In the envelope was the negative of the photo shown above.
It was an eerie moment for a non-Texan deeply immersed in the Alamo story, and I was full of unanswerable questions. Did my grandparents get to see the inside of the church, and if so, who showed them around? Did they perhaps stay at the Hotel Bowie, a sign for which is visible in the background? How much did they know about the men who defended the battered old mission on the morning of March 6, 1836 -- and in particular, about the bear-hunting former Tennessee congressman who fought and died there?
Here are a few things I do know: My grandmother, Julia Bell Shands, was born in Forney (20 miles or so east of Dallas) in 1884. The family eventually moved to San Marcos, where she went to college. She and my Minnesota-born grandfather, William Francis Thompson, met in 1914 in Palo Alto, California, where she was getting a masters degree and he was launching a fisheries biology career. They were married in San Marcos, and less than ten months after their Alamo honeymoon, my father was born.