My Neighbor, Jean Lafitte

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There’s a side of me that is a treasure hunter, conspiracy theorist, cryptozoologist, historian and someone who has other varied, weird interests. I often don’t share about them because I don’t want people to think I’m weird and I don’t want to get into arguments. I mean, if you want to have a conversation and consider all possibilities about those things we don’t have proof of and would like to wonder and wander with me, then let’s go. But, if you’re going to argue like you really know that Bigfoot doesn’t exist or that pirate treasure cannot be found, then let’s talk about the weather.

So, now that I’m here in Texas it is incumbent upon me to look into the local legends and local lore. I could talk about how Bigfoot encounters are rampant here in northeast Texas but for now, I’d like to talk about pirates.

I grew up in North Carolina hearing stories of Blackbeard and other pirates who sailed along the Outer Banks. When you are there, you can witness an eerie fog that rolls in at nightfall and you almost expect to see a brigantine or a man o’ war flying the Jolly Roger break through the mist. The Queen Ann’s Revenge sank at Beaufort, NC and there are rumors that you can see Blackbeard’s Lights: a ball of fire as big as a man’s head (Blackbeard was beheaded)  sail back and forth between two points.

I lived for many years in Georgia where pirates still haunt the coast at Savannah and Tybee Island. The place is webbed with underground tunnels for smuggling. It is rumored that Blackbeard buried treasure there.

So, of course, now that I’m near the Texas coast I must find out what pirates sailed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Well, it seems that Jean Lafitte comes up first. He is most well known for living and working from Louisianna and even joined forces with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812 fighting in the Battle of New Orleans, becoming a local hero.

Later, however, when his heroic fame became boring to him, he returned to life as a privateer. He stationed himself in Galveston and worked from there until one of his ships attacked a US vessel and Lafitte and his operation became the object of scrutiny. In fabulous pirate fashion, Lafitte burned the town and sailed away to plunder the Spanish Main.

Galveston is in my “neighborhood.” At least, it’s a 2-hour drive which is practically my neighborhood. I must get to know Jean.

I’m reading a book called, “Lafitte the Pirate” by Lyle Saxon. And I will be making a trip to visit his historic home in Galveston as soon as possible!

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There is a legend that Lafitte buried his treasure somewhere on his property.

Santa, I want a metal detector for Christmas! Is that possible? Please!

Peace out,

Jill

 

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Saying Goodbye To George H.W.

I heard there would be thousands of people heading out to the railroad tracks to see Bush’s funeral train, especially in our little town of Magnolia. There would be space for them to park and stand since we used to be a stop on the line and have an old depot that’s been turned into a history center. After some debate about whether it would be worth the effort, I decided to take a chance. It had been raining and the temp had dropped so I threw on my rain parka over my sweatshirt and took off.

Surprisingly and easily enough, I found a parking place in a church parking lot about a quarter mile from the tracks. I saw the cars had started lining the street so I thought I’d better park while I had the chance.

After a short walk, I joined the crowd as they lined the street and the tracks. People were in a jovial mood, laughing, greeting neighbors, drinking hot coffee and eating donuts from the local donut shop. A local realtor was handing out little flags. Good day for business, I’m sure.

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After a while, the police or constables as they’re called here blocked off the street and children began literally “dancing in the street.” It was such an interesting mix of people gathering together. IMG_3445 2

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Law enforcement, government workers as well as other groups came out to pay their respect.

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First, we saw the helicopter and airplanes, then the drones went up.

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Then we saw the train’s lights and heard the horn. It was amazing how everyone settled down into a respectful silence. There were no cheers, no yelling. Just watching, silently taking photos, waving and saluting.

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The train slowed…

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and I did not expect that I’d see the family in the cars! That made me get a lump in my throat. I hadn’t thought that the family would be with him. They were waving at us and taking photos of us!

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At one point a cheer went up from the crowd and those around me were saying that George, Jr was waving at us.

Then, when I saw the glass-sided car that George H.W. himself designed for this very occasion with his coffin and the soldiers standing at his head and foot, well, that’s when the tears started.

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I did not expect to get so emotional that day! I thought I’d just get out with the town, see something interesting and go back home. But it got to me.

I’m not very political, I don’t like to share my views because I find political talk causes division instead of bringing people together. I don’t know much about Bush’s presidency or his politics. But I was raised to respect the office of The President. And when I stood there watching that train pass by, I was deeply saddened. By a man’s death, yes, but I felt that perhaps the day where our government leaders were trusted, respected and honored were gone.

I know, I know, it started a long time ago, and maybe distrust has been there from the beginning. But I lived during the presidencies of Kennedy until today and you have to admit that trust and respect of the role of President have been an issue. Somewhere along the way, we, the people, have lost our trust and respect for our leaders.

I’m sure there are a lot of different reasons.

But what a day. I’m glad that I braved the crowd and weather. The way the people reacted and responded made me…dare I say it…proud to be a Texan.

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Weird Places

The husband is using up some vacation days before he loses them so we’ve been going out, doing some Christmas shopping and taking time to explore in the area.

We are about 3 and a half months living here now and I like to get out, explore, put my feet on the ground and get a feel for the place and “own” it.

Husband is a bicyclist and wanted to check out a greenway and some trails in a town near us, so we went out and found this really weird place.

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It was near the banks of Spring Creek and in an area that was horribly flooded during Hurricane Harvey. We first came upon these tree, cedars, I think. very swampy and quiet except for the splashes of frogs or turtles taking shelter in the water.

Up a small hill and we saw Spring Creek.

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You could still see evidence of rising water and flooding.

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You can see a little from this shot that almost all the smaller trees were bent to my left. The creek is on my right here. I can’t imagine the water being that high, but it was weird how all the trees were bent in one direction and there were leaves and branches and trash high up in the trees and it couldn’t have gotten there except by rising water. Scary to think of that much water.

Kind of a spooky place.

Over and out,

Jill