Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Balinese Room

When I was posting as Ike was heading my way, I mentioned the Balinese Room in Galveston. It did not survive the storm. It was infamous in the 1950's because of illegal gambling. It's not history I should be proud of, but it does bring a smile to my face. Headliners included:

Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Duke Ellington, Mel Torme, Jayne Mansfield and Gene Autry. Also appearing were Sophie Tucker, Joe E. Lewis, the Ritz Brothers, Peggy Lee, Marjorie Reynolds, Phil Harris, Guy Lombardo, Ted Mack, and Jimmy Dorsey. ZZ Top wrote the famous song “Balinese” in 1973.

Patrons would eat dinner in the front of the restaurant and listen to the band as gamblers would gamble in the back. When the Texas Rangers would come in to raid the place, the band played The Eyes of Texas, all the patrons in the front stood up and began to sing, clap, and dance to block the Rangers path to the back room and buy a little time. Meanwhile in the back, there were compartments in the wall, all the gambling devices would be stored in the compartments and the tables would be set with table cloths, cutlery etc and the Rangers would enter to find a room full of people dining. The Galveston County sheriff would be asked why he never raided the place, he always responded with I am not a member. Finally the Rangers led a successful raid and the place was shut down.

It was a little seedy looking when I was a child in the 1960's but it was a familiar landmark. It was restored at some point and became a fun place to visit.

The landscape of Galveston and many areas in southeast Texas are changed forever, just like our circumstances change. The changes may be good or they may be devastating. One thing that never changes is our Father's love for us and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Keep your eyes on Jesus, because out of darkness, joy comes. Restoration and refreshing through the power of the Holy Spirit comes. I say this often, but I cannot say it enough, our Father loves us!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.