by Georgia Osten
The Walla Family blew into town last Monday for their 40th Annual Crystal Beach Vacation. Yes, Mildred and Johnnie Walla and family have been coming to Crystal Beach every summer for the last 40 years! Mildred remembers coming with her father when she was in high school in Beaumont. To celebrate the event, they had special t-shirts printed. They always plan their vacation for the week after the 4th, because “the crowds are smaller.” Their first vacation rental was handled by Mr. Swede himself, and they have been coming back to Swede’s Real Estate ever since.
Upon arrival, the rainy weather did not dampen their spirits. They all donned garbage bags to venture out to the beach. The entire family, especially the little ones, look forward to their Crystal Beach vacation each year.
As tradition has it, Tuesday is the family crab catching event. Off they went to Port Bolivar to pitch their chicken necks into the water by the bridge, close enough to Joe’s just in case they don’t catch enough. The guys cleaned and cooked the crabs and the feast began – coolers full of beautiful steamed, seasoned, succulent crabs.
The oldest Walla, Johnnie, is 80, and the youngest is 3 – this year there are 3 generations present. When asked how many came this year, Edye, daughter of Mildred and Johnnie, said, “I ordered 28 shirts.” They travelled from Austin, Lake Charles and the Beaumont area. Their son, John, a graduate of LSU, is a Vet in Navasota. His son, Lee, is following in Dad’s footsteps. John says they treat “every animal except monkeys.”
When asked what they like to do, Johnnie answers, “I love to go to The Big Store.” Son, John says, “Where else can you buy a Hawaiian shirt and a chain & binder?” “And a gallon of milk,” Edye adds.
Aunt Kay loves to hang out at the beach, she has wonderful golden skin. She remembers staying out for hours until Sis-in-Law, Mildred, would make them come in from about noon to 3:00 every day…nothing’s changed there.
Being a laundry fanatic myself, I asked Mildred who keeps up with the wash? She remarked, “I only brought detergent enough for one load, I don’t intend to get caught up with that!” Aunt remembers the old days when the cabins didn’t come furnished with washers and dryers. She remembers escaping off to the laundromat for a little peace and quiet to get the laundry done.
They were concerned there wouldn’t be much to offer after Ike, but were pleasantly surprised to see how quickly Crystal Beach has come back to life. Mildred gazes off, reminiscing and admits she misses the old camps of her childhood. We do too Mildred…
A special thanks to Shirley Adams with Swede’s Real Estate for introducing us to the Walla Family.