The Anderson Boys Grew Up in Texas

Before Eric Chase Anderson was an author and his brother Wes was a director, they were members of a fairly typical Houston family. Well not that typical, as you can see from his memoir with maps.

I grew up in Houston in the 1970’s and 80’s with my two older brothers, Mel and Wes. Wes was four grades ahead of me in school. Mel was five grades ahead. Our parents split up when I was 3, and from that time on we visited our dad and stepmother and our little sister, Julie, every other weekend. But for the most part we lived with our mom in a two-story house in a leafy neighborhood in west Houston.

Note: We are unable to include Eric Chase Anderson’s illustrations online. The following unedited captions provide a description of Anderson’s illustrations in this article. A back issue of the magazine can be ordered from Texas Monthly .

Here is a map of the ground floor and the surrounding property:
Map not included online.

When we were little, Mel and Wes conducted age-inappropriate projects like painting the playhouse lime green or removing the shingles to build a fort in the crawl space. Later, we made movies and played instruments together.
Guitar and drum sketch not included online.

My Bedroom Escape Route was: out my window, across the roof, and onto the next-door neighbor’s fence.
Escape route sketch not included online.

At 9, I taught myself to ride a bike in the driveway, but before anyone could witness this achievement, the handlebars snapped off. Later, I inherited a French 3-speed Gitane from Mel that our dad had given him. Wes had that bike cleaned up and used it as Dirk’s bicycle in Rushmore.
Bicycle sketch not included online.

Here is Dad’s movie camera, which Wes used until we switched to 3/4” videotape. This camera was stolen a few years ago, along with every silent super 8 movie we ever made.
Yashica camera sketch not included online.

We had several dogs, and my brothers kept gerbils called Tony and Tia, named after the two protagonists in the movie Escape to Witch Mountain. Tony killed Tia.
Dog sketch not included online.

When we were growing up, our mom was finishing her Ph.D. in anthropology from Rice, studying 4,000-year-old Iraqi pottery in the basement of Sewell Hall. She often brought us there after school. One summer we lived in her orange VW camper while she attended the Texas Archeological Society summer field school in Galveston. Rattle-snakes were sometimes a problem.
Eagle foot and arrowhead sketch not included online.

Here is a drawing I made of my sister, Julie, when she was a kid. When she was born, I was reportedly disappointed that she did not come with a ponytail. She was a smart, talkative girl who had the added distinction of needing to wear glasses for only a couple of years growing up (unlike me; I will wear mine forever).
Sketch not included online.

My father was a race car driver in the decade before I was born, racing mainly in Texas and Louisiana but as far abroad as southern Mexico and Sweden. He told us race-themed bedtime stories, and I’m planning on writing a novel about a race car driver next, partly based on his exploits.
Sketch not included online.

Mom took us on vacations to places like Matagorda, Castroville, and Iraan, Texas, sometimes in the company of her colleagues. One of these old archeologists, a man with the memorable name of Jim Word, once taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. We were camping out on a mesa near Palo Duro Canyon, and he had occasion to pass me a sharp knife. I took the handle, but he wouldn’t let go of the blade. He looked into my eyes and said, “Always say thank you when someone hands you a knife, son. Not only because it’s polite,” he added, seeing the look on my face. “It’s to let the other person know you’re in control of the knife.”
Sketch not included online.

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