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.


1611 Hollywood Avenue

1611-hollywood-aveAmong the early residents of Hampton Hills was Virgil Oliver Stamps, a gospel singer and promoter who helped make gospel music popular and widely available throughout East Texas and the southern U.S. He is perhaps best known for composing the music to When the Saints Go Marching In.

After attending several music schools, he went to work with James D. Vaughan and ran the Vaughan Publishing Company office in Jacksonville, Texas, from 1915 into the 1920s. In 1924, Stamps opened the V.O. Stamps School of Music in Jacksonville. His friend J.R. Baxter became his business partner and they changed the name of the company to the Stamps-Baxter Music Company in 1927. The company quickly became the nation’s premier gospel music business. Its activities included songwriting, publishing and sponsoring musical groups and radio broadcasts. Baxter oversaw the operations east of the Mississippi River, while Stamps ran the operations in the western U.S. from his Dallas headquarters. This early success enabled Stamps and his wife, Addie, to purchase a new home at 1611 Hollywood Ave., where they lived with their teenage son, Ware.

Stamps-Baxter helped bring gospel music into the mainstream by broadcasting it nationally on radio and by encouraging performance in public. Stamps and his quartet started a noonday radio program on KRLD radio in Dallas in 1936. The program brought him, the company and gospel music increasingly into public view. The radio program was so successful that it enabled Stamps-Baxter to become the most successful publisher of shape-note music in America. The company’s annual Stamps-Baxter School of Music stood as the largest developer of gospel singers in Texas and throughout the south well into the 1950s.

Stamps died of heart disease on Aug. 19, 1940. His funeral was attended by thousands. In 1973, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted Stamps in 1997. He has also been honored in the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame as a pioneer of gospel music.

Today, Stamps’ former home at 1611 Hollywood Avenue is owned and lovingly cared for by Mary Maddox and Ted Thomas.

1510 Hollywood Avenue

1510-hollywood-aveAmong Hampton Hills’ most notable residents was Laster Baskem Bruton, who came to Dallas in the late 1920s to establish the Southwest Division of the Hygienics Products Company. In 1928, he and his wife, Sarah Estella Stratton Bruton, met with Alf W. Sanders to finalize the deal on a newly constructed Tudor-style cottage at 1510 Hollywood Ave. On Oct. 6 of that year, the Brutons adopted their first and only child, Mary Elizabeth.

Laster went on to become a respected Dallas businessman. He was a Mason and a Methodist. His wife regularly hosted church socials at their home. But beneath the respectable façade, something wasn’t right. Sometime around 1940, the Brutons’ carefully crafted image began to unravel.

After they divorced, Laster married Aeron Burnet in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 1942—the same day Aeron Burnet divorced her husband, Owen Arthur Burnet, whom she had married in 1936. Burnet had recently enlisted in the Navy and agreed that the two should divorce. Bruton had been calling his new bride for dates as early as 1938. Laster and Aeron eventually divorced, on Oct. 29, 1945, and she remarried Owen a short time later.

On Feb. 22, 1946, Owen walked into Laster’s office on the seventh floor of the Texas Bank Building, asking Helen Pryor, Laster’s secretary, “Where’s Laster B.?” When she walked to the door of Laster’s office to announce the visitor, Owen stepped up behind her and began firing a .32-caliber automatic pistol at Laster over Helen’s shoulder. Laster died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck and hips.

The murder trial was a sensation. Among those who took the stand were Aeron, Owen, and Laster’s brother. Owen’s legal team presented a “temporary insanity” defense. They said Laster had a history of domestic violence, including one incident when he became enraged during an argument and shot at Aeron with a .22-caliber pistol. Laster missed, but Aeron fainted and he kicked her, she said. A week prior to Laster’s killing, Laster drove alongside Aeron’s car on Eighth Street in Oak Cliff, opened the door and said, “I’ll get you yet,” before driving away. The following day, District Judge W.L. Thornton granted an order restraining Laster from “molesting or harassing” his ex-wife. On the day of Laster’s killing, Laster swerved his car in front of his ex-wife’s, forcing it onto the curb between the Triple Underpass and Industrial Boulevard. Then, she testified, he slapped her and cursed her.

Owen, who was employed as a mechanic at the Singer Sewing Machine Company on Elm Street, took a call from his wife, who, he testified, “sounded hysterical.” After the conversation, Owen left the building looking “pale and determined, but dazed,” according to his co-workers. Laster was gunned down a few minutes later in his office, which was six blocks away.

Owen was found guilty of “murder without malice” and sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence, however, was overturned on appeal. The appeals court said the trial judge should have admitted testimony about Owen’s acts and appearance shortly before he killed Laster.

Hampshire of Hampton Hills

logodiotimaToday, 1510 Hollywood Avenue is the home of Cliff and Jon Garinn. They named it Hampshire, after the county in southern England that is a popular destination for people on holiday. They even adapted Hampshire’s coat of arms as their own, giving its heraldry unique meaning.

On either side of the shield stand the supporters: The lion, representing Jon, symbolizes deathless courage, emphasized by the crossed swords hanging from the lion’s collar. The swords indicate the bearer to a just and generous pursuit of honor and virtue. The stag, representing Cliff, symbolizes peace and harmony. The naval coronet and anchor around the stag’s neck signify Cliff’s association with the sea, succor in extremity and the Christian symbol of hope. The supporters are depicted in gold, representing generosity, while their accessories are depicted in azure, representing loyalty and truth. Accents are depicted in red, representing fortitude and magnanimity. The crest above the helmet consists of a crown and a twin towered castle. The crown denotes a link with Cliff and Jon’s European ancestors. The castle, reflecting Hampshire’s twin front gables, represents grandeur and solidity. The arms stand on a field of roses, representing Hampshire’s serene landscape.

Executive Committee Nominees Announced

Get to know our neighbors who are nominated to lead HHNA into 2017:

Bonnie Taylor – President
Compared to others in the neighborhood, Bonnie is a new resident. She and her husband, Tom, moved to to Hampton Hills in October 2015. They have been married 41 years and have an adult son and daughter. Their first home, in Kidd Springs, was a Craftsman that they lovingly restored. They are excited to be working on their current home, in this beautiful neighborhood of classic Tudor architecture. Bonnie, a graduate of the University of Texas, is a lifelong learner, but also the mother of two Aggies. She spent her childhood in Oak Cliff considers herself a Texan through and through. She enjoys traveling and reading, as well as new adventures, and is looking forward to becoming the HHNA’s new president.

Anthony Valdez – Vice President
Anthony and his husband, Lewis, moved into the neighborhood last year after falling in love with their Hollywood Avenue bungalow. They enjoy the quietness of the neighborhood and the unique character of each home. Anthony is currently a middle school counselor and previously worked in education at the community college and university levels. They have two cats: Benny, a Blue Russian/Siamese mix, and Nicky, an orange Tabby. They also enjoy watching movies, musicals, and traveling.

John Knott – Treasurer
John has worked in the construction accounting industry for more than 25 years, and his partner, Rod, has been with AT&T for more than 20 years. John first moved to Hampton Hills in October 2003. A few years later, his job took him to San Francisco, though he kept his house as a rental property. During this time, he reconnected with Rod, who he originally met when John was just 15 and still living in Dallas. As the relationship grew and his obligations in San Francisco came to an end,he knew he wanted to be back in Texas. So in 2011, John returned, and he and Rod moved back to Hampton Hills to make a home. They both love the charm/architecture of the neighborhood and feel blessed to be living around so many wonderful neighbors, many of whom have become very good friends. They consider themselves a pretty “laid back” couple: John enjoys gardening and is a bit of a “techie,” and they’re both committed to seeing this neighborhood realize its full potential!

Voting commences on February 27th to formally elect this slate of nominees into office.

There are two ways to vote:
1.) An in-person vote will take place at 1415 Hollywood at 7 p.m.
2.) Residents can message their vote to Jay Johnson via NextDoor or on Facebook

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.

We’re Glad You Found Us!

Welcome to Hampton Hills, an actual place and a virtual reality.

As an actual place, Hampton Hills is one of Dallas’ oldest suburbs—where the city’s first authentic middle class decided to call home. The neighborhood has been a century in the making, evidenced by the well-preserved bungalow, Tudor revival and minimal traditional homes situated along streets shaded by towering trees.

As a virtual community, this site is a destination for anyone who wants to understand why we think Hampton Hills is one of the best-kept secrets in Oak Cliff. Here, you’ll find news and information about our little corner of the world, as well as safety tips, announcements, and insights about our unique place in Dallas’ past, present and future.

We’ve decided to embark upon this venture for two primary reasons: to tell folks far and wide about our charming neighborhood and to share news and insights about our little corner of the world—all from a “moderate” perspective.

Because we are committed to making your experience here as enriching as possible, we welcome your feedback. Simply email Jon Garinn, our webmaster.

Welcome to the neighborhood!