Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Texas

We're in Sabine County for the week, hanging out at the Younger Daughter's house and generally enjoying not being in Atlanta.  It's been remarkably quiet here this week, although no doubt some of the weekenders from Beaumont and Houston will show up for New Year's -- the families that share the place next door have, if I recall correctly, a fondness for fireworks and do have access to lakefront for shooting them off.  This neighborhood is a mix of recreation homes (weekend or vacation), retirees who are here year round, retirees who are snowbirds, and folks of working age who live here all the time.  It's a fairly new subdivision (under 50 years old) because the reservoir is a fairly new lake.  Tammi rented here out of desperation -- it was literally the only rental advertised when she arrived in this part of Texas to start her new job -- but it's turned out to be a nice place to live.  (Photo above is the view from the kitchen window.)

The day after Christmas we decided to drive down to Beaumont and Port Arthur to check out the Museum of the Gulf Coast (it reportedly had Janis Joplin's Porsche on display) and to see if there were any deals to be had at the mall.  After seeing Port Arthur, I can understand why Joplin was from there -- I have a hard time believing anyone wants to live there now.  It probably wasn't nearly as bleak back in the early '60s -- surely there must have been at least one functioning business back then? -- but even at its liveliest, it would not have been a particularly attractive town. 

The museum does have a Porsche that looks like Joplin's car.  It is, however, a reproduction.  The original is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  They do have some real Joplin artifacts:  bricks from her family's home (on sale for $25 each in the gift shop, each neatly stamped with seals of authenticity), a high school year book open to the page with her senior photo, and several paintings by Joplin.  When she off to college in 1960, it was as an art major.  The paintings are visible in the background above the front end of the car:  a portrait of her sister, a couple of typical art student studies, and a paint by numbers Jesus.  That made it worth the trip.

The museum overall falls into the "not bad" category.  It has some interesting exhibits on local history, including the 3rd order Fresnel lens from the Sabine Bank lighthouse, and the admission charge is remarkably low. 

Of course, like every museum, the Museum of the Gulf Coast got stuck with setting up a display of godawful-ugly collectibles amassed by a generous benefactor.  In this case, it's glassware.  There is a room dedicated to a person who I assume was a local bigwig, and that room contains various items that must have been a personal collection of high dollar bric-a-brac:  carved ivory dust collectors from 19th century China, for example, some Meissen porcelain pieces, and glassware.  The glassware includes an item that has to set the record for the ugliest, most godawful piece of decorative glassware I have ever had the misfortune to see displayed in a museum case:

The photo does not do it justice -- the colors are much more vivid in person.  And, yes, the handle is indeed a salamander. (Or possibly a Gila Monster; given how ugly the piece is overall, I lean towards the latter.)

1 comment:

  1. We're in Sabine County for the week, hanging out at the Younger Daughter's house and generally enjoying not being in Atlanta.

    Hell, almost anywhere in Texas would be better than being in Atlanta. The only things I ever saw in Atlanta was things I wanted to get away from.


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