Mailbag - July 2020
Beamon and I absolutely loved working with Jennifer Oakley on the 2020 Seniors article [Senior Send-off: Saying goodbye from afar, June 2020]. It has been such a difficult and strange senior year for all. I was happy to see you guys acknowledge their disappointments along with their triumphs. I think it gives us all some hope because, after all, these are our future leaders! Thank you again; you have lovely people who work for your magazine!
Honoring the graduates
I just wanted to let you know how much the story that Jennifer Oakley wrote about high school seniors brightened our day. We were flabbergasted when the issue arrived and Eliza was on the cover [Tanglewood/River Oaks Buzz, June 2020]! Your photographer [Nikky LaWell] did such a lovely job, as did Jennifer. This has been a tough time for Eliza and our family, and the article gave us a feeling of formality and finality about her senior year and helped to honor it during a difficult time. Thank you so much! Really, it meant the world to us.
Loving shades of gray
I love this story [The Silver Sisterhood: Women rocking their gray hair, by Cheryl Ursin, May 2020]! I, too, get compliments on my gray – almost always from people who color their hair – and after I thank them, I encourage them to follow suit! I come from a long line of gray-haired ladies and decided from the get-go to embrace my gray for two reasons: 1: It’s low maintenance and 2: I earned every last one of these babies! Embrace the gray, people – think of it as a badge of honor!
Barbara Gurwitz Raynor
Bud Bigelow and Madeline
Russell, I chanced upon your fond memory of dining at Bud Bigelow's Charcoal House [Restaurant Memories: A look back at Houston’s dining past, by Russell Weil, November 2014]. You put a big smile on my face.
Bud Bigelow and his wife Madeline, my grandmother, started the restaurant about 1958ish. Westheimer was a two-lane road with only a sparse population adjacent to the location, but they knew Houston would be growing in that direction. They opened the doors, seating only 50 patrons, but in a few short weeks hired a bus to accommodate those waiting to be seated. Free beer was offered too while waiting.
Madeline had already operated two successful restaurants. Mad-Toni's was her first, but she and her business partner soon parted ways. She converted an old mansion on Montrose to become Madeline's. She developed a menu of fancy French cuisine and prices to match. Soon all the bigwigs and captains of industry were frequenting Madeline's. I have a great story when Howard Hughes showed up without a coat and tie, which was mandatory in order to dine.
Madeline was single at that time, as was my mother. We lived in a garage apartment, which was located on the property. By the way, if you had the Chocolate Fudge Pie for dessert at Bud's, my mother developed the recipe. Madeline met Bud Bigelow while he worked for The Houston Chronicle as a photographer. Bud was assigned to cover a meeting of some aforementioned bigwigs who were having a Sunday brunch gathering. It was love at first sight, and they soon married.
Madeline sold the restaurant at its peak. Bud had told Madeline on a couple of occasions, Houston needed a real steak restaurant, and she agreed. She told Bud he could open his steak house under two conditions. The location was to be way out on Westheimer, and she would run the kitchen; Bud would oversee the business and run the front. This was a good combination indeed. They sold Bud Bigelow's in 1966 and moved to Mexico to retire.
Frank D. Kelley
Editor’s note: This 2014 article by Russell Weil is still one of our most popular stories to date. If you have restaurant memories, share them with us at [email protected].
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