She loved the way the house was laid out–you could run a line of string or a gun sight down the length of the house and take straight aim from front to back. All the doors and windows in a line.
It was an old house. Older than air conditioning and world wars, built on the old homestead and only later moved into town when the town itself was so new that builders dug cisterns beneath their pier and beam foundations and lodged furnaces in the ground beneath their central corridors to warm the bedrooms and the kitchen–the heart of each house.
Cartwright led the way even though technically it was her ancestral home. He did not say much one way or the other until he came to the guest bath with its original porcelain tub and pink tile surround.
He was her father’s age and when he saw the bathroom he let out a gentle whistle–reminds me of my grandmother’s bathroom!
Mine too, she quipped, mine too.
Ok, one more question, she asks, gesturing toward the paired wooden markers by the wharf.
Casablanca?!. When did “Rinderhafen, Texas” become Casablanca?!
Oh…funny story about that. Just around the time of the big real estate bubble the city counsel was convinced (due in large part to a sudden proliferation of vacation home development from here to Tivoli) that we were on the cusp of a resurgence of the great tourism boom of the leisure train days.
Sooooo….they put their heads together and decided it was time to reshape the image of this little patch of undiscovered paradise.
In fact, “paradise” was a contender in the race for a new identity. Also at play were Portwein and Portofino.
There was also rumblings about a “Gulf of Mexico Rivera.”
We almost came to fisticuffs at a couple of counsel meetings.
In the end Casablanca got the votes. And no one had any gumption left to object when the major’s wife got the contract for the renaming campaign and all the signage commissions that went with it.
Robert Cartwright was a real estate agent with the demeanor of a saint.
He was flat out soothing. He resembled in his appearance an aging Captain Kirk, but his general manners suggested warm generosity and southern hospitality.
Charming. She settled on this vaguely pedestrian adjective to encapsulate the creeping suspicion she held that this gracious southern gentlemen would best be described as the love child of Captain Kirk and Julia Child.
She bet that in addition to selling newbies plots along the Texas coast, he probably made one heck of a creme brûlée.