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Padre Island

Texas Department of Public Safety Historical Museum and Research Center

Sound | 1960

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  •  Vacationing families enjoy the sun and surf.  
  •  The Mirimar Hotel 
  •  Beach with the seagulls  
  •  History of pirates on the island.  
  •  Fishing in South Padre.  
  •  History of the Native Americans in South Padre.  
  •  History of Padre Island  
  •  Corpus Christi  
  •  Cars and people on the same beach.  
  •  Miss Corpus Christi pageant.  
  •  Vacationing family on the beach loses daughter and patrolmen help find her.  
  •  A good driver.  
  •  Texas Department of Public Safety.  
  •  NARRATOR: Off the Texas coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, a narrow island reaches 110 miles from Corpus Christi southward to Port Isabel. This place has seen a strange and vivid past. Mysterious, wild, beautiful Padre Island.  
  •  Across the bay from Port Isabel, luxurious beach hotels face the sea. Here at the southern-most tip of Texas, vacationing families enjoy the sun and surf. The old story of boy catches fish and girl catches boy is enacted again and again.  
  •  The pool is a favorite rendezvous; a place to meet old friends and make new ones.  
  •  Mike gives Mary the traditional dunking, and John gives Susie the traditional big brother order to get lost. Plans for the day are discussed: Exploring, surf riding, a drive to Corpus Christi, how about a boat ride? Agreed.  
  •  But Susie would rather stay on the beach and feed the gulls. Precision timing keeps these fellows well-fed.  
  •  Padre Island was the last ramparts of the pirates Jean and Paul LaFitte. Pleasure crafts and fishing boats cruise today where pirates, smugglers, and ocean wayfarers sailed for centuries.  
  •  Old Spanish galleons were here, and before them, the Vikings. Centuries pass, but the spell of the water, the sky, the spanking breeze, these never change.  
  •  And the fishing here is superb. Most of the salt water game fish are found in these waters, and shrimping is big business here, too.  
  •  For 300 years, cannibal Indians roamed this coast. They kept this domain for themselves while Texas pioneers settled the mainland. Texas Rangers fought the cannibals for years until the shore was safe. These waters have not always been serene.  
  •  The famous lighthouse at Port Isabel may be seen in the distance as the captain heads for home. The trip is over. The day has flown by.  
  •  This old lighthouse stands as it has since 1852, its light burning in preparation for the night. But tomorrow is another day to savor from the beginning.  
  •  Exploring Padre Island is an encounter with mystery. Only bits of its past are known. Early in the nineteenth century, Padre Nicolas Balli lived here and gave Padre its name. Relics of tenth century Vikings have been discovered here. Tales of buried treasure are legion. John Singer, brother of the sewing machine manufacturer, raised cattle here in 1847. One day, he uncovered a treasure chest containing $80,000-worth of gold and jewelry. Other treasures have been found down through the years: Spanish doubloons, a can containing three hundred dollars in old coins, and even an old casket full of jewels washed up on the beach.  
  •  Isla Blanca, White Island, this used to be called and should be today with its white gulls, white sand, and white sea breaking on the beach.  
  •  Meanwhile, Mike and Mary are off for a drive to Corpus Christi, and guess who wants to tag along?  
  •  The road stretches in a straight line for miles. Traffic is light, and it’s easy to drive too fast, but a good driver knows that one moment of inattention may result in his losing control of his vehicle, and he stays within the speed limit. Obeying traffic laws is a matter of self-protection. For example, a good driver watches for cars pulling onto the roadway. Another good driver keeps a sharp lookout. Simple procedures that avoid accidents and make driving a pleasure.  
  •  Road construction crews are everywhere these days. Watch for them, and reduce your speed as you approach them. Today’s traffic delays mean tomorrow’s fine highways.  
  •  Beautiful Corpus Christi. A favorite vacation spot. Visitors pour into the city via the spectacular Harbor Bridge, then drive over the causeway to the north end of Padre Island where the cars glide smoothly upon the firm sand of the beach. Cars and people share the same stretch of beach, and this presents hazards to pedestrians.  
  •  Enter the beach buggies. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a beach patrol with Jeeps and specially-equipped patrol cars to protect vacationers and help them enjoy their holiday. Patrol men enforce the speed laws, keep a lookout for careless drivers, pull out cars stuck in the sand, and prove themselves indispensable on the island.  
  •  Special patrol cars have oversized tires and loud speakers. As patrolmen drive along the beach, they pay special attention to swimmers, especially children, and warn them if they’re out too far. Sometimes people are so busy enjoying themselves, they forget to watch out for cars. Patrolmen keep a lookout for them, too.  
  •  A popular beach resort has its popular pastime: a beauty contest to determine who will be Miss Corpus Christi—a difficult decision. But at last, the three winners, and winners, they are. This business of just sitting and talking doesn’t make sense to Susie. So Mike resorts to a time-honored device, a beautiful surf. Who would believe that cannibal Indians used to waylay shipwrecked sailors here, and then chase them up and down the island one at a time as the menu indicated.  
  •  Time goes by in a montage of sun and sand and dreamy isolation. The island is a world apart.  
  •  But where’s Susie?  
  •  Well, ask the patrolmen in the beach buggies.  
  •  Unaware that she’s missed, Susie enjoys the action on the pier.  
  •  Word is passed along. They’ll find her wherever she is.  
  •  You don’t get to ride in a beach buggy every day.  
  •  Susie is returned, and the patrolmen receive another thank you; one of many for the day. 
  •  Back to Port Isabel, and more fun tomorrow because a good driver was careful today. Consistent obedience to traffic laws and safety rules means we’re more apt to be here to enjoy tomorrow and all the days of happy motoring to come.  
  •  The Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin, Colonel Homer Garrison Jr., director.  
  •  COLONEL GARRISON: You know, there’s something special and different about driving on Padre Island as well as other playland areas in Texas. Close observance of the speed limit is vitally important to our safety. We must be constantly on the alert for construction crews working on the highways and for cars entering from the roadside park into the side roads.  
  •  Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc. 
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This short film is equal parts tourism advertisement for San Padre Island and traffic safety film. Mixing stories of young couples at the beach with the amusingly annotated history of San Padre Island, the film presents this popular travel destination as a fun and exciting retreat. Intermingled with shots of beautiful horizons and sandy beaches is a message about the importance of highway safety and the duties of the island's beach patrol. A short message from Homer Garrison, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, concludes the film. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.

Established by the Texas Legislature on August 10, 1935, the Texas Department of Public Safety was created by the consolidation of the Texas Highway Motor Patrol with the Texas Rangers. Since that time, its duties have grown to include such activities as the state licensing of drivers, vehicle inspection, narcotics enforcement, and the State Civil Defense Office, (now the Division of Emergency Management,) which aids local governments during times of natural disaster or social upheaval. While its duties have evolved over time, the mission of the DPS has remained constant - to provide public safety services to those people in the state of Texas by enforcing laws, administering regulatory programs, managing records, educating the public, and managing emergencies, both directly and through interaction with other agencies.

Colonel Homer Garrison Jr.'s lifelong Texas law enforcement career began at age 19 (shortly after graduating from Lufkin High School), when he was appointed deputy sheriff of Angelina County. In 1930, he joined the newly forming Texas Highway Patrol. When the Texas Highway Patrol became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935, Col. Garrison became the new agency's first assistant director. In 1938, his role changed to director of the DPS and chief of the Texas Rangers, a position he held until his death in 1968. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum at Fort Fisher is named for him.