I have written so much about Galveston,
her people and her past, most people assume I’m from a multi-generational island
is I was the first one of this family of Cherrys that was born on the island.
All before me were born in Kentucky and Louisiana.
Quite frankly, it’s
a source of embarrassment for me. Why would they have wanted to live in Kentucky
and Louisiana when Galveston
My very first friend on this earth was Butch Kelso. We met in
1944 because we lived across the street from each other. Butch was three and I
best buddy friendship has remained strong for all of the subsequent 68 years.
In fact we are so close to being blood brothers that we decided it would
be alright for me to claim his son, Mark, as my nephew. And I do it with pride.
Butch and his wife, Judy Kobarg Kelso, are both from families that settled
on the island in its early years as a city.
Butch’s mother’s side just
after the Civil War; Judy’s father’s family in the early 1900s.
quickly became prominent.
When my nephew, Mark, and his wife, Jennifer
Beck Kelso, had their first child on April 4th, 2012, Mark Andrew “Drew” Kelso,
Jr. became a sixth generation Galvestonian.
World War I ended in 1918, Barbara
Bornefeld was born into two prominent island families – the Herman Bornefelds
and the Alphonse Kennisons. Herman Bornefeld was in the steamship business, Fowler
and McVitie. Herman’s wife, Lucie, was the daughter of the Alphonse Kennisons.
Kennisons were in the insurance business. Kennison and Beers was its name.
played the violin and was a Latin scholar. She tutored Butch and me in Latin.
Herman was involved in the Galveston
politics of the old corporation form of government.
I remember one of
his old campaign posters strapped to a heating duct in their 24th and Avenue L
By June 26, 1941, Barbara Bornefeld had finished two years
at University of Texas, pledged Kappa, made her debut at the Galveston Artillery
Club, married Walter A. Kelso, Jr., moved into a new brick home that her husband
and his father’s company had built, and given birth to Walter A. “Butch” Kelso,
Within what seemed like moments, again her life changed. World
War II was going strong, and Barbara’s husband, now a lieutenant, was shipped
Not more than days before the armistice was signed, Barbara
became a widow and contemporaneously Butch was without a father.
never remarried, although that didn’t interfere with her social life. She was
an active artist, sailor, Red Cross certified swimming instructor, bridge player
and spent most Sunday mornings in her chosen pew at Trinity Episcopal Church.
B. Kelso Circa 1950|
Photo courtesy Mark Kelso
|Throughout most of
those years after Walter, Jr., died, she was the assistant librarian at the University
of Texas Medical Branch.|
Barbara died in 2001, leaving a significant vacant
space in many of our hearts.
After college, Butch married Judy Kobarg
whose family emigrated from Germany to Galveston
in the early 1900s.
Carl Johannes Kobarg became a delivery man for the
famous grocer, Peter Gengler. Anna Bilkernroth, who came to Galveston
in 1904, became the personal assistant and cook for Mrs. Waverly Smith.
Carl and Anna met when he delivered groceries to the Smith’s home. The romance
blossomed and when they announced their engagement, Mrs. Smith was so pleased
that she took Anna to New York by steamer ship so that she could buy Anna a wedding
Within a decade or so, the Carl Kobargs owned a major island dairy.
My family bought fresh milk from them for years at their downtown Market Street
Butch and Judy’s son, Mark, graduated from the maritime academy
at Texas A&M, and he married another maritime graduate, Jennifer Beck from Midlothian.
They now live, along with son, Drew, in the home that W.A. Kelso, Jr.
and Sr. had built for Drew’s great-grandparents.
and Mark Kelso with Drew
April, 2012 photo courtesy Mark Kelso
jingle of cash registers of islanders paying bar tabs, restaurant checks and settling
up gambling debts was especially prolific during the 1940s and early into the
Lots of rather shallow reasons for Galveston’s
earning the moniker of Playground of the South have been advanced over the years.
But there’s one that has lurched in the background but has never been spoken about,
not even as loud as a stage whisper.
America’s troubles of those generations
had passed down and compounded almost as an accountant’s accrual.
city’s balance sheet was full of a multitude of parents, grandparents, sons and
daughters, and friends who were either casualties of World
War I, or the financial despair of the Great Depression, the five years of
World War II, even the Korean
Conflict that immediately followed.
They played to forget.
most of the members of those families have moved on, there is a very special core
that never will. This branch of the Kobargs and Kelsos are a strong part of that
23 , 2012 column
S. Cherry. All rights reserved
Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories
| Columns | Texas
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|