TRAVEL HERE: DRIVING AROUND AMONG OUR MEMORIES
So it was a hot Sunday afternoon in Downtown Dallas and we were hungry. We’d spent several very enjoyable hours re-familiarizing ourselves with the American galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art, but it was about to close. I mentioned Trinity Grove, but also pointed out it was far too hot to take advantage of the al fresco dining that seems to be a primary draw to the area. So Bill decided to drive around downtown for a bit and visit old haunts.
Downtown Ain’t What It Used To Be
Back in the Twentieth Century, Bill and I both used to spend a lot of time downtown. In the seventies I was in credit card banking with a small independent bank and Republic Bank processed our transactions and cards. I made frequent visits to the building topped by a rocket and covered in star-studded metal panels. After branch banking came to Texas, I moved on to the copier industry and found myself downtown even more often – almost daily in fact, as I popped in and out of offices training folks to use copiers, fax machines and phones.
Bill had his days downtown, too. His first venue was the Hilton where he financed his schooling by waiting tables at The Beef Baron and helping out at banquets. Then he started his computer company and like me, popped in and out of downtown buildings. He was selling, delivering and installing computer equipment to feed the copiers and fax machines my company sold.
We both have fond memories of those days so as we pulled away from the DMA, Bill took a drive through downtown. First, we drove by the Hilton. The venerable old motel is being transformed into a multi-use development with stories and stories of apartments.
We were impressed by the rail system and the many parks which have been inserted into the landscape. Both of these additions are great improvements to the downtown we remembered, but we weren’t crazy about all the one-way streets. Thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic or we might have grid-locked the whole place.
We drove over to the Omni Hotel to see their new multi-restaurant venue, but we weren’t tempted to hassle with the parking or valet, so we ignored our growling stomachs and decided on some more sight-seeing.
Neither are The West End and The Brewery
Bill decided to visit the West End. A few old standards like The Palm and Spaghetti Warehouse were clinging to the sidewalk, but it was a sad tourist trap. We regretted the loss of those days when all the hot restaurants were clustered in the West End and complimented by a multi-story shopping and entertainment venue.
I fondly remembered another Sunday afternoon when we happened upon Robert Lee Kolb, one of my favorite local entertainers, playing on the outdoor stage. As I stood on the edge of the crowd Robert Lee began singing the song he always used to play when I’d walk into Beethoven’s, his club in the Bachman Lake area. The strains of the familiar tune startled me. I looked away from my husband who I’d been chatting with to find Robert Lee staring right at me with a huge grin on his face. It’s one of my favorite Dallas memories.
Disappointed to find the West End is about to become yet another multi-use development, we drove over to the Victory Park area and tried to figure out how to find our way into The Brewery, another hang-out we both loved before we knew each other. For many years, The Brewery was famous for The Starck Club, a place where I have spent many an hour, but I was a regular to The Brewery before The Starck Club made it famous. Newport’s was once one of my favorite seafood restaurants and it inhabited one end of the complex for decades.
Before The Starck Club appeared in The Brewery, I discovered Robert Lee Kolb down in an establishment called The Cellar, because it was a cellar. From there I followed him to The Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill and further down Greenville Avenue to Dick’s Last Resort, before it moved to the West End. Friends tell me he was playing at The Dixie House down in Lakewood back when I was in high school, but that was years before I hit Dallas’ clubbing scene. My friendship with him began at Beethoven’s, where I’d show up with one or more members of my gang several times a week.
So that was the Sunday afternoon nostalgia tour. Now Bill and I were hungrier than ever. It was about 5:30, so the heat was unbearable, but we decided to go to Trinity Grove anyway. come back next week and I’ll tell you about it!