Every town museum we’ve visited on the gulf has photos of hurricane or flood damage. I couldn’t let Port Arthur slide without including the requisite disaster photo. This one from 1915.
There is prehistory, Native Americans, discovery, explorers, natural history, documents, in one section. I chose this drawing of a wooly buffalo because it was drawn from a description. As was the horse in the upper right corner kicking up its heels. Kind of reminded me of the snub nosed Chinese lions, also drawn from descriptions. What a hoot!
Since we found two different types of jellyfish washed up on the beach, I was amazed to learn the numbers of them documented passing through the channel at Port Aransas.
There is much to see here. A fantastic full wall mural that alone is worth the price of admissiion. ($4 adults, $3 seniors.) A shell collection and identification guide, a glass gallery, history of petroleum, and the usual things you expect in a museum. But, the exhibits on legendary people who hail from the gulf eclipsed everything else, mainly because there are so many of them. Robert Rauschenberg, artist, Cricchio, famous photograher. There are writers, designers, actors, actresses, dancers, directors, football players, coaches an Olympian, but their music legends are far and away a phenomenal group. I counted 67 musicians or groups and don’t know if I got them all. Jimmy Clanton, Lonnie Brooks, Joe Barry, Clifton Chenier, ZZTop, Lee Hazlewood, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Barbara Lynn, Ivory Joe Hunter, BB King, Wayne Toups, Clay Walker, Jerry LaCroix. I’m not going to name them all, but the most famous was Janis Joplin, and J.P. Richardson known best as the Big Bee Bopper.
This is the way I remember Janis Joplin from this photo. Her untimely, drug and alcohol induced death didn’t sit well with the locals and for awhile they didn’t want to be identified with her.
The Joplins were a church going family and I’m making a judgement here when I look at this picture of a very proper and pious looking mom and dad, a wholesome sister and brother, then Janis, physically pulling away from the rest. The wild one.
A replica of her hippy car. And, you may remember the words to that famous song of hers: “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? My friends all driver Porsches, I must make Amends…”
The Big Bee Bopper, died with Buddy Holly in a plane accident. They were such originals. Tragic deaths of such talented people.
Another tragic figure from Nederland, which borders Port Arthur, is Karen Silkwood. She worked to expose Kerr-McGee’s falsified records of plant safety where she worked. It cost her her life. At least two books and a movie have been made about her life and her fight of corporate abuse.
Other notables: Tony Joe White.
I saw Brown in Concert in Angels Camp in the 1980’s and got his autograph on one of his albums.
The musical legends just call to you. They have places around the museum where you can hear their music and many cds in the gift store. This is a don’t miss museum for this marvelous great musical legends section.
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