Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Elmores

DAY NINETEEN: Going back a bit, we had a short overnight visit last Tuesday/Wednesday with Gene and Claire Elmore  (Jenny's parents) in Houston, TX on our way from Austin back to Columbia, MO. We have gotten to know Gene and Claire during visits with Paul and Jenny in Alpine - they have sometimes been visiting there at the same time as we have - and we like them a lot. We had never been to Houston before, and this seemed like a good opportunity. Originally we had hoped we might be able to be there over a weekend and see some Houston sights, but my bronchitis changed that plan, so this was a compromise.

The Elmores live in a western suburb of Houston, about 16 miles from the city center. This is where Jenny grew up, along with her brothers, where they went to school, etc. The neighborhood has changed dramatically over the decades they have lived there. Today it is dominantly Asian. As you drive down Bellaire Boulevard near their house, it is one Asian restaurant and business after another. Good eating!

The Elmore's home in suburban Houston
 Houston is the personification of sprawl. There is no rail transportation. There is an unbelievable network of criss-crossing elevated highways that stagger the imagination. Gene says that developers controlled the city planning and favored sprawl, rather than concentration of populations in clusters. They would develop an area beyond the city line, and then eventually the city would annex it. So Houston is huge, and the only was to get around is by auto.  Not uncommon as American cities go, but an extreme example.

Typical highway system in Houston
Gene is taller than I am, six-eight, as I recall, and he is also the son of a minister - Methodist in his case. One little coincidence is that his father was a minister in Texarkana in 1941 at the same time as my father was also a minister in Texarkana! They were on the Texas side, and my father was on the Arkansas side, and they were in different denominations, so the chances of their having known each other is small. But still. Gene and I have a good time talking. On this visit, I learned that he has been reading the work of Maimonides, the 12th c. Jewish philosopher, best known for his work, A Guide to the Perplexed. Now it just happens that sitting on a bookshelf back home next to my woodstove is a copy of A Guide to the Perplexed.  I pull it down now and then and read a bit in it. But Gene is on his second time through! I was impressed!

Gene, Claire and Ellen in their livingroom
 While Gene and I talked, Claire showed Ellen her quilt collection. Here are some samples:

We had a lovely meal with them Tuesday evening and got in a walk in their neighborhood Wednesday morning. It was a short visit but a very nice one. We'll hope to see them in Alpine again.

On our way back from Houston to Columbia, we stopped in Texarkana for supper. There is a Road Food restaurant there called Bryce's Cafeteria which was already in existence when I lived there in 1941, and since it was located at that time downtown, not far from Dad's church, we probably ate there when I was 8 years old or so. It's still going and is one of the few classic cafeterias still in existence.

Bryce's as it looked in 1941
Bryce's today
Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore Texarkana this trip - we were there several years ago on our "Big Journey" when we visited all the places Ellen and I had formerly lived, so Ellen had seen our neighborhood. Dad's church was torn down decades ago. One of the houses I lived in is still standing, one is torn down. We had to keep moving, so we went on to Arkadelphia, Ark. for the night.

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