I visited Houston many times in the 70s, first as cadet then as Third Mate. A few times in LOF, but mainly in Bank Line on the US Gulf to Aussie and NZ service. (Great run!)
The docks in Houston are a long way from town and when you get into the centre there was not that much to do. I have two abiding memories of my visits to Houston.
A nice memory:
The seaman’s club in Houston is very close to the port and was one of the best I have visited in my time at sea. There was a nice swimming pool and a lovely football pitch, which could be floodlit if seaman wanted to play at night-time. The restaurant served great food and I remember enjoying a perfectly cooked succulent steak there. A real treat as the food was not so clever on board (Bank Line).
One night I was recruited into a football team. A Norwegian ship was one man short, so I offered to make up the numbers. Our opponents? A Yugoslav ship!!! There were some serious footballers amongst the Yugoslavs’. They went into tackles like there were in the last-minute winning 1-0 in the world cup final. A bruising encounter and it’s lucky no one was injured. Anyway although the Yugoslavs’ won 8-2 in the end, it was still great to participate and play on such a nice pitch.
Not such a nice memory :
Another time in Houston whilst on a ship called the Meadow bank around eight of us decided to go ashore and visit some bars just outside the dock gate. It was about ten o’clock at night and as we walked along a brightly lit road close to the port all chatting away merrily, no one noticed that a beat up car had stopped close by.
The next thing I knew, I was staring down the barrel of a gun. This small scrawny Negro stood in front of me and threatened to shoot unless I handed over my cash. His hand was shaking so I did not argue and duly handed over thirty dollars, which I had only got from the captain an hour previously. He then went down the line and took money off everybody. The whole encounter lasted just a few minutes, then he was back in the car and roared off with his accomplice.
We were all quite traumatized by the event. But the really worrying factor was we had no money left for beer. Fortunately the Third Eng had kept some money in his shoe so when we reached the bars at least we could have a couple of beers each.