Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Fishing Trip and Nineteen Fifteen Hurricane, by Grace Cornell Newton

That September Saturday dawned clear and sunny. We had been invited to visit friends on their house-boat moored on the Beaumont side of the Neches River. Mrs. Borgerson, who had been Mamma's nurse when I was born, lived there with her husband and grown son and daughter.

In our go-to-town clothes, we walked straight down Calder to where it met Broadway, and then past Main to the Neches River. There was no free-way then, and the pine tree forest was still primitive and regal.

After arriving, we kids quickly took off our shoes and gathered on the wide porch or deck, from which we cast our string lines baited with pieces of bacon. I caught a crab and threw it back in. That was my first and only venture as an angler.

Then we got into the rowboat, with the picnic basket, and went to the opposite bank to have lunch under the trees. It took two trips to get us all across the river, and while the rest of the party was still in the boat, the sky grew leaden with "threatening" clouds and a wind was rising. The adults cast analytical glances at the sky and decided bad weather was brewing. So we rowed back to the house-boat and hurriedly ate our lunch in the big breezy kitchen. And soon took our departure.

We made it back to the apartment just ahead of the storm, about 1:30 P.M. Daddy called frantically to tell Mamma not to come to town to the movie as a severe storm warning was out. Of course, he wa unaware that we had been to the far reaches of Jefferson County only a short time earlier.

We stood at the "long" (floor-length) window excitedly watching the progress of the storm. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston, laughing like two kids and enjoying the strong breeze, stayed out on the porch until gusts of wind sent the wicker furniture skipping down the steps and blowing about the front yard.

Jerry [who would have been four years-old] says he remembers standing at the back door and watching the big rain drops plopping into the already flooded yard.

[Somewhere along the way, Grace's memories of this storm became mixed-up. As she was only six-years old at the time, she may have, over time, merged one memory into another. The only hurricane in September of 1915 made landfall on Wednesday the 29th, near New Orleans, Louisiana as a strong Category 3 hurricane. This storm would have been too far away to affect Beaumont very much, I think.

I suspect she was actually remembering the Galveston Hurricane of 1915, which made landfall just to the southwest of Galveston early in the day on Tuesday, August 17. Similar in strength to the 1900 Hurricane, the 1915 Galveston Hurricane was a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 135 mph. While property damage was substantial, there were only eleven deaths in Galveston, due to the recently completed seawall.]

1 comment:

  1. Good story! I remember dad telling about a friend and her family that lived on a houseboat "at the foot of Elizabeth Street" which still runs out at the river, behind Entergy Plaza.
    I remember in the cub scouts going down to that dock and aboard a good-sized yacht, and cruising up and down the river. That boat dock is long gone.
    I built a rowing/sailing boat at the time of David Aaron's birth, and used to row it downtown from Riverfront park. There was another man who also rowed up to the dock there, and I was curious where he came from, so I hung around and watched to see where to where he returned. He rowed across to the Orange County side and disappeared into the trees on the other side. I rowed across and found a cut into the riverbank that went several hundred feet, an he had a houseboat pushed up into the jungle that was there. Imagine living in a houseboat hidden in the bank. Not long after that, I read he was murdered on College St. while being robbed.