Oak Cliff history: Kiestwood Estates and its notable residents

Kiestwood Village neon sign: Raymond Crawford
Kiestwood Village neon sign: Raymond Crawford

One of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League’s many member-neighborhoods is a tree-studded, gently rolling enclave named Kiestwood Estates. Although the general area didn’t begin development until the late 1950s, Kiestwood holds a rich history.

At that time, Kiest Boulevard beyond Hampton Road stretched as a relatively desolate byway with little surrounding development. But the opening of the Kiestwood Village strip center on the southwest corner of the intersection offered area residents the Kiestwood Cleaners, Priest Music Store (later Music Hall), a barbershop, a beauty salon, a dance studio and Old South Steak House. In later years, Puckett Photography had a studio there.

The center’s anchor business sat at the far eastern end of the center: Rollins Food Store. Granted, the fairly small store was the only grocer operating in what was then far southwest Dallas, but a major part of the store’s success was manager Charlie Kirtley. Moms (and dads) enjoyed Charlie’s friendly demeanor and great slant on customer service. (My brother, who was probably about 10 years old at the time, even baked Charlie a birthday cake one year.)

Sponsored Message

The Humble (former name for Exxon) station on the corner was owned and operated by Joe Jones, who became the first Texas Lottery winner. Although he had moved his business to the northwest corner of Camp Wisdom and Duncanville roads by that time, his place in Texas Lottery history stands. I remember the Jones Humble station with full service; along with the routine oil changes and lube jobs, they would even wash your car! By hand!

On the other side of the Jones service station sat a 7-Eleven, facing Hampton Road. And, to the south of the 7-Eleven, the small, one-story, flat-roofed, brick building operated first as a dentist office that shared the opposite end with a real estate business. Later the longtime home of the J. Harris Creech Insurance Agency, the building appears vacant today.

Priest Music Store (later Music Hall) as depicted in the 1960 edition of the Kimball High School yearbook, “Excalibur”
Priest Music Store (later Music Hall) as depicted in the 1960 edition of the Kimball High School yearbook, “Excalibur”

Being the area’s only game in town at that time, the strip center was definitely “high-traffic.”

Sponsored Message
Sponsored Message
Sponsored Message

Upward from the center, homebuilders snatched up lots and began constructing hundreds of single-family homes, many with fireplaces and (the new trend at the time) en suite baths. With their pier-and-beam foundations and brick exteriors, the homes provided shelter and comfort for the throngs of boomer families swelling the ranks of suburban neighborhoods in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The homes constructed closer to South Hampton Road were somewhat smaller than the larger houses nestled close to Ravinia or Cedarhurst on the western boundary. The children attended the newly constructed Daniel Webster Elementary School; high school students went to Kimball, which opened in 1958.

It was a “sea of kids.”

During those days, quite a few high-profile and entrepreneurial folks called Kiestwood home — most prominent among them, Dr. W. T. White, the Dallas ISD superintendent at that time. Living at 2831 Whitewood — he was also the previous principal at Sunset High School, where many of the Kiestwood moms and dads had attended — just about everyone in the neighborhood knew him. But, there was a big perk for having Dr. White in the neighborhood.

On snowy mornings back then (before texting and emails), students and parents rose early and glued their ears to the radio, listening for the “school closing” announcements. But not so in Kiestwood. According to Raymond Crawford, the Kiestwood Historical Neighborhood Association president, who also lived in Kiestwood when he was in high school, “All the neighborhood kids would wait to see if Dr. White’s car remained in his garage. If the car stayed put, that meant no school. We were always the first to know!”

Whitewood Drive also had other notable residents, one being the aunt of longtime “Texas Country Reporter” executive producer Jason Anderson, who often visited his aunt (Lalia Paxton) at 2536. Dr. Norwood Yamimi, a well-known Las Cruces, N.M., chiropractor who is currently a Qigong facilitator/workshop leader and recent author, lived across the street at 2535. At 2512, the Berry family’s youngest son, Pat, is now the owner of Vickery Wholesale Greenhouse in both Dallas and in Austin.

On Bonnywood Lane, Mary Margaret Roberson (2830) worked for decades to enhance both Oak Cliff and Dallas, involving herself in fine arts, civic, community and historical activities, among them Goals for Dallas. Serving as a well-respected master flower judge, she has a tree planted in her honor on the Texas State Capitol grounds. The residence of Homer DeFord, founder of DeFord’s Lumber in Duncanville, was at 2823.

Twice named Miss Oak Cliff (’96 and ’98) and twice second runner-up for Miss Texas, Leigh Ann Gettman-Allen had her first home at 2526 W. Kiest Blvd. Gettman-Allen was first runner-up in the 1999 Miss Virginia Pageant and reigned as America’s Homecoming Queen in 1993. Still highly involved in the Miss America organization, she led the President’s Initiative on Race session in 1998 and is now an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University.

Sponsored Message

Although technically a separate subdivision, Southwood (adjacent to Kiestwood) is included in the neighborhood association. Among the many Southwood notables are actress Belita Moreno and her family, who lived on Gibbs Williams Road, and the late Ken Holmes Jr., a Kennedy assassination and Bonnie and Clyde expert who lived on Crow Creek Drive.

Sponsored Message

Some Sunday afternoon, you oughta take a drive south on Hampton Road to cruise around Kiestwood and enjoy the largest group of mid-century ranch architecture in the city. Kiestwood is a secret around Dallas. But maybe not for long.

Written By
More from Gayla Brooks

Cliffites in Hollywood

The amount of talent that stems from our neighborhood may be unparalleled
Read More
  • Gayla Brooks

    I agree, Darryl. Kiestwood is a great place to live. Evidently, a lot of other folks are coming to understand that as well. All the best to the Kiestwooders–working together to nurture a growing neighborhood in our wonderful Oak Cliff. Post anytime. Gayla

  • Darryl Baker

    THANKS for this great article about one of Dallas’ great neighborhoods! It seems that the “neighbors” today are following in the footsteps and examples of those wonderful neighbors back then who started us on our journey to success. We are the best in class when it comes to living out what the Great American Dream of neighborhood really means!

    Darryl Baker

  • Ron Brannon

    Coach Kimbell “Taught” me how to drive beginning each lesson from the Sunset High School parking lot in the summer of ’65. Of course I drove over from Glen Oaks to take my lessons from him and hid the car on a side street and walked to my lesson.

  • Gayla Brooks

    Hey, Bill. Great to hear your stories. You were certainly a Druid Hills/Kiestwood guy! I would LOVE to have one of those pizzas from The Pizza Kitchen…where Mark worked. I can still hear “Green Onions” playing on the jukebox and Mark back there putting together those yummy pizzas. Stay in touch. Gayla

  • Bandit Golfer

    Gayla – I very much enjoyed your article about Kiestwood Villiage. I grew up in Druid Hills, a development off Five Mile Pwky just to the Northeast of Kiestwood. As a kid, with BB Gun’s and Pellet Gun’s in tow, remember walking across Hampton Rd. and enjoying a cool RC Cola and having a couple of sugar straws at the 7-Eleven. After being fully nourished, returned to Crow Creek to see what we could find!

    Upon getting my drivers license (age 16 and 8 hours), I remember filling up at Joe Jones Humble for 27 cents per gallon and getting Green Stamps and plastic drink tumblers for being a valued customer of Mr.Jones. Stamps/cups went directly to my Mom.

    I also remember hanging out at the Pizza Place across from Kiestwood where Mark Cordray worked. The pizza was OK, but I believe all enjoyed being with Mark and listening to the music in his place.

    We are all so very lucky and fortunate to have grown up during those treasured times!

    Always – Bill Konrad

    Kimball Class of 1965

  • Gayla Brooks

    Yes, Howard. He was Sonny Kimbell. Was the QB at Sunset H.S. c 1940-ish. Thanks for posting. Gayla

  • Gayla Brooks

    Hey, Bob! Drove by our old houses on Acapulco a few days ago. Memories, memories. Glad you liked the column and glad you survived the hair cuts!! Take care and talk to you soon. Gayla

  • Howard G. Barnard

    I believe that a Kimball HS coach and math teacher named Kimbell lived in a house facing Hampton somewhere in that area too.

  • Bob Hall

    Enjoyed the column. It brought back lots of memories from our youth! We had a lot of friends that lived in that area. Oh, and yes, George cut my hair too.

  • Gayla Brooks

    What great info, Skip!!! And it’s great to hear from you. I may have to use this on one of my “follow-up” columns. Post anytime and let me know what’s going on with you these days.

  • Gayla Brooks

    Sandra & Charles: What great details!! So many great stories about Kiestwood! Like I typed to Skip, I just might have to do a “follow-up” column on Kiestwood with all the new info. Thanks for posting. I always appreciate the info.

  • Gayla Brooks

    I agree, Jim. Our little corner of the world (I lived just east of Kiestwood in the East ‘o Kiest Park sub-division) was heavenly in many ways. So safe. Knew all the neighbors. Could ride your bike EVERYWHERE. Such a bygone time. Thanks for posting.

  • Gayla Brooks

    Great story, Ron!!! New tidbits to add to the many memories of Kiestwood Village. Thanks for posting.

  • Gayla Brooks

    Rio, I knew about George but didn’t know if it would offend anyone if I included him in the story. I understand that he was well known by his nickname but decided to play it safe and not risk possibly upsetting readers. Thanks for the kind words about the column. Keep reading, please. And always post comments.

    Thanks!!!

  • Paula Brannon

    Wasn’t the 7-11 a “Cabels” market at one time? Mother took my son, Dylan, to the barber shop all the time in the early 90s. She always called it Baker’sbarbers.

  • Ron Brannon

    Now I know why I stay so still in the Barber’s Chair to this day. George !!!
    I completely forgot about having my hair cut there back in the 50’s. Thanks for the memory ! He would place his little finger under your nose and lift repeatedly to keep your head up. I think maybe I was trying to get away from those flashing scissors but he never cut anything buy my hair.

  • Rio

    Gayla,

    We always love to see your news letters. Do not forget the Barber Shop at Kiestwood
    owned by George Wright. George was sometimes
    called Jerky George because of a war disability. I lived across the street from him and he was
    sometimes very entertaining. Even though
    sometimes it was hard not to dodge his jerks, I never know that he ever cut
    anyone.

    Rio

  • Jim Lyons

    We built at 3454 Franklin, right at the end of Woodmere. Hills and woods and many large creeks made the area seem a million miles from the plains of Dallas. The area between Franklin and Hampton was untouched by builders for several years and was heavily wooded. This was our COUNTRY…..just like heaven!
    Jim Lyons

  • Ron Brannon

    Gayla:
    I lived on 2411 Southwood during the time period you are describing. We had a surprise one day when the Septic Tank overflowed. We had no idea our house was on a Septic System. Our house must have truly been out in the country at one time.
    I spent many a day in the Priest Music Store listening to records in the small listening booths they had at the time. Bought my first 45 there, “I’m A Mummy” in 1959. I would look for and then cash in “Coke” bottles at the Rollins Food Store for 2 cents each. I remember the day the renumeration went “UP” to 3 cents a bottle !!! I thought I had struck it rich !!! My brother and I would ride my Art Linkletter “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” screaming down the big hill on Hampton to the 7-11 for sodas and candy. It was great place to grow up !

  • Charles Goff

    My Dad built one of the first houses on Woodmere Dr. about 1953-54. There was virtually no other houses just vacant lots. Well after Dad poured the foundation and had started up on the walls someone pointed out that he was building on the lot next door to his lot. He took a ribbing about that for a long time, but then he had to buy the other lot, which he eventually sold. We lived there till about 1957 then my Grandfather bought it and lived there for quite a few years.

  • Skip Freeman

    We moved to Kiestwood in 1960 (2400 blk. of W. Five Mile Pkwy). I had a paper route that included Dr. White’s house. In those days, the paper boy went house to house to collect the monthly delivery fee. I was always impressed by the fact that no matter the day of the week or time of day, Dr. White always had on a dress shirt and tie and Mrs. White had on a nice dress with jewelry (think June Cleaver). They were very nice people and always invited me in for a Coke. Rollins Foods later became L & S Food Mart with another popular manager, James Bailey. I worked there after school from 1963 until I left for college in 1965. All of the “part timers” in those days were Kimball High boys (all 5 of us were JFK ’65). Several years later, James Baily bought the store. It has been gone for many years and was later a VFW hall. The Old South Steak House had a giant steak that was free if you could finish it within a set time. I never heard if anyone finished it but saw a couple of people get sick trying. Kiestwood Center was truly a neighborhood shopping area where the merchants knew the customers and their families by name.

  • Sandra Nachlinger

    What a nice piece. My parents built their home on Woodmere Drive in 1962. I’m not sure if it’s in Kiestwood or Southwood subdivision. The family that lives there now is only the second occupant of the home, which tells you something about the stability of the neighborhood.

  • Gayla Brooks

    My pleasure, Raymond. Ya know…I lived in Kiestwood for a year or so, on Whitewood in a rental. Loved it. And, spent many, many hours at the Yamini house, as well. Kiestwood is a special place, and I look forward to hearing how it continues to be a magnet for homeowners looking for a quality place to live with friendly neighbors and a great location. Keep me posted.

  • Raymond Crawford

    Gayla, you did a masterful job of capturing the Kiestwood history
    into this article. It really was a Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver life all rolled into one! Even better news, Kiestwood continues to thrive with a unique and diverse collection of residents who love living in Kiestwood. I am constantly amazed how the influx of residents continues from all over Dallas, so the secret must be out.Thank you so much for this piece!

  • Gayla Brooks

    Holy tamoli, Bill! I had no idea you lived in Kiestwood. I should have listed you among the many notables. And that you knew Joe Jones. On the A&P, Baskin-Robbins, etc., technically they were in the Brookhaven (?) center across from Kiestwood Village. Brookhaven also had the Pizza Kitchen. I can still taste its unique cheese and sauce…and hear “Green Onion” playing on the jukebox. One of my KHS classmates, Mark Cordray, worked there for a while. Loved that place.

  • Bill Melton

    You just get better and better with each Edition Gayla. Congratulations and Merry Christmas! And not to forget Raven’s Pharmacy and Baskin Robbins in the Center,
    as well as the long-departed A&P Food Store.
    Proud to say that my son and Joe Jones’ son played “Y” T-Ball together. Joe personally “manned” the pumps during the 1976 gasoline shortage. And we had the privilege of living on Bonnywood from 1968 until 1991. Two kids through Webster; one through Browne and Kimball and the other through Bishop Dunne. Great Memories!