Turbulent Times in Texas, Part 2, The 1960′s, The Kennedy Assassination & Parkland Hospital

Much has been written about the Kennedy assassination. From the days surrounding the event to the conspiracy theories, the topic has been thoroughly examined.

One exception to the comprehensive coverage is the hospital in Dallas where Kennedy was taken….Parkland.

Situated just north of downtown Dallas, the hospital was quickly and easily reached by the motorcade just minutes after the shooting. And for years the distinctive awning, under which the equally distinctive presidential convertible parked, sat unmolested and only slightly altered.

That is about to change.

The awning and the rest of the hospital may soon be demolished due to the completion of the entirely new Parkland Hospital nearby. I visited the famous scene in late 2013 and was immediately overwhelmed with the sense of history that the place evokes. Unlike many of the other historical scenes I’ve visited, it is not hard at all to picture the drama that unfolded here over 50 years ago.

Because it is still a working county hospital, it naturally puts forth that somewhat tense aura that seem to come with all hospitals, but this place is different. There’s something heavy here…something dark.

I wonder if even the demolition of the structure will erase it.

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Turbulent Times in Texas, Part 1, The 1960′s, Dallas ISD Integration

As ten-year spans go, the decade of my birth (the 1960′s) was truly noteworthy. The United States celebrated incredible triumphs and survived amazing difficulties.

After years of segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, began to make huge strides. This was due, in part, to the heroics of small bands of ordinary people…creating civil disobedience.

One location for just such a gathering occurred in 1964 at the headquarters of the Dallas Independent School District. The gathered crowd demanded that the snail’s pace rate at which DISD had been de-segregating the schools, be dramatically sped up.

This photo, and location, is remarkable because the protesters have not yet taken on “hippie” status and because the location is almost entirely unchanged.

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The Changing Face of Houston, Part 2…(and Car Dealerships, Part 1)

Old car dealerships intrigue me. I think because buying a brand new car is such a monumental thing in a person’s/family’s life…at least it was for my family. It didn’t happen all that often for us and it was a big deal when we got a new car.

And, being a total car-crazed fanatic, I’ve always fancied cars as being alive, having emotions and basically, well…people. I mean they have eyes, a mouth, personalities and you spend as much time with them as you do just about any one person.

So if cars are people, then car dealerships are akin to adoption centers. (I know…I need help.)

But even if you don’t share my automotive affliction, important deals were struck in these old buildings and it’s somewhat sad to see them as shells of their former selves.

This example is the old Central Chevrolet building on Washington Ave, just north of downtown Houston. Today, Knapp Chevrolet, one of Texas’ oldest continuously operated car dealerships of any brand, is right across the street. Knapp has been in this location since 1939 and my suspicion is that Knapp bought out Central. In fact, the trucks just to the left of the Central building are Knapp vehicles for sale. The building has had a floor added to it, and suffers from one of my pet peeves….trees planted directly in front of buildings. (I’ll get into that on another post.)

The photo is from the famous Story Sloan Gallery in Houston. Check them out when you get a chance.

This area of north Houston is becoming increasingly gentrified and many of the great old structures are being demolished and replaced with generic condos for obvious reasons…downtown is literally minutes away. I just wish the developers would attempt to save more of the old structures and convert them.

(photo credit for the vintage photo: Story Sloane’s Gallery, Houston.  Click on the photo below to go to Story Sloane III’s web page.)

 

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The Changing Face of Houston, Part 1

Since the Allen Brothers sold the first lots on Buffalo Bayou, Houston has been a city on the move….ready for change. This “forget about yesterday” attitude makes it an excellent place for entrepreneurs to come and start, or start over and find success.

The downside, of course, is that old historic structures don’t typically get preserved here unless they can serve some sort of purpose.

The downtown area, just south of the large skyscrapers and Minute Maid Park, has for years been a mix of houses from the late 1800′s and cool old brick industrial buildings from the first 3 decades of the 20th century.

Lately, however, all of the above is being bulldozed and replaced with town homes. And while I can certainly understand this (these new town homes are mere seconds away from the downtown oil company offices, Minute Maid Park and the new soccer stadium), it still makes me cringe a bit to see a solid old brick building with an intricate facade bulldozed.

This first location is at the intersection of Navigation and Commerce, just to the immediate south of downtown Houston. The old Navigation Street underpass is a great old Depression era structure, still in use…still in great shape with a view of downtown just to the right.

Almost all of the industrial buildings still standing in the “now” photo are slated for demolition. So this view will even be dramatically different just a few years from now. The only common building I can find in the two photos is just to the right of the underpass.

Note how the downtown skyscrapers have spread to the west in the photos.

(vintage photo: Houston Chronicle, Bayou City History Blog)

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Founder’s Home, Conroe, Texas

Conroe, Texas is one of the many towns, near Houston, that was once rural but now is being absorbed by the giant metropolis.

These towns have their own unique histories….histories that seem to obscure as they become more and more urban.

And, while I won’t go into the history of Conroe here, I do want to post a set of photos of one of the most altered, but still intact, historical buildings that I’ve come across. This is home built by the founder of Conroe, Isaac Conroe, in the 1880′s.

Sometime in the 1950′s a simply awful renovation was completed on the structure, but I’ve been assured that most of the original structure is intact under all the 1950′s brick. This is surely an excellent candidate for a complete, historically accurate restoration.

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Neat old solid church building

I love old church buildings…especially old Baptist church buildings from the 1910′s through the 1940′s. They’re typically fortress-like brick buildings that look like they’ll last a thousand years.

This one is the Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, Texas. It was built a hundred years ago, is still in use, and still looks magnificent.

And…for what it’s worth….this is the first time that I really nailed the blended photo. The two shots line up almost perfectly. One of the results of this is the uber-cool image of the new and old cars sharing the same parking lot.

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Oak Cliff Fire Station

Old fire stations are just incredibly cool.

I’ve always wanted to convert one into living quarters on the second floor and a massive garage/shop for my old cars on the bottom floor.

They’re usually sturdy old, over-built buildings and for some reason, there are typically high quality old photos of them.

This one, in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas would be ideal. The exterior appears to be largely intact, although it is currently being used as part of the private school associated with the church across the street so the interior is likely modified.

My “blended” photo isn’t the greatest because the street running alongside the building has been significantly widened and the original photographer’s location is now in a heavy lane of traffic. But, I was pleased with the way the old fire vehicles show up in the blend photo with the modern traffic off to the right.

How often do we mindlessly drive through areas without thinking of the lives that have been lived all around us.

The original photo is dated 1931.

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