Backstory

I’m interested in American history from about 1880 to about 1940. That’s when the country matured and went through growing pains. The Jim Crow Era, that lasted from 1877 to 1964, is an intriguing time, considering its insidious nature. And Galveston is one of those exotic cities, like New Orleans and Paris. Songs have been written about it. As a geologist, I’ve taught about the tragedy of the Great 1900 Galveston Hurricane for some time now. That’s where I first became interested in the story—in the college classroom. The more I learned, the more I was intrigued. Eight thousand people died in that storm—the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history. However, almost every book I read talked about the tragedy in terms of the middle and upper classes, yet, it was the poor that suffered the most. They always do. So I started to learn about the poor, where they lived, how they handled their existence in the Third Richest City in the U.S.—as it was called at that time. Then it dawned on me that 1900 was knee deep in the age of Jim Crow—in the south—suddenly the storm became secondary—a metaphor—I focused in on the existence of the poor whites and blacks and how they survived during that oppression. The story is about these people, their hopes and dreams—their faith in a better future. Galveston was, in 1900, the third richest city in the nation with a promising future. “The Wall Street of the Southwest”, as the city fathers claimed. It is the perfect metaphor for the country and its current crisis. Today, at the beginning of the 21st Century, with the economy falling apart, there’s little difference—just the technology. Most of us are trying to find our way in the changing landscape, especially with the economy collapsing. The storm we have to cut through is an economic storm, but it is still powerful, destructive, ruining families, killing people in different ways. There’s still bigotry, racism, sexism. The novel speaks to Americans today—in some ways it is about today—just set in 1900.