LTJ: Sunburns and Seashells

It was the summer of 1960 when my older sister invited me to take a vacation with her to Galveston, Texas—just the two of us. I was fifteen years old and had never seen the ocean. What could be better?

Jerlene and I packed the car on a Saturday morning and headed south. Hard to believe but it took us two days and nights to get to Galveston. After finding a motel, we hit the beach. If ever there was love at first sight, it happened the minute I saw the ocean. I spent the afternoon in the water letting the waves lift me off my feet and put me back down with a splash while feeling the sand slip from under my feet and back out to the sea.

Unlike me, Jerlene chose the sandy beach instead of the water, lying on a towel while soaking up the sun. She came for relaxation. I came for fun. Our first night out we had Chinese food, something totally foreign to me since I lived in a little farming community, far from exotic restaurants and fast foods. The next day I was introduced to pizza. I loved it! I loved everything about our trip. Even the ice machine outside our door was a novelty to me.

Then suddenly, Jerlene became disoriented while shopping at a souvenir shop. She grabbed my arm and I helped her out the door. We made it to the motel where she discovered that her afternoon at the beach had left her with a severe sunburn. She was so ill that she spent the rest of her vacation in bed.

Each day I would gently rub her parched skin with medication then pick up food at the motel restaurant to take back to the room where we ate each meal. It was hardly a dream vacation, at least not for my sister. I kept the ice bucket filled and soft drinks on hand and read magazines to her a