Episode 114: “The Gateway”
“Some stories leave no impression on the pages of history, and others do. And this tale, of the father and son who leap from the wall, is one of the latter stories. It’s powerful, and even disturbing, but beyond all of that, it’s significant. Not so much because of the contents of the tale, but because of where that wall is located. It’s in the American city of San Antonio, and the sight of a building and a battle that have both become legendary parts of out nation’s history. And in the process, it has transformed into a gathering place for tales of tragedy and loss: the Alamo.”
The latest episode of the Lore podcast is a bit of a slow-starter. Narrator Aaron Mahnke spends the first half of the “The Gateway'”s 40-minute runtime sketching a historical account of San Antonio. The area was a “powder-keg of tension and frustration,” marked by a long, tangled history of imperial rule and rebellion. “That’s why,” Mahnke tells his listeners, “you’re getting a deeper tour. Because some marks left on a city aren’t simple to explain; they’re complex and interwoven into a number of larger issues.” Nevertheless, the episode could have benefited from some condensing of this background material.
If the setup proves protracted, the ultimate payoff is a rich one. In the second half of “The Gateway,” Mahnke delves into the types of stories that captivate the Lore audience. As a site of much bloodshed and death, the Alamo unsurprisingly has accrued a haunted reputation. Mahnke recounts reports of the sightings of ghostly figures and of the lingering sounds of battle, but even more fascinating is the account of a supernatural, post-siege defense of the Alamo (an alleged stand-off that saved the subsequently historic landmark from demolition). From here, Mahnke expands the focus, and takes a look behind the origin of the name of the “Six Flags” amusement-park company. The episode concludes with a visit to the nearby Menger Hotel, possibly “the most haunted in Texas,” and whose resident spirits include an ex-President.
While more narrative space could have been devoted here to “haunted San Antonio” than “historic San Antonio,” “The Gateway” ultimately leads to a representative episode and a rewarding listen.