I believe as Leo Buscaglia that the only immortality we know lies in the love we’ve received and left behind in other’s memories. The love I have for grandparents and parents has nothing to do with money material possessions nor of degrees or great accomplishments. It’s unconditional love with all the imperfections of mere mortals who reside on this earth just a blink in time.

My parents Josephine and Joseph Newsome married and resided in Texas City more than 50 years. They raised four daughters who attended Texas City schools and attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church. My father was employed by American Oil and AMOCO for almost 40 years.

We lived through the Texas City Disaster and lived on Fifth Avenue North. My father also owned the Rod and Reel Shop on Sixth Street. My mother was a homemaker.

Growing up in Texas City a growing city in the ’40s and ’50s was to my friends and me normal. But now that we’re in our 70s we truly realize how fortunate we were in so many ways. The Class of ’56 continues to be close. Perhaps we bonded more than others across the country because we shared the experience of the explosion in 1947. There were no therapists in those days and we depended on each other for support. The parents helped each other through rough times whether hurricanes or other times of stress.

It was safe for us to walk to the movies and just about everywhere else in town. The owners and clerks in retail establishments knew us. My four sisters and I would go together to Lerman’s Department Store and choose school clothing together and sign the ”ticket.” We went to Agee’s Drug and sat at the counter and drank coffee with mostly milk and had toast after church on Sunday mornings.

We went door to door at Halloween and loved all the sports and music events. We knew the families in our churches and if someone was ill or deceased the families helped each other. No child was turned away from Beeler-Manske Clinic. Parents watched out for each other’s children.

My simple parents loved God their country and their children and neighbors. Family was very important.

Growing up leaving home even leaving the country for me was made easier due to growing up in Texas City.

I was loved I was taught that being rich doesn’t make you have ”class” and ”class” never runs scared. Having class is real you can’t fake it. You have to be comfortable with yourself — comfortable in your city in your family and in your friendships many that last a lifetime.

I’m so grateful to have grown up in Texas City. I’m grateful to be a survivor of the 1947 Disaster ... and grateful that my parents regardless of it stayed in the little city that we loved.

God bless Texas City and America on this special anniversary.

Sylvia Newsome Smith lives in San Antonio.

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