We visited Corpus Christi last weekend for our annual 36 hour pre-Thanksgiving weekend trip, our first time leaving town this entire year. We stayed in an overpriced VRBO home, as per the usual, and even at thrice the cost, it’s always better than hotels. No kids running up and down halls, no slamming doors at midnight, no God-knows-what under a hotel bed that hasn’t been cleaned since the Obama administration, no sharing walls with anyone at all. We spent a total of about 20 minutes at the beach, none of us wanting to take a swim and spend our brief visit picking sand out of crevices. But it was nice just to breathe somewhere other than home for the first time this year. We still haven’t gathered with friends or family since pre-COVID, minus dropping off a meal and waving to my folks for Thanksgiving. I am so ready for this year to be over.
I recently came into possession of
narcotics a book of paintings by EM “Buck” Schiwetz, an artist who painted the Texas landscape for decades. In the future, I imagine I will share more of his images, but I just wanted to focus on this one today and get your take. What do you think of the seagulls, the seaside shanties, the brown sky?
On The South Bay Beach, 1952, Thurston Hopkins
At this point, WWII was in the books, and the era of photography had changed as well. More formal portraiture had made way for commonplace settings, examining the ordinary, such as these folks at the beach.
I can’t say that personally, I’ve ever seen people wearing winter clothes to a beach, much less a business suit. Even the children building sandcastles are wearing long-sleeved, button-down shirts. I guess the day was made more for being outdoors than for a brisk swim. I love these expressive matronly faces, but I also wonder if it was hard to procure sunglasses at the time. Surely, they could have used some!
In the background lies the luxury hotel called The Grand. When it opened in 1867, it was the largest hotel and the largest brick structure in all of Europe! Now, to the Americans, that’s ancient. But over there, I suppose 1867 was just a couple blinks ago–and it certainly doesn’t conjure up memories of a post-Civil War era for them.
Myself, I don’t care for hotels–for the midnight slamming doors, kids running up and down halls, the thin walls, the questionable cleanliness (especially the bed quilts), the half-ply toilet paper, the items I have found on carpet, including both metal tacks and bullets at a certain Hyatt. But I can appreciate the architecture. And while this hotel has faced all kinds of health issues, from cases of gastroenteritis to Norwalk virus to dangerous levels of bleach in the water, the most interesting tidbit is as follows:
In September 2006, the management installed extra netting and spikes on the exterior of the building to deter nesting seagulls. The birds, which are regarded as a nuisance in parts of the town, had been disturbing guests with mating calls. Their droppings were also responsible for a significant proportion of the hotel’s cleaning expenses. (Scarborough Evening News)
It looks like this image would make a great puzzle, but it was actually pretty odd to see all this debris washed up on the shoreline in Rockport. Most of the shells were broken, but as you can see, this starfish was still in tact. We didn’t take it, as it needed to dry out. It was wet and squishy. We actually left it all just as it was.
I’d never seen so many things washed up ashore like this. See the leopard print?
However, it didn’t seem to bother these folks.
Seriously, who does that? Do you ever just lie, fully clothed on the beach like that, and chitty-chat with the sand and surf riding into your nether regions? People are strange.
Shells and crabs littered the entire area.
And there was this little guy.
Wonder how long it will stay that way?