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First class city

New Jersey couple praises Houston's vibrant arts scene

Created date

March 14th, 2018
Ethel and Alan Groudan moved to Houston from New Jersey in June 2017. Their shared love of art is evident in their San Jacinto-style apartment at Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston.

Ethel and Alan Groudan moved to Houston from New Jersey in June 2017. Their shared love of art is evident in their San Jacinto-style apartment at Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston. 


After many years in their New Jersey home, Alan and Ethel Groudan wanted to spend their retirement years near family.

“We have a son in Colorado and a son in Texas,” says Ethel, a retired psychotherapist. “We looked at retirement communities in both states.”

During a holiday visit in December 2016 to see their son and his family in Houston, Alan and Ethel scheduled a tour of Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston.

“We looked at several Houston-area retirement communities during our visit,” says Alan, a retired aerospace engineer. “We were already familiar with Erickson Living because the parents of our friends’ daughter-in-law lived at an Erickson Living community in New Jersey, and we’d heard how much they liked it.”

Everything they love

At Eagle’s Trace, the couple met with Sales Counselor Jodie Schroeder, who showed them around the community and gave them an idea of floor plans that might suit their needs.

“I rely heavily on my intuition,” says Ethel. “We all pick up clues almost subconsciously. And as we had lunch in the café at Eagle’s Trace, I noticed that everyone said hello; everyone had a smile. Those details made a big impact.”

Eager to move closer to their son, his wife, and two young grandchildren, the couple selected a two-bedroom, two-bath San Jacinto-style apartment with a large kitchen island.

“Then the hard work began,” says Ethel. “It wasn’t easy downsizing many years’ worth of accumulation in our New Jersey home. Honestly, the hardest part was all the thinking that was required. In the end, we decided to bring the things we really love.”

For Alan and Ethel, that meant their artwork and photography was coming to Houston. They moved to Eagle’s Trace in June 2017.

“We have over 80 pictures hung up in our apartment,” says Ethel. “Many of the art pieces we collected during our travels.”

Exceeding expectations

As soon as they were settled, the arts-loving couple began to explore Houston’s ballet and theater offerings.

“Living so close to New York City, which has two major ballet companies, we loved going to the ballet,” says Ethel. “We’d heard that Houston had a good ballet company, so we were excited to see a production.”

The couple purchased tickets to Houston Ballet’s performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s “Mayerling,” the show’s North American debut, scheduled for mid-September at the Wortham Center.

Hurricane Harvey derailed those plans, as the Wortham Center sustained extensive damage during the storm. The performances were moved to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

“The ballet was phenomenal; we couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” says Alan. “We still get The New York Times delivered to our apartment, and one of the paper’s reviewers attended the Houston Ballet’s performance and said it was a total masterpiece.”

The couple was so impressed by the production they purchased a season subscription to the Houston Ballet.

The show goes on

Hurricane Harvey also disrupted Alan and Ethel’s theater plans.

“We enjoyed going to see off-Broadway plays when we lived in New Jersey, so we sought out their equivalent here,” says Ethel. “We were originally supposed to see the play Describe the Night at the Alley Theater, but the theater took on water during the storm. They moved the show to the University of Houston, and it, too, was fabulous.”

The couple realized that Houston’s vibrant arts scene, while not as heavily advertised as the arts in New York, offers a wide variety of entertainment options. Alan and Ethel recently took in a performance by soprano Renée Fleming at Jones Hall.

“You just have to seek it out,” says Ethel. “Houston isn’t second class in any way.”

Go Astros

The couple’s new hometown offered up one last thrill as 2017 drew to a close.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, and I’ve never really forgiven the Dodgers for moving to L.A. in 1957,” says Alan. “When the Houston Astros played the Dodgers in the World Series, it was just fine by me that the Astros won.”