Standing here now…..you can’t see beyond the next street. This story is about the changing landscape.
Not exactly the view I remember as a child. Right here at the end of the street of Hillsboro and Shiloh, our housing development ended and across the street there were barb wire fences and old family farm houses up across the pasture. And when it rained a lot, the stock pond about a block down which no longer exist, would overflow and you could catch crawdad up and down Shiloh with a string and piece of bacon. And up past the farm houses you could see all the way out to Mesquite. One evening in 1967, we stood in our front yard on Hillsboro and watch as the Motley mansion out there in old Mesquite burn to the ground.
This was the corner my neighborhood buddies Kendall Kern, Bud and Craig Revault met and plotted our day in the fields and great out of doors. For a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, my old neighborhood was quiet. I could only imagine the children now, instead of playing tag and soldier with sticks for guns, were now in front of a computer tagging pictures of friends on Instagram or playing soldier, racking up points blowing people away in a far too realistic way on their x-boxs.
My father came to Dallas in the 1940’s. He lived north of Dallas up near the Red River in Denison Texas, birthplace of our 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower. After two years the Eisenhower’s moved on to Kansas…..my father endured Denison until he couldn’t stand it anymore. A better life await 75 miles down the road in Dallas. Not to denigrate Denison, but for a young man with dreams, it was a place to escape as quickly as possible.
My father came to Dallas on “The Texas Electric Railway,” which was a historic interurban railroad that operated from Dallas, Texas, to Denison, Corsicana, and Waco.
My father said you knew you were getting close to Dallas when you could see it, like an island out there on the Blackland Prairie.
The Dallas of my childhood still had discernible borders. When I attended St. John’s in the mid 60’s there were still some traces of the old Harter farm that Harter road was named after. There running through St. John’s play ground was a wind break with pieces of barb wire still attached to it. That too is now long gone. The old growth forest along White Rock creek, that my friends and I played in, that had an abandon model T with a tree growing up through it ….long gone and was all bulldozed to build apartments. Now all the little towns and surrounding cities edges all have touched and there is not just a lot of private land inside Dallas that hasn’t been carved up. And even where there are some vestiges of the old Blackland Praire, invasive species have about choked out the native grasses and plants.
I’m not bemoaning the change in and of itself, but it does speak to the importance of parks and wildlife areas, not just for ourselves but the wild animals that have been pushed to the limits in trying to survive the ever encroaching city. So whether it’s the preservation of what we have left or creating a park over a highway like Klyde Warren Park, we all need a little green grass to wiggle our toes in.
Even having seen farm land in and around Dallas when I was growing up, thinking about Dallas being like an island out there surrounded by the Blackland Prairie still sort of blows me away.
To find out more information about the Texas Blackland Prairie.