Developer of Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island in Galveston, Texas 1957
Interviewer: Mr. Wilson you developed Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island in Galveston, Texas in 1957.
Mr. Wilson: Yes, when I went to work for R.E. Bob Smith, my plan was to go into the oil business and he was going to send me to Snyder, Texas where he had just started drilling in Scurry County, West Texas. By the way he drilled 92 wells without hitting a dry hole, it was amazing, but anyway circumstances intervened and along the way he decided that the oil business was over for the independents. So one day he told me, he said these oil wells are costing $30, $40,000.00 each to drill. Of course now they are millions, and he said the independents are just not going to be able to raise that kind of money. So I think you ought to go into real estate business. So that was a life changing conversation for me because instead of going into the oil business I ended up in the real estate business.
Well our first project was Jamaica Beach in Galveston, my partners were my brother Jack, later a Pentagon Official, Johnny Gowen of Houston later Mayor of Houston for 22 years and City Councilman, Jack Valenti later President of the Motion Picture Association of America for 40 years and Mr. Bill Sherrill, Bill was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Washington DC, he was a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. So a distinguished group but we were all partners when we started Jamaica Beach in Galveston. And in those days nobody thought they needed a second home, so the first thing we had to do is to convince people that investing in a second home was a profitable enterprise and something that they wanted to do.
Sales at Jamaica Beach at first went very slow, we sold all of the important lots right along the Gulf of Mexico and then sales slumped, but finally we got it going when I decided that instead of acting like a big shot, I had served in the Executive Office of the President previously so I thought I was a big shot, so then when I finally realized that no I wasn’t a big shot, I was a lot salesman that’s when we started selling lots.