There is a lot going on at The University of Houston , and I should get over there more. I had a committee meeting in the ecology and evolution group, which lured me over. It’s a bit far to bike, and so I drove out North Braeswood, through the medical center tangle, edging Hermann Park, and then slowly along South MacGregor, past the old railroad bridge my father used to use to cross Brays Bayou. The UH campus was flooded with red t-shirts.
I’ve been making this drive since before 1959 when my parents drove us from our cousins’s home in Meyerland to our grandparents in Riverside, an area not ethnically limited, a place where my German-Jewish grandparents felt comfortable. My grandparents lived there a long time, but this is a story my father has told in The Strassmanns. The neighborhood has an interesting history of slow integration in spite of the realtors, told in This is our home, it is not for sale. My grandparent’s house was right on North MacGregor, in the middle of the neighborhood. I don’t think anyone noticed that I took this photo from the road today. It’s about the color I remember. That room upstairs is all one big area with a bathroom. We stayed there, toys, clothes, suitcases all jumbled together. My grandparents, and both great-grandmothers had bedrooms below.
Our biggest honor was to take our great-grandmothers’s lace-up black shoes off for them. To us they were just two very old, impossibly old, ladies with accents who pointed out things like sunshine on the carpet, or who peeled all the potatoes exactly round so they would finish cooking at exactly the same time. I now realize they had lived through WWI in Germany, each losing a son, and then each fled WWII, one because she had to, and the other because her daughter had to. I suppose there were stories besides those my father wrote about that I never asked about. I’m not sure they would have told me if I had. Why not just point to the sunshine on the floor, and hand an impatient granddaughter another cookie?
I always said my grandparents managed to live a pre-World War I existence there on North MacGregor, complete with afternoon naps followed by coffee and cake. I worried that my German was just family slang, not the real thing, though I had mostly learned it in school. OK, this is a revision, so I can add some schmalzy photos no one will see that isn’t seriously interested.
My grandparent’s home for many years on North MacGregor.
My dad’s book first came out in German, and the big book tour was over there. Go figure.
Then it came out in English. That photo on the bottom is one of my favorite’s of my young father and his older sister and parents.
My dad and his sisters, probably when they lived on Binz, not North MacGregor.
Me with my grandmother Omi, and my great-grandmother, Granny.
My dad has told the family story in drawings like this one. I love them!