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Martha, and “What Is This Thing Called Love?”

Okay, last time I said I was going to cover a couple of quick points that I’d failed to mention about our last trip, the one to San Antonio. This time, I’m going to talk about the second, which is Martha’s personal connection to the city.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but her father was a musician. Specifically, he had a Big Band, “The Georges Trudeau Orchestra”, and he and his family...father, mother, daughter...traveled around the country while Martha was a child. The “Orchestra,” I gather, played mostly on the East Coast -- from Maine to Florida. One of their stops was the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port.

According to Martha, her father was no fan of Joseph P. Kennedy, who (apparently) paid poorly and tried to stiff the band. This wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t know much about JFK’s father, but what little I know is disturbing. And, I think, the nation...and the world...dodged a bullet when Joseph P. failed to make it to the White House during WWII. Imagine for a instant a history in which he was the president...i.e., a narcissist, pro-German, anti-semitic, quasi-fascist who cheated on his wife compulsively, forced his sons into politics so that they could fulfill his own dreams, and, oh, yes, had his own daughter lobotomized (see his biography here:

Of course, though, now...that all sounds a little too familiar.

Anyway...the connection with Martha. Her father also played in San Antonio. Specifically, he was at the St. Anthony Hotel, and Martha spent quite a bit of time there as a girl. She, her mother, and her father actually lived there. She’s told me stories about the place.

Martha on one of our earlier visits to San Antonio. I believe this is about 2015. We were, as you can see, on the River Walk.

In fact, the St. Anthony is still open, though it is now owned by Marriott ( and has been extensively renovated. We visited the place a few years back. It was interesting watching Martha walk about the lobby, down hallways, and then to what had been the dancehall, where her father had entertained San Antonio’s elite, long ago and far away.

There was one particular moment that I recall. We had found our way into one of the function rooms, newly renovated and equipped with a large table, chairs, and the obligatory screen and projector for PowerPoint presentations.

But Martha remembered it from when it was part of a ballroom. Her father and his musicians had been at one end of the room. Men and women in suits and gowns had swayed in time to the music in the rest of the space. Maybe, if her father saw her there, a child with her mother, he would have played for Martha “What is this thing called love?” which was their song together.

Now...there was no sound. No music. Just a room with white walls and no windows.

Just then, the door opened, and in came a number of hotel employees. With them was a woman in a severe suit. I think she was examining the space in preparation for some business meeting. They were startled to see us. What were we doing there?

We all stood regarding one another. Then they said hello and we said hello. There was a moment of awkward silence. For a moment, I thought of becoming all jovial, full of bonhomie, and filling the empty air with something like, “This woman’s father actually performed in this room as a musician, long ago and far away.” Surely, I thought, that would catch their attention and make them curious. Maybe Martha and her father would get a mention in their corporate newsletter or on their webpage.

But, then, I realized that they would almost certainly be uninterested in all that. Summer concerts and Big Bands and soulful lyrics were the stuff of quite another gone now for more than half a century.

After a bit, I said nothing. Which was just as well, because they were in the midst of an important business conversation, and soon turned from us to continue their discussions. What electronics were available in the room? Was there wifi? And what about speakers and lights?

We slipped out of the room and went our way...

Thinking of lost worlds ...and music sad but beautiful.


And that really is the last San Antonio story for a while. But stay tuned. More to come.

To be precise...Salado.


Oh, and if you're interested, here is the late great Billie Holiday performing “What is this thing called love?”

While the lyrics are as follows:

What is this thing called love?

This funny thing called love?

Just who can solve its mystery?

Why should it make a fool of me?

I saw you there one wonderful day

You took my heart and threw it away

That's why I ask the lord in heaven above

What is this thing called love?

I saw you there one wonderful day

You took my heart and threw it away

That's why I ask the lord in heaven above

What is this thing called love?

Cole Porter, 1929


Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker


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