Pier Dog and the Corpus Christi Bay

Print this entry

He came to Corpus just this weekend
It was good to see him here
He said he finally gave up drinking
Then he ordered me a beer

— Robert Earl Keen

CORPUS CHRISTI — The announcer at the Texas Jazz Festival asked if there was anyone from Port Aransas in the crowd, at one of the four stages of this event now in its 58th year. The crowd applauded when a couple stood up — yet one more reminder that Hurricane Harvey’s destructive winds and rain are a recent memory, and recovery continues. Still, on this night, several thousand folks of all ages and heritages gathered to listen to some fine jazz and blues music.

On the drive down — through Houston and along Hwy. 59 and then Hwy. 77 — vestiges of the damage remain. One can see it in small towns like Refugio, where a few businesses along the main drag are missing roofs, billboards lay on the ground, piles of debris are scattered alongside the road. I am certain if one gets off the main highway, the damage is even more apparent.

My Beautiful Mystery Companion was presenting at a conference in Corpus, and I served as chauffeur. City Acre Brewing in Houston, owned by my daughter and son-in-law, was a perfect halfway stopping place for brunch and a brew. It was a lovely autumn afternoon, and we sat outside. I grabbed a cup of Matt’s famous cold-brew coffee and hit the road again.

We arrived by late afternoon, with enough time to take a walk along Shoreline Drive. Oil platforms can be seen in the distance, while fishing boats made their way back to the dock. Autumn weather had not yet found its way to Corpus Christi, and an occasional breeze was welcomed as we walked down the pier in the 90-degree heat. A few dozen fishing boats were tied up, along with a few pleasure craft, but primarily this was a working dock.

A black-mouth cur dog with no collar was curled up asleep in front of one of the boats, while a cat perched on its deck. Pier Dog was not a stray, as we first assumed. He belonged to the boat’s owner. The next morning, Pier Dog stood with a battered red leather glove in his mouth. As we approached, he dropped it at my feet and looked up at me expectantly. I picked it up cautiously, not wanting to get bit. Pier Dog just wanted to play. I tossed the rather slimy glove in the air, and he leaped up and caught it as cleanly as a Lab chasing a Frisbee. We played this game a few times before Pier Dog decided it was time for a nap and curled up under his owner’s battered pickup.

Meanwhile, the pelicans crowded around the boat, whose crew was unloading the morning catch into a truck with a refrigerated box in the bed. The pelicans were surprisingly tame, flitting about on the boat’s deck, roosting on the pier’s posts, doubtless hoping for a stray fish to flop out of the buckets being sloshed over to the truck. Seagulls squawked above, also hoping for a handout.

The next morning we headed to Padre Island, about 25 miles south, since the conference didn’t begin until mid-afternoon. Children were splashing in the surf as we walked barefoot, letting the warm water wash over our ankles. I am not a huge fan of the beach, mainly because I do not enjoy sand sticking to my skin, but it was a soothing walk — a time to simply be, and not worry about the crazy world in which we live. These days, any minutes stolen away from current events is time well spent.

After the conference started, I wandered back down to the pier, but Pier Dog was nowhere to be found. I sat on a bench on the seawall and read, close enough to hear the recording at the Selena memorial play again and again. The singer-songwriter, shot and killed in 1995 by her manager at just 23, remains a pop icon — particularly in the Mexican-American community. Each time I passed by the memorial, inside a stone gazebo, people were standing inside, listening to the recording, scrawling messages in chalk on the brick floor.

It had cooled off on this final day, enough so that as the wind picked up it was chilly enough to send me back inside. Soon we would be heading home.

Print this entry

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required