NEW Country 96.3 KSCS' Christmas Gift that keeps on giving

   A few years ago, along with Southwest Airlines, we at 96.3 KSCS started something called "Bring a Lone Star Home."  Each Christmas season, we ask families to tell us about a loved one that can't make it home for the holidays, usually due to lack of finances.

   I love calling the families and surprising them, telling them we are going to bring home their son, daughter, parent, soldier or long lost relative. It is by far the best thing we do each year.

   Today, I received this lovely letter passed, on by Mariah, whose father had a tough year but is coming home for Christmas.  I wanted to share it with you.

Merry Christmas,


I wanted to share a letter from my paw! Thank you, Hawkeye and Terry!

"GOD is so good. All of us have had the joy of his grace at one time or another.
Today I experienced his grace and blessings again.
When I moved to Ft. Worth years ago , I found a country station that was just awesome.

The station was KSCS RADIO FM in Dallas. My favorite show was the Terry Dorsey show which featured Terry and his sidekick "Hawkeye". Together they were the funniest guys I had ever heard on radio. They played off one another so well!
Several years after my experience with prostate cancer, they announced that Terry was going to be away for a time-he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I sent an email to him to offer some encouragement and shared some of my experience with him. He responded back and after his treatment, he returned to our delight!
Any time we've been back, I start looking for reception a hundred miles out.
This morning I was getting ready to leave for my radiation treatment when my phone rang. No name was listed...just an area code 214 number. I didn't recognize the number and was hesitant to answer the phone. Naturally , curiosity got the best of me and I said "hello".
The voice on the other end said "Jon" and I said "yes!" The voice then Identified himself as "Hawkeye" with KSCS Radio. It didn't sound like the guy I remembered and began wondering if this was a prank call. He said he and Terry were calling on behalf of someone named "Mariah" and did I know her. I said she was my daughter. Then Terry ( whose voice I recognized immediately) said that Mariah was on the phone with them and they wanted to wish me a "Merry Christmas". My head was just spinning wondering what was going on!

Hawkeye said that he understood that I had been going through some difficult times and they just wanted to help out at Christmas. At this point I'm wondering where this whole thing was going! Then he told Mariah to say hello which she did and we just said "I love you!" By this time, my emotions were rolling along at warp eyes were full with tears....not "sad"' tear drops but "I miss you" drops ! Terry spoke up and said that each year at Christmas they try and help someone come home who possibly might not be able to do it. They had a contest on that topic and Mariah had WON!!! Then Hawkeye said they were so impressed with Mariah's letter as to why her dad should come home that "Jon we are going to fly you home to Ft Worth for Christmas.!! I was just sputtering at all this! Believe me, it took everything I had to keep from bawling like a baby!!! Finally they just said that they hoped this would be a Christmas we would remember forever. No problem there son!!
So, I just wanted to share this blessing with you. Thank you Sis for thinking of me and making the trip home to Ft Worth possible...and now I'm thinkin, there really must be a Santa Clause too!!"

An End To Fort Worth's Most Beautiful Building?

The massive columns of the downtown Fort Worth Post Office, located at Lancaster and Commerce

 This afternoon, I went to the downtown Fort Worth Post Office to mail my Christmas packages. For me, it is a yearly tradition to use the old Main Office, even though there is a Post Office just a few blocks from my house.
   Why do I bother? Mainly it's an excuse to visit one of the city's architectural gems, and I have made it part of my annual yuletide tradition. Sadly, the Post Service is thinking of moving the downtown branch  to smaller quarters. It no longer needs the massive building, which once served as the main postal center for Fort Worth when it was built in 1931.
    The city of Fort Worth has expressed an interest in buying the building and making into a new City Hall, but the economics of the purchase may not be in its favor.
   I realize that this may be the last year I'll be able to stop there during the Christmas season and I wanted to take a few pictures, for those who've never thought to mail a letter in this palace like structure

One of two main entrances, the art deco touches reflect the style of 1931

Massive marble columns great visitor in the entry portal

Notice the details ceiling

The rows of PO Boxes and continuation of the green marble

The strange detail on a lamp inside the lobby 

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What's the Story Behind this Giant Hat?

   I recently noticed this giant bowler hat sitting in a field across from downtown Dallas. As public art goes, this is a pretty cool piece. But how did it end up there? And why?

   The hat was created by artist Keith Turman, commissioned for Timothy Oulton's furniture store on Central and Knox Street. However, the store didn't have the proper permit for the giant hat and it was never installed.

The Timothy Oulton Logo, featuring the Bowler Hat

   Upon suggestion, Turman donated the unused work to the Cedars neighborhood in Dallas, home to a variety of artists and studios. Today, when driving eastbound on I-30 thru downtown, you can get a short glimpse of the Bowler when you look south of the Convention Center. It's best to see it when driving thru the Cedars at the corner of Ervay and Griffin Street.
Note:  The Timothy Oulton store has now closed, but the hat remains. 

Enjoy my blog? Then check out my book,
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Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio

"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

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The Case of the Missing 3 Ton Sculpture

NOTE: This post originally ran in my San Antonio Uncovered Blog. We got so much positive response that I thought I would post this story here also.

   One might wonder, how could a three ton sculpture go missing, disappearing from the 1968 World Fair's site? That was a question that many were asking after Hemisfair closed.

   Such was the case of Asteriskos,  a piece of modern art that was commissioned from New York sculpture Tony Smith by the Cato family for the fair. After Hemisfair closed, the piece, which sat between the Arena and the Convention Center, disappeared. It took a year for the piece to be rediscovered. Unfortunately, it was no longer intact.

   It seemed that Asteriskos was carted off after the fair by city workers who did not realize that it was art. It was blow torched into smaller pieces, fitted with wooden lids and turned into tool boxes and ice chests for afterwork beer parties at the Zarzmora Public Works Yard.

   The Cato family generously commissioned a replica from the artists and donated it to the city's McNay Art Institute where it sits today.

    For the rest of the world it is art. For us San Antonians, it is a beer party waiting to happen.

Asteriskos II today

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Fire Strikes Former Scientology Mansion

UPDATE:  A few days after the fire, I decided to return to the former Scientology Mansion on Buckner Road to see if there was any hope of saving the abandoned building. See if you can come to the same conclusion I did.

Before the fire. The mansion, built in the 1940's, had also been a Bed and Breakfast, a Wedding chapel and a private home. It had been vacant for the last few years

The mansion during the fire

The mansion today


   This afternoon, the former Scientology Headquarters in East Dallas caught on fire.  Ironically, the vacant mansion sat on the edge of the Ash Creek neighborhood just of Buckner Road. The building was for sale in a neighborhood of modest homes and obviously in need of some repairs. It had been on the market for quite a few months.

   Here are a few photos I snapped of the fire

 The amount of firefighters on scene was staggering 

You can see two of the ladder trucks pumping water into the house. The one on the left is actually parked a block behind the mansion

Dallas Firefighters with oxygen tanks after leaving the house

 You can see some of the damage as the roof on the north wing is totally gone

Streams of water being dumped inside the mansion

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The Katy Trail Extension - Further Along Than You Thought

   Dallas has one of the most extensive bike and jogging trail systems in the U.S. One of the most exciting developments in recent years have been plans to extend the popular Katy Trail to White Rock Lake.

   The plan is to build a bridge over Mockingbird Lane and then have the trail mostly follow the Dart line from Mockingbird Station to White Rock Station on the north side of the lake.
Rendering of the Katy trail Bridge over Mockingbird Ave.

      There has only been a small bit of work done at Mockingbird Lane. It will be the last piece of the trails extention to be completed.  Most people, including myself, would probably be surprised how much work has already been done.

      I noticed a few days ago that a portion of the trail that follows Northwest Highway towards the White Rock Dart Station had already been finished and striped.

This final portion of the Katy Trail Extension runs parallel to Northwest Highway.  It follows the path of an old alley which some homes still use to access their garages.  I wonder how this is going to work.
   I decided to walk the new portion of the trail and follow to where it disappeared from view of Northwest Highway motorist. I discovered that a significant portion of the extension is already finished.

The Katy extension headed north toward Northwest Highway
Standing in the same spot, looking south

   What's interesting is that the trail will follow the Dart Green line from Mockingbird Station until it reaches the as of now undeveloped Union Pacific Trail. A tall ramp will be built to bring the trail down to the rail line. It appears that for now the trail will go north to Northwest Highway, then east to the Dart Station. From there, you take another trail south to the lake. 

Pylons being built for a ramp that will lower the trail to the Union Pacific Trail, which is owned by DART

Sadly,  I'm not the only person to discover this portion of the Katy Trail Extension. A tagger has already ruined a portion of the trial. 

   Unlike the original portion of the Katy Trail, this section of the Extension is very secluded. Even though the trail bisects two neighborhoods, it's set considerably lower and gives you a feeling of being out in the country.   
    We are still a few years away from the Extension being completed. The bridge over Mockingbird will be the final piece. In the meantime, joggers and cyclist will still have a considerable amount of trails to discover.

UPDATE:   July  2014

   More sections have been completed, but you'd really have to search to find them.  The bridge that connects the trail from the Dart Line to the Union Pacific Trail toward Northwest Highway has been completed, although it is not open yet.


An unfinished path of the Katy Trail Extension just north of Mockingbird at Fisher Ave and Ridgewood Park.  This is a view facing east.  The trail parallels the Dart line and will turn north toward Northwest Highway via the old Union Pacific Rail Line

A couple of views of the bridge that lowers the trail from street level to the old rail line


Facing west at Fisher Avenue, the trail travels behind the Ridgewood Rec Center.  A trailhead parking lot is being used as a  construction site

The trail passes buy a new splash park

Headed west, the trail near the Dart Line headed toward Mockingbird Station


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My Accidental Discovery - the Twelve Hills Nature Center.

   One afternoon while wandering the city, I came across a surprising nature center in the middle of an Oak Cliff neighborhood. After a little research, I learned that the Twelve Hills Nature Center was created by the neighborhood with the help of area businesses on a plot of land that once was the abandoned Twelve Hills Apartment complex. 

   The apartments, as often are the case, started out a safe and friendly place to live. In its final days, the buildings became crime ridden and in disrepair. In 1992, the 500 unit, 20 acre complex was torn down and the city, county and DISD took over the land in lieu of unpaid taxes. A portion of the land was used for the new Rosemont Elementary. Another section was was sold to a developer, who turned over 5 acres to the neighborhood to be used as a nature center.

   The center was completed with $260,000 in donations


The entrance plaza to 12 Hills Nature Center

The main trail at the neighborhood nature center

The Modern Homes of the Kessler Woods Neighborhood looks out onto 12 Hills.

One of Oak Cliff's best kept secrets, Kessler Woods, was built next to the nature center

The trails give a glimpse to what came before, bricks and concrete from the old apartment complex peek out

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Main Street Garden - The Undiscovered Gem

   While many have been enamored with the opening of the Deck Park over Woodall Rogers Freeway, it's another downtown park that may end up being the bigger success story.

   Last week I drove past Main Street Garden. I noticed that the University Center of Dallas was doing a major renovation of the old Titche - Goettinger Department Store, adding an impressive set of windows looking over the park.

Windows being added to the wall of the University Center
The University Center before the renovation of the outer wall

The TG Store with sign that covered the 1950 addition. 

   Main Street Garden was once a city block filled by the Gold Ring Parking Garage and a host of other run down buildings. It was surrounded by a variety of once majestic buildings. Sadly, most of them spent the better part of a decade vacant. The fact that someone had the vision to create a park around the massive but empty block long Mercantile Complex, the abandoned Mercantile Commerce Building, the vacant Statler Hotel, the abandoned old Dallas Public Library, the vacated Lone Star Gas Building and the mammoth but empty Titche Department Store is visionary. 
    There literally might have been more vacant office and retail space in one square mile than any place in America. Today, it's quite possibly the most impressive turnaround of any block in downtown Dallas. 

Once the site of a parking garage, the entire block was removed for Main Street Garden

A pleasant surprise, Rusty Taco located in the park

Looking west, toward the Mercantile Center

Looking east across the lawn toward the Dallas Municipal Building, soon to be the home of the new UNT Law School

The old block long vacant Mercantile Center has been adapted for luxury apartments

The Mercantile Pool Deck, overlooking Main Street Garden
The Hotel Indigo - Notice the Hilton sign is still partially visible. This was Conrad Hilton's first hotel

The Mercantile Commerce Building with its distinctive mosiac recently reopened as an apartment complex

The Lone Star Gas Building, now the Lone Star Lofts

Another glamorous downtown pool, this one part of Lone Star Lofts

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