Louisa Hansen Rolfing
At 9 o'clock in the morning, the rain poured down in streams. Driftwood came down the street, and the wind got stronger and stronger every minute. For awhile, even the ladies were wading in the water, thinking it was FUN. The children had a grand time, picking up driftwood and other things that floated down the street. They went near the beach and told us that the bathhouses were breaking to pieces. Then it wasn't fun anymore.
On September 8, as the storm was beginning, a young woman employed at John Sealy Hospital began writing the exceptionally rare unsigned letter that follows. It is the only account held by the Rosenberg Library known to have been written while the storm was taking place.
It does not require a great stretch of imagination to imagine this structure a shaky old boat out at sea. The whole thing rocking like a reef, surrounded by water, said water growing closer, ever closer. Have my hands full quieting nervous, hysterical women.
Things beginning to look serious. Water up to the first floor in the house, all over the basement of the hospital. Cornices, roofs window lights blinds flying in all directions.
The scenes about here are distressing. Everything washed away. Poor people trying, vainly to save their bedding, & clothing. Methinks the poor nurses will be trying to save their beds in short order. Nor flames in the distance. It is all a grand, fine sight. Our beautiful Bay, a raging torrent.
Am beginning to feel a weakening desire for something "to cling to." Should feel more comfortable in the embrace of your arms. You hold yourself in readiness to come to us? Should occasion demand?
Darkness is overwhelming us, to add to the horror. Dearest - I - reach out my hand to you. My heart - my soul.
I had a grandmother and aunts and uncles who livee in the East End and their houses were just splinters. My grandmother Wallstein didn't want to leave her home. Two uncles picked her up, put her in a boat and saled her. She got saved on Broadway at that church, Sacred Heart.
They never would've found her place, but my aunt had a "polly" ( parrot) that was up in the attic and the attic didn't go to pieces. It just sat on the top of the house and the next morning the Polly was hollering " Pretty Polly. Pretty Polly." That's how they found where they lived.
Beauty thrives on the beach in Galveston in 1922 - 22 years after the
storm. The contestants, Bathing Girl Revue, May 14th
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Joseph Maurer - photographer