Today is my oldest grandson’s tenth birthday. The General (aka – my wife) and I had the good fortune of spending Friday night in Cat Spring and being present Saturday morning for a birthday brunch hosted by William’s other grandmother. Obviously one of Gwen’s spiritual gifts is hospitality. She is an amazing cook and takes delight in orchestrating a venue guaranteed to build memories too precious to forget.
A little over seven-to-eight months ago when Craig and Becky expressed their plan to move back to Texas and make Cat Spring their home, my first thought was “I really should remain silent, keep my thoughts to myself and let them figure this out on their own. They are responsible, capable adults. They don’t need my help.” I say that just to substantiate that at some level, I can cognitively come up with a strategy that makes perfect sense and is both age-appropriate for me and for them. The problem is the follow-through. Before it was over, I failed miserably.
When Craig subsequently received a coveted job offer from Patterson Drilling Company located in the north/east quadrant of the greater Houston area, I thought it would become obvious to even the most uninformed that no one in their right mind commutes seventy-five miles to work one-way through Houston traffic.
I should hasten to say that I know what I’m talking about. I minimally commute fifty-one miles a day one-way in Austin traffic. On other days I travel to Brenham or Houston. It is part of the price you pay to live on the edge of heaven. The commute can at times move my focus from the heavenly realm to …well, let’s just say it can be a very long drive. To date, the longest length of time it’s taken me to get from Round Rock back home is two hours and forty-five minutes. I’ve duplicated that record more than once. All is takes is a little rain and everything stops in Austin. Houston would have to be worse.
Passive aggressive isn’t my primary style, but I can’t count the times I drove from Henly to Houston on a weekday morning. I purposefully timed my commute to arrive in the greater Sealy area around 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. I wanted to see for myself what the traffic was like. Any morning that I found it took me two hours to get from Sealy to the west side of Houston, I’d telephone Craig to report, “You’re not going to believe the traffic.”
Sometimes talking to Craig can be like talking to the wall. He would simply make no response. One day I brazenly suggested they should give some thought to living in Woodlands or Kingwood. They could still visit family in Cat Spring every weekend. Craig’s response to my suggestion subtly put me in my place. I couldn’t argue with the logic. He said, “Dad, Becky doesn’t want our kids to attend school in an exclusively Anglo upper income neighborhood.”
Consequently, I conceded and gave up my ploy to change their minds. I hate it when I’m wrong, but how could I argue? I agreed with Becky concerning the schools. I think it is important that children learn that people have value regardless of ethnicity and economic status. It is an important lesson to learn.
Craig and Becky have been married over twenty years. I knew she grew-up in Cat Spring and graduated from high school in Sealy. That was the extent of my knowledge. Until six months ago, I had never been to Cat Spring. My first impression was favorable. My second impression is well beyond favorable. Consequently, I can’t think of a good reason for them not to live in Cat Spring.
The discovery I made this weekend when we had the privilege of staying in the Strauss House Bed and Breakfast owned by Becky’s brother and managed by her mother, is the multi-generational ties Becky has to that corner of the world. Becky’s brother even allowed me to read the town’s history written by Bernice Strauss Volkening (a great-great aunt).
According to her writing, “Our town in 1918 consisted of three grocery stores, two blacksmith shops, one cotton gin, one soda-water factory, one meat market (that butchered on Fridays), one lumber yard, one ice cream parlor, one saloon, one barber shop (haircuts were 25 cents), one drug store, one furniture store and hardware store, one hotel, one saddle-shop (that also repaired shoes) one woodworking shop (that made water tanks and cisterns, one bank (that closed during the Big Depression) two garages, post office, one church, one school, two dance halls, one undertaker, and two cemeteries…”.
Craig and Becky provided the General and I a guided tour through Cat Spring on Saturday. My take away from it was simple, “Why wouldn’t they want to live there?” The multi-generational connection Becky has to that one little corner of the world is amazing. It goes back for generations. Do you have any idea how rare that is? I am almost a little envious. (I take that back – I’m not a little envious. I am very envious). The Strauss House belonged to Becky’s great-great-grandparents. Wow! The sense of history and personal tie to the community lays the foundation for one’s sense of identity and the importance of family.
Secondly, at least 50% to 75% of all the places were passed on our tour of the community were extended family dwelling places with folks who continue to be tied and grounded to the importance of family and the importance of land. Do you have any idea how rare that is? I can’t think of a better place for my grandchildren to call home. The sense of stability from ages past offers a strong foundation for the future.
Thirdly, the community is not composed of folks who simply are tied together by blood relationship; they are also tied together by supporting the best interest of each other and a collective sense of well being for the things they hold dear.
My grandchildren are blessed to call Cat Spring home. Besides that, Craig loves his job and the seventy-five mile commute one way hasn’t proven to be a major obstacle. If anything, it gives him time to think. He is discovering that he and I are very much alike. In addition, his wife is very much like his mother. He obviously married very well.
All My Best!