Life in Point Comfort was pretty idyllic in the post WWII/Korea war years of the 1950s and 1960s. Our fathers brought us to this little factory village from near and far as the post-war economy craved aluminum for the world. The jobs were good, steady, paid well, and our fathers could provide health insurance for our families.
Our little village was safe, screen doors and windows are all that protected us on those hot summer nights, but no worries. Doors to our homes were open or unlocked, keys were kept in the car and kids were everywhere. Safety was just an understood thing. Other parents in our village felt OK about correcting us if we were messing up, then telling our parents.
Swimming, crabbing and fishing at the Bayfront in summers were an everyday thing. Building forts in the tall grass behind the Catholic church was a fun thing. Sneaking in through the fence over at the small Bauer shipyard was an adventure with the risk of that man shooting rock salt at you if you were caught. In Boy Scouts, taking that 5-mile hike to the causeway, then turning around to hike to the roadside park, cooking lunch under coals, then making sure not a scrap of paper was left behind as we hiked home is a great memory.
Riding bikes fast around the concrete circle behind City Hall was a sport. Picking up pop bottles along the streets and disobeying our parents by hunting bottles out by the SH 35 bottle treasure zone was hard work. Doing cleaning work on the bottles so they would pass Mrs. Austrum’s inspection at the grocery store, so we could collect our two cents per bottle, then turn around and spend it on “chum-gum” (three sticks for one cent) or two Hershey’s kisses.
Riding our bikes across the railroad track to the little store at the trailer park where Formosa stands today. Going out to Mrs. Traylor’s ranch in first grade and playing on bales of hay. Taking our 25 cents of lunch money to the pharmacy lunch counter buying a 20-cent bowl of soup and 5-cent Coke mixed fresh in one of those pointy cups.
I had a short time as a salesman after Hurricane Carla, buying padlocks at Green’s Appliance for half price and selling them to my classmates at or near full price, probably earning an entire $10 in the process.
Begging Mr. Austrum at the store to give us bones and meat scraps as bait for crabbing, knowing in his heart he loved us kids. Riding in the big dump trucks with the National Guard as we all pitched in to clean up Point Comfort after Hurricane Carla. Watching the Bayfront park emerging from muddy hillside to the nice concrete slope, loading ramp and jetty it is today. Being excited seeing the pool being built, then enjoying those leisurely summer days swimming and just being kids. Going to visit friends on the ‘Oliva cutoff’ road, learning from dad how to safely shoot a gun at the gun club shooting range, all great memories.
Remembering when the shallow draft ship, the El Capiton, arrived at our emerging shipping port to load cattle in the middle of the night to export to Italy. I hope you all remember the train of cars from our little village to the port behind Alcoa to see this first “real” ship come into our docks, and the pride we all felt. Getting ready for the big patriotic show at the Calhoun football field, in third grade, learning “Texas, Our Texas” for a big production number, only to find the US Congress admitted Alaska as a state to dash our pride of Texas being the largest state. These are memories of our youth.
This was my life until my mom passed away in spring of my fifth-grade year. I have distinct memories of the miserable morning as a very confused and sad 11-year-old at the start of my mom’s funeral at the Baptist church, turning and seeing many of my fifth-grade classmates coming quietly into the back of the church as our teachers whispered to you to be quiet after you all marched from the school. I have no idea how many of you were there, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Then after Dad remarried two years later, just before we started eighth grade, and moved our family to Port Lavaca, my time in Point Comfort came to an end. Part of my heart will always be there.
When I visit my aunt Marilyn and cousin Ruth from time to time, my heart and memories move back to those days we kids, and our nation, were all innocent or felt we were, in a much simpler time. The memories that flood back are those of a wonderful time spent with so many of you in our hometown of Point Comfort, Texas.
I have lived in seven of America’s large cities and have enjoyed travel to more than countries in my adult life. Through all of my satisfying, rewarding life, my memories of those first 12 years in Point Comfort will be with me until my last step on this Earth.