Look What The Cat Drug In

Here's where we go to kick back after the races with our pals. Pour a tall one, punch a few buttons on the jukebox, and relax...

Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby draglist » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:41 pm

Wow... a rolling stone gathers no moss! bp
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:34 am

This time of year, I often find myself reminiscing of the days I had in Galveston when I was a kid. I grew up in the Historical District. It was a Victorian-Dickensian environment. Over the next year, I'll post pictures of the places I was living in during my formative years. I grew up as an artist and a musician. My cousins, uncles and friends turned me on to Drag Racing and Hot Rodding in 1957. I never let go of any of it.

The picture I am including in this post is of the mansion that I took music lessons in, from 1956 to 1966. At the time I was there, it was called "Madonna Hall" and was a fine arts annex to the Dominican convent at the corner of 16th Street and Postoffice Street. The actual historical title of the place is the Landes House. It was built in 1886-87 and has changed hands 3 times since its original ownership. 200 people were sheltered there during the 1900 hurricane which claimed 6,000 lives in Galveston.

Inside, it is a labyrinth of exquisitely crafted woodwork, tile and stairsteps. I remember that the doors in that house were huge, ornate heavy sliding and folding doors, with brass fixtures. The ceilings were 12 feet high. There were at least 8 pianos in the music studio, and Sister Bernard gave me lessons once a week for 10 years on the main concert grand in the center of her headquarters, which is the abuttment on the left side of the main entrance.

She was an immensely gifted and masterful musician. She taught me old school. I never knew her to be in a bad mood. She frequently used the "N" word when her conversation drifted away from the task at hand, and she had very unconventional opinions on society, politics, religion and the afterlife, which she also let me know about. I never would have expected anything like what she told me to come from a NUN...she used slang and vulgarity, mixed with the most sophisticated and insightful language there was to be spoken...but I do remember her favorite phrase..."It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, my little fingers, because we're all going to Heaven, and that's a fact!" Thanks, Sister Bernard! I still say that to this day, when I play a gig with Pee Wee. She smiles (and winks) from over my right shoulder.

Enjoy! WC1
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby draglist » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:41 pm

Nice. bp
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:53 pm

Here is the only picture I could find of the grade school I attended and the church that it was part of...St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica in Galveston and the Cathedral school. The picture of the school was taken in the 1880s right after it was built.

I attended St. Mary's school from the time I started Kindergarten in 1954 until right after I started in 7th grade in 1961, when the school was destroyed in Hurricane Carla. To raise money to build a new school, Father Dan (O'Connell, who the new co-ed high school was named after in 1969 after combining the all-boys' school and the 2 all-girls' schools, from the Dominican and Ursuline convents and the Christian Brothers' boys school) collected all the bricks from the old school building, signed each one with a Marks-A-Lot, and sold each brick for $5.00...he raised around a million bucks and the parish was able to build a new, modern school. I have 2 of them sitting here on the piano next to my workstation.

I was fortunate to have been there while Fr. Dan was around. He was a great leader and a great man. He never backed down and he never gave up when times got tough.

The church is the oldest cathedral in Texas, built in 1847. When Nicholas J. Clayton the architect designed and built the school in the 1880s, (his work reminds me of giant gingerbread houses), he kicked in some of his creativity and added spires and towers to the church. The statue of Mary, Star of the Sea atop the bell tower (visible behind the palm trees in the picture...pretty spooky place) was for years the tallest structure in Galveston and served as a beacon for incoming ships and has withstood all hurricanes including the 1800s, 1900, 1915, 1943, 1961, 1983, and 2008. Below is a list of Texas hurricanes, pre-1900:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Texas_hurricanes_(Pre-1900)

The lighter-colored base around the school appears to have been added as an afterthought, kind of like a pedestal, raising the entire structure another 12 feet to prevent it from being flooded on the main floors in the event of a catastrophic tide surge that comes with a hurricane. In 1961, Carla was a Category 5...the water didn't quite reach the top of that bottom section, but the wind blew more than half of the building down.

Neither the church or the shcool were air-conditioned when I went there. The school had piped-in hot water to those accordian-looking radiator-type deals, and we used fans and kept the windows open during the hot months. The church got air conditioning some time in the early 60s as I recall...

Here are pictures of the church and school, and the link to Mr. Clayton's Wikipedia page. His daughter, Mary Clayton, took all of our school pictures all the way through my high school graduation in 1967.
With my family living in the Historical District in Galveston, these were some of the buildings that I was in from the time I was born until the time I started high school. More later.

Enjoy! WC1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_J._Clayton
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Last edited by WildcatOne on Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby draglist » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:22 pm

Great personal history here, John. Thanks. bp
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby WildcatOne » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:20 pm

I found some links to pictures I had all but forgotten since I was a kid...more Clayton architecture in my neighborhood...

The Ursuline Convent and Academy was 3 blocks from our house. The pictures here were taken from Kempner Park, which was across the street to the West of the convent. The color picture (it appears to have been colorized) is from the Northwest side of the building and the grayscale picture is taken from the Southwest side, facing the Gulf of Mexico. During Hurricane Carla in 1961, I watched this building get blown over from the back porch of our house. What was left of it after the storm was not in good enough condition to save, and the entire complex was demolished, as was most of the town. We were lucky to survive that storm.

As a side note, the Ursuline nuns were kinda spooky. They wore strange and elaborate habits. Big headdresses that looked like kites if the wind caught 'em just right. The Dominicans, who were favored by my family, had a little more conventional nun get-up. Up until the mid-60s they had starched headgear that had 2 big arches in front but that changed to a simple singular hood that made 'em look more human. The Ursulines, to my memory, never did change anything. They looked like they just walked out of a medieval history book. All nuns wore full body cover, had lifelike crucifixes for necklaces and had huge rosaries for belts. They all wore wedding rings, too. I'd say it took total committment to be a nun, glad I didn't have to worry about that stuff...I had nuns for teachers until high school, then it was Christian Brothers and priests with an occasional lay person every so often teaching us. College, too...until I dropped out of the University of St. Thomas and ended up graduating from Texas Academy of Art in mid 1970.

10 blocks East of where we lived, was Sacred Heart Church on Broadway and 14th street. Later I will show the Bishop's Palace, which was across the street from this church. The First picture is the ruins of the church following the 1900 Hurricane, and the second is the rebuilt church in 1902, which still stands.

None of this is intended as any kind of religious sermon, ya know. This is just what was there when I was growing up, it's real. I was in all this from the day I was born.

I took all of it for granted, as did all my friends. It's just where we lived, ya know. This was our world. Virtually all of Galveston was like this, built before or right after the turn of the century. I remember that the trolleys all over town were replaced with electric buses similar to those in New Orleans when I was around 7 years old, but most of the streets were paved with bricks. Asphalt and concrete came in during the mid-50s but "old" Galveston existed well into my teens. Downtown and all throughout the Historical District, buildings like these remained, about half of them dilapidated and condemned, but when I was a kid, they were the main buildings in town. The "new" subdivisions that exist there today sprang up when the baby boomers started getting married and wanted a more modern lifestyle...

The pictures went in in the reverse order that they were intended...sorry about that...

Cheers, WC1
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SacredHeart1900.jpg
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UrsulineAcademy.jpg
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby pro70z28 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:33 pm

That is some amazing architecture WC. 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) Cool Pics.
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Re: Look What The Cat Drug In

Postby WildcatOne » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:24 pm

The drive to find my roots is fading, but I have these pics that I put together when it was important...here are a few more...I have one more batch after this one.

The house we lived in until I was 13...we moved to a new subdivision in the West end of town in 1961. This house was built in the 1860s. It had a cistern and assorted fruit trees in the yard, clothes lines, no air conditioning, one bathroom with a tub and no shower, and we used gas heaters in the winter...the ones that would have these cinders that glowed and looked like futuristic cities when they heated up...to me, anyway, the did!

It has been suggested that Mr. Goodvibes came from this house. We were warned by the crazy landlady not to go in the attic...so what did we do? The attic had trunks that contained black dresses and pointed hats like the wicked witch wore, photographs of graves, books on spiritual mediums, and how to have seances...one box had about a hundred colorful cigar wrappers and a glass eye in it.in the early 20th century, spiritualist rituals were performed there. From what I've read, those activities were popular in affluent society back then. The trunks hadn't been opened for many, many years when we looked inside them. When we moved, my Mom kept one of those trunks and gave it to me. I have it here in the shrine to bad taste. Other than that, we had a happy childhood there. I found rifle bullets under the house that were Civil War-era.

2 blocks North was the monument to the heroes of the Texas Revolution. The picture I am showing here has been Photoshopped...the sky doesn't look like that...

Down the street was the Bishop's Palace, across the steet from Sacred Heart Church, shown in a previous post. It's another Clayton building, originally built for the Gresham family. He was a railroad magnate. There are dozens of these castles in Galveston, all over town, mixed with modest abodes. It was an interesting place to live.

Lastly, Garten Verein. A giant Gazebo-styled gathering hall in Kempner Park, which is where those pictures of the Ursuline convent were taken. Strangely, this all-wood building survived Hurricane Carla intact, like our old house did. My grandfather played gigs there and I play gigs there, too. It's a beautiful building. They have wedding parties there and stuff...the acoustics in there are incredibly good. Enjoy! WC1
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