Fannin Street, Houston, Texas, Looking North from Lamar Ave.
Postmarked 6 May 1952
To: Mrs. William Bennett
Red Cloud, Nebraska
812 Holman St. Houston 6
So good to have your diverting letter - I did make it after all! Im doing copy for a television advertising agency and feeling crassly commercial, but who isn't? Sounds like you're collecting material for some opus on trucking [?] - when and if you bail out! Don't work too hard. - seriously. Saw Beth a few times and loved getting "back in the swing [?]" - need some similar morale boosting here! Love as always, Helen
The caption on the back reads:
HOUSTON Third Largest port in the nation
Since the author of the card gave her address as 812 Holman St. Houston #6, I was able to check the City Directory to find that Helen was Helen SKRINAR. She was born 10 Jul 1914 and died 15 Apr 1994 in Joliet, Illinois. She was the daughter of Frank and Barbara SKRINAR from Joliet, IL by way of Slovenia. She was an English teacher at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, and the editor of a book: Burnished Gold, a collection of short stories, plays, poetry, and essays written by the students of the College of St. Francis.
This is the location where Helen lived in 1952, now a vacant lot on Holman near Milam. The church in the background is Holy Rosary Catholic church built in 1913. Helen had Catholic roots and may well have attended this church so close to home.
The advertising agency where Helen worked was in the 4500 Block of South Main, near the intersection of Main and Richmond. The buildings at that site look as if they might have been in existence in 1952. Since it was about a half a mile from her apartment, Helen could have walked to work, or taken a streetcar or bus on rainy days.
I took the black and white photograph on April 4, 2010 from the same vantage point on Fannin from Lamar as illustrated in the postcard. The angle required me to stand in the middle of Fannin Street, and this busy street is filled with traffic every day of the week except Sunday. Even on its least busy day, I had to dart into the street to take quick snapshots before retreating to the safety of the curb.
There is just a hint of the City National Bank Building that looms so large in the 1952 postcard on the left, and the front of Two Houston Center opposite barely protrudes into the view. Both buildings are now quite dwarfed by the recent construction, making them look very inconsequential. The Art Deco City National Bank Building on the left is one of the few remaining Art Deco buildings left in Houston, built in 1947 by architect Alfred C. Finn, who also designed the Esperson Buildings. The Rossonian across the street on the right was once a prestigious address to call home, once the residence of Houston notables such as Julia Ideson (Houston Library Director) and Niels Esperson himself. For a time before its demolition the Rossonian was called the Ambassador Hotel.
I used to have lunch with my wife at James Coney Island the next block over when she worked at IBM in Two Houston Center. Afterward, I would wait for the 30 Calhoun bus in front of the bank, and on hot days I would spend part of that waiting in the cool lobby pretending to have business to conduct. I had no idea then that my wife's office was on the site of the Rossonian Hotel. If I had I known that history, I might have speculated about the lives of Houstonians from so many decades before as I waited for my ride back to academia.
The message on the back of the card is intriguing. Like the author of the note, Helen, I once worked doing copy in an advertising office (Sears Roebuck in about 1974), and so I have an idea of what the work might have entailed. Television advertising was quite new in 1952, and Helen must have felt very modern. She seems quite well educated, and perhaps just a little pretentious (like me), I think I would have liked her very much.
In June 2010 this postcard pair was submitted in a postcard contest sponsored by the Heritage Society of Houston, and won the competition See Home Page, "Exhibitions"). This earned me a year's membership in the society and a copy of Daniel Monsanto's book, Houston, Postcards of America Series [ISBN-10: 0738571725; ISBN-13: 978-0738571720]. The postcards from this portfolio, Houston Time Portal, were featured on the CBS Houston affiliate, Great Day Houston with Debra Duncan on 13 August, 2010.