Mixed memories

A visit from columns past

"I don't regret it at all," says Ashmore, who is doing consulting work and grant-writing for non-profit organizations. "Boulder is beautiful and progressive, and there's a good quality of life. People spend tax dollars here on the people who live here--on recreation centers and bike lanes and the purchase of open spaces. They don't spend it on tax breaks and incentives for corporations they want to relocate here. There's a slow-growth mentality."

Ashmore, who had just returned from a rigorous, one-hour hike up Mount Sanitas when I talked to her--as opposed to most of us Dallasites, who had just finished watching the Cowboys beat Green Bay--admits, when pressed, to missing Dallas. But only on two counts.

"I miss my friends," says Ashmore, whose new best friend is Boulder transplant Marcie Feinglas, former assistant director of the North Texas Food Bank here in Dallas. "And I miss the Tex-Mex."

The important things in life.

In July, we wished the best to Miss Oak Cliff Anna Villalobos, who competed later that month in the Miss Texas pageant.

It was all a bit confusing at first, because Miss Oak Cliff was actually from Plano--and Michelle Martinez, who competed in the Miss Texas pageant as Miss Fort Worth, was actually from Oak Cliff.

The bottom-line was that the pageant business isn't quite as homey and small-town as one might think when propped up against the bed pillows watching Miss Oak Cliff from Plano belt out a hefty, Vegas-style version of the "The Man I Love," which Miss Villalobos did quite admirably on TV in the statewide pageant.

In truth, this is serious business--so serious, in fact, that I was amazed to learn the young women not only duct-tape their breasts to provide that all-too-crucial cleavage, but they spray their fannies with Firm Grip (an aerosol wallpaper glue) before they don their swimsuits so the suit bottoms don't rise indelicately on the runway.

All of which was fairly amusing until Miss Oak Cliff, Anna Villalobos, became the runner-up--number two in the state, thank you very much--in the pageant, losing out only to a vacant-looking platinum blonde with a weaker voice but a set of choppers that must have dazzled the judges, unless, of course, they were too busy staring at the most robust midsection I have ever witnessed on television, except for Dolly Parton.

The folks in Oak Cliff, though, are not dismayed. Not only have they crowned a new beauty queen--19-year-old Carly Jarmon of Mesquite, Miss Teen Texas of 1992--but Villalobos, who has left pageantry to finish college has also left her parents' residence in Plano. To live in--where else?--Oak Cliff.

"She's become a Cliffie," says native Dallasite Danell Lichtenwalter, who chairs the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce. "She's moving into a duplex on February 1, and we're delighted."

Michelle Martinez, by the way, still lives in Oak Cliff with her parents--but came in second, behind Miss Jarmon of Mesquite, in the 1994 Miss Oak Cliff competition in October.

Go figure.

There were two employers we wrote about in 1994: Fishburn's Cleaners and Laundry and the Town of Addison.

Fishburn's was a surprise actually. Who knew that a venerated Dallas institution like Fishburn's was systematically tossing out some of its oldest, most loyal employees as a result of 25-year-old cleaning dynasty heir Edward Slater's skewed vision of modernity.

Loyal, however, does not satisfactorily describe the women who worked for young Edward's parents for decades--women who slaved away at low wages with dwindling, now nonexistent, benefits save an armed holdup or two every once in awhile.

When Fishburn's summarily dumped 70-year-old Grace Shoulders, a widow who had worked in the Casa View store for 17 years and couldn't afford to stop working, she got lucky. Because her 24-year-old granddaughter got angry--especially when she checked the classified ads last July to help "granny" look for a job and saw that Fishburn's needed sales help.

"Why in the world were they advertising for experienced people when my granny...was sitting at home, dying to go back to work?" granddaughter Wendy Roundtree told me. Dying to go back to a job, by the way, that was paying her $5.75 an hour, no pension, and no health insurance--and that salary that was up a whopping $1.50 an hour from her starting wage in 1977.

Ms. Shoulders was such an ace employee, by the way, that when the weather turned icy in the winters, she would sleep overnight in the store on the floor under a quilt rather than go home and risk not getting back to open up early in the morning.

This is a story where justice prevailed. First of all, Ms. Shoulders' granddaughter went and applied for the Fishburn's job herself--and got it, without even a reference check, for $6 an hour. She secretly tape-recorded the interview, then got her granny a lawyer--a good lawyer.

Scott Frenkel was so good, in fact, that within two months, the matter went to mediation, and Fishburn's settled. Ms. Shoulders and her granddaughter say they are happy with the result.

Unfortunately the good guys can't discuss the details. "They didn't want any more bad publicity about this," says Wendy Roundtree. "In fact, if there was, probably the deal would be null and void."

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