Eight years ago, Bob and I took a trip to Texas, during which we visited Galveston. Like my Dad, who visited Galveston during his Rest and Relaxation period during World War II, I found that I absolutely loved Galveston. For Dad and for me, the Galveston area was like taking a step back in time, to when life was much less hurried. People fished before going to work, and it almost seemed like the time to get to work was even a little flexible. That is almost like the old west…basically unheard of for the most part, these days. And, maybe it wasn’t really like that, but nobody seemed stressed!! How could that be? For whatever reason, they all seemed to have an attitude of gratitude that they were still here on this earth. It was amazing.
I don’t imagine that Galveston was always that way, but maybe it was. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if that attitude of gratitude came to Galveston after the 1900 hurricane that practically destroyed the city and killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people, with most official reports listing it at 8,000. The hurricane made landfall in Galveston on September 8, 1900 with winds estimated at 145 miles per hour…a Category 4 hurricane. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history and second only to Hurricane Katrina in total cost. The city of Galveston was all but destroyed by this hurricane, which occurred before names were assigned to hurricanes.
It was after the 1900 hurricane that it was decided that Galveston must have a seawall to better protect it from these devastating hurricanes. At the time of that hurricane, the highest point in the city of Galveston was only 8.7 feet above sea level. The storm surge was 15 feet, and it washed over the entire island. Over 3,600 homes were destroyed. Only a few buildings survived…mostly the solidly build mansion and houses along the Strand District. Those are tourist attractions today, and I am here to say that they are beautiful.
The story of the 1900 hurricane has left me in a bit of a state of wonder, especially when I think of the seawall that I saw. It didn’t look like something that could stop the surge of a hurricane, but over the years, Galveston has been mostly protected from the hurricanes that have come through. I have thought of the people of Galveston, and what a virtually stress free place it is, and it occurs to me that when so many of the people a town housed are gone in an instant, it would leave you with a different perspective on what is important and what isn’t. You would also think twice about getting upset about things that really don’t make any difference in the long run. Maybe that is what gives the people of Galveston an attitude if gratitude, and maybe it is what makes it such a peaceful place to visit.