By Juliet George
Rolling over the red bricks that pave Arlington Heights’ Camp Bowie Boulevard, motorists who call the neighborhood home can tell by the low-pitched rumbling sound and vibrations that they are traveling the main road through their patria chica – their little homeland. For many, it is more than a thoroughfare.Juliet George, Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, Images of America series, 2010)
My parents’ families migrated to Texas in the 1850s and 1870s. My mother and father met and dated while attending Grapevine High School, and both attended North Texas State Teachers’ College (now the University of North Texas) during the early years of the Great Depression.
They went their separate ways. During World War II, my mother found work that she loved with American Airlines. My father began teaching at William James Junior High School in Polytechnic in the late 1930s, married for the first time, completed courses at an evening law school, and – interrupted by war – enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an officer aboard a ship in the South Pacific.
The war and his first marriage ended; he recovered and reunited with my mother, and they married. Because my father’s postwar teaching assignment was at W.C. Stripling Junior High School, he had invested in an old frame apartment building on Mattison Avenue, and so they chose to live in Arlington Heights. They came to love it.
In time, they added two duplexes and a four-unit apartment building to their small list of properties and moonlighting ventures. My mother briefly led the George Day Nursery on one side of a duplex on Birchman Avenue. They found a builder for our first house – a very 1950s clinker-brick home designed by my mother and still standing on Lafayette Street in the Queensborough Heights addition.
From our front yard on Lafayette, we could see the neon flag that then glowed over the dome of the Tarrant County Courthouse. From our front sidewalk, I looked up into the sky on night, trying to see Sputnik – the Soviet satellite.
I attended South Hi-Mount Elementary School for kindergarten (for half a year, because Baby Boomers had overwhelmed the schools and we had to wait for a vacancy). The best institutional experience of my life was spent at Thomas Place Elementary School in Lafayette – now a city recreation center.
After a reversal of fortune for my parents; they reluctantly sold the Lafayette house, and we moved to a rented house north of the boulevard, within walking distance of North Hi-Mount Elementary School. There, I encountered something previously unknown to me: snobbery. Every night, seeing that I was downcast during dinner, my mother would tell me to remember that I came from a good family.
Excellent, caring teachers and good friends helped me get through that demoralizing experience. I advanced to Stripling Junior High School and finished at Arlington Heights High School.
Eventually, my parents were able to purchase a wonderful brick-veneer English cottage-style bungalow on Tremont Avenue. Back then, such a house was affordable for a teacher and a Kelly Girl secretary; the asking price was $12,500! They left it to me, and I am so grateful, as I would never be able to buy it now.
Raised to love history, I became an historian. I joined in an effort to save at least one block of our Hillcrest Addition within Arlington Heights from the teardown trend. With guidance, information, and support from then Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association president Christina Patoski, Historic Fort Worth, Inc., and the city’s preservation officer, a group of Tremont neighbors organized to request historic district status for our long block of 1920s-1930s cottages and bungalows.
I volunteered to research and write the proposal. We succeeded. Later, I told Christina how many great stories I had found, and she encouraged me to write some of them for the neighborhood newsletter. Two archivists suggested that I propose a book to Arcadia Publishing.
While commuting to teach at a high school and a two-year college, I also moonlit in search of deep history and images. Two books, a journal article, a presentation at a British Scholar Society conference in Austin, and other local activities followed. Now retired from teaching, I am proud to work for the Brent Rowan Hyder Foundation on several projects relating to the original late-1880s Chamberlin Arlington Heights, to historic preservation, and to building community in an historic and diverse suburb that began and grew during the Jim Crow era.
Although, when younger, I dreamt of going far away, I can now affirm some old truths. The first two are paraphrased; the beautiful third passage (author unknown) comes from the Unitarian Universalists’ book Singing the Living Tradition.
- Write about what you know best.
- It is good to return home at the end of an odyssey.
- “May we know once again that we are not isolated beings but connected, in mystery and miracle, to the universe, to this community and to each other.”
Fort Worth native Juliet George holds degrees in journalism and history from the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Christian University, and took archival administration and education courses at the University of Texas at Arlington. She formerly served as archivist for the Dallas Jewish Historical Society and on the Tarrant County Historical Commission. In addition to her two neighborhood history volumes (Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights (2010) and Camp Bowie Boulevard (2013), she has written essays and articles for Legacies, FW Weekly, and other publications. She and her husband, Coleman W. Smith, share the house on Tremont with two Jack Russell terriers Max and Polly.
To tell the story of where you live, please send your essay to firstname.lastname@example.org and Managing Editor Thomas Martinez at email@example.com.
Total population: 3,390
Female: 46% | Male: 54%
80 and older: 3%
No degree: 1%
High school: 11%
Some college: 26%
Bachelor’s degree: 38%
White: 77% | Hispanic: 14% | Asian: 4% | Black: 1% | Two or more: 3%
Click on the link to view the schools’ Texas Education Agency ratings:
Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences
Juvenile Justice Alternative Education