Telephone Road south of I-45 has changed forever, declares John Nova Lomax:
Gone is the Mexican Catholic blue-collar neighborhood to the north around Queen of Peace church, its place taken by a string of hot sheet motels, clip joints, massage parlors and other such venues of vice. This is whatâ€™s left of the Telephone Road Mark May, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Culturcide and others have written songs about.
But itâ€™s all impossibly sadder. The Telephone Road that Earle and Crowell sang about in the rollicking songs of that name is long gone. Crowellâ€™s version is set in the â€™50s and early â€™60s, and Earleâ€™s in the early â€™70s. Todayâ€™s Telephone Road far better fits Earleâ€™s â€œThe Other Side of Town.â€
There’s more street-level reporting in Lomax and David Beebe’s latest narrated and well-lubricated walking tour, which starts Downtown and heads east along Leeland, through a neighborhood called Edmondson Addition:
Boarded-up hovels line some streets, awaiting inevitable transformation into the (mostly shoddy) condos that are springing up like dandelions here. Other streets reminded us of some of Galvestonâ€™s less opulent older districts â€“ one and two-story wood frame houses standing on bricks, interspersed with brick warehouses and workshops.
The story includes Lomax’s encounters with Golfcrest’s underground shopping-cart economy and his retelling of a Telephone Rd. crack-and-hookers tale too uh . . . racy to fit into a song lyric.
After the jump, a very different portrait of Telephone Rd. from an earlier era.
From the family-photo collection of Flickr user Schumata: Flood on Telephone Rd., 1949.
- Sole of Houston: This One’s for Rory Miggins [Houstoned; portions possibly NSFW]
- Previously in Swamplot: Shade, Subs, Plexes and Suds: A Bissonnet Story, Lonely East Side Walking Tour, Walking on Bellaire
Photos: John Nova Lomax (Smile Lounge) and Flickr user Schumata (flood)