Down on Sherman Street

In the old neighborhood, Joe Lee Calloway played dominoes and hung out with his buddies. Until a Grand Prairie cop killed him right there

A blue dump truck has been knocked on its side, its load of Toy Story figurines spilled out onto the living room carpet. Chandra's son, Joseph Calloway, gleefully digs out "Woody" the cowboy and motors about the apartment, his movements slowed by the bulk of a fresh diaper.

Ruby divorced Calloway in 1976 after several years of separation. By this time, Calloway had earned a reputation for being a ladies' man. Although their marriage didn't pan out, Ruby and Calloway maintained a good relationship. He is the only boyfriend she ever had, and her love for him is apparent.

He wasn't a perfect father or husband, she says, but he was surrounded by loved ones, and he filled their lives with laughter.

The last time Ruby saw her old flame was in August, when she spotted Calloway from her car as he was walking through Dalworth with his dog Nose. As usual, Calloway was looking for a laugh.

"I stopped and he said, 'Hey beautiful, don't I know you?' I said, 'You should,'" remembers Ruby, who agreed to give Joe Lee a ride that day. "By the time he got in the car and shut the door, I said 'Where are you going?' He said 'right here.'"

Ruby Calloway says her husband valued life's simple pleasures, and dominoes was his abiding passion.

"When I came home from the hospital after giving birth to Charles, after I was in bed and the baby was in bed, he was in there playing dominoes," she says. "He had a dominoes fetish for as long as I can remember."

The best times Chandra had as a child with her father involved dominoes. "Most people would have the dinner time to talk about family events. We would be at the dominoes table with salami sandwiches and lemon drink," Chandra says, adding that the snack was one of her father's favorites. "He always said you have to use your common sense. You have to understand human nature, and he did. That's how he stayed out of any altercations."

Calloway's son, Charles, echoed his sister. "He was spiritually conscious. I even think he could see better than most people," Charles Calloway says. "I lived side by side with him for 17 years. [His illness] was nothing to be afraid of."

But Calloway's family often had cause for worry, usually when he stopped taking his medication.

"He would get into a spiritual depth where he would talk about Jesus and demons taking over people's minds," Chandra says.

On May 9, 1994, Calloway was released from the psychiatric unit at Zale Lipshy University Hospital after a month of treatment. Chandra was afraid her father's condition was worsening to the point that he would be permanently committed. Chandra and her father discussed the possibility on the day of his release.

"He stood up and said, 'Chandra, these people in here are witches and they aren't doing things that are of God.' I said, 'OK Dad, we can overcome that, but you have to realize that you have to behave a certain way before you're released.' He said OK," Chandra recalls

After his release, Calloway was supposed to return to Zale Lipshy once a month for a shot of Haldol. Eight months after Calloway got out, though, the Grand Prairie police responded to a call about a disturbance inside Calloway's Sherman Street duplex.

"He was arguing, but nobody was there," says Chandra, who later tried to convince Calloway to come live with her and her two children.

He wouldn't do it. He wanted to keep his independence, walk the old neighborhood, and meet his buddies for the daily dominoes games.

Standing a block from Sherman Street, Julius Young stomps his foot and yells "hell no" when asked if he can name a better dominoes player than Calloway.

"All us have partners. We play every day. Me and Joe, we was partners," says Young, who teamed up with Calloway earlier this year after entering drug treatment.

According to Young, the funniest thing about Calloway was how well he had trained his Nose. Still a puppy, the Chow-mix wasn't a "pretty sight," but Young says she understood English so well she could retrieve Calloway's cigarettes on command. Calloway rewarded her with hot scraps from the neighborhood chicken shack.

"That dog ate well," says Young, who breaks out in raspy laughter as he remembers how Calloway dressed Nose up in shirts and sweaters to protect her from the cold. "The only thing that dog didn't have on was sun shades and shoes."

"This place is going fast," laments Ed Hemphill, who throws his Crown Victoria into park in front of a "No Trespassing" sign posted at the edge of Nance James Park.

His eyes masked by a pair of sunglasses, Hemphill strolls over to the park's pavilion and takes a seat on one of the rickety picnic tables where Calloway often slept. Less than 50 yards behind him lies a Grand Prairie police storefront and the old Dalworth school.

Once surrounded by farm land, the pavilion now offers a view of the sprawling Poly-America plant that consumes Dalworth's southern border. Hemphill sighs as he scans the mounds of plastic, waiting to be recycled, stored on the company's cement lot.

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