Best Out-of-Print Book by a Living Local Columnist (2000)

Houston: Land of the Big Rich, The Story of a Fabulous City, by George Fuermann

After stumbling across this book on eBay, we tracked down the retired George Fuermann's phone number and called, hoping to hear some stories of his career, which spanned the better part of half a century, seven books, innumerable magazine articles and long-running columns in both major dailies. "Career?" Fuermann growled over the line. "I didn't have a career." We know how he feels, but beg to differ nonetheless. Land of the Big Rich is Fuermann's first book, published in 1951 by Doubleday, with a jacket photo identifying the smart young journalist as "the hottest young newspaperman in the South and Southwest." While compadre Sig Byrd documented the era's tragic underbelly, Fuermann's dispatches documented how the other half lived, with chapters on cafe socialism and Houston's Riviera and a flashy focus on Houston millionaires and mavens and movers-and-shakers: "Guests are a merge of satin-and-minked cotillion-type belles and their business-suited escorts; red-faced (from weather more than liquor) men and their well-appointed women, incontrovertibly standing for Oil and Gas with a capital O and a capital G; aging matrons, with more cash than they will ever be able to spend in the years they are still going to spend, trying to wring a lonely thrill out of unlonely thousand-dollar bills; Proper Houstonians and Almost Proper Houstonians; celebrated stars of stage, screen, and finance -- all loaded with diamonds, furs and cash, most of them well behaved and behaving as though they owned a well, an oil well, which they undoubtedly do own." Them, one suspects, were the days.


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