GTT 1990

I’m pretty sure this is on the Texas side of the Texas-Louisiana border on I-20, not far west of Shreveport, in February 1990. As part of my long move to Japan, I moved my meager possessions from Chicago to Dallas that month, stopping along the way in Nashville and central Mississippi.

The site had the Six Flags Over Texas, a common enough display at Texas borders and elsewhere in various forms, and probably some kind of welcome center that’s probably been redeveloped since then. I haven’t been back that way since.

I can’t quite read it, but the road sign seems to say that the exit to Waskom, Texas, is nearby, which would definitely put it on the westbound side of I-20. (I’m fairly certain this earlier Texas border picture was taken along I-10). Not sure what inspired me to take a picture at that place and that time, but I did, and I’m glad of it. Not every moment documented by camera needs to be associated with some kind of peak experience, which are elusive anyway.

We Don’t Care, We’re the Phone Company (Or, I Ain’t Afraid of No Phone Cops)

There’s a fair amount of clutter in my mother’s house, which is characteristic of my family, but not at the level of hording. For instance, no one saved all of the phone books that have come to the house over the years. But there was one tucked away in a cabinet that I came across last week.

This one.

The Southwestern Bell Telephone Directory for San Antonio, published in September 1967. With a model of the Tower of the Americas prominent on the cover, rising above a model of HemisFair, which would run during in 1968. When the directory was published, the tower was still under construction.

Why was the directory saved? Maybe as a kind of souvenir of that world’s fair. Or because it was the first phone book we got when we moved to San Antonio, which was in the summer of ’68. Since phone books used to be published annually, we would have gotten a ’67 edition.

The back cover advertises the Bell System Exhibit at the fair with a painting that looks as 1967 as can be.

Those skyride cars are the artist’s fancy. The actual skyride cars, which I remember because they lingered at the site of the fair for years afterward, looked more like these.

Naturally, I had to spend some time looking between the covers. Just turning to any random part of the white pages — people named Green, in this case — you see the following.
Name, address and an alphanumeric for a phone number, though a few of them are all numeric. So I’m not imagining things when I remember being taught as a seven-year-old, after we moved to San Antonio, that our new number began with TA4. At some unremembered moment in the ’70s, that became 824.

I looked up the parents of a few people I knew in high school. Interestingly, none of them yet lived in the houses I would remember them being in, which would be about 10 years later. Also, per custom of the time, only the man of the house was listed.

Something else that’s gone: this is the white page listing for all of the Handy-Andy grocery stores in San Antonio in 1967.
Twenty-eight all together, and there were probably more in smaller towns in South Texas. My grandmother traded — interesting old-fashioned choice of verbs — at the one on 5930 Broadway. The store gave away coffee and little doughnuts. She’d drink some coffee, I’d eat some doughnuts. After moving to town, my family frequented the one at 1955 Nacoghoches all through the ’70s and ’80s.

These days, there are zero Handy-Andy supermarkets. In the struggle for regional grocery dominance, HEB won. The 1955 Nacoghoches location is now an HEB, and probably some of the others are as well. This article tells about the last gasp of Handy-Andy.

On to the yellow pages. Actually, all of the pages are fairly yellow, considering that the book is now more than 50 years old. Anyway, here’s an industry that isn’t what it used to be.
This industry is flourishing as ever. But the terminology has changed.
And there were house ads in the phone book. Direct dialing was a relatively new thing in 1967, I understand. Definitely cheaper than paying human operators, but DDD as a shorthand for it never caught on.
Here’s something for those of us who remember the difference between person-to-person calls and station-to-station calls, which was relevant into the ’70s. I see that the Phone Company (always caps, always) was encouraging station-to-station.
I can only speculate why. Person-to-person calls were more expensive, so you’d think the Phone Company would want people doing that.

But there was a way to game the system, if you only wanted (say) your family to know that you’d arrived somewhere safety. You’d call person-to-person and ask for someone that didn’t exist, or maybe yourself. The person who answered would know it’s you, but say that person you asked for wasn’t there. In that case, there was no charge for the person-to-person call.

I don’t ever remember doing that, but I know people did (and who probably weren’t afraid of the Phone Cops). By contrast, station-to-station was guaranteed revenue for the Phone Company.

Birm-Tex ’17

Before spending the last week in San Antonio visiting family, I spent about 36 hours in Birmingham, Alabama, during the first weekend in December. I went there to visit my old friend Dan, whom I hadn’t seen in about 18 years.
That’s too long, as the Wolf Brand Chili man said. See your old friends if you can, because we’re all mortal. I was also fortunate enough to become reacquainted with his wife Pam, whom I’d only met once, more than 20 years ago.

Dan and I had a fine visit, talking of old times and places — we’ve known each other 36 years — but not just that. He grew up in Birmingham and has lived there as an adult for a long time, so he was able to show me around and tell me about the city’s past and about recent growth as an up-and-coming metro. In this, he’s quite knowledgeable.

I’d heard something about that growth, but it was good to see some examples on foot and as we tooled around hilly Birmingham in Dan’s Mini Cooper, which was also a new experience for me. Not to sportiest version, he told me — he’d traded that one for this one he now drives — but it had some kick.

On the morning of Saturday, December 2, we first went to Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery, very near downtown Birmingham, and the city’s first parkland-style burial ground. Dan told me he’d never been there before. Not everyone’s a cemetery tourist. But he took to the place, especially for its historic interest, and he even spotted the names of a few families whose descendants he knows.

From there we drove to Sloss Furnaces, which, as the postcard I got there says, is “the nation’s only 20th-century blast furnace turned industrial museum.” Iron mining and smelting made Birmingham the city that it is. So it was only fitting that we went to Vulcan Park as well, to see the mighty cast-iron Vulcan on his pedestal on a high hill overlooking the city.

Toward the end of the afternoon, I suggested a walk, and so we went to the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, which has 14 miles of hiking trails. More than that, the earth there is honeycombed with former mines, all of which are now sealed. But we got to see the entrance of one of them, dating from 1910.

After all that, we repaired to Hop City Beer & Wine Birmingham, a store that has an enormous selection of beer and wine in bottles, as well as a bar with a large draft selection, where we relaxed a while. Had a cider and a smaller sample of beer that I liked.

Along the way during the day, we also visited Reed Books, a wonderful used bookstore of the kind that’s increasingly rare: owned and run by an individual, and stacked high with books and other things, with only marginal organization. I bought Dan a copy of True Grit, which he’d never read.

We drove through some of Birmingham’s well-to-do areas, sporting posh houses on high hills and ridges along roads that I could make no sense of, twisty and web-like as they were. Luckily, Dan knew them well.

In downtown Birmingham, we also drove by some of the historic sites associated with the civil rights movement, including the new national monument. According to Dan, it would take a day to do the area right, so we didn’t linger. I got a good look at the 16th Street Baptist Church, the A.G. Gaston Motel, where King and others strategized, and Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were attacked with police dogs and water cannons.

During my visit, I ate soul food, breakfast at a Greek diner — Greek immigrants being particularly important to the evolution of restaurant food in Birmingham, Dan said — excellent Mexican food (mole chicken for me), and a tasty breakfast of French toast and bacon made by Dan and Pam. On the whole, we carpe diem’d that 36 hours.

In San Antonio, as usual, I was less active in seeing things, but one sight in particular came to me. On the evening of Thursday, December 7, I looked out of a window at my mother’s house and saw snow coming down. And sticking. “I’ll be damned,” I muttered to myself.

At about 7:30 the next morning, I went outside to take pictures. Nearly two inches had fallen, according to the NWS. The snow was already melting. A view of the front yard.

Of the back yard.

It occurred to me that hadn’t seen snow on the ground in San Antonio since 1973.

Den-Tex ’17

Before my most recent visit to Texas, which ended today, I spent a few days in Denver. It was like a first visit, because the last time was in June 1980. I had a layover of six — eight? — hours as part of a bus odyssey from Texas to Utah that summer, and took the opportunity to kick around downtown Denver, including a visit to the state capitol and the U.S. Mint.

Though I only remember Denver faintly from that visit, this time around I still felt that there’s a lot more Denver than there used to be. Of course, as a matter of objective fact that’s pretty easy to check. The metro population in 1980 was about 1.3 million. Now the Census Bureau puts the metro population at 2.8 million, though it seems that the definition of the statistical area has expanded over the last three decades-plus.

So it’s a big place. I can see why people want to move there. There’s lots to recommend greater Denver, except for the traffic and some dodgy areas, but every big city has those.

My trip focused on metro Denver. I didn’t climb cathedral mountains, or see silver clouds below. Saturday before last, I started with a walkabout in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which included a look at two major churches, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic) and St. John’s Cathedral (Episcopal).

I also had a late breakfast or early lunch — I can’t call it brunch, it just didn’t have that atmosphere — at a joint on E. Colfax Ave. called Tom’s Diner.

Tom's Diner, DenverDecorative stone walls, avocado and orange tiles, big windows, yellow-surfaced booth tabletops, a counter to sit at while facing the kitchen: it was like stepping into 1973.

Later, I headed over to the Denver Art Museum and spent time wandering through the galleries. Just outside the museum, the Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration was going on that day, so I got to see some of that too.

I visited the Colorado State Capitol again, though just the grounds, since it was closed for the weekend. From there, I caught the no-charge bus that plies 16th Street through downtown, making my way to two urban spaces that I’ve written about a number of times, and which I very much wanted to see: Denver Union Station and Larimer Square. Both are superb examples of redevelopment.

I couldn’t visit urban Denver without riding the RTD, the city’s relatively new light rail system. I’ve written about it, too. I caught a train not far from Union Station.
RTD Denver Union StationA sleek, new system: it was everything it needed to be, depositing me near the Denver Convention Center. It wasn’t long before I found myself looking at “I See What You Mean.”
"I See What You Mean" DenverA 40-foot blue bear statue, the work of Lawrence Argent, installed in 2005. A lot of tourists reportedly take pictures of it. Why should I be any different?

After Saturday, I had less time for tooling around metro Denver, but I did squeeze in a few other places, such as Golden, Colo. Guess it counts as outer suburban Denver now, but in any case the town has some exceedingly pleasant public spaces, especially along Clear Creek (which is a river).

In Morrison, not far from Golden, I visited the extraordinary Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. I didn’t see a concert there, but I can see the appeal to both the musicians and the audience. It’s an uplifting, masterpiece of space design.

At Red Rocks — which is owned by the City and County of Denver — I took note of the flag of Denver (on the right).
Flags: Colorado, US, DenverI don’t remember seeing it before. Like the Colorado flag, it’s a fine design. (Number three on the American City Flags Survey of 2004.)

I wanted to visit two historic Denver cemeteries, but I only had time for one: Fairmount Cemetery. It’s a well-tended property, unlike Riverside, which is on the South Platte and supposedly has the virtue of being unkempt.

The Texas section of the trip was mostly devoted to work and family matters. But I did get out for a few hours one day to visit the King William District just south of downtown San Antonio. The last time I was there was ca. 1976. I mentioned that to a person even older than I am, and he said, “Yeah, I remember it then. It was a slum.”

Not any more. For example, the house at 425 King William St., according to Zillow at least, is for sale for $2.7 million.

Harvey and Irma

Harvey and Irma sound like an elderly couple living next to your grandparents 50 years ago. Actually, Irma was a woman living in the house next to my grandparents in Alamo Heights back in the mid-century. I have no idea whether she was a widow or, as my grandma would have put it without being remotely judgmental, an old maid.

When I visited my grandma as a young boy, Irma was kind enough to let me play in her yard and even on her front porch, and I think gave me snacks sometimes. I’m certain Irma is long gone, like grandma, but when I walked by her old house last year, it looked a lot like it used to, unlike my hard-to-recognize grandparents’ house.

Out of curiosity, and because I was busy today and so had the urge to spend time profitlessly, I checked the list of hurricane names at the National Hurricane Center, which is maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. Tropical cyclone names have a six-year repeating pattern, alternating between female and male names in alphabetical order, except names beginning with Q, U, X, Y or Z, which are skipped all together. I remember when men’s names joined the list in 1979; it sounded odd at first, but normal pretty soon after.

So how many names on the Atlantic hurricane list are as old-fashioned as Irma? A few. Hazel, Beulah, Edna, Agnes, and Eloise have been retired, but Ida and Bertha are still on the list. Arguably names like Florence and Karen and Joyce are on their way out, but not yet. At least the WMO hasn’t picked up the likes of Brooklyn, Madison or Nevaeh. I’d go along with Moon Unit, though.

If Irma’s as fierce as it seems to be, the name will probably be retired, along with Harvey. That would leave an I name and an H name open. Alas, Igor is out — there was a storm of that name in 2010. Hortense is out as well, after a 1996 storm of that name.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Geophysicist and petroleum geologist Everette Lee DeGolyer (1886–1956) put oil exploration on a more scientific footing in the early 20th century. I’ve read about him and his work, but do not understand the details. Maybe I could if I read more about it, but life is short.

“In May 1925 DeGolyer organized a subsidiary of Amerada, the Geophysical Research Corporation, which located a record eleven Gulf Coast salt domes in nine crew months and perfected a reflection seismograph that has become the principal tool for geophysical oil exploration worldwide,” says the Handbook of Texas Online. “This technology inaugurated the modern age of oil exploration with the 1930 discovery of the Edwards oilfield in Oklahoma by reflection survey.”

Enough to say here that DeGolyer was an oilman among oilmen, and later in life, he and his wife Nell DeGolyer (1886–1972) lived on an estate on White Rock Lake, as the city of Dallas grew around them.

The Handbook entry on Nell takes it from there: “Another abiding interest for her in Dallas was the family’s forty-four-acre estate known as Rancho Encinal, which she and her husband built and decorated. The thirteen-room Spanish Colonial Revival structure on White Rock Lake in East Dallas, completed in 1940, reflected the DeGolyers’ world travels, Everette’s outstanding book collection, and Nell’s expertise in gardening.

“Until her death Mrs. DeGolyer lived in this home; it was willed to Southern Methodist University after her death and several years later became the property of the city of Dallas. Into the 1990s the city used it, as the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, to showcase the gardens planned and maintained by Nell DeGolyer.”

The DeGolyer estate, plus the adjoining Alex and Roberta Coke Camp estate, form the modern Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, open since 1984. We spent a pleasant May afternoon there. It’s hard to go wrong at a place with lily pads and koi.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenAnd babbling brooks. Or maybe they murmur, since babbling implies a negative incoherence.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenAnd other water features, some within view of White Rock Lake.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenA lot of flowers, in various arrays.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenDallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenPlenty of bushes and trees.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenOpen spaces for children to be children.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenSpaces for formal pictures. Could be a quinceañera participant.
Formal spaces.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenWiki nails it with this line: “A horticultural masterpiece in North Texas.”

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery

Next to North Park Mall, a storied mid-century shopping center in Dallas — and one that’s still thriving — is the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. In its way, it too is still thriving.

“The cemetery was created with land donated by William Barr Caruth, an early Dallas settler whose family owned huge tracts of what is now North Dallas,” wrote Moira Muldoon in D magazine in 2010. “Sparkman Hillcrest is officially a Texas historic site now, with graves going back as far as the 1850s, and some of the wending roads through the 88 acres are lovely.”

I saw no graves as old as the 19th century at Sparkman-Hillcrest in late May, but then again I didn’t wander through every part of the cemetery. What I saw was a well-landscaped 20th-century cemetery, marked by upright stones and and a scattering of funerary art, along with many mature trees and bushes.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasSparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasSparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasThere’s at least one fountain.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasA few graves featured statues, such as these two.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas

A few stones are unconventional. I didn’t take a picture of one that features a large cube balanced on one of its tips, but I did snap this one.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas - King MemorialOne section used well-cropped bushes to mark off family plots. I’d never seen an arrangement quite like that.

Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasOr rounded stones quite like these either.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasI didn’t go looking for well-known permanent residents of Sparkman-Hillcrest, but I found a few. Ross Perot’s parents, and I assume a sibling who didn’t live long, had their own section featuring a statue of an angel. Someday, presumably, the Dallas billionaire and third-party candidate will repose there as well.

Sen. John Tower, along with one of his daughters, is at Sparkman-Hillcrest.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, DallasHe earned his place in U.S. political history by being the first Republican Senator from Texas since Reconstruction, first elected to that body in 1966. A harbinger of the end of the old-time Solid South and its evolution into the new Solid South we know today. The elder George Bush wanted him to be his Secretary of Defense in 1989, but the very same U.S. Senate said no — also a remarkable event in Tower’s career. In 1991, he and his daughter Marian and 21 others died in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines 2311 in Georgia.

Another resident of Sparkman-Hillcrest is long-time Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Dallas

Back in 2013, I saw Landry’s cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery, along with the grave of that other famed Texas football coach, Darrell Royal. Landry’s buried in Dallas, and his ever-present fedora, done in bronze, helps mark his final resting place.

GTT 2017

This month Lilly and I visited Texas for a couple of weeks, beginning when I picked her up on May 12 in Champaign, at the end of her exams at UIUC, and ending with our return to metro Chicago on May 26. Unlike last summer, we mostly took direct routes, there and back. All together, we drove just a shade over 2611 miles through only four states, but ranging from about 42 degrees North to 29 degrees North.

Mostly we spent time with family: her grandmother and uncles and cousins, in San Antonio and Dallas, most of whom she hasn’t seen recently. She also met little cousin Neil for the first time.

From Champaign, we headed to Effingham, where we passed the giant cross, visible from the highway, but did not stop for it, and then headed west to St. Louis. By evening, we’d made it to Lebanon, Mo., and the Munger Moss Motel, which has had a few more neon burnouts since Ann and I stopped there last year.

Munger Moss sign 2017The second day, we went to Dallas by way of Springfield, Mo., where we stopped to stroll in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, a part of the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Later that day, we stopped in Muskogee, Okla., and took a look at the USS Batfish, a WWII-vintage submarine incongruously perched on land and functioning as a museum.

On Sunday, May 14, we proceeded to San Antonio, with my brother Jay joining us. We stopped for a delightful lunch in Austin with Tom Jones that afternoon at Trudy’s, a local brand. Tom was already an old friend of mine when I was Lilly’s age.

Circumstances forced us to scrub our plans to drive to Big Bend National Park for a long weekend beginning on the 18th. While in San Antonio, Lilly went to North Star Mall one day by Uber, and on another day Jay and Lilly and my nephew Dees went to the Witte Museum and then the Sunken Gardens (formally, the Japanese Tea Garden). On Saturday, May 20, we to returned to Jay’s house Dallas via U.S. 281 until north of Austin, picking up I-35 near Killeen, because there’s no reason to go through Austin unless you’re going to Austin.

In West, Texas, — which is in Central Texas — we bought some kolaches at the Little Czech Bakery, which is next to the Czech Stop. Been there a number of times since I wrote this.
Czech Stop, West, Texas 2017The line wasn’t quite as long as usual. Good thing.
Czech Stop, West, Texas 2017Czech Stop, West, Texas 2017One day in Dallas we visited the Dallas Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, as lovely a garden as I’ve seen in quite a while. Despite its location on White Rock Lake, close to Jay’s house, I’d never been. Another day I dropped Lilly off at North Park Mall, known for its collection of artwork, and visited the next-door Sparkman-Hillcrest Cemetery, or in full, the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. A first-rate bit of landscaping.

We headed back for home beginning on May 25, driving from Dallas back to the Munger Moss for one more night (getting room 67; the first time we got 66). The next day we passed through St. Louis en route to the Chicago area and home.

On the last leg of the trip I was determined to stop a few places. First, we saw the abandoned Gasconade River Bridge, which counts as a Route 66 sight, though it could have been along any old road and still be just as fine. In St. Louis we visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, one of my favorite churches in North America, and then the wooded, hilly Bellefontaine Cemetery north of downtown, which is in the same league as Green-Wood in Brooklyn or Woodland in Dayton. First rate, that is.

Peanut Butter, Honey & Banana

Around lunchtime today, I had a hankering for a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich. It had been good while. All of the ingredients were on hand, so voila!

I don’t take nearly enough pictures of the food I’m about to eat, so here it is. (I don’t think it’ll end up on Facebook, though.)

peanut butter, honey and bananaTom’s Tabooley in Austin used to serve a dandy pbh&b sandwich for a very modest price. At least it did in the summer of 1981, when I would eat there occasionally. I checked today and discovered that Tom’s Tabooley has closed. That didn’t surprise me — that’s the way it is in the restaurant trade — but what did surprise me was that it closed in 2016.

As I enjoyed my homemade pbh&b creation, it occurred to me that Elvis was fond of them, too. Or at least I thought I’d read that some years ago in Amazing But True Elvis Facts by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo (1995), which I picked up on a remainder table sometime in the late ’90s. I know that because the price tag on the back of the book says, “Originally $6.95 SALE PRICE $.97,” a bargain for sure.

So I checked. I wasn’t quite right. Memory is an unreliable narrator. P. 59: “At home, [Elvis] loved to munch a sandwich of peanut butter, sliced bananas, and crisp bacon.”

In the same book, p. 143, you can also discover that, “Elvis’s favorite film was Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It featured one of the King’s favorite actors, Peter Sellers, in three different roles. Elvis watched the 1964 British-made film at least fifty times in his life.”

Remarkable, considering he only lived to be 42. Apocryphal or not, that “amazing true Elvis fact” makes me smile.

Recent Wind Incidents

During most of the day yesterday, and especially late into the evening, brisk winds blew around here. I fell asleep listening to the strong wind, and while that can be a soothing sound, it’s much better if you’re in rental property.

In the morning, when calm air had returned, there was no visible damage. Some items outside on the deck had been moved around, and a few small branches had fallen. It all made me wonder: if the rotation of the Earth ultimately moves the atmosphere, how is it that the wind isn’t always like that? Or worse, like it is on the gas giants, with their perma-storms? What makes a calm day on any part of the Earth?

When returning from Texas Sunday before last, the wind was up as the plane came in for its landing at Midway, making one of the bumpier approaches I’ve experienced lately. About two minutes before touchdown, when even the flight attendants had buckled down, suddenly one of them got up, wetted a towel, and dashed past me — I was on row six or seven — and helped clean up a few rows back, where a woman had thrown up. Then the flight attendant, navigating her way as the plane bumped around, made it back to her seat for the landing. Expert moves, clearly.

On Sunday, February 19, a few days before we arrived in the city, a handful of tornados hit San Antonio. According to the Express-News on the 21st: “The National Weather Service confirmed late Monday morning an EF-1 strength tornado with 105 mph and a path length of 4.5 miles touched down on Linda Drive near the Quarry shopping center.”
That’s a few blocks from my mother’s house.

Fortunately, an EF-1 is a weak tornado, or I’d be writing a very different post. As it was, she lost power for a while, and it looked like a neighbor’s fence had been damaged, though it’s possible the fence had already partly fallen through neglect. Otherwise my mother’s house wasn’t damaged.

A few days after the hit, we noticed some damage to a small shopping center a few blocks north of her house — bits of missing signage, broken tree limbs and roof problems, mostly. Also, some workmen were taking down a damaged ornamental brick wall at a nearby apartment complex. Better to have no tornadoes, but if you have to have one, a weak one is what you want.