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Ten Charmingly Strange Old Houston Postcards

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You think you have it tough these days as a Houstonian, trying to sell your city as a tourist destination?

Try it back in the days before...ummm...before the Downtown Aquarium Family Fun Restaurant!!!

Thanks to the folks at cardcow.com, we can see what Houston used to highlight about itself. And some of it was pretty strange.

10. A gift shop!! In a stadium!! No, the attraction here isn't that this appears to be a stadium gift shop that doesn't sell a single item of clothing, the attraction is those strategically placed seats in the foreground. Just to let you know you're in a stadium and all.

9. The Spaghetti Bowl? Come to Houston!! See...a not very complicated arrangement of highway on and off ramps.

8. Downtown, As Lively As Ever Aren't we always hearing about how downtown Houston used to be a happening kind of place? Even Cleopatra playing at the Loew's Metropolitan, not to mention a Woolworth's, can't shake off the ghost-town feeling. We're sure everyone's in the tunnel system.

7. Luxury Living The Graustark Apartments, we are informed by the back of the card, offer not only the choice of furnished or unfurnished (we'll take "un" if this is what's on offer), not only air-conditioning, but....wait for it...."piped-in music." Sign us up!

6. Groovy, Man Bold colors!! We need bold colors to catch the kids' attention these days, what with their transistor radios and all!!

5. Fun in the Sun. The Broiling, Unrelenting Sun This seal attraction was apparently long gone before we got there, but it looks perfect for what seem to be not-too-exciting seal displays. Probably more entertainment was derived by taking bets on which parent would keel over next from sunstroke.

4. It Was a Dark and Stormy Night... Is this the Rice Hotel or the last waystop before the Gates of Hell? Come to Houston!! Enjoy its sinister, ominous downtown!!

3. Up in the Sky... A dirigible flying over Houston's downtown (Not included: A note saying, "Warning: Dirigible might not be flying during your visit.") The three-part brown-and-white building under the nose of the aircraft is the Rice Hotel, so you can judge for yourself how small downtown was compared to now.

2. The Meyerland Mall, By Tim Burton Was there some sort of fascination years ago for gloomy settings? Downtown, the Rice Hotel and now the Meyerland Mall: All devoid of people, under threatening skies. Enticing!!

1. Katrina Foretold A mass of people on the Astrodome floor -- a precursor to Katrina? No, it actually sounds worse: "Popular N.B.C. Star, Skitch Henderson, conducts a massed band of 11,000 high school musicians, at halftime of the University of Houston - Chattanooga football game," says the card. And it looks like if you took away all the relatives of the musicians from the stands -- and the Skitch Henderson fans, of course -- you'd be left with maybe two dozen people actually there for the big UH-Chattanooga tilt.

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