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When the cold, steady winter rain starts to fall, as it did unrelentingly last January, Channelview seems drenched in a dingy futility.

The only color seems to be the perilous orange of the refinery gas flares; at the Dell Dale highway exit, the white elephant rearing about the flea market looks hopelessly grimy, and off the road the rain soaks the yards of the tract and trailer homes to a dirty brown.

He may or may not be right, depending on which production company eventually wins the rights to whose story, but his remark still speaks to some essential Channelview truth: Here, a smaller, diminished view of life has a way of eclipsing larger ones.

If, far away, Holloway’s story is viewed as an aberration, closer to home it makes more sense.

Physically, it straddles I-10 just outside of Houston on the way to Beaumont, though it has less in common with other faceless suburbs than with distinctive small towns.

The brochure for the North Channel Chamber of Commerce depicts the area as one where new brick mansions nestle in pine groves, complete with ponds populated with regal swans, and the streets have pastoral names like Woodforest and Sterling Glen, but Channelview is in no way bucolic.

The brochure also asserts that lights from tankers on the ship channel glisten just as brightly as those of the Houston skyline at night, but Channelview is in no way romantic.

It is instead unabashedly rough, taking a defensive posture against the world.In the sixties and seventies, when Wanda Holloway was coming of age, the high school students could be evenly divided between dopers and ropers.Mike Ramsey and most of his friends grew up on better-than-nodding terms with the bars on Market Street.In such weather, people lose their resolve: In the Baptist temples, they turn to hymns of salvation but do not keep time with the melody; in the pawnshops, they hock their baby furniture, stub out their cigarettes, and think about looking for work out of town.Winter in Channelview can bring menace and breed hopelessness, two qualities with which Wanda Holloway, who had spent most of her life here, was more than well acquainted. Slight and pretty, with dark shoulder-length hair brushed off her face, Holloway, 37, had the tighter jawline of so many women who start with little but the determination to better themselves. Holloway had worked as a secretary, she was a gifted pianist at her church, and she had married well.hen Houston winters are grim, they are that much grimmer in Channelview.