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May 24, 2006
Edward Williamson Comments on Victor's report on the Bolivar Ferry

Dear Victor,

Good column, as usual! 

Here are two tidbits I can contribute to the story of the cement ship in Galveston.  First, I was surprised to discover that the third cement ship is just off the coast of New Jersey, in the Cape May area, where it is somewhat of a tourist curiosity there.  Some of the locals in Cape May were quite amazed when I told them of the SS Selma in Galveston. Second, my mother back in the 1920s when she was a teenager, attended several social dances on the SS Selma.  I seem to recall that the affairs were sponsored by the Eastern Star or Demolay organizations.  She said the loved the dances but feared the trips to and from the ship.

Judge E. B. Holman, my maternal grandfather, was in charge of Quarantine Station for years after having been transferred from Ellis Island in New York.  You are indeed correct that he and Rabbi Henry Cohen helped many Jewish immigrants enter the United States through Galveston's port when they were frequently turned away at Ellis Island.  In fact, the two friends ran a kind of underground railroad for the immigrants.  I understand that they provided temporary food and shelter and arranged from their transportation to the East and elsewhere to be with their relatives.  Also, Judge Holman lost his courthouse position for his involvement in his humanitarian work.  However, soon afterward, he was elected as Justice of the Peace, an office he retained for over twenty years.    

When you're ready to write an essay on the causeway, let me know.  I have a few anecdotes about the old causeway's opening, involving my mother, who cut the ribbons, and my grandfather, who was instrumental in planning for the causeway.

Keep up the good essays!

Edward Williamson

August 24, 2005
Carlos Sánchez Velasco writes

Sir,

I have read your article about Galvez with great surprise and joy. I just wanted to point a typing error (Carlos III instead of Carlos II).
 
I would also like to note some interesting ideas in connection with your island:

His ship had the name Galveztown, at least during the campaign. I am not sure if the ship came before the island or vice-versa, but I know for certain that the figure of the ship was published in the British press after the battle for Pensacola.

This gave him the right to bear the motto "I (stand) alone" after his famous words "Una bala de a treinta y dos recogida en el campamento, que conduzco y presento, es de las que reparte el Fuerte de la entrada. El que tenga honor y valor que me siga. Yo voy delante con el Galveztown para quitarle el miedo".  

 
Perhaps the ship was named after the city, but in this case he would probably have known well the city. The second option, the most logical one, is that Galvez name the city to commemorate the battle, the ship and the bravery of his men.  After all, the other officials were against any military action (they argued about the depth of the water).

Galvez ended up at the right side of Washington during the parade that commemorated the end of the war.

 
I tell to myself that the deeds of one man can be impressive, in both ways. Here, we should remember Galvez for his judgement.  "In Spain we say "He would be such a good vassal if only he had a good master".

I hope the likes of Galvez today will last for a good leader.

 
Carlos Sánchez Velasco

August 27, 2005
Victor Replies

Dear Mr. Velasco,
What a nice note to have from you and also to have information I did not about Bernardo de Galvez.

I am not a scholar and do not pretend to be one.  When I was invited to give the address that led to the column you read in Guidry News, I was given a good deal of material on Galvez by the Sons of the American Revolution, Texas Chapter, before whom I was to speak.

The information was all from reputable and scholarly sources but if the story about the boat name was included, I missed it.  I think it's very interesting to have the further information.

I hope you will forgive my lack of fluency in Spanish but I would be delighted if you would translate for me the quote from Galvez which you cited in your email that begins "Una bala de a treinta...el miedo."

With every good wish,

Sincerely,

Victor Lang

August 12, 2005
J.H. Bert Hepler from Sugar Land
writes

Victor,  

I just read your "Splish Splash" on the GNS-On Line. It brought back many fond memories. 

I was born and raised on the mainland but my parents often brought me  to this magic island to see the 4th of July fireworks, the theaters and to see the Galveston Buccaneers at Moody stadium. It was always a great day to come to the beach. 

I finally reached high school and attended Ball High school, class of '47, a great time on the island.. I recall splash day becoming one of the big celebrations in the late forties and fifties. The main event was always a big parade of floats, bands, cars and bathing beauties. 

As a local musician for many years in Galveston, many years with the Merrymakers Orchestra as a member and finally leader from 1959-1963. I think over the years we played in every public room or private place in the city including the "Charcoal Galley" at the Jack Tar hotel, which was also one of the nicer motels on the beach. A large part of that time under the direction of Richard Bovio. 

I was playing at the Moody Center in 1958 during splash day weekend when the college crowd rioted and almost did in the beachfront. Splash day was never again the big opening of the beach season.

I also enjoyed your story on Caduceus, but that’s another memory-wrenching story. 

Sincerely 

J.H. Bert Hepler
Sugar Land, Texas

Victor Lang Replies:

Dear Bert

I remember exactly who you are and I danced to your music when you were playing with Bovio and when you were leader.  If my memory serves me correctly, you also worked at U.S. National Bank in the daylight hours!  You wore horn-rimmed glasses and so did I.

I graduated from BHS in '54.  My Father was bookkeeper and office manager at Star Dairy, Model Laundry and Leopold's.  I am sure you knew one another.  My Mother was Jimmie Powledge's secretary at the Buccaneer and then worked for many years at the Galvez, starting with Bushong.

I stay in touch with Sandra Paskowitz Breeland -- her father, Benny Paskowitz, founded the Merrymakers, then Johnny Riccobono led and after him Bovio, then you.  I think that's the line of succession.  My, what memories.

Thanks so much for your email. I will forward a copy of it and my reply to Jim Guidry, who takes great pleasure along with me in hearing from people who read the stuff I write. All the best,

Victor

Bert Hepler Writes Again:

Dear Victor,

Thank you for your reply. You are confusing me with Gus Nelson who was the last leader of the Merrymakers.  He worked at the U.S. National.

Richard Bovio introduced me to Jimmy Powledge and Jack Bushong.  In fact I played for Jimmy's son Kirby's wedding. As to the Merrymakers, thats a story in itself.  They were organized in 1923 by Johnny Riccobono according to Al Schuessler and Bub Beckway who were charter members.

Then Benny Paskowitz had the band at least through the thirties. Dr. (then med student) Bill Cantrell took over, he was replaced by Tommy Leatherberry in 1943. Tommy was drafted in 1944 and Richard Bovio took over.  Richard presided over some of the bands best years until his death in 1958. Jim Sprague took over then for a few months until he was transferred out of town .I took over the band in 1958 until I was transferred in 1963.

Gus Neson who had been with the band almost since John Riccobono, then took over.  Gus held the band together until 1972, almost fifty years.  Al Schuessler was with the band from start to finish. I only wish I had kept a diary of the engagements over the years, that would be an epic.  LOL 

Thanks again,

Bert Hepler

Another Reply from Victor:

As I was going to bed last night, I realized I was confusing you with Gus Nelson!  Sorry about that.

But, I do know you and remember you.  And the music -- that's the thing I really remember. How my group loved to dance.

We thought the ultimate was to be at a dance where the Merrymakers were playing. We liked the other groups, too, because Kate Martelli was a neighbor of ours (we lived at 42nd and R., she at 43rd and R) and I think she sang with Ginsberg.

At any rate, great to hear from you though my feeble mind got things confused.  I especially appreciate having the complete and correct history of the the Merrymakers and I am going to forward it to Sandra Paskowitz Breeland as I know it will delight her to have the memories.

All the best,

Victor

August 11, 2005
Jim Bauknight from Houston writes:

Hello Guidry News

My Grandparents and My Father were from Galveston. They were in the Hotel and Real Estate Business in the early part of the 20th Century through the late 1940's. My father graduated from Ball High School in February 1923 and from UTMB in 1930. He practiced medecine in a small Texas town named Ganado in Jackson County.  From day one all the family ever heard about was Galveston.

So I truly love the city. The family hotel was on Avenue P1/2 called the Bauknight Hotel -- the very spot where the parking garage stands behind the Moody Center on Seawall Boulevard.  It was a four story hotel with about 80 or 90 rooms. My grandparents house was at 2327 Avenue N at 24th Street. The house is still there but it has been altered and the property subdivided.

You really write well about the City. Hope someday to meet you.

I have a small Real Estate Company in Houston specializing in Residential Listings and Sales.

Thanks again,

Victor Lang replies:

Dear Mr. Bauknight,

What a delightful email to receive from you via Jim Guidry.

I am so glad you liked what I have written.  I don't pretend to be a historian but I try to be as accurate on recall as possible and will check the occasional fact every now and then!  I am 69 years at this juncture and while I don't remember your family hotel, I certainly do recognize the name. 

I am considering doing a profile of William Glenn, Jr., DDS, on Broadway at 24th Street. His father was a dentist there before him and his son, Glenn III is practicing there.  Glenn, Jr., remembers writing for the Galveston Daily News back when Silas Ragsdale was President or Publisher of the News.  I think the Glenn essay would be a good one for us old timers.

Glenn, Jr.'s wife, Sara Lillian Ater is the daughter of Mr. Ater who was at the Santa Fe RR here in Galveston for so many years.  Next door to the Glenn operation on Broadway (where the Senior Glenns also lived) was the Scott Flower Shop, owned and operated by Mrs. Grace Scott whose father was named Schaumberger (I may have to check the spelling) and he owned and operated the Panama Hotel down by the train station when the Panama was quite something.  I might be able to tie the Glenn and Scott families together with a bit of my own crown for a single essay.

Please stay in touch and I hope we'll have something up to standard for you every now and then. We do appreciate your readership and your notes.

All the best,

Victor Lang

August 11, 2005
Bill Keith from Lufkin writes:

Victor,

Your article on old Galveston movie theaters came up in an ongoing group discussion of old Drive-In movies in the Houston area where I grew-up.  What I became curious about  was your references to Post Office Street which was a dark and mysterious place for us kids from Houston. 

On one occasion, the 30s something bachelor uncle of a friend of mine took us to Galveston one time for a day on the beach.  Later, he told us he had some business to tend to and drove down to PO.  He went into one of the houses while we waited in the car.  Some of the girls sitting in the window happened to notice us prepubescent boys ogling them from the car and began to entice us in various ways. 


Surely living there, you must have some wonderful "nickel and dime" stories to tell about the Street as well.  How about turning loose of one of the good ones.
 
Bill Keith

Victor Lang replies:

Dear Mr. Keith,

You bet there were some dillies that centered around the Red Light District.  In fact, one madam married a distant cousin of mine.  She, in turn, was in partnership with a Police and Fire Commissioner here.

Most of us had not met the lady but she had regard for her husband's family even though she had not met them.

When her number came up to be raided and have her girls taken to the station to be booked, she had herself booked under her "Maiden" name so as not to embarrass her Galveston family.  How's that for civility?

Same era, different madam involved a death in her house, while the gentleman was "still plugged in" at time of death, from a coronary.  The gentleman was quite prominent in Galveston and no one wanted it known he'd died in action in a cathouse. Madam called Police Commissioner who arrived with a detective.

Between the three of them, they dressed the hapless fellow, put him in a squad car and drove to Central Park on 21st Street.  There, supporting the corpse as though he were drunk, they set him up on a park bench following that with an anonymous call to the Police Deptartment saying there was a dead man's body on a park bench in Central Park. The Police arrived to find the fellow's body ensconced on a bench in the park.

Only kicker in the deal was the Madam had forgotten her client had parked his car smack in front of her place as he was in a hurry.  A day later the wife of the deceased, who evidently knew her husband's habits all too well, discovered the car parked "down the line."

So, all was for naught.

There are more stories and they are true but I thought these were two of the really good ones you might enjoy.

Best,

Victor Lang
 

Harold Coates of Fredericksburg, Texas writes:

I enjoyed your articles on Splash Day and Caduceus Place.  

I have many fond memories of our family pediatrician, who delivered me and my sister, and close family friends, Dr. Francis and Margaret Garbarde who lived in a large white house on Caduceus Place, I think it was  #15.  

It is a great house and we had many fond memories there, going to the Artillery Ball and other events. 

Keep up the great columns.
 
Victor replies:

Thank you for your very kind email.  

I get a tremendous kick out of hearing from people with fond memories of Galveston and its denizens.  One of the reasons I came back here to live in 1995 was because of memories and I have been having a fine time since my return writing about them.  

I might also tell you it's great fun meeting the people who moved here while I was gone and are as passionate about Galveston---with all its flaws---as those of us who were born here.  

Again, my thanks for your note and my best wishes to you, 

Victor

     
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