July 25 2007
Today we took a vacation from our vacation, visiting one Wharton site and doing a bit of shopping before heading to League City, south of Houston, to visit friends. Our morning stop was the terrific Wharton County Historical Museum. I love these kinds of places, small but dedicated repositories of local history, generations of doctors and schoolteachers and business leaders and war heroes that I'd otherwise never know. I so enjoyed looking into the old photographs of people, studying the looks in their eyes and the ways they stood at stern attention for long camera exposures. I studied the buildings, massive piles sometimes set along amidst acres of empty land. The early years of our country were so much more open and spacious than now. We also made sure to tour the Dan Rather birth house, located next to the museum. While the famed (and sometimes maligned) CBS anchor only spent a year in Wharton before his family moved to Houston, he has claimed this small town as his own. Of course, the humble house where he spent his first year could be called a genuine "shotgun shack" only through rose-colored interpretation. Whether Rather simply wishes to burnish his "just folks" credentials or whether he genuinely identifies more with rural Texas than with the big city, locals appreciate the newscaster's recognition of his roots.
Later we returned to downtown Wharton where Jenny and Vienna did some shopping and I sipped an espresso at Milam Street Coffee Company before heading toward Houston. Our destination was the home of old friends, parents of Michelle Cowan, the high school chum who brought Jenny and I together. While she was away in Dallas, training for her new job, we couldn't pass through Texas without seeing her folks. For more than twenty years, they'd been like a second family to both Jenny and I. So we stopped by their home in League City and took a break from BBQ and highway travel to sit and chat and play with Michelle's three kids who are staying with the Cowans. As storm clouds blew overhead and palm trees waved in the breeze we concluded our evening with a return to Houston. Tomorrow, Jenny plans to look at local real estate, while Vienna and I will relax for the morning. Our next stop thereafter is New Orleans.