Back in the day when I graduated from high school, options for girls were fairly limited. I could get married or go to college and, if I went to college, could be a nurse or a teacher. Of course there were those like me, square pegs who didn’t fit into the round holes society had so carefully drilled.
My college days were spent at Louisiana Tech University. Some of my classmates were there to get whatever degree would let them teach but many were there for the M.R.S. degree. Again, I was the odd one out. I was a journalism major, wanted to be a baseball writer, was the first female on my school’s sports staff. My “beat” was very restricted - the parachute team, the martial arts program. It was just enough to let me have the occasional article in the Tech Talk but nothing to make me well known about campus.
There was one girl who was famous. Her name was Renee and she was the only – the ONLY – female in the school of architecture. I always envied her and wished that I had been brave enough (and smart enough) to follow that career path. I love to create and design, even to this day, and if I were starting over, I’d be an architect.
There is a show on one of the DIY television networks featuring a 30-something couple, Ashley and Michael Cordray, and follows them as they save Galveston’s history and architecture one dilapidated building at a time. Just an ordinary couple living a few blocks from me, near enough for my granddaughter to walk down the street to their house to feed their chickens.
While they might be ordinary, their talent is extraordinary. Their show “Restoring Galveston” details their efforts in keeping these late 19th and early 20th centuries homes from the wrecking ball as many of them are on the city’s condemned list. Their attention to detail brings them back to life as near to period as possible with a few updates, like central heat and air, and modern kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. I first “found’ the Cordrays when they were rehabbing a house just 4 blocks from mine. I saw a 2-person film crew and trash trailer in front. At that time, the Property Brothers Drew and Jonathon Scott were filming here in Galveston (Brother vs. Brother) so I thought it might be them and was very pleasantly surprised to find it was really our own doing good for our island. It was the pilot which was picked up by HGTV and now is on the D-I-Y Network as Restoring Galveston. The addresses of the locations are never shown, so I pay close attention to anything that might be a landmark or the briefest of glimpses of a street sign so I can find them, then take a very slow drive by so I can see the finished product for myself.
I would love to be a restoration architect, “specializing in the preservation and conservation of historic buildings and monuments, altering or restoring these buildings and monuments in order to prevent their deterioration.” I imagine researching the history, then scouring antique shops and warehouses to find the right transom or door knob or piece of stained glass or other hardware.
I envy the Cordrays, saving Galveston. I don’t envy the mess they often find as they remove the plywood so often covering the doors and windows of the houses that are literally falling apart or the exclamations of “look at all the rat poop!” but the smell of sawdust and the pride at the finished product? I do envy that!