Category Archives: Neighborhood

Happy Hour on March 31 at 1611 Hollywood Avenue

Last FridayMary Maddox and Ted Thomas will host this month’s “Last Friday, First Call” neighborhood happy hour on March 31 at 1611 Hollywood Avenue. All Hampton Hills residents are invited to mix and mingle with their neighbors, and to bring snacks and libations to share.

The fun begins at 6:30 p.m.

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Unafraid of Our Ghosts

Visitors to Dallas often make their way to Dealey Plaza, the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. They spend hours inside the Sixth Floor Museum, carefully inspecting the vantage point from the “sniper’s lair,” before moving outside to stand atop the grassy knoll, peer over the picket fence, and contemplate the place on Elm Street where an X marks the spot of our national horror. They travel to Oak Cliff to see the rooming house on North Beckley Avenue, where Lee Harvey Oswald lived in 1963, and to West Jefferson Boulevard, site of the Texas Theater, where he was apprehended by Dallas Police for the killing of officer J.D. Tippit on 10th Street.

Inevitably, they visit the Kennedy Memorial, about 200 yards from Dealey Plaza, at Market and Commerce streets. The architect Philip Johnson designed the bone-white cenotaph in 1970, not as “a memorial to the pain and sorrow of death,” but as “a permanent tribute to the joy and excitement of one man’s life.”

The simple, concrete memorial is intended to be a place of contemplation. Its 30-foot-high walls, open in the center and along most of the base, create a space apart from the bustling city. At the center is a black granite slab, too square to be confused with a tomb, inscribed simply with the President’s name.

All these places and names, familiar to many Americans of a certain generation, create an impression of Dallas as a place of enormous sadness.

Today, the School Book Depository is framed by a gleaming skyline like a monument to madness. Parkland Hospital’s former Trauma Room 1, where President Kennedy was examined and declared dead, still exists, although it is now abandoned and unrecognizable. The Parkland name now adorns a massive new building that looks more like a tombstone than a modern medical center.

To live and work in Dallas is an almost constant encounter with its ghosts. Every day, motorists unknowingly pass the grave of Clyde Barrow, a poor hillbilly from West Dallas who met his own violent end in an ambush that also claimed the life of his lover, Bonnie Parker. Their bank-robbing shooting spree made them cult celebrities of the early 1930s. One can only imagine how they would have trended on today’s social media, given their fascination with collecting newspaper clippings of themselves and their exploits.

To live in Dallas, you have to make room for its ghosts.

Traveling its streets, passing its past, you may be able to avoid reality but you can’t escape it. Despite the popular appeal of J.R. Ewing and America’s Team, the Dallas Housewives and The Bachelor, Mark Cuban and Ross Perot, Dallas cannot erase its association with tension, trouble and terror. The city’s racist establishment, corrupt political system and north-south bipolar disorder have all been well documented.

So why live in a place so fragmented, so divided, so haunted by past iniquities and enduring inequities?

Because Dallas is America.

Although historically predominately white, Dallas has diversified as it has grown. Today, about a third of the city’s 1.3 million citizens are white, 25 percent are black or African-American, and nearly 25 percent are foreign born. The largest minority groups in the city are Hispanics and Latinos, making Dallas a microcosm of the U.S. population.

To live in Dallas, then, is to live in America.

Throughout this vast and conflicted city, you’ll find localized populations of Chinese, Korean, Persian, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, German, Arab, Polish, Russian, Romanian, and Jewish peoples. Our neighborhood, in south Oak Cliff, is almost equally divided between black and Hispanic residents. This multicultural mix is the direct result of what Dallas has come to represent: It is a place of new beginnings; of continuous change; of limitless possibilities; of big ambitions.

The opportunity to make a fresh start continues to bring many people to Dallas. We will not be defined by our bloody, racist past but by our multiracial future. Our commitment to healing our wounds and working toward greater understanding and appreciation of each other will be the way we build a more perfect union.

Revitalization Effort Underway

A group of concerned Hampton Hills residents met recently to revive the Hampton Hills Neighborhood Association, which has been dormant for some time. At that meeting, several individuals were nominated to assume leadership positions and move the organization forward. A ballot is being prepared so that a formal voting procedure can take place.

Also, Cliff and Jon Garinn offered to serve as Neighborhood Watch Coordinators. Although their appointment will require confirmation by the newly elected leaders, they have begun collecting data and updating information to facilitate a smooth transition. To sign up for Neighborhood Watch notifications, email the Garinns.

In another important development, Jon Garinn agreed to serve as the organization’s Web Master. Anyone with suggestions or feedback is invited to contact him directly via email.

Sign of the Times

imageIf you’ve walked through Hampton Hills, you’ve likely seen a stamp such as this at various places in the sidewalk. As the neighborhood developed and new walkways were poured, Klein Bros. changed out the date, providing a history of the neighborhood right under our feet. The first walkways were laid in 1925.

Surprisingly the company is still in business, although the name has evolved to reflect the family’s development.

Apparently, Klein Brothers did a pretty good job of mixing and pouring Hampton Hills’ walkways. The average lifespan of a concrete sidewalk is about 40 years, but some sections of sidewalk in Hampton Hills are now nearing 80! We have problems with tree roots pushing up entire slabs, but the concrete’s integrity remains.

Debunking Debarking

We’ve noticed that some neighbors aren’t very happy about dogs that bark and disrupt their quiet bliss. In their frustration, they’ve taken to making threats and hurling insults. The problem is, these tactics don’t do much to solve the problem.

Dog owners know all too well that it’s a dog’s nature to bark. Consider this, from NoiseHelp:

When a dog’s barking has proven to be an intractable problem, one solution may be a surgical procedure to reduce the sharpness and loudness of the dog’s bark. For many owners this is a last resort, one they turn to with great reluctance, after all attempts at training have been unsuccessful. Often they are owners who have been served notice by code compliance that they must either get rid of the dog or move, because of the disturbance caused by the barking. In these cases, the surgery may be the only way to avoid either losing their home or giving up their beloved pet.

The surgical procedure is called vocal cordectomy, surgical debarking, or devocalization. Each of these terms is actually a misnomer, because vocal cords are not removed, and the dog is still able to bark and to vocalize after the procedure. “Bark softening” is another term used, which is more accurately descriptive.

In the procedure, the veterinarian removes a small bit of tissue from each side of the animal’s vocal folds, using scissors, a biopsy punch, a laser or other surgical tools. It is performed under general anesthesia. There are two techniques: the oral technique, which is a quick and simple procedure that is performed through the dog’s open mouth, and the laryngotomy technique, in which the area is approached through an incision in the neck.

A dog owner who hears about “devocalization” surgery might expect that the procedure will completely silence the dog, but this is not the case. The dog will still be able to howl, yip, whine and growl. The debarking procedure does not even take away the dog’s ability to bark. In fact, the dog will normally bark just as much as before the procedure. The difference is that the sound will be softer, typically about half as loud as before or less, and it is not as sharp or piercing. So while the procedure does not stop barking or silence the pet, it is effective at reducing the sound level and sharpness of the dog’s bark.

For those who opt for bark softening surgery who were otherwise facing the prospect of either giving up their dog or moving, they consider the main benefit for the dog to be that it is able to continue living with the same loving family in the same home. Without debarking, the dog might have been surrendered to a shelter, where it might eventually have been euthanized.

But there are often additional benefits for the dog’s well-being:

  • After the surgery, the dog is allowed to bark freely as much as it likes, which is its natural behavior.
  • The dog is no longer subject to constant disapproval (and sometimes scolding or yelling or worse) for its barking. Without this stress and confusion for the dog, the relationship with its owner can be much happier and healthier.
  • For some dogs that are successfully trained not to bark inappropriately, the price they pay for their obedient behavior is that they become depressed or neurotic. After debarking, these dogs can be allowed to resume their exuberant barking behavior, dispelling their depression or neuroticism.
  • After debarking, dogs that had to be kept locked indoors almost all the time to avoid antagonizing the neighbors can now be freed to enjoy playing outdoors.

A reader responds:

When politely asking multiple times does not alleviate the problem, there is no issue with raising your voice and letting someone else know that you mean business. I threatened to get the City involved and that seems to have been enough motivation to get the owner to take responsibility for a noisy pet. I know you are dog lovers, and you might be slightly biased, but please don’t forget those who are peace and quiet lovers who love this neighborhood too.

We suspect that the reader’s efforts will only result in a temporary solution. It will be interesting to know how the situation develops. We’ll keep you posted.