John Jimison - Astrodome

Houston is an odd place.

The city is extremely rich-poor, with surprisingly little in between. The Astros have intensely loyal fans, all dressed in various versions of the new logo (this was the first year of the broken star, but there wasnít an orange hat to be found anywhere that day). Unfortunately, on a June Sunday when it was too hot to do anything outside, there were only 13,000 of them. You could even get tickets to see the Rockets when they were annual NBA champs, but the dome was overflowing for the livestock show.

Every year Drayton McLane, the owner of the team who lives here, arranges Temple Day in the Dome, a town road trip. A singing group that Victoria was in was asked to sing for the pre-game church service in Astro Hall, next door to the stadium. Jesse Barfield is a pretty good preacher (and fun guy who knows Mel Hall, but thatís another story).

Although the Astrodome held itsí age well, it is still kind of dark and weird, as you feel like you are in some kind of catacombs going up the ramps to your seat. I was disappointed that the giant scoreboard had been replaced by extra seats in a vain effort to appease the Oilers, but you can see everything clearly from all angles.

If ever there has been invented a stuffed potato worth $5.50, this was it. The giant spud was filled with butter, chese, onions, pickles, jalapenos, and barbequed brisket. Boy, am I going to miss the food when I move back!

The down side was the air conditioning. Since itís a hundred degrees outside, and we were normal human beings, we were wearing shorts and t-shirts and FROZE TO DEATH!!! The team wasnít really into it either. At one point in the 7th inning the Astros are rallying from a couple runs down and I look in the dugout to seeÖjust about nobody. Itís not like the team was in the field, or anything. I read in the paper the next day that they were sneaking into the clubhouse to watch an exciting NBA finals game. Iím no longer a fan of Terry Collins as a manager.

The overriding memory of that place, however, was the bathrooms. Fortunately, I had been to some of our out-of-the-way plants in that area, and I was prepared when there were no urinals. Itís one of those weird South Texas things. They just put a couple big metal cattle troughs there for all the men to stand around.

The dome is still there today, by the way, but they would like a bigger stadium for the livestock show, and itís not really big enough for high school football games, either (you think Iím kidding, donít you?).