At the end of a long article chewing over the possibility that Shell Oil might move out of its longtime Downtown office-tower home, real estate writer and promoter and longtime mustache-wearer Ralph Bivins finally reveals why he likes One Shell Plaza so much: Long ago, the 50-story concrete building with the travertine facing saved him and his brother-in-law from a possible night in the slammer.
A few decades ago, the Houston Police Department employed some officers who had a sore spot against guys with long hair and other suspected hippies. Anytime, you could get pulled over because having long hair and a mustache was “probable cause” for HPD to make a traffic stop. I was in the passenger seat late one night when my slightly shaggy brother-in-law got pulled over in the Montrose area. Even though we were doing nothing wrong, the policeman gave him general hassle, scrutiny and in-depth questioning.
“You expect me to believe you work at One Shell Plaza?” the cop asked my brother-in-law. To prove it, my brother-in-law dug out his Shell Plaza ID badge and the policeman immediately waved us on and we drove away free.
No other office building in Houston had the cachet that even the ordinary patrolmen on-the-beat respected.
Photo of One Shell Plaza: Antonio Foster-Azcunaga