A Very Happy Story

By Mack Wallace
The first time my wife left me alone for more than a few days, she went to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. She was gone way too long, but don’t worry – that is not what this story is about. This is a story about how I fell in love with Crystal Beach. You might have noticed from my last story that I pine a little bit for my wife. Linda and Marcel Elissalde noticed my pining at church that summer and took pity on me. That was way back in July of 2005. We had not lived at the beach long at the time and I did not know them well, but I wanted out of the house. We had joined Bay Vue Methodist (a hugging church) and Melanie was in water aerobics with Linda. That was our initial connection.

Linda called on July 3 and asked if they could pick me up and take me to a 4th of July fish fry that night. I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that she was talking about the world famous Bouse/Johnson 4th of July party. That evening, when they came to pick me up in the car, there sat Marcel, Linda, Marcel’s ex-wife and her boyfriend. That was my first exposure to how knowing Linda and Marcel would make my life so much more interesting. They are not normal; they are supernatural.

Marcel, Linda, and Betty at the 4th of July Party

I met so many wonderful people that night. I cannot list them for fear of leaving some one out. The hosts were Sid Bouse’s Mom and Dad and his aunt and uncle, along with generations of family members. They were absolutely welcoming, greeting me like I was a long-lost friend. They said that, once you had been to the picnic, you were automatically invited back for life. I guess that is true because when we joined hands to have the prayer, we counted off to about 350 people.

Now, this was not just a fish fry. It was fish, and shrimp, and crabs. It was a side dish or dessert from everyone that came. Linda would swipe shrimp before the dinner bell and pass them out to our group. Everybody was set up in lawn chairs under the trees and the most interesting people would come by and sit and talk. The core group had lived on the peninsula all of their lives and their families had been pioneers. Then, there were newer people, but I found out that only very special people live on the beach. Nobody normal was there that night; they were all fascinating. Everybody wanted me to feel at home. Then, they brought out guitars and sang songs into the night.

They sang while they cooked the BBQ for the 4th of July lunch. The next day we all went back and had brisket, sausage, BBQ goat meat, and again, all of the guests brought the sides and dessert. Best BBQ ever under the shade trees, with the kids being pulled behind a mower in little train cars. Everything was just like in the movies. The conversation was even better.

Marcel and Linda continue to be our best friends, even while I am in Seoul. Melanie claims that Marcel is the brother that I never had. They introduced us to so many wonderful people over the years. We have a group of friends that centers around Linda and Marcel. Some have been scattered to Mexico and Huntsville, by a bad thing that happened to all of us later (Ike), which is not a part of this happy story. So many other wonderful people that we love – some folks that my wife has traveled with (while I pined away at home) and some very special folks who have gone on to heaven.

So, my happy story is that I found Crystal Beach. No matter where in the world I am, I am a part of a very lucky crowd.


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