Celebrating the Apollo 11 Anniversary

Today, America celebrates the 40th anniversary of the moon walk by Apollo 11 astronauts, a historic mission that supercharged the then-fledgling Manned Space Center just off the shores of Clear Lake.

American Neil Armstrong has become the first man to walk on the Moon.

The astronaut stepped onto the Moon’s surface, in the Sea of Tranquility, at 0256 GMT, nearly 20 minutes after first opening the hatch on the Eagle landing craft.

Armstrong had earlier reported the lunar module’s safe landing at 2017 GMT with the words: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

As he put his left foot down first Armstrong declared: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

He described the surface as being like powdered charcoal and the landing craft left a crater about a foot deep.

‘We came in peace’

Continue reading

Posted in Editorial, Great Houstonians, Houston Memories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Aunt Julia” Remembers

Ex-Slave remembers the day she became freed in Texas!

Ex-Slave remembers the day she became freed in Texas!

Ex-Slave Tells a Juneteenth Story About How Freedom Came to Her

Whenever “Aunt Julia” Ellis, a 90-year old Harris County ex-slave and 50-year resident of the sawmill ghost town of Josserand, down in the piney woods of Trinity County, alights from a bus a the Greyhound station in Houston, she may appear a bit trifle bewildered at hearing so much noise. She really feels, however, that she is in familiar territory, for it is the very spot where she lived in a makeshift shelter alongside those of a lot of freed colored folks back in 1865.

One of Aunt Julia’s most vivid early memories is of dire stories of Yankees told by elders to her and small playmates, both white and colored, during the Civil War.

“You better be good or the Yankees will get you!” were the words with a familiar ring to Aunt Julia when she was a tiny girl living with her parents on the farm of their owner, Madison Sapp, about 40 miles from Houston.

“Each time.” recalls Aunt Julia, ” we young’uns was out playin’ and hosses’ hoofs was heered a-comin’ down de road. Ole Missis (Mrs. Sapp) would run to de do’, clap her hands, an’ holler, ‘Come heah! Come heah, you young’uns! De Yankees is comin’! De Yankees….!” “An’ we’d all run inside and hide under a big bed, white and colored children all together, and scrooch down, our hearts in our throats, and wait for de Yankees to pass.

But I got to wonderin’ about de Yankees. I was curious to know what one looked lak. So I made up my mind, but I didn’t let on to nobody, dat de nex’ time somebody hollerd ‘Yankees!’ I was not gwine ter hide under de bed, but stay outside and try to see one.

“So one day we chilun was playin’ out in the yard and all of a sudden we heard hosses’ hoofs. It sounded lak a lot of ‘em. Ole Misses ran to de do’ lak always an’ holler, ‘Yankees!’ De Yankees are comin’! Run to de house! Run….!’

Read more about this historic event and other great stories about Houston’s past history by joining HoustonHistory.com’s online community!

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday in 31 of the United States. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas; for more than a century, the state of Texas was the primary home of Juneteenth celebrations.


Posted in Editorial | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lordy, Lordy Look Who’s 40 – IAH!

June 8, 2009, marks the 40th anniversary of the nation’s 8th busiest airport but it all began back in the mid to late 1960s. Houston Intercontinental Airport, as it was originally known, first celebrated it’s opening day on Sunday, June 8, 1969. IAH, as its known on luggage tags, was a modern marvel at its time consisting of little trains and massive terminals when it opened. All passenger traffic from William P. Hobby Airport moved to Intercontinental upon the airport’s completion. Hobby remained open as a general aviation airport and reopened two years later to domestic routes and discount air carriers. Learn more about this historic event and other great stories about Houston’s past history by joining HoustonHistory.com’s online community!

Find more photos like this on Houston History


Posted in Editorial | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Foundation of the Texas Educational System

Universtiy of Houston, Ezekiel W. Cullen Administration Building

Universtiy of Houston, Ezekiel W. Cullen Administration Building

It was a historic moment when Ezekiel W. Cullen of San Augustine rose in the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas on January 4, 1839, and addressed the chair:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to present the report of the Committee on Education, relating to the establishment of a system of free schools in Texas.”

A hush fell upon the assembly of thirty-odd members, seated on crude pine benches in the bare plank-walled hall of representatives. Ezekiel Cullen’s resonant voice and his commanding presence compelled the attention of his colleagues. And they realized the momentous import of his message.

Past the introductory remarks, he plunged earnestly into the reading:

“Your committee views it as one of the first and paramount duties of Congress to provide a system of general education…and we should lay the foundation while it is in our power, by making suitable appropriation of the public domain…to establish primary schools and colleges, where every class alike can receive the benefits and blessings of education. Nothing is so essential in a free government as the general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence of every kind. It is the foundation of civil and religious liberty and constitutes national strength and glory.”

Learn more about this historic event and other great stories about Houston’s past history by joining HoustonHistory.com’s online community!

Posted in Legends | Leave a comment

Foley Bros. Dry Goods Company

William L. Foley Dry Goods Store

William L. Foley Dry Goods Store

Foley Bros.’ history dates from Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, 1900. On that date, Pat. C. Foley and James A. Foley, the two young Irish Americans who had formerly been employed in the Houston store of their uncle, William L. Foley, went into business for themselves under the name of Foley Bros. Dry Goods Co. Their capital was $2,000 dollars, borrowed from their uncle, a native of Ireland, who migrated to Houston where he opened a retail store.

A one-story building, 20′ x 70′, 1400-square-foot store located at 507 Main Street, was chosen as the site of the store, and stocked with piece goods, calico, linens, pins, needles, notions, lace, embroidery and men’s furnishings. The first day’s sales were recorded at $113.12. Many prominent old Houston names were among the first customers.

Learn more about this historic department store and other stories about Houston history by joining HoustonHistory.com’s online community!

Posted in Legends | Leave a comment

Ex-Presidents Bush and Clinton Team Up Again

Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief


Former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are establishing a fund to help Texas and Louisiana communities hard-hit by this month’s hurricanes recover. The Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund will focus on long-term recovery efforts all along the Gulf coast.

Bush joined Clinton for the announcement this morning in New York, where Clinton is hosting the annual meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative. In Houston, former Secretary of State James Baker provided additional details at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, where he was joined by several local business leaders who have been asked to help.

That list includes Tilman Fertitta, Jim McIngvale and Jack Sweeney, publisher of the Houston Chronicle.

Baker will serve as national chairman of the campaign, which came together in less than a week, will oversee about 40 business and civic leaders from the affected region to help raise money for the long-term recovery projects.

How can You help?

Donate to the American Red Cross, Texas Relief Fund and the Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund

Volunteer with the Harris County Citizen Corps

Contact Texas Responds

Continue reading

Posted in Editorial | Leave a comment

Hurricane Alicia Twenty-Five Years Later

Hurricane Alicia's Eye

Hurricane Alicia's Eye

For those of us that lived through it, it’s really hard to believe that it has now been a quarter of a century since Alicia struck the local area as our last major hurricane.

After forming just south of Louisiana on the Aug. 15, 1983, Alicia drifted westward and intensified quickly into a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall on the west end of Galveston Island (the eye of Alicia made landfall near San Luis Pass around 2:00 AM CDT Thursday, August 18) in the early morning hours.

Learn more about this historic weather event and other stories about Houston history by joining HoustonHistory.com’s online community!

Posted in Legends | Leave a comment

Heroic Native Son Visits Houston Seventy Years Ago

Howard R. Hughes, Jr. pictured left talking to employees at Hughes Tool Company.

Howard R. Hughes, Jr. pictured left talking to employees at Hughes Tool Company.

On July, 30, 1938, Howard Hughes, Houston’s globe-circling aviator, landed in Houston. On a Saturday afternoon, around 10,000 people watched his 12:35 p.m. arrival at the Houston Municipal Airport.

KPRC and KTRH radio broadcasted the landing around the world. Around 200 officers and a small group of Boy Scouts provided security to honor Howard Hughes and his around-the-world flying feat.

The highlight of the 30-minute ceremony was to rename the airport, now William P. Hobby Airport, after the aviator, The Howard Hughes Airport (in Marguerite Johnston’s Houston: The Unknown City, airports couldn’t be named after a living person, according to state law so the name was changed back).

The plans for the local heroes welcome reception was to continue on a 10-mile parade route that would proceed along Telephone, Leeland, Main, Congress, Fannin and Texas, and complete at the Rice Hotel. The size of the crowd was estimated at 250,000—three-fourths of the city’s population back then—that lined downtown along Main Street to shower Hughes and his flight crew with confetti and cheers. The crowd was so large that Main Street was compared to to the parade days earlier down Broadway, when New York city honored Hughes and his crew. 

That night after a grand banquet at the Rice Hotel, he spent some time with family and friends at his boyhood home off Yoakum Boulevard. The following day, before leaving Houston that afternoon en route to his second home in Los Angeles, Hughes visited Hughes Tool Co. and was reunited with employees he had not seen in years and introduced to others for the first time.

Shortly after noon on July 31, 1938, the New Yorks World’s Fair 1939 was refueled and ready. Hughes said good-bye to his relatives, some who were there from Dallas, and the large crowd that had gathered at the field. Roaring down the runway of the airport that now bore his name, Hughes took off at 1:35 p.m. into a nasty cloudbank that quickly blotted out his hometown.

Posted in Great Houstonians, Houston Memories | Leave a comment



Lyndon Johnson Space Center at Houston, Texas.

Lyndon Johnson Space Center at Houston, Texas.

On July 29, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established to guide U.S. space exploration. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA consisted mainly of the four laboratories and some 80 employees of the government’s 46-year-old research agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). A significant contributor to NASA’s entry into the Space race was the technology from the German rocket program, led by Wernher von Braun, who became a naturalized citizen of the United States after World War II. He is today regarded as the father of the United States space program. Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (of which von Braun’s team was a part) and the Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s center for human spaceflight activities (NASA).

It’s offspring, The Manned Spacecraft Center, started out in the in Houston’s Gulfgate shopping mall (1961). In 1973, the year President Johnson died, it was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC). Today, the center consists of a complex of 100 buildings on 1,620 acres located in the Clear Lake area of southeast Houston, Texas, USA. Johnson Space Center is home to the United States astronaut corps and is responsible for training astronauts from both the U.S. and its international partners. The center was constructed on land donated by Rice University and became fully operational in 1965 and has been responsible for coordinating and monitoring every crewed NASA mission since Gemini 4 in 1965.

Posted in Editorial | Leave a comment

Apollo 11 mission

Apollo 11 Landing Site

Apollo 11 Landing Site

 On July 19 Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit. In the thirty orbits that followed, the crew saw passing views of their landing site in the southern Sea of Tranquility about 20 kilometers (12 mi) southwest of the crater Sabine D (0.67408N, 23.47297E).

The landing site was selected in part because it had been characterized as relatively flat and smooth by the automated Ranger 8 and Surveyor 5 landers along with the Lunar Orbiter mapping spacecraft. It was therefore unlikely to present major landing or extra-vehicular activity (EVA) challenges.

The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. It was the fifth human spaceflight of Project Apollo and the third human voyage to the Moon. Launched 39 years ago on July 16, 1969, it carried Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, while Collins orbited above.

Posted in Houston Memories | Leave a comment