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    Texas | Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories

    The Islandís
    Domestic Goddess

    by Bill Cherry
    Bill Cherry

    It seems to be more generic to Galveston than any other place I know about.

    Iím talking about this special breed of people who seem to intuitively know how to make money, how to contribute to the whole, how to gain and keep self-esteem.

    Formal education rarely seems to play a part of the equation.

    The famous Galveston surname, Teichman, comes to mind. Henry, Antone, and Rudy were like that. Their wives were, too.

    And you canít leave out the first three generations of the Galveston Moodys. None of them had college degrees.

    And then there were the Jamails, Lebanese immigrants. Starting out with broken English and teeny fruit stands, one on 21 Street, another on Avenue P, generationally the family built a significant contribution to the islandís fabric.

    (One of the Jamail is named Joe. Now 87, he became an attorney and as a result of his wins accumulated a net worth of more than $1.5 billion.)

    Heck, one time in the early Ď60s, Albert Jamail, one of the Galveston Jamail fruit stand owners, challenged the worldís most famous pool shark of the era, Willie Mosconi, to a game at the Strand Emporium.

    Everyone who knew Albert was surprised he didnít beat Mosconi because losing just wasnít a part of Albertís personal mantra.

    In fact, Iíve heard for years from some of those who claimed to have been witnesses, that they were certain that Mosconi somehow rigged the game.

    Island's Domestic Goddess Debra Weaver
    Island's Domestic Goddess
    Debra Weaver

    Albert Jamail was Debra Weaverís grandfather on her motherís side. And if you knew Albert and his daughter, Shirley Ann, after a few minutes visiting with Debra, youíd know there was a genetic connection.

    Here are some examples. Before she graduated from high school, she was one of the most famous of the water skiers at Sea-Arama Marineworld. She was also an accomplished surfer. Both were self-taught.

    Then she went to Galveston College and received her degree with the first graduating class in criminology. John Clyburn was one of her favorite professors.

    She married and ran the nursery at St. Patrickís Catholic Church for ten years. She substitute taught in the Galveston public schools, averaging twenty-eight days each month, for another ten years. The latter was almost unheard of.

    The only reason that ended was because she felt she needed to home school her dyslexic son who had a 147 IQ. She file suit against the GISD, alleging that they had refused to provide him a fair and equal education.

    Her second son, Deyo, who was born in 1983, died of viral pneumonia when he was two, as Debra and the doctors helplessly saw their efforts to save him, fail.

    Along the way, she morphed into the person known professionally today as the Island Domestic Goddess.

    She became the personal assistant and girl Friday to Marcia Sanders, who with her husband Fred Sanders, owned the Landes-McDonough mansion at 1602 Postoffice.

    And as time has passed, by word of mouth she has developed her position as private housekeeper and personal assistant for a number of the islandís gentry; famous names. Most are elderly; some have lost their mate. The business is nearly thirteen years old.

    In fact since I no longer live near the island, she helps me by looking after my parentsí graves, making certain they are tidy and that fresh flowers are there on important days.

    Now, 55, single, and who easily passes for 40, and on her own for years, she tells of watching water rise to hip level in her home during Ike, destroying most of her possessions.

    Nevertheless, she continues depended on her wits to promulgate her God-given Jamail business intuition.

    And the strength that always renews itself when she sits in a very special pew at church. Itís the pew thatís under the fourth station of the cross.

    It depicts Jesus walking slowly with the cross on his shoulders. Jesusí mother, Mary, sees him and now knows his destiny.

    Debra has great Roman Catholic faith. It gives her the strength to be afraid of nothing.

    And she says sheís afraid of nothing because she is certain that she has already experienced Hell. That came twice. The first time was when her son died. The second was as she stood in her Avenue P home as filthy, hip-high gulf water from Ike rose inside.

    Hurricane Ike destroyed a significant portion of that home, the one she --- all by herself --- had paid to being almost mortgage free.

    And it took with it many of the possessions of generations of her family that she treasured.

    None of these tragedies could temper, much less destroy, the Jamail mantra.

    And thatís the reason I wanted to tell you this story.


    Copyright 2013 Ė William S. Cherry
    "Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories" January 11, 2013 column
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    Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.
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