At its peak, Wynnewood Village had it all.
Built in the early 1950s, Wynnewood offered shopping, banking, entertainment, doctors and dining. There was a drycleaner, a lamp store, a photography studio and insurance offices. Out-of-town guests could lodge in the two-story Wynnewood Hotel (where the Chase Bank drive-ins are now), and convenience items were available at the new 7-Eleven. Wynnewood residents could get their shoes repaired, their cars serviced and filled with gas. They shopped at major department stores, and attend church — all within walking distance, as numerous housing options surrounded the central shopping space.
Wynnewood Village offered everything a “village” was designed to do. There was little need to venture outside its boundaries.
It was the post World War II period in Oak Cliff, with the Baby Boom, well, booming. It was the perfect place for the time.
Named after the Wynne family, the village’s first 27-acre shopping area consisted of the two interior strips, anchored by Skillern’s Drug Store, A & P Grocery, M.E. Moses 5¢-10¢-25¢-$1 store, Wyatt’s Cafeteria, E.M. Khan and Volk’s. A Safeway grocery, Fred’s Barbecue and the Truelove Gulf Station backed up to Zang Boulevard and completed the center, with numerous smaller businesses nestled between the major stores.
Birthday cakes and pastries were purchased at Jan’s Bakery, while Jay’s Florist sold many a high school dance corsage and homecoming mum. Robert’s Jewelers had watches, rings and bracelets, with Wynnewood Window offering gift items and hollowware. The Wynnewood Delicatessen created yummy sandwiches, but Big John’s Steak House fed the heartier appetites. For the younger set, Abbott Shoe Store filled many an Oak Cliff kid’s shoe needs, with Bud’s Duds clothing the well-dressed young males. The Community Sewing Shop carried a full line of fabrics, notions and sewing machine items. And, always beckoning: Toy World.
Quite popular, the aforementioned Volk’s had live monkeys in glass cages that flanked the store’s back entry. Additionally, the store had bank drafts from all the major Dallas financial institutions. All customers had to do was to request one of the blank checks and fill in the info. No IDs were required.
The Wynnewood State Bank (the building is still there) and the Wynnewood Professional Building and pharmacy (on the current Chase Bank property) were distinct additions. There was also a post office and Dallas Fire Station No. 33. Wynnewood Presbyterian Church was the only house of worship.
For years, the Wynnewood Theater entertained children, teens and adults. And when Goff’s Charcoal Hamburgers opened (now a laundromat), the place was packed with customers purchasing those delicious burgers and chocolate mint ice cream in what was then the “new” waffle cones.
South of Illinois Avenue were smaller brick houses with single garages, while the more spacious upscale homes in Wynnewood North offered custom appointments, larger lots and double garages. And, rambling on both sides of Zang and lining Illinois, the Wynnewood Apartments housed hundreds of post-war families. Many of the newly created streets were named after World War II battles, ships and commanders, reflecting Angus G. Wynne Jr.’s naval background. Including the housing, Wynnewood Village comprised roughly 820 acres.
In the later 22-acre shopping expansion, one of the busiest stores was Cinderella Dallas — a teen clothing store that also offered “modeling and charm” classes. I never became a model, and I don’t know how charming I am, but I did attend. As did my sister, and yes, our brother, too. (He still has the certificate to prove it.)
Kresge’s variety store opened, as did a Titche-Goettinger and Jas. K. Wilson. Now gone, Montgomery Ward gave Cliffites a Sears-type store that didn’t require a drive to Jefferson Boulevard.
Although the old businesses are all gone, one thing is still the same. As it did in 1950, the stately, iconic Wynnewood sign still beams its neon message to the community.
A bite of Fred’s barbecue, a burger from Goff’s or a cookie from Jan’s Bakery sounds mighty good. But I can’t think of that right now. I need to rush off to school. Charm school, that is. For a refresher course.