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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An homage to my hometown

I grew up in Houston, Texas. I haven't been back since 1992, but my folks are there right now. I've been trying to conjure up memories of my favorite things about Houston.

* I remember a flood when I was in preschool, and my parents were out of town. I remember the babysitter picking me up. I remember thinking how cool it would be to go play in the street (a pool! In my front yard!) and being mad when I was told it wasn't safe to go outside.

* I remember our Magnolia tree in our front yard, and our fig tree in our backyard. Smelling either takes me right back. So does the sound of cicadas.

* I remember how much I loved going to the Rodeo, it was a perfectly normal thing to go do. I always looked forward to it because in school we always entered the contests (art contest, writing contest)

* I remember thinking, "Fantastic! It's 104 degrees, we can get any tennis court we want now!" and going out and playing tennis in said heat and humidity. I also remember playing in the sprinklers in the front yard. To this day when I see a sprinkler in the summertime I want to run through it.

* I remember cockroaches as big as my foot.

* Galveston was like heaven on earth. I thought getting covered in tar when you were in the ocean, and having to wash with turpentine before being allowed back in the beachhouse, was a perfectly normal beach experience. I loved eating clam chowder and fried shrimp on the pier. I loved Dickens on the Strand and anything having to do with the Strand or the Galveston Seawall. I remember pushing my then-boyfriend's broken down car from the beach back to his parents' beach house. I remember playing hooky (only once!) in high school to drive to Galveston, and the first place I drove with my brand new driver's license was Galveston. I remember driving down to Galveston and buying shrimp from the fisherman in their boats, and going home to my best friend's house and grilling them up.

* I remember when the Hard Rock Cafe opened, so close to my house we could almost walk there. I remember going there all dressed up with my friends before formal dances.

* Goode Company Barbeque and Ninfa's restaurants- two places that have set an awfully high bar for me, the two restaurants I would visit within hours of returning to Houston. I'm sure these two places top my parents list, too, because they visited both while they have been out there! Goode Company Barbeque is so good that I've never had a barbeque meal that was satisfactory since. Ninfa's has simply the best fajitas you will find anywhere!

* Rice University holds many fond memories for me. Not only did my Dad work there, but I went to (voluntarily!) summer school for many summers, taking fun classes and occasional high school credit (yes, I've always been an overachiever). My friends and I spent most of our summer days between classes at Rice, playing racquetball (yes, I finally figured out it's like indoor tennis with air-conditioning, important in the summer!), hanging out at the library, and going to Astroworld (Six Flags). Those were awesome summers. I loved going over to my Dad's office, too. The only reason I didn't go to Rice for college was I felt like I had already gone there, since I began going to summer school there in 6th grade. I even learned how to drive in the Rice Stadium parking lot. I went to more basketball and football games than I can count, and to this day I still prefer a college game over a pro-game. There's just something in the air that's different about a college game, a level of fun and excitement that is missing for me in a pro-game.

* I remember how I loved all of the museums in Houston. I loved the Planetarium, and in high school they did the laser show of Pink Floyd at night. I loved Hermann park and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. I loved the train around the zoo. I even remember the Jean Michel-Jarre fireworks and laser light show "Rendezvous Houston" which turned used the downtown buildings for a backdrop, and later turned downtown Houston into a giant parking lot with all 1.3 million of us trying to leave after the show.

* I remember when the Transco Waterwall (now called the Williams Waterwall) was built. I remember it was the place to hang out in high school, especially if you had a limo and were dressed up after prom.

* I always loved going to Space Center Houston. Like most kids in Houston, I wanted to work for NASA- only I didn't want to be an astronaut, I wanted to be in Mission Control. Growing up in Houston, we were very fortunate that we got to meet so many Astronauts and hear their stories.

* I looked forward every year to doing the March of Dimes WalkAmerica. I loved exploring Houston's bayou that way.

* I loved going to the Astrodome. I especially loved going to Astros games with my Dad. Of course, the Astros no longer play there (they are now at Minute Maid Park). I also was lucky enough to see an All-Star game played there once, in 1986.

* I remember going on a dinner cruise down the Houston ship channel with my folks. My scrapbook is full of photos I took.

* I loved going to the Houston Symphony and the Houston Ballet in Jones Hall (now the Ballet performs at the Wortham), and seeing plays at the Alley Theatre. I always thought it was so much fun to dress up and go to see a show.

* I remember high school graduation at the Convention Center. My graduating class of over 700 was so large, with my last name beginning with a "T" I didn't walk across the stage until after 10 p.m.

* Anything at the Galleria. I remember ice skating there with my Girl Scout troop, I remember working at a yogurt shop overlooking the ice rink, I remember visiting boys I liked who worked in the mall. Shopping, eating, hanging out- the Galleria was always the place to be. If the Marble Slab is still there, stop and get some ice cream and watch the ice skaters.

These are just some of my favorite memories from Houston. I hope if you're ever there, you'll have a chance to explore the city I loved so much growing up.

*Photo source:


Blogger tugglespud said...

AH! How this all brings me back...I can't believe you remembered the names of all that stuff! I guess since you're older than me...I loved our clown water sprinkler, that would shoot his triangle hat up in the air with the water...I loved our elementary school carnival every fall, with confetti eggs to crack on friends' heads! Memmmmm-rieeeesssss.... - the spud

6:53 AM


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