Archive for category Island History

I was a Lasker Home Girl

As published in the August 2010 issue of The Islander Magazine.

My name is Rebekah Boyle. I was born March 3, 1918, and my family moved to Galveston, Texas, when I was just five years old. My father left us soon after, and my mother found work as an upstairs maid for a prominent Galveston family. As it seemed she would be quite busy with her duties, it was arranged for me and my younger brother, Jamie, to stay at the Lasker Home for Homeless Children. My older half-brother, George, went to live with his father’s grandparents. I never saw him again and have always wondered what became of him.

The Lasker Home, 1019 16th St. (photo courtesy of Texas Historical Commission)

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An interview with Ida Smith Austin

As published in the July 2010 issue of The Islander Magazine.


Sitting stately for the past century and a half on the corner of Market and 15th streets, The Austin House, with its double galleries and dual entries, pays homage to the at-one-time-equally important thoroughfares it faces. It is one of those iconic structures where tourists and residents alike stop to point and shoot every day. The home was already over 30 years old when Ida Smith Austin came to live in it and became its loving steward through the turn of the century and the Great Depression.

The Austin House (Oak Lawn) c. 1936

The Austin House (Oak Lawn) c. 1936

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The Hatfields and the McBOIs

When I moved to Galveston in 2003, I learned to my amusement that there was a feud of sorts — certainly a rivalry — between residents of the East End and residents of the West End of the island. I stress the word “island” because that’s what this little spit of sandbar is — a barrier island. Its two distinct social/cultural ends — where people on the West won’t go (10-15 miles) “to town” and people on the East have never been past the end of the Seawall — is the stuff of Garrison Keillor’s ”Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” I wonder if he means the East side or the West side of the lake…

But a little less funny, sometimes, is the rivalry, if that’s the word, between the people who were born here (“Born on the Island” or “BOI”) and those who were not. Here’s what that looks like: About six months ago, I asked my BOI friend what he thought about mayoral candidate, Betty Massey. He said he liked her very much and thought she would make a fine mayor. “There’s just one thing,” he said. “She’s not from here.” “She’s been here 30-something years,” I said. “Right,” he said. “She’s not from here.” I wondered if he understood that he had just called me fat.

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