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.
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.
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.
the way, she morphed into the person known professionally today as the Island
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
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
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.
2013 Ė William
Cherry's Galveston Memories"
January 11, 2013 column
| People |
Texas Town List | Columns
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
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Cherry's Galveston Memories|