HPB Humble October Meeting Prep

September 30, 2012 at 12:42 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Bill Bryson’s bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island, In a Sunburned Country, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, A Short History of Nearly Everything, which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize, and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson lives in England with his wife and children. – from The Official Bill Bryson Website, http://www.randomhouse.com/features/billbryson/about.html

Discussion Topics for October 1st:

  1. “It must be very frustrating to have a truly unique experience.” – pg. 159 What unique experiences have you had lately?
  2. There is a Veblen reference on page 151, “conspicuous consumption.” How do you feel about this assessment of America?
  3. What did you think of Bryson’s description of the south?
  4. Have you ever stopped to read historical landmarks?  Do you know about the historical landmarks here in Humble?
  5. What was your favorite part of the book? What was your least favorite part of the book?

Below I have included historical landmarks of Humble, TX, taken from the Humble area website: http://www.humblearea.com/history/

Humble, Texas   Historical Markers

Humble Cemetery – Humble (227)

This cemetery is believed to be the town of Humble’s oldest. The   earliest documented burial is that of Joseph Dunman (1867-1879). Also   believed to be buried here in an unmarked grave is Jane Elizabeth Humble,   wife of the community’s founder, Pleasant Humble. The first legal record of   the cemetery appears in a deed transferring the cemetery property from Jonas   Altmont to trustees in 1914. Civil War veteran Houston Young and several   World War I veterans are also interred here. This cemetery serves as a   reflection of Humble’s pioneer heritage.

Humble Lodge No. 979, A.F. & A.M. – Humble (164)

Near the turn of the century, the town of Humble was home to   many Masons who were members of lodges located in nearby towns. With the help   of local Justice of the Peace F. K. Wise, Humble area Masons organized their   own lodge in 1908. Humble State Bank president and future Texas Governor Ross   Sterling (1875-1949) provided meeting facilities in the bank building which   formerly stood at this site. After the bank burned in 1912, the Masons bought   the property and built a new lodge hall. The Masons have been active in civic   programs over the years.

Humble, City of – Humble (164)

A pioneer oil boom town. Originated as crossroads community   named for settler Pleasant Smith Humble (1835?-1912), who lived here before   1889, hewing his timber into railroad ties, mining gravel from his land,   keeping store, and serving as justice of the peace. Neighbors included the   Bender, Durdin, Isaacks, Lee, Slaughter, and Williams families. Economic   bases were farms and sawmills. The post office opened 1902. In 1904 C. E.   Barrett (1866-1926) drilled for oil in this area, securing small production   on Moonshine Hill. On Jan. 7, 1905, he brought in the No. 2 Beaty Well which   yielded 8,500 barrels a day, opening the great boom. From a village of 700,   Humble grew at once into a town of 20,000. Field production– the largest in   Texas for the year 1905– was 15,594,923 barrels of oil. The field was named   for the town. A group of its operators, including Ross S. Sterling, later   (1931-33) governor of Texas, in 1911 incorporated a new oil company named for   the field, thus spreading into the annals of world commerce the town’s name.   Production from several strata here exceeded the total for fabulous   Spindletop by 1946. Known as the greatest salt dome field, Humble still   produces and the town for which it was named continued to thrive.

Moonshine Hill – Humble (105)

Early reports of natural gas seepages in this area were not   uncommon in the late 19th century. James Slaughter noticed such natural   occurrences near the San Jacinto River in 1887. Several years later, with S.   A. Hart, he set up a drilling operation in the area, but it proved   unsuccessful. Charles Barrett, a former Huston merchant, also drilled wells   here, but found the results limited. In 1904, the Higgins Oil Company brought   in a major gas well and the following year, the first successful oil well was   drilled. This area, known as the Moonshine Hill section of the great Humble   oil field, became the site of a boom town. Within months of the 1905   discovery, the population of the Moonshine Hill settlement increased to   10,000. Early operations associated with the site included the Moonshine Oil   Company of Walter Sharp, Ed Prather, and Howard R. Hughes. Although tents   comprised most of the early structures, Moonshine Hill eventually included a   church, school, postal station, stores, hotels, and saloons. Despite three   separate boom eras, the last occurring in 1929, Moonshine Hill declined as a   community. Its brief existence, however, had a dramatic impact on the   economic development of Humble and Houston. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 –   1986

First United Methodist Church of Humble – Humble (86)

Founded in 1886, Humble was an oil boom town in 1907 when the   Rev. J. T. Browning of Houston began conducting Methodist worship services   for residents of the area. The services were first held in a building that   had housed a bottle factory. In 1908, this church was organized with 37   charter members. The following year, the congregation constructed their first   building, a small frame structure later destroyed by fire. Subsequent church   facilities have reflected the continued growth of the congregation and   community. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 – 1986

Lambrecht’s Artesian Well – Humble (50)

An oil well drilled at this site in 1912 yielded not oil, but   free-flowing artesian water. The following year, German native Nick   Lambrecht (1855-1920) purchased the property. Lambrecht served as justice   of the peace and mayor during Humble’s oil boom days in the early 20th   century and in 1904 had installed a water system to meet the needs of the   many oil field workers who came to town. Lambrecht’s artesian well was used   to supply water to bathhouses and was also piped to nearby homes. In earlier   years, water had been hauled to town in barrels on horse-drawn wagons. Texas   Sesquicentennial 1836-1986

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Bill Bryson, I adore You

September 29, 2012 at 3:27 am (Reviews, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Title: The Lost Continent

Author: Bill Bryson

Publisher:Harper Perennial

Length: 299 pages

I read A Walk in the Woods a year or two ago and I remember thinking, “What a witty, sarcastic, jack-ass – I love him!” The same holds true for one of Bryson’s earlier works, The Lost Continent.

This book is a great travel memoir of a road trip in America, back when it was still glaringly clear that we were The United States of America, each part of our country a very unique place, in the midst of the late 80’s and early 90’s when the lines were getting blurred and we as a nation fell more and more into a federal ‘group-think’ existence.

Being from the south, there are many times when I feel I should be greatly offended by the things Bryson has to stay about my neck of the woods.  Three things must be said about my not getting offended 1. We southerners don’t offend easily, we just pat your hand and say ‘Bless Your Heart’ for not understanding us and 2. Bryson is funny and intelligent, and despite a lot of generalizations and false conclusions, many parts of his descriptions are familiar and full of truth. But finally, 3. “The South” and “Texas” don’t always mean the same thing, we are a brand all our own, and mighty proud of it.

Bryson’s version of tourism is wonderful.  It has both the comprehension of American ways and not quite being an outsider, as well as the fresh eyes of someone who has been away for so long.  His adventures around national landmarks, travels through run of the mill towns, and his uncanny ability to not be duped in one instance and be completely suckered in another is fantastic.  He finds himself in both the best and the worst of places.  From the smallest hotel room in NY to the cleanest hotel room in New England, Bryson experiences it all, and shares every scurrilous detail.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in any of these places, you can’t help but enjoy his descriptions.  If you haven’t yet been there, you find yourself intrigued.  If you’ve ever read Conspicuous Consumption, you can’t help but notice how Bryson spells out the concepts Veblen’s concepts with severe imagery.  If you’ve never read anything at all, you can at least appreciate his comedic nature and how much his books will make you laugh.

Scentsy pairing: Clean Breeze or Route 66

As usual, I’m enjoying Bryson’s work quite a bit and am so excited to get a chance to discuss this book with other people at the Half Price Books Humble Book Club meeting on October 1st.  There’s still a few days to find a copy, read it, and pipe in at the meeting.

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