TONY THE PONY
Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle
Fort Sam Houston is the headquarters of the 5th United States Army. The quadrangle is the oldest building on post and is one of four buildings at Fort Sam Houston open to the public. The Quadrangle, built in 1876 as a supply depot has a distinguished historical past housing Indian outlaws including the Apache war chief, Geronimo in 1886. The centerpiece of the Quadrangle is the clock tower which still bears the inscriptions and architecture of 19th century Texas. The historical significance Fort Sam's Quadrangle is just as impressive as its beauty, attraction and gentle resident animals.
Fort sam/San Antonio Quadrangle History
The Quadrangle is one of the most significant locations of San Antonio history, Texas history and United States history. During its early years, the Quadrangle served as a quartermaster’s depot for housing supplies and became an arsenal for the US Army.
The Quadrangle has changed substantially since then. Windows were added to the outside, the water towers were removed and the purpose of the structure was changed. On July 30, 1974, the complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places. As for the animals, no one is quite sure why they were added. Legend has it that Geronimo refused to eat army food, and the wild animals were added for his benefit. One thing is known - the deer and the other animals have been there for over a hundred years.
I saw this tower every day, as my office was in the corner building of the quadrangle. In fact you could still see the rails imbedded in the concrete up to the office wall facing the tower.
I was stationed at Hq. 4th and later Hq.5th Army in 1969, 1970, and 1971. This is only one of the stories that developed during that tour of duty.
Labor Day 1971, was a nice sunny day. We decided that just to get out of the house and go somewhere, and that somewhere turned out to be Jorries Furniture Store, 131 San Pedro at the corner of Quincey St. only about two miles from our on base house at 214 Birkhead . (Now if you google this address, the whole neighborhood has changed all the houses are different, apparently a major rebuild of family housing on post.)
In fact Jorries later became Lacks furniture and around 2008 it looked like this:
Never the less on that Labor Day in 1971 they were having a sale. (Don’t they all?). In the parking lot very close to the building entrance, bales of hay formed a small corral, and tied inside the corral was a Shetland pony. A very large sign over the corral said, “WIN TONY THE PONY, sign up inside”.
We, my wife, and daughters shopped around the store for awhile and finally (seemed like hours to me) decided to go home.
As we got into the car, BeLinda (youngest daughter) made a comment that rattled the windows: “We are going to win Tony the Pony, Barbara (oldest daughter) signed us up a bunch of times in the store!”
All the way home and even after we got there I tried to tell the kids that although they signed up for the drawing there was no way that they were going to win. They kept saying yes we are, and the drawing is going to be at 5:00 PM tonight.
When we got home I walked three houses down the street and ask a friend of mine if he would call my house around 5:00 and say that he was Jorries Furniture and that we won the pony. I told him the story of the kids putting in several entries into the drawing. Laughing, he agreed. I went home.
At approximately 4:57 PM the phone rang and on the first ring BeLinda answered it. In less than two seconds she shouts into the phone, “No you’re not Jorries, it is not 5:00 o’clock yet!” and hung up the phone.
I was still laughing when the phone rang at 5:01PM. I answered: “Hello and congratulations” the voice on the phone said, “you just won Tony the Pony!”.
I started arguing with the caller that he was not the furniture store and ask him to hold for a moment. I ran to the neighbor house but did not even have to go in. I could see him reading the Sunday Paper on the couch. Returning home I continued the phone conversation. Asking if I could call him back and verify the call. However the switchboard was closed and no incoming calls to the store could be made.
He finally convinced me that we had actually won the pony and that it had to be picked up that day. He said that he would load the pony into his Pickup and follow me from the store to my house.
We went back to Jorries around 5:30 and helped load the pony and a few bales of hay in the man’s pickup truck. He followed us back onto Ft. Sam Houston to our house. We unloaded the truck. Now, what to do with a Shetland pony on a Sunday afternoon. I called the base stables (I could board her there until other arrangements could be made). No one answered the phone at the stable! Now what to do?
I tied the pony’s halter with a short rope to the clothesline post in my backyard. Put a bucket of water and some hay close by. And I thought that would be it until morning.
WRONG. A knock on the door around 6:30, turned out to be the Base Police. M.P.s in uniform, really wanted to know what that was tied to my clothes line. I tried to explain what had happened and all they could say was I could NOT tie a pony to the clothes line on base. I simply ask them if they wanted me to take into the house. They informed me that they would be back after talking to the Base Duty Officer.
My next step was to call my old boss (Colonel Goldenthal had been my department head until he was promoted to Base Commander of Ft. Sam Houston). I told the Colonel what had happened right up to the point of MPs going to talk with Base Duty Officer.
The Colonel finally stopped laughing and said “Chief, no one else could possibly do the things you do and get away with it. Go ahead and keep the pony at your house until morning and then take it to the stable.”
Thanking the Colonel very much I went out to check on the pony. There were about 15 kids in our back yard including my two. Finally got them all to go home so as not to spook the pony.
It could not have been 30 minutes later when the MPs came back. They informed me that the Base Commander had called the Duty Officer and had OKd the pony in my back yard until morning. Shaking their heads in disbelief they drove away.
The next morning I took the pony to the stable.
Don’t believe this story?
This was a registered Shetland pony mare. Paper and all… I actually do not remember the registered name. I sold her to one of the people that worked for me in the TeleCommunicationsCenter. He had a small farm and room to keep the pony.
Why did we not keep it? I already had orders and was leaving for an assignment in Korea in less than two months.
And that is the story of TONY THE PONY.
True story, would I lie to you?