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The Houstorian Dictionary:
An Insider's Index to Houston

by James Glassman

(Charleston, S. C.: History Press, 2015)
192 pages. Paperback, $21.99.
ISBN: 978-1-46711-800-2.


Review by Dr. Kirk Bane
Heads up, H-Town enthusiasts! Bayou City historian and preservationist James Glassman has recently published this informative, entertaining, and wide-ranging study, an A-Z guide to all things Houston (and surrounding communities). To get a good idea of what this engaging index offers, consider eight of Glassman's entries.


Adair, Red (1915-2004): Native Houstonian and world-renowned oil well firefighter and offshore oil rig blowout capping specialist from 1959 to 1993. John Wayne played him in the 1968 movie Hellfighters with all of the requisite Houston swagger.

Astros, The: Houston's Major League Baseball team since 1965. Originally named the Colt .45s. The name was derived from "astronaut." Their first home was the Astrodome, but they moved to Downtown's Minute Maid Park in 2000. Made it all the way to the World Series in 2005 but were swept by the Chicago White Sox.

Hobby, Oveta Culp (1905-1995): Wife of Governor William P. Hobby and mother of Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Former president and publisher of the Houston Post. The first commanding officer of World War II's Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Appointed by President Eisenhower as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (renamed Health and Human Services). The first Houstonian to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp.

Juneteenth: Annual June 19 holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Galveston by Union general Gordon Granger in 1865, nearly two years after it was issued. Houston's first Juneteenth celebrations were held in Emancipation Park. Juneteenth celebrations have since spread beyond Texas's borders.

McCarthy, Glenn (1907-1988): Wildcatter turned oilman. Built the landmark Shamrock Hotel and hosted "Houston's biggest party" when it opened in 1949. Known as the "King of the Wildcatters" and "Diamond Glenn." Widely considered to be the inspiration for Jett Rink in the novel Giant.

McMurtry, Larry (1936-present): Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove who earned an MA at Rice University in 1960 and then lived in Houston in the 1960s while teaching at Rice. Set the novels Moving On, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, Terms of Endearment and The Evening Star in Houston. Opened his famous bookstore Booked Up in Houston.

Osteen, Joel (1963-present): Self-taught pastor of Lakewood Church, TV evangelist and best-selling author. Famous for his positive message and prosperity theology.

Rice Stadium: Houston's first large-scale football stadium, built in 1950. Besides Rice Owls football, it was home to the Houston Oilers before the Astrodome, hosted University of Houston football from 1951 to 1965 and welcomed rock concerts, many college bowl games, the Super Bowl in 1974 and President Kennedy's "We Choose to Go to the Moon" speech in 1962.


State history buffs, especially those interested in urban studies (and Houston in particular), will want to add this handy reference guide to their collection. The Houstorian Dictionary would also make a wonderful stocking stuffer! Hopefully, Lone Star historians, prompted by Glassman's example, will assemble similar dictionaries for San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and other Texas cities.
Review by Kirk Bane, Ph.D.
Managing Editor, Central Texas Studies
December 1, 2016

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