but I feel a certain, twisted loyalty and therefore need to defend Houston. [see the SNSS' blog on Chick Flicks and the comments section for what inspired me to write this particular blog http://maypeacebewithyou.blogspot.com/] Now, please don't interpret this to mean I want to live there again, because I don't. There hasn't been enough money printed, wait, there HAS been enough printed, but I doubt anyone with the power to give it to me, will be doing so merely b/c I'm being loyal to a former home.
In 1965, when my parents marriage imploded, I moved to Houston with my Mother and Older Brother. I lived there until 1976. From 1976 until 2004, I returned to visit fam and friends, on average, every other month. I was last there in 2005 for my Niece Katy's honors graduation from UH.
For the 11 years I lived there, I enjoyed Houston. Having spent my formative years in Killeen, Houston was like an amusement park. The array of shopping and restaurants and movies theaters and RODEOS. We could go to the Rodeo every Friday night! In Killeen, we only got to go to the Rodeo once a year, and had to drive all the way to Belton to do that!
Those of you familiar with Central TX geography are no doubt laughing your tushies off right about now. But try to put yourself in my paradigm: it's pre 1965; I'm 6-9 y.o.; any ride farther than across town [and Killeen wasn't that big] or lasting longer than 10 minutes was a long time for me.
Houston also had so many other wonderful experiences to offer as I grew older. I got to ride a school bus! In Killeen, I'd either walked or ridden my bike to school. In Houston, I got to ride that huge [NOT the short], yellow bus with all my friends, to school. The schools were newer and bigger and we took FIELD TRIPS, to museums, and the opera. In high school, I was part of a group of students that went to "press preview night" at the Alley Theater every month for the entire year. As a Drama Club member, this was absolute HEAVEN!
I began to develop an appreciation for historic architecture while growing up in Houston. There are so many beautiful neighborhoods of breathtakingly beautiful homes. I don't mean the mansions in River Oaks, I mean the Heights Neighborhood, or the two streets I can't remember the names of, they are just off Montrose, between Westheimer and Richmond...somebody help me out here. Oh, and North and South Blvd.; the homes around Rice Univ. Heck, the Rice campus back then was lovely. Hermann Park. Oh the tales I could tell about that place.
Hermann Zoo, when I was growing up in Houston was FREE. That's right, no admission fee. I haven't been in years, so I don't know if that's still true or not. But when I moved to N.TX, I was shocked that Dallas and Ft.Worth charged folks a fee to visit their zoos.
Texas Medical Center, the jewel of Texas Medicine then and now. St.Luke's, Methodist, M.D.Anderson. If I ever get cancer, I can only pray my doc will refer me there. Nana, my Maternal Grmtr was initially given a 6-9 month prognosis. After receiving radiation and chemo from M.D.A. she died...of a stroke, 16 years later.
I worked in downtown Houston for a short while. I would spend my lunch hour and time after work, when I didn't have a date, just wandering around looking at those wonderful Art Deco, and Gothic and Romanesque, and Revival edifices in the canyons of downtown. And the sculptures that the more recent buildings placed in their courtyards...ahh, I enjoyed those, too. Especially the String Players outside...where, GBro? I forget. Is it Jones Hall, or a bank?
And Fountains...I've always been queer for fountains. The Mecom Fountains outside the Warwick Hotel was my first infatuation in Houston. But I'm not the first, nor the last. I'd love to peruse the HPD reports on how many drunks, clothed and un- have been asked to vacate that fountain over the years! Then there is the small one in Barkdull park. And that gorgeous fountain array at the Galleria.
I was there for the explosive growth and Great Yankee influx of the late '60's and early '70's. I learned to drive in Houston. And trust me, if you learned to drive in Houston in the early '70's, you can drive ANYWHERE atall. I was there for gas wars. Ahh, yes, gas wars. For you of you who never lived along the Gulf coast, or too young to remember gas wars... local gas stations would get into "wars" with one another and there prices would begin to fall. 20 cents; 19 cents; 18; 16; 15! Yes, Children! I remember paying 15 cents a gallon for gasoline. That's right a dime and a nickle! But then I also remember the First Arab Embargo and waiting in line to buy their precious gas and paying whatever they wanted to charge and being aghast when it went over 50 cents a gallon!
Now all of these fond remembrances don't mean I want to live there again. For I also remember: smog so bad I had bronchitis at least twice every year; rain every afternoon from late May to late September thanks to the afternoon Gulf winds hitting the heat island that is metro-Houston; cussin' the traffic snarls that turn a 5 mile commute into the 1.5 hour drive from hell. And let's not forget the humidity, crime, crowding, flooding, the inability of Houston drivers to handle ice of the even the thinnest coating, and Hurricane season.
But me, a former citizen of Houston criticizing Houston is one thing. My criticisms are tinged with a bit of nostalgia and yes, love. My criticisms are EARNED. I lived there, I paid my dues. I am also descended from not one, but TWO Native Houstonians. If you've also lived there, or are still living there, Gawds love you, bitch away. But if you've never lived there, if you've only visited, or driven through on your way to somewhere else, I don't want to hear it. That's like coming in to some one's home and complaining about the decor or cooking. It's rude and will not be tolerated kindly.