Welcome back. Millionaires to mermaids, you’ll find it all in Rockport, Texas and friends there’s a tie to the Bartlesville area that this week I thought you might find interesting. Water Street in Rockport is only a mile long and runs right along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The area often floods but most of the houses are built on stilts and there are few full-time residents. The beauty of the place outweighs the sometimes-rough weather that coastal living can bring. Here small waterfront lots can bring as much as half a million dollars and there are few of them available. If you put a nice house on a lot it would be common to have at least a million dollars tied up in a home on this street.
Walking this piece of high-end real estate most mornings I’ve found another road about a quarter mile south where the lots are even more expensive. This is a small unmarked peninsula which during high tide can become an island and this is where the connection to Washington and Osage counties starts.
It was 1967 when John Mecom, Jr. and his wife Katsy Kay Mullendore of Cross Bell Ranch fame, bought the newly established New Orleans Saints football team. At the time the pair also owned Mecom Racing which had all the top drivers under contract including A.J. Foyt and Gram Hill who had just won the Indianapolis 500. For twelve years their football team grew in popularity until in 1985 New Orleans billionaire Tom Benson came a knocking with a check for sixty-four million and with that the football team sold.
After some research I learned that Tom was a hardworking man who started his career as a car salesman, and went on to own several dealerships in Texas and Louisiana as well as multiple other investments. He bought the Saints with his first wife Shirley who died several years later. The couple had three adopted children,
Robert, Renee and Jeannie. Tom remarried but his second wife died of Parkinson’s Disease. Then in 2004 he married Gayle Marie Lajaunie.
Tom was actively involved with his businesses until he died in 2018, adding the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans team along with several banks and ranches to his portfolio.
Tom’s death made Gayle the first female owner of two major sports teams and gave her a net worth of 3.3 billion, putting her in a class of her own. Of Tom’s kids only Renee has survived and every morning I walk by a fancy ten-foot-high concrete fences at the end of this mysterious street which encloses her personal retreat. Her father has now become a part of Louisiana’s history and I’m hoping to learn more from Renee who I’ve made contact with down here, looking for more of a connection between her family and the Mullendores.
Now for the mermaid part of this story. A fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, mermaids and mermen have existed in folklore going back hundreds of years. My encounter happened in the early morning while I was walking along this remote part of the island where Renee’s home is located. My head was down as I was thinking about the connection I’d just made with the Benson family when out of nowhere two sirens or mermaids as they’re called appeared out of nowhere. Well, I’m out of space so this story will have to be continued.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….
Interesting! If you want to keep up with Bartlesville news, bartlesvilleradio.com is newsier than the newspaper here. Glad you all are enjoying Texas. Hello to Deidre.