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'Galveston, Hurricanes and Oz' by Amy Ahlbrand Robinson (1)

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Sometimes out of the blue research lead to a discovery that comes as a complete surprise, a wonderful surprise. While working on the University of Houston project to integrate art and history I consider the Bronze Age Cougars the Chicago Picasso that was booed when it was unveiled in the nineteen fifties but nothing was right. I wanted something different and then one weekend as I was driving near my mother's home in Galveston I noticed the historic cemetery on Broadway Avenue a marble statue of an angel attracked my attention and I pulled over. As I walked through the cemetery filled with carved monuments and statues, I realized that this was art, a three-dimensional art that students can touch and it had a story. It was the perfect integration of art and history. As I took photos for my project I noticed one small marble grave carved with old fashioned roses. On the base were the words: "Our darlings, the children of Charles and Anna Vidor. The name Vidor /vajdor/ also pronounced /vidor/ was familiar and when I returned home, I pulled out my computer to begin my research. The Vidor family came to Galveston from Hungary in the mid 1800's By the turn of the century, Charles Vidor had built a successful lumber business. Sadly, Charles and his wife Anna lost three children. In the tiny monument I discovered marked their graves. At the turn of the 20th century the Vidor family lived through what still remains as the worst of natural disaster in history of our country the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. No one knows exactly how many people died in that storm, but estimates range between six and twelve thousand. The Vidor family barely survived by sheltering in the second story of their home while the floodwaters filled the first story. Their grandson King Wallace Vidor was only six years old at the time of the storm. As an adult, in an article he wrote for the Esquire magazine, he described the fear he experienced. It was just about pitched dark and the wind was screaming and hissing like the very devil. In the yard, the trees beat furiously in the wind. Later that night the roots of one of the trees let go and the tree came flying throughout the air like a boy's kite. It crashed against the side of the house and the leafless branch reached him through the broken window like the wet arm of some black monster reaching in to grab us all and pull us outside. I was beginning to feel sleepy so I closed my eyes and went to sleep. Before long, I heard singing and wondered if I was asleep or awake, but I can hear the wind screaming at the house, so I knew I must be awake. Then I realized that our two mothers were praying. They were asking God to have mercy on their souls. The family survived the storm that left its mark on King Vidor and he never forgot the terrible experience. As a teenager Vidor became interested in moving pictures while working in the first movie theatre in Galveston. He later moved to Hollywood to direct movies in the nineteen twenties. His very first movie The Great Storm told the story of the nineteen hundred Galveston Hurricane that no copies of the movie have survived. As I continued my research, I discovered what Vidor's early experienced have prepared him for. In 1930 as movie producers were about to begin filming the movie Gone with the Wind they needed a good director and they stole the director from the set of another movie being filmed about a popular children's book. Most of that movie was finished except for two short black-and-white segment one at the beginning and one at the end of the movie. King Vidor was hired to direct two scenes, but he was not acknowledge in the credits and it wasn't until the original director died years later that Vidor ever spoke about it. The movie MGM's The Wizard of Oz. It made perfect sense. Who would be better to direct a young frightened Dorothy, as a devastating tornado approached her Kansas home than someone who had lived through the most deadly storm in our country's history when he was a child. This brought everything together: the cemetery, the art, the history of the Galveston storm in one of the most beloved films of all time. I didn't think it could get any better but I was wrong. I wanted to see if the family home was still standing and I searched the name Vidor. I was thrilled to find and old photo of the home on Winny street. However, because of a recent hurricane I wasn't sure of the current state of the house that have been built in 1899. Just four years earlier hurricane Ike the worst storm to hit he Texas coast since the storm of nineteen hundred had devastated Galveston. The hurricane killed hundreds of people including 37 in Galveston. The wind, storm surge and flooding caused fifty billion dollars worth of damage. Thousands of homes were demolished and eighty percent of homes and businesses in Galveston were damaged by the storm that left water standing for days. Another great loss from hurricane Ike was that of the ancient oak trees that lined Broadway Avenue and shaded the turn of the century homes. Days of soaking in salt water left by the storm surge had slowly killed thousands of the once magnificent trees. To reserve the ancient wood, artist came to Galveston and carved the oak trunks into pirates, dolphins, birds and other symbols of the city's past and present creating beauty out of destruction, something that city desperately needed. As I parked my car and approached the Vidor house, I was happy to see that Victorian home had been preserved, but there was something else.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 52 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Views: 53
Posted by: suzanar76 on Aug 4, 2016

'Galveston, Hurricanes and Oz' by Amy Ahlbrand Robinson (1)

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