Corpus Christi seems so far away.

And I’m not talkin’ about the miles.

— Nancy Griffith, Lone Star State of Mind

When we were young and newly-married, we had no money and a lot of debt.

I was a young, dashing military officer.  Running Girl was a blushing bride.  I used to get embarrassed when people called us “newlyweds.”

I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.  We lived in a nearby city called Temple.  We had a two-bedroom apartment.

I cherish the memories from those days.

Promotion to Captain.

Although we could not afford a real vacation, I had plenty of leave each month.  Our big treat to ourselves was to sneak away to Corpus Christi, Texas for a few nights or for a long weekend.

By virtue of my rank, we could stay in the Bachelor Officer Quarters (or BOQ) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi.  I believe the cost was somewhere around $27 a night.

I used the word “rank” in my last paragraph.  In retrospect, that word may be a fitting description of these accommodations.  However, as young love-birds, we were doing just fine.  What’s a little mildew when you’re young and having a great time together?  Besides, we were used to the Army.  In comparison, the Navy offered Hilton-like hospitality.

Much of our time during the day was spent at the beach at Mustang Island.  Having grown up near the ocean, I thought I knew it all when it came to beaches.  But, the ability to drive on the sand was a new pleasure to me.  So was the sight of oil rigs on the horizon.  Unfortunately, occasional tar balls from the rigs were also a feature on the Texas Gulf coast.

This was in the days before we feared the sun.  We heard vague rumors about a hole in the ozone layer.  However, sunscreen was still something of a novelty.  Nevertheless, we learned our lessons early.  An hour in the South Texas sun was roughly equal to an entire day on Long Island’s beaches.

At night, we dined in Corpus’ great restaurants.  Each month, we would scan Texas Monthly (a wonderful glossy magazine) for new eateries.  Our favorite place, Marco’s, was an Italian restaurant located in an old fur warehouse.  The food was splendid.  Afterward, we would stroll over to a gelato place near the beach.  The cooler evenings along the shore usually featured a light breeze.

Just a few hours from Mexico, Corpus featured some of the best Mexican food we could have hoped for.  We bravely ventured into some of the less-than-tony neighborhoods in search of the perfect enchiladas, barbacoa, mole and chorizo.  One brave Sunday morning, I indulged in the Mexican custom of eating menudo (tripe soup) for breakfast.  The fresh tortillas, hot off the press always hit the spot.

The jumping fish of Corpus Christi Bay never failed to amuse us.  Each time we saw one, we would shout out in delight.  Even though we knew deep down that they were jumping to escape being eaten by a larger predator, we ascribed their acrobatic maneuvers to the joy of being young and alive — just like us.

From the deck of the Lex.

An enjoyable event for me was the afternoon spent on board the U.S.S. Lexington.  We crawled the decks of this World War II aircraft carrier.  I was enthralled.  Running Girl came down with her usual case of “museum sickness.”

Without a doubt, our most memorable outing was a day spent with Dolphin Connection. RG had always loved dolphins.  She had dreamed of one day meeting them up close and personal.  I was glad that I was able to help her to realize this dream.

It had rained the night before our dolphin trip.  Big, puffy clouds ringed the bay that morning.  However, an auspicious sign soon emerged:

A good day was ahead of us.

Dolphin Connection‘s offices on shore were nothing to behold.  I’ve seen more luxurious live bait shops.  But this was not the purpose of our visit.

We soon boarded and casted off.  Our guide, Irv Strong, explained the evils of Sea World and other commercial marine attractions.  He called them “abusement parks.”

The hour or so that we spent playing and feeding these beautiful creatures was sublime.  14 years later, we returned to the Texas coast with Subway Dude and The Fashionista.  We went out again with the Connection.  It had moved to Ingleside, TX on the other side of the bay.  Irv was our captain once again.

This encounter was not as great as the dolphins had just eaten and were much more shy.  Although we didn’t get to feed them, the kids got a thrill out of just seeing them playing in their natural habitat.

In 1995, we moved away from Texas.  One of the things we regretfully left behind was Corpus Christi.  We talk of vaguely of retiring there some day.

Regardless of whether we return, we will always have our Corpus memories.

— The Major


One response to this post.

  1. “Jumping Fish!”


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