Phil Collins, Alamo historian. Yes, that Phil Collins.

So on the plane from Dallas to San Antonio last Saturday, I met Steve, who lives about 45 minutes northwest of the city.  Among the other tourist tips he gave me, the most intriguing was his joking suggestion that I keep an eye out for Phil Collins at the Alamo. 

The singer?  Yes.  According to Steve, Phil Collins has visited the Alamo several times and made a passionate hobby of the historic Texas fort. 

Admission to the Alamo was free, but there were boxes for donations near the entrance, so I contributed.  The old fort and mission are now a tourist spot, but people seemed respectful of what had happened there.  Although not somber, the mood was quiet compared to the good times happening on Saturday afternoon just outside the compound’s walls in the bustling downtown and famous Riverwalk. 

The only remaining portion of the original fort is called the “long barracks.”  Inside is a museum exhibit that tells the story of the deadly 1836 siege and battle.  And there, in a glass case containing several weapons, was a “short sword” (espada ancha) with a card stating that it was on loan from Phil Collins.  If Steve hadn’t alerted me, the name’s significance wouldn’t have registered at all.

Once I got home, I googled “Phil Collins + Alamo” and found many documents supporting Steve’s remarks.  Apparently Collins’ lifelong interest in the Alamo was sparked by the Davy Crockett fad during his childhood in the 1950s.  Now retired from drumming and living in Switzerland, Collins has recently written a scholarly book,  The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey, about his extensive collection of Alamo artifacts and was in Texas just a few weeks ago to promote it, as detailed in this article from the online archives of San Antonio’s daily paper, the Express-News.

Isn’t life is full of surprises?  Discoveries like this one certainly make each new day an adventure!

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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