I had to run to the bank the other day and that got me thinking... the account that I still use today was originally established at that small Lamar Savings on the drag just across from Flapjack Canyon.
Lamar Savings was a home grown S&L that had what was probably one of the biggest roles in the S&L meltdown of the 80's. Here is a great discussion of what happened although this article really doesn't emphasize the shady real estate deals that Lamar Savings did all round Austin. This all happened right when Austin was changing from the sleepy town that no one knew into the "Best place to live in the USA" (Thanks a lot Parade Magazine)
It was very weird to think that the friendly folks at "my" bank had such a role in damaging Austin. It took years for the economy to recover and folks who lived here through the decline of the 80's will never forget it.
Before the fear-laden days we currently know, our State Capitol building prided itself on being open 24 hours a day. They had a security guard or two but you could drive right up to the building, park near the south door, and walk right in at 2:00am. I know this first hand because of the many times I did just that. It is an amazing building (this was WAY before they added the underground complex) and experiencing it in the still and quiet and solitude will stay with me forever.
It's still there, still beautiful, but essentialy lost to us at this point. Like so many freedoms and other things of beauty.
Talk about spooky... The Alamo Hotel even looked like it was haunted... which it was. Haunted by the ghosts of old Texas politics, haunted by the residual effects of time and social stratification. However, the Alamo Lounge was one of those places where the counter culture seeped into, bit by bit, and took it over. Much like Spellman's, The Lounge was the venue for many a-starvin' Austin picker. Probably the most interesting product of the Lounge is Lyle Lovett. He seemed to be the leader/headliner for a weekly picker session.
In those days, it seemed like the Alamo stood alone at the corner of 6th and Guadalupe. Now, it's hard to imagine that spot could have been so isolated even though isoaltion was what many of it's denizens craved.
I just watched "Be There To Love Me", the Townes bio-pic, and was reminded that the video for Willie and Merle's "Pancho and Lefty" was shot at the Alamo Hotel during its final days. Watching that video, actually looking "through" the video to see a snapshot of old Austin is very rewarding. Here is an outstanding memoire on the Hotel and the shoot: Pancho and Lefty, Part 1 and Pancho and Lefty, Part 2