Broomstick Adventure Day Trip - June 18, 2016

by Lawson Cook

Our group along Buffalo Bayou.

Let's pretend that it is October and Halloween is coming up tonight. Then let's pretend that the weather is nice and cool outside. Well, this day trip was originally scheduled for October, 2015, when those conditions might apply, but unfortunately it was rained out at that time. The difference in weather between October and June in Houston is like the difference between night and day.

Houston June weather aside, a group of 20 hearty Day Trippers joined our guide, Sandra Lord from Discover Houston Tours on a Broomstick Adventure, to highlight some of Houston's history and even a few ghost stories to cap things off. We boarded the Harris County bus at Bayland Park at 10:30 AM and soon arrived in downtown Houston for our adventure.

Our first stop was in Sam Houston Park. Sam Houston Park is the oldest park in the city, being established in 1899. At the Park Museum, Sandra gave us a brief history of how the city of Houston was founded in 1836 by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou. They divided the town into political geographic districts called "wards". The ward system was a precursor to today's City Council districts. The city at its peak had six wards. Sandra told of the Allen brothers plan to get Houston named the capital of the Republic of Texas, which almost worked out.

After getting us introduced to the early history and life of Houston, Sandra led us outside through the Heritage Society's collection of historic buildings in Sam Houston Park. Included were the old St. John Church, The Yates Home and the 4th Ward Cottage.

We continued north on Bagby Street past Tranquility Park where we saw the memorial plaques for the Challenger and Columbia Shuttle astronauts that died in those disasters.

We walked past the "Hanging Oak", where Sandra had some of our talented Day Trippers act out a scene from the early life of the tree. We didn't realize we had such talent in our group.

We continued north on Bagby Street until we reached Buffalo Bayou, where we walked through Sesquicentennial Park, which winds along the bayou. The 22.5-acre park was established in 1986 to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of the founding of the city of Houston and of the Republic of Texas.

We walked along the bayou and Sandra recounted how boats navigated the bayou to bring their cargo into the city center. Along the way she pointed out many historical landmarks that go unnoticed from above the bayou bank. She identified the Donnellan Crypt, and told the story of how Henry Donnellan and his business partner tried to defuse some old Civil War munitions that were thrown into the bayou and became casualties of the large explosion. The pieces of them that remained were placed in the crypt that remains on the bank of the bayou. Sandra said that all the remains from that crypt were move to Glenwood Cemetery; as were the other bodies from the Houston city limits at that time.

Sandra's stories continued as we walked along the bayou until we reached the old Spaghetti Warehouse, where we enjoyed a nice lunch after working up a good appetite in the Houston heat and humidity.

After a leisurely lunch, complete with a fantastic free dessert, thanks to Mary Brown's good help, we boarded the bus again and drove to Freedman's Town, where we ended our tour with Sandra.

All in all, in spite of the hot Houston Summer weather, everyone enjoyed reliving some of Houston's history with Sandra, who is like having a talking Wikipedia along with you. Thanks to Mary Brown, who put this trip together for us, it was educational and entertaining.

Attendees on this Day Trip included Susan & Tony Leigh, Brenda & Daryl Moss, Nora & Israel Morales, Kay & Lawson Cook, Fermina & Tom Sutter, Gary Luckett, Mary Brown, and Mary's friends from church, Sylvia Cruz and Hilda Rivera, along with Mary's friends from Del Webb: Patty Rose, Lila Robertson, Martha Stewart, Cindy Pillsbury, Terry & Charles.

We hope that you will plan to join us on upcoming day trips as they are scheduled.

Copyright TI Houston Alumni Association 2016, All Rights Reserved.

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