Favorite Five is a new series where we’ll go into the homes of some of Dallas’ coolest kids and document their five favorite things. Know someone worthy of a nom? Type their name in the comments below.
When you walk into Cara Crossley’s house, your immediate reaction is “Shut your mouth” and “Girl, work” — then you remember you’re not on RuPaul’s Drag Race and you chill the eff out. It is, however, immediately apparent that Crossley knows what the hell she’s doing and it’s no surprise that she worked with the visual merchandising team at Urban Outfitters and kept Stag Austin looking right for years. (Stag Dallas is still one of her favorite places to shop.) She’s now turned her attention to freelance floral design and her workstation in the area formerly known as her kitchen is an altar to her passion. There are stems and leaves spread out from the incredible designs she created for PhotoWagon’s Second Anniversary Party at Hari Mari the day before, and she’d much rather work than cook. Who wouldn’t? Especially when she lives right down the street from Norma’s, where Crossley likes to eat around 5 p.m. and prefers macaroni and cheese to vegetables. She’s the perfect hybrid of small child and elderly woman and she's the first one to admit it. She finds what she likes and sticks with it, so when she ventures out of Oak Cliff, she heads to The Grape for the hamburger or Mai’s for No. 42, no shrimp.
One of the easiest people in the world to talk to, Crossley is super open about her life, her possessions and her continual quest to balance her sentimental nature with her minimalist style. When she was in college, her grandparents wrote her a letter every single Monday and she saved them all. If she kept them out on display, the clutter would probably kill her (we’re guessing), so she keeps them stored in suitcases she inherited from those same grandparents. On the hall wall, there's a series of oil paintings made by her grandmother. In the ultimate act of teamwork, her grandfather cut and carved the frames. It’s clear her artistic ability was inherited along with so many incredible items. But then, these aren’t just items, they’re a piece of her history.
There’s a wit to Crossley, like in the way she delivers the line, “I’ve always liked old – people and things.” Growing up in Beaumont, she spent a lot of time at the regional airport – which was “really just grass and dirt” – where her granddad and his friends tinkered around. They took her flying, let her ride four-wheelers and even gave her coffee with a heavy dose of cream. One item that’s not on display is a small windmill her grandfather gave her. She’d hold it out the window as they drove around the back roads in South Texas. It’s broken now and tucked on a shelf in the kitchen or, you know, what used to be the kitchen. If you’re wondering if she grew up in a Country Time Lemonade commercial, our guess is yes.
Around this time, Crossley developed a love for '80s country music and she still plays it on her record player today. Her other favorite genre? '90s rap. Specifically DJ Screw and the Dirty South. How, right? Who knows. Crossley is diverse like that. She also works part time at Dolly Python and is an Oddfellow at Dallas Lodge 44, which finally leads us to a list of her five favorite things, though it was extremely difficult to narrow them down.
Oddfellow Banners, Early 1900s
Purchased from Bruce Webb of the Webb Gallery.
These banners are embroidered and stitched, though there are older hand-painted versions. The Oddfellows love a symbol and the three links in the middle banner represent friendship, love and truth. Which is how the bar in the Bishop Arts District got its name.
Hats, Preferably Stetsons
Crossley loves a Stetson and has a collection. She’s purchased some herself and inherited others. A personal favorite is the Open Road with a smaller brim all around. It’s the same style Lyndon B. Johnson wore. Crossley tells the story of LBJ and his Amphicar and how he thoroughly enjoyed scaring passengers by driving them straight into the lake.
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Brass sculpture was a huge mid-century trend, so naturally, Crossley needed one. It’s a major statement piece. If you want one, hit up Modern Joe at Revolve Modern in the Design District (one of Crossley’s favorite hotspots), comb through 1stDibs or hope you strike it lucky at a local estate sale. The best known brass sculptor of this era was C. Jere.
Anything From Her Grandparents
We already touched on all the paintings and letters Crossley has from her grandparents, but there are knickknacks and pictures, too. This particular display cabinet was inherited from her grandmother, including all the little ceramic objects inside. Crossley wanted to make sure she put them back exactly as they were, so she took a picture of the case before packing it up for the move.
Growing up Crossley had a shih tzu named Gizmo, so when she saw this little guy walking down Sylvan Avenue she stopped her car and shouted “Gizmo!” Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t his name, but she scooped him up anyway. She looked for his owners but ended up keeping him. They’ve pretty much been inseparable ever since.
Follow Cara Crossley on Instagram @unclecarl13.