Iconic oak cliff, the finale

The neighborhood landmark tour makes its final stop

The bus is pulling out of the depot for the final leg of the Oak Cliff Icon Tour, so settle back, everyone, and get comfortable.

Our first stop is Clarendon and South Hampton, at the former Skillern’s Drug Store, for what is now (and for many years has been) Midway Auto Supply. Longtime Cliffites and current residents easily recognize this particular franchise’s original hallmark: the little car atop the corner entrance. According to the family, the owner placed the child’s pedal car there many years ago — and there it has remained for decades, greeting customers and drivers-by alike. It’s nice that some things never change.

Next, we move to the spot that used to anchor what was probably the most all-inclusive entertainment destination in Oak Cliff’s history: the Bronco Bowl!

Opened in 1962, the “bowl” occupied the acreage now anchoring the Home Depot on Fort Worth Avenue — arguably, a one-of-a-kind place. Bronco Bowl offered patrons archery, pinball, pool, slot cars, batting cages, air hockey, food, a “club,” dancing in “The Pit” and, oh, yeah, I almost forgot, … bowling! The cavernous pin area featured 36 lanes on either side for a grand total of 72. Certainly impressive.

The bowl’s rear section was overhauled several times, changing from a dance-floor-and-stage space to a theater — one that later became the Sunday morning home of the then-swelling-in-membership Beverly Hills Baptist Church. After the church moved on, ownership again promoted the concert hall for strings of top-name musicians. Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars was one. Once chosen by many high schools for senior all-night parties and the like, the center eventually began to show its wear and attract too many less-than-stellar clients. Efforts were made to overhaul the place around 2000, but, for the owners, things didn’t work out and it was leveled in the fall 2003 — gone, but not forgotten.

 

The Kip’s Big Boy figure

The Penguin drive-ins

The Penguin drive-ins

 

Before moving on, a few other icons need to be mentioned.

The Kip’s Big Boy figure at “our” Kips, at 2600 S. Zang. Can anyone guess how many “Silver Goblet” hot fudge sundaes were consumed there over the years by Oak Cliff high schoolers and others? And, oh, yes, don’t forget the “Big Boy” hamburgers! My mouth is watering.

The Baskin-Robbins at Kiest and Hampton was the only one on “our side of the river,” and a popular spot for those ever-lovin’ ice cream cakes. The Penguin drive-ins on both West Davis and Lancaster quenched our root beer appetites, while the Hampton drive-in theater attracted the most dating couples and families. And then there was Sivils Drive-in Restaurant — an “experience” for sure.

The Dallas VA Hospital on South Lancaster has been around since 1940, while Oak Farms Dairy on the south end of the Houston Street Viaduct has been cranking out dairy products for decades.

The Dallas VA Hospital

W. E. Greiner

Boude Storey

Remember when A. Harris & Co. decided to move to the suburbs? The owners chose an Oak Cliff location, just off I-35 E and Kiest, the first major retailer to open a store outside of the downtown corridor. More recently, DISD transformed the property into its Nolan Estes Educational Plaza.

W. E. Greiner and Boude Storey middle schools are certainly icons, especially Storey with its Romanesque Revival architecture, designed by the noted Mark Lemmon. Regarding Greiner, the sad news is that the beautiful old 1936 structure is gone. The good news? Students at the now arts-magnet middle school have a beautiful new building in which to create.

Before we leave the neighborhood, we need to recognize what are probably the newest Oak Cliff icons: the Dallas Zoo’s giraffe and the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Dallas Zoo’s giraffe

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge—Photos by Amber Plumley and Randy Carlisle

The “giraffe” figure is highly recognizable to drivers-by and local residents alike. Designed with its tongue extended upward (to boast the title of “the tallest statue in Texas”) the bronze and Plexiglas figure dominates this section of the I-35 E landscape. The lion may be the king of the jungle, but the Dallas giraffe is the ruler of the Dallas Zoo!

Spectacular in every respect is the 2012-opened, Calatrava-designed bridge. It’s magnificent — especially at night. If you haven’t taken time to transverse this cabled beauty, make it a point. Soon.

The Sears store on Jefferson, Methodist Hospital, Oak Cliff Bank & Trust, Goff’s Chaco-burgers in Wynnewood, the Heights and Cedar Crest shopping centers, Red Bryan’s Smokehouse. The list could go on. But the bus is pulling into the depot.

Thanks for tagging along on the Oak Cliff Icon Tours. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the ride. I know I have.


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  • coloradosilver

    Bronco Bowl was on the spot where Home Depot is. There was also a theatre inside Bronco.

  • ColoradoSilver

    I remember seeing it, even though it was pretty well covered with vegetation. It was directly behind the Church which adjoins the golf course (at its intersection of Colorado and Plymouth).
    I never actually could see the entire home, and do not know anything else other than I remember they did have some trouble with kids at the time, throwing rocks at the house to hear them yell back.
    I promise I was never in one of those groups.

  • Jacquie Hatton

    Do you know anything about a house on Plymouth rd., between Colorado Blvd. and Ft Worth Ave? I know 2 sisters lived there before the townhomes were built, I think it burned down. We called it the Meadowbrook house.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Cherie, You can wipe away your tears, girl. Next month’s column is actually on another OC icon, one gone but not forgotten. But I do understand and thank you for your post. The tour has been fun, hasn’t it???

  • Cherie mcBee

    Thanks for all the memories, I say a tearful goodbye to the tour. bless you!

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks, Bob. I appreciate you passing on the link.

  •  Hey, Gayla, I KNOW about editors. What a pain in the arse, some times. ;-> (p.s. I linked to your article for my 2K followers on Twitter & 3K Facebook friends (plus a LinkedIn & a couple of other SM sites.)

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    The Dallas library’s neighborhood branches would make a great subject! Actually, I’d thought about doing a column on them and may still. The old one on the corner of Jefferson and Marsalis was the best. I agree. What a great place!

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Frances, You should have received my email, sending you the link from 2009 on that very subject: shopping for school supplies…at Skillern’s! Let me know what you think. As always, thanks for posting.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Ron, I really like all your info. Sounds like you have vivid memories of what was to many of us…the best place ever to grow up! The magazine many times chooses comments to post in its next issue. I think yours is a good one. Hopefully they’ll choose it. Thanks for posting! Good OC history. Do you have any photos of the above mentioned businesses?

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    They are certainly icons, but the magazine only allows me so much room! I have to leave out some things. It’s painful, but that’s the way it is. Thanks for posting, Bob.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Bob, I think you’re right about the golf thing. Was it, perhaps, an indoor driving range or something similar? Or mini-golf. It’s been so long, I don’t remember. And, things changed a bit from the opening to later, when some things were eliminated. Yes, the Home Depot on Ft. Worth Ave.

  •  Oh yeah, don’t forget the Dairy Queen & Dairy Mart, right next to Hampton Drive In. Those were my burger joints (mostly).

  • Bob Morrison

    Gayla, Pretty sure there also a golf driving range set up in the Bronco Bowl.
    p.s. We now live right behind that Home Depot on FW Ave. Is that where the Bronco Bowl was, or were you just using that for size reference? Take care & God bless! Bob M

  • Ron Brannon

    Gayla, my father’s Office Supply Store and my grandmother’s China Shop were right next door to the West Davis Peguin Hamburger place. In the summer when my brother and I would work at the Office Supply my grandmother would get one of us boys to go next door and get “A Bag Of Burgers”. Boy were they good.
    On the other side of our building was the old Albin’s Watermelon Stand. Under the Christmas Lights strung over the picnic tables, we ate the huge slices of red and sometimes yellow watermelon. On each table was a large salt shaker for those who ate their watermelon with salt.
    Albin’s expanded one summer to the NW corner of Hampton and 67 where that office building sits right now. It only was there that one summer in the field by Red Bird Airport.

  • Frances Phillips

    Gayla, when you mentioned Skillern’s, I was reminded of the many, many times I went to the Skillern’s in Wynnewood Village to get my school supplies.  Do you remember getting a coupon for a free milkshake with the purchase of a specified amount?  What fun!  It almost made going back to school worthwhile!  Thanks again for the stroll down memory lane.

    Frances George Phillips

  • Donna Lackey

    A classic icon seldom given time, would be the Dallas Public Library when located on the back of the lot at Marsalis and Jefferson. Modern and updated, what we got when it was torn down was less than 1/2 the size and character of the original. Since then, we’ve replaced two libraries in north and central Oak Cliff. Not sure about the one on Lancaster, but I think another library was added on Camp Wisdom.

  • Tuck2jean

    A classic icon seldom given time, would be the Dallas Public Library when located on the back of the lot at Marsalis and Jefferson.  Modern and updated, what we got when it was torn down was less than 1/2 the size  and character of the original.  Since then, we’ve replaced two libraries in north and central Oak Cliff.  Not sure about the one on Lancaster, but I think another library was added on Camp Wisdom.    

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    I agree, Donna. My sister-in-law told me only recently how she used to ride her horse all over Oak Cliff (and I mean ALL OVER), being gone for hours and hours, all perfectly safely. I do have to admit, however, I’ve never heard the arrowhead hunting story. Now that’s a new one! I hope all the Cliffites are writing down all these stories. The kids and grandkids may not appreciate them now, but someday someone will. The stories will become “treasures.”

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Yes! Randy is a doll. He gladly “donates” his wonderful photos whenever asked. I enjoy “preserving” the memories. There ARE a lot of ’em!

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks, Bob. We’ve shared many of those memories, with our folks being friends for so many years, and living so close all our growning up days.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks, Ben. Glad you approve and are interested. Good to hear that the restaurant is going well, and what you’re having OC friends “visiting.”

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    You bet, Peg! And I agree: memories, memories. Too bad we were livin’ life at 100 mph and didn’t savor as much of those days as we now wish we had. Ah, hindsight! But at the same time, we had it pretty good. Better than most. We were from loving families and we had what we needed. All good.

  • Peggy Samford

    Yes, there are a lot of memories associated with so many of these places.  The Baskin Robbins @ Hampton and Kiest is still there.  And, I still frequent a Goff’s, but unfortunately not in Wynnewood.  Thanks for driving us down Memory Lane, Gayla.  

  • Benny Kirtley

    Really liked the all the info on our great Oak Cliff Gayla. As always I look forward to seeing the good news about a special place in our past and present.

  • Bob Hall1

    Takes me back a few years…enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

  • Mary Newton Maxwell

    I so enjoyed the ‘tour.’  There was so much to love about Oak Cliff and still is !  Thanks for another great column and thanks to our friend, Randy Carlisle, for all his great photos.  Both are to be commended for preserving our memories.

  • Anonymous

    For those of us who have lived in Oak Cliff for decades, we have a lot of good memories, and a few where improvements made a difference. Remember Cardiac Hill to the original entrance of Methodist Central where the auditorium is now located — at ground level?

    It never fails that while driving around we remember an icon long gone that was once a childhood memory.

    My husband has a lot of great memories of going places in Oak Cliff on a bike as a kid like to the “Dallas Zoo” in the 50’s to hunt arrowheads. Our grandkids were in awe when we took them on a tour one day where we would walk or ride a bike that far.

  • DKEETER

    Superb column as always Gayla.  JOB WELL DONE       Lon Oakley Adamson ’65  OAK CLIFF BOYS!!!