(Galveston Island, 1972. All photos by Blair Pittman via The Atlantic.)
I love this series of photos from Texas in the 1970s that's up right now at The Atlantic's website. Part of it is that we just got back from a weekend getaway to Port Aransas, on the Gulf, which still looks amazingly like these 40-year-old shots of Galveston.
As a kid, sometimes I would ask my mom if I could have a certain toy or watch a TV show, and she would tell me, "No, it's tacky." She wasn't being snobby--she just thought that living a good, beautiful life meant surrounding yourself with good, beautiful things, and lots of the junk that kid-me wanted didn't qualify. My mom was a paradox (we all are) who also loved Coors Light and grew into a devoted NASCAR fan. But when it came to raising me, she emphasized cultivating the beautiful and a sense for the beautiful. And that meant that "the beach" for me growing up was a serene spot with white sand and blue water and no oil rigs on the horizon--we loved the beaches of the east coast, and we travelled to or aspired to travel to nicer beaches outside of the country.
There's a certain level of tackiness to the beaches of the Texas Gulf, and the 1970s were America's tackiest decade. But there's also value in finding beauty in what you've got on hand, in what you can afford--a value my mom absolutely understood--and that's what you get from this series.