295. Acknowledgments, prologue,
introduction, epilogue, sources, index. ISBN 1-55622-792-2. $19.95,
San Antonio Uncovered. By Mark Louis Rybezyk. (Plano: Republic of Texas Press,
2000. Pp. xv+300. ISBN 1-55622-832-5. $18.95, paper.)
The first full-sized book ever published about the 142-year-old Menger
Hotel-one of San Antonio's most beloved sites-has been written by Dora
Schultz Williams, a professional tour guide and storyteller and author of five
other books telling of local ghost sightings.
The book is generous with numerous historical accounts of events and people
at the Menger since it was opened in February 1859 by William Menger and his
wife, Mary. The hotel offered rooms for fifty people, but a few months later, in
September, the addition of fifty rooms made it the largest in Texas. Today, with
317 rooms, it's listed as one of the Historic Hotels of America and remains a
highly popular place "in the shadow of the Alamo" for visitors to San Antonio.
Filled with many anecdotes, including ghost stories, about the scores of
famous people who have stayed or lived at the Menger, the book also includes
intriguing illustrations-and even a number of recipes favored by guests many
years ago as well as today. It also includes a chapter of quirky incidents among
Menger employees or guests over the years, as remembered by Ernesto
Malacara, longtime assistant general manager.
Only one other book has been written about the Menger, although virtually
every book telling about San Antonio since the hotel opened has entertaining
stories about people and events at the hotel. San Antonio historical preservation-
ist Mrs. Franz Stumpf-known to local history-lovers for many years as "Ella
Stumpf"-wrote a forty-page book, San Antonio's Menger, which she self pub-
lished in 1953. Now, Williams' book should be the primary source.
San Antonio Uncovered is a unique book about what has been called "every
Texan's second home town." It presents more than one hundred brief essays,
anecdotes, and fact compilations to provide a useful overview of the city. It
includes most of the basic topics that should not be overlooked in grasping San
Antonio's peculiarities and charms as well as its historical significance.
While it serves as a valuable index to the primary facets of the city, such as
people, places, buildings, events, incidents, oddities, and "firsts," it should not
always be used as a principal source without checking elsewhere. For example, a
student could be misled by certain statements in the first entry in the book, a
three-page essay titled "Forgotten Facts about the Alamo." It's incorrect to say,
for instance, that "Hugo Grenet purchased the convent area (known also as the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/184/?rotate=270: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.