Galveston is an island just off the Texas Gulf Coast. When I was growing up there in the 1950s it had a population of around 40,000. There were several major employers on the island the UT Medical Branch with its hospital and medical school, the Port of Galveston, Lipton Tea, and CocaCola had a bottling plant there. (Do you remember the glass bottles with the name of the town where it was from impressed on the bottom of the bottle?) The City of Galveston's police, fire, and public works employed many and since Galveston was the county seat there were county employees also. But as I look back there were so very many more small businesses than there are today; no WalMarts or Home Depots. There was a downtown with many shops and theaters but no malls or big box stores.
Of course the first small business I remember was my mother's beauty shop which was located in a small room added on to our house. I absolutely loved that shop and all the ladies who came for their weekly shampoo and set were like aunties to me. I loved to listen as they chatted with my mother while sitting with rollers in their hair under the hair driers. There was little that went on in Galveston that didn't get discussed under those hair driers.
Then there was Mr. Carrubbi's pharmacy, Airport Drugs. Before Hurricane Carla, there was a lunch counter in the store and it was such a highlight to get a soda at the drug store. Mrs. Carrubbi had her hair done on Fridays at my mother's shop and I remember she taught me how to swim.
Airport Drug Store was located right next to the Stop and Shop Grocery store. I can't remember the name of the owner but I remember turning in our 12 Coke bottles for the deposit on them. I remember the signs outside that were hand painted telling the prices of items on sale that week. It was minuscule in comparison to the huge mega markets we have today. But at the time I knew the name of everyone who worked there and they knew me.
Downtown was Mr. Druses' Furniture Store where I went on the bus all by myself to pick out new bedroom furniture after Hurricane Carla. Just across the street was Eiband's Department Store which was a little pricey for our family. I went to school with Mike Martini whose father owned the Martini Theater. Nathan's Dress store was out of our price range too but I when I taught first grade, I had their little boy, David, in my class, who, by the way was the brightest child I ever taught. I think he is now a teacher at a private school in Houston. There was Rudy's used cars owned by Rudy Riehl who lived across the street from us and whose daughter Kathleen was my best friend through elementary school.
Our family doctor was Sol Forman and he even made house calls on occasion. His nurse, Mrs. Arthur, had a daughter that I went to high school with. Dr. Forman's office was in the house where he grew up.
And how could I leave out the Teenage Shop where my sweet mother spent much of the money she earned doing hair buying me clothes. It was owned by Mrs. Lipnick and another lady whose name escapes me right now. These ladies were like second mothers and helped me pick out clothes when I wouldn't let my own mother pick anything out.
Mr. Malloy at Perry's Dime Store gave me my first job--cashier during Christmas break. Maria's knitting shop, the Amapola Cafe, Mr. Pace's Plumbing.
So many businesses and we seemed to be woven together in a community in a way we really aren't today. It was a good place and time to grow up.