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August 11, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Mind leak? Tossing bricks. Rushed out.

Messy convoluted brain products.

Comes from constructed walls? Too many angles?

When thoughts bumper car across logic, expect rumbles.

Especially if the grumbling is about historic preservation or common courtesy.

no permissions given. all rights reserved

Do unripened thoughts always flow too fast? Should mow and control that.©

Throwing bricks: That’s the concern of Houston’s Fourth Ward community.

Freedmen’s Town, a National Historic District, was settled and built by freed slaves and their descendants.

The residents laid the bricks streets by hand. These bricks are one of the key elements determining this historic preservation status.

Years ago, the city consulted with the Federal Highway Department and the Texas Department of Transportation while trying to spruce up the neighborhood and finally fix piping /infrastructure under streets and fix the broken road surface.

Everyone wanted to save the bricks – as has been done on other streets.

Quaint. A bit of beauty amid the concrete ribbons. History.

First plan in 2007, was to tunnel under the streets to avoid moving anything.

Unfortunately that plan proved to be very expensive and would not solve the lumpy bumpy road issues.

The next plan was to remove the bricks and then put them back in place.

“New” bricks would be duplicated and tumbled to replicate the originals to fill in where broken bricks were removed.

In 2013, a TXDOT architect offered a new plan.

Old bricks would be removed and preserved.

Useable old bricks would be grouped together in special sections or intersections as had been done in other city areas.

Brick road. (Image: Michael Paulsen)

Fourth Ward brick streets have been patched and cobbled for a long time (Image: Michael Paulsen)

That’s the rock and hard place of the fight:

Will the original bricks survive?

Will the patterns and designs be recreated?

Is it important that each original brick be place back in its’ original spot?

A “cultural resources” lawyer is already rumbling with a complaint to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The lawyer insists “stakeholders are not being consulted in the decision process”

Carol Legard, an official with the historic preservation council, says they will look into the situation. If any agency violated  any regulations, a letter will be sent, but their group cannot stop a project.

Houston’s mayor and City Council agree a review is important, but are confident nothing will delay the start date for the badly needed repairs.

TXDOT reports they have received the advisory council’s inquiry and are making one more review.

Meanwhile the neighborhood hopes it can all be resolved.

Bricks saved and utilized.

Repairs finally made for water, sewer, and drainage.

The road surface improved

Area’s history be preserved.

And most of all everyone hopes the construction will be over quickly.

1814 Portrait of Duchesse and children. Gerard(1761-1837) Public domain image. artist life+100 yrs./

Of course they are always charming! What’s wrong with you? (Gerard./US PD:artist life/

There are things people want done quickly and out of sight if possible. Like diaper changes.

Smelly and disgusting under the best of circumstance – even if the child is your own.

One mother is outraged because she was handed her food in to-go bags and asked to leave.

She was in a strip center’s small pizza place with her three kids: a baby, 8 year old daughter, and 4 year old daughter.

Baby’s do what babies do.

She took the baby and youngest girl with her into the restroom, but there was no changing table.

Take everyone outside to the minivan? Too much trouble.

So she plopped the baby down in a chair at the table and changed the diaper right there.

People there said it wasn’t quick. It wasn’t quiet. And it was gross and stunk.

She was given her food and asked to leave.

And now she’s mad.

“What was she to do?” she asks.

Maybe read the Health Department regulations, for one thing.

Maybe think about washing hands for another.

Maybe think about what she’s modeling for her kids?

Maybe think about consideration for others? (Who were gagging, complaining, and even texting the owner.)

Seriously, not exactly a novel or unexpected situation.

Thinking is good, Mom.

Princess with dog, 1777 (Image. US public domain/

What do you mean he’s not welcomed? Behaves just like a child! (1777.US PD/

Hard to know what to think with NFL preseason football games.

Houston Texans team has a new playing system, new coaches, new quarterback, new players

Yet same old results: 32 – 0.

And the commercials for season tickets and football suites were perky and endless.

The coach and team are regrouping…again.

Meanwhile, that little quarterback guy from A&M, Johnny Manziel, who went to the Browns, – the one the Texans’ didn’t select – he’s in a duel for a starting position. Impressive first NFL start.

1940 film .Knute Rockne All American, Pat O'Brien:

Football was an entirely different animal then.(1940″Knute Rockne, All American”/Pat O’Brien/

Not throwing rocks, but the thought does occur sometimes.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Need a bit of a snort and giggle to start the week? Here’s a thoughtful Nashville switcheroo with the guys in the cutoffs and torn wet t-shirts..somehow dancing on the tailgate will never be the same….

Video “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie and Tae. 

No permissions granted. All rights reserved. copyrighted. country

The cowgirls ’round Abilene could have written that song themselves. ©




  1. Carrie Rubin / Aug 11 2014 9:33 pm

    Tough issue with the brick thing. Hope they can figure it out without too much heated debate.

    As for the diaper changing–eww. I was at a public health conference where we were seated at round tables. We had just finished lunch (some were still eating) when a speaker took over. A woman at my table who had brought her baby with her–which I didn’t mind; the baby was so cute–proceeded to change the infant’s diaper on the floor by all of us–which I did mind because it was stinky poo. What was she thinking? (And yes, this was a public health conference; oh, the irony…) She couldn’t step out for a moment to do this? I think we were all surprised (and gagging).

    I feel bad for the woman you described that there was no changing table in the restaurant bathroom, but I think all mothers have encountered that. I had a fold-out mat in my diaper bag, and although it wasn’t optimal, there were times I had to spread the mat on the bathroom floor and change my baby there. But never by a table. I sympathize with her situation–every public restroom should have a changing table–but I don’t think she went about it the best way.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 12:54 am

      What was she thinking? Food! Tables! Other people!
      How many times have other people managed this situation? She left the 8 yr old along while tromping to the bathroom…so the car wasn’t much farther? – surely a counter person or waitstaff could have sat with the older child for a minute.Floors are yucky. There have been times of awkward balancing acts in pretty much thin air – not easy but possible. It was a small suburban restaurant – and they said they see the problem and will try to put in a changing table (and hopefully an incinerator for the dirty mess)
      Thanks for relaying that other incident – all you can do is shake your head?


  2. sportsattitudes / Aug 11 2014 10:44 pm

    NFL pre-season games are often not oh so swell indicators of how a team will perform once the games count. However, it’s always fun to immediately begin second-guessing a team’s draft choices. As well as the players a team could have but did not draft…enter Mr. Manziel. The Texans’ fans certainly will have at least one eye on Cleveland at all times in 2014 as Johnny scrambles for the starting QB job.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 12:44 am

      One bright spot: usually the Texans win preseason games, then not so good the rest of the season. Perhaps this is a good sign. We’ll see….San Antonio might quietly tackle a football team….
      Thanks for reviewing the plays over here


  3. katecrimmins / Aug 12 2014 12:31 am

    I’m still gagging on the poopy pizza….


  4. shoreacres / Aug 12 2014 12:53 am

    Here’s an idea. Leave the baby at home, or stop, pick up pizza, and take the pizza and the kids back home. Restaurants post signs all over the place telling employees to wash hands before returning to work — and now they’re supposed to not fuss about fecal matter on a table? or the floor, or a chair? Don’t tell me that it was perfectly clean when she was done changing the baby. It might have been, but it might not have been.

    Honest to goodness, I don’t know what’s wrong with people these days. The restaurant owner had every right to kick her out of the place.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 12:59 am

      Great idea. Babies do tend to put a crimp in lifestyle for a few years – Oh, wait, many now just don’t see why you shouldn’t have to deal with their problem….and besides, germs are invisible, so they don’t exist (“new” reality about so much now, right?)
      It was waaaaay on the other side of town…not that we are safer here until the tourists leave…those odd smelly bundles in the parking lot…Thanks for wafting over to chat (storm outside your balcony?)


  5. Jay E. / Aug 12 2014 1:50 am

    As an historian, I appreciate the effort made to preserve the brick. However, no matter the solution, it won’t be “the same” after construction. It will be like all other historical places around the world: a representation of what was. Does it matter that it is not the same? I’m not sure. I’m reminded of what Sir Terry Pratchett wrote in The Fifth Elephant:

    “This, milord, is my family’s axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family?”

    No; the bricks won’t be the same. But they will be there. That’s the point, I think.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 1:23 pm

      What a terrific quote. So glad you sent that. Some very astute observations. No dispute that the bricks are important by anyone, but how best to preserve the past and serve the needs of the neighborhood? In some places downtown, they dug up all the old bricks from multiple streets then placed them back all down one street in an area that has historical significance and old saved buildings. It really works well – and there’s not heavy heavy truck traffic there, so the road and bricks will last longer. People get very tied up in emotions sometimes and can’t see other possibilities? (Of course we don’t suspect the lawyer is looking to make something out of it…) Thanks for digging up a great comment

      Liked by 1 person

  6. EllaDee / Aug 12 2014 4:09 am

    In Sydney “convict” bricks are recycled, still in use and a lovely part of old and new redeveloped parks etc. I hope Houston can make good use of theirs.
    Toileting issues can be tricky… I read this last week It annoys me when faclities aren’t adequate, usually due to penny pinching lack of consideration by providers but I appreciate the horror of the diners. I imagine being a mum with a few kids in tow it wouldn’t be easy to think absolutely straight. Bad sitch all round.
    We’re approaching the end of our football season but I had the worst year I think trying to pick winners and figure all the stuff going on around it. I miss when it was simple.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 1:34 pm

      There was even a brick factory in the area during those days. Old brick is very much in demand – big market for those who can find old stashes of roadways/building bricks in rural towns that haven’t caught on yet. Hard to reproduce that tumbled aged look. I’d prefer all the old bricks be put together in a significant part of the neighborhood. They could be protected better that way. Pictures can be taken of the old patterns and reproduced with “aged” brick.
      As far as the diapers…I’d like to stay far from them at this point – especially if eating. She did have options but decided she’d ignore them and take the easy way. (Sleep deprivation does make one bleary…probably why they were getting pizza to start with?) Most places have changing tables (this was a very small local place) but some of those have changing tables – yuck – not sure I’d want to touch some of those – people just don’t seem to be concerned about how their actions affect health or cleaning up after themselves these days. Planes are a problem, but this story is the ultimate stinker! Thanks for kicking a comment over!


  7. Paul / Aug 12 2014 4:47 am

    Funny post Phil. A couple of thoughts:

    Do you suppose the woman may have been a visitor? You know, I have a colostomy and I know all the facilities in the restaurants and public places around – so if i need to change, then i choose one that has a separate room for each toilet and a good ventilation. She was there by choice (as opposed to, say, a government building where she may have been required to be there) and no doubt knew the washroom facilities and that there was no change table. She did that deliberately to make a point. The manager made the right choice. It is really a question of whether the restaurant wants families with babies to eat there – if the answer is yes, then install the tables, if no then don’t. If they are advertising for family business, then shame on them for being so cheap as to not install tables. Nonetheless, the woman could and should have chosen other means to protest. What she did was as bad or worse than what the restaurant did (not considering customers). Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    It is possible that the woman was a visitor, perhaps a Yankee. I heard a southerner say the other day: Yankees are like hemorrhoids: If they come down and then go back up, no problem. It’s when they come down and stay down that the problems start. 😀

    The bricks: I doubt Houston is the first city in the world to face the historic brick roadway repair problem. Such issues are much more common in Europe with bricks and cobblestones. Houston should look to them to see what options have been utilized in the past. They would have hundreds of years of experience with this problem. No need to reinvent the wheel.

    I got a kick out of the residents demanding that the problem be solved quickly – and while you’re at it make sure each brick gets put back where it was -Ha! When i worked in IT, one of the developers had a sign in his cubicle. It said: “We can do it FAST, CHEAP, WELL. Pick two.” Ha! My experience with government is: Pick one.

    Well, thanks for rolling on by with a update Phil. The politicians may be a few bricks short of a load when it comes to solving the road problem. I have to hit the bricks now – thanks for the great post!.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 2:03 pm

      She was a local and she even went into the restroom first with middle child in tow. This tiny restaurant is planning on installing a changing table. But personally, people show so much lack of concern for health of others these days, those provided public tables look pretty sketchy and germy. Personal cars – especially those like her van offer great surfaces and you know what’s been on those. Might note that most parents handle this everyday situation without bothering others…even if they are tired, hungry, bleary from lack of sleep, or have other children with them.
      Here in the Southwest, people often tell newcomers “Welcome. But don’t tell us how you did it up there. We don’t care.”
      When city improvements are involved, there’s always one rock in the shoe causing issues? As this is a minority historical area – great effort has been made to keep everyone happy which has slowed the process – but now it’s time to roll. Yes, pick one. (Love that IT cubicle sign!) I think part of the issue may be a concern that the areas could risk their historical designation and protection – which keeps high rises and big developers out.
      Thanks for rockin’ and rollin’ along


  8. gingerfightback / Aug 12 2014 6:11 am

    Save The Bricks!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 1:40 pm

      The bricks are safe, but where will they live? The neighborhood should be guarding them so someone doesn’t come in and take them – big market for “aged” bricks for building and landscaping. Hope this rocky situation gets sorted quickly. Thanks for tumbling a comment this way


  9. easyweimaraner / Aug 12 2014 10:00 am

    yes, thinking is good, Mom :o) We had this case here in a furniture store, althought they had a changing table there. but maybe it was more comfy to change the diapers on a couch :o(


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 12 2014 1:42 pm

      We’ve seen one plop a baby down on a new bed and change the gooshy one right there (despite the changing table available) and continue to talk with the sales person….we decided to shop elsewhere. Yucky, people. Thanks for kicking that comment this way


  10. jmmcdowell / Aug 14 2014 12:04 am

    The legislation surrounding historic preservation is complex, and federal agencies often are called out for not consulting (or not consulting widely enough) with potential stakeholders and interested parties. Even though the National Historic Preservation Act has been on the books since 1966, the problems persist. I hope the situation will work out in a way that all parties will find satisfactory.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 14 2014 3:05 pm

      That act wasn’t on the books fast enough – so many brick streets were lost here. ALways loved them since living in Williamsburg as a kid. I knew you above all other would identify with the concern. The roads haven been a project under study for years trying to figure out what to do. (Surely they have taken pictures of the patterns and designs – you’d like them). The bricks are at risk if nothing is done…all sorts of patches over patches on top of the bricks. No pothole – more like huge craters – and cars are rolling – crunching and breaking. Loose bricks end up as flowerbed trim and there is a black market. The road has to be functional and people there have complained for years about the water/sewer lines, drainage…all of it. One last review by everyone, but it looks like something will be done early next year. Fingers crossed it will only have to be done once and it will all turn out well – Will update. (Oh, the jumped the little shuttle up on the carrier at NASA today – all in 30 min! Giant history spans around here?) Thanks for rolling a comment this way


  11. jannatwrites / Aug 15 2014 4:56 am

    I couldn’t imagine changing a diaper at a restaurant table. To that mom I’d say, going anywhere with a baby is a pain in the butt, so might as well go out to the car and get it done. I worked in restaurants in college and that happens… then, they’d leave the dirty on the table for us to clean up. Nasty.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 15 2014 2:54 pm

      Yucky. Now if someone did that to them in their own house, maybe? Wait – have you seen that commercial for counter wipes where the mom comes in to see Dad hasn’t a clue about keeping food areas really clean – and not for baby bottom use? No wonder we’re losing it. Little science/real life health taught in many schools and commercials trying to be “cute” UGH.
      It’s a tough situation, but some many deal with it. Thanks for cleaning up a comment to leave.


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