February 9-11, 2001: Frank and Joe in Leakey, TX
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January 19-21, 2001
A Visit to San Antonio


 

Last year, our good friends, Prudence and Ron Ruckman, made the decision to move from Arlington, where Prudence had been living when she married Ron, to San Antonio, so that Prudence could fulfill her dream of running a bed and breakfast. This January, Fred and I have made a trip down to stay with them for a weekend, and give what help we can in the work they are doing.

 

Getting to the Ruckman's House

You've probably seen a map of the route from Dallas to San Antonio before. It is pretty simple, for once you get on the Tollway south from my house, and merge onto I-35 South, it is a straight shot for about 280 miles all the way to downtown San Antonio. See the map below, left.


Once in downtown San Antonio, all you have to do is follow I-35 South until you come to the exit for San Pedro Avenue. Once off the expressway, you just take San Pedro Avenue north.


Finally, you just take San Pedro Avenue by San Pedro Park on your left, and, one block past the park, you turn left onto French Place. Prudence and Ron have bought the house at the end of the first block on your right.


Our visit this weekend has multiple purposes. First, they have asked us to come down to see how things are going. Although no rooms are even close to finished, we'll be throwing our sleeping bags down in one of the incomplete ones.

Second, Ron and Prudence, having been dealing with construction non-stop, are looking forward to a weekend where they can get out and do something and not have to be at the house dealing with all the decisions that are involved.

Third, we want to take an opportunity to see our friend, Guy Blair, who is the priest at San Francesco di Paola in downtown San Antonio. He, you may recall from earlier album pages, was my friend in Chicago in the early 1980s who, as chance would have it, got transferred to this particular church to minister to the deaf community. I have been after him to go over to say "Hello" to Ron and Prudence, for I think they would like him a great deal. As yet, he hasn't done that, so on this trip I plan to introduce them. I think it will be good for Guy to have friends in San Antonio who are not church members of his.

 

The House

We got to the Ruckman's house Friday night, since Fred couldn't leave until he got done with work and it was late, so we couldn't do anything until Saturday morning.


The Ruckman's House

The picture at left is looking at the house from French Street and, if you are curious, you are looking north at it. It is a beautiful house, although the grounds need some work to make it enticing for guests. It is three stories with a full basement. Dallas doesn't have many houses with basements unless they are quite old, but it seems as if a lot of the older houses in the area where Ron and Prudence bought their's do have them. (I think that their plan is to turn their basement into their own living quarters.)

Anyway, if you move around to look at the house from its southwest corner, you can get a better idea of its size and how the property is arranged. You can see the entry, of course, and the bay window that is the living room. On the second floor are a number of rooms that they are converting into four guest rooms. Probably the major conversion problem is giving each guest room or suite its own bath, which they didn't have when it was a family home. You can also see the windows for the room on the third floor, under the eaves. This had been an attic, but in another major conversion effort they are turning it into another guest suite.

On the first floor, at the rear of the house, is the kitchen. You can see it better looking at the west side of the house; you can also see the basement windows. Behind the house, the property is enclosed with an old fence, and there is a three-car parking carport at the back of the property. Other than fix up the carport and put an automatic gate so that guests can have access to the carport for their cars, they don't plan on doing much else for the moment.

One thing they are planning on doing is adding a deck along the west side of the house; a bed and breakfast usually needs some outside areas for guests- particularly in the warm San Antonio climate. You can see that they already have some work beginning on the construction of the deck, although Ron says it is just preliminary, and that the house itself is the first priority.

The opposite side of the house, the east side, has a porch that comes off the living room, and a side yard where Prudence plans eventually to have a garden.

 

The Guest Rooms

Let's take a look at the inside of the house. Renovations are underway, so don't expect anything very inviting at this point.


In the center of the house is the main staircase. It leads from the entry, where you walk straight ahead to go up, makes a right turn at a lower landing, and then comes straight up to the second floor. In the left-hand picture at left, you can see me standing on the stairway just above that lower landing.

On the second floor, at the top of the stairs, are doors into two guest rooms- one straight ahead of you (where Fred was standing when he took that left-hand picture) and one just to your right (his left). The staircase continues up to the third floor, but you have to walk around the landing (where I am standing in the right-hand picture at left) to continue up. Just ahead of where I am standing there is the doorway to the third guest room, and behind me, at the base of the second flight of stairs, is the entry to a fourth guest room.

So on the second floor there are four guest rooms, which are at the southwest, northwest, northeast and southeast corners of the floor and the house. At the top of the second flight of stairs there is no landing- just the entry door for the fifth guest room. That room is L-shaped, and runs along the north and east sides of the house.

When we came down to visit, Prudence had Fred and I put our sleeping bag in one of the large bedroom suite that occupies the southeast corner of the house.


West End of the Sun Room

From quite early in their renovations, Prudence had the idea to call the room that Fred and I used for our sleeping bag the "Sun Room." The reason was primarily the fact that the room, which extended from the center of the house at the front all the way to the east end of the house- passing through a sitting alcove to a "sun" room with windows on three sides at the east end of the house. You can see the view looking east through this room here.

Talking to her and Ron, it seems as if she always had the idea that the room we were in would be the Sun Room. Prudence, someone with an eye for decor and furnishings, had already purchases an old English door that she was going to put inside the southwest corner room. So, during the renovations, she began referring to that room as the English Room. This began a pattern.

It occurred to Ron that since they had rooms already that could be associated with two European countries- England and Spain- they should just as well continue the practice. So Prudence named the third large room on the floor the French Room. You can see a picture of Fred standing in the new bathroom for that room here. The fourth second-floor room was the smallest of the four, and so Ron jokinging asked Prudence if she wanted to call it the Luxembourg Room. It seemed humorous at the time, but the name stuck.

With four of the five rooms named, the only question was what the name of the attic suite should be. Since it was high up, it might have seemed appropriate to name it the Swiss Room, but Prudence thought she should come up with something better. The attic room turned out to be the only room not named for a specific country- although, indirectly, it is named for Scotland. It became known as The Highlands.

 

The First Floor Public Rooms

In their bed and breakfast, all guest would have access to the public rooms on the first floor. They'd be able to sit in the living room at the front of the house, take meals in the dining room (northeast corner) and have access to the kitchen in the northwest corner of the house. The kitchen is divided by an island into the working area and a breakfast room, but that breakfast area became Prudence's little desk area, where she could put her computer and do guest paperwork.

I have put small pictures of each of these rooms below; they are actually links, and if you want to see a large view of any of them, just click on it:


The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Breakfast Room

 

Guy Blair Meets Ron and Prudence

On Saturday, I drove over to San Francesco di Paola to collect Guy and bring him to the bed and breakfast to meet Ron and Prudence.


At San Francesco di Paola

I'd been wanting for Guy to meet Ron and Prudence for a long time- ever since Guy was transferred down to San Antonio last year. That hadn't happened yet; Guy was still settling in at the church and Ron and Prudence were up to their eyeballs in renovations. But I thought that our trip down here was an excellent time to accomplish that meeting.

So I brought Guy over to the house and, as I expected, the three of them hit it right off. I was able to participate in the conversation, filling Ron and Prudence in on my friendship with Guy when we were both living in Chicago. Guy had a chance to see the house, and I hoped that he would be able to lend Prudence some of his expertise in antiques as they were acquiring pieces for it.

We went out to have some lunch, and stopped by the area along the Riverwalk known as La Villita- which is an arts enclave downtown. You can see another picture that Ron took of us in front of a wall mural in La Villita if you click here. We also stopped by the church so Ron and Prudence could see it, and see how close it was to their own house. I did everything I could to ensure that their friendship got off to a good start.

(NOTE:
I have been gratified that in the following years, the three of them became very close. That friendship has continued right up to the present, even though Guy was eventually transferred from San Antonio to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and then to Chamberlain, South Dakota. Over these years, Guy has come to San Antonio frequently- mostly to see Ron and Prudence. And they, and Fred and I, have been both to Green Bay and to Chamberlain in that same time. Guy's friendship with Ron and Prudence has extended to Prudence's sister Nancy and her husband, who live here in Dallas. Two years ago, in 2011, Guy went with the four of them to Europe, and this fall, in 2013, the seven of us are going to England. So from the introduction which happened on this trip to San Antonio, much has flowed- and will continue to flow, as Guy contemplates his impending retirement and move back to San Antonio- a city he came to love a great deal.)


Back to Guy's church, you can use the clickable thumbnails at left to see some other views of the front of the building.

The red-brick San Francesco di Paola Catholic Church has occupied a small corner in the northwest part of downtown San Antonio since 1927. Eighty-seven years ago, at the urging of Italian Catholic families in San Antonio who had been attending services at the nearby San Fernando Cathedral, construction began on the church that parishioners would eventually name after a church in southern Italy. In 1991, the structure was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark. The marker affixed to the front of the building makes note of the “decorative stone detailing, round-arched stained glass windows and spire,” typical of the Romanesque style.

 

Other Pictures

There are two other pictures we took while on this particular visit to San Antonio, and I want to include them here. On Saturday, Ron, Prudence, Fred and I drove a ways west of San Antonio to the town of Boerne ("burn-e") to have lunch at a restaurant run by a man named Dennis, one of the friends that Ron and Prudence have made here in San Antonio. I took a picture of Ron, Prudence, Dennis and his wife out front of their restaurant- the Boerne Vistro. And when we returned to San Antonio, we walked a block from the bed and breakfast to walk the dogs in San Pedro Park, and Fred took our picture in front of the Seventh Day Adventist church that is a block from Ruckman Haus and just across from the park. These pictures are below:


At the Boerne Vistro in Boerne, TX

The Church Across from San Pedro Park

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


February 9-11: Frank and Joe in Leakey, TX
Return to the Index for 2001