That’s me on the left below, with my lovely wife, Flor. I quit my day job in January 2022 after the better part of a lifetime in higher ed. These days I write and work as a college and medical school admissions consultant. Most of what I’ve included on this site is about Galveston, Texas. You can find my randomish items on the city at “Galveston, oh Galveston” in the menu. The latest pieces are linked below.
Flags on Porches
To butcher Robert Frost, something there is about a porch that loves a flag.…
Down on the Corner
The automobile has utterly transformed how we live and die, in ways big and…
Quiet: Cutting Grass in Galveston, pt. 4
I opened the first entry in this exercise with a confession. Many years ago,…
Flor and I moved to Galveston at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Galveston sits on a narrow barrier island on what David McComb called the edge of time, a precarious perch between the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland. It was made less precarious by an extraordinary feat of engineering and determination – some say hubris – after the 1900 hurricane that killed over 6,000. Galveston is rich in history, culture, and architecture, but in the late nineteenth century, it was just plain rich. In the 1880s, the ratio of millionaires to regular folk was the highest in the world. When the storm hit, it was the second-wealthiest city per capita in the U.S. We’re two blocks from impossibly ornate 20-room Victorian-style mansions that survived the storm.
We live in an elevated cottage built seven years after the storm, when the city was still in the midst of that engineering miracle and residents had to make their way from place to place on wooden walkways raised on stilts. Enormous dredging ships, running in a 200-foot-wide canal dug across the city, were pumping fill from the Gulf to raise the entire city several feet above sea level. Every structure that survived the storm had to be raised on hand jacks. If homeowners couldn’t afford to raise their house, they’d fill in the lower floor. It’s an extraordinary story that’s told best in Patricia Bellis Bixel’s and Elizabeth Hayes Turner’s Galveston and the 1900 Storm, published in 2000 by The University of Texas Press.
Our house sits less than a block from the original path of that massive canal, long-since filled. Flor and I live two blocks south of the University of Texas Medical Branch, two blocks east of the East End Historical District, six blocks north of the Gulf of Mexico – when the wind is right, we hear the waves from our front porch – and 11 blocks west of The Strand, Galveston’s historic downtown.