Today was our first visit to the island, Galveston Island. Not exactly the way I remembered our favorite vacation land – the place we’d go for a casual lunch and a walk along the sea wall. No, it resembled nothing of the sort.
As we neared Harborside Exit off I45 we noticed the boats tossed along the side of the causeway, we’d seen photos of this - but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Hard to imagine the force of nature that can move a vessel much like a child playing with a toy boat in the bathtub, landing it at a whim where it doesn’t naturally belong.
Everything seemed in sepia tone – reminding me of the movie Waterworld and others where things in the future after mass destructions were all brown and dull looking. Here it was hard to recognize familiar spots due to the amount of debris piled up on the curb. Everywhere you looked there were piles – around the many businesses that still sported their boarded up windows we saw piles of office furniture, cabinets, chairs, desks, sheetrock, etc. Going down Broadway I caught a glimpse of a business, barely reading the sign on the wall due to the height of the debris…but unmistakably a vacuum store…their previous inventory of vacuum cleaners were neatly arranged on the curb – if you didn’t know better you’d think they’d been so displayed for a special sidewalk sale, obviously the owners still reflecting their pride in their business. The type of Texas tenacity that tells you “we will be back”
The ever popular Strand looked like a ghost town, or perhaps a movie set for the 1900’s era – the buildings are still beautiful with their historic architect but the windows are boarded, the streets covered with dirt, and the sidewalks empty. Where are the actors? Where are the colorful coastal cruise-line destination shops? How long before they will be back?
We made our way to the seawall, where we didn’t SEE some of the familiar sights – noticeably missing were the piers. One place we frequented was Murdoch’s – in the early 1900’s it was a bath house and a popular spot on the water. In recent years it was a gift shop. A few years ago they added a section that connected two of these buildings on piers together which formed what I call a breezeway decking over the water– it was an opened covered area with rocking chairs placed where you could enjoy the water and perhaps have a cool soda or frozen drink. Many memories associated with rocking while enjoying the sound of the waves and the sea gulls. Oh, and we did purchase our fair share of island souvenirs throughout the years – especially when the tropical shirts would go on sale (smile). This is how it looks today. Only the breezeway is standing. It will probably not be rebuilt as city ordinances prohibit new buildings on piers. A piece of history gone, gone with the wind and gone with the waves.
The quilt shop in Galveston was having a customer appreciation sale today - she had over 3000 bolts that had been salvaged, washed and dried and on sale for way below their value. The store which has previously held over 8 years of memories for me was not much more than a shell of its former grandeur. Gone were the colorful quilts on display covering the walls, gone were the book shelves full of inspiration, gone were the neatly arranged bolts of fabric beckoning to be taken home and added to a stash, gone were the displays of notions, giftware, and trinkets. Instead, tables with flat folds of the salvaged fabric, shelves with "free items, limit one per customer" of patterns, charm packs, and other items damaged by the water but still useful. A strange unfamiliar sight.
Yet among the visual rubble were smiles, hugs, and well wishes. Everyone was sooo glad to gather at the quilt shop that had been closed now for well over a month -- a time to run into quilting friends, a time to share Ike stories, a time to wish the owner well in her recovery and future plans -- for you see, the strip mall where she is located will be torn down by the owners to rebuild a grocery store so the shop as we knew it will be no more. This is the shop that inspired my quilting, this is the shop that believed in me and encouraged me to teach others to quilt, this is the shop where I used to work on Saturdays back in the day when I still had a "real" Mon-Fri job, this is the shop that gave me an opportunity to be a longarm quilter of shop samples. This shop is where friends gather. At the end of the month, this shop will be a precious memory. As the owner said, it's not hard to let go of stuff, it's just hard to let go of the memories associated with the stuff. She's been there for her customers - both locally, the ones that come to her booth at Festival and other venues, and through the internet. For now, there's nowhere on the island to relocate. Items are in storage on the mainland and it's "one step at a time" Decisions will be made after Festival as to the future of this shop - indeed, it's a hard pill to
swallow -- but we are not without hope down here. Hope comes in all sorts of ways - from seeing the squirrels and birds return, to seeing new growth of the leaves on my trees in the backyard (sounds strange to you folks further north that are enjoying FALL but around here the only falling of the leaves is generally if they are blown off during a storm ), hope comes in a hug from a friend and hearing how they are rebuilding, and hope comes in the mail - how I do so look forward to facilitating the distribution of Quilts of Hope! And hope comes in looking forward to future events as this billboard on the way home reminded me!!!