When Galveston’s downtown was bustling with commerce and workers, one of the most popular morning coffee break and lunch spots was Perusina’s Cafe on Mechanic Street.

In the mid-1950s, a young Clara Biggers began working there at the lunch counter as a server and prophet, teaching her customers how to live life to the fullest and do it with a smile.

Within a few years, Moody National Bank built its new building, complete with employee and officer coffee rooms. It was perfect timing, because Perusina’s was moving to the mainland, and the bank’s president, Carey Mayfield — a fan of Clara’s — wanted her to begin a new reign at the bank.

So, the prophet of Perusina’s became the prophet of the bank and she spread her kindness, Bible quotes and almost-under-her-breath gospel tunes and spirituals as she went about managing the two coffee rooms.

Clara Biggers has passed away, and it seems to me that her personal contribution to the fabric and collective personality of Galveston needs to be noted.


Bill Cherry lives in Dallas.

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