● By Kylie Cooper
By: Kylie Kinnett Photos by: Aaron Garcia Styled by: Terri Moore, Wildflowers
We often take for granted all the things a home provides for us. Shelter, warmth, and a familiar place to lay our heads at night are among those things. However, possibly the most overlooked aspects of what our dwellings extend to us are the neighborhoods they sit in. The longing for community is present in us all, and a neighborhood allows us to form the human connections that will not only lend you a cup of sugar, but lift you up in times of need. These three families have all found that community in their respective neighborhoods in the Coastal Bend. While the roads traveled to ultimately get here vary between each family’s story, the arrival destination is the same. Regardless of how or why they ended up planting themselves in this area, they have each finally made it home.
Del Mar Neighborhood
Our team was greeted by chickens roaming the front lawn and four newborn puppies upon arriving to the Veazey homestead. One by one, their three girls came hopping out of the car the family had just pulled up in, anxiously waiting to tell us each of the puppies’ names and which one they wished they could keep. I say this because, in a way, it perfectly encapsulates the family dynamic. They are on the go and involved in the community, yet their home is their safe haven, where all the chaos of having three young children and busy lives is embraced.
Emily and Marcus Veazey both have lived in a number of places – Emily, having a military family, and Marcus having lived in various places for work. Their stories converge in Washington D.C. where the two were both working after graduating college. Their story then takes them to Atlanta for seven years before they decided it was time for a change. Emily’s grandparents had always lived in Beeville, creating a soft spot in her heart for South Texas. Marcus’ soft spot happened to be anywhere on a coast, and thus, their decision was made.
“We were looking for a wonderful cost of living and a wonderful quality of life,” Emily said as they reminisce on their conversations about where to take their family next. “I mean, there are pros and cons to every city, and it is about knowing what is most important to you. And those things, along with being close to the water, are what ultimately led us to make the decision to move. But the community that soon followed after … we weren’t expecting that.”
The family moved to the Coastal Bend just a little over four and a half years ago. Their home, tucked nicely into the middle of the Del Mar neighborhood, is just a glance away from Ocean Drive. They knew a grand total of three people when moving here – something they weren’t used to, having a close-knit community in their neighborhood back in Atlanta. However, they weren’t going to let that stop them from fully embracing their new home.
Along with all their belongings, they brought with them one of their favorite traditions from their old neighborhood to the Del Mar community: Light up Atlantic. Every year, on the first Sunday of the holiday season, they host a potluck dinner when the entire neighborhood gathers at their home for an inaugural lighting of each home’s Christmas décor. “Every year it has grown, and it is so fun to see how it has brought us all together,” Emily says. “I mean, it is so cool to be a part of, and to basically kind of do life with these people, all because we live on the same street.”
The Del Mar neighborhood is literally steps away from Ocean Drive. Taking the kids to Cole Park, and their oldest daughter being able to ride her bike to school, are perks of its prime location. Yet one of their favorite aspects of the neighborhood is that everyone is friendly, caring, and willing to help in times of need. They recall Hurricane Harvey and how helpful their neighbors were in making sure their home (and chickens) made it through the storm safely.
“People crave community. Everyone wants to be known, and we crave that connection with people,” Marcus says in his final thoughts on the concept of neighborhoods providing you with community. Emily adds to the sentiment of how important it is to them, “Garages and fences kill neighborhoods, and it just makes such a difference when you know the names and faces of the people who are constantly surrounding you.”
Pope Place Neighborhood
On a Wednesday afternoon, sitting at the Moores’ dining room table around chips and salsa, a story of a young, yet established, couple began to unfold. Elise and Schuyler Moore, who now call the Pope Place neighborhood home, moved back to the Coastal Bend just over a year ago. Their story, which started right here in Corpus Christi, took them to both College Station and Dallas before fate, and a tiny bit of persuasion, ultimately led them back to their hometown.
The Moores both left Corpus Christi for college and, until recently, only knew this city through their childlike eyes and memories. After Schuyler accepted a job in Dallas upon graduation, Elise soon followed, and they planted themselves in what they thought would be their (for at least the immediate future) forever home. Elise and Schuyler were excited to be in a new city, planning their life together as newlyweds.
They describe their collective two years in Dallas as a time that, for them, just didn’t click. Even after buying a home in a nice neighborhood, something was still missing: community. They knew a move back to Corpus would allow them to achieve that necessary aspect of life. And, although there were hesitations, a job offer and the longing for community brought them back.
“We just really missed the smaller city feel,” says Schuyler. “Dallas is a lot of fun and there are tons of things to do, but we just felt like another person, another number – you don’t recognize faces everywhere you go, and after a while you start to miss that.” And so, their journey back to the Coastal Bend began.
They knew they wanted to find a home in the central Corpus Christi area, and began looking for homes in neighborhoods like Lamar Park, Morning Side, and Bessar Park. However, a corner home in the Pope Place neighborhood captured their hearts and, with some very impressive renovations, the Moores had finally made it home.
The Moores describe Pope Place as a quiet, yet lively, neighborhood. The homes are inhabited with some people their age, who are in the same stage of life, as well as families who have lived in the neighborhood forever. “It’s such a good mixture of people from all different generations,” says Elise, “I think that combination provides a balance, and it has created something so special.”
Aside from the prime location, coffee shops, restaurants, and shops within walking distance, and the close proximity to the water, one of their favorite parts about the neighborhood is the fact that when they are gone, they are missed – something they didn’t realize would feel so nice until it happened. “People in our neighborhood miss us if we aren’t somewhere,” says Elise. “If we miss dog club one week, people wonder where we are. And that is something that feels good: to feel known and cared for by your community.”
Midway through our conversation, they began pointing in various directions, naming who lives where, with a funny story about each of the neighbors named. “The only reason I got one of my back-up lights fixed recently was because one of our neighbors would knock on my car window and remind me about it once a week,” Schuyler says. “I mean, that is the kind of neighborhood we live in.”
They ended their train of thought with a nod to the importance of community and finding a neighborhood that best suits your specific needs. In a time when supporting one another is so needed, the Moores have found so much value in the people they are surrounded by. And even though there were places that they called home before making it back to the Coastal Bend, there is no doubt in their minds they’ve found the place they belong.
Pirates Bay Neighborhood
Rows of pastel painted townhomes and palm trees are the first things your eyes see when entering the Pirates Bay community in Port Aransas. As we pulled in, various residents smiled and waved to us. Kim Frost is standing in her doorway, greeting our team with one hand waving, one hand holding onto a Saturday afternoon cocktail. Her not-so-beachy beach house sits a short golf cart ride away from the water – where the sand is waiting for your arrival.
Kim grew up in Tyler, Texas, but her father was from Corpus Christi – which often meant spending summers down here with her family. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that her family made the permanent move to the Coastal Bend. Her journey took her to San Antonio, where she finished her bachelors and law degrees, and didn’t lead her back to this area until she was pregnant with her first child. She instantly knew there was no other place she would want to raise her kids than Corpus Christi. And so, she packed up her things and came back to the area in 2005. The rest, well, is history. For Kim, the move back was a no-brainer.
“I love the community here. It is a big enough city [that] you can always have something to do, but at the same time, there are still small city aspects,” she says when asked why she felt her family would flourish here. She describes the Coastal Bend area as a place where everyone can connect with one another and thrive. She knew providing her children with an environment like that was crucial.
While she and her two children reside in the Del Mar neighborhood most days, every couple of weeks, when the school bell rings on Friday, they pack up their things and head to their house in Port Aransas. Some might deem it silly to have your weekend getaway so close to home; however, it actually is a bit genius. Kim, as a self-employed single mom, found it difficult to escape the chaos of everyday life without causing more stress that often comes with traveling.
“I came up with the idea to just look in the Coastal Bend area for a vacation house,” she said in reference to the decision. “In this phase of life, with the kids being involved in so much, it isn’t easy to just pack everyone up and go. And we love where we live so much, so I made the choice.” So, about once a month, the Frost family packs up their things and heads to Pirates Bay, a small community in the heart of Port Aransas.
Kim purchased the home shortly after Hurricane Harvey. So, while the home had minor damages to repair before move in, she was able to see the community relief efforts firsthand. She mentions how amazing it was to see everyone, neighbors near and far, come together to rebuild the place they loved so much. “Through everything, most of the people’s attitude out here was the fact that they were staying,” she says. “You can speculate as to why that is the case, but I really think it is just because you can’t find another place like Port Aransas anywhere; you just can’t.”
When I asked her to expand on that thought – that there simply is no other place like Port Aransas – she mentions the restaurants and the art culture, as well as the beach; but she puts the most emphasis on the people who inhabit the area. The people are what make the community so unique. The somewhat unnoticed beauty that a small, coastal town culture provides is that social molds have little to no impact. Whether you are a billionaire, an artist, a fisherman, or a school teacher, the one thing they all have in common is the laid-back, genuine appreciation for a slower-paced lifestyle.
Although Kim and her family don’t spend the majority of their time in their neighborhood in Port Aransas, they have still fully embraced the lifestyle and have made it home. “People fly and drive miles and miles to have an experience like this,” she says when concluding her thoughts on being able to call Port Aransas home. “They call it the third coast for a reason. I mean, it is just its own little community, its own experience, and there truly isn’t anything like it.”
If your neighborhood had a celebrity spokesperson, who would it be and why?
"Betty White. Our neighborhood is old, but still very much in demand." - Curt Johnson, Pope Place Neighborhood
"America Ferrera. She’s down to earth and embraces her culture. In a world filled with negativity, she uses her platform to advocate for women, while highlighting the positive aspects of the Latino community. With a ever growing Latino presence in my neighborhood, Ferrera would be the perfect spokesperson." - Jaqueline Gonzales, Greenfield by the Bay Neighborhood
"Reese Witherspoon is timeless, much like Lamar Park. It is the quintessential ideal American neighborhood- where you’ll find the branches of large oak trees reaching like arms to embrace and hug the residents. She is classically beautiful and appeals to all ages. Reese puts modern twists on classic styles." – Susan Gonzales, Lamar Park Neighborhood
"Jennifer Garner, because she is super casual and laid back. Also — as she is supportive of her wayward ex-husband Ben Affleck — our neighborhood loves our city and works hard to be patient with the challenging stuff...we try to celebrate the positive about our city." – Heidi Hovda, Lindale Neighborhood
" Tom Cruise. He would appreciate the risky business that goes on. Plus, it’s close to a Naval Air Station base." – Ali Rosek, Pharaoh Valley Neighborhood
"Music and art are synonymous with Rockport. So I would place Patti Smith at the top of the list; because she is a musician who paints as hard as she rocks. Smith was a huge downtown dweller. Since the 1960s, she has been an influence in Manhattan’s mega-culture." - Luis Purón, Downtown Rockport