Memories of Colonel Bubbie’s, Galveston, TX

It may be an odd memory to share for the holiday season, but I never claimed to be normal. The photos below were taken in February 2015 just at the end of Mardi Gras.

The building at 2202 Strand in Galveston is a historic structure. It contained the iconic Colonel Bubbie’s Strand Surplus Senter for 42 years, making it the longest-running business on the famous Strand. Opening it’s doors in 1972, selling military equipment — gas masks, camo, canteens, mess kits, medals and insignias, you name it — encompassing 60 countries and conflicts from the Civil War to Iraq, it stood as a guiding light for historians and reinactors of all ages.

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“Col. Bubbie’s has the largest standing inventory of military surplus in the free world. If we don’t have it, and it is available, We’ll get it for you.”
-Sign posted at Colonel Bubbie’s

Until a few months before the business closed it’s doors for good, it was the go-to spot for local theater productions to get period uniforms. It was also a hot spot for reinactors from many periods. The shop assisted in outfitting the hit TV show “MASH” and war films as diverse as “Saving Private Ryan” and “1941,” among many others.

DSC_0471The building itself survived Hurricane Ike in 2008, no small feat considering the serious damage sustained by some nearby buildings.

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Meyer Reiswerg, Col. Bubbie’s founder, said he’d seen a ghost he named “Harold” living on the third floor of the building. Harold is reported to pushes thing off shelves and move things around, but is mostly just mischievous. “He’s a nice ghost,” Reiswerg was quoted. “I’ve gotten used to him. The first time I saw him, I was scared to death.”

Now the building stands, a forlorn testament to it’s builders and the will and pluck of the Reiswergs. The property is for sale if anyone wants to pick up where they left off and rebuild the Galveston landmark business.

My own memories, sadly, do not include ever having been inside, nor have I made Harold’s acquaintance. I’ve admired the architecture and the entrepreneurial spirit many times, though, and often have wished I were able to be on the bandwagon for restoring the place.

“Colonel Bubbie’s Strand Surplus Senter sold its last piece of military surplus this week, ending its run after 42 years, according to The Galveston County Daily News, on Christmas Eve. Back in October owner Suzie Reiswerg, widow of Meyer Reiswerg (who was known as Col. Bubbie to devoted customers), told the Houston Chronicle that the Christmas holiday was to be the popular outpost’s last stand.”
-as reported in the Houston Chronicle December 26, 2014.

We’ve been missing you, Colonel.

–Ann Cathey

The Beef Jerky Outlet – Galveston

It seems like there is always something new to discover in Galveston, Texas, and my two most recent discoveries are well worth talking about. The first, I’ll address in this post. The second…well, you’ll have to come back and read all about it!

The first of my two newest discoveries in Galveston is the Beef Jerky Outlet. There are franchises of this store scattered across the country, but I’d never heard of the place until I stumbled upon the one on the Strand in Galveston.

I’d been toying with the idea of going inside for a while, but every time I happened to be in the Strand area, the shop had either closed up for the night or I was running low on funds. Finally, though, I had money and time, and I went inside.

The Outlet in Galveston is a small shop, but it isn’t like Jerky requires a lot of space. The walls are neatly lines with packet after packet of jerky of every type imaginable (and some I never would have imagined). There are also “barrels” set up around the room that hide open packets of jerky and tongs that the staff is not only willing but eager to let you sample. Not all of the types or jerky are available for sample, but many (15 or so) are.

Now, the jerky itself. This place has a wide, wide variety. There were all sorts of beef varieties, including Blazin’ Cajun, 3 Beer BBQ Rub, Cherry Maple, and Peppercorn. There were also quite a few turkey jerky varieties. But they don’t stop there; the Beef Jerky Outlet offers some interest types of jerky: chicken, crawfish, bacon, venison, duck, buffalo, elk, salmon, alligator, and even kangaroo!

My partner-in-crime and I opted to try the Slap Ya Mama crawfish jerky (which mostly tasted like the Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning –hot!) and then the maple-glazed bacon jerky (which tasted exactly like you’d think it would…heavenly). We also tried the PB Crave products that they carry. Erin opted to try the chocolate and peanut butter version, which she really liked, and I tried the kind with banana, which I found disappointing (the banana part tasting like banana flavoring rather than actual banana).

After much, much perusing and discussing, Erin and I made our selections and took them home. Erin bought a 4oz bag of the maple-glazed bacon jerky and I bought three jerky sticks (venison, buffalo, and elk).

We had a little taste-testing party later, and our opinions of the three flavors actually lined up (a rarity).

  • The venison did not win any points with us. It had a decent flavor, but the texture was dry and crumbly. It made me feel almost like I had a mouth full of tobacco or tea leaves. Not something we will purchase again (though we might try the actual jerky instead of the jerky stick).
  • The elk had a much better texture, and a wonderful flavor. It was juicy—unusual for jerky of any kind—and absolutely delicious. It’s a type I definitely will buy again and will share with my foodie friends.
  • The buffalo had an even better flavor than the elk, though it lacked the juiciness. It also had a very nice texture. Again, I will buy it again and share with friends.

Overall, although the products are a little pricey (as all jerky is), I’m very glad we stumbled into the Beef Jerky Outlet. I love that you can try many of the products and that the staff is friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. Whether, like me, you just like to try new things or you’re a die-hard jerky enthusiast, this place needs to be on your “to visit” list when you’re in Galveston.

— L.B. Clark