Early last Tuesday morning, this past one, the one going forward into Tuesday, May 1st, in the wee small hours, no less, I awoke from a most amazing slumber vision at about 3:30 AM. I had dreamed I finally made a successful trip back in time to Houston of the late 19th century. To be more precise, the date was October 25, 1887. I had been out there a lot lately in reality concordance with our 21st century time and space zone, but now, in the dream, at least, I was in this other place.
Everything about my senses in the dream made it feel completely real. In fact, it was the visceral intensity of the whole thing, far more than the content of what actually happened there, that had awakened me in the pre-dawn hours of May Day, 2012.
All I remember of it went as follows:
It was late in the day on an autumn Tuesday in Houston of 1887. I was walking through the almost vacant grandstands of the old ball park that used to stand at the corner of Travis and McGowen. In a strange departure from my normal character and habits, I had been gambling with a small group of cigar-chomping swells, betting on everything from ball and strike calls to the over/under number on foul balls that would reach the grandstands per inning. – It’s a good thing I won because I’d already raised enough sand among my companions by the 1932 Houston Buffs jersey and cap I had been wearing – and I don’t know how I could have paid off with modern money that none of them had ever previously seen.
I walked away from the “five guys” – listening to their mumbled questions about me.
As I approached the stands on the McGowen side, I saw a Houston Daily Post reporter that apparently had passed out from too much to drink on the second bench from the front row. I figured he was the Post guy because he had one of those press cards stuck in the ribbon of his derby hat and the Post was the only paper covering the game that day.
I bumped him in the side with my knee. “Hey,” I said, “get up.”
“Who’s there?” The startled Post reporter asked as he rubbed his eyes hard and swiveled quickly to a sitting position, all the while staring up at me distrustfully and quite defensively.
“I say,” the reporter demanded. “Who in blazes are you, sir? – And why do you come to the ballpark today dressed in that strange garb?”
“Just think of me as the Spirit of Old Buff, sir” I answered. “My friends and i are here from the future to learn what we can about how our city embraced the game of baseball back in the 19th century. – And while I’m at it, I have to tell you – you 19th century writers could make it a lot easier for us if you could write more specifically bout the names and locations of ballparks and teams back in the old days!”
“What do you mean by ‘old days’, sir,” the Post reporter demanded. “These are the days – the only days in time that belong to us. If you and your sort do not understand when we write that the Houstons play to day at the ball park, that’s no concern of mine. I have my own deadlines to meet, sir, and, as for you – your impertinence is only matched by the unsightly vision of your peculiar clothing and shady-sided contact with crooked gentlemen who choose to gamble on every occurrence in Houston from sunrise to sunset.”
About this time in the dream, the image of the reporter began to waver and fade before my eyes, as did the sound of his voice weaken and fadeaway as though it were disappearing down a long narrow pipeline to nowhere. The next thing I knew, I was sitting upright in bed, reorienting to the fact that it apparently all had been nothing more than one of those inexplicably weird dreams.
I probably would have forgotten the whole thing, except for a little discovery I made later the same morning during my research time downtown at the Harris County Archives. I felt compelled to take a look at the files of the Houston Daily Post for the day following my somnolent trip to the ball park with the gamblers and the sleeping-it-off anonymous-to-this-day reporter.
That’s when I found the clipping I used at the top of this story. Draw your own conclusions.