A Fast Ride Through Houston
I can’t say that Houston was a particularly exciting place, but I really enjoyed living, working and meeting new people. I think my husband as a Dane was more easily accepted than I was, a displaced human from the North. What the heck was I doing in Texas, I was asked. Well, actually, that wasn’t so strange, because when my family immigrated from Germany, we lived for about three years in Texas, but that is another, long story.
I could never get used to all the shootings that took place in Houston. There were daily reports on shootouts, robberies and burglaries around the Houston area. One of the banks in Dallas, Texas, distributed rifles and a round of ammunition to all new bank customers during a one- or two-week period. It was a gun culture back then. I guess the Texans were exerting their rights under the 2. Amendment and took the right to bear arms quite literally. Looking back on it all now, I feel pretty lucky that we escaped harm. I often took public transport from work on the other side of town and was often with Afro Americans on the bus. Quite often I was the only white person on the bus.
I loved the Texas twang, the expressions, and the casual, easy life style. My husband and I went on many adventuresome trips, among one of my most impressive excursions was to the Nassau (Nassa) Space Center. Furthermore, we lived very close to the first American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon in July 1969, who lived on Allen Parkway. Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon has a special significance for me, because the day Neil Armstrong touched down on the moon, my husband asked my father for permission to marry me. And here I was in the same neighborhood as that famous first astronaut to land on the moon.
Anyway, I worked at the Danish Consulate until the former secretary returned and then I went job hunting again. I contacted Kelly Services, as they provided temporary employment and worked for an insurance agency for about two weeks. That was a very unusual experience. The manager always took off his shoes in the office and was very demanding and rancorous. A secretary in those days was not particularly valued and received a rather low salary, especially a temporary one like me, and furthermore I was a northerner. I did not enjoy my two weeks at this insurance company. His assistant was also very special. He had just separated from his wife and was loudly abusive and insulting to her on the phone. He simply shouted the most vile insults at his wife, without any regard for my presence. I did not fit into that office at all, to say the least. Fortunately, the job was for only two weeks, and I was happy to leave.
And then I was back to square one – I needed to find another job. So, again Kelly Services to the rescue. This time I got a job in the drilling department of Ashland Oil. The three men I worked for were simply wonderful. I still remember the manager’s name – Jerry Jenkins – and since it was such a long time ago, and Jerry Jenkins was in his 40’s at the time, I think it is quite safe to mention his name here. I worked there for quite a while, until the Danish Consul requested that I join his office again. When I look back on it now, I wish I had stayed at Ashland Oil, but the pressure to go back to the Danish Consulate was tremendous and I succumbed and returned to a somewhat unchallenging job.
We had the unique experience of watching a football game in the Houston Astrodome. This stadium was built in 1965 and was, at that time, the largest covered sports arena which seated 66,000 spectators in six tiers. I believe one of its primary purposes was to present baseball and football to the Texas public. The entire interior was air-conditioned and fully lighted with power from its own electric generating system. In 1971, it was considered one of the great wonders of the world. We were guests of one of the Houston banks to watch a baseball game from the 6th peer in a private booth. I don’t remember much about the game, but I do remember the marvelous finger food and drinks that were served throughout the game as we wandered to and from the large window from which we could see the sports arena and game.
One of my other memorable experiences in Houston was the Consular Ball. A Danish gentleman named Paul Hedeman II, who was a very prominent member of the Houston Society, and a top executive of Bethlehem Steele, had two extra tickets to the ball. I think I can safely mention the name here, as Mr. Hedeman was an older gentleman in 1971 (or did he appear as such to us in our early 20’s?). We decided, “what the heck, once in a life-time chance” so we just went for it. I really had to go economy shopping, with all the wealthy Texans and all the exclusive shops, I wasn’t sure I could find anything that would be appropriate enough for such a sensational occasion. I went to the famous Galleria Shopping Center, which was a most amazing place in those days. It was under a glass dome with two or three floors of shops, but situated on two or three levels of large circular balconies. I did find a dress for which I paid $100.00 which was an extravagant amount for a temporary employee like me at Kelly Services. The dress was black, with a fairly low cut, fitted waist, and a white ruffle at the bottom. Before we left for the Consular Ball, my husband made me bend over to make sure that the dress held all of my parts securely in place. It was quite an experience to be seated with Houston’s finest and all those diplomats. As each country was announced, the Ambassador and his companion/wife promenaded down the red carpeted isle to trumpet fanfare just like royalty. The Danish Embassarod’s wife wore the colors of Denmark in a red, floor length dress and red cape lined in white. She was striking French woman and carried herself proudly down the isle. I can’t remember what we were served for dinner, but the evening was most exhilarating. I think that probably was the highlight of our sojourn in Houston, Texas.
We left Houston to visit my family before heading to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, without one cent in our account but many memorable experiences and a definite appreciation of Mexican cuisine. Our financial istuation was to change dramatically, as I took over the finances in Vancouver, B.C. We had had our fun, but now it was time to get serious, set a budget and plan for our future with children. I mean, we had been married for about six months, time to budget and plan!