There I was, standing in one of the most iconic landmarks in America and it took all the restraint I could muster, and my kids begging, not to ask the Alamo tour guide, “Aren’t we going to see the basement?”
My kids only know about this famous question asked by Pee-wee Herman at the Alamo while on his “Big Adventure” because I’ve been quoting the 80s flick to them (with my best Pee-wee voice impression, of course) ever since we decided to go to San Antonio to visit my sister for spring break.
It was surreal to visit such a legendary historic sight, and the filming location of a scene from a cheesy cult classic film from my youth.
I spared the tour guide my question, but when we went out in the courtyard I did start singing, “The stars at night are big and bright,” to see if any proud natives would spontaneously respond by clapping and singing back, “Deep in the heart of Texas!”
My sister, fellow 80s kid and Pee-wee fan, got it and sang back. Then we simultaneously busted out in a signature Pee-wee laugh. My children and husband quickly ducked into the gift shop–where the Daughters of the Republic of Texas sell delicious fudge, by the way.
Actually, I did find out the Alamo does have a “lower level,” though I don’t think the hack psychic Madame Ruby knew that when she misled Pee-wee by telling him he could find his missing bike in the basement of the Alamo. I learned a few other interesting facts about the hallowed Texas sight, which boasts over two million visitors a year.
One of the oddest stories from the Alamo archives is the one about Ozzy Osbourne taking a public whiz there. Not surprisingly, he was drunk at the time and claimed he thought it was just an ordinary building wall and not a monument built to honor battle victims.
Well, as everyone knows you “Don’t mess with Texas,” so Ozzy was arrested for public intoxication and banned for life from San Antonio.
A decade later, Ozzy was pardoned after formally apologizing and paying $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (official operators of the Alamo, not just accomplished fudge makers).
Another Brit rocker has an interesting history with the Alamo, though this one isn’t humiliating. Apparently, Phil Collins is an Alamo fanatic. As a kid growing up in the London burbs, he sat in front of the black-and-white tele screen wearing the coonskin cap and coat his grandmother made him to watch Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and it fostered a fascination with the Alamo.
When Phil retired from being a rock star, he was finally able to do what he really wanted to with his life which is acquire the largest private collection of Alamo memorabilia in the world.
See, my kids just don’t understand how powerful nostalgia is because they’re still living the youth they’ll be nostalgic about someday. I can’t wait for the day when my kids take their kids to England and find themselves running around the grassy grounds of Alnwick Castle acting out having their first broom flying lesson at Hogwarts and their kids think they’re freaks.