By Connie Bally
Back in the ‘60s when my family first moved to Texas, we lived in Houston in an area where the ranch-style brick homes were built on deep-set lots that had mature oak and pine trees that offered shade and comfort.
We knew most of the families who lived in our little area and most of the families had children around the ages of me and my two sisters. We’d spend our afternoons and weekends walking from one house to the other watching TV, riding our bikes and climbing into tree houses, while talking about boys in hushed whispers. We spent a lot of time outdoors in those days, so my memory of growing up in that neighborhood includes our neighbors as much as it does the neighborhood.
In 1994, I got the chance to move to Colorado where I lived for 15 years. I loved it there, but after a while I got homesick for Texas. Realizing it was time to move back, I chose Fort Worth because it was a smaller city than Houston, and traffic wasn’t an issue. I also like living in four distinct seasons and experiencing autumn, with the change of leaves and the change in temperatures had an additional appeal.
House hunting was brief. In fact, 12 years ago when I moved back to Texas, I moved into the first house I looked at. It reminded me of my old childhood neighborhood in Houston in that it has ranch-style brick homes built on deep-set lots with mature oak and pine trees. The resemblance is uncanny.
Since I was a newcomer to Fort Worth when I moved here in 2009, I didn’t know one area from the other. The decision was made to move into that brick, ranch-style house and stay there for a year or two while I learned the city and decided where else I might like to live. Twelve years later, I’m still in that house in Meadowbrook, which is in East Fort Worth off of Interstate 30 and Brentwood Stair Road.
I love to walk. During my 12 years of living here, my neighbors have gotten used to seeing me and Tater, my dog, walk the neighborhood almost daily. I have gotten to know my neighborhood from a different perspective than just zipping through in an automobile. The homes are gorgeous, and watching the large trees transition throughout the year brings me additional joy. I wave at countless familiar cars as they drive by me, and it makes me feel very connected to an area of town that most people wouldn’t realize offers this sense of community.
Meadowbrook census breakdown
Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): 4,175 (73.3%)
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino: 658 (11.6%)
Black: 769 (13.5%)
Two or more races: 146 (2.6%)
Under 5: 8.5%
5 to 17: 22.2%
18 to 24: 18.3%
25 to 44: 26.3%
45 to 54: 8.2%
55 to 65: 8.5%
65 to 74: 5.9%
75 and older: 1.9%
Median age: 25.5
Less than high school graduate: 49.6%
High school graduate: 30%
Some college or associate’s degree: 17.6%
Bachelor’s degree: 1%
Graduate or professional degree: 1.8%
East Fort Worth has its problems, but it also has its beauty. The area in which I live is at least 65 years old. Some of my neighbors have lived here for 45 to 50 years, and we all know each other well. It’s a true neighborhood in that we do things for each other, check up on each other and water plants or feed the cats if anyone is going to be out of town. It’s not unusual for two or three neighbors to have house keys to other neighbors’ homes. The homes are built incredibly well. I don’t think I saw a single plumbing truck after the freeze in February. I lost electricity and water during the storm, but my house didn’t sustain any damage.
The crime in the area is something we’ve all learned to live with, but, then again, we come together via Nextdoor or email or text or a call if someone is around here who we feel is suspicious.
It’s a beautiful area that isn’t for everyone, but once I got the hang of it I’m not sure I want to live anywhere else. East Fort Worth used to be a well regarded part of town before it took an economic downturn; however, there are green shoots of revitalization that are reflected in more than home valuations.
As I take my daily walks, I’m seeing more joggers and bicyclers out where once those sightings were a rarity. It’s also common to see young professionals move in and the debris from their home renovations are on the curb during bulk waste pick-up week. The wooden fences that were weathered and in serious states of disrepair are now being replaced. Scraggly lawns are being manicured, shrubs trimmed up and trees tended to. Dogs are contained in the pretty, new backyards where only a few short months ago so many were either dumped or allowed to roam free.
My hopes are this trend continues so East Fort Worth can be restored to the glory days it once enjoyed 60 years ago. My neighbors and I would like to see thriving commerce return to this area, crime rates drop and the public schools return to a quality of education that they once offered. It’s far from perfect, but it’s perfectly tolerable.
Meadowbrook is situated about three minutes from I-30 and 820, which can whisk the driver to any destination in Fort Worth in a reasonable amount of time. I often shop at Central Market and join friends for dinner at one of the many exciting restaurants around town and feel the drive is easy as most destinations are 15 minutes or less from my house.
Meadowbrook isn’t centrally located on a map but it feels easily accessible to any destination within Fort Worth, Richland Hills, Haltom City, Watauga and points beyond.
When my usually hectic day is done, I come home to a true neighborhood with trusting, caring neighbors, in a house that is now a home. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Connie Bally was the author of the column about her home and neighborhood. Bally has lived in Fort Worth for 12 years and runs the popular Facebook group Fort Worth Foodies. To tell the story of where you live, please send your essay to email@example.com and Managing Editor Thomas Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.