Our Back Story columnist, Gayla Brooks, is quite a treasure. Her column easily is the most popular part of the Oak Cliff Advocate. This month, her column is about pilot John William Konrad Sr. But for the past few Decembers, Brooks has written about Christmastime in Oak Cliff.
Her column from 2009 is about the Oak Cliff Woman’s Club’s annual Christmas pilgrimage. The club is still around, and their big event now is the Festival of Tables, in which members set luncheon tables with elaborate decorations. They also wear big, fancy hats. But anyway, back in the ’50s and ’60s, the club’s big event was this pilgrimage, which was sort of like a home tour, Brooks recalls.
“Mom and I would arrive at the first home shortly after dinner, greeted by the homeowner wearing a holiday dress or suit (often adorned with one of those then-popular artificial Christmas corsages), along with high heels, hose with seams down the back, and every hair in place. Visitors would roam from room to room, enjoying the entries and searching for the award ribbons. Then, it was on to the next house.”
Brooks remembers “every sort of glitz and glam that one could imagine, using every size of Styrofoam ball manufactured,” in the decorations. But wait, there’s more. All the women’s club ladies decorated their bathrooms for Christmas, so loos were part of the tour too.
Next, in this story from December 2011, Books tells us about the amazing, spectacular Christmas houses of Kessler-Stevens and Glen Oaks. By today’s standards, these decorations would hardly garner a second glance, but cars lined up to see them in the ’60s.
“In the ’50s, Kessler-Stevens was famous for then-new ‘luminaries’ — sand-in-the-bottom paper sacks holding small candles — lining sidewalks and walkways throughout the neighborhood. In those days they were dazzling, modern, ahead of the times!” Brooks writes.