John Fredrick Luna

This interview was conducted by Saul Noe Cortez on  March 23, 2008 in San Antonio, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2008 class.


John Fredrick Luna was born in San Antonio on November, 3 1951 his parents are Antonio Luna and Mable Sherwood. He has two brothers who are Tony Luna Joe Gilbert Luna and john is the youngest of three brothers. His father died in 1996 and his mother died and 2007 John has lived in Johnson City, Corpus Christi, and Houston, Texas, and Florida. An interesting fact John met JFK before he was assassinated in Dallas, in 1963. While living in Corpus Christi he worked at Barneys boat shop .In 1978, he was married on September 1979 to Karen Phren for twenty eight years and has no kids .also john highest education is the twelfth grade. John works on boats for a living ,becuase he likes to work on boats, he can tell u just about anything about small boats and marine technology. John Luna is my neighbor and friend who lives by the Medina River near Thelma


John where were you born?
Santa Rosa Hospital down town San Antonio.

John how long have you lived in San Antonio?
Ohh off and on about fifty, fifty three years always been my home base.

Where do you live on the river right?
Yes sir I live right on the top of the hill by the MEDINA RIVER BY THE LITTLE TOWN OF LOSOYA.

Have you ever saved anyone’s life on the river?
Yes sir as a matter of fact I have.

Who would that be?
Lady by the name of Debbie Fryer.

What happen there?
She wrecked her vehicle ran of the bridge and went into the river and I pulled her out and saved her from drowning.

What was life like on the river?
Well when I was growing up things were different the river was a lot smaller more shallow than it is now it’s got a lot deeper and wider since then but things were different back then uhh there wasn’t as many animals around as there are now I guess cause of the construction and stuff that’s going on we got big ole hogs coming in are property now deer and they have even sighted mountain lions in are area and there I hear that there killing cattle.

Tell me about fishing on the river, how long have you been fishing on this river?
Ohh since I was about seven years old the fishing just gets better and better I’ve always caught fish ,out of the river and here lately they jus seem to be bigger since the flood of ninety eight and 2002 I’m catching record breaking catfish out of the river which have never been reported before.

Tell me more about the flood of 1998 was that the biggest flood you have been in?
Uhh no sir its one of them the flood of ’98 was pretty high water but the one of 2002 was even worse the water came up higher and that was the year that the medina lake dam was threaten the were afraid that it might not hold all the pressure.

Did u think the water would reach your house in 2002?
Well at one point we were leery of it because it was about two feet from coming over the bank and uhh we were keeping a real close eye on it and yeah we were pretty worried about it we evacuate my mother out of her house which she live probably aww probably about forty fifty feet higher in elevation than she was so we evacuated her out of her house and the water came about two feet from getting in her house and luckily the water started reciting.

What is the biggest fish you have ever caught on the Medina River?
Fifty-seven pound yellow cat.

And how did you catch that?
I caught him on a trout line I had some lines set out one evening and I checked on them the next morning and I had a fifty-seven pounder and uhh a couple of smaller ones in the forty and thirty pound range.

Has anything ever happen to you on the river that you want to share with us?
Well not that I can remember at this time uhh but if I can remember anything I’ll let you know during the interview.

What on the 2002 flood did you get interviewed or something by the news or something?
Yes sir uhh channel twelve interviewed me one evening and uhh were asked came up and ask what I was doing we were we were evacuating cattle and cows and horses, donkeys that my brother had here on the ranch and we were on stand by for the women and the children and I was interviewed by man Pat I can’t remember his last name.

What on the 2002 flood did you get interviewed or something by the news or something?
Yes sir uhh channel twelve interviewed me one evening and uhh were asked came up and ask what I was doing we were we were evacuating cattle and cows and horses, donkeys that my brother had here on the ranch and we were on stand by for the women and the children and I was interviewed by man Pat I can’t remember his last name.

Did you ever want to not to live on the river in your life time?
No sir not really I always kinda enjoyed being by the river I like to fish always liked the wild life use to be real quiet an peaceful things are changing now though since Toyota moved in. They’re building a lot of new buildings going up highways are being built two lane highways turning into four lane now there widening the highway there getting ready put a new bridge in ,all the wild life and stuff are kind like a moving on but I’ve always more a less enjoyed being on the river, just kind of gives you a real good feeling of freedom like your out in the wild with the animals and stuff.

Tell me more about the way you fish on the river you said you use trout lines you don’t use regular rods and reels?
Yes sir I do use rod and reels but to catch the bigger fish you want to use a bigger line because the rod and rill line probably wouldn’t hold the fifty pounder ,but a there is a lot of good fishing on the river I encourage people to get out and take there children and throw a line in the water its relaxing and you might even want to take a dip and get refreshed a little bit do a little swimming while your down there and uhh it jus gives you a real good feeling when your out on the river brother it uhh it’s a feeling of peaceful and uhh jus makes you feel good when your catching a fish it’s a feeling that you cant experience unless you got a rod and rill in your hand you know feel the fish when its pulling on the line relaxing.

How long did you live in Johnson City, Texas?
Johnson City, I was I’ve been there off and on for about the last twenty eight years I’ve lived there for about two and a halve years worked the had held three jobs and uhh but San Antonio has always been my home base town though I always wind up coming back here.

Tell me about the time you met JFK ,how did that come to happen?
Well the school that I went to had a field trip and only a few people were able to make this trip and I met president Kennedy at Brooks Field hear in San Antonio and a shook his hand the day before he was assassinated in Dallas Texas. My classroom were crying and it it was a depressing feeling an u know it kind of makes you wonder about things but it a I was touched by it I always have it in the in the back of my mind you know I think about that you know.

Did you have feeling that something was going to happen when you met him?
No sir I didn’t have any feeling about it at all, I just happen to be one of the fortunate individual that was making good grades and was able to meet the president ,and I felt good about meeting him and being able to shake his hand back in the sixties that was that was something you know it probably doesn’t mean anything a hand shake doesn’t mean a lot to people anymore these days but back in the day in the time when I was growing up a hand shake was a was a very good thing very secure thing it was almost like a bank note that you would sign you know when you shook a man’s hand, in my book it was as good as gold.

And how old were you when you met the president?
Ohh bud I’m not sure I met him in sixty three and I was born in fifty-one so you can pretty much figure it out.

When you lived in Corpus Christi what did you do there exactly?
I worked at a boat shop, I worked at a place called Barney’s Boat Shop. On Laguna shore road there in flower Bluff, Texas right on the water way right on the cause way.

Is that were you learned how to work on boats?
Yes sir I learned how to work on I learned how to do fiberglass, worked on big old shrimp boats that that would have damage on the hulls and stuff I learned how to the fiberglass repair rotten wood and a my boss starting teaching me how to work on engines and that’s how I come to be a marine mechanic.

A marine mechanic is that what you do today?

And how do you like being a marine mechanic?
Well its hard dirty work but it pays good and that’s where it’s at now that’s where the moneys at and I’m after the money you got have the money to get by dog gone it everything is so high now and going up every day.

How long have you been working on boats?
About twenty years give or take a year or two, but a that’s about what I do now and I enjoy doing it.

Finally let me ask you if there is anything you would like to add to this interview?
Yes sir there is a couple of things that I would like to add on, the flooding that we have had in the past years, I feel that the dam the Medina Lake Dam should be looked into and maybe have some restoration done to be able to help the people down stream. Because if that dam were ever to break there be a lot of people under water in San Antonio and surrounding areas ,I think that the government should look into that and perhaps would not be a bad idea to look into the Apple White Reservoir because another dam down stream would not hurt in fact it would be helping the people and the way the aquifer keeps dropping from time to time and the way people are moving in, were going to need all the water we can get.


I learned that there is many stories out there that need to be told. the most important points i learned in this interview were about fishing and the boating. What i learned about the interview i did not know before was that there are many ways to catch a fish.My view on the topic made me realize that the rivers are important in are communities,in many ways from recreational to ecological.Also he did talk about the times in blanco county like they were the most happiest in his life.the stories that taught me best about the topic, were about the floods and the river.Also the stories taught me about the topic ,that there are many lives on this world and they all have there stories and each one of us has something to contribute about how they grew up in there cites and neighborhoods. I attempted to verify by pictures and asking his wife .One of the benefits of learning about the past through Oral History is that you get a first hand account of the story and sometimes you can bring out memories that were long forgotten. A drawback of the Oral History project is the fact that sometimes you learn things or remind the interviewee about things they don’t want to remember. Overall this is a good way to learn about a persons past because of the first hand account and the live recording.


  • John’s father Antonio Luna born in 1909
  • Parents Antonio Luna and Mable Sherwood married in 1938
  • September 03 1951 , John Fredrick Luna was born
  • John met John F. Kennedy in 1963 as a reward from school for getting the highest grades
  • Worlds fair at Hemisphere in 1968 John rode a bull and collapsed a lung
  • Antonio Luna retired from Kelly Air Force Base in 1977 as a civil service inspector
  • John worked in corpus Christi for two years at barneys boat shop in 1977, 1978
  • John was married in September 1979 to Karen Prehn.
  • In 1996 John’s dad died of heart failure
  • On March 06 of 1996 John saved baby from a burning car
  • On June 17 of 1996 John received a certificate of merit from the San Antonio Chief of Police Al Philipus for saving a baby from a burning car.
  • On 1999 I met John.
  • 2007 John’s mom died

Annotated Bibliography

The Handbook of Texas Online
is a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and the General Libraries at UT-Austin. It was produced in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. Copyright © The Texas State Historical Association.

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection. Geographical and historical maps of continents, countries, counties, cities; maps relating to history and current news events. University of Texas Libraries.

Cost-of-Living Calculator.
The calculator uses the Consumer Price Index to do the conversions between 1913 and the present. The source for the data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index reflects the cost of items relative to a specific year. The American Institute for Economic Research. P.O. Box 1000. Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230.

Medina Lake and Canal System. The Edwards Aquifer Website Copyright (1995-2008) by Gregg Eckhardt.

Photographs and/or documents on this website were provided by John Luna.

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