Thanks for visiting with me this Sunday in the Park. With Christmas two days away, as we sit here together, I can't help but be appreciative that my mom and dad made certain that as a family our religious beliefs and our church were stable parts of our life together.
You know, for Christians, Christmastime is primarily one-half of a story of thanksgiving, with the other half coming about four months later at Easter.
And I've found that with each year that passes, this thanksgiving becomes more and more profound to me.
My thanksgivings - as I think about them one by one - always find their way to a certain group of friends. These are friends I have had for my entire life. And we remain a close-knit support group.
First and foremost, there's Butch (Walter A., III) Kelso. Fate made us both neighbors and first friends, and we've been close friends and buddies ever since. Make that sixty-three years. That's Butch on the left and me on the right.
And then there's this group of buddies. While each of us developed different professional and social interests as time passed, let one of us experience one of life's milestones, whether good or bad, and the others rally to the occasion. It's been that way for more than fifty years.
I often wonder if even our parents, much less our teachers and neighbors, had a clue that we would turn out as well as we did.
In this picture, the first fellow is E. Douglas McLeod. He's been a teacher, on the school board, the city council and a member of the state legislature. He was even a real estate broker for a few years.
After all of that, he went to law school and got his law degree as well as a master's in law.
He's one of the honchos at the billion dollar asset based Moody Foundation.
Next is Dr. Ward McReynolds, a well-known Houston psychiatrist.
Next is me, Bill Cherry, real estate broker, broadcaster, writer and musician.
That's Jasper (J.E.) Tramonte on my left. With a master's degree in business, he went all over the country in his younger years, resolving and installing computer programs for major insurance companies and hospitals. And then he decided to become a commercial real estate broker in Houston, a profession he's excelled in for at least twenty-five years. (I claim I taught him everything he knows about real estate. He claims I have a lose screw if I believe that.)
Next is Victor J. Damiani. He has always been the father figure of our group. A year or so older than the rest of us, Victor always had the good sense to steer us in the right direction. He's to us what Fonzie is to the "Happy Days" show. Victor spent many years as a life insurance company policy underwriter for American National Insurance Co. He's now retired. I wrote about Victor's influence in my book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories.
So my prayer today as we sit here in the park together, is that each of you has the blessings of a life-long support group like ours. They are a precious gift.
Merry Christmas to all, and I look forward to seeing you again next Sunday in the Park.
Pen and Ink Drawing of Bill in the Park by Galveston artist Carlotta Barker