Gary Foreman has fought a lonely battle over the decades—and may be about to win the war.
For many baby boomers, the lasting image of the Alamo comes from the ’50s. The 1950s. Fess Parker is the title character in Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier. And the last view we have of him—Davy is on the roof of the church, out of bullets, swinging his rifle “Old Betsy” as a club, bravely (and futilely) holding off the Mexican hordes.
Ignore the fact that Davy didn’t die on the roof; there was no roof on the church (and no hump on the façade, either). Davy’s last stand was the symbol of heroism and the fight for freedom. And that church was the Alamo.
Gary Foreman was one of the boomers who saw that show. Like so many, he was enthralled by the story and the place. Little did he know, at the time, that the Alamo would take a central point in his life—that, in a figurative sense, he’d be making his own stand against ignorance and political and bureaucratical quagmires.
It really kicked in nearly 27 years after the Disney program.
A Taxicab Epiphany
“There was one precise moment in time—April 3, 1982—I was photographing the Alamo Church while standing in the street directly in front (it was open to traffic then) and I was almost plowed over by a taxi, forcing me to jump to the curb. When I got up to comprehend what happened, a voice out of nowhere told me, ‘YOU need to do this.’ Hearing that ‘voice’ changed the direction of my life.”
And the direction of the Alamo.
Foreman began serious study of the events and the place, and discovered that the historic mission was more than just the surviving church and the long barracks. The modern Alamo is just one-third of the compound from 1836.
The mission had extended dozens of yards in each direction, across now-modern streets and into newer buildings. He was angered that defenders died at spots now occupied by tourist attractions. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Louis Tussad’s Wax Museum and Guinness World Records Museum stood on Alamo Plaza, directly across from the Shrine of Liberty and Cenotaph Monument.
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