J. D. Harper: Oral History (2004)

In April 2004, historian and Brentwood neighbor John Leffler and I interviewed J. D. Harper, longtime owner of Crestview Pharmacy, 7100 Woodrow Avenue, Austin, Texas. Below are excerpts from the interview (with my notes in brackets). After J. D.’s death on Friday, May 11, 2012, in Austin, his sons Jerry and David continued to operate the pharmacy until February 28, 2017. More about Mr. Harper here. John Leffler passed away in 2015. —Susan Burneson

ROOTS IN AUSTIN

“I came to Austin in 1953 to go to the University of Texas and graduated from the College of Pharmacy in January 1960. I bought Crestview Pharmacy in 1964. I was familiar with the store because I had worked in another store between ’60 and ’64, and I had visited this store quite frequently. It was at that time owned by a gentleman named Art Dunlap [and previously by Pat Paschall, who once lived on Morrow St.]. The store was originally put in in 1952.

Howard Pringle built many of the homes in this neighborhood, and he still lives here. He built my first house in 1961, so he and I have been friends for many years. My house was just inside the city limits; the year before, the city limits sign had been moved to Lazy Lane and 183.”

CRESTVIEW SHOPPING CENTER

“The shopping center was built by two gentleman, Mr. A. B. Beddow and Mr. Ray Yates. At that time it was only one building, on the west side. The next year they added the building on the east side. At that time, the pharmacy was in the east building and the grocery store was in the west building where the pharmacy is now. They expanded north and added an additional building where the grocery store is now, and at that point they moved the pharmacy from the east building to the west building. The beauty shop and barber shop also have been there since the inception of the shopping center.

“Mr. Beddow had a little office in what is now part of the grocery store. Whenever they expanded the grocery store, they moved his office to a different location. The east building became a variety store and the original location for Crestview Builders Supply, which Mr. Yates owned [more about it below]. Then it was a variety store, and after that left they turned it into a doctor’s office. So, what is now the east building, south side [Little Deli today] was two doctors’ offices, Dr. [Glen Eugene] Journeay and Dr. Sousarus. That was around 1959 or 1960. [Dr. Journeay passed away on December 27, 2015.]

“Even as late as the early 60s, there was not a drive-through center parking lot at the shopping center. At that point there were just walkways across. You had to park north or south of the shopping center. It was one of the first so-called malls in Austin.

“A big red oak sat in the middle of what is now the parking lot. Maude Yates, Ray’s wife, was so nature oriented, she had a bulldozer come in and move that tree, which was not a little tree at the time. It was a big tree. And she moved it to where it is now [outside the Little Deli]. And they built a driveway through the center.

“[What is now the auto repair shop north of the shopping center] was originally Mobil gas. Yates had leased the land to Mobil, and at some point they wanted to close the station, so he sublet it to an individual who put in a Phillips, until we closed the station about 6 years ago and moved the tanks. Too much liability with underground storage tanks.”

OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES

“Crestview Builders Supply operated until about 10 or 12 years ago. When the business moved from Crestview Shopping Center, they originally built the building on the northeast corner of Burnet Road and Richcreek. Next door was Burkhart’s Hamburgers, where Top Notch is now. Mr. Yates owned that also. He owned everything north of Richcreek up to Morrow. Then he bought some more land on the corner of Burnet Road and 183 and moved the builders’ supply up there. That would be where Racetrak and the automotive supply is today [it later became a popular music venue, The Lumberyard]. At that point he leased out this land over here on Burnet Road to various businesses—a furniture store and Top Notch Hamburgers. Top Notch bought what was originally Burkhart’s. [It’s been Top Notch since 1971.]

“When I came here in 1964, Violet Crown [northwest corner of Brentwood and Lamar] was an active shopping center. At the time, there weren’t many businesses north of Koenig Lane except Crestview Shopping Center and Violet Crown. It had a beauty shop, barber shop, variety store, and other businesses.

“My kids took skating lessons at the Capitol Rollarena, where the body shop is now, across Brentwood from the shopping center. It was probably there for maybe 15 years. [More about the skating rink here.]

Mr. Arthur Smith, who lived in the rock house facing Burnet Road [7001 Burnet], had a produce company. Behind it were his warehouses for the produce company. His property went pretty much all the way from Burnet Road to Hardy, the first street east of Burnet.”

CRESTVIEW NEIGHBORHOOD

“Really and truly, this whole area was what was originally called the Richcreek Farms. When Mr. Beddow bought the land, it was a dairy and a farm. The people who owned it lived on Justin Lane, but I can’t recall what number on Justin Lane. The property faced Lamar, but the house faced Justin Lane. When Mr. Beddow bought that and started developing it, of course, this was just out in the country, it just pasture land. And, of course, none of the streets were paved, except North Lamar, the original highway from Dallas to San Antone. Then he put in Justin Lane, which was named for his wife, who was Justin Beddow. They paved Justin Lane, then they started putting in the side streets. At that point, Woodrow was not paved, it was just a gravel street. The original gentleman who did most of the paving in the area, Mr. McKown, lived in the house on the southwest corner of Richcreek and Woodrow [demolished in 2014]. Across the street on the southeast corner was where Mr. Yates lived.

“Maude Yates was a member of Violet Crown Garden Club for many years until her death. Her first husband was Mr. Cherico, and he passed away, and she married Mr. Yates. Her whole backyard was on the azalea tour. Violet Crown Garden Club’s annual tour went around to all the members’ houses, and hers was the one they chose for the azaleas.

“We bought the shopping center from Mr. Yates and at that point we still kept in close contact with him.”

ROBINSON FAMILY

“Brentwood Park was pastureland and farmland, so there were a lot of farms in this general area. The Robinson family owned a lot of the land along Burnet Road. Those are the Robinsons who still are very active in Austin White Lime. The original Robinson land went all the way from Steck north. There was an old farmhouse near 8530 Burnet Road which was the Robinson homestead. That land was purchased by the Robinsons’ ancestors in 1865. I bought that from the Robinsons in 1986. I just bought where the house was, and at that point they still had the windmill and the water trough for their cattle, and I’ve since taken it all down.” [The Robinson family still owns thousands of acres north of Parmer Lane up to Highway 45.]

LOCAL ROADS

“When I came to Austin in the early 50s, Burnet Road was a very narrow street, and Anderson Lane was not paved. When I built my house just north of Anderson Lane in 1961, Anderson was gravel, but they paved it soon after. And, Lazy Lane [north of Anderson Lane] dead-ended before it reached 183, and 183 was four-lane but wasn’t a divided highway. It was called 183 North, but it was not a major highway. It was the way you went to Lampasas.

North Lamar was known as [Lower] Georgetown Road and the Dallas Highway. Down around 49th, Lamar and Guadalupe come together, and early on Lamar didn’t continue south from there. At one point, when you came down Lamar from Georgetown to Austin you took Guadalupe through town. That was the San Antone Highway. If you went to Dallas, you went that way.

“Mopac was originally Balcones Drive, which was just a two-lane country road.

“That was way before IH-35 or any other major streets.”

Copyright 2013 Susan Burneson. All rights reserved.

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