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Libbie

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  1. Yes, Dbigtex56, as I visualize it, I believe you're right. The part of it that I pass most days looks very inviting, yet perceptively like a buried train track. It was, of course, alive and kicking in the '50s, along with the trains that excited us pre-schoolers at every recess and attracted the toddler who slipped out and went to stand by it: "... one day my father, on his way from teaching at U. of H. to pick me up, spotted a toddler standing by the railroad track, surmised, correctly, that she had wandered away from the [Oaks] school, and came to get me with the little girl on his hip--averting a tragedy." I remember thinking, at age three-nearly-four, that the child my father brought back was quite a baby (not a big girl like me) to have done such a preposterous thing as to sneak out of the school and go stand by the railroad track. Now, from the vantage point of late middle age, I think she was pretty crafty, taking advantage of a moment when the teachers were asleep at the switch.
  2. The oaks was still there in 1958, when I was in second grade at Montrose elementary. My mother re-enrolled me in their after-school program because she went back to work as a public school substitute. Most of my same teachers were there. I guess you were a one of the big kids I may have seen out of the corner of my eye, next door at St. Mary's. I'd be interested in knowing when St. Mary's acquired the Oaks building, and what they do with it (Sunday school? Youth activities? All-purpose building?) now.
  3. I found it! It's to the left (east) of and on the campus of St. Mary's Catholic Church, 3006 Rosedale. It looks just as I remember it from early childhood. I remember the upstairs classrooms upstairs and a downstairs front room where we waited for our mothers to pick us up. The railroad track is no longer there, but the bump where it used to be is visible (The bump extends across town as far north as McGowan and beyond, running parallel to Velasco Street, looking like what it probably is: a buried railroad track--but those are musings for another day). Locating the old Oaks Nursery School building means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I loved finding it, photographing it, and taking a mental stroll through it as I channeled my three-year-old self for a few minutes. 3006 Rosedale, Houston
  4. Remember the Alabama at Shepherd strip center in the old days? It's still there, of course, and Trader Joe's kept the old Alabama Theater marquee, so that at first glance the strip center looks almost as it used to. But do any of you remember it from the old days? Left to right (i.e., south to north on Shepherd), it was Walgreen's, A & P Supermarket, Alabama Theater, Suzanne's Cafeteria, Wacker's, and Western Auto. When I was a child and a teenager, it was my great treat to be taken (or to ride my bike) to the soda fountain at that particular Walgreen's for a big glass of chocolate milk -- or on more luxurious days, an ice cream soda. The A & P, AKA the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (just to the left of the Alabama Theater, I think) was, to my child-mind, merely a supermarket, nothing special, a place where we shopped if we happened to be in the area -- second choice after the Dunlavy Weingarten's (which had been the 1400-block-of-Richmond-Avenue Weingarten's in the earlier '50s). Next door sat the Alabama Theater, which lasted a long time, till the '80's, wasn't it? To its right (north) was Suzanne's Cafeteria, a very good cafeteria of the same species as the Cleburne, Albritton's, or Luby's, run by a genial Greek gentleman called Mr. Gus. On Thursday nights it was sort of festive, and a pretty waitress would sing. Her specialty was "Moon River." We continued to eat there even after my mother was served a well-boiled grasshopper atop her bowl of spinach one evening. And next door to Suzanne's was my childhood shopping paradise, Wacker's: a sort of mini-Woolworth's, where a child with a quarter could buy a small plastic doll with MUCH more strength of character than one of those snooty, new-fangled Barbies. Finally, on the north end, was Western Auto. My father would go there -- not to browse in dreamy joy as he did at Southland Hardware (at this writing, still sitting there, ageless, in its appointed spot at 1822 Westheimer) -- but simply to buy something for the car when the need arose. In 1969 I moved to Austin for college and for a long time didn't think much about the Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center and its various shops. I moved back to Houston in the mid-eighties. Venturing back to the Alabama Shopping Center, I encountered Butera's, Whole Earth Provision Company, Cactus Video, Bookstop, and Whole Foods . Roaming one day in Bookstop (constructed within the old theater) one day in the 1990s, I suddenly had a joyful flashback, among the bookshelves on the second floor: a sudden memory of having seen NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS there in 1958 with my parents. Now, well into the 21st century, the A & P is Whole Earth, I think; the Bookstop is Trader Joe's; and Whole Foods is Petsmart. I still enjoy driving past the new/old Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center, squinting a little. Out of the corner of my eye, I can almost see Walgreens, the A & P, the Alabama Theater, Suzanne's, Wacker's, and Western Auto. It's a good feeling.
  5. I know a lot has been written about the recent closure of what used to be called the "South Main Sears," but does anyone have nostalgic memories about shopping and hanging out there? I do: the smell of popcorn at the little snack stand by the shoe department (long, long ago, when I was a kid); the beautiful displays—especially around Christmas—in the big windows, in the years before they were bricked in; my mother saying, “Meet me in an hour in the shoe department,” since back then it had chairs; the little diner attached to the outside of the building, which in the ‘90s became a bookstore. By the 2000s it had really changed a lot, but it was still Sears. I was sorry to see it go.
  6. I know a lot has been written about the recent closure of what used to be called the "South Main Sears," but does anyone have nostalgic memories about shopping and hanging out there? I do: the smell of popcorn at the little snack stand by the shoe department (long, long ago, when I was a kid); the beautiful displays—especially around Christmas—in the big windows, in the years before they were bricked in; my mother saying, “Meet me in an hour in the shoe department,” since back then it had chairs; the little diner attached to the outside of the building, which in the ‘90s became a bookstore. By the 2000s it had really changed a lot, but it was still Sears. I was sorry to see it go.
  7. I'm glad they're not tearing it down. My husband, Mriguel Martinez, taught Spanish there from 1988 to 2010. He's a real architechtural-historic-preservation fanatic and would hate it if they ruined/totally modernized the building.
  8. I remember the L&C. From 1950 or before till some time in the '70s, every Tuesday night the Scribblers Club met there. That was a group of amateur and published writers, including Hughie Call (some old-timers or old-book lovers may have read her). I started going with my mother in the early '60s when I was in junior high. I remember the food as being very good, as well as the novelty of entering a restaurant from a down-escalator, right outside in the open!
  9. This is the back of a house I pass every day, seen from the inbound Gulf Freeway feeder, about the 4700 block. It reminds me of the old Lorino's building. I wonder if it, too, might have originated as a streetcar building. Or maybe not.
  10. Yes, the sign painter must have canceled; they put the sign-change on a back burner, and life went on.
  11. I remember Woolworth's with great nostalgia. A year or so ago we were in Monterrey visiting my husband's relatives. We went into a store, and suddenly I felt "time warp!" I thought, this used to be a Woolworth's! There was the familiar layout of everything. There were the stairs going down to the basement level. It really was a repurposed Woolworth's. It was still a similar sort of store. My husband remembers going to the Monterrey Woolworth's as a child, mainly to buy candy.
  12. When I first moved back to Houston in 1984, I saw it and was really impressed by it. It had a sign that said "Boarding House," and there was what looked like a cabbage patch or vegetable garden along its front walk. I soon moved into the neighborhood but had little reason to pass by the mansion/boarding house for several years. In 1991 I enrolled my daughter in a daycare home down the street, and by then the mansion looked vacant, but soon there were signs of construction and remodeling, and before long I was told that a fraternity moved into it. I wished I'd had some excuse to go inside when it was a boarding house. How was that for an anachronism!
  13. One time in about 1989 I was driving east and saw that building--well-kept and nice looking it was back then--and saw its sign, which said "Lorino's Grocery, Milk, Meat, Eggs... ." I thought, "Oh, I need some milk!" So I picked my baby up out of her car seat, went in, and said, "Excuse me, where's the milk?" A young fellow looked a little non-plused and said, "Uh, sorry ma'am, but we're a bar." So I took my leave, wondering why they had a grocery store sign if they were a bar. It must be one of those places that started out as a grocery store, then added a beer joint, and finally became only a beer joint but left the sign up either out of inertia or because it represented a neighborhood landmark. I've always liked the building. Too bad it's gotten so deteriorated.
  14. Interesting! At what church? I liked Mrs. Martines, very much. I remember that she (like most of my grade school teachers) read us a story every day after lunch, and the story book I've most remembered over the years was a collection of Greek myths for children, with half a dozen myths, including one titled "The Miraculous Pitcher," the story of Baucis and Philemon. A little recent googling revealed to me that the book was a collection written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and I bought it for my Kindle! But not to digress too much, I remember that Mrs. Martines gave me a memorable, valuable grounding in such aspects of "cultural literacy" as afore-mentioned myths, the states and their capitals, and a quite a few other things other things for which I'm grateful, even now in my sixties.
  15. Mrs. Jorgensen was still there my first few years at Montrose, succeeded by Mrs. Ivens. In 1956 I was in high-second grade (Miss Millard), then low-third (Miss Shapley). I recall that Miss Shapley and Mrs. Martines were chums, each frequently appointing a child to carry a note to the other. We were all honorable and incurious, and never read them.
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