Friday, November 23, 2012

A Visit to the Rock and Roll Barbershop




  Dallas isn't a barber shop town. I don't know where Dallas guys go to get their haircut, but it's not at  a barber shop. I mean real barber shops, where they finish your cut with shaving cream and a razor.

  Since my move from Fort Worth (a real barber shop town) four years ago, I started getting my haircut at the A&A Barber Shop in Casa Linda Shopping Center. But when the shop closed this summer, I was became lost and shaggy.
   I experimented with a variety of so-called barbers, who were really just 'stylists,' a legal designation for someone licensed by the state to cut hair but not use razors.

   I even ventured into a barber shop that catered to an African-American clientele. Though it was probably the best hair cut I've ever received, I could never get the gentleman to realize that he was cutting my hair way to short.

   Today, I finally found a home, The Arcade aka The Rock and Roll Barber of East Dallas. Ray Rowell may own the only Barber Shop / Guitar Swap Shop in the world. Ray has been cutting hair in the Case View Shopping Center for the past 21 years. (located at 2327 Gus Thomasson Rd, just behind the Burger King, as indicated on his business card). Ray not only services your sartorial needs, he also runs a used guitar shop. Looking for an old six string, this would be a place to start.



   The demographics of the neighborhood has changed a lot since Ray started at the Arcade. 21 years ago there were six barbers that charged $14 for a cut. Not it's just Ray and his wife and it only cost $12 for his service. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why here are so few barbers left in Dallas. Ray isn't quite sure how much longer he might survive.
 


  The Arcade Barbershop and the Casa View Shopping Center offer a glimpse of east Dallas past, when this part of town was an up and coming suburb. The architecture now seems dated, but in the 60's and 70's this was a major shopping center with a Sears, a J.C. Penney's and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders original dance studio.

   
   Whenever you choose a new barber, there is a moment of anticipation when the chair is turned toward the mirror. I quickly released a sigh of relief. Not only a great haircut, but Ray left my sideburns long. How Rock and Roll.

 

   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Sneak Peak inside the New Perot Museum

    For the past year, a futuristic building has been rising just north of downtown's Woodall Rogers Freeway. On December 1st, the public will finally get a chance to step inside the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science.



   I got a chance to check out the exhibits before the opening date. I was not disappointed. This amazing showplace will quickly become of Dallas' signature attributes.
  This museum starts with a ride to the top of the building offering dramatic views of downtown. Museum goers work their way down 5 1/2 floors of exhibits. Parents be warned,  it may take a couple of trips to see everything the Perot Museum has to offer. Here are my favorite displays

1. Bird Flight Simulator
Make sure you go to the very top of the 4th Floor (Floor 4A) 


                                        2. The Earthquake Simulator




3. The Digital Music Studio

4. The Mini Tornado (you can even get inside it)

5. Race the Dinosaur (or a cheetah)
Don't skip the basement, where you'll find an exhibit called 'Sports". 


6. The Building Itself.
The entire building is an exhibit itself, including the glass escalator

The Glass Escalator as seen from outside the building





Sunday, November 11, 2012

Coming to Dallas - A Whole New Side of Town

   Ask someone to name their favorite thing about West Dallas, and there's a good chance they might reply, "I've never heard of West Dallas."

   West Dallas has long been forgotten, separated from downtown by the Trinity River. But this spring, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge connected Woodall Rogers Freeway to West Dallas. Maybe you've never noticed what is on the other side of the bridge but you soon will.
   Developers are rushing into this long forgotten part of Dallas which features cheap land (for now) close proximity to downtown and suddenly has access to three major freeways. (30, 35E and Woodall Rogers all now have exits into West Dallas.)

  I revisited the area this week and found a buzz of activity. Get ready Dallas, a whole new side of town is coming soon

In the shadow of downtown and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the  patios that will be part of Trinity Groves takes shape

Trinity Groves, looking west

The limestone patios of a develop that will feature numerous new restaurants


A new microbrewery just west of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Babb Brothers BBQ, a catering company from Arlington about to open it's first store

An art deco style redo takes shape. Sadly, it replaces the recently finished Sheppard Fairey mural  which was just finish earlier this year. (Pictured below)



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ever Heard of the Great Trinity Forest?





   Don't feel ashamed. I don't think many people have.

Looking out on the north end of The Great Trinity Forest


   Most people I've asked are shocked when they find that the Great Trinity Forest is in Dallas, just a few miles south of Fair Park.
   I've talked to folks who've lived in Dallas their whole life and they've never heard of a park that consists of over 7,500 acres. How could one of the largest urban parks in the world be virtually unknown in the city in which it exists?

   Manly because it used to be known by another name. It was called a 'flood plane' for the Trinity River. Before that it was known as 'abandoned farm land'. The term "Great Trinity Forest" started to be thrown around by environmentalist who wanted to preserve the area from the Army Corps of Engineers who wanted to channelize the Trinity River.
   The term was later adopted by supporters of the Trinity River Project. What better way to get people to embrace a toll road through a river bed than to include over 7,500 acres of parkland in the proposal.

A map of the Great Trinity Forest. If you've ever taken 175 to Kaufman, you've driven through it


   I recently took an afternoon to discover a couple of the trails that cross the GTF. There are some amazing paths that feel like you are hundreds of miles from Dallas. There are also a few that start in some questionable neighborhoods. One of the most spectacular trails is the Buckeye Trail.  Another, the paved Joppa Preserve Trail is part of the former Joppa Plantation.

  I got a chance to experience the Piedmont Ridge Trail  and the Sceyene Overlook. (which is part of the Gateway Trails). It is quite odd to be hiking through South Dallas and looking out at acres of untouched land. Both of these trails offer stunning vistas of the Great Trinity Forest. (the very first photo was taken from the Sceyene Overlook)

The downtown skyline off in the distance from the Piedmont Ridge Trail


   The city of Dallas could do a better job of offering information about these trails. Many of the trails maps are difficult to find, and some of the trail heads could be better marked. I've included a few links of different web sites at the end of this blog, to help you discover the different trails.

Perhaps the best way to discover the Great Trinity Forest in one afternoon, is to visit the Trinity River Audubon Center. Built deep in the Forest on a reclaimed landfill, the Center offers a variety of short trails through a number of ecosystems. In the center of the reserve is a stunning building that offers perhaps the most comprehensive exhibit on the Trinity River basin; past, present and future.

The entrance to the Audubon Center on Great Trinity River Boulevard


The architecturally stunning Trinity River Audubon Center




Discover the Great Trinity Forest









 

   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dallas' Missing High School

    I recently read an article in the Dallas Morning News about the Sanger Trophy. The trophy was awarded each year to the Dallas Public High School with the best overall athletic record from 1929 to 1954. Forgotten for years, the trophy was found in the basement of Sunset High School and is now displayed at the Old Red Courthouse Museum in downtown Dallas.

The recently discovered Sanger Trophy


   I found it interesting that in 1954, there were only six high schools in Dallas that competed for the trophy,  (Six white high schools) and five of them are still in operation.

   North Dallas High opened in 1922, sits in the middle of uptown, just a few blocks from Lemmon Avenue. When it was built, this was the far north end of Dallas.
   Woodrow Wilson High aka Woodrow, opened in 1928, is located in East Dallas, just south of Lakewood.
   Adamson High School, originally Oak Cliff High School, was built in 1915. It is being replaced by the new Adamson High School being built across the street from its current location.
   Sunset High School opened in 1925, it is just 19 blocks from Adamson in Oak Cliff. It was built on the western most section of Dallas and given the sports nickname Buffaloes because students had to cross open fields to get to the campus.
   Crozier Tech opened in 1907 under the name Dallas High, it had many name changes over the years and was closed in 1995. It currently sits off the Dart line in downtown and is scheduled to be redeveloped.


  One high school that was eligible for the Sanger Trophy has a bit more complicated history.  A search of  Forest Avenue High School finds no current history. But then, search for Forest Avenue and you will also come up empty.

   Forest Avenue High School was an all white high school located near Fair Park. When it was opened in 1916, it was the most modern and up to date high school in the city. The school served neighborhoods south of downtown including the prominent and predomenently Jewish  Park Row mansions. Famous alumni include Stanley Marcus of Nieman Marcus fame and Television Producer Aaron Spelling.
   As the area become home to more African Americans and neighborhoods in North Dallas were opening up for Jewish families, the enrollment of the all white high school dwindled. In 1956, the Dallas Board of Education announced that Forest Avenue High School would be converted to a 'Negro' school to relieve overcrowding at Booker T. Washington and Lincoln High, and the white students would be moved to Crozier Tech downtown.

   A few days later, PTA and the Dad's Club asked that the schools colors, name and mascot be retired but remain available to any white school that chose to use them. The school reopened the next year with a new name, James Madison High School. It still exists today, but Forest Avenue has long since been renamed Martin Luther King Blvd. If you enter Fair Park from the east off of the MLK exit, you will pass by the old Forest Park High School.

The original Forest Avenue High School, now James Madison High School,  near Fair Park


   I wondered what happened to the school's collection of trophies and memrobilia. It obvioulsy wasn't displayed at James Madison High, even though the school was officially desegragated in 1965.
   I found the collection of Forest Avenue High's trophies stored at the Dallas Library, in the Texas /Dallas History collection. I recently took an afternoon to go thru these items. The photos below are some of the pieces I found.

A collection of trophies packed away


The Memorial Hall plaque removed when the High School was renamed . The  honor of the dedication ironically revoked when the school changed name.

An American Legion Baseball Trophy packed away

Aaron Spelling's High School Yearbook, on display at the Dallas Library

An old Forest Avenue Green Letter Sweater and an ancient leather football helmet

Stanley Marcus' Yearbook also on display at the downtown library

 Find out more about the Forest Avenue High School Collection

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Mystery Man of Norbuck Park

   On the southeast corner of Buckner and Northwest Highway sits one of East Dallas' busiest public spaces, Norbuck Park. It has two lighted softball fields, a playground, tennis court, roller hockey rink and wooded trails that have hosted high school cross country meets for generations.
   Just a short distance from White Rock Lake, it has become popular with running groups and is the Start / Finish Line for the Dallas Running Club's Half Marathon.
 
   Situated between the ball fields is a monument to a man who died over 50 years ago. I've often wondered, who is Rowland Adams?  Why did his contemporaries feel compelled to place a marker in this park?


  The monument itself offers few clues. It reads:

1917 -1962
A Tribute To
Rowland D. Adams
Whose Love of God and Life
Inspired Him To Appreciate the
Beauty of the World and His
Fellow Man

To Be a Coach and Counselor to
Boys and Girls

To Be a Friend and Example to All

This Monument is Dedicated

   We are able to determine that Mr. Adams died at the rather young age of 44 or 45. And that his death occurred  50 years ago. Were he alive today, he would be in his mid 90's. Chance are that few of his contemporaries would still be around.

  The monument also stated that he was a coach of boys and girls. The young men and woman who were inspired by Mr. Adams are probably in there 60's and 70's today.

   I went to the staff at downtown branch of the Dallas Library to see if they could find anything more on Rowland D. Adams. The search uncovered his obituary from the January 19, 1962 printing of the Dallas Times Herald which shed some light on his contributions.

   Rowland Adams organized the White Rock Churches Athletic Association in 1956. According to his obituary, it was the largest church sponsored athletic association in the nation. In 1962 alone there were over 2000 youngsters participating in baseball and basketball programs. Adams himself coached teams from his congregation at Lakeview Christian Church. It also stated that he had been sick for many years and that he died at the age of 44. 

    East Dallas has changed much in the past 60 years. In 1962, that area of town was much like Frisco is today. The homes were new, the area was growing, the public schools were some of the best in the state. 
   Today, many of the churches that were once part of of the White Rock Churches Athletic Association have seen their congregations age and many of the buildings now house churches of different denominations.  
   And at Norbuck Park, a new generation of children enjoy the fields of play.  Hopefully some of them have grandparents that will tell them of a man whose monument overlooks their playground.

   







Sunday, March 11, 2012

The $10 Million View


   I recently had an opportunity to visit the new 43 story Museum Tower overlooking Woodall Rogers Freeway and the new Deck Park. The building is still months from completion but my friend Josh Frye has a few connections and took me to the construction site.

   When the tower opens it will feature condos starting at $1 million with a $10 million penthouse. I wondered what a $10 million view looks like, so I brought my camera along. Chance are, I probably won't ever get inside this building again.

A rendering of the completed tower with a $10 million condo on the top floor.

The Tower, looking up from the ground floor

Inside the finished $1 Million Condo


A view high above the new deck park. 

Looking west

On the very top of the building, 43 floors above downtown. (Yes, I am a little nervous)

My buddy Josh has no qualms standing against a flimsy wooden rail, 43 floors above downtown


Rendering of your finished $10 Million balcony. To be honest, I can't see how anybody would ever feel comfortable sitting out there.

Looking north toward Love Field from the unfinished penthouse. My knees were weak taking this photo .


High enough to look through the hole of this building.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Have You Seen Our Copy of the Declaration of Independance?"

   Earlier today, I was at the main branch of the Dallas Public Library waiting for some items to be retrieved from the local history section. A staff member approached me and asked if I needed some assistance. When I replied that I had been helped, she asked, "Since you're waiting, have you seen our copy of the Declaration of Independence?"

   "THE Declaration  of Independence," I replied, "the one from 1776?"

  "Yes," replied Sharon Martin, manager of the Dallas Library's Main Branch. "We have one of the originals here on the 7th floor."

The specially designed room housing the Declaration.

   Indeed, in a specially designed room open on the 7th floor of downtown Dallas' Main Library is THE Declaration of Independence.

   How did the Dallas Public Library obtain this precious piece of Americana? To answer this question we must go back to 1776.
   After the document was handwritten on July 4, 1776, it was taken to John Dunlop, a Philadelphia printer who made approximately 200 copies. Historians consider Dunlop's first run, the original copies of the Declaration. These copies went out to newspapers and public officials in all 13 colonies.

The Dallas Library's Copy of the Declaration of Independence in its sealed case.


   Today, less than 30 of John Dunlop's original run still exist and many are in bad condition. The document at the Dallas Main Library is sometimes referred to as "the Lost Copy" because it was discovered in storage in a Philadelphia book store in 1968. Two Dallas businessmen purchased the copy in an auction shortly after it was found. It was later donated to the city of Dallas and put on display in City Hall before finding its permanent home on the 7th floor of the library.
   The Declaration is in excellent condition and is housed in a specially designed case that protects it from aging. Its free and open to the public during normal business hours.


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Bridge to Nowhere Becomes the Bridge to Somewhere

     People jokingly called the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge the bridge to nowhere. Rightfully so. Have you ever been to West Dallas?
   West Dallas? Isn't that what we call Irving? It was truly the forgotten land of the metroplex.
   Which is why so many people questioned the logic behind building a signature bridge to the land of nowhere.

    But the land of nowhere is about to become the land to somewhere. Woodall Rogers emptying onto a Calatrava designed bridge landing into a section of Dallas that is close to downtown and has acres of cheap land. People are taking notice. People with money. People like Phil Romano, whose name has a place of honor atop every Macaroni Grill in America.

A group of brightly painted warehouse that are about to become a row of restuarants
   Romano and a group of investors have been preparing for months for the arrival opening of the bridge and all that it will bring.  Newcomers to West Dallas are going to see a variety of brightly painted buildings, restaurants, newly planted trees and new parking lot to handle the crowds...
Dozens of trees about to be planted at the edge of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the new gateway to West Dallas.
and on top of that add a number of Shepard Fairey murals. Fairey, best known for the Obama Hope poster, has been working on the outskirts of downtown for about a week.


    Earlier today I did a google search of a Fairey print and found that they were going for thousands of dollars. How much is an original worth painted on the side of a warehouse in West Dallas?  Who knows?