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3 "Come June In Rockport" By Sherrill Pool Elizondo

Mom (Dorothy Pool) with Sherry 
and Andy Pool - Rockport, Texas - June, 1955

The best part of summer is sometimes right at the beginning of the season. That is especially true in Texas except that spring can be better weather wise...or fall OR even sometimes winter! If you have lived here for any length of time then you know what I mean. My father decided that June was a good month to spend a week in Rockport with the family for summer vacation before it got too hot. We stayed at Palm Village which was a family owned motel situated between Rockport and Fulton near the bridge that takes you to Key Allegro.

Before Key Allegro was developed we walked on a small wooden foot bridge to get to the beach area where all of the homes are located now and it was like a private playground for my brother and me.  Everyone in the 50's and 60's knew of Palm Village with its' arched entrance. The cottages were painted flamingo pink and the grounds were immaculate. The Hanson family took reservations one year in advance because it was so popular with families. Though my father had fished and hunted in the Rockport/Fulton area for years, this week with the family was a special time. As kids, my brother and I looked forward to going there any time but a full week there was exciting for us. Sometimes a cousin who was just a little older than us would go too. As the 60's approached, she and I had fun deciding what clothes to pack for vacation which included some of the goofiest straw sun hats that you could imagine plus long fake hair braids that we wore some days. We must have been quite a sight riding on a bicycle built for two that the owners had on the motel premises.


It was not a long distance from our home south of San Antonio to Rockport which was really good because my brother and I always wanted to get there as soon as possible. We could not wait to see the bridge over Copano Bay which is now the fishing pier as most people know. Back then there was a draw bridge for boats and barges and us kids hated to see the draw bridge up as it delayed us getting to our final destination! Daddy would drive up the Fulton Beach Road and, if I recall correctly, would first check in at Palm Village. That first day we would always go into Rockport. There were few eating establishments other than Kline's and later Duck Inn but we headed for Mary's Malts and enjoyed our hamburgers and malts at a picnic table on the beach. Next was the tour of the shrimp boats and for us kids it was especially important if the boats were in harbor and we could see the names. I always looked for the one that had the same name as me. Shrimp boats in those years were rather large compared to the ones most often seen now. Closer to evening we played miniature golf. This was one of the few places in Rockport where kids could have some fun. I have yet to play on a miniature golf course that was as much fun or quite like that one in Rockport and it's too bad that it did not stay in business, as my own children and grand children would have enjoyed it.


Sherry Pool Elizondo with brother, Andy Pool, on the pier where
the old pier of our childhood was located. April, 2012

Back at the cottages there were other leisurely activities. The type of cottage that we stayed in had two bedrooms and a kitchenette. The best part of the cottage was the screened porch facing the bay. The bluff down to the water was filled with beautiful wildflowers and had a playground with swings and a merry go round which made it a favorite spot for all the kids. The pier was long and in those days we could swim at the half way point and fish at the end. This is where I first experienced seeing dolphins swimming close to the pier and could actually hear them breathe. The pier that is there now(Key Allegro North Condos) is in the exact location of where the old pier was except they don't allow swimming off the pier anymore. When it came to swimming, our parents had strict rules and just not NO SWIMMING after eating! We could only swim very early in the morning before it got too hot and then we could swim after rest time(naps??) in the afternoon….after the sun had lost its' intensity and before dinner. We really worked up an appetite swimming and many nights Mom and Dad were cooking shrimp or fish. I vividly recall going with Dad to the docks in Fulton to buy shrimp "off the boat" and was also fascinated watching the women working at the conveyor belt with the shrimp catch.

At the risk of sounding like a litany of what one did on a summer vacation, I will diverge slightly from that subject. The 50's and 60's were not perfect times as is sometimes depicted in movies, TV, and books but there was more simplicity and an appreciation for small comforts in life. Fancy vacations were not always the norm for many families, though my family was fortunate enough to visit many states and national parks and my parents loved to travel…and by that I mean travel by car! Not many of my friends or classmates in those years were flying all over the country or out of the country for that matter. Dad made a point of learning and explaining the history of any place we went to visit and it was the same for Rockport which later became like a second home. From Dad, we learned about the turtle cannery and the cattle industry in the area. As a teenager, I was in the Fulton Mansion long before its' first restoration and remember the view from the upper floor as being quite pretty. I could never have envisioned all the time and work that has been put into maintaining it over the years. After Dad bought a home in Fulton we learned other interesting stories from our elderly next door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Davis, who were born in that area and were related to some old Rockport families. She was born I was told at St. Mary in that coastal region. I don't think the place exists anymore but she could relate stories of mail being brought there by sail boat when she was young. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I saw Rockport from the bay when Dad bought a boat. I was never a big adventurer when it came to boats nor was I overly fond of fishing but I do recall some fun sight seeing trips. Considering the fact that I lived in the country, I still found it rather unnerving though to get to a small island by boat and to be walking around and suddenly come face to face with cattle. I never expected that and it was so startling to me!

There were nearby places that we would visit as I am sure vacationers still do today. What is a trip to Rockport without going to Aransas Pass and going by ferry to the beach? Most kids love to jump the waves in the Gulf of Mexico. For our family, there would be at least one trip to Corpus Christi to drive around and eat out and sometimes, as I got older, to shop! Mostly we stayed close to Fulton and Rockport though with an occasional outing to the Rockport beach. As a youngster, I especially liked to be there when a rain storm would occasionally come in because it was so beautiful to see the water change to a shade of emerald green and to watch the dark clouds move inland. Being in the warm water was heavenly as the first rain drops fell and then too soon we were forced to get out of the water. There were always trips to Goose Island to once again see the Big Tree. I almost equate it to paying homage and for me it is not a good idea to leave Rockport without seeing it. There were countless pictures taken of family and friends in front of that awesome Oak through the years. As a child, teenager, and as an adult I still love to go to downtown Rockport and look in the old Sea Shell Shops. I could not have imagined long ago that one day I would take my little grand daughter into the oldest one and that I would be buying her a shell and a dolphin….us walking in the same place I did as a child. Of course there are more stores to see now but I know something that is missing. In a souvenir/gift shop downtown which is still there, there used to be a pharmacy that had an old fashioned soda fountain where I experienced my first pineapple milk shake. A wonderful delight on a hot summer day in Rockport.

I have seen many places from the east coast to the west coast and have experienced travel outside of the country. I have visited and enjoyed beautiful pristine beaches in the Caribbean and in Hawaii, but Rockport will always have a special place in my heart because of fond memories of relaxing moments and happy times with family and friends. I just wonder sometimes if anyone remembers Peg Leg though...I know with certainty that he was very real and not a figment of my imagination.

3 comments:

said...

You draw a great colorful picture of the history of this area which I now call home.
Thanks Sherrill!
~Johnny "Fulton Weather" Taylor~

said...

Thank you for your kind comment. It really made my day! You are lucky to call Rockport home. I hope that you got a chance to read my first story that was posted back in October. It was called "Won't You Hurry Home" and concerned Rockport as well. Sherrill

said...

As a kid in the 70's we stayed in Palm Village or Beacon Courts. I preferred Beacon Courts because they had a TV and a AC window unit. We lived in San Antonio and would vacation there. We eventually built a summer home on Lamar Peninsula one block from the tree in the middle of the road close to Goose Island. When my dad retired from SAPD we move there and I graduated from RFHS in 1982. it was great!



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