The priest who talked a man with a baby down from a moonlight tower

In 1962, Father Antonio Gonzalez convinced a drunken Joe Garcia to descend.


Recently, Jeff Kerr and Ray Spivey were hawking their documentary film “The Last of the Moonlight Towers” at a holiday bazaar when a man approached them and said, “Oh, yeah, the moontowers. My cousin talked a man down from one a long time ago.”

What?

“Turns out, his cousin is the Catholic priest, Antonio Gonzalez, that we mention in the film,” says Kerr, author of such key histories as “Republic of Austin” and “Seat of Empire.” “As a reminder, in 1962, an inebriated Joe Garcia got mad at his wife — girlfriend in some accounts — took their baby, and climbed a tower. Father Gonzalez went to the top in a bucket truck to convince Garcia to come down.”

During the spectacle, hundreds watched from below. Garcia and his 2-month-old son came down safely. Garcia was later charged with drunkeness.

The cousin, Joe Villareal, told Kerr that Father Gonzalez eventually left the priesthood and was living in Granger or Taylor. He said he would find out where and let Kerr know.

“Later that day, he called to inform me that his cousin had died on Saturday,” Kerr says. “Turns out he also had Alzheimer’s, and so wouldn’t have been able to provide an interview.”

You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historical images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.



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