Driving and Biking in the Big City

On the road home

with 9 comments

Class of 1972 graduation invitation

I have a couple of work days ahead and then a road trip of about 90 miles to my hometown of Port Neches and the 40th reunion of PN-G class of 1972. (Can you see the embossed date on the old invite?)  I will be blogging a bit about old sights that are new places now, old friends who are wiser and the drive home with Vinny. He still has those prom dresses in the back seat so we’ve got several chores and some packing to do before we hit the road. But we are getting excited.

My writing career begins

I was not much for home as a kid and left when I was 18 years old and am as surprised as the next guy that I have made my life — after different lives all over Texas, Michigan and the East Coast — this close to home.

I would argue that Houston is not the super-sized Beaumont that I once thought it was when I jumped over it for the media Mecca of Dallas. But then, the Golden Triangle is not the same and certainly Houston has become the international melting pot of the world. It helps that I work in the Texas Medical Center with its combination of academia, scientists and healthcare professionals.  There is always something new to learn and something amazing happening. Not to mention the poor, homeless and tragically sick who I pass by every day on my way to my “Laverne and Shirley” style office in the basement with windows lining the very, very top. It’s a big world I live in and a small world I go to.  How many times will I say it next week? It’s a small world, especially in this technical communications explosion.

We’ve all grown up, and where we’ve been is just as important as where we are and where we wish we will be some day. Today, I’m a better person because I live and learn. Occasionally, I admit my mistakes and grow some. But at my heart and in my soul’s code, I am the smart girl who was editor of my high school newspaper more than the dancer who was on the drill team. I am the nerd who wanted to be popular. And, in my long travels, I’ve finally discovered that no one feels like they fit in — even the prettiest, funniest and the most popular. Everyone’s story — at its heart — is about a loner who creates conflict and drama in an attempt to make the world a less lonely place.

Mel and her soldier boy, Cliff

It will be fun if melancholy. I will see my surviving sister Mel who is celebrating 50 years of marriage to her soldier boy Cliff. I will think of how she was my parenting model for fun with my own kids because she was the one who always planned beach and camping adventures and threw me my first birthday party back when I was at Port Neches Elementary. My kids can thank her for the fun we still have.

I will see those oldest and dearest friends, my old block where some of my neighbors still live and Oak Bluff Cemetery where my folks are buried down the sidewalk from Tex Ritter. I also want to check out my talented nephew who plays trumpet at some of the music spots and an old photographer-friend who is probably just as surprised to have loved the Beaumont Enterprise as much as I am to love Houston.

As an old police reporter, the towns I covered are marked by the crimes and stories I covered as much as the memories of hometown friends. I remember most Karen Silkwood and her home in Nederland and Janis Joplin whose home is now a museum after I reported that it was set to be condemned – back in the 1970s and before I left the Beaumont Enteprise. How about the family that lived under the Rainbow Bridge at Thanksgiving back in the day?

That brings me back to growing up in Port Neches and memories of driving over that steep bridge on my brother’s motorcycle with him on the back and me at the controls. Could I have been 16? It may have been junior high. I can still see the speedometer as clear as it was yesterday.  It was buried at 90 m.p.h. with me riding the brakes and Wayne hollering with glee all the way down. He has such a wicked laugh that makes you want to join in and not think about the mischief he’s led you into. I have never been so scared in my life and that includes coverage of murder and mayhem in far bigger cities than Beaumont.

I’m still not where I’m going so my Commuter Chronicles may be a long, long blog. Home is just a stopover.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

July 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

9 Responses

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  1. Cant wait to read more

    Jamie Simon Schexnaider

    July 15, 2012 at 11:19 am

    • I am so goosed up. I’ve already written parts of a couple more of these blogs but need new photos. Only problem is anonymity. If I start naming names, I may get some folks arrested or cranky. Can’t wait to catch up with you.


      July 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  2. Denise enjoyed your blog, and look forward to more on your road home!
    See you soon!

    Patti McBride Addison

    July 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

  3. i cant wait… love the memories…

    mike lee

    July 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    • Hey, Mike! I was just looking in the yearbook at all the beautiful faces and the years just fell away. We had a really big class. As many as I remember well, there are many I can’t quite put a story to. We will have to correct all that with new stories.


      July 16, 2012 at 4:59 am

  4. Awesome Denise, anxious to see you!


    July 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

  5. I look forward to your posts from the reunion Denise! This post today is fantastic! I feel as if I was actually driving around with you in Port Neches!! Can you hear me screaming “SLOW DOWN!” Don’t listen though! I am secretly loving it.


    July 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  6. Wow, what great stories… I had forgotten that Tex Ritter is burried in Oak Bluff…. my brother is too! I practically lived inthe city park by the Neches River. Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

    Nancy (Fox) Castro

    July 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    • Me, too, Nancy. I biked all over the city and loved being at the park. My dad died in 1963, so I’ve been going to Oak Bluff ever since. The only place that didn’t change — until Hurricane Ike.


      July 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm

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