By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Movin' On Up
Bubble-icious: Only George Jefferson could have done us so proud!
Before I was transferred (somewhat unwillingly) to this simmering urban sprawl, a.k.a. "the metroplex," a decade ago, all I knew about Dallas was: 1) The city had been the site of the unfortunate sudden demise of a president; 2) it had a really big airport; and 3) Dallas had an infamous ongoing legacy of perhaps the most abysmal race relations of any major metropolis in the country (thanks to my viewing of nationally televised footage of Big D's sensationally rancorous city council meetings in the '80s...Diane Ragsdale, where are you now?). Indeed, after arriving here, I instantly absorbed that "the race card" was dealt 'round these parts with a pervasive, pernicious cunning that I had never remotely witnessed in any of the other cities in which I'd lived, and that as a new brotha in town, I'd just better get used to it. As part of my indoctrination as a neophyte Dallasite (and being a bit of an agitator in this intriguingly racially charged atmosphere), the two favorite questions I formulated to innocently pose in an effort to liven up dull cocktail parties were:
1. "Just who is this John Wiley Price guy?"
2. "Do any black people actually live in Highland Park?" (Clarification: other than "help.")
As for responses to the latter, they ranged from: 1) "Of course, we have African-Americans living in Highland Park, you silly man...we would never exclude anyone on the basis of race as long as they could AFFORD to live here." (This from a flawlessly coiffed, bejeweled and impeccably dressed longtime resident of "The Bubble." When pressed as to just who exactly these sepia-complected HP-ers might be, she icily informed me, "Well, I don't personally know them, but I'm sure they are very nice people.")
2) "Brothaman, are you outta your mind? Hell, no! Never been any black folk owning property in Highland Park and never will be...no matter how much money they've got!" (This from a black native Dallasite who, by the way, proceeded to then launch into a lengthy diatribe to relieve me of my ignorance as to just who "this Mr. Price" was.)
My own less-than-scientific research indicated that the truth of the matter tended to verify the second response I had received to my inquiry. I was baffled...even the toniest enclaves in the most provincial of the other burgs in which I'd lived always had at least a token "fly-in-the-buttermilk" (as my mother would say) black family or two, but such was apparently not the case in Highland Park.
So the debut of the Watsons (Buzz, by Patrick Williams, June 5) into the welcoming arms of HP is truly monumental (although I still can't fathom why Park Cities People editor Tom Boone considers the event "pretty strange"...he makes the move-in of the Watsons sound analogous to a UFO landing on Preston Road and waiting patiently in line for an always-coveted close-in parking spot at Highland Park Village). And I don't know if my eightysomething-year-old father, a native of backwoods East Texas, will be able to process this milestone. His vision of Dallas is still a freeze-frame of the rigidly segregated 1940s...he reminds me that Negroes were prohibited from even walking across the campus of SMU at a time when the concept of blacks owning a home in the Park Cities was beyond the unthinkable. (Of course, I'm not sure my father ever really believed Ron Kirk was elected mayor of Dallas.)
Since one of the other oddities I've learned about Dallas is that there is no speedy crosstown east-west route north of downtown, I'll breathe a little easier and feel a tad less alien, thanks to Karen and Joshua Watson, when I must transit through "The Bubble" as I motor down Mockingbird Lane at night. I might even drop by their crib for a drink, as long as I'm in the 'hood!
We're movin' on up...lawd ha'mercy!
Oldie and goodie: As a newcomer to Texas, my knowledge about WRR-FM and its future is scant ("Radio Free Gomer" and "Radio BBQ," by Jim Schutze, May 29 and June 5). But I do enjoy the station, and I know something about radio.
The radio call WRR is an old amateur radio call issued many years ago, when our present broadcast frequencies were part of the amateur band. The FCC did not exist in those days, and everyone who could afford the cost owned a radio station. General Motors owned one, as did scores of businesses, large and small, across the nation. Each of these stations was issued a three-letter call. WRR is a survivor of that era. Other cities still have them--WHB in Kansas City, KSL in Salt Lake City and KGO in San Francisco. Still others exist in Wheeling, New York, Chicago and Seattle, to name a few cities. In short, WRR is a part of Texas history, and it is still alive today. Its age accounts for the antenna occupying the most advantageous site in Dallas County.