Hi. My name is Melinda Cote (say “ko’-tee”), and I’m the “I” in I Love Old Galveston.
In the parlance peculiar to Galveston Island, let me confess at the outset that I am not a “BOI” (“Born on the Island”) but rather an “IBC” (“Islander by Choice”). Although I was born in Dallas and grew up in Irving, I’ve had a tender, lifelong attachment to Galveston that began on family vacations in my childhood, continued through the crazy beach-party years of young adulthood, and abides intact to this very day.
I’m an IBC for sure. Before moving to Galveston in 2009, I lived on another island, a small stretch of rocky beach and towering conifers in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I lived a charmed life for twelve years. But when life dealt a sad hand and I made the decision to move back to my native state, I knew there was only one Texas town I could ever call home. Galveston.
Those sweet, faint memories of summer trips to the island still bring a smile to my face. Most of the old seawall establishments I remember from back then are gone now, but a few are still around. Two had funny names that made me laugh—the S.S. Snort and the Poop Deck (imagine what a kid’s mind would do with that last one). Others, like Stewart Beach and the old Surf Side Motel, bring back a wash of memories of the footloose adventures of my twenty-something years. Even now, decades later, driving down Seawall Boulevard with that salty breeze caressing my face and the soothing surf whispering in my ear, I am transported back to those carefree, magical days. Galveston takes me back to my youth.
As you’ll read in the second article of the introductory series, the singular experience that transformed my fondness for the island into enduring love was a spontaneous visit in 1974 that culminated in an unforgettable evening at the beautiful and then-still-classy Balinese Room. At the time, young as I was, I had no inkling of its past, but I was instantly smitten by its exotic allure, which alone was enough to capture my imagination for a lifetime. It was only many years later that I would dig into its history and discover that the heyday of the two savvy brothers from Sicily who created it aligned like the planets with another great fascination of mine, the era spanning the jazz age of the 1920s and 1930s and the war years of the early 1940s. It was, in fact, the coincidence of these two passions that became the catalyst for my Galveston collection and, ultimately, for the I Love Old Galveston project itself. Pretty quickly, though, the focus of both expanded to include the whole of Galveston’s unique and utterly captivating past.
By trade, I’m a writer, editor, and web designer/ developer. For fun, I’m a lay historian, architecture buff, and Galveston memorabilia collector. Not surprisingly, the I Love Old Galveston project arose as a natural fusion of all these elements.
My last position was with The Bryan Museum here in Galveston, first as its Web Developer, later its Director of Marketing and Communications. The Bryan Museum, housed in the historic Galveston Orphans Home, now beautifully restored, is a great place to visit for a trip into Texas history, full of lovely artwork and interesting artifacts. But all the time I was working there, I had this persistent, niggling desire to pursue a project with a more Galveston-centric focus, now realized here.
You can think of I Love Old Galveston as one part “blogazine” and one part collectibles showcase. As a blogazine, it’s both a journal written from my own personal perspective as well as a serious dive into the historical record. As a showcase for my ever-expanding collection of little Galveston treasures, well, it’s just downright fun.
So I’ll leave modern Galveston to the restaurateurs, hoteliers, and the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. They do a fine job of promoting the island of today. For my part, though, I’ll head on back down that brick-paved boulevard to the bygone days of an older Galveston. Because her history is where my is.