A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The last time I saw Howard Houston was in 1961. Both of us were wearing mortar boards as we were graduating from St Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas. I really had not known him very well for the first four years that I was a boarder at the Catholic school. Howard was day student. I was keenly jealous of his literary wit and his ability to write essays with almost no effort. I was jealous on how he could make the class laugh with his intelligent, intellectual and sophisticated humour. Meanwhile I had to fight back my own shyness and having no girlfriends because I did not know how to dance. I was a real geek. Knowing how to dance in sock hops was the only way we could meet girls. We could only go to town for a limited time on weekends. The girls from the Catholic school across the city, St Mary’s Academy, were bussed to our sock hops. They needed chaperoning as the only women we saw on campus was the one female cook who served us Korean War issue powdered eggs for breakfast.

Brother Edwin -St Ed's
Brother Edwin and the Easter Bunny
St. Ed's & Friendship
Brother Stanley and the circular slide rule
St Edward's High School Alumni Association Web Site

After our graduation Howard visited me at my home in Mexico City and we got to know each other better. He had been interested in my Pentacon single lens reflex back at St Ed's so he brought a much improved Miranda reflex camera. I was jealous! He took these pictures in Mexico from my apartment window facing Avenida Insurgentes Sur. Howard was fascinated with the mishmash of cars in Mexico City.

In particular he was delighted/horrified by the Plymouth Kingsway. This was a cheaped down Dodge that had a Dodge front end but the curvy fins of a Plymouth.

A few years back I found Howard through a web based St Edward’s reunion page. We have been happily communicating since. Howard lives in a very small community not too near Austin and his house is by a lake. I am happy to report that Howard’s wit has not changed in the least and that I am still jealous. For over a year he kept telling me how he had worked for the US Government. Only after some pressing on my side did he reveal that his government job was piloting a Boeing KC-135 tanker and that he and his crew re-fueled Phantom jets over Vietnam. I recently wrote to Howard for an explanation as to why he likes to live in isolation. Here is his delightful reply:


In the movie Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, the opening scene happens at the start of a great international air race at an air park in England. The scene opens with Lord Whatsisname riding onto the field in his Rolls Royce with his male secretary. Lord Whatsisname says something like "You know Cyril; these international events would be quite all right if it were not for all the foreigners."

While I tend to agree with His Lordship on that, my real feeling is that "You know Alex, these public events like the opera, concerts, etc., would be quite all right if it were not for all the people."

I like people as individuals and in small groups. I literally cannot stand crowds. With an individual or a small group, you can sidle away from poor personal hygiene, ill mannered children, deadly boors, and people who want to convert you to their beliefs on whatever subject you care to name. However, in a crowd such people are, like pustules on the skin of a victim of smallpox, spread evenly throughout the mass thereby making it almost impossible to escape them. I, too, like the activities you mention, but would much prefer them after the local Legion Commander had ordered decimation; or several decimations. I think I was born to be an absolute monarch with private plays and concerts for a few select friends.

Other people like to press the flesh, so to speak, and big cities. I have no problem with that and, in fact, encourage it as those who like crowds will only find the crowds in the big cities and they have to go there to join the crowds thereby keeping the crowds where they belong, in the big city rather than out here with me.

We had 36 hours of continuous light sleet and freezing rain last week. It was the usual comedy of Texans trying to drive on ice as if it were no different than asphalt. The City of Austin was literally closed down for two full days. No mail delivery even.

Guest blogging! You have moved on into a fairly rarified atmosphere now. The internet and contraception for women. Vast and unpredictable changes are in the wind. Hillary is running for president. If she wins, those boys in the Middle East had better look out. Females protecting their children are considerably more dangerous than the male of the species. Also, she won't be too impressed with the colors available in hijabs.



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