Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get It While You Can ~ Port Arthur, Texas

Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road
Well I got that green light baby
I got to keep movin' on
Well I might go out to California
Might go down to Georgia
I don't know.....

I love me some Lynyrd Skynyd, especially while I'm going down the road on my bike. And as we stared out on Saturday that's exactly who came through my Ipod on I-10 on our newest Rock-N-Roll adventure. And who better to to remind you to make the most of each day than the band who never quits? Even after losing so many members so early on they prevailed, and still do today. I just love the pounding sound of the great Billy Powell on those ivory's. RIP, Billy.

It felt great to be out on the open road after so many weeks of horrible weather. Although we knew it would most probably rain on Sunday, it was just going to be too beautiful a day on Saturday to sit at home. What's a little rain to bikers? Once you've faced down the torrential rains of Roswell, New Mexico, you can face anything.

Our trip took us through Liberty, Texas.

They have a bridge there that I really love.

We made it to Beaumont which was one of our stops, but for now we would pass it up to go on to Port Arthur.

State Correctional Facilities ~ I guess this is where you stay if you are bad in Beaumont...

RIP Norma Gaine. Her restaurant was closed this day. Too bad because we had some serious food issues...

Way at the end of this picture - Lamar Campus, Janis went here for a time.

Lamar College Campus

The Boy Scouts donated a miniature Statue of Liberty to the campus.
There was a beautiful church down the street from the college. I just had to stop and have a look see. It's really hard for me to pass up a beautiful old building. I am always imagining what must have happened within it's four walls during all of the years of it's existence.

Trinity Lutheran Church ~ 1929
There are also a lot of beautiful old houses in Port Arthur. A lot are restored to their former beauty. It's nice just to ride around and look at the beautiful homes.

Vuylsteke Home ~ The first Dutch Councul in Port Arthur built the Dutch Colonial home in 1905. It has three fire places that share one chimney.

And there is a cemetery right in the middle of the intersection!

Our main reason for going to Port Arthur was to see the Museum of the Gulf Coast and to view some Janis Joplin sites. As usual, I had to walk the walk and take it all in. ~ Mission accomplished!

Janis lived at 4048 Proctor Street in Port Arthur. There were actually two houses she lived in, but 4048 was the house where she grew up. The other house was the house she lived in when she graduated and the house her parents lived in when Janis crossed over. The second house now has an historical marker placed by the State of Texas in her honor. As has been widely published, Janis was never fully accepted by the people of her community. She didn't fit in there. After having visited I can see why. I can only imagine her distress at the time in which she lived there in the 60's, with her being the creative spirit that she was. Let's face it, it was a time in which 'different' was certainly not acceptable. And she was clearly a free spirit. Creative, artistic, not only musically but in the actual arts and she reportedly spoke her mind. A woman before her time. I think I would have loved her. She did attend her 10th high school reunion there but said it did not go well. I can see why she made sure to request at an early age to be cremated and have her ashed spread in California where she was happy.

We set out to find the property at 4048 Proctor. The house had been demolished some time before. The neighborhood is a mixed bag of homes now. Some nicely kept and some barely standing. The lot now has a nice wood fence to mark it. We passed by once and Big Daddy had the address wrong but I told him (via radio) that was the lot that he must have the address wrong. Oh, no, he said it was the address 4042 - he had it right, he had gotten it from the museum. I felt it ~ it was the address 4048. It had a white fence around it. This radio conversation went on for some time and we turned around about two times. When I came back around one time he was talking to some guys outside the house next door. On the way back to the museum, yes, we went back to the museum to check the address, I asked him what he was talking to the guys about. He had asked them if that was the Janis Joplin home site. They told him they didn't know but they didn't think so because they had never heard of Janis Joplin. WHAT THE HELL? They. Have. Never. Heard. Of. Janis. Joplin. This clearly falls in the "Have you now heard everything" department. As I was carrying on about this new piece of information he started taking up for the uneducated youth of America for some reason. They actually live right next door to the property of an American Musical Icon and they have never heard of her. We could not have been the only lost souls to have ever pulled over and asked, right? Okay, maybe they moved in five minutes before. Yeah, right. Another thing I learned on the way back to the museum was that Big Daddy got the address from a picture at the museum. I had assumed he got it from the centenarians at the front desk. To his credit there was a discrepancy and there actually are two addresses listed. However, the white fence 4048 was the correct address, so off we went back to 4048.

Finally, after all these years I was actually at the place where Janis walked and lived. What a thrill. I walked around for a while and just imagined what it was like back in the days when she was there. Although the people next door seemed to be out of the loop the guy across the street had some rockin' music going on. Thankfully.

Visit Janis at Findagrave here:


The Museum of The Gulf Coast
From the website:
The Museum of the Gulf Coast displays a wide range of exhibits which interpret the heritage of the Gulf Coast including history, natural history, fine and decorative art and popular culture. Highlights include the largest indoor mural in the Southwest depicting the history of the region from prehistory to the discovery of oil at Spindletop. Also featured are the original fresnel lens of the Sabine Banks lighthouse and two galleries devoted to notable musicians and athletes.

I had no idea some of these notable people were from Texas much less from the area of Port Arthur. How very interesting!

One interesting story we read was of Evelyn Keyes. She played Suellen in Gone With The Wind. She was born in Port Arthur.
I love this quote:
Keyes said of her many relationships, "I was always interested in the man of the moment, and there were many such moments."
Oh, do tell!

Her last wish was to be cremated and her ashes to be placed in a lamp similar to the one she emerged from when she played a genie in the 1945 film A Thousand And One Nights.

Visit the beautiful Evelyn Keyes at Findagrave here:


I had the honor of visiting the grave of activist Karen Silkwood at the Danville Cemetery in Kilgore, Texas in 2007. It is a very peaceful place.

You can visit Karen at Findagrave here:

J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson

We had visited the grave of The Big Bopper a few weeks ago at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Beaumont, Texas.

Visit The Big Bopper on Findagrave here:

Bronze of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper
Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper's plane took off from Clear Lake, Iowa bound for Fargo, N.D. As we all know that ended up being imortalized in Don Mcleans song American Pie as being "The Day The Music Died". The plane crashed before reaching it's destination and three promising careers were ended that night. "The Winter Dance Party Tour" was very profitable for the three. It was to cover 24 cities in a very short 3 weeks. It was to last from January 23 through February 15th. The headliner was Buddy Holly. Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings their friend from Lubbock, Texas were the backup musicians. Filling up the rest of the list of performers was one of the hottests new artists of that time, Ritchie Valens. The Big Bopper was best known for his 1958 tune, "Chantilly Lace". Richie Valenzuela was well known for "La Bamba", and "Come On, Let's Go". He had also written and sang a very popular song about his girlfriend, "Donna". Holly had the very popular songs "That'll Be The Day", "Peggy Sue", and appearances on the Ed Sullivan show. An issue presented with the tour bus - it had heating problems. It is said that one of the drummers developed frostbite because it was so cold on board. At what ended up to be their last stop, Clear Lake, Iowa, they were very tired, very cold, and as can be expected, disgruntled. Having had enough of the cold, Buddy Holly chartered a plane for himself and his band. They had a great performance at the Surf Ballroom that night. That night, Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to The Big Bopper. The Big Bopper had a fever and due to his size didn't fit well in the bus seats. Naturally he wanted a quicker way to get to the next stop. They parted with friendly banter - Holly said to Jennings "Well, I hope your old bus freezes up. Jennings replied "Well, I hope your plane crashes." Jennnings has gone on record as saying this haunted him for many years after the plane crash. Allsup flipped Valens for the one seat that was left and Valens won the toss. Valens winning a trip on the plane that would end his life, Allsup winning (although he lost the toss) the rest of his life. After taking off shortly after 1 A. M. the plane didn't get far before crashing. Reduced visibility due to snow and possible pilot inexperience caused the crash. The three young singers were thrown clear of the plane and the pilot, Roger Peterson, was the only one left inside.

Janis Joplin display

This bronze is better seen in person. There are no camera flashes allowed in the museum.

....And here it is THE car.....well, technically, it's a replica. The one and only is in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. ~ 1965 356 Porsche Cabriolet ~ Janis paid $3500.00 for the car in 1968. Big Brother roadie Dave Richards painted the car for her. The car was once stolen and recovered, when returned it was painted grey. 'Cause, I mean, really, who could drive a stolen car that looked like that and get away with it? Janis found a body shop that was able to restore the paint job underneath.

Janis Joplin Second Homesite

We went and found the house that Janis lived in when she graduated. Her parents also lived here when she crossed over. ~ 4330 32nd Street ~ When the Joplins bought this house in 1947, the street was called Lombardy in Griffing Park. The address was changed in 1982 when Griffing Park consolidated with the city of Port Arthur.

I love the historical marker for Janis. This part says:

"A liberal and outspoken free spirit, Janis rebelled against the conservatism of her hometown"
I think Janis and I would have gotten along just great had we known each other! I feel as though I've been rebelling my whole life...

Okay, don't even get me started on this donkey....I mean WTH? I don't really think it fits into the category of 'art yard', then again, maybe it's just a small start. And there is one ear missing. Poor donkey. There was a boy of about 6 playing in the yard as we were there. He was so curious looking at us the whole time we were there. If he only knew how lucky he was to be living in the house where Janis lived, and to be there where the historical marker is. Just think, when he grows up he will be able to tell his kids of all the people who stopped by his home to take so many pictures. Of course, he probably has no idea who she was, just like the other 'lost in space' youth we met earlier in the day.

From Roadside America

World's (3rd) Largest Fire Hydrant

Beaumont, Texas

Records are made to be broken, and that's apparently what happened to Beaumont, Texas, briefly "Home of the World's Largest Fire Hydrant." A scant two years after the city erected a 24-ft. tall black and white spotted hydrant in front of the Fire Museum of Texas, a taller hydrant was unveiled in upstart Elm Creek, Manitoba. And artist Blue Sky erected his 39 ft. tall "Busted Plug" in Columbia, South Carolina!
But, we wondered, why is there a giant fire hydrant in Beaumont in the first place? In 1999, to promote the re-release of the animated 101 Dalmatians, Walt Disney's Home Video division constructed the World's Largest Fire Hydrant. Assembled at Disney Land, Anaheim, CA, the hydrant weighed 4,500 lbs. and could blast 1,500 gallons of water a minute.
They found a willing permanent venue in front of Beaumont's venerable Fire Museum of Texas, a 1920s-era fire station where vintage trucks, historic nozzles and firebells are exhibited.
The blatantly promotional monolith was dedicated in a media ceremony with much fanfare on March 9, 1999. The fire museum marching band kicked off with the movie's signature song, "Cruella De Vil," while 101 Texas firefighters danced around the hydrant, climaxing as it sprayed firefighters with water and confetti. They shielded themselves with Dalmatian-spotted umbrellas. Then the firefighter families headed off to a complimentary screening of the film.
The World's Largest Fire Hydrant still stands, in a lot a few blocks from part of the city undergoing a commercial rebirth.
While the Hydrant may occasionally serve as a nexus for civic events, its Dalmatian spots seemed in danger of becoming ciphers -- salt air corrosion, public art about racial harmony, or an ill-conceived ad for a dot com-era Gateway store? Fortunately, the museum has maintained the spots and acknowledges their provenance. At the same time, they've re-imagined the once sandy lot as the C.A. "Pete" Shelton Plaza, "dedicated to retired, deceased and fallen firefighters."
As with many claims of civic bigness, Beaumont slipped in the hydrant battle with the emergence of two beefier plugs: 1) Artist Blue Sky used his favorite parking lot in Columbia, South Carolina to unveil a four-story tall steel fire hydrant in February 2001. 2) In July, 2001 on Canada Day, the town of Elm Creek, Manitoba unveiled a 29 and 1/2 ft. tall fire hydrant constructed over a period of seven months by volunteer fire fighters.

In memory of the Firefighters lost on September 11, 2001

If you are in Beaumont do not take pictures of the Port. If you do the Cops will stop you and question you as to what you are doing and tell you to delete the photos. Yeah, we did that....

The Temple to The Brave

From Texas Escapes.com

In Beaumont's Pipkin Park - a stone's throw from the Jefferson County Courthouse, stands a rusticated building that resembles a chapel in the English countryside. Except, in this case, there are no tombstones. It sits on a large open yard.
It is a memorial erected to dead of the First World War by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The date of the dedication - October 18, 1932 corresponds to the day 18 years earlier when American forces suffered some the heaviest casualties of the war - just a few days before the armistice of November 11, 1918 was signed.
It's an understated building with a steep pitched roof that once was made of slate shingles from the old Jefferson County Courthouse (1893). The school children of Beaumont contributed $300, which was spent on re-roofing the building. The roof is now composed of asphalt composition shingles. It's regretable that material recycled from the old courthouse was disposed of in favor of an inferior material. Eight tight buttresses line the sides, framing three small stained glass windows. The wooden doors are fitted with wrought iron hinges and hardware.
Local Oilman Frank Yount donated the granite stone from which it is constructed as well as a large stained glass window on the back (West) wall of the building. The Colonel George Moffett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution donated the Gothic stained-glass windows in the front.

"Jean Baptiste (Jonas) Chaison was born in Nova Scotia of French parents. After imprisonment by the British during the French and Indian War, he and his parents fled in 1763 to France where he was soon orphaned. He returned to North America and joined the Colonial Army in 1775 at Quebec to take revenge against the British. Continuing in the Continental Army, he served with Lafayette at Brandywine, 1777; was wounded serving under Greene and Marion at Eutaw Springs, 1781; fought at Germantown, 1777; and fought under Lafayette’s command at Yorktown, 1781.

"Coming to western Louisiana as a cattle raiser and farmer about 1785 he married Marie LeBlanc and had eight children. About 1840 he moved to Beaumont to live with his son, McGuire Chaison (1809-1859). He was strong and healthy of mind and body as long as he lived and farmed here until 1854, dying at a few days under 109 years of age. He was buried in Jirou Cemetery. He was one of the few men of the American Revolution involved in Texas history. The Daughters of The American Revolution marked his grave site in 1944. The DAR Marker was moved here to Pipkin Park when a church was built in 1989 in the extinct Jirou Cemetery, 1976.”

There is a gorgeous library in downtown Beaumont. It is a must see if you go there. It's awesome!
The Tyrrell Historical Library

align="center"> In Nederland we visited Tex Ritter Park and The Dutch Windmill Museum. There is extensive history of the founders of Nederland here, as well as Tex Ritter memorabilia.

Apparently, on a Sunday if you have nothing else to do in Nederland you ride a 4 wheeler down the main drag of town.

At the museum we discovered that Tex was buried in Port Neches just a few miles away at Oak Bluff Memorial Park. The State of Texas has an historical marker in place for him and the grave is plainly marked. Oh, wow! Another grave to visit? Lead the way, Big Daddy!

You can visit ole Tex yourself at Findagrave right here:

As our trip came to an end the rain that had threatened Sunday morning came down hard. Although we had known when we left home that there was a chance of that how could we pass up a chance for a good ride? Rain gear keeps you pretty dry anyway. It's hard not to reflect on the shortness of life when you visit a place with so many memories of people that left life so early. Although we know them because they seemed to have contributed something so great to this world they warrant a space in a museum, we all have people in our life that mean so much more. What I have found is that sometimes the memories of the 'famous' are tied to the memories of the people in our life. A certain song can provoke a certain memory or take me to a certain time in my life. None of us know how long we have on this earth and that is why it is so important to make the most of each day. As Janis said in her song, you have to ~ Get It While You Can, Cause You May Not Be Here Tomorrow.
I'm gonna try to keep blowin down the road - how about you?

Get It While You Can

In this world, if you read the papers, Lord,
You know everybody’s fighting on with each other.
You got no one you can count on, baby,
Not even your own brother.
So if someone comes along,
He’s gonna give you some love and affection
I’d say get it while you can, yeah!
Honey, get it while you can,
Hey, hey, get it while you can,
Don’t you turn your back on love, no, no!

Don’t you know when you’re loving anybody, baby,
You’re taking a gamble on a little sorrow,
But then who cares, baby,
‘Cause we may not be here tomorrow, no.
And if anybody should come along,
He gonna give you any love and affection,
I’d say get it while you can, yeah!
Hey, hey, get it while you can,
Hey, hey, get it while you can.
Don’t you turn your back on love,
No no no, no no no no no.

Oh, get it while you can,
Honey get it when you’re gonna wanna need it dear, yeah yeah,
Hey hey, get it while you can,
Don’t you turn your back on love,
No no no, no no no no, get it while you can,
I said hold on to somebody when you get a little lonely, dear,
Hey hey, hold on to that man’s heart,
Yeah, get it, want it, hold it, need it,
Get it, want it, need it, hold it,
Get it while you can, yeah,
Honey get it while you can, baby, yeah,
Hey hey, get it while you can!