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Sunday May 10 — Breaking up the Beatles?? Not again!!

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

FYI: No jeep updates for Monday. They’ll appear Tuesday morning.

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New friends of ours. Brian is on the left, Melodie is in the middle, and Lauren (Melodie’s mother) is on the right. Melodie and Brian are a very happily engaged couple. It seems Lauren approves, for she was all smiles, too. Ann told them I’d be publishing their photo here. We wish you all the best of luck!!

We thought Sunday morning would be a good time to explore Houston, due to the lack of traffic.

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Since I’d had my eye on a French bakery & Cafe just around the corner from the hotel, we didn’t drive far Sunday morning before we stopped at La Madeleine’s for a pastry. Well, one of us stopped for a pasty, because  Ann can’t enjoy flour based pastries any more. So, I ran inside and ordered an apple turnover and a mini chocolate croissant (both crunchy and excellent). I also found a fresh fruit tart that Ann could eat. So, I gave it to her as a Mother’s Day surprise.

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After we consumed our respective breakfasts, we drove towards the Art Car Museum. Along the way, fate intervened. As we exited the freeway near downtown, we looked off to our right and spotted three people posing in front of a Love Houston sign. Naturally, we knew that spot was made for us to photograph, so we spun around the block and found a place to park.

We arrived at the sign and met Brian Kozel, Melodie Smith, and Melodie’s mother Lauren Moore, who were just finishing up with their photos. Ann quickly volunteered to take the photo of all three, but the iPhone camera couldn’t capture the whole scene. So, Ann handed it to me. I bravely leaped (okay meekly backed) into the three lane road to get a better shot, but dodging oncoming cars racing at 55mph was a stretch for my poor camera skills. Of course, there was no way I was sending Ann into traffic. With her bum knee, she doesn’t play live Frogger so well.

It was at this point that my wise wife spared me from certain doom and volunteered to use our Nikon to take the photo and send them the resulting image via text. For some reason, they agreed to have a couple of crazy Washingtonian’s send them a text, which is how we got to know them. We also learned that Brian and Melodie are getting married, so congrats to them!

We did eventually get our own photo:

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The building behind us was just built. I suspect this sign was much cooler when the building was there.

With our love for Houston documented, we jetted on down the road for our next destination.

I’m pretty sure I’d first learned about Houston’s Art Car Parades from a Smithsonian Magazine article, probably in the 1990s. The event is held annually on the second Saturday in April and has become a big deal. One of the spinoffs of the parade is the free Art Car Museum.

We pulled up to the museum. Expectedly, it was not your average building. What really surprised us was to see a vehicle parked under the front carport that we’d seen before. It took us a little while, but we finally figured out it had been on loan to the Studebaker Museum in 2013 when we stopped in there. Small world!

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Art Car Museum entrance

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This is the art car we saw at the Studebaker Museum. The eyes in the front light up blue.


Inside the Art Car Museum there were fewer vehicles than I expected and much more art. It also lacked a history explaining how the history of art cars, the history of the art car parade in Houston, and the history of the museum. I finally concluded that the museum was curated more as an art exhibit than as a museum. The vehicle and art were pretty neat, but we were sad that they didn’t have some cool shirts. There were lots of awesome illustrations inside the museum and Ann and I wished they’d used one or a couple of those for shirts.

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Our next stop was only a mile away from the Art Car Museum. For reasons I haven’t investigated, the Beatles were memorialized with some statues in Houston. However, we were saddened to see that Ringo had been dismantled and Paul was missing his head. I went online and found a before photo.

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The Beatles before the heads in the background were removed (the heads disappeared sometime early this year).

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What we saw today. A crime against humanity!!

However, all was not lost! We’ve been carrying my guitar with us, so I jumped in and joined John and George on a rendition of Octopus’ Garden.

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The ONLY time I will ever get to play with the Beatles.

After I ended my Beatle’s set, we drove over to see the what I had thought was a copy of Mt. Rushmore. Instead, the “American Statesmanship Park” had a bust collection of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. Now, I won’t wade too deeply into Texas politics, but as a non-Texan, I was surprised to see Stephen and Sam equated to Abraham and George. I know Texans think big, and Houston and Austin played important roles within Texas, but few outside of Texas could name Houston’s or Austin’s first name.

But with all that in mind, the statues were fun to visit. They are a bit hidden, to the point that SIRI (I know, my mistake for using Apple maps) led us to a road that didn’t exist. We had to switch to Google Maps to find the correct location. As an aside … after traveling for around 80,000 miles the past four years using navigation maps, we’ve learned that the navigation isn’t so accurate. How autonomous cars are going to correctly navigate the mistakes we’ve encountered will be interesting for us to watch (and something we have no plans to watch from inside an autonomous auto). Here are our photos:

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Since the Statesman were all dead, it seemed the appropriate time to visit the National Museum of Funerals, located just fifteen minutes north of the park. Ann and I both had high hopes for this museum. There is such interesting history surrounding death.

According to the woman manning the gift shop, the bulk of the museum began with one’s man collection that was transformed into the museum (we eventually guessed the collection probably centered around vintage hearses). When we entered the museum from the gift shop, we couldn’t figure out where to begin. The museum’s narrative had no good starting point. Since it was called the “national museum” of funeral history, the natural starting point would be to explain, however briefly, what the nation did with its dead in the 1780s and 90s. Then, the narrative would work forward from there.

Fortunately, I married the daughter of a mortician. It turns out Ann knows quite a bit about death. For instance, there was an interesting section in the museum on the history of embalming (this was a good section of the museum). However, Ann explained that different regions of the united states had different embalming recipes. It was not a simple standard fluid. Moreover, embalming a baby, due to its small veins, was much different than embalming an adult (The fluid had to be shaken into the baby). She also told me that sometimes the mortician is the coroner, but sometimes they are two separate positions. Finally, I read somewhere that morticians used to pay for dead bodies. When dead bodies ran low, some dead body hunters created an artificial supply (by killing people). See, lots of interesting history to learn about death. Sadly, in terms of history, we were lefty wanting. Still, there are plenty of interesting things to photograph. The interior photos are a little yellow. My camera color balance was off and I didn’t catch it.

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This automobile / hearse had a train feel to it. It was a very rare vehicle according to the sign.

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Side view. The casket fit just behind the driver.

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These are custom caskets!

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Embalming office in the 1920s/30s.

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Some of the collection of hearses. There must have been about 20 or so hearse of all different types.

From the funeral museum, we went the hotel to relax.

On Monday I don’t have much planned, but we may venture out anyway. My goal it to get caught up on eWillys so we are prepared for our final week and a half in Texas.

(Want to see more of the 2015 Texas Trip? View the posts from the beginning)

 

6 Comments on “Sunday May 10 — Breaking up the Beatles?? Not again!!

  1. Minnesota Chris

    Dave, you look like you belong with the Beatles. My wife would freak if she saw anything Beatles related as she is a big fan. There has to be a museum for everything and anything. Was the funeral one creepy? Enjoy your day of relaxation or the attempt at it.

  2. mmdeilers Post author

    The funeral museum wasn’t very creepy at all. If they’d just had a few real corpses that might have ramped up the creepiness level. Their Day of the Dead exhibit scored the highest on the creepy scale, but it was tame compared to my mother-in-laws Halloween events.

    I wonder what they are doing with the cement guitars. It would be fun to have a Beatle’s guitar, even if fake and made of cement. What a great Mother’s Day gift that would have made for your wife!

  3. Mom

    I thought you fit into the Beatles photo quite nicely, but you needed longer hair to really make it look authentic. I probably wouldn’t necessarily desire to visit a funeral museum, but since you showed photos and some information, it could now be an interesting destination if ever in Houston again. Also the Art Car Museum also looked interesting.

  4. GK

    The wife says my garage is full of junk cars. I am going to start calling it our “Art Car Museum”. She will be thrilled!

  5. Glenn Russell

    The building behind the heads and Beatles is where the items are made. They make the items for installation all over Texas and for private locations as well. The heads in the old picture were most likely finished and shipped to their final location and the Beatles were being disassembled to take to theirs. With y’alls desires to see military vessels I was surprised that you did not check out the Battleship Texas (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas) and in seeing area landmarks not take the Houston Ship Channel Boat Tour. Have to leave something for next time though eh. I will need to follow your site more closely now so I know the next time you are coming so we can hook you up with more of your Jeep crazy Kin (Bayou City Jeep Club, Southern High Rollers, Houston Jeep People and more).

  6. David Eilers

    Glenn,

    Thanks for the additional info on the Beatles’ heads. And, thanks for the additional ideas!

    We definitely can’t see everything, so we pick and choose as best we can. In fact, part of the issue we encounter is that we have to cut short visits so that I can write up everything each evening. When doing multi-week trips, pacing and breaks are important to keep from getting to exhausted.

    We’d like to return to Texas and see some more at some point.

    – Dave

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