Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Joy and Wonder of Childhood

As long as I can remember we’ve made an annual jaunt to Galveston Island. My parents took me every summer when I was a child, and we took our boys, and now our grandkids. It’s a family tradition. After this hectic summer, moving, selling two houses along with work and family – I desperately needed my feet in warm sand and salt water. So when we finally sold the second house, my husband and I decided to go see how Galveston was rebuilding after Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast last year.

There are undoubtedly prettier beaches and fancier resorts, but Galveston Island has character. You can stroll along the Historic Strand with its old shops and horse drawn carriages. You can ride a Duck boat or visit Moody Gardens and the aquarium. We love to ride the ferry across to Bolivar peninsula and back. And no trip is complete without the mandatory souvenir expedition to Murdoch’s, the souvenir shop that extends out over the water.

Today the beach houses on Port Bolivar are almost all damaged or gone entirely. Murdoch’s is rebuilt, but not yet open for souvenir shoppers. But restaurants and hotels are booming and the volcano at The Rainforest Café erupts on schedule. It’s not quite there yet, but Galveston is bouncing back.

When I was a child and we neared the causeway over to the island, I’d be so excited I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. I’d sit on my feet in an effort to be taller so I could see the water a split second sooner. And at the first glimpse of the bay, I got absolutely giggly. My parents always drove the boulevard lined with old mansions to get to the gulf. I can’t explain how long that short drive seemed for a little girl who had her swimsuit on beneath her shorts, or that feeling when we finally turned onto Seawall Boulevard with the gulf rolling in and rows of colorful umbrellas on one side and hotels and restaurants on the other. Even when it was over 100, we’d crank the windows down so we could hear the surf and smell the salty air.

Maybe these days, I don’t experience that innocent joy and wonder of childhood, but there’s still that little thrill.

Does anyone else have special childhood memories to share? Those experiences that you just couldn’t wait for, like Christmas morning?


Anonymous said...

I love your description Pam. It brought back memories. I lived in Houston for four years (92-96) and used to go to Galveston a lot (grew up in Dallas). I particularly loved the incredible historic homes. Each one is so intricate and unique.

I'm in VA now, but I visited friends in Seabrook this summer (on the way to Galveston). Never quite made it to the beach.

Thanks for the memory.

Fellow Texan

PamStone said...

Hi Fellow Texan. Thanks for stopping by. Did you ever tour Bishop's Palace or Moody Mansion? They're pretty cool. I haven't gotten to tour the Ashton Villa yet.

Linda Henderson said...

I remember when I was a kid waiting for strawberry time so we could go down in Arkansas and pick strawberries at a strawberry farm. We would eat them right off the plant. I shudder now at all the dirt, bugs and stuff we used to eat.

PamStone said...

Fresh strawberries - my mouth is watering. My grandparents had a farm, fruit trees, grape vines, huge vegetable garden. We never thought twice about picking something and just eating it. Evidentalyy our parents didn't either.

Juliet Burns said...

I had the same experience as a kid, Pam! My parents used to rent a beach house on Bolivar every few years in the summer and I have so many special memories of Galveston, the ferry, and the beach as a child. My first kid was only 9 months old the first time we took her-she's 17 now-and we've been taking our kids almost every other year ever since. When I was 8 I got my ears pierced right before we left for Galveston and I kept alcohol on my ears to fight infection. And to this day the smell of alcohol reminds me of Galveston and all those wonderful days on the beach.
We would have gone this year except there are no houses to rent on Bolivar. MY mom was pretty upset. So, we rented a lake house on Texoma. Not quite the same, but at least the whole family was together for a week of swimming, cards and conversation.

PamStone said...

Yep, Juliet. We did grow up with some similarities. Funny about the alcohol.