A fisherman finds a new way to hold his rod and reel while drying off on South Padre Island, Texas

Good
Vibrations

Snapshots from the
Gulf Coast

Photographs by Kenny Braun

James Tschirhart of Austin invents a new way to hold his rod and reel while drying off after getting pummeled by a giant wave on South Padre Island.

A woman holds King Dancer pose A man holds a surfboard on his bike on the way to the water in Port Aransas Texas

Left:Below: A beachgoer strikes a king dancer yoga pose on Surfside Beach.

Right: Surfer Carson Einkauf rides out to check the waves in Port Aransas.

The
Texas Gulf
Coast

may be referred to as the Third Coast behind the more popular East and West coasts, but we can live with that so long as it continues to discourage the masses from cluttering our beaches. Our coast—all 367 miles of it—is No. 1 in our hearts, and that’s all that matters. “The Gulf Coast was my first beach,” says Kenny Braun, an Austin-based photographer, “and you never forget your first.” Braun grew up in Houston and for the last 50 years has visited the coast for fishing, surfing, and family outings. Last year, he drove nearly the entire length of the coast with Texas Highways writer-at-large Clayton Maxwell for her story “Eye to Eye with the Texas Coast.” Braun knows the area so well, he could find every last curious character and sublime sunset with his eyes closed. For this story, Braun chose from about 250 photographs, some dating back 15 years, that collectively portray a singular personality. “The girl doing the yoga pose on the beach at Surfside, my go-to beach in the ’70s, is the same scene I’ve witnessed hundreds of times,” he recounts, “with lots of people and cars parked along the beach for miles and Peter Frampton’s live album playing on the radios. Fashions change and people come and go, but the coast stays exactly the same as the first time you saw it.”

A man poses with his 9-foot-8-inch 1964 Dextra surfboard at Surfside Beach in Texas The SpaceX rocket launch site is in view behind sand dunes on Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville Texas A woman sits in the drivers seat while another dangles her feet from the roof to the interior of a 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van

Above: At Surfside Beach, Ellis Pickett poses with his 9-foot-8-inch 1964 Dextra surfboard, one of more than 20 boards he owns. “It weighs 39 pounds and is very difficult to turn,” Pickett says.

Above right: The SpaceX rocket launch site looms over the dunes at Boca Chica Beach south of Brownsville.

Bottom right: Texas Highways writer-at-large Clayton Maxwell and her friend Amy Diehl chill in a 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van.

A man holds a fishing spear at the end of Isla Blanca Park. A bartender poses inside Shorty's Place bar in Port Aransas Texas

Above left: South Padre Island resident Gene Gore spearfishes at the end of the jetties at Isla Blanca Park. Within 15 minutes he’d snagged four mangrove snapper.

Above right: Bartender Renee Garland holds court inside Shorty’s Place, the “oldest and friendliest” bar in Port Aransas.

Below:Left: Gore and his dog, Archer, walk across the flats between the beach and Laguna Madre.

A man walks with his dog down the beach near Laguna Madre in Texas
A woman plays bocce on Padre Island National Seashore. A dog rides the waves on a paddleboard on South Padre Island

Above left:Diehl plays bocce on Padre Island National Seashore.

Above right: Archer the surfing dog catches a wave on South Padre Island. According to Gore, Archer will drag his board by the leash to the beach and surf all day if you let him.

Below:Left:Rick Reichenbach, the late keeper of the Lydia Ann Lighthouse in Port Aransas, surveys the scene. In 1973, H-E-B owner Charles Butt purchased the lighthouse, the second oldest on the Texas coast, and has financed its operation ever since.

A man looks out to the water beneath the Lydia Ann Lighthouse in Port Aransas Texas
A fisherman casts a line on the south jetties in Port Aransas Texas. A man stands behind a painted surfboard during the Old Guys Surf Reunion in Surfside Beach Texas

Above left:A fisherman casts a line on the south jetties in Port Aransas.

Above right: A surfer shows off his custom-painted board during the Old Guys Surf Reunion at Surfside Beach.

Below:Right:A boy fishes off the docks at Woody’s Sports Center, a typical Port Aransas scene. “This is me in 1969,” Braun says. “Autobiography is often an element in a lot of my best work.”

A young man fishes off of a dock at Woody's Sports Center in Port Aransas

From the June 2020 issue


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