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We’ve been there and now we’re back, and it was not as good a trip as it could have been if the weather had cooperated Sunday, but not as bad as it could have been, either, if hurricane Patricia, which plowed into the west coast of Mexico Friday night, had not dissipated as quickly as it did.  I drove a total of 1139.5 miles from the time I backed out of my parking space in the parking lot at 6:50 a.m. 21 October, 2015, to the time I pulled back into my parking space at 6:45 p.m. on 26 October, 2015.

We left for Pearland, Texas, on Wednesday, 21 October, and the weather was cool and overcast for the drive down.  I got the fat boy (Jaks, my cat) to the pet hotel right at 7 a.m., got mom loaded up and we were on the road by 7:30. We were going to stay with my cousin EJ (mom’s sister VJY’s oldest girl) and she had promised us Cornish hens stuffed with wild rice, so rather than stop somewhere for lunch, we just snacked on protein bars and peanut butter crackers.  In fact, we only stopped the once to fill the car’s tank (and empty ours!).  The traffic was fairly light considering that most of the drive is on S(tate) H(ighway) 36, which is only a two lane road, albeit with wide shoulders and strategically placed passing lanes; but when we got to US 290, which is three to four lanes each way, the traffic picked way up, and by US 610, it was bumper to bumper and snarled.  Even Co(unty) R(oa)d 518 was crowded, even though it was only sneaking up on 4 p.m. when we hit Pearland. We arrived in my cousin’s driveway at shortly after 4 p.m.

2015_10_21-01My cousin had invited my dad’s youngest brother’s youngest girl EGG and her husband P, to join us for dinner, which was abundant and scrumptious.  She is into genealogy, too, and her husband has done the DNA test that I want to do, as soon as I can allocate the funds . . .

We were glad of the chance to visit with them, as we hadn’t seen them since my dad’s funeral in September of 2014.  Her dad KG was my dad’s youngest brother, and our two families were closer than those of his other siblings.  When KG passed, my dad kind of adopted them, and when EGG married, she asked my dad to walk her down the aisle.

2015_10_22-01Thursday morning, we got to visit with Miss Raelyn Rose, my cousin’s grand daughter, mom’s great grand niece, and my first cousin twice removed (– yeah, I know.  You need a score card to keep track.) She’s the one I’ve been doing all the knitting for, and I had finally finished her other baby afghan and had brought it with.  At 9 weeks, she’s not all that active yet, but she soon will be, and this afghan was designed to be spread out on the floor to put the baby on.  Miss RR is as cute as a bug, and very good.  She fell asleep in my mom’s arms, and slept there a good half hour.   My cousin EJ has one of the pair of rocking chairs that were her mother’s (her sister has the other one), and Miss RR got rocked in it. (see below)

Pearland - Round Top - 2015 005 Pearland - Round Top - 2015 017Later, my cousin’s daughter RDC came over and took mom and me, EJ and her husband to lunch at the Monument Inn, which is located right next to the Houston Ship Channel, and we noshed on seafood and watched the barges come and go. I had fried shrimp and scallops, and they were wonderful.  My cousin EJ had them bring my mom a celebratory slice of cheesecake with cherries to celebrate her 91st birthday last month.

The “Monument” the restaurant’s name refers to is the San Jacinto Monument (at left), which marks the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, which was the decisive battle in which Texas gained its independence from Mexico and became 2015_10_22-05a Republic.  Sam Houston and his army of “Texians” defeated the Mexican army and captured General Lopez de Santa Anna.  The restaurant is located near the battlefield monument.

Battleship TexasAlso near the monument is the battleship USS Texas (BB-35), (below) which was decomissioned from the US Navy and turned over to the State of Texas on 21 April, 1948, the 112 anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, and now sits in permanent dock.  A marine color guard was present at the ceremony in 1948 (and got their picture in the Houston Chronicle!), and one of the marines in the color guard was my dad!  The Texas is now the flagship of the Texas Navy.

Insignia of USS Texas(As a side note, on 31 July, 2004, the USS Texas (SSN-775), a Virginia-class submarine, was christened by then First Lady Laura Bush, and was commissioned on 9 September 2006.  At left is their insignia:  The star and circle is the badge of the officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers division.  The “Don’t Mess With Texas” motto originally started out as an anti-littering slogan, but it works on so many levels. . . )

Friday, the weather was a little iffy, with scattered showers, but my cousin and her husband drove us to visit my mother’s brother AJ and his daughter and son-in-law, who live in Clute, Texas .  My mom is the 12th of 12 children, and all but her brother AJ (below left) have passed.  He is her only remaining sibling.  He’s 97.  Although still physically active, he is suffering noticeably from dementia and requires a live-in care giver. Pearland - Round Top - 2015 034

His daughter GM and her husband live across the street. That’s my mom, her brother and her niece GM at left.

On the way back, we drove through Pearland down Yost Boulevard.  The Boulevard was named for EJ’s paternal grandparents, who owned a large parcel of land in that particular area. When I was a child, this area was all out in the country, and Yost Road, as it was then, was just an unpaved road covered with crushed oyster shells that jutted off the Friendswood highway.  EJ’s parents lived on the corner, and down the road lived various aunts and uncles, some cousins, my grandma and step-grandfather, and my uncle HJ lived at the very end of it. 2015_10_23-04 Of all those little wood frame houses set up on concrete blocks, only one house remains, that of my aunt EJW, the youngest of my mom’s three sisters (there were 4 boys, 3 girls, 4 more boys and my mom).  The only reason it is still there is because the people who live in the $2.5 million house next door bought it for their teenaged son.  2015_10_23-05He got to know my aunt, who was still living there at the time.  He became quite attached to my aunt and to the house, and after she had to go to the nursing home, his parents bought my aunt’s house for him.  He has autism spectrum disorder and he now uses it as his “retreat.”

2015_10_23-10Further down is the property that used to belong to my grandmother, and where her house was.  It has since been torn down, although the property remains vacant2015_10_23-07 (at right).  However, it was on this property where my mother was born, on the banks of Clear Creek, which runs behind the property.  Further down, is the house my uncle HJ built in the early 1990’s.  His grandson R is living there now.

I can remember going to family reunions at my uncle HJ’s old house, which sat back from the road — a little three-bedroom shotgun house up on cinder blocks.  In front of his property, along the road, was his satsuma orange grove.    He always had a large vegetable garden, and ran a few head of cattle on his partially wooded acreage. 2015_10_23-08Whenever he hosted the reunions, he would always have several “oil drum” barbecues going with steaks, chicken and deer sausage, and all the relatives would bring covered dishes.  My cousin EJ’s mother, VYJ, was famous (especially with my mom) for her chocolate meringue pies.  Eventually, my uncle HJ sold off most of his acreage, and now what used to be his orange grove is this exclusive, gated community filled with $2-3 million dollar homes.

Friday evening, mom, EJ and her husband B, EJ’s daughter R and her husband C went to a Pearland High School football game.  Pearland won, of course!  (Recently, the Pearland Little League All Stars went to the semi-finals in the Little League World Series.)  I am not much of a sports fan and chose not to go.  I watched TV, particularly the Weather Channel, as Hurricane Patricia was barreling into the west coast of Mexico, and we were concerned about the weather Sunday when we planned to go to Round Top, Texas.

Pearland - Round Top - 2015 050 Saturday, we attended the luncheon meeting of the Pearland Historical Society. As part of the program, they held a candle-lighting memorial and various people lit candles for their member relatives who had passed during the year.

Pearland - Round Top - 2015 053As my uncle HJ was a member of the PHS, my mom lit the candle for him.  (see below) During the opening speeches, however, we had a tremendous thunderstorm, and the electricity went off.

Unfortunately, the outage blew the fuse for the lights in the meeting room where we were.  A repairman was called, but in the meantime, we had to eat our luncheon of barbecued beef and chicken, baked beans and potato salad by the light of safety lamps.  In addition to several other cousins, my aunt EJW’s daughters, M and  W, were at the meeting.  They grew up in the little house on Yost Road (see above). W, who lives in Rosharon, was concerned about whether she was going to be able to get home as we were under a flash flood warning.  However, the flooding was not very bad and she had no problems getting through.

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My maternal grandmother’s grave

On the way home, we stopped by the Pearland Cemetery to see graves of various family members buried there, including mom’s mother, and her father’s brother.

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my paternal grandfather’s brother’s grave

We went to bed early Saturday night as we planned to set out to Round Top, Texas, at 6:30 Sunday morning, so that we could attend church services at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church there, which was founded by mom’s great grandfather, J. Adam Neuthard.

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