Five Fun Things for Kids to Do in Houston in 1972 That Don't Seem Fun at All

Categories: Spaced City

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Ioffer.com
Weird tips from a simpler time.
With school winding down, you might be wondering how you are going to amuse your idle whippersnappers all summer long.

While it is no easy feat, you, the parents of 2012, should count yourselves lucky. Your own parents were in even more of a bind back in those pre-Internet, pre-water park, pre-video game, pre-Chuck E. Cheese and Children's Museum days of 1972, and so what constituted fun time for the kiddies was, shall we say, somewhat broader than today.

Here are five selections from Houston Tours for Children and Other People, published by Ebenezer Press in the Heights the year Tricky Dick unleashed the burglars on poor old George McGovern. (To be fair, the booklet does include stuff like Astroworld, NASA and the Battleship Texas/San Jacinto, too, not to mention some more obscure things that seemed pretty amazing, but we've selected only the weirdest ones here.)

5. Take 'em to a tortilla factory, or even two! At Tony's Tortilla Factory (913 McKee), your kids will thrill at the workings of this "small family owned business of a type rapidly disappearing in an age of complex industrial plants." They will marvel as several people make tortillas and taco shells out of fresh corn and water with no preservatives added! Plus, at the end of the tour, there will be "plenty of hot, buttered tortillas for everyone to taste."

Maybe Tony's doesn't offer the kind of visceral delights your kids demand. If that's so, take them instead to La Monita Tortillas (4214 Chapman).

At La Monita, "every week end, 120 pigs' heads and cows' heads are barbequed in huge bins and sold to be taken home for dinner. Americans have many different customs of food and language, and at the La Monita factory the flavor of Mexican traditions comes through." Such as "the music of guitars on the big radio in the workroom," where the "girls with big long braids operate the machines that turn large bags of corn into coarse, yellow dough and then to the flat, round tortillas that are a type of bread."

Make sure you ask the suggested questions: What is the recipe for a favorite dish called "menudo"? And then the follow-up: What is "tripe"?

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A recent home economics graduate demonstrates the raw power of modern electric appliances.
4. Where better to take the kids than the downtown Foley's (1110 Main)?

"Not so long ago," the guide tells us, "when the first large department stores were introduced, they were a 'must' on the list of any visitor to town. Today such establishments as Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, Sak's Fifth Avenue in New York, and Foley's in Houston continue to hold the same kind of attraction for tourists." At Foley's, visitors are awestruck, as "nowhere else in the city can one find quite the variety of color, sight, and sound that Foley's provides."

Fashions for every taste, size and pocketbook! Piece goods, patterns and needlework; each a whole tour in itself for their devotees! Exotic fish from faraway waters in the aquariums in the Sporting Goods Department! Noted authors signing their works in the Books Department! And, on many days during the lunch hour, "fascinating demonstrations of time-saving or unusual appliances in the housewares section"!

3. At True to Life Taxidermy (5220 Nolda), your kids can watch this unusual craft from beginning to end, starting in the brine room, "where pelts, separated from antlers or horns, are soaked in large vats." Sound a bit much? Don't worry. "The odor one expects is absent from all stages," the guide hastily adds. You can also see as heads are stretched, "and in which eyes, tongues and teeth are eventually placed." In the end, customers leave with "artistically mounted headpieces" and "luxurious rugs for the family room." Rarrr.


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24 comments
TOLDYA
TOLDYA

You forgot the most fun sneaking cigarettes and watching our teenage neighbors getting busted,

ATX
ATX

"girls with big long braids operate the machines that turn large bags of corn into coarse, yellow dough and then to the flat, round tortillas that are a type of bread."

That just sounds like an accident waiting to happen.  

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Wow.  Way to take a good concept and ruin it with drivel.  Peppermint Park FTW.

Drozy
Drozy

What year was "Sea Arama" (Did I spell that right?) around? In Galveston.

Craigley
Craigley

We were regulars at Bush Gardens on Loop 610.

Houstess
Houstess

I moved here in 1972 as a kid.  We had a blast.  Of course that was before the beer can house and orange show, two things that no doubt raise the world's estimation of Houston's class.  There was also the Imperial Sugar factory tour and dollar outfield seats in the dome.  Later on, there was free beer for every Astro homerun.  Those were the days. But, oh yea, it was also the time when two unrelated depraved individuals, both known as The Candy Man for different reasons, roamed the area.  In that respect it was a scary time to be a youth in Houston.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

And I just realized over the weekend: this book IGNORED Kiddie Wonderland, easily my favorite attraction here until I was about seven.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Astroworld was there, I mentioned it in the article as something kids could do, but the point of this article was not to mention things kids could do that were actually fun. @RoyMIx: Foley's might have been fun in 1972, but it's hard to imagine now, especially if you go to the Macy's that took its place. Or went to Foley's anytime since 1980....

FT
FT

Yeah, I was just about to mention Astroworld... what year did it come into existence.

RoyMix
RoyMix

Hey wait a second, I have fond memories of going to the old downtown Foley's, my Mom even had Mr. Meyer over for dinner once. And don't knock the tortilla and tamale factories will always be a very vivid memory. I also did the Houston Post tour several times with my school, the linotype machines were amazing, you really have no idea.

And anyway back in 1972, Houston had Astroworld too! If I could take a trip back to 1972 Houston it would be fantastic.

FaneuilD
FaneuilD

 Huh? What do you mean by that? Good concept and drivel?

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

It was there in 1978 or so. There is an Indian mound like ruin there to this day, I think.

David Houston
David Houston

...The beer can house, that pile of old cans and unlevelled concrete somehow passes for an artwork in this city...  Sad when you think about it.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Judging by you name, I don't think you were ever a teenage boy, so you didn't have much to worry about in regard to Dean Corll.

Craigley
Craigley

Don't forget Peppermint Park.  

RoyMix
RoyMix

Thanks, I had actually forgotten kiddie wonderland on South Main you have to go to Mexico these days for that kind of entertainment these days.

RoyMix
RoyMix

You are totally correct about Foley's, but back in the early '70s the downtown store was still really nice, especially at the holidays. It had nothing on Joske's Christmas stuff in San Antonio, but it comparing it to Macy's is a crime. Contra "Miracle on 34th Street" even in its glory days even the original Macy's in New York was a lousy department store.

RoyMix
RoyMix

1968. It was still in its original pre Six Flags incarnation in 1972.

roadgeek
roadgeek

Sea Arama was just awesome.  Our science class made more than one field trip there.  A little grungy...a little low-rent.....it was just perfect.  So Southeast Texan.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Never made it to that place. Kiddie Wondeland 'til I D-I-E, sucka.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

There was a similar place in San Antonio circa 1999; I have no idea if it is still there.

mollusk
mollusk

Sea Arama was also where my Boy Scout troop did its annual February camping trip.  This was before there was such a thing as a self supporting dome tent; I think the justification was that it would be less hot and have fewer mosquitos.

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