Dallas City Hall versus The Car Wash

Mayor Rawlings calls this South Dallas business a blight. People earning a living there call it family.

She says lots of white people in expensive cars come here to get their cars detailed. "During Texas-OU weekend, it was wonderful. It was great, during the Texas-OU weekend, everybody felt comfortable coming back from the OU game, you know, Fair Park, a lot of people, you know. They know us because they see us all the time."

She says she and other adults on the lot make sure young people do not come to the car wash and disturb the peace. "They're not going do it here, because there's too many elders here. We respect Dale to the highest. The older people, we control the young people. You can't just come up here out of control. No. What I told them years ago, I been doing this 20 years, 'If you all are going to do something, don't do it here. Don't do your dirt here. Take it somewhere else, because this is a business.' I kind of like to be bossy."


A Family Place

"Some of my friends, it's like they going to a picnic. ... Then you going to have the guys like me, on parole. This is the only job I can get." -- John Eddie Burks
Mark Graham
"Some of my friends, it's like they going to a picnic. ... Then you going to have the guys like me, on parole. This is the only job I can get." -- John Eddie Burks
"Don't try to make it a lifetime thing. Something to do until you can do better. You got to crawl before you can walk." 
 -- Tomika McKinney (right) with LaToya Wilson
Mark Graham
"Don't try to make it a lifetime thing. Something to do until you can do better. You got to crawl before you can walk." -- Tomika McKinney (right) with LaToya Wilson

Marshall Cornelius, 55, pauses with polish rag in hand. He has been detailing cars here for 16 years. He says he goes to the car wash every day as much for the social scene as for the money. "We're a family. If an outsider come in here, yeah, we're going to stick by each other, but together amongst us we are going to have some bickering at times, but we're going to move right along, because we're family."


A Better Way to Make a Living

Gary Brown, 45, steps out of a car he is working on. "I come down here and wash cars," he says, "so I can pay my bills. My family eats off this. One hundred dollars a day, feeding my family, paying my bills. This is what we do.

"A lot of us over here may have been in trouble in the past, OK. So society don't want to give us another chance to go get us another job. My felony is 20 years old, but I still have a time finding a job. But to keep me from robbing and stealing, you know what I'm saying, we came up with washing cars, because you got to make a way so we don't rob and steal. We don't ask nobody for anything. There's a lot of us down here, that's all we do."

He doesn't understand why the police show up sometimes and give everybody a hard time. Most of the time, he says, the cops on the beat have a friendly relationship with the car wash, even bringing their own personal cars in for detailing. "The police come down here and eat our barbecue. We wash their cars. They laugh and giggle with us. They wave at us when they ride by, because we know 'em."


The Country Boy Cook

Antonio Baker, 36, is a big guy who works full-time for a railroad, but today he is in full apron, selling barbecue from a smoker on a trailer parked at the Myrtle Street side of the car wash. He says he only comes on weekdays because too many other barbecue sellers show up at the car wash on weekends.

"It's a friendly atmosphere, very friendly. I just do it through the week on my off days, because I got a normal job. I try to come out here and feed the people. I like to come out here on a pretty day. I enjoy my friends, check out the atmosphere, check on everybody, like to see 'em smile when they eat my food, see how they're doing. I'm straight out of Mississippi, country boy. I love to do this. I love to interact with people."

A young man has purchased a hotlink sandwich and tosses the wrapper on the ground. "Uh-uh, don't do that," Baker scolds, stooping to pick it up. "Don't do that. Got a big old trash can right over there." Then he calls out, "Ten dollars for a turkey leg big as your head, right over here."


Damned by a Stereotype

Gary Adams, 56, is a detailer who is also Davenport's on-site manager. "Everybody gets along pretty good," he says. "Every once in a while you might have a little disagreement about something. That's life. But other than that, everybody else is working. We work together and try to make our money."

He bristles when told that some people think the car wash is a frightening place. "That's something that's made up, like a stereotype thing. People come here all time of night to get their car washed, and nobody tries to take their money or does anything to them. Ain't no crime going on."


Politics Spoils Business

Aston Ingram, 49, a sales manager for Budget Mobile telephone company, pulls into the car wash with his assistant, Unika Long, 21, to ask Davenport if he can set up a sales tent on the lot again. Davenport had to kick them out some months ago when the city threatened to cite him for allowing retail activities not permitted by his zoning. Davenport tells them he's still working on it.

Ingram is disappointed. He says the car wash is a great retail site because of the traffic. He feels perfectly safe bringing merchandise here. "We set up with a tent. We have a longstanding relationship with this young man right here [Davenport]. It's beneficial to both of us as well as the community in itself. We had a good understanding, a relationship, until politics got onto it. We look at this as a place people come to."


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16 comments
elmore_leonard
elmore_leonard

"south Dallas is a scene from Detroit"? or is it a scene from South Dallas. Detroit doesn't have a monopoly on dilapidation you silly cunt. 

J_A_
J_A_

The city is not making any money off this operation. And that is their biggest crime.

Subnx
Subnx

The name Diane Ragsdale explains it all. Rawlings needs to go and be replaced by someone who will clean up the ward politics that we have thanks to Jerry Buchmeyer.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

It would seem the reason for the "blight" in the area is NOT the car wash, but rather Ragsdale and the city holding title to a bunch of land they're letting sit idle. Are taxes being paid? My guess is the city doesn't pay itself, but I'm sure it pays somebody plenty to "manage" these holdings.


But I'm sure we'll see a big announcement soon that Stanley Korshak will be opening a new store next to the South Dallas Ritz Carlton Hotel and Towers.


gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Why is it I am left unsurprised over yet another teapot tempest over a freaking car wash?  Perhaps the uber-uppity Dallas Citizens Council should merely get down to the basics and move in about 39 white elephants, and then parade around the fact they're giving "the Black" an opportunity to wash elephants.  Why should I pull punches here?  While I have nary a single thing against Mayor Mike Rawlings seriously now, his "suspicions" have not been confirmed regarding some kind of "secret Marxist, Kenyan, Sou' Dal', Ragsdale revolution a.k.a. black markets and radical means of making money outside established systems controlled by you-know who". 

Washing white cars or whitewashing white elephants: what's the difference? 

Were "The Rawling" to know any little bit about how black market activity tends to rise out of the realms of Nowheresville in terms of poor neighborhoods that have been left to just plain rot because "it's not profitable" to build commercial infrastructure like grocery stores, drug stores, clothing stores, even as the gentrification goobermenches continue to crowd-out poor people who apparently have the "gall" to live close enough to the center of downtown business activity that they can walk there, maybe he might want to take a second look at what happens when alternatives to Scary Rick Perry's Medicaid nullification traveling medicine show don't seem to be appearing, and when all the privatization prattle is never backed up by honest, straightforward action. 

No alternatives?  Sell drugs!  If the so-called "Establishment" or "the System" wants to sit on you like a 350-pound, platinum blonde dominatrix named Big Momma, mouths off a lot about "violence in the inner city" and then goes off the rails when anybody at all even dares to think about something as simple as a "weapons registry" (is gun control really about weapons or not?), then as far as I'm concerned the Kings in the Klown Kar can kick it. 

You think good people sitting on car seats on their porches is "stupid"?  Better think again, Dallas puppet-masters.  Pulling the furniture out of the machine is what it's all about. 

Now, DCC, you are free to go buy some more "detailing material" for your vehicles the rest of us usually call "our wives and girlfriends".  Should I suggest Loreal?  We can smell your feet from miles away, even if The Dallas Morning News and the local television and radio stations want to put the clampdown in place so the "groundlings" can continue to live in ignorant bliss. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

Blight, blight, blight, my backside.  Sound like folks who are trying to make some honest money.  And a damn sight less blighty than most the lots along that stretch of MLK.

And, yes, that neighborhood is rough.  Volunteered my meager carpentry skills a few times when House of Hope was up a street on Grand.  A job well done(1) is its own reward, but I also got a 3-hour spirit-filled service and some terrific chow as reward.

So, yeah, there are criminals, addicts, and all that sort down there.  But, there are also decent folks working and working to improve the neighborhood.  It would be a shame if the city stepped in and crushed that.

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(1) Or in this case, "well enough," since I am no Norm Abrams.  It is one of those things: no matter how poor or lacking you are, someone else is likely to be poorer and grateful for even inexpert constructive help.

junegenis
junegenis

Clearly Dallas City Hall would prefer that these hard workers join the dole and become dependent on government handouts to survive rather than become self-supporting. This business probably does more to truly help those who have gone trough hard times than any welfare program the city has come up with.

debraclakin
debraclakin

Sounds like a place for a great car wash service.

manpanties
manpanties

does the northpark beat include vickery meadow?  

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Oh.  And happy "Thor's Day".  It's also called "Thursday" because people of good sense decided to change the "O" to a "U", and when the little birdie flew out of the egg....

...we shot that little buzzard down easier than shootin' skeet. 

VernBytes
VernBytes

@bvckvs i.e. Carolyn Davis. The true blight of the neighborhood and Dallas City Council.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@timdickey @gordonhilgers 

This is a standard response Gordon sends to all items in which I use the terms "car wash" and "detail."

 
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