“All That’s Left is Memories” in Galveston

We’ll get back to the acrid meanness and “barely controlled insanity” of the pres campaign soon, but indulge me as I continue drifting down Nostalgia Lane.

Latest reports: More than 80 percent of all buildings on Galveston Island were damaged, with more than 150 completely destroyed. That includes the ones we’ve been mourning in this spot over the past few days, the most famous being The Balinese Room (header photo above).  Now I learn that Murdoch’s is also gone, and that brings a real pang of loss. It was a huge souvenir shop that stretched out over the Gulf, selling  rubber and plastic mermaids and sea monsters and wooden plaques with every conceivable pun on sand, sea, sunburn, crabs and the like.  I remember like yesterday walking through there with my parents and my brother, begging for yet another plastic bucket or beachball  to replace the one the surf took away.

 They had a big mannequin of a pirate sitting in a deck chair out front, black mustaches drooping and wicked sword at the ready. When my daughter was about four, we tried to take her in but she freaked out upon seeing the pirate, and for years afterward she said she never wanted to go back where “the scary puppet” was waiting. Guess that’s one pirate she won’t have to worry about anymore. Just the teenaged pirates now.

Some lines from yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, and then back to reality:

Other people scrambled among the rocks and stone jetties, looking for items that once had been inside two of the island’s most famous beach-front attractions, the Balinese Room and Murdoch’s.

Both had been built on piers over the water and had stood for years. But Ike ripped them from their pilings and tore them apart. Their planks, cabinets, chairs, sinks, windows frames and roofs were heaped in 10-foot high mounds along the seawall near 21st where the water had shoved them.

People walking near the rubble said the two buildings were more than structures. They were what made Galveston feel like home.

Many recalled dancing and listening to bands at the Balinese or wandering through Murdoch’s. They said they had liked seeing the two wooden buildings when they strolled the seawall.

“All that’s left is memories,” said Jeffrey Puckett, as he walked on the beach,looking for anything left of them.

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