This is an old post from 2015 but I still like the message for Earth Day 2023.


img006 “Wintering in Port Aransas” by Steve Russell

 I Pledge Allegiance to the Earth
And to the Universal Spirit
Which gives us Life;
One Planet, Indivisible
Peace and Justice for Us All.

I Pledge to do my Best
To uphold the Trust bestowed
In the Gift of my Life;
To care for Our Planet
And our Atmosphere,
To Respect and Honor
All her Inhabitants,
All People, Animals,
Plants and Resources,
To Create a Legacy
For Our Children
And Our Children’s Children
In a World of Harmony and Love.

I Pledge Allegiance
To the Universal Spirit,
By whatever Name it may be called.
I align my Life
With the ongoing Process
of Creation;
To grow Myself with Care,
To Act from My Own Integrity,
To Be for Others
How I would want them
To Be for Me.

May We carry this Vision
Into our Hearts,
Into our Daily Choices,
And through…

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The Shared Fate of the Robert E. Lee and the German U-166

German submarines posed a threat not only to ships crossing the Atlantic, but also to ships in the Gulf of Mexico. Between 1942 and 1943 approximately 70 ships in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Texas were sunk by the German U-boats as they roamed the Gulf.

The passenger-freighter Robert E Lee had left Trinidad and was headed to Tampa when it was diverted to New Orleans. On board were passengers it had picked up from two other ships who were hit by torpedoes and was heading to New Orleans with an escort, USS PC-566.

The Robert E. Lee

On July 30, 1942 the Robert E Lee was hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine or U-boat. The ship began to list and sank within fifteen minutes beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico about fifty miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. Most of the of the passengers and crew were able to escape in life boats or with life jackets. One officer, 9 crewmen and 15 passengers of were lost. (total of 283 passengers were on board.)

The escort ship, USS PC-566 fired depth charges in the area where signs of it had last been seen. Soon after an oil slick appeared; it was assumed that the U-boat had been hit and destroyed. It and other boats in the area aided in the rescue of passengers and crew.

German U-166

In July of 2014, nearly 72 years later, stunning photos of the two wrecked vessels were released. The scientific ship, Exploration Vessel Nautilus had been checking for damage from the BP oil spill in 2010 when the scientists aboard came upon the wrecks only a two miles apart. Two remote operated submersible vehicles equipped with cameras captured clear images of both sites. Designated as war graves the casualties from World War II, they will not be disturbed.

Below is an excellent link put out by the scientific organization that took the photos. The images of the Robert E. Lee and U-166 are haunting.

A Tale of Two Wrecks: U-166 and SS Robert E. Lee

Thanks to blogger Brad Purinton for the inspiration for this post.  In a comment he left on my “Sand Pounders” post, he mentioned this incident. His father who was a child living in New Orleans at the time and remembered stories of German submarines near the mouth of the Mississippi His blog, Tokens of Companionship, features portrait photos from 1839 to 1939. Check it out here.


Sand pounders? What are they?  Tools for creating a sand sculpture? Some new social media? I had come across the phrase while doing some research for something I was writing that involved World War II.

The Coast Guard Beach Patrol, eventually known as Sand Pounders, began in June 1942 in response to the threat of a German coastal invasion. The three main purposes were to “detect, observe and report offshore enemy vessels; to report enemy landing attempts; and to prevent people on land from communicating with the enemy at sea.” The threat of a coastal invasion by Germany was real to American citizens. German U-boats were a threat to ships crossing the Atlantic and were detected off the Eastern Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. There was also the fear of invasion on the West Coast by the Japanese.

Coast guards would often be mounted on horses or on foot and were armed with radios and weapons. Those on horseback could cover ground more quickly and efficiently and usually work in pairs. Those on foot were often accompanied by dogs who could aid in detecting and protecting. German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers and Airedales were used, with the German Shepherd the preferred breed.

At its height, the Beach Patrol consisted of around 24,000 men who protected 2,700 miles of coastline from potential enemy invasion; the patrols ended in 1944 when preparations for the Normandy invasion began. While the Coast Guard is not often given as much mention in World War II as perhaps the other military branches, the Beach Patrol played a vital part in protecting the United States coast from enemy attack.

FRIDAY FOTO: Desert Bird of Paradise

This is a Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) in our backyard that I grew from a seed I planted in the spring of this year. I was surprised that it was blooming by the end of the summer.

It was hit hard by three nights of a hard freeze and lost all of its leaves. I was afraid it would not come back because it was not well established yet, or so I thought. This “Pretty Bird,” as I call it, has already put out new growth! I think it was be fine as long as we don’t have another hard freeze.


Photo by Husband


Portland, Texas is not funky, cool or artsy like Port Aransas or even Rockport; it used to be a quiet bedroom community to Corpus Christi where many of us commuted ten miles to work there. Community life revolved around schools, sports and churches. The few small restaurants could not sell alcoholic drinks, and if you wanted to buy liquor, you had to make a run to Jessie’s Liquor in Gregory, a tiny town five miles away. There was no public art.

Today industries,some international, have taken advantage of our location on the Gulf of Mexico and our connections to the Port of Corpus Christi. Industries brought jobs and growth. Chain restaurants have opened and one can enjoy an alcoholic drink with dinner and purchase liquor at one of three liquor stores. With good schools it is still a good place to raise a family. There is still no public art other than a memorial tribute to the military and veterans at city hall.

When an art gallery that serves lunch opened up recently, I persuaded Husband to check it out with me. I keep telling him we need more art in Portland.

La Cueva (the cave in Spanish) is owned and run by Gilbert Cuevas, who is also the artist in residence. He moved to Portland from San Antonio after a successful career in graphic advertising. Growing up in the west side in the barrios, he painted what he saw around him.

The ambiance of La Cueva is unexpected for Portland: intimate dining area, dark wood, tall columns, small bar, sophisticated, elegant yet relaxed and casually classy. His paintings – for sale – are displayed gallery style. A curved staircase leads to more art upstairs. The facility is available for private events. The menu offered salads and sandwiches; wine was available. We had The Cubano – deliciosa!

For a look at some of the art of Gilbert Cuevas and his art, go to La Cueva Art Gallary.

Reproductions of some of his original art was available in postcard form. Here is one of several I purchased to share.