By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
We also decided that whoever picked this godforsaken spot as the best park forgot to include several things in the rosy review of the location: an abundance of trash floating in the water, a thick layer of pond scum, a gang of teenagers who had commandeered the observation tower for what looked like gang initiation rites and, most importantly, all of the people wandering around with copies of the Houston Press in their hands wondering if they could possibly be in the right place.
Willie and the Poboys
I am one of the investors in 10 Downing Street, which your paper named "best place to smoke a cigar" in Houston. For that, I thank you. However, your editorial about our bar missed the mark. It is sad that Ward Schumaker colored his description of Downing Street in racial tones.
To suggest that there is only "one black man" at Downing Street named "Willie" and that all he does is "shine shoes" proves that Mr. Schumaker didn't do much investigation. Indeed, many of our patrons are black. Several of the humidor locker owners are black. However, I am not sure why that matters so much to Mr. Schumaker in the context of an article about local bars.
Until your article, Willie was very happy at Downing Street. Your article offended him. Willie is not just a black man shining shoes. He is an inspiration to many and a good friend to most. Willie is blessed with intelligence and wit. He is one of the most charming people I have ever known, and I am proud to call Willie my good friend.
I think that Mr. Schumaker owes Willie an apology and that he should do his homework next time. It is unfortunate that he felt the need to fabricate a racial issue as part of his review of our bar. Perhaps next time, Mr. Schumaker will spend some time talking to Willie and getting to know him before he writes about him. We could all learn a thing or two from Willie.
Steven M. Zager
Editor's reply: Ward Schumaker is an artist who drew some of the illustrations used in the Best of Houston issue. He doesn't live in Houston, and, as far as we know, has never met Willie. The item in question was written by Randall Patterson, who was struck by the image of a white man smoking a big cigar and expounding on "class and comfort and an easy lifestyle" while having his shoes shined by a black man. It's a bit anachronistic, y'know?
Elyse Is Right
Your Best of Houston issues are classics, and the 1997 edition was true to form. The combo of serious and wacky, splashed with your often-irreverent commentary, makes for a fun read that's a treasure trove of tips and tidbits about what's to enjoy in this unique town.
Elyse is right: Houston is a world-class city, albeit one that would come to a screeching halt without the ubiquitous automobile. But these machines require lots of TLC, and I was pleased that "best category we forgot" included "best service station," Voss Road Exxon, which I presume garnered a number of write-in votes other than mine.
For the last four years, the ace mechanics at this exceptional facility have kept my all-time favorite car on life support and still cruising at almost 200,000 miles, with never an incorrect diagnosis or faulty repair -- an awesome track record! Top off this expertise with a courteous, down-home ambiance, and there's no doubt these folks earned a slot in Best of Houston.
Louise S. Durham
Elyse Is Wrong
How can Houston be a world-class city, as suggested by your cover of September 18, without a rail transit system? Elyse Lanier's husband bears much of the blame for Houston not having such even in the planning stages yet.
I had to write to say how much I enjoyed your Best of Houston 1997 issue. It is a must for anyone who has out-of-town guests who have already seen the "beer can house." I must share with you what made this issue special to me.
A few years ago, my then-fiance and I were looking out on "Bob Hope's View" from the 12th-floor banquet room at the Wyndham Warwick -- the winner of your "best place to pretend you're in a beautiful city" category. We had chosen the room for our wedding reception, but hadn't found a site for the ceremony. Logistics had nixed our hopes for a wedding in Mexico, and we were less than enthusiastic about finding a beautiful, unusual location in Houston. Looking down upon Main Street, Miller Theatre and the museums, my fiance suddenly said, "How about there?" I followed his gaze to the Cockrell Butterfly Center. "Really?" I asked. "I don't know if they do weddings."
We were one of the first couples to be married there, and we have great memories of our guests peering out from the lush foliage and ducking butterflies. What a great surprise to find the Cockrell Butterfly Center listed as the "best place for a wedding" just as we celebrate our second wedding anniversary!