6646 Japonica Street!

PPE 006 The front of our little house bore no resemblance to the one that now features a long porch across the street-side portion that faces north – nor did we possess or have any need for a museum quality fence across the front yard. – but it was home. From February 1945 to October 1958, from the time I was 7 and just finishing the first grade at Southmayd Elementery until the time I was a 20-year old junior and full-time working student at the University of Houston, “6646 Japonica” Street in Pecan Park, in the Houston East End, just east of the Gulf Freeway off the Griggs Road intersection, was the place where I hung both my baseball cap and my heart.  I lived there with two parents who stayed together 58 years in marriage until death took each of them just five weeks apart in 1994.

I grew up with a funny little red-headed brother named John, who was fours years my junior, and a cute little blonde-headed sister named Margie, who got here late enough to be my eleven year junior sibling in 1949. With the arrival of Margie, Dad added a third bedroom, but we still had to make do with only one bathroom, a one-car garage, and no air conditioning. That was OK. Up until about 1957, everybody in our part of town pretty much lived the same way. It didn’t really bother us because none of us knew any better. Besides, we all had attic fans that did a pretty good job of sucking hot air through every window in the house during the humid summer months. The fact this method of cooling also brought dust, allergens, and the smell of rotting figs mixed in with the aroma of the Champions Paper Mill perfume didn’t seem to get to us either.

We were tough old birds back in the day.

PPE 015

The picture of me sitting on our front porch with my 1957 girl friend will give you a little better idea of how our house actually looked back in the day. No frills. Most of the houses in our block were built back in 1939 or 1940. We were the second occupants of the house when we moved to Pecan Park from our rental house on Oxford Street in the Heights back in 1945. My dad had worked as a welder at the Brown Shipyard during World War II. We moved to the East End after he took a post-war job as Parts Manager for the Jess Allen Chrysler-Plymouth dealership on Harrisburg.

Dad had owned his own Dodge-Plymouth dealership in our original hometown of Beeville, Texas prior to the war and was hoping to work his way back to that kind of situation again. We didn’t care what he did. He was our dad and we loved him. He was the dad who played catch with us after he came home from work. He was the dad who introduced us to Houston Buffs baseball at old Buff Stadium in 1947. He was the guy we could count on as a guide to how we handled responsibility, as was Mom the lady we could depend upon to help us dream of a world that was bigger than the little house on Japonica Street.

The irony is that neither Mom nor Dad seemed to really understand that what they were giving to us at 6646 Japonica was already bigger and more important than anything else we were going to find out there in the larger world of greater achievement and attainment. All of us grew up and moved away from Pecan Park, but my heart never really left the place. Everything I am and everything I value started there. And it never left me.

My dad told me that he bought “6646 Japonica” for something like $5,000 back in 1945. Today it’s material and locational worth is valued by the Harris County Appraisal District at close to $88,000.  As for me, I couldn’t even put a dollar mark on what that little site is worth to the value of my life.

All I can say is, “Long live Pecan Park! And long live the champion eagle heart spirit that stills soars the skies of that special place – and all the other special ‘6646 Japonica’ addresses in history where we each got launched, one way or another, for better or worse, on the path of becoming the persons we are today.”

If it was a good trip, we need to celebrate it. If it wasn’t so easy, we need to make our peace with it. Both are important to moving on.

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3 Responses to “6646 Japonica Street!”

  1. Vito Schlabra Says:

    I enjoyed the visit back to your neighborhood. Brings back a lot of memories where I lived at 205 N. Super in the Eastwood addition.

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Vito – From where you lived, you had to have known Mr. Vallone, who managed the Eastwood Theater. Short story: In 1952, I applied for a job as an usher. Mr. Vallone said he’d call me, but I never heard from him. 25 years later, when I was then 39, I ran into Mr. Vallone again in a doughnut shop on the west side. I walked over to him and asked: “Well, did I get the job or not?” The blank look on his face disappeared when I told him about our first meeting – and then we both broke into laughter.

  3. Larry Roberts Says:

    Your right pecan park was a very specisl place I also grew IP there.My Dad worked for Sincla I r I went to Southmayd else. deady Jr high wrnt thand Milby high. I have3 brothewrs er tI work at Art Grindlewas the old..I returned ho.e from the army in 1960 I went to work at art brindles most Chrysler Plymouth on the used car lot.I have been in the car business ever since I have worked ,at Jim sanders, norm Livermore’s gulf coast dodge,Pasadena dodge Mcree ford, Jacobs Lincoln Mercury, jCkcriswalds embassey lincoln,bud Moore chevrolet,Joe Meyers ford itwas

    Republic ford first, gallery ford,went to LA cal. To get my degree in car sells,was new car mgr. At bud Moore.was now and used car manager at buzby Buick in baytown,was new and used car mgr. At b. J. Ford In. Liberty, texasword for Harold Droughn HED Sales on shepherd.I was blessed to be around some of the best people ever in the car business.thank you for this site I thought I was the only one to remember these the best of times to be alive. There are no body any where on earth like car people and no where better than Houston. Thanks again Larry

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