Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – My Parent’s visit – Part Four Sam Houston Museum and #Galveston by Sally Cronin

Welcome to the next post in the series Letters from America 1985 -1987 that I wrote home to my parents in the UK. My father kept them all in a folder and on his death they came back to me with a note to publish them.

Last time we visited San Antonio and my father fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit The Alamo Museum.. and we also introduced them to Mariachi music..

My Parent’s visit – Part Four Sam Houston Museum and Galveston

My parents spent over three weeks with us in November 1985, and having visited San Antonio and The Alamo museum, I took them up to Huntsville to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum during the following week, whilst David was at work.

Huntsville was about an hour way north on I-45 which was only a block away from our complex. My father in particular was very interested in finding out more about Sam Houston and my mother was looking forward to seeing the mock up of the house, furnishings etc in the various buildings at the museum. I didn’t take any photos whilst we were there but did buy some postcards to send home to the family and to keep as a memento of the day.

The museum today, judging by the website Sam Houston has not changed much and there is certainly plenty to see and enjoy.

Gough Photo services

Gough Photo Services

Gough Photo services

Gough photo services

The following weekend as a last night away we took my parents to Galveston since so far we had not shown them the coast. Although they had enjoyed some seafood locally in Houston we wanted to introduce them to shrimp at a restaurant recommended to us by our friends. Gaidos Seafood had been serving customers since 1911 and we certainly had an amazing meal. Here is a current day sharing platter… and if I could teleport I would be there frequently. Of you are lucky enough to live close by.. here is the website: Gaidos Seafood

Following that blow out dinner, we took a stroll along the sea walk……the end of a lovely day with more to follow…

Having spent 37 years in the Royal Navy, we thought my father would appreciate a visit to the Tall Ship Elissa moored in Galveston. He obviously had not been a sailor in the same era of the Elissa but he certainly appreciated the wonderful design and the way the ship had been immaculately preserved.

Here is a description of the ship and well worth visiting the Maritime Heritage Galveston

My parents being piped aboard…well we whistled anyway!

Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by Alexander Hall & Company. She carries nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area. Tall ships are classified by the configuration of their sailing rig. In Elissa’s case, she is a ‘barque’ because she carries square and fore-and-aft sails on her fore and mainmasts, but only fore-and-aft sails on her mizzenmast. From her stern to the tip of her jibboom she measures 205 feet. Her height is 99 feet, 9 inches at the main mast and she displaces about 620 tons at her current ballast. But, she is much more than iron, wood and canvas…


According to the Marjorie Lyle, granddaughter of Elissa’s builder, Henry Fowler Watt, the name was taken from the epic Roman poem The Aeneid, in which the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, is the unifying theme of the first four books of that tale. Dido was originally a Phoenician princess named Elissa, who fled from Tyre to Africa and founded Carthage.

Unlike some tall ships of today Elissa is not a replica, but a survivor. She was built during the decline of the “Age of Sail” to fill a niche in maritime commerce. Over her 90-year commercial history she carried a variety of cargos to ports around the world, for a succession of owners. Her working life as a freighter came to an end in Piraeus Harbor, Greece, where she was rescued from the scrap yard by a variety of ship preservationists who refused to let her die. The story of Elissa’s discovery and restoration is nothing short of miraculous, and is beautifully retold in photographs and a video presentation at the Texas Seaport Museum.

Today Elissa is much more than an artifact from a bygone era. She is a fully-functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to Galveston Historical Foundation and its commitment to bring history to life, combined with the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who keep her seaworthy and train each year to sail her, Elissa and the art of 19th Century square-rigged sailing are alive and well.

Elissa’s wake is over 135 years and counting… Come experience her magic at Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21, Galveston, Texas. Courtesy of the Galveston Attractions Maritime Heritage Website

Like me, my father was a food magnet and he could sniff out good coffee wherever we might find ourselves.

The following Wednesday my parents flew back to England and it would be March 1987 before we would see them again. In the meantime I kept up my weekly letters until August of the following year when I returned for a week’s visit to the UK and we then began to call every Sunday and talk in person.

Next week, back to my letters home and more of our travels around America.