It was a quarter-century ago when the very first Advocate landed on porches across East Dallas, promising to tell the stories that matter most to our neighborhood. Since then, we’ve covered countless stories and photographed hundreds of neighbors in their best and worst moments. All together, it paints a rich tapestry of what makes Lakewood the unique, historic and eccentric neighborhood we love. We’ll mark our silver anniversary by taking a look back at our top 10 favorite covers.
East Dallas has come a long way in the last 22 years, when the crime rate spiked as you crossed Beacon driving north on Abrams. While Lakewood was a family neighborhood, just five minutes up the road then-17-year-old Woodrow senior Patty Galva laid in bed at night, listening to gunshots and praying that stray bullets wouldn’t ricochet into her house. Now, property values have skyrocketed in many of those northern neighborhoods, which are now bustling with young families. The criminal element remains in some corners, however. The 2010 census bureau showed that of the entire city, you are most likely to be the victim of a crime in East Dallas’ Ross Avenue/Bennett Avenue area.
DART was not a welcome addition when the city planned to build the northeast line, stretching from Mockingbird to White Rock Lake and beyond. Most were initially concerned over the noise the trains would make barreling through the neighborhood every 15 to 20 minutes. Others feared the rails would bring in crime and negatively affected property values. The city planned to begin construction in 1998, so neighbors spent much of 1996 trying to ensure that officials listened to their demands regarding the new development, particularly when it came to sound walls.
Few things get East Dallas residents more heated than real estate. In 2002, neighbor took on neighbor in the battle over teardowns. Sick of seeing quaint homes ripped out and replaced by houses twice as large, residents got vocal with developers, complaining about everything from the tacky styles, to the impact on the neighborhood’s charm. The city took a more mild approach, wanting to look at teardowns on a case-by-case basis. But it clearly marked one of the turning points in Lakewood, when neighborhood character became a topic of great concern.
There are few neighborhood places East Dallas residents adore more than White Rock Lake; we run there, we party there and we flock there to check the banks after particularly nasty storms. But when the city made plans to invest $42 million on lake improvements, powerboats were proposed and the neighborhood split between those who wanted to preserve the bucolic nature of White Rock Lake, and those that wanted to get peak recreational value from it. It was time for us to take a deep look at the lake, what it had once been and what its future would hold. We also stumbled on some fun facts, like the time a German soldier was so taken with White Rock Lake during his time as a prisoner of war on its banks, he wrote the Dallas Morning News to seek help immigrating to Texas when he was released.
Of Woodrow fame
It was the year Woodrow Wilson High School marked its 75th anniversary, so we decided to spotlight some of the high school’s most well-known students. There was class of 1940’s Carroll Shelby, whose track record in the classroom was less than stellar, but who would go on to develop the famed Shelby Cobra and Viper. He also earned Sports Illustrated’s Race Car Driver of the Year in 1956 and 1957 and had his name included in both the International MotorSports Hall of Fame and the Automotive Hall of Fame. There was also Jerry Haynes, class of 1944, who rose to fame as Mr. Peppermint on the long-running beloved WFAA series, “Peppermint Place.”
Concern over development in East Dallas began about the time the first houses went up, but general hatred of McMansions replacing residential bungalows reached fever pitch in 2005. Neighbors successfully fought to create the Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Districts in the City of Dallas, which provides less protection than a historic district but allows more input in how projects are built, including yard size, height and garage location. Simultaneously, East Dallas was staring down the prospect of a $50 million, 25-story luxury apartment complex at 1000 Emerald Isle, and enough was enough. More than 200 attended public meetings to oppose the development. Ultimately, the project was scaled back and eventually killed off all together.
With tongues fully entrenched in our cheeks, we took on a tabloid look complete with paparazzi-style photos of local celebs as they went through their regular days, shopping, dropping kids off a school and heading to work. It certainly wasn’t our most hard-hitting piece, but we have fun playing celebrity stalkers with some of East Dallas’ most well-known personalities, from former CBS sports anchor Gina Miller, who left the air in 2013 to pursue “entrepreneurial projects,” to Craig Miller, whose velvety voice can still be heard daily on “The Ticket.” It was a journalistic joke that got lost on some of our readers, a couple of whom wrote us strongly worded letters denouncing our new tacky tabloid design.
Garbage. We all have to deal with it, but what happens after it leaves our curb each week? We got our hands dirty with an in-depth look at the business of trash. Most interesting to us was the items people leave behind. There’s the criminal side — the dead bodies and meth lab remnants that make their way into the landfill. But there’s also the treasure, like the time they found a box containing three Rolex watches and four large diamond rings. “It turned out a family had been cleaning out their home and accidentally threw the box away, but we were able to return it to them,” said Ron Smith, the city’s assistant director of sanitation services, at the time.
Dallas’ history of racism is long, ugly and well documented. When the 40th anniversary of desegregation in Dallas’ public schools loomed, we took the chance to sit down with East Dallas residents to remember what those years were like for both black and white students. They noted that, more than most places in the country, Dallas did its best to avoid integrating schools for as long as possible. “I was surprised by the amount of resistance [to integration],” said Ed Cloutman, a Lakewood resident who spent 33 years representing a black student in a desegregation case against DISD. “You read about it in a lot of places, but it seemed to dissipate, even in the Deep South. We were still dealing with it 10 years in. I guess you just can’t underestimate the racism in some people’s hearts.”
Few streets in East Dallas get as much ink in Dallas as Greenville Avenue. Love it or hate it, it’s a hub of our neighborhood and its changing faces has been a hot topic of discussion for decades. We decided to dig into the various opinions on Greenville, from its plummeting crime rates in recent years to its proliferation of partying frat boys. From its history as one of Dallas’ main thoroughfares before the Central Expressway was built in 1950, Greenville has long set the pulse in East Dallas.
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