Your NPR news source

Bryan Washington at a Houston Ice House

SHARE Bryan Washington at a Houston Ice House

On a day when the temperature in Houston is in the high nineties, you might want to head to an ice house. If you don’t know what an ice house is, you don’t live in Houston. Bryan Washington, a native of the city whose début short-story collection is set among its hustlers and drug dealers, took us to the West Alabama Ice House to describe a singular Houston institution. “There really is no one true definition of what an ice house is,” he admits. “Some folks would argue it has to be a place that literally sold ice at one time. Some people could argue that an ice house’s signifier is shitty parking, [because] it’s a community hub and people from the community would walk over and hang out.” But mainly, Washington thinks, it’s a bar that’s open to the air on at least one side, with benches or tables both inside and out—a set-up that breaks from the norms of air conditioning in Houston.  Washington speaks of the breakups and the fights he has experienced at the West Alabama Ice House. “I’ve lived here,” he says. “I’ve run through the spectrum of emotions. And I can’t think of too many places besides an actual home or workplace where that would be the case.”

More From This Show