Hoffman's Houston
introducing hounited

Ken Hoffman launches exciting new feature on everyday Houstonians and welcomes your input

Hoffman launches new feature on Houstonians and welcomes your input

Clayton Anderson NASA astronaut
Our columnist will soon start telling stories of everyday Houstonians, such as NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson. Photo via AstroClay

I am starting a new feature this week. It’s going to be a regularly scheduled column that no one’s done here, and which Houston deserves.

It’s called HOUnited and each week I’ll write about the people, one at a time, who make our city the amazing , diverse, accomplished, frustrating, punny, and “HOUnited” place it is.

I’ve met a lot of incredible people in Houston through my column. Some famous but most you wouldn’t know if I gave you their name and showed you their photo.

But, they have a story to tell or they’ve done something to make a difference or they’ve touched a life and made Houston better. Or worse. We have our share of scoundrels galore, too. Every cowboy hero needs a villain to order out of town by sundown.

Here’s the inspiration. My journalism hero was Jimmy Breslin, a columnist for the Daily News and just about every other newspaper in New York. He bounced around a lot. In late November, 1963, when every big name writer was in Washington covering the funeral of President Kennedy, Breslin left a formal briefing at the White House.

He knew that everybody would be getting the same spoon-fed story. That wasn’t his style. So he went to Arlington National Cemetery and found the man whose job it was to dig the slain president’s grave. It was this laborer’s day off, and he made only $3.01 an hour, but said it was his honor to be the last person to serve the president.

That was the little guy, Breslin’s favorite column subjects, who really was the big story.

Houston is filled with people who do little things that make a big difference. Everybody has a story to tell and I want to hear it. So I’m going to need your help. If you have something that needs to be said or you know somebody whose story needs to be told, or who’s done something that’s gone unsung, contact me.

For example, I’d like to meet the Houston Texans staffer who told NFL headquarters that the attendance of last Sunday’s Texans vs. Colts game at NRG Stadium was 65,000 fans. That’s what the box score of the game said: 65,000.

Not-Even-Close. Perhaps it’s the same person who claims that 300,000 spectators attend the Thanksgiving Parade in Houston.

(I’ve got a feeling that I’m never going to meet this person.)

My HOUnited feature begins tomorrow. The first story is about Clayton Anderson.

You might not know his name but for five months in 2007 he watched 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every day. He was a NASA astronaut and what makes his story unique, or HOUnique in this case, Anderson dreamed of traveling in space since he was 6 years and dressed as an astronaut for a kidding costume parade in his native Nebraska.

He never gave up his dream, even after applying 14 years in a row to be an astronaut and being rejected 14 times. NASA’s answer on his 15th try sent him into orbit.

I met Anderson for lunch at Frenchy’s on NASA Road 1, the old astronauts’ haunt. He has a story to tell, Houston. So do countless others. 


Know a Houstonian whom our columnist should feature? Contact Ken at ken@culturemap.com.

HOUnited is a partnership with Gow Media, which owns CultureMap. Ken Hoffman is a regular HOUnited contributor.

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