Galveston Historical Foundation Plea Friday, Oct 31 2008 

Galveston Historical Foundation Plea

28 October 2008

After yesterday’s adventure, I found it to be rather poignant timing that this flyer arrived in my mailbox today.  The bottom of the page states that Dickens on the Strand will go on, and gives the dates. 

Whether it’s with a Foundation membership, a simple donation, or just the price of an admission ticket to Dickens on the Strand—the island needs our help.

www.galvestonhistory.org

I was wordy enough yesterday, to last us all a while, so that’s all you get, today. 😉

~MB

Obsolete? Saturday, Sep 27 2008 

Obsolete?

26 September 20008

National Punctuation Day!

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘Well, I’m a panda’, he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

Ba-dum-bum.   Also, a great book titled after the punchline of that joke, is Eats, Shoots and Leaves:  the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.  Kyle and I both loved it!  A fun, educational read.

Yay!  Finally, a second source of information stating that Galveston will host its annual Dickens on the Strand Festival in December 2008!

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6022814.html

I was beginning to get worried that the decision had been made too quickly and confidently, and that reality would be harsher.  But, it seems, at least, that the optimistic outlook is being shared with the media.  So, although I haven’t yet received the verification I personally requested via email, I’m going with the optimism!

Although not directly mentioning Dickens, this article is really well-written and seems to communicate better than any I’ve read, what’s really going on right now (or last week, at the time it was written).

http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_10517182

The Y.E.S. Yahoo Group is growing nicely, and I’m hoping for a lively discussion on there regarding our attendance at Dickens on the Strand.

Today’s photo is of a handsome, but no-longer-useful pair of eyeglasses—Kyle’s.  He had his LASIK surgery today, and he is resting.  Each time he’s been awake throughout the evening, he seems to be feeling a little bit better.  He described feeling a lot more pain than we’d been led to believe he’s experience and the whites of his eyes are not white right now . . . they’re very red.  He said it felt like there was sand in his eyes.  We do have a follow-up appointment in the morning, so I will look forward to that.  Having the doctor look at him, and tell us all is well, will be what I need to be relaxed about it.  I was pretty stressed about the surgery today—but once we got there today, it was over so quickly that I didn’t really have time to worry.

Oh, and by the way, now I’m feeling a bit of a chest cold coming on—–grrrrr.

~MB

Dilated Thursday, Sep 25 2008 

Dilated

25 September 2008

After meeting Kyle and a couple of his co-workers for lunch at Mi Tierra Latin Fusion Restaurant in downtown Arlington, TX (perfectly yummy, as always!) Kyle and I went together to his afternoon eye appointment.  I took this alien-looking photo of his left eye, while we were waiting for the doctor.

Not a great photo, I know—I was rushed, and for some reason I couldn’t hold still enough to get a good image.  And, of course, with his pupils dilated so drastically, Kyle was also having trouble not blinking for me.  But, the end result of the whole process, is that Kyle came through all the screening and testing with flying colours.  He is scheduled for LASIK surgery tomorrow!!!  He is so excited he can hardly stand it!  Saturday morning, he will wake up and be able to see the alarm clock!  The glasses we just bought him in June will become little more than a paperweight!  I just asked him if he’s nervous and he said ‘no.’

That makes one of us! 😉  I’ll feel better when it’s all over.

Galveston News:

We knew, of course, when Hurricane Ike first turned in toward the Gulf of Mexico, that our December plans could be impacted.  We watched with interest, then concern, and finally with fear, as the storm worsened and the projected storm path became clearly focused on Galveston.  We checked on our friends, offered beds and anxiously watched news reports as the storm surge  hit, and then as the wind and rain battered the coast.  And then, as the storm passed over Texas and headed northeast, we searched for news of damage.  Every day, even nearly two weeks later, we google words—Ike, hurricane, Galveston, historic, Strand, Tremont, damage, recovery, etc.—in various combinations, hoping for a news article, a photo, a blog entry, an interview—something—containing “new” news about our beloved Galveston and the recovery efforts going on there.

Here, on The Daily KRuMB, we’ve tried to keep our own readership up to date on our findings, by copying text, including links, and sharing tidbits of news we’ve uncovered.  Just recently, I personally reported two important bits of information that many of our friends were specifically anxious to know.  1.  That I’d been given the official word that the Dickens on the Strand Festival was indeed going to happen this year, and 2.  That the Mitchell properties, including the Tremont House Hotel, were planning to reopen on the 15th of October.

Unfortunately, as some of you now know, the second of those reports has now been proven false.  From what I understand, Ginger received word from the catering department, that the hotel would remain closed until after the new year begins.  Since this information differed from what I’d reported, she sent a query directly to her best contact within the Tremont Hotel management.  This is the response she got:

Hi Ginger, I hope all is well! It is true the Tremont is closed as the hotel sat under water for days. We have started demo to the ballroom and the hotel will follow in the morning. We lost almost everything on the first floor from the front of the house to the back of the house. We do plan on reopening by the first weekend of Mardi Gras. I can look at changing your sleeping rooms to the hotel Galvez when I return to work on Friday. This is a disappointment to all of us; as the Tremont is rich in the history of Galveston. I will contact you soon with our progress.

Marcus Hennigan
Guest services Manager
The Tremont & Harbor House Hotel Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

After further investigation, I found this, from from BOI Galvestonian Christine Hopkins’ blog:

This has been a very emotional time for those of us who love Galveston. While the media tends to focus on the devastation – there is also much progress being made daily.

I have this update to share… Apparently, our Oct. 15 reopening date for our hotels was too optimistic. Currently, the Hotel Galvez  has electricity, water and elevator service and a full restoration is underway. The hotel plans to welcome guests in early November. The Tremont House sustained relatively minor damage from Hurricane Ike but the restoration process is expected to continue until early 2009. Lastly, Harbor House also sustained relatively minor damage but the hotel will not be available to the public until early 2009. The hotel is currently housing those assisting in the island’s restoration efforts.

Since, Christine works for the Mitchell Historic Properties folks, and was my original source of the information about the October 15th date, I was glad to see her updated report.  Glad, and of course, very, very sad.

Much discussion will now need to take place among the group of us who have made Galveston Island our Victorian home away from home the first weekend in December for so many years.  I am currently trying to verify that the Dickens on the Strand event will indeed be happening, as I previously reported.  It does not require much imagination to think that if the Mitchell properties folks underestimated their recovery time, others, including the Historical Foundation itself, may have done the same.

One, poignant article, describes the personal, heart-wrenching devastation that many returned “home” to find:

http://galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=87706a0e04b5856c

On a positive note, it seems that some Galveston public schools will be re-opening on the 6th of October.  Life, for some, at least, will begin to return to something resembling normal.

~MB

My First Off-Campus House is Now A Parking Lot—and Dickens is a Go! Saturday, Sep 20 2008 

My First Off-Campus House is Now A Parking Lot

19 September 2008

That’s right.  The house I moved into when I moved out of the dorm, is gone.  And the good news of the day is that we got official confirmation that the 2008 Dickens on the Strand Festival in Galveston, will go on!

I had an interesting morning involving an ice chest I’d forgotten to properly deal with upon arriving home.  Suffice it to say, it was unpleasant.  And it made me late to my breakfast date with Ronnie.  Fortunately, he was flexible, and after dealing with the business end of our meeting, we had lunch instead.  When I left his house, I got a wild hair to run through the TCU area.  I’d been thinking a good bit lately, about the little house on Frazier Avenue where Roger and I lived for so long.  I wanted to see if it was still standing, and I was curious about all the recent construction at TCU.  I enjoyed driving around, and the little house IS still there, as is the big tree in the front yard.  It looks a bit different—but behind the fence and the new hedge you can still see all the charm of the little 1911 railroad worker house.

The surprise came when I decided to look at the house I’d moved out of to move into that one.  Sadly, I don’t even remember the exact address of the house . . . three thousand-something, Cockrell Avenue.  I shared the house with a girlfriend and her fiance.  The year was 1983.  I had just taken my first full-time job, was taking eighteen hours at TCU and dancing on the drill team, and my daddy, 1500 miles away, had just had the first in a series of surgeries related to the cancer that took his life a few months later.  Oh, and my ex-boyfriend moved in two houses down the road! (That house is gone, too.)  I was crazy.  Any one of those things would have been enough stress to stop most people in their tracks.  I somehow managed to come through that period in my life with only a few scars.  However, I did withdraw from one class and take an incomplete in another, if I recall correctly. 

I guess the craziness was offset by the good times.  Independence.  A steady paycheck.  A place to live that allowed for owning a cat (I got away with it in the dorm for an entire semester!).  The beautiful, old, drafty house where my bedroom had two whole walls of windows.  The smell of Maria’s freshly baked bread every Saturday morning, and the sound of Andy picking at his guitar. 

What’s weird is that I hadn’t driven by there in years—I don’t know when the house went away.  But, I know that a parking lot exists now, where once stood an old house full of fun.  <sigh>  All in the name of progress.

About Dickens . . . In the past, I’ve spoken on the telephone with Molly Dannenmaier, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Galveston Historical Foundation.  She’s a delightful lady and I decided yesterday to send her an email. Within 24 hours she responded.  And I quote:

“Thank you so much for your message of concern. We have determined that we will hold Dickens on the Strand this year, even if it won’t be exactly the same as it would have been had Hurricane Ike not ripped through Galveston. We hope that you and your group will be able to participate as always.”

My email to her indicated that Kyle and I would like to help somehow.  This seems to be the time, I told her, when we should finally make our donation, and join the Galveston Historical Society.  Her response to that was:

” . . . there has been substantial damage to hundreds of properties in Galveston, including all our historic downtown properties and museums. We hope you might be able to make an online donation and encourage your friends to do so as well at www.galvestonhistory.org.”

So, we’ll be sending in our membership stuff, and I figured what better forum to encourage our friends to do the same, than The Daily KRuMB!

And Kelly . . . you were right to keep on sewing! 😉

~MB

Old Bricks Wednesday, Sep 17 2008 

Old Bricks

17 September 2008

This photo is of the side of our house in Arlington.  The bricks look old and worn, but not nearly so abused as most of the bricks in Galveston, Texas.  We continue to send our healing thoughts and prayers to folks in the Houston/Galveston area as they attempt to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Ike.  The Daily KRuMB continues to see an elevated number of hits each day, due to our Google ranking on searches about Ike and Galveston.   I thought it might be a good idea to include the text from the Houston Chronicle article that Starr found a couple of days ago.  This remains the most recent news we have about our beloved island and its Historical Landmarks.  What follows is quoted: 

Some 7,000 documented historic buildings are located on Galveston, an island that served as a gateway to Texas in the state’s early days. Of those, it is estimated as many as 1,500 of the structures sustained serious damage during Hurricane Ike.

An early assessment by the Galveston Historical Foundation shows the following conditions at historic sites.

U.S. CUSTOM HOUSE: Built in 1861, this structure serves as the headquarters for the Galveston Historical Foundation. It was flooded by as much as 8 feet of water, which damaged files, archives and equipment. An upstairs door is damaged. Roof damage, if any, is unknown.

 ASHTON VILLA: This 1859 Italianate mansion lost two to three windows on its second floor and had up to 18 inches of flooding that likely caused extensive first-floor furniture damage.

 BISHOP’S PALACE: This home, also known as the 1889 Gresham House, is the most visited historic building in Galveston. It appears to have sustained little damage, as was the case in the catastrophic 1900 hurricane. The home had as much as 3 feet of flooding on its bottom floor, which is slightly below ground level and is used for a ticket counter and offices. That floor is under renovation to become a visitors center.

 THE ELISSA: The famous 1877 tall ship, restored in 1982 by the foundation, lost several sails but otherwise seemed to ride out the hurricane well. The vessel is attached to the shore through large steel pipes driven into the harbor bottom.

TEXAS SEAPORT MUSEUM AT PIER 22: This is Elissa’s home berth. It suffered damage to the brick and wooden pier, with a suspected total loss to the wooden workshops used for maintenance of the ship. The museum itself, in the 1990 Jones Building, suffered little damage.

 THE SANTA MARIA: This 1937 restored wooden shrimp boat fared well in her slip near the Texas Seaport Museum with only minor damage.

 MICHEL B. MENARD HOUSE: Built in 1838, the city’s oldest residential house sustained little visible damage.

SAMUEL MAY WILLIAMS HOUSE: Constructed in 1839 and one of the oldest residential houses on the island, it appeared to sustain little damage.

 GARTEN VEREIN: An 1880 German dancing pavilion in Kempner Park managed by the foundation, Garten Verein appears to be undamaged.

 ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH BUILDING: The state’s oldest German Catholic church building, the wooden St. Joseph’s building was built in 1859. It closed as a church in 1968. The building lost one window but otherwise appears undamaged.

 HISTORICAL FOUNDATION WAREHOUSE: This warehouse on Mechanic Street was inundated with at least 10 feet of water and sustained extensive damage. Much of its contents was destroyed, including equipment used during Dickens on the Strand, the popular holiday festival.

 GALVESTON COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM: Housed in the 1921 City National Bank Building, the museum is a joint project of the historical foundation and the Galveston County Commissioners Court. A floodwater line can be seen below the entrance to the first floor. Unless there is roof damage, the building is believed to be unharmed.

 Source: Galveston Historical Foundation.

End quote.

As you can see, the condition of the Tremont House Hotel, and the fate of the 2008 Dickens on the Strand Festival remain unknown.  

~MB

Addendum:  News Update on Historic Galveston.  Special thanks to Donna who found this:  http://www.click2houston.com/video/17485318/index.html

Frank Billingsley of Houston’s Channel 2, hosts a Walking Tour of Galveston Island, including visits to many of our well-loved landmarks.  It takes about thirty minutes to view the whole thing, but it’s well worth the time.  One small segment includes a quick interview with a representative from the Tremont who seems very positive about getting things back up and running—but no time frame is given.  He said the hotel damage is pretty much limited to the ground floor and a few windows.  One restaurant owner indicated his repairs and rebuilding would take “months.”  Of course, there isn’t much going on yet, in the way of clean-up and repair, because there is no power and no water.  Fisherman’s Wharf (our Saturday night dinner spot for many years), Rudy and Paco’s (our new favourite restaurant on the island), Willy G’s (our Sunday night dinner spot), and many, many other places we know well, all have extensive water and mud damage.  Furniture is tossed about like matchsticks.  Walls are already molding in the humidity, and first floors will probably need to be gutted completely.  Fisherman’s Wharf’s harborside deck seems to be completely destroyed (remember the spot where Clay stood to take our photo on the Elissa a few years ago?).   High water marks on the Strand are at about nine feet; on Post Office at about six feet, and on Broadway at about three feet.  Pretty much every retailer, every business for that matter,  in the area will have lost nearly everything they didn’t move to a spot higher than that.  The property damage is mind-boggling.  And, at this point, at least until services are restored, and work crews can begin, there’s no telling how long the recovery efforts will take.  So, still no certainty about Dickens on the Strand.  And, if there is a festival, where people will eat, shop, sleep, etc.

We’ll keep our Daily KruMB readers as updated as we are on all this.