Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Fabled Dallas Pike: Where Is It Now? This Post Card Has a Story..

A little Fort Worth Bankhead Highway/Broadway of America/US-80 Tourist Court nostalgia:  

Harrow Court <click image to enlarge>
I recently picked up a linen PC showing the Harrow Tourist Court.  The PC shows an address of 5800 E. Dallas Pike and in the picture is what appears to be a late 1940's or maybe early 1950's car. For many years, East Lancaster Avenue was also known as The Dallas Pike

Court description <click image to enlarge>
The paragraph on the back tells use more about it..  Air cooled with ventilated heat and operated by Mr. & Mrs. L.E. Stubbs.

Curiosity grabbed me. I looked up the address on Google Earth, and it turns out that the place is still operating, now known as the Central Court.  

5800 E. Lancaster <click image to enlarge>

The property is on a more or less triangular plot in between E. Lancaster and Dallas Avenue. 

Recently, I went out there and took some pictures showing the sign and the main building and the backs of the courts facing south on Dallas Avenue. As you would expect from the area, the court is pretty well beaten down but still has customers.

Central (Harrow) Court - Office & Main Building <click image to enlarge>
This was a pretty substantial operation at one time.  I assume that there was probably a cafe or restaurant in the main building along with the Office and maybe someone lived upstairs.

The Old Courts.. Backing on Dallas Avenue <click to enlarge image>
Here are the little courts on the back row of the compound or enclosure which has security fence all around it..  They back on Dallas Avenue..

1945 Fort Worth Ashburn Map <click image to enlarge
Above is a clip from a 1945 Fort Worth map by J. Foster Ashburn that still shows the Dallas Pike picking up from Lancaster just on the east of the Meadowbrook area. The name was still used on some maps even later.. 

One of the most interesting things is the persistence that the name "Dallas Pike" has had historically.  In general, most old Fort Worth maps start showing the Dallas Pike as beginning after Front Street (Lancaster Avenue) hit the city limits, which of course changed several times as the city grew. However, it was also called Handley Road on some maps as well. 

By the early 1920's, the Pike became part of the Bankhead Highway, then part of the Broadway of America promotion and of course US-80. In Dallas, the same road predictably, was called The Fort Worth Pike as it headed west. A very busy road until the turnpike and the Interstate highways took over in the 1960's. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Down the Brazos In The Late 1950's.. What If John Graves Had...

The news of John Graves death at age 92 did not make me particularly sad.  He had a long interesting life that was traversed mostly on his own terms. He had a life that succeeded in moving many people and apparently made very few unhappy or mad. We should all be so fortunate.

Old Brazos bridge near Newcastle, 2009 <click image to enlarge>

In the middle of this morning a whimsical thought came to me that brought a minds-eye vision that made me chuckle.  I did not know John Graves at all other than through his writing, but being the man he obviously was, I wondered to myself if he too would not give a little bark at the preposterous vision in my mind..

What if....  Back in the late 1950's as he was getting into his canoe on the Brazos along with his little dog he...

Grabbed his MP3 player...turned it on.. tucked it into his pocket.. inserted his 'buds into his ears.. and then cast off downstream into the muddy Brazos!

Don't laugh!  Think about the probability that a lot of the Brazos canoe trippers below will do exactly the same thing this weekend ....

Old US-80 1934 Brazos Bridge Near Millsap Exit - 2009

It's cinch that the Goodbye to A River wouldn't have jelled into a mind that was consumed with music. The perceptive descriptions of the river, the wildlife and the history of the place would have had a hard time getting into a mind filled with Eddie Fischer, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and maybe Bob Wills..

What a loss to literature and Texas that would have been...

Abandoned Brazos Suspension Bridge Near Woodson <click image to enlarge>

Just a whimsical thought..  But I'm really glad that John Graves took the Brazos straight on, stored it in his powerful mind, turned it into simple but compelling words and then eventually wrote..

Goodbye to A River