Then, one day I was visiting with my longtime neighbor Billie Herron in the shade of her towering magnolia tree (see 2017 update here). Billie said when she moved to Crestview in the mid-1950s she and her neighbors could see the Violet Crown Hills to the west, where Far West Boulevard is today.
Looking up at her amazing magnolia and all the other mature trees that now grace our street, I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. Then, she showed me a family photo (above) taken on Dartmouth Avenue, looking west, on her daughter’s first day of school in 1956. And, it’s true, you can see the hills clearly in the background.
In the early 1950s, Billie and her husband lived on Grover between 49th and North Loop—before there was Sunshine Community Gardens or the state health complex north of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Instead, the school had a working farm there, planted with crops of all kinds, all the way up to North Loop. Billie and her husband, who lived across from the farm, would tell people coming to visit:
Just look for the black-eyed peas!
Through something as simple as listening to a neighbor’s stories and looking at family photographs and early maps, I began to move beyond the way I had thought about our neighborhood. I realized it had many layers of natural and manmade history to discover and appreciate. I wanted to keep learning more, to deepen my experience of living here, and I wanted to share what I found. Maybe it would help deepen someone else’s experience, too.
We know some people might see what we do as being about “old people” and “old stuff.” To us, it is so much more. What we see is the timeless quality of all we’ve gathered. To us, how people experience the neighborhood today dovetails with how people have created and sustained the community over time. We believe it’s possible for neighbors of all ages and experiences to find common ground. At the heart of our project is the joy of listening to people tell their stories, no matter what their age, and the desire to pass those stories on in meaningful ways.
Just a month ago, as I looked ahead to today—our website’s first anniversary—I wasn’t certain that I had enough stories, video clips, and photos to stretch that far. After I gathered it all together, though, I discovered I have plenty of new blog posts and features I want to share.
We are grateful for neighbors who have talked to us about their lives and have done so generously and graciously—especially in sharing how they faced challenges and moved beyond them. We thank family, friends, and neighbors who have encouraged us in so many ways. We trust that people, no matter where they live, will continue to find something of value in our project.
And, we’re grateful to you for visiting our website.
Stay tuned for more to come on Voices of the Violet Crown!