9. The Interstate 37 & Crosstown interchange.
Clearly shown is the two overpasses above Leopard street. Leopard street passed under these. And roughly from Sam Rankin on the east on Leopard, to Lester on west, water would flow down Leopard like a funnel. Also came down from Lipan just south but out of photo. We saw some epic flooding under here, but the water never got above 5 feet. As kids we rode our bikes in it until could not pedal. There is a "big ditch" on Coke street just south of Leopard. We stayed away from that as this is where all the flooding water supposed to go, but if you got sucked into the big viaduct there, you dead as next area I was told it popped up was neat SW Bell building! That is quite a way to go under ground.
We also got pulled behind cars into floodwater, nothing serious some scrapes and bruises. And village elders told us 'we would get sucked into manholes if we went in the water, but we knew that the water was being pushed up OUT of manhole covers. How did we know this? We were in the high water. We did worry about oil sheens, chemicals in water, even turds, but never saw turds unless it was Mondo throwing them. And none of us ended up retarded, or had hand grow out of head or anything.
The highest point of #9 is the piece that comes from downtown west then turns up and over everything to go south on Crosstown. I don't know who designed this way back when but what a dumb piece of designing, its like Stevie Wonder designed it. You curve way up and over only to descend into a S curve just past Leopard. But a lot of overpasses were like this back then, hopefully new bridge design won't have all the curves. In the 70s when I was using fake address to go to W B Ray might have been 1976, was living in the attic at 723 Doss. You know the story, no electricity, hot water, indoor plumbing, AC, did homework by Coleman lanterns. And no window on front of the attic either, but I DID put up a screen to try to keep out mosquitos, rats & possums. Nothing worse that trying to sleep on baby bed on top of shipping foam and rat runs across you at 3:00am and wakes you up. Well, one night I was up there asleep and heard a horrible screeching tire noise. not unusual, was used to wrecks in our front yard I-37, and drunks hitting the rails, signs, and each other, and of course gunshots permeated the air even though CCPD building pretty much block away on Brownlee.
I looked out window to see some smoke on the highest part, ran down ladder, jumped on my bike and hauled ass up there, scaling the hill on foot. There was a guy near motorcycle groaning, laying against wall, him motorcycle with headlight on a little farther back. I ran up to him but really bad shape, hell I am 16 or so, and tried to comfort him. You know there are no cell phones, nothing open, and now I am in traffic on worst designed hill in Corpus Christi freeway system holding a bleeding guy's head up to try to keep him from choking on own blood (or so I thought). And now.. TRAFFIC is coming around curve at me. But didn't budge, just put my hand out like STOP!!! and thank God.. the first car stopped, then another, this backed up 4-5 cars, but too late, the man, who I thought was about my age, died.
And I was a huge bloody, crying mess. Several of the people thought I was injured, but I told them I live right there pointing down hill and ran up to try to help. If....you ever look at a number of my photos of family, all taken outside, many have I-37 in background. And next to the rails, is reflectors on little poles, these had two amber reflectors. The fellow on motorcycle came around high bridge and lost control, slid along round rail, and his head hit a damned reflector which killed him. He was not dead when I got there, just died pretty much in arms. And I knew about death being a street kid in tough area, just not THAT close. One of the men who stopped ran down to KAYO bottom of hill and called police p[spay phone, they had tough time figuring out how to get up there from their location 200-300 yards away, but did, now maybe 20 cars backed upand ambulance had to come backwards onto ramp and more cops from KAYO, then upwards, but well, way too late.
I walked home crying after giving cops my information. Woke momma & poppa up & told them story. Went to the outside little shower and washed off, threw my clothes away, for a poor kid, that big thing too. Missed school next day. Had a few nightmares. Wondered if there was anything could have done. Talked to some teachers about it, and friends. And one friend Emilio Guiterrez.. gasped and told me that was his cousin who died. Well, both had good cry.
The big sign Agnes Street was closest to us, never knew why such a big sign with just few words, it is about where Cleveland street would come out, ok, where Cleveland street USED to hit Antelope, and go into The Cut, before I-37 built. If you headed eastbound on I-37 towards downtown, you turned south here. It was right behind my BIG SIGN (#6 on the map) I wrote about. Nothing special about this sign or exit though. I will let future generations write about this interchange as I watch huge pilings drove into ground and built in pretty much my old front yard Doss & Antelope. The new bridge is supposed to last 170 years. Or so 'they' say. But this configuration of I-37 & Crosstown will never be same and why am writing about it while some of it still there.
PHOTOS: photo #1: This lonely view was taken in 1980s. I had just moved to Houston
& longing for home as the Foreigner song goes "long, long, way from home"
the tiger teen of 68 AMX hood visible in foreground, the trash that blew in from Leopard
street with the relentless south wind strewn along curb & freeway never to be picked
up by a city in area time forgot. In a winter of desolation, a surprising knock on the
front door to see momma who burst into tears to see me again. We didn't have phone you
know. And as I mentioned 'Long, Long Way From Home'
Photo #2 in 2018. While THE SIGN that appears in most of my photos is still there on left (we never took photos indoor, too much shit, no lights) you can see how the new bridge pilings coming in at Crosstown & I-37 here on Antelope street. And our old house to the right....gone.
Photo #3. In front of our old house on 723 Doss, my room when I lived there was attic, and it is directly behind the palm, my late dad Homer T Stakes standing in front of the 1970 AMC Rebel Chinese Embassy car I gave him. Wished I had photo of the window, as was great view, could see over freeway, good breeze, worse part was rats & possums though. Sometimes no breeze, would go out and sleep on front porch with sheet. Coca Cola workers wake me up. But it was cooler. And no rat alarm!
Photo #4. Against the wishes of our parents Leopard street under Crosstown would flood. And no, none of us 'ever got sucked into manhole covers' nor were there sharks ha ha, have to tell you about sharks on Leopard street. Not gamblers or hustlers, but finned fellows like off Mai Tai pier or Bob Hall Pier. By the way you car people like myself, that is a 65 Rambler American there!
Photo #5 Wished was better photo but there is the big huge Agnes & Laredo street sign behind me. It was HUGE, am facing east in this photo washing another 68 AMX in our front yard, the I-37 & Crosstown intersection behind me. Driscoll & Wilson Tower a mile behind me. My apartment at The Landing on Weber was smaller than this damned huge sign.
Photo #6. I am standing in middle of Interstate 37 in 2018 here. As a teen, I crawled up and OVER "the sign" there. I sort of liked that sign as creepy as that sounds but since was a fixture in my life for many years, kinda adopted it. No, I don't want damned thing. There are no reflectors here, and the Agnes & Laredo sign long gone. As I write this "big sign" is probably gone too. And not far back is the curve where I saw death up close & personal as a kid in 1970s. And Ernie Stettener fell thru W. B. Ray gym room f in front of me, and died, but that was little different.
Photo #7. Well, this is the Stakes family in 1980s. Yes, another outside photo, but thank God I got some memories of my family living in this shithole otherwise Celia would have stole them all. Left to right: Homer T Stakes, me, momma Sarah Stakes & Tommy Stakes, and 3 of us wearing American Motors stuff...except momma, which means we might have been going to CC Speedway that night! But look closely to upper right. There is not one, but TWO of those steel pipes with the freeway reflectors shown at top, right behind the reversed sign. And that...my friend is what Emilio's cousins head hit so many years ago. By the way, and in the 'not that anyone gives a crap' category is the reversed sign used to say MERGING TRAFFIC.
Photo #8. Me with THE SIGN and well, sadly, one of those damned reflectors on steel pipes which is off to left of me. I used to play in band, ok, like graduating from W B Ray, attempted to play in band, keyboard, and if I remember Keyboards In was on SPID in 1970s/early 80s.
Photo #9. I-37 behind me fixing to change to Crosstown Exit about 1980. No, not Peter Fonda, and whoever took this photo was sitting in my 68 Javelin, and next to me is my 1970 Javelin. And our front yard I-37 to left, and those damned reflectors on steel poles.
Photo #10. Looking south at new I-37 Crosstown exchange, that is Leopard street in foreground & Lipan crossover in background. The BIG HOUSE upper left. Shotgun houses on upper right, Gomez family lived in one of them. Our houses were out of photo to right block away. School bus going up Brownlee on left.
Photo #11. Since I mentioned "the big ditch" on Coke street, here it is and it disappears under Crosstown headed towards downtown was told, in the 1960s. Rumor has it during a flood, a baby shark was found here. This ditch is old, outdated, and one day will have to be rebuilt I guess. You are looking east towards downtown here, Crosstown and where the little shotgun houses used to be... right in front of you. PS: used to be good place to catch tadpoles, froggies and minnows here!