A young man, born into a privileged New York family, loses them in a car accident. Young and wealthy, he needs to justify his existence during The Great Depression. Skilled in carpentry, he drives to the Gulf of Mexico, working on building projects all around the gulf with his peculiar friend and partner from Florida. Together, they travel, helping poor folks along the way, repairing their homes and their lives. Eventually, he lands in Galveston, where he stays to help rebuild the island after their first Great Flood, building an inter-racial school for the island's orphans. The chautauqua continues as an older and wiser man wends his way back to New York City.