Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita and memories of Galveston

I am watching the news coverage of impending Hurricane Rita expected to hit the Texas coast within the next 24 hrs.

I remember my first visit to Galveston Island.

Christmas Day, 1981.

Paul and Ii and the kids had moved to Houston that previous July. Having no family in TX with us and not having the usual tradition of the "Mitchell's" gathering at my house for the holiday I decided to do something different and unusual.

This was predicated on the unusual Thanksgiving we just had.We ate our Thanksgiving dinner outside at the picnic table.
To keep the theme going I decided we should go to the beach for Christmas Day.

Keep in mind we were transplants from Ohio.
The previous Christmas was spent in temperatures of 20+ below zero degrees with wind chill factor of over 60 below.

It was a beautiful TX winter day that day.Sunshine, virtually no wind and 76 degrees.
There were pictures taken of all the kids playing on the beach and out in the Gulf. Paul and I even went out to knee deep water just to say we were in the ocean on Christmas Day.We joked with friends and family back in Ohio "what were you doing Christmas Day"? "We spent the day at the beach"!

The drive there was an awesome experience for us. Yes, we were the typical tourists!

We saw for the first time the huge palm trees, some you could tell had been bent and damaged by previous tropical storms which only added to the awe.
We saw for the first time the houses built on stilts as you went through the Texas coastal cities leading up to the causeway.
We were astounded that most had boat slips instead of garages.
We saw a Kip's big boy restaurant. We decided to stop. We were used to our Frisch's big boy restaurants back in Cincinnati and longed for a Big Boy hamburger that was defined by its own tartar sauce; the precursor to the Big Mac. The Big Boy was an institution.

Imagine our disappointment when the sandwiches were delivered with a thousand island like dressing instead of the famous Big Boy tartar sauce we were used to.
They thought we were crazy.A hamburger with tartar sauce?! And, we used a side of it for our french fries! OOOH how icky!

We learned on subsequent stops there to ask for them dry and a side of tartar sauce.And whenever someone visited from Ohio they were enlisted to bring along a couple pints of tartar sauce with them.

So we arrived on the Island and were just amazed at the sights.
The shops that displayed the beach type souveneirs; the restaurants; the Strand and the historical buildings that had survived the 1900 devasting hurricane.

The building I was always most impressed with on each visit to Galveston was "The Bishop's House".

We made a few more trips over the years to Galveston but none were as memorable as the first.
There was the time a crab attached itself to mandy's butt which was sort of appropriate since she is a Cancer.

The few times we took the ferry over to Bolivar Penisula and Crystal Beach because it wasn't as touristy.

After Paul and I were divorced Galveston and Bolivar continued to give me memories with other men I dated.

Jerry and I went fishing a couple of times.Gary took me for a weekend to his sister's beach house on Crystal beach for a weekend.

I regret I didn't get to spend more time there.
As happens anywhere you live you get into a groove of everyday life and those places become less important.

I never spent Mardi Gras on the Island; I didn't take just one day and ignore the beach and spend it just on the Strand.
I never went at the holidays and appreciated " Dickens on the Strand".
I always meant to; there was always another time I could in the back of my mind.

Now, I no longer live there and may never get back to that place at those times.
Galveston may not even exist as I knew it after this weekend.

She wasn't the grand lady she had been before the 1900 hurricane but she was splendid in her own unique way.

I no longer have pictures because another storm robbed me of those but I do have the vision, scent, sound,feel inside my head.

We don't know where this storm may land but we do know the Texas coast and inland for many miles will be altered.

As they say in TX and its worth saying here, God bless Texas.

1 comment:

Karen said...

I'm so glad it didn't turn out to be as horrible as they predicted, but am still sad for all the damage.

*HUGS* to you!!