FROM THE PAST: A summer day at the beach

Special to the Parade

Step in at Boca Chica beach, located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, three miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande and Mexican border, only a few minutes ride from Brownsville. The invitation to visit our beaches was answered in a big way.

It was the first Sunday of the summer of 1929 that brought out unprecedented crowds to the waters of the coast. It was a historical day that saw our beaches welcome the greatest influx of bathing, picnic, fishing and boating parties in the history of the region.

Port Isabel and Boca Chica Beach grew by the thousands, key point observes estimated that at least 10,000 visitors were reported going and coming all day long.

Although the paved highway to Boca Chica was not yet completed, this did not keep the people from making their way to the beach. The concrete road to Boca Chica was finished by the summer of 1930.

It was estimated that there were 2,500 and 3,000 automobiles on Boca Chica beach. A large part of the crowd remained on the mainland, but as many were reported traveling to Brazos Island for their day’s outing.

On the Island, for miles the beach was a solid chain of automobiles parked at intervals of 20 yards. Along with the many Valley residents, car licenses from California, Florida, Michigan and New York were seen among the vehicles bringing the throngs of visitors.

Overall, motorists reported that the roads to the beaches were in good condition. But yes, there were some rough spots, especially along the dirt portions of the road, which made it for a dusty Sunday.

Port Isabel boat operators reported they had taken between 500 and 1,000 people to Padre Island, indicating a total crowd during the day of about 2,500 at the Point.

By the end of the day, fishermen had plenty of fish stories to tell. They also had a big day at the Point, as arrays of fish were hooked, among them eight good size tarpons. The trophy tarpons were caught by W.H. Pattee and M.H. Anderson, both of Port Isabel, and each landed a handsome six-footer.

An advertisement publication of the era wrote, “Come and visit our beaches which offer a delightful change to those who would enjoy the bracing effect of the cool ocean breezes made possible by the trade winds that sweep across the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea…Cool Salt laden breezes which blow your cares away and at the same time relieve Asthma and Hay fever.”

It was only the beginning of the summer and regardless of whether they were there for medicinal reasons or not, they were there by the thousands, then and now.

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