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Old 04-20-2009, 12:19 PM
15,346 posts, read 20,361,026 times
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I remember Ms KiTiRiK, Channel 11's catlady. I thought she was lovely! About 10-15 years ago, I saw an updated photo of her;she was still lovely and graceful in her old age.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:22 PM
Location: Katy
1,283 posts, read 3,019,163 times
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Originally Posted by texasfirewheel View Post
I remember Ms KiTiRiK, Channel 11's catlady. I thought she was lovely! About 10-15 years ago, I saw an updated photo of her;she was still lovely and graceful in her old age.
I think you meant to say Channel 13.
I wasn't even born yet during this time period, but I have enjoyed reading all the stories here.
Thanks to everyone.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:16 PM
15,346 posts, read 20,361,026 times
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Thanks, RVD. I hate typos, especially my own. Yes, iI did mean to say Channel 13.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:56 PM
8 posts, read 81,102 times
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I have been reading the coverage of the terrible accident that took place at the corner of Dunlavy and Westheimer - the collision between two Houston Fire Department vehicles. That has always been a dangerous place, particularly for northbound traffic on Dunlavy. The old Blanton’s Flowers building on the southeast corner just about completely blocks the view east down Westheimer. All it takes is one westbound red-light runner to cause a tragedy.In the late 70’s and early 80’s I worked as a deliveryman for Blanton’s. While the junction of Dunlavy and Westheimer was not “ground zero” in Montrose, it was close enough, back then. I spent most of my time on my route, but I used to hear regularly from the store staff about the interesting goings-on out on the street. There was a nonstop parade of customers in and out of the little C-store across the street, and rumor was that what was sold under the counter was the cause of a lot of the traffic. There were fender-benders at the intersection on a regular basis (many of them severe enough to warrant EMS being called). I remember one particular incident, when an accident victim took refuge inside the store, and sat there nursing the bleeding bump on his head with wet towels helpfully provided by the shop staff. Blanton’s also had an interesting facility – a rooftop greenhouse. I don’t think the plants were actually grown up there, but it provided a place to keep them alive and green between delivery and sale. The greenhouse was also a great spot to spend a lunch break when the weather was nice.I also remember Gantry’s Dining Saloon, across the street in an old church building (at the corner of Westheimer and Ralph, I think).They had a happy hour that even a guy making $4 an hour could afford . . . 50 cent longnecks and free snacks. I hardly ever ordered anything off the menu, but was a frequent guest for the cheap brew. I would go there with other people from the shop, particularly on Fridays. A different kind of “getting wrecked” near that dangerous corner.Years later, I found out that the church building was originally St. Matthew’s Lutheran. It was built in 1925 and used until the late 1930’s, when the congregation moved to South Main. A former neighbor of mine on Kingston (A. G. Seelke) was a founding member of the church. Small world.It was also fun to spend time at the Westheimer Cycle Shop across Dunlavy on the corner. The original owner (named Gus, I think) had passed on by then, but the new owner (Bob) was a lot of fun and a whiz at his trade. He fixed a handbrake on a bike of mine in about ten seconds, and didn’t charge me for the repair. Sometimes I would take my lunch over there and watch him work. A true craftsman.Blanton’s is gone, absorbed by Service Corporation International (along with many other well-known names in the Houston floral business community) in the early 80’s. They still exist in name only, but have moved out to far west Houston. Mr. Blanton, Ms. Rae, Ms. Bidwell, Gladys, Morris and others are no longer with us. Fred and Mary, Peggy and Kathy and Elberta and Eva and the rest are . . . God knows where. Time marches on. I have no quarrel with larger companies taking over smaller ones and making the running of the business more efficient, but the result usually doesn’t have much personality. Blanton’s had all that, and more.
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Old 04-21-2009, 03:33 PM
8 posts, read 81,102 times
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Speaking of dangerous intersections, I was reminded of another one when I was in Houston recently, and someone made an illegal left turn in front of me at the corner of Westheimer and Shepherd.

When I was in school at St. Anne, the sirens heralding another accident at this deathtrap were a regular occurrence, distracting us from class. They almost always involved someone making a left turn. After left turns at the intersection were banned in the late 1960’s, motorists started taking shortcuts though neighborhoods, creating a hazard on streets such as Kingston, Fairview, Huldy, Harold and Greenbriar (and the left turn from Greenbriar on to Westheimer was – and is – just as dangerous as from Shepherd). But quite a few drivers continued to turn left illegally.

I remember one particular accident. A motorcyclist had swerved to avoid someone turning left in front of him, had crashed into the curb, and been thrown into the fence around the playground at St. Anne. His foot and leg were badly mangled, and I will never forget watching him sitting there on the sidewalk, blood oozing from his foot through his sock onto the pavement. We watched in horrified fascination as the ambulance arrived and took him away. Anyone under 50 who is familiar only with the EMS service provided by the Fire Department cannot remember how primitive and crude ambulance service in Houston once was. The service was provided, for the most part, by funeral home employees using off-duty funeral hearses, and the medical training these folks had did not consist of much beyond lifting and loading stretchers. They were dispatched in order by geographic area – much the way tow trucks are dispatched now. At this particular event, the ambulance was provided by the Hilliard Funeral Home on Welch (later Bob Lee Funeral Home), and they had a small fleet of mid-1960’s International Travelalls (similar to a Chevy Suburban), painted red on the bottom and white above, with a single red gumball light and a Federal Q-siren on top. Their formula for keeping the patient alive was to drive like h*** from the accident scene to Ben Taub or St. Joseph or Memorial Baptist, and hope the patient didn’t die before they arrived.

A few years ago, while on my way to New Mexico, I saw the rusting hulk of one of the old Hilliard ambulances in a wrecking yard in Sweetwater, Texas. A cotton farmer or rancher had probably scavenged the engine and transmission for use in his farm equipment, and left the rest to bleach in the sun. As I looked at it, I wondered how many people had died in the back of that vehicle.

Forty years after that accident, Houston has put a man on the moon, built light rail down Main Street, completed a world-class freeway system and obsoleted the “eighth wonder of the world”, but no one has yet devised a way to put left turn lanes at Westheimer and Shepherd. For the life of me, I can’t figure that one out

Last edited by nwyearsevebaby; 04-21-2009 at 03:41 PM.. Reason: Screwy word processing
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:21 PM
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
9,348 posts, read 17,248,220 times
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fascinating posts newyearsevebaby ..... ...... what an amazing memory you have......

i do remember miss kitterick .... was in the studio audience one time many many years ago .... also remember cadet don on in the mornings as we were getting ready for school ..... and remember how absolutely THRILLED i was when he announced my birthday (one of many that day, i'm sure) ..... he would also tell you where to look for your presents..... in our case, in the trunk of my mom's volkswagon bug ..... so this had to be in the mid to late 60's ........
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Old 04-21-2009, 09:08 PM
8 posts, read 81,102 times
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Originally Posted by Desdicata View Post
hmmm.... if this is true nwyearsevebaby, you might be a Barnaby, Miggins, Cooney, Reese, or Esquivel!
Regardless of the "who", you are welcomed to spin yarns in the group concerning the day. I categorize St. Ann as being on the very extreme edge of Montrose and just on the leading edge of entering the Upper Kirby, River Oaks posh region.
Anyhow, thanks for the shout out! Reply.
Yes, I might be! ;-)

Or I might be a Halphen, Tron or Ruthstrom. Or maybe an Olsen or LaGroue, or a Schneidau. Or Campise, Doughtie, Wardwell, Tolar, Price, Andrade, Allen, Mazeika, Boudreaux, Santarcangelo, Boswell, Flanagan. Or how about Martin, Burke, Pizzo, DeGeorge, Stavinoha, Reynolds or Brand?

These are all names of families I remember, and there are undoubtedly more that I can't call to mind right now.

And while there seems to be an effort afoot now to make this area appear to be a part of somewhere else, I will always believe that our neighborhood had much more in common with the area east of Shepherd than with the area west of Dickey Place. Even that neighborhood - hard as it tries to be - is not really a part of River Oaks. It is, and has always been, called Avalon Place. And whether it's changing the street signs on Indiana to read "Avalon", or installing red "Upper Kirby" street signs everywhere else, or putting in Monty Pythonesque red phone booths, or tearing down every last bungalow and replacing it with a zero-lot-line megadollar house, nothing they do can change the fact that the neighborhood where I grew up was an extraordinary place made up of ordinary folks living in ordinary homes. We may have not been as well off then, but where we lived was, I think, much better than it is now.
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Old 04-21-2009, 09:42 PM
Location: ✶✶Avondale/Logan Square, Chicago✶✶
14,578 posts, read 26,724,040 times
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Originally Posted by nwyearsevebaby View Post
or tearing down every last bungalow and replacing it with a zero-lot-line megadollar house

You know, all they'd have to do is sacrifice one of the lanes of both Shepherd and Westheimer for a left turn lane to make it work. You'd have it bottlenecking worse than it is though.

Westheimer is outdated as a throughfare IMO (too narrow until you get west of Shepherd) and there should be running light rail from Main all the way to the Galleria. It makes a lot more sense than running it down freakin' Westpark.
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:27 AM
8 posts, read 81,102 times
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I didn’t really want to jump into the fray about Kitirik and other locally produced children’s TV shows, but everyone else seems to want to. There is a good discussion of her and the others in another forum (houstonarchitecture.info), and it goes into a lot of detail. But I remember these folks, and the comments over the last few days have caused me to remember even more. So, here goes!

The best-remembered shows seem to be the ones that featured Kitirik (Bunny Orsak). There were two shows, Kitirik’s Clubhouse (early 1960’s) and Kitirik’s Carousel (late 60’s to around 1971). This is what I recall about both shows:

*There were other human characters on the show - a clown named Nod, and a guy who helped out with the “heavy lifting” – his hands could be seen on occasion spinning the carousel – whose name eludes me. Skip? There were puppet characters, including a lion named Melvin and a horse named – I think – Wrangler. Wrangler had a Rochester-like voice, and always addressed the hostess as “Miz Kit-trick”.

*The intro to “Kitirik’s Clubhouse” began with a spoken rhyming poem. I have almost all of the words recalled, and will post the whole thing when my recollection is complete.

*Many of the kids who were celebrating birthdays brought cake for the hostess. I used to wonder what she did with all that cake!

*A common question directed at the children was “what is your favorite food?” The answer always seemed to be “spaghetti”, “psgetti”, “magetti”, etc. Once in an interview Ms. Orsak said that when she left show business she was going to open a restaurant and serve only spaghetti.

*The closing theme was played over a short film of Kitirik swinging on a swing that had garland-covered ropes. The music varied – there was an orchestral version of the theme from “Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang”, another orchestral piece featuring the sound of bells, a funky C&W guitar instrumental (it sounded a little like the guitar segment of “Cotton-Eyed Joe”), several instrumental versions of late 50’s/early 60’s rock and roll songs, and a couple of pieces that were also featured on “Dream Girl of ‘67”. I would love to have recordings of all of these, but don’t know where even to start looking for them.

*Contrary to what has been stated on the other site, there actually were two Kitiriks – but one of them was only a substitute, not a regular, who filled in for Ms. Orsak.. I don’t know who she was. A contributor on the other site claims that she was Kitty Borah. Don’t know about that one; it doesn’t seem right, somehow. The other character was shorter and heftier than Ms. Orsak, and appeared older, too. We knew she was an imposter, cat suit or no!

*Officer Ken Garnett of the Houston Police Department was a regular on the show, talking to the kids about safety. He probably did more to enhance the image of cops in general and the HPD in particular than any PR campaign that anyone could have dreamed up. He was seriously injured on duty late in the show’s run, but eventually returned - wearing sunglasses and his newly-minted white sergeant’s cap – to the thunderous applause of the children. Officer Garnett passed away not too many years after the show ended, and I heard that his injuries were to blame for his untimely death. A sad end for a fine public servant.

More later!

Last edited by nwyearsevebaby; 04-22-2009 at 11:33 AM.. Reason: Bleeping word processor!
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:04 PM
2,631 posts, read 7,365,784 times
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Oh WOW....I was on Kitirik’s Carousel!!! It was my birthday. I still have the picture my Mom took of me on the Carosel and a signed pic of Kitirik. I havent thought about that in years.
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