Category Archives: Midtown

The Eyesore : Mary Jane’s Fat Cat by Caleb Butler

4216 Washington Ave
Houston, Texas

January 2004–In two hours this empty, dusty room will be filled with sweaty kids screaming lyrics that they love at the top of their lungs. No one will be concentrating on the peeling paint that’s seems to reach toward the ceiling like green fingers or the missing floor tiles that reveal the concrete slab underneath. No one will be concerned with the dust that is caked on every surface inside the building, or the two hundred-pound speakers hanging from the ceiling held by a single chain just waiting for a opportunity to fall on some unsuspecting show-goer. No one will care that this building is has a legal occupancy limit of half the number of people in the building. It is not so much the physical aspects of Mary Jane’s Fat Cat that make it a special place, it is what happens inside night after night.

Mary Jane’s is the only venue in Houston that regularly allows hardcore shows, it is because of them that hardcore has had a outlet to expand and to draw new kids to a genre of music that has been over looked by the mainstream since the early 80’s. Two times a month this club is filled with hardcore kids looking for a release from every hindrance of the real world, a chance to experience a catharsis, to let go of everything. When the music starts they forget about their jerk off boss, they forget about their homework load and they forget about any family problems they may have, they forget about everything. To people on the outside hardcore is seen as just another kind of music or noise, but to the kids who live for it, it is their salvation what they live for and what some are even willing to die for.

Hardcore holds a special place in the hearts of the few who have experienced it, and it is not embarrassing, ten years after a kid stops going to hardcore shows he will never look back on his experiences in hardcore with shame, the great times he had and all the friends that he made will remain dear to him and he will think of hardcore as his badge of honor. Everyone changes and when they look back on past phases or experiences most people chuckle or make a face of disgust , but that does not happen with the hardcore kids because hardcore goes beyond music, it actually gives back to the people that put time into it. Hardcore kids are forever proud of what they have been involved in, because the feelings brought on by it are so strong that they cannot be denied, the benefits are so strong that they are impossible to refuse. What other kind of music can a person listen to and take away life lessons that pertain to everyone, not just abused children, not just kids raised by one parent but everyone, including the rich kids? There is absolutely no other music like that, because there is no music that raw. Some might try to compare gangsta rap to hardcore, by saying it is just as real, but how can a middle class white kid relate to songs about police abuse and gang violence? They can’t. There are certain things that all people deal with in life one of them is betrayal, if you haven’t ever felt betrayed than you are most likely devoid of feelings. Maybe the point is that the central themes and emotions within hardcore are generic and that makes easy to relate to.

There is a amazing sense of brotherhood within the so-called hardcore “scene”, it is where people meet their best friends or spouse. Hardcore is a genre of music, or a lifestyle for those that see purpose, for those that are concerned with making the best out of what you are given, and taking what you have to in order to get where you want. Hardcore is for the kids who want substance and purpose, the ones that are not concerned with a uneducated person in clothes that are 10 sizes to big rapping about how much “ice” or “bling” he has. Hardcore is for the real people, the ones with heart and without Mary Jane’s it would not be able to flourish.

Sometimes it is not the place that is special but the feelings you get when you are there, because without hardcore and friends Mary Jane’s would just be four walls, a dingy building with horrible plumbing and peeling paint. To you it is a eyesore in the ghetto crammed in-between a liquor store and a used car lot, but to the two hundred people that show up twice a month it is more than that it is where they get their salvation, a church for the kids that are lost , confused or jaded by the “real world”. The bands speak volumes to the kids involved in this scene, to most they are more than just a untouchable being on a stage that tower above the crowd, to most they are friends and even deeper than that they are their friends.

One of the most sincere bands in hardcore today is Will To Live, they originated in 1997 in Houston, Texas. Robert Galdamez or Rob To Live as some call him is an amazing person with passion for what he does that cant be matched by anyone. Fortunately for me Rob is more than the singer for will to live, he is my friend and my boss. I work at Best Buy under Rob selling appliances and the reason I have my job is because of Robert, because he does not have a superiority complex, because he is a normal person. Would the singer from Three Doors Down give you a job if you needed it, would he put money in your pocket? No, he would host a contest on VH1 to give you a chance to meet him, and watch his band play. He would act as if he were god, as if his presence and time was so valuable that you had to compete for it. I love to listen to kids on the radio or TV say “Yeah I met so and so and they were so nice and so genuine”, to that I always have the same response. Did you shake their hand and ask for a autograph or did you sit down with them and discuss politics, religion or the meaning of life. I can almost guarantee that you will get the same answer from everyone who has met these “rock and roll heroes”, they’d say “well he shook my hand and signed my 35 dollar t shirt for free”.

The one thing if nothing else, which sets hardcore apart from the mainstream, is the relationship between the bands and the audience. In hardcore they are on the same plane there is absolutely no need to label one group as the audience and the other group as the band because in hardcore they are viewed as people, one is no better than another is. Hardcore is a brotherhood, our scene is built on honesty and friendship, in the hardcore community if you do not have integrity you will not last, we will run you out. If you are to participate in this your word has to be worth your signature in blood. No frauds in our scene, that’s not to say that we havent had them in the past or that we don’t have any now but their flaws eventually come out because they cant hide behind a façade for too long, and when they come out they are run out.

The bands that make up our scene, the Houston scene, are among the best around, but first let me offer a brief history of hardcore music in general. The actual beginning of hardcore has been disputed for a long time, some say it started on the west coast with punk rock bands in the early eighties, but others will say that hardcore developed in the north east, in New York in CBGB’s to be exact. I cannot say that I know exactly where hardcore started because I wasn’t around in 1980 during the infancy of hardcore, but I do know that to me hardcore belongs to the NYC. In the mid- eighties there was an explosion of hardcore bands like Sick of it All and droves of positive youth hardcore bands. The so-called posi hardcore bands were bands that advocated a lifestyle in which alcohol, drugs and promiscuity were not involved. The whole idea of being “posi” was do keep your mind clear of any worldly distractions and make choices in your best interest. It was the mid to late 80s “posi” scene that really spread the gospel of straight edge, and in some cases even veganism or vegetarianism. In the late eighties and early nineties we saw the “posi” scene start to kind of die out while militant straight edge bands were gaining popularity. A lot of the bands of the late eighties and early nineties had more of a social commentary aspect to their lyrics, than the bands of the previous eras. The late eighties also saw the beginning of the “metalcore” sub genre with a band called Integrity.

In 1988 Integrity released their first 7” record, “In Contrast of Sin” on Chicago based Victory Records, from that point on hardcore was never the same. Integrity introduced metal into the primarily punk influenced scene, and coupled that with some of the most disturbing, yet poet lyrics in hardcore to date thus creating “metalcore”. Throughout the nineties more metal was added into the mix and hardcore became the perfect mix of punk rock and metal it was kind like metal but with a DIY punk rock attitude and hints of early eighties punk rock sound. Throughout the years hardcore bands were forced to tour relentlessly without the help from major labels because of their painfully real and raw sound. This relentless touring is what created a sort of brotherhood within the scene, because bands spent so much time on the road kids in different cities got to know the bands and started booking shows on their own.

The touring aspect of hardcore is world apart from that of major label bands, or even your typical indie band. A typical hardcore tour is set up without any help from people outside of the band, band members spend hours on the phone with kids they have met through playing out of town shows trying to get contacts for other kids out of town. Hardcore bands have to create a web of contacts to book a tour. Normally it will take calls to 200 different people to set up twenty shows for tour. The web kinds of works like this: I call my friend Loy in San Antonio and say “Loy we need a show in Boston do you know anyone from there?” and he says “No, but I know a kid who might know someone, his name is Steve, he lives in Jersey here is his number”. So then you call Steve and he says “I don’t book shows there but I have a ex girlfriend in Boston who may be able to help you out”. So then you call his Ex Girlfriend and she says “My current boyfriend plays in a band out here and he knows a kid who books shows out here.” So of course you call her boyfriend and then he tells you “I don’t know the kids name, but our drummer does”. Then you call the drummer and get the number to the guy who books shows in Boston. After you get his number you call him give him about 3 different dates that you can play and he will tell you if he can set up a show for your band on one of those dates.

As a rule you should expect about twenty percent of all your shows to fall through. The shows that do happen you play and you tell the kids watching you that you are on tour and you need a place to crash. Hopefully you will find someone who has extra space, if you do then you go sleep at a complete stranger house but you have a new friend when all is said and done. If you are playing to a bunch of weird kids and you cant find a place then you have to drive to the next city over night and sleep in the van. Touring in a hardcore band is difficult because as a whole the scene is very poor so you cant charge more than eight dollars for a show, and you cant ask for a high guarantee to play. All your money comes from CD’s and t-shirts. Its tough, but that tough lifestyle is my dream. Hardcore is more than just music, it is salvation.

Map:

Links:

Mary Jane’s Website

HATETANK

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Hope and Sanctuary: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center by Katherine M. Clark

The University of Texas
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

April 2004–Following Bill’s family through the maze of a hospital into our waiting room in the Rose Zone, I realize that M.D. Anderson is like its own city. You could easily get lost without a proper escort, like Bill’s grandmother. Not really paying attention to where she is taking us, I notice that though it is confusing to me, the hospital is very organized, It is broken down into different colors, sections, and numbers. I realize that each color corresponding to a particular ward of the care center. After a few moments, we find our way through the maze of passageways inside of the hospital and come to the waiting room that we are told to wait in. It is easy for me to associate a sense of care as I look at the colors on the walls. A subtle beige and tan color provide a moot feeling, and the hospital is kept cool, quiet and clean. The only smell that can be described is a heavy air of medicine. Those who are waiting in the waiting room to see various other patients are quiet, out of respect for those who are being treated there. Most of these people must be experienced at the hospital visit, as they appear to be dressed for a long stay; comfortable clothes, the latest daily paper, and a cup of coffee. The first time visitors must be those that are dressed nicely and playing with their clothes seeing as they seem to be very bored.

I am here with my boyfriend Bill and his dad. We are here to visit Bill’s mom, who has come from four hours outside of Houston. Bill’s mom has cancer in numerous places and lithium poisoning and is going to be put into the hospice, where people are put once it is deemed there is no hope of living for them. It all started with lung cancer, which is hard to treat, that came as a result of her smoking. There is a new vaccine that destroys lung cancer in some patients, but Bill’s mom is too far gone. Before we entered the hospital, Bill’s dad lit up a cigarette and I watch him smoke in amazement.

How could he smoke, when his ex-wife’s cancer started in the lungs from smoking? This is the same man who fought cancer once himself. We have seen horrible things happen to him and his ex-wife and he still stood there and smoked, right outside the hospital doors. I think about all this as we walked through the entrance to the waiting room.

As most people who come here, we quickly grow tired of waiting for the hospital to allow us to visit, so we found entertainment through various magazines. Bill and I chose a puzzle and we began to work on it. Most people around us are talking loud enough that we can’t help but overhear, it is funny how their conversations were mostly about things unrelated to the reason that they are there. The only time they bring up their reasons, they keep it short and to the point.

Also, judging by the visitors, the patients are mostly ones from Texas, but some are from outside the state. They come for many different reasons and are dealing with a variety of cancer types. Most of the people here at this hospital, especially in the zone that we are in, are very sick. The hospital makes the patients as comfortable as possible. In fact, M.D. Anderson is considering providing online services to patients in their rooms.

After building up quite an appetite from just sitting and waiting, so we head for the cafeteria, which is the only place in the hospital that makes you feel like you’re not in the hospital anymore. When you’re eating in the cafeteria, you’re sitting with doctors, nurses, other staff members, patients, and visitors. It is a time out from the real world and back into the commercialized world with overpriced food, which surprisingly is comforting. The food tastes like it does everwhere else there is a Pizza Hut or a Chick-Fil-A.

Bill‘s grandmother, who stayed in the waiting room, has come down to inform us that Bill’s mom has been placed in a room and that we can go see her. Walking to the room is where we actually see other patients. We see them walking around the area where the rooms are and through the open doors of their own rooms. Although the majority of people’s time is spent in the patient’s room. Bill’s mom looks bad, almost unbearable to look at. We spend a good amount of time with her and then we leave, back through the maze of hospital.

The patients look lonely when they are by themselves and that is when they look sick to me. But when people are visiting them they look happy and alive. It is very important that patients are visited by their family and loved ones. Looking at my boyfriend’s mom made everyone want to bust out crying, but when you’re there you realize that you have to stay strong for them and the rest of the visitors. So you act as normal as possible and try to make them fel as if it is just another day. Smiling helps a lot. Since I am not a relative I felt that it was my duty to keep smiling and holding their hands in order to keep them from falling apart.

I have lived in Houston, Texas all my life and have been familiarized with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, through numerous visits to see Bill’s mom. It is the most valuable possession we have and the nation’s top cancer hospital. Anyone who lives in or around Houston should visit and contribute to it, so that it can prosper, so that we can prosper. It is a symbol of life to many people fighting cancer. The hardworking doctors and nurses are caring and dedicated. It is blind to race, gender, and age. It will be there for you no matter who you are. Ultimately, we are all here in this world striving to stay alive and no one is working harder to help us out than M.D. Anderson.

The visits I make to the hospital have changed my life. I used to be afraid of hospitals because all the sick people overwhelmed me with sadness. But now I see hospitals in a new light. I see people helping other people out and I realize where they would be without this. The work they have done has shown greatly and has passed with flying colors in the hearts of everyone.

It is important for the hospital to have support and you can support the hospital and their patients even if you do not have a loved one there. Besides giving money, you could give them your time with volunteer work or even join their team of professionals to better the lives of the cancer patients. Out of all the places in Houston, M.D. Anderson shines the most; it is the heart of our city. It is the only place that you can go where all the set backs and digressions in life are brought down to size and where people work together to keep and better life for all.

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M.D. Anderson

Cancer

Health

Prescriptions

Houston Guide


Embracing the Divine: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral By Aisha Colón

3511 Yoakum Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 526-5377

November 2010-On a sunny day in October, I walk with my family up Montrose Boulevard near Westheimer Road. Jolted by a low but sharp metallic sound buzzing through the air, I turn to my husband and I ask, “Is that a bouzouki?” As I amunaccustomed to hearing the sounds of this long necked Greek lute while traveling the streets of Houston, I would like a second opinion. “I do believe it is,” he replies, seeming proud in our shared instrumental acuity. The music signals that we are approaching our destination, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and their annual Greek Festival.

The tinny tones swell as we move and mingle with the scent of fire and the seasoned meat and vegetable used to make souvlaki. The intoxicating mix of aroma and music guide us to the corner of Yoakum Boulevard and Harold Street. Noise from the busy streets behind us disappears as the sounds and scents transport us to a land, exotic but familiar, far away from the metropolitan bustle. The pale white brick signals the end of our trek, it is only three blocks but the intrigue and longing made it seem an eternity. As we reach the gate the pleasant pallor of the church’s adjacent annex is invaded by vibrant reds, deep blues, and golden yellows, as performers dressed in traditional costumes enter preparing for the next dance performance. I take a deep breath and realize that it is going to be a good day sharing this beautiful place and wonderful culture with the thousands of people who will visit the church this weekend.

The proto-cathedral we stand before is one of the largest Greek Orthodox churches in North America, erected in 1952, but it is not the original home of the Annunciation community in Houston. The first was built in 1917 on Walker Avenue, in what is now Tranquility Park because of the influx of immigrants from Greeceat beginning of the twentieth century. Upon arrival the Orthodox Greeks found no place to worship in the area save the Saints Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church in Galveston. There they fellowshipped with Russians and Serbians who shared their faith.

They might have remained, but the day trip by streetcar to Galveston from the Greek neighborhoods near Milam Street in downtown and West Gray in Fourth Ward proved too taxing for some. As an alternative the families would come together in private homes to celebrate Name days, the Saint’s Day for which the head of their house was named, or gather for Christmas or Easter. And after much prodding from the mothers, grandmothers and wives, the communities scraped together what money they had to build a small, white weather-beaten building near city hall. But soon after, the growth of the congregation and changes in the city of Houston necessitated a move from the original location.

Since the Annunciation’s founding more than 90 years ago, it has been a center for the Orthodox community to educate their children, celebrate their faith and indulge in a rich cultural heritage. The church is part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and became a Cathedral in 1967 when Houston became the See of the 8th district. The See has since moved and the Annunciation Cathedral is now under the Holy Metropolis of Denver.

The Cathedral complex includes the Polemanakos Education Building, the Steve G Caloudas Athletic Center, S P Martel Hall, a banquet area, the Cathedral bookstore, administrative offices, a festival center, and the St George Chapel. In the center of it all are a stunning outdoor courtyard and a square fountain. Fish at each corner issue forth plumes of water into a blue tile basin, and upon one of the fish a boy sits, cherubic, holding a fishing pole. The stained-glass windows of the wall of the Church look out upon this brick-paved pavilion enclosed by the walls of the compound’s various buildings and the olive trees that grow in the corners around from the fountain.

The Cathedral itself seems a pale vision. The walls are a beautiful mosaic of gray and white bricks. Upon entering, I thought that knowing a thing or two about Catholic churches will give me an understanding of what is inside, and I was and yet so wrong. Walking in, the walls bombard me with beauty. I can’t help but be stuck by Platytera, “She who embraces all the Heavens,” as she floats above the far end of the sanctuary. It is Mary, the Christ Child and mirrored images of the Archangel Gabriel over each shoulder. Her arms outstretched as if she held the whole of creation wound into a ball and released it leaving only the rounded remnant, a semi-domed recess know as an Apse. Icons of saints glow inside the sanctuary, gold and blue, red and green. Crystalline chandeliers hang though the center like shining stars. Stained glass windows, stream light into the open space between paintings of the Apostles, with all of their names written in Greek below.

They Icon of the Virgin Falling Asleep and the icon of St. Paul are from the original church but are not really in the Byzantine style. Paintings on the back wall were more in line with the classic style and have the symbolic representations small mouths and large ears for the Saints to speak less and listen to God more. All of the icons are in vivid hues of blue, gold, red and earthy oranges collectively filling the space with a deep sense of the divine. Over the pews a domed ceiling is decorated with images of the saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who bringing faith, hope and light to the parishioners of the Annunciation Cathedral as the parishioners bring them to the rest of the world though the church’s activities.

Sunday masses are conducted in Greek and English with morning prayers (Orthros or Matins) said before each service. As well as a number of community organizations structured to bring the parishioners together and foster a sense of unity. The church runs a Greek Language and Cultural School started in 1918. The language and cultural school teachers are fluent Greek speakers. GL&C School teaches language, geography, history, music and dance, and has classes for Pre-K through 7th grade, teen classes and adult classes all meeting weekday evenings.

The Greek Festival alone donated $34,500 in 2009 to charities like the Make a Wish, Star of Hope, Covenant House, Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, and Houston Area Women’s Center as part of its community outreach. What begins in the first week of October, started as a “Greek Night” to celebrate the Church’s 50th anniversary, ends not with the end of the music and food on Sunday evening but instead contributes to the spiritual and physical well-being of all, not just the parishioners of the Annunciation.

Through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese AGOSS (singles group) and the Ladies Philoptochos Society are philanthropic organizations that fellowship while helping those in need. The church has many organizations for children: Faith, for newly baptized infants and toddlers (with parents); Hope, for K-2nd grade; Joy, for 3rd-6th grade; and GOYA, for 12-18 year olds. All are geared towards teaching about faith, tradition, and life. They host a chapter of Sea-Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America and offer marriage preparation courses and grief counseling. The church also started the Annunciation Orthodox School as a Pre-K in 1970 but it is now separate from the church teaching 3 year olds to 8th grade. All of these threads building web of caring, generous support so desperately needed in a modern world.

Traveling through the “nice” neighborhoods of Houston can be painful. Gargantuan speed bumps prevent you from cruising passed the sea starter mansions and faux plantation homes at what they would deem an unacceptable speed. Houses have hideous abstract lawn “art” implanted in the ground; all twisted metal and carved sealed wood pretending to be poignant. The thinly veiled desire for people to “look and envy, but don’t touch” is everywhere passing prominently placed signs advertising security services behind rod iron gates and towering wooden privacy fences. Everything geared toward a convening a pathetic imitation of culture, history, substance. Disconnected from their surroundings to the point of being surreal, it’s hard to believe that a places like this and worse exists in the same town the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a place that steeps visitors and parishioners with a sense of culture and meaning. But as I pass these scenes daily, I am grateful for they reside side by side and long for my next embrace with Platytera.

Map:


Links:

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Greek Orthodox Archdoicese of America

Byzantine Fresco Chapel

Author Bio:

Aisha Colón is a first year student at the University of Houston Downtown, who is currently making a second attempt at a degree in Accounting. She was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, across the Wabash River from Purdue University, where she was enrolled in the Krannert School of Management.

If pressed, Aisha would describe herself as a “learning otaku,” as she has a tendency to immerse herself in any subject the catches her eye. She believes that learning feeds the soul and the moment you stop learning, like a plant without water, you begin to wither and die. This propensity has led her to collect a variety of odd hobbies, mannerisms, and media.

Aisha currently lives in Houston with her husband and son.

Exploring the Past: The Houston Fire Museum by Herman Pinglia

2403 Milam St
Houston, TX 77006

April 2004–Houston’s downtown, though not the largest and most illustrious in the nation has much to offer. Alive with energy and rich in diversity, Houston is a dynamic mix of imagination, talent and first-class attractions that makes it a world-class city. Home to a vibrant economy, beautiful surroundings and a population full of optimism and spirit, it’s no wonder that Houston is a popular international destination. It is home to a tremendous number of tourist sites, venues and museums. Yes, museums! People still go to these. Houston has a unique museum district offering a range of museums, galleries, art and cultural institutions.

One museum that is most often overlooked by visitors to Houston and even fellow Houstonians is the Houston Fire Museum. Located at 2403 Milam Street in the heart of Midtown Houston, it is considered to be one of the most significant organizations in Houston. I personally was not aware that Houston had such a magnificent museum. Restored Station 7 houses the museum today. The museum itself was established in 1982 with an aspiration to promote and educate the public in fire and life safety. And nowadays especially, the museum pays tribute and remembers the paid and volunteer firefighters who led the way from the first bucket brigades to those who are still leading with some of today’s most advanced tools and training techniques.

The Houston Fire Museum is supported by memberships to its organization, grants, contributions, and most importantly the help of volunteers that give back to there community by providing there time to be at the museum to read books to children on tours, show them around the fire trucks, making sure that everyone is safe and certainly making sure that these kids are learning and having fun. In addition to being a volunteer firefighter, I myself have signed up to volunteer which helps not just give back to there community by fighting fires and saving lives, but by teaching others how they can save their own or even the lives of others. For example, at my fire station we often have PR’s that range from doing a station tour to taking the truck out to some event. Particularly at the station tours we teach the children about what to do in case of a fire and to the parents we stress the importance of having a family evacuation plan so that everyone gets out safely. This truly is a remarkable organization which operates on a non-profit ideology.

Every year tens of thousands of visitors, mostly younger school students and Boy or Girl Scout troops and senior citizens come to the preserved station to embark on a journey into the past over 100 years ago. Upon entering the museum you are flabbergasted by so much “stuff” that you don’t know where to begin this nostalgic journey back into the good ole days. The museum is comprised of vintage fire trucks, century old leather fire buckets and helmets along with a vast array of photos of Houston firefighters and fires. These century old helmets were cast from aluminum and didn’t have many of the special features we have today like, poly carbonate face shields, leather head cushioning, and ratcheting head piece for snugg fit. A new exhibit that is making its debut in February of 2004 is the Locker Room which is supposed to be a completely sensory experience. Individual lockers will contain artifacts, documents, photos, etc to display life at a typical Houston fire station. Most intriguing is one exhibit of hearing a shower running and a firefighter singing a tune from that time period and then the tone drops of a fire and the sounds of firefighters scrambling to slide down the long metal pole and board on to the steam powered trucks. Truly remarkable is this one which so easily places you into that station and being able to picture all that is going on.

The station is quite remarkable and the feature it has is genuinely one of a kind, but from my experience I felt something was lacking. While visiting the museum there was a 20 person group tour going on simultaneously which made things like maneuvering in and around and taking all that this now seemingly undersized museum has to offer rather difficult and a little annoying. Not that I hate kids or anything but they were off the wall and were very difficult to control by the group’s chaperones as well as the museum staff. This two bay station that housed seven firefighters might have comfortable for them, but to accommodate the general public and large tour groups the museum is plain just too small. To make matters worse I think the air conditioning was broken. So in addition to there being way too many people inside there was not enough air to circulate which made feel kind off uneasy. I tried not to let it get to me too much because I was in the presence of some really interesting things. The benefit of this museum as opposed to other kind is the availability to ask questions and most favorable for me is that u can touch the objects. Running my fingers over the cracking axe gave me a real image of a firefighter donned in Nomex bunker gear with no air pack on a soggy roof with fire jutting through while he gasps for oxygen and keeps his balance to make a much needed hole in order to improve visibility to fight the demon monster inside the house. NFPA and OSHA do not allow fire stations to use poles but sliding down the one at the museum was an adventure in itself. The vintage trucks below gleaming in the light though not useful to us today still has place in the hearts of all fire fighters because this is all they had back in the day. And another disappointing result is after years of remodeling and modernizing the building it has obscured some of the buildings most charming features.

A lot of that is going to change fortunately as the Houston Fire Museum launches a nine million dollar project to construct a state of the art museum. This new and improved museum will be located at Hadley and Main Street, just two blocks from the current museum, which in result will restore old Station 7 to its original glory. The new museum will have 15 bays to house vintage equipment along with thousands and thousands of square feet for exhibits. In today’s age of computers and technology kids respond well to interactive exhibits that let them entice themselves with computers and online games. In the front grounds there will be a bronzed statue of a fire fighter raising his axe in a critical moment in a fire battle. And to remember those 343 men and women who so bravely gave there lives to protect others, a memorial will made to honor those who we lost on September 11th with nine girders from New York City’s World Trade Center.

There are many things to see and feel when you visit the Houston Fire Museum and learning is a big pat of that visit. Along with all the benefits the museum has to offer its impact is stunted because of its size and location which inhibits expansion. So with the help of city planners and many other entities a new Houston Fire Museum will be built to meet the demand of the growing generations to come. It is important for parents to educate their children and by taking them to the museum they learn about safety and have fun all in one spot. I encourage all to make at least one trip to the museum especially if you have kids. Just try not to go when there is a Boy Scout tour there.

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Links:

Houston Fire Museum

Museums

Midtown Houston

World Trade Center

Fires