This is MY neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1966.
The Stakes family lived at corner of Doss & Antelope Street (723 Doss & 2009 Antelope) the Antelope house was a small, straight shotgun house, the Doss one was my grandmothers next door, Maria D Alcala. I have numbered places of interest. The descriptions (and my thoughts) are below this huge photo, courtesy of Corpus Christi Public Library from 1965-66.
BC= Before Celia Aug 3rd, 1970 when our house destroyed and knocked back into stone age. Before that we lived fine, had telephone, electricity, and hot water, indoor plumbing, after than we were screwed. Momma Sarah Stakes died January 30th, 1988 (age 62) after 6 year battle with scourge of brest cancer. My dad, Homer T Stakes died in 2005 (age 79) right after evacuation of the retirement community he was living at, evacuated in light of Category 5 Hurricane Rita in gulf, it was largest evacuation in US history and millions fled inland, I still think this killed him going to Laredo with others in busses. And my brother Tommy Stakes passed away in April 2016, was only 60 years old.
So a TIMELINE here is all these stories of my youth are sadnwiched between what all I remember as a kid, up to when I moved from Corpus Christi since was no Bartender work... in 1983.
#1 being our houses, and fans out. As kids we were told not to go other side of I-37, so boundaries set early on, this area was tough, industrial, and we were shit poor. Both my late brother Tommy Stakes, who passed away in 2016, and me, went to Cathedral, just off this big map to south of Wilson Tower.
South boundaries included Lipan, east basically seawall, but more of Water Street, north Interstate 37 (which WAS our front yard 15 yards from 2009 Antelope front door) and west around Rainbo Bakery. This is where most of my comments will be centered even though a lot of area here!
While we were dirt poor, life was not all that bad and I fouhd things to keep busy, riding my bike with dog Bootsy in tow, picking up rocks at Missouri Pacific railroad tracks to throw at cars on I-37, playing occasional baseball, Hot Wheels, and just doing kids stuff in ghetto like digging in trash.
I am going to slowly fill in the numbers here for people. I may need help on some of this over 50 year old stuff, but wish to preserve a memory of my youth growing up in Corpus Christi. My mom, Sarah Stakes, passed away in 1988 after battle with cancer, my dad, Homer Stakes, died in 2005, and Tommy, my only brother joined them in 2016, so I am the last Stakes standing. Since I like to document things (as evidence of my love for AMC cars & 11,000+ files on my site here!) thought would document my youth too. So here goes, all subject to change and more will be added as time goes on, if you have something to help me ID email me at email@example.com
A good group of Corpus Christians there who like to share memories of the Sparkling City By The Sea are also on Facebook if you do that...I try to post in both of them time permitting & most of my posts are here on this growing file and centered on my youth in 1960s & 70s, some 80s before I moved from Corpus Christi to Houston in 1983. Feel free to join one or both!
We Grew Up In Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi Memories Past & Present
1 & 1A Our two old houses, one shotgun house, one boarding house, 2009 Antelope street & (1A) 723 Doss on corner. I only have limited amount of photos of this time window as many of our photos destroyed by Hurricane Celia, August 3rd, 1970. This was a poor, industrial neighborhood. There was crime, but it seldom affected us, as you can't steal from someone who has nothing. Our shotgun house was hit by a 500+ pound fan from Coca Cola, as my dad Homer T Stakes, momma Sarah, brother Tommy Stakes, me and dog Bootsy huddled under one of the beds; the roof ripped away and hell came into our crappy little house, water, rain and those damned pebbles Coca Cola had on roof were like bullets. We ran next door to grandma's house (723 Doss) which was built in 1890s, and held up well. During the eye, besides running next door to check on Mister & Missus Bates, a tree next to our driveway had uprooted, and natural gas was hissing. My dad quickly took a radiator hose off one of our Ramblers (of which most glass was gone from those Coca Cola roof rocks) and pulled the two broken pipes close and used hose to seal them! In the eye! And during the eye I looked east towards Driscoll hotel, 600 building, there were desks, and office equipment hanging out the buildings, no windows left and the black sky BEHIND them racing north toward Portland at a un Godly speed. To the west, I looked down Antelope and debris all the way down to Nueces Bay Blvd is. Black sky racing south at this angle! Then the rest of Celia hit. We did get a free use of double wide trailer thanks to the late Senator John Tower, many Corpus Christi residents did, and wow, new home for us! To live in abstract poverty I hope whoever reads this never experiences. For every step forward my family took, there was 3 steps back. My father made $156 a week working at American Motors dealerships as a ace mechanic. He also worked at Andy Anders Rambler, Pagan Lewis & George Young Toyota. And sold rebuilt bikes on the side at the house. Also rented them to sailors, $5 a day! This was in the 1960s. Both Tommy & me made good grades and went to Catholic schools, first Cathedral, then Academy on Lantana, then Tommy went to W B Ray...me I went to Incarnate Word on Alameda, but they only went to 8th grade, after that only girls, so I went to St Josephs on 18th (?) street near Ruth street in the ghetto off Agnes. After that I went 1 quarter at Miller, but too many fights, drugs, so I lied about my address, using 610 Naples, home of the Hernandez clan, (to which I will be eternal grateful a debt I could never repay!) but used that to go to W. B. Ray where I almost graduated before getting kicked out with 3 months to go for skipping even though I was on the principal's A & B Honor roll.
For 3 years when I was about 12, a family friend, Lloyd Remple, who was a car guy and owned a lot on Leopard street near Josephine, let us rent his house at corner of Staples & Naples. 642 Naples, it is the house with all the damned windows. $300 a month. This was when I met the Hernandez family including Danny my running buddy. We stayed at this house 3 years until Lloyd realized he was not getting rich off my dad and hiked it to $600 a month so we were doomed and moved back to the crappy 723 Doss house, the 2009 Antelope house was mostly gone and city of Corpus Christi demolished the rest for us. Tommy & me did our homework by coleman lanterns the smell of those still haunts me to this day, but they worked. We also had no hot water, so outside we had a big wooden box to take shower, was tough to do in winter, sometimes the pipe froze, so when I started working at La Quinta downtown, I would go up to highest floor, there is small bathroom there I would wash hair with warm water. And since I worked there as busboy, could use towels. Sometimes Tommy used the McGee beach free shower.So after we got kicked out of temp 642 Naples house, back to 723 Doss, the 2009 house was still in snhambles roof caving in. We had no electricity, no hot water, no indoor plumbing, no telephone, only gas stove. This is from roughly 1973 until I moved to Houston, but even then, my mom, dad and Tommy, then wife, lived same location in squalid conditions until I sicced the CC Department of Health & Human Resources on Tommy to 'force them out' of which they moved to navigation apartment. All except momma who had died a few years before in 1988. The reason I emphasize this repeatedly in my stories is those that knew our family, knew of the dire conditions, but few helped. Family, church, even neighbors. My grandma Maria D Alcala was from Saltillo, Mexico and used to get up and make 150 tortillas each morning, we traded these out to neighbors for other food. Both her legs got cut off due to gangrene, so confined to wheelchair until we had to put her in nursing home. There were some good memories at this house, not all bad, just dirt poor poverty, wear dirty clothes to school, beans, rice, tortillas to eat, but when poppa got paid on Friday it was off to McDonalds on 'rich' side of town, Everhart to eat filet o fish and fries, then momma go spend part of check at Woolco at Parkdale Plaza. Next door neighbors included the Rabagos, Ortiz, some more Rabagos. Photo #1 from about 1966 shows my dad, me, Tommy & ONLY photo I have of my dog Bootsy. Yes, no shoes, note Tommy's school pants and crappy old shotgun house with lead paint behind us. We were happy though! Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 some early photos of me, Tommy, momma and poppa in 1960 I was not year old! And yes, we had electricity, hot water, flushing toilet and bath!
This is Tommy Stakes memorial page on my site.2 & 2A & 2B Coca Cola Bottling company on Lester. 2A is the repair area where they would repair Coke machines, 2B is area for repair trucks, but also had thousands of empty bottle stored. I could walk as a 8-12 year old into this place with impunity, as I knew most of the workers, and sold them tons of Worlds Finest chocolates from Cathedral. They in turn gave me Coca Cola stuff like pencils and pads. From the north side dock, I would go buy 10 cent Cokes inside, there was a hot peanut machine with light bulb in it also for 5 cents. And a free salt table machine, those sucked. Best of all you go to watch thousands of Cokes, Sprites, Fantas, Frescas on conveyor belt getting filled up and topped! The metal tops we used on our skateboards, nail to them and kept shoes on it firm. Coca Cola Bottling Company Lester @ Leopard & Antelope. This was our neighbor. Literally. In the 1960s the Bates were both still alive. And their property separated us from Coca Cola. A lot of old scrap iron, bricks, junk wood, high weeds, chinaberry and wild trees, and a number of little kitchenettes. Will get to Mister & Missus Bates later.
# 1 & #1 A is our properties 2009 Antelope & 723 Doss. # 3 is Mister Bates house. # 2 is the sprawling Coca Cola Company building. # 2A is the repair area where they would repair Coke machines, # 2B is area for repair trucks, but also had thousands of empty bottle stored. And # 2C is after Coke bought "PART" but not "ALL" of Mister Bates property, this paved down for delivery trucks! This are of 2C is where bleachers brought in for Coke employees & families to watch up close & personal Buccaneer Days Parade!
Coca Cola had obviously outgrown this location which was bounded by the front on Lester, south by Leopard, west by Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks & north by Antelope & I-37. This will span some time here, but as a KID in 1960s like Lew Williams Chevrolet, Cages Hardware, Knights of Columbus, Mobil, Noes Café, all these great places 'in my zone' I had run of. Well, some, like Hasty Tasty & Sheffields, had to have some coins in pocket to buy toast for 10 cents. The Coca Cola company I would just hold onto the pole, climb up steps on loading dock at North corner of building. And was IN. If anyone here has ever been inside a building where soda waters are being filled, it is awesome, especially to a kid. There are machines that are filling bottles, other machines stamping on caps, yet other machines pickup up bottles and placing them in wooden cases to ship out. Inside I would stuff my 7-9 year old butt over to the small Coke machine next to offices, it had a level on it and open little door with vertical glass on it so could see the bottles horizontally facing you before buying.
Once you put in your 10 cents, magically could pull out a Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Fresca, or whatever, 12 oz bottle. Next to the little cute 1950s vintage Coke machine was some gumball machines, one of them had a small light inside with advertising HOT NUTS, should have said hot stale nuts, but for 5 cents why not. Behind this little wall was the offices, greenish tint windows with venusian blinds. How the hell did these people get any work done I will never know inside there as outside was maddening, deafening with all the bottles clanking, machines rattling. I found out one day when going inside offices (thru FRONT door & up steps on Lester street!) that each office they were listening to music, KEYS & KRIS (I think it was KRIS!) or KZFM if they had fancy FM radio. Back on other side of wall next to Coke machine was a salt tablet dispenser. It was free! So turn knob and little round salt pink table come out. So one day I decided I was going to take one, and put in pocket. Walked outside onto Antelope street, smelled it, and put in mouth, BLEAAAHH this takes like crap and spit it out. Never have had another in 50 years ha ha. A side note, there were two guys who walked past house in nice suits daily, one I called Bubby who looked identical to singer on TV Glen Campbell. Same hair, everything! Other was tall fellow about 6-5 to 6-9, thin, named Phillip. My momma said 'he is a tall drink of water'.
When it was time to sell Worlds Finest Chocolates for Cathedral, I would walk into Coca Cola & unload boxes of the stuff. In the offices, red Coca Cola logoed pencils were Holy Grail items, and I would end up with a number of them, I kept several for my own work at Cathedral, but sell others for nickel each.
Since Mister Bates property and ours, were in the way, Coca Cola one day offered my dad $28,000 to buy BOTH 2009 Antelope & 723 Doss properties. I would guess Mister Bates got a similar offer but he had probably turned them down too. So Coca Cola bought the field in front of our 723 Doss address & fenced it in, big 12 foot hurricane fence with barbed wire on top, for employees to park. But this was not big enough and employees continued to park along Antelope street in front of our house, the early birds working early shifts got best spots! As a kid I also would ask them if they wanted a car wash for 50 cents. So writing was on the wall with Coca Cola intentions in 1960s. I am not sure here if my dad COULD have sold the property since it was in my grandmother Maria D Alcala name still.
After Mister Bates died, Coca Cola swooped in, and leveled all the trees, kitchenettes, EVERYTHING except Missus Bates old shoddy house. She was now in 80s, sat out front hot or cold on beat up rocking chair facing Coca Cola, everything around her had changed in instant, was now paved, more big 12 foot hurricane fence with barbed wire on top, and delivery trucks by dozens around her coming & going thru sliding fence. The Coca Cola employees used to take her food, and medical and see if she needed anything too. Until one day, she was gone. Her old house before torn down was identical to the movie "UP" where old man stubbornly will not move, and they simply built around him, same thing.
The fence they put up next to OUR property infuriated my momma. The barbed wire actually hung over our roof \\ at angle like this. But we sort of lived with it. After we moved back to this hellhole property from a few years of cheap rent after hurricane Celia at 642 Naples, I used to sleep outside on front porch. Was cooler than inside & good breeze. Got used to employees walking past me on sidewalk though. As a teen now...Coca Cola came out with 32 oz BOTTLES.
And I found out it was $4 a case to return them to stores. So one night the Rabago brothers junior & Mondo, we lifted up the Coca Cola fence that was 4 feet from our house, shoved two wooden cases in there to create a tunnel, gave the fierce doberman pincher 'guard dogs' some treats (aw these guys were pussies, if they had tail would wag them, knew them by names) but we emptied 1/2 of a Coke truck, sliding cases thru hole in fence, opening bottles, pouring out everything as a river of Coke, Fanta red, orange, grape, Sprite, quietly gurgled down curb to gutter. Then we would take the bottles, not all at once, to Skagg Albertson's on corner of Everhart & South Padre Island Drive and redeem them. So 10 cases brought $40 in 1970s money.
We covered out tracks at fence line also with brush, dirt, ha ha.
At the Buccaneer Parade which originated on Leopard street near Miller high school, Coke had bleachers inside the fence facing Leopard. And of course, they always invited my late brother Tommy & me. This is back in 1960s pre-Celia. Free cold sodas, there was food too, and I would ask if I could take some to my mother and dad, who never went to parade it seemed, even though it was at OUR corner on Doss.. passing by! This area was packed with Coca Cola employees & families, was nice of them to invite us...NO other kids in neighborhood were invited, just me & Tommy!
So you will have to pay attention to some photos here to make sense of it all in 2 timelines. Photo #1 shows my dad admiring his 'new' 1970 Javelin.
Right behind him this is Coca Cola on Lester, dad standing on Antelope St. You can see the huge barbed wire fence looming Coke built after Bates died. If you look to right of photo down street, the piece that juts out was loading dock, the 18 wheelers that loaded up here had to turn cab sideways so cars could get thru but rest of Antelope blocked. The sign on fence to left of his head is in Photo #2.
Photo # 3 is the lot Coke bought when we would not sell, & all those cars in there, and outside are Coca Cola employees. That is me in front yard washing my 68 AMX, look close, Driscoll Hotel, 600 building & partially obscured Wilson tower in background.
Photo #4 intense as it was, the workers at Coke did this 5 days, sometimes, 6-7 days a week, 8am to 5pm. Line changed depending on demand, but Coke ruled.
Photo #5 self sufficient high volume bottling machine, didn't need much "human" help in 1960s ha ha. Humans. P
Photo # 6 capped off ready to be dropped in cases. Going back to #2 on my map, which is the MAIN Coke building, you see two large garage doors to right, these were for forklifts to carry empties into area near # 2B. Inside #2 facing Lester however Coke cases were piled up to the 15-18 foot ceiling! Every now and then you hear CRASH!! from our house and know a forklift tipped over or someone dropped a huge stack!
Photo #7 shows Coca Cola on Lester in 2018. The door on the left is where ALL office workers would enter. The door on the right was sealed off in 1970s. As a kid I used to play with my Hot Wheels cars in the dirt under steps, was soft, fine dirt!
Photo #8 if you compare Photo #1 with my dad, to this one, basically taken in same spot. But 30 years apart.
2. 2A. & 2B Coca Cola Bottling Company Revisited (2018 update)
So. Coca Cola, also know as American Bottling Company on Lester Street is indeed alive. Sure it looks like a jail with no windows, steel bars for reinforcements across those forlornwindows and even has barbed wire on it! Aw, some gang member somehow got into building and tagged 2nd floor near window. What is up with all the gang graffiti in Corpus Christi? Do like Houston, if you catch these thugs, make them go out as Trustys & CLEAN up gang graffiti as part of being in jail, it will reduce time. Ok, until you get out to go tag more stuff. Wait, what did I just say?!?
So here are 5 photos from July 2018 of the old Cola Cola Company on Lester, bounded by Antelope on open side, Leopard on the other, and Missouri Pacific train track, now gone, on west side. For you locals, do drive by this old place, it is worth checking out, even if you don't get out of car, it IS a wonderful part of Corpus Christi history!
Photo #1, this is angle shot from in street Antelope & Lester of building, you have two small stairways, the left one near blackout windows was all the suits, so all office workers in there. The other one I played with lots of Hot wheels under, it was never used so far as I know for anything, I honestly do not ever remember seeing it open as had machinery behind it like soda fillers and machines that put caps on bottles. So lots of fun happened under the stairs by me as a kid in 1960s.
Photo #2: The garage door on right in white is where big 18 wheelers backed up to load palates upon palates of Cokes, Fantas, Sprites, Tab & Fresca not that anyone drinks Fresca, even Tito's Vodka can't help the taste of that crap. This is facing I-37, so Antepole side. Funny thing is these 18 wheelers stuck out onto Antelope so the cab had to turn sideways so cars could pass. I don't know what green door is, appears to be another loading dock but do not remember it being used. The small stairwell 3 steps... I used to go up in here, and you had to squeeze behind the 18 wheeler that had backed in.. to get inside, if no 18 wheelers just go in like you owned it, walk past the whirring machines, go to small Coke machine, 10 cents for cold Coke, and nickle for hot nuts, M&Ms and something else. Stay away from free salt tablets, man, those were nasty. I could not believe this little steps still there & memories of when I was 6 to about 10 years old came back in a flood just looking at it.
Photo #3: just to the right of photo #2 this also faces north, so towards I-37 & Antelope. Workers used to have a big trash bin, maybe 10-15 feet long, and break bottles in it. Recycling. But not all bottles would break. So on Sundays, I would go over as they were closed, as was this door, and crawl inside with more broken glass legally allowed by law.. and pick out unbroken ones to take to Beils to get deposits from. A truck would come by, pick up this big bin and drive off, then more bottles thrown away. This is door on right, the door on left also opened but workers just stood there and smoked a lot of Marlboros or whatever. Not shown is small angled cement curb where trucks back in. I fell off that one day, was about 8, hit face on ground, yup, lots of shredded glass in my cheek, ran home crying like LeBron James losing another NBA game. Momma picked out most of it, and used rubbing alcohol to clean me up. Next Sunday was back in trash bin, didn't learn ANYTHING. Just watch step!
Photo #4. If you stand on Antelope look south, this used to be the old
Missouri Pacific railroad. Wrote about that too as I followed the damned trains all over
place on my bike, with dog Bootsy in tow, you could do that in 1960s. To see the train
tracks and rail yard. See #5 on the map that is all the wonderful Missouri Pacific rails I
3. Mister Bates house on Lester across from Coca Cola Company. When I was young, Mister Bates was old. His property was 1/2 block long from Antelope Street to Leopard, then all the way down Lester across from Coca Cola Company. A 1/4 of it backed up to our property & old shotgun house 2009 Antelope. When I was little in early to mid 1960s, his property consisted of a number of kitchenettes. These were onthe Antelope/Lester side and made of some kind of concrete. Must have been about 8 of them, and I am sure that they were mighty nice in 1940s, 50s, when he probably last rented them out. His main house faced Coca Cola and is shown in the photo, had a neat overhang in front for shade. Behind his house were series of garages, but when I was 5, maybe 6 years old, these were already falling apart. And the kitchenettes were locked up and could see lots of junk thru windows. EXCEPT ONE. More later. The yard was still being mowed. Pretty sure these kitchenette's were nice 'in their time' and probably rented to sailors since this is about mile from Port. And my grandma's house WAS a 'boarding house' six rooms, one kitchen, one bathroom, in the 20s thru early 50s (I believe, might have been late 40s) Mister Bates didn't like kids. And sure as hell didn't like us neighborhood kids. We heard all sorts of stories about 5 if we were bad 'Mister Bates will get you on Halloween!' and stuff like that. He was a old codger just wanting to be left alone the sort of "you kids get outta my yard!" type. Missus Bates didn't say much, she would sit on front porch and watch all the Coke and Sprite trucks, and the Coke people wave at her. Between our yard and Bates were bricks towards back of house that were from the 1940s or 50s, you could touch them and they would crumble, very brittle. They were open type like this OO but square, and could look deep down in them and see all sorts of critters, I heard there were snakes the size of cars, but never saw any, we did see possums and rats. Sometimes move a brick so the rat or possum trapped, but after a few days, would be stinking up to high heavens. Our kitchen window faced these and if stinking, momma knew what it was. And WHO did it ha ha. Right parallel along side out 2009 Antelope house was many leftover rebar and pipes from the I-37 construction across street. Momma hated these as stacked up 3-5 feet high she said 'it attracted lightning' which I thought would not happen, until it DID hit the trees there over span of several years! One time the sound of thunder blew out several of our plate glass windows. My dad had a talk with Mister Bates, but nothing was done he said 'he was going to use them' you know.
Some of us kids would stand in back of Rabago's yard (4 & 4B on map) and toss rocks over into Bates yard over the garage, and occasionally could hear glass break. Was like a prize for us. Yes, we were a**hole kids no wonder Bates didn't like any of us. Can't blame him either! When I was about 10 I heard that Mister Bates had bear traps in his yard, so Emilio & me, went into the overgrown brush, by this time, trees, and high grass had taken over, 1/2 way up to kitchenettes, no more mowing. We found a 'cat trap' with fresh food for cats and took a baseball bat to it. We didn't find a 'bear trap' but DID find a 5-6 feet large coffin sides hole in ground covered by reeds, so if someone was walking thru there (and there were NO TRESPASSING signs all around property) someone would have had some collateral damage to leg or foot. But again, no one supposed to be on his property anyways. I guess hindsight is if the bear traps, cat traps didn't get you, the mesquite thorns would.
During Hurricane Celia my dad and me walked over IN THE EYE to check on them, they were fine but I stepped on nail. Lots of damage in his yard, mostly stuff blown over from Coca Cola. Will never forget looking at Wilson Tower, Driscoll and 600 building and seeing that huge wall of black clouds rushing in background, and all the furniture hanging out windows. After Celia for weeks he cleaned up his property. Several of us kids used to throw rocks at cars up on I-37, endless supply of good egg shaped 'throwing rocks' from Missouri Pacific train tracks block away. This is what us poor kids did for fun and did break a lot of windows, and major dents, the people would slow down but never stop as one lane to curve to Crosstown and next exit was Agnes, good luck finding your way back to us! Well, this silly crap sort of came to halt when my uncle Haskell got windshield broke, and came back around he told my dad 'I knew right where to come!' not sure if poppa paid for it or what, but big trouble for Mondo & me the Rock Throwers. With his overgrown yard there were whippoorwills, or nighthawks as we called them, they nest on ground and have big, gaping mouths. I was standing in OUR driveway minding my own damned business about 7 years old and a 56 or so Chevy came down Antelope with little girl hanging out waving, screaming, and a nighthawk blew out of bates yard, right along side of the car, scaring girl back inside, I am standing there terrified and it did right angle turn and headed RIGHT FOR ME! A few feet away I screamed and it shot off back into Bates jungle. That was not the end of it for me, since we poor, we shared beds, I am sure many lower end families did that, but I slept in momma's bed, Tommy in poppa's bed. There was wall between bed in old shotgun house. I had a nightmare and screamed in middle of the night THE NIGHTHAWK and kicked a hole in wall that could have probably crawled thru. I still get creeped out seeing them dive 60 miles a hour over skies in Houston to this date.
Mister Bates sold his property from Gulf Radiator to Lester, so along Leopard, to the old house, basically 1/2 of property at some time. Then Coca Cola, who had offered to buy our property for $28,000, mowed everything down, paved it and put up 12 foot fence with barbed wire on top. Missus Bates would sit on front porch mouth gaping open sort of like elder President Bush does sometimes. I would go check on her, and many of the Coca Cola employees sort of adopted her and check on her daily also if she needed anything, help her get in house before nighthawks get her. Sometime in this point Mister Bates died, not sure how nor how old he was, maybe in 80s. And literally overnight, Coca Cola bought rest of property EXCEPT Missus Bates house. Ever see the movie Up? This is it, they totally built around her house, not that she drove or anything, just sat on porch.
On that one kitchenette, it was closest to our property and next to the CPL power pole. Tommy & me snuck up to it was only 5 feet from sidewalk and looked in. Pretty much simple setup, a small stove, table, shelves, looked like Kelvinator icebox, and old fold up bed, off to side was small wall with what looked like porcelain tub behind it and toilet. The front door was screen that you could fart & it would turn to dust, but behind it little wooden door. So could see not only thru door but side window. It looked like vintage The Landing efficiency apartment, gauging size inside now must have been 12' to 14' square inside. Must have been the one that leaked the less? Had a thing with bars, didn't know what it was, so brought my dad over to peek in, he said that was a radiator, but looked nothing like stuff at Gulf Radiator, so had to explain to us it was to heat room.
So fast forward, now all the kitchenettes gone, everything in them scrapped hauled off, guess there was nothing in those little houses except memories, but to who? I don't remember when missus Bates died, just remember suddenly Coca Cola tore down house, paved over it, put new gate for delivery trucks. These trucks were full of 32 oz new bottles, of which could get $4 a case refund back then, so the Dobermans were supposed to be guarding the trucks, they were all pussies and liked to play. So several of us would hold up fence next to my house, prop it up with wood Coke cases, then crawl in and empty trucks. Sometimes maybe 100 cases, would pour out the sodas into sewer on Antelope while parents all slept, sure wondered what Coke employees though next day seeing a sort of colored river of their products drying up out there, but be then, most of the cases had been taken out to Warehouse Groceries (next to K-Mart on SPID) and Skaggs Albertsons corner of Everhart & SPID, since those were open 24 hours. We never took ALL of them, just maybe 20, hid the rest in my dad's depilated old garage and deposit them as needed. Guard dogs stayed happy, fat with treats, and we would throw leaves and stuff on ground to cover tracks at fence, no one ever caught on, but sure best Coca Cola's inventory was screwed. Mister & Missus Bates today would be called hoarders like the cable show. Save everything even old Caller Times, not that anyone reads Caller Times anymore, but Bates did, they saved it. Why I do not know. Life, and time, just seemed to quickly pass them by. All the 'projects' whether the steel girders, bars, bricks & lumber that rotted under relentless Corpus Christi rain, salt, season changes, all those projects like getting pushed to back burner on stove, eventually fell off stove. He was on first name basis with 'CC 'Neighborhood Improvement' (as our family often was too) but after hiring a few guys to clean up 'offending' pieces they many times would simply move junk to another piece of huge property out of sight of inspectors and all good. In later years besides Coca Cola employees taking care of Missus Bates, we did too, not much to do except check on her, sometimes take beans, rice and tortillas over to here, ain't got no teeth so good, soft stuff to eat God bless both of them.
Photo #1. Looking thru window and door of the only kitchenette that was not chock full of old junk, we saw what looks like this. This is not a photo of Bates place, just looked like it inside. Really self sufficient little place. There is that heater thing my dad described to me, next to it old stove, and off to left sink.
Photo #2. In Bates yard was a LOT of these. We had two of them at our house next door also. For you folks wondering what type of sorcery this might be, it is a wringer, you wash clothes, usually in tub, then wring them thru this gadget, and hang up, others methods may differ. Bates had a lot of these, and old washers, and Cajun type scrub pans.
Photo #3. Not sure why this old photo is angled like bad Batman Series, but that is me, late brother Tommy, and my dad in front of one of the kitchenettes which faced Lester street and Coca Cola, this must have been about 1965.
Photo #4 This was our driveway where I was standing when the nighthawk described above flew out of Bates yard, flew alongside the Chevy with little girl hanging out, then blasted full speed right at me. That nightmare persisted for many years. Tat is Antelope street there, with me on bike, and dad talking to brother Tommy. No nighthawks in photo, nor is The Big Sign shown up on freeway hill there. He must have been asleep.
Photo #5. In 1980s, my dad stands in front of a 'new' 1970 AMC Javelin Big bad Blue car I gave hiim for his birthday to snap him out of fun after momma dies. But if you look past him, you can easily see the Stakes/Bates property line, now, fenced in with 12 foot fence after Coca Cola bought property. That is Coca Cola building in white.
Photo #6 This photo is of Bates property after Coca Cola bought south side, then later north and west side. Whole 1/2 black! Gulf radiator to the right along with old Mobil gas station. So you are standing in Leopard street looking north along Lester.
Photo #7, the Stakes/Bates property line after Coca Cola bought Bates whole property. This is what it looks like in 2018, full of more junk, some things never change. If you click on Photo #5 where my dad standing, this pretty much same photo, just angled to show the fence we used to crawl under to steal cases of Cokes ha ha. dumb dobermans, they looked fierce, but saw us kids and wag little stumpy tails, knowing it is 'treat time' hell, several of them would give us guided tour to the trucks with most sodas. coca Cola, or what left of this once beautiful building, off to right here.
Photo #8. Overview of not only our old property of 2009 Antelope & 723 Doss, but all of Bates property, taken from top of I-37 hill. Antelope in foreground, Doss on left, Lester on right and Leopard in background.
Photo #9. Nighthawks mouths are extremely HUGE. Might have well been a shark flying at me. And to make matters worse, these things nest on the GROUND, so walking thru jungle of Bates yard in 1960s, you never knew if one of these would jump up at you with laser beams for eyes, and ninja sword. I still kicked huge hole in wall dreaming about one trying to get me, probably soiled bed too as kid, wasted hour throwing a rock at one on telephone wire on Mestina behind Beil's. Bird never moved. Even now in Houston, when I hear their shrill screech as they dive bomb over buildings, sends chill down my spine from time long ago.
5. Missouri Pacific railroad (Lipan
north into The Cut)
Missouri Pacific trains/Leopard Street. In the 1960s, the rail road tracks were about 200 yards from our house at corner of Doss & Antelope. Only thing that separated us was Coca Cola Company on Lester. I had always been fascinated with trains as a kid, and soon learned that I could follow them around in a train yard between Lipan & Leopard. Was about 6-8 years old. Dog Bootsy accompanied me for these journeys, mindful of staying near me, and my bike. So when the trains whistle blew from coming from Port area near Minton or Winnebago in the black area of town (The Cut) I could easily here it. If not doing homework or playing with neighborhood kids, off I went. Could get to Antelope & rail road tracks in sheer 2 minutes! There is the big diesel coming towards me, maybe 5-10mph if that....from Port area. It would blow whistle whoo-whoo.....whoo whoooooo which signals a crossing in 'train talk' I would later learn. It also had bells that would clang, not sure if it clanged those going thru the other side, but did near me, but no houses there, just industrial. Before get too far along, Missouri Pacific rail lines on north side, Antelop, Larry, Lipan, Port, anyoplace tyou see NUMBER #5 is Missouri Pacific rail lines!
And look even closer, #5 train tracks curve east behind #49 LL Bean, #48 KZFM radio station, of which was a US post office at one time also, #45 Cages Hardware, #43 Biels store, the upstairs apartments on top of Cages #46 and would stop at a hill just past Doss at #51 Bekins Moving & Storage more on all those later, but was neat alley for train & nothing like looking down Doss south over Leopard and seeing a big TRAIN at Bekins as a kid, wow.
Following the train around, the engineers always friendly and wave. Sometimes they would park in the yard just past the trigger thing that made the lights and bells go nuts on Leopard to warn of a train, so if they parked just past that...no noise even though they were just yard from intersection. Here they would leave train running, and walk over to Noe's Café. Noe's is #26 on the map, many people remember them fondly. I knew "A" Noe who as tall, lanky kid, good at baseball when a bunch of kids in the hood played in the field in front of our house, but don't think café named after him. Had a $1.25 breakfast there back in 1960s. Could smoke cigarettes at little diner bar, or at tables, but then you could do that at Sheffield's (#19 on the map the big U shaped building, or Hasty Tasty across street (#13 on map). I only went in Noe's about 10 times, not because food was not good, but ain't got no money thing, and if I did would get the 10 cent toast at Hasty Tasty & load dozen butters and little jelly packs on it.
None of the slow moving, lumbering trains had a cross arms at any of the crossings. Leopard, Lipan, none of them, just lights, bells. Sometimes a stray train would be pushing boxcars around: Texas Mexican, Santa Fe, even Southern Pacific. One time saw a Canadian Northern locomotive, he must have been lost, far from home. I had quite a racket going on, would buy sack of double head nails from Cages, they were something like penny for 2-3, the old man would weigh them in a scale that hung from ceiling. I would take these nails a few at time, and tape them to the rail road track sometimes with shiny pennies too. Train run over them, the little nails about 5 inches long, turn into cool swords, the pennies...wafer thin. Next day would take to Cathedral and sell them 5 cents each. Nuns never figured out who was selling them either.
The engineers invited Bootsy & me onto the engine locomotive a number of times, would be stopped, behind Auto Center, or Monitas, and we would walk up steps in front. The sheer power of these was fascinating to a kid like me. Many times when the engine headed to points unknown which was past Comanche street where the locomotive would disappear between houses on way to I guess Agnes, or back east under I-37 & Buffalo street towards Port cotton warehouses, it would leave a boxcar, tank car or something behind in the train yard. That was fair game and would crawl all over those! When the train had all the cars stopped on Leopard, I boldly escorted it across street in front of cars like I was getting paid for my services ha ha.There was zero fear in being a child on a bike with a dog in a yard filled with tons of mechanical huge beasts that thunders, made loud noises and belched plumes of long black smoke. I certainly had no fear of these as had Lionel choo choo trains at house 2009 Antelope. Was there a difference? To me under 10 years old? Oh hell no. I kept my distance, about 15-20 years, not one time in the years I followed these trains did I have a engineer shoo me away. I had a healthy dose of respect for not only the men who commandeered them, but of the big machines themselves. Bootsy kept her distance too.
Fast forward over fifty years later....as...I....stood alone on a silent Sunday morning on Antelope where the tracks of my youth once stood, I looked east beyond Buffalo towards the Port, nature has reclaimed what was once hers. The Coca Cola company, fence leaning, some windows gone, quiet, the men capped their last bottle, the salt table and peanut machine with light bulb ran dry. Holes remain in the ground where my Rail Road Crossing "X" signs, with two big red flashing lights and big silver bell on top, each either side of Antelope (& Buffalo) long since gone. Nothing but a stupid laughing gull breaking the silence, a passing car on Port at Antelope where Mobil station used to be, Devine Printing I HEB only exist in my mind now. For a moment, it was mid 1960s all over again. Pocketful of flattened nails & coins for fellow students at Cathedral. Bootsy wagging here tail next to me waiting for the next adventure, me on my bike with ram handlebars waiting for my big Superman friend, the train, to come by.
Photo #1. Missouri Pacific locomotive off Port Avenue in Corpus Christi ready for another day of hard work.
Photo #2 In 1980 Missouri Pacific put up a huge wall of dirt, cement in anticipation of arrival of Hurricane Allen. This was off Stroman Avenue farther down Port Avenue to protect from the flood surge. Whataburger Field not far from here now.
Photo #3, this is the Transfer Yard, about 1980 and tracks here were owned by Terminal Association of which shared the rails: Missouri Pacific, Texas Mexican & Southern Pacific. Not sure how other locomotives made it here, including a shiny red Burlington Northern one, and the Canadian one I saw.
Photo #4 the rail yard, if you look closely will see Wilson Tower photobombing upper right. Would find train spikes here loose from rails & take them home.
Photo #5. As soon as the engineers get back from Noe's Café, or Hasty Tasty or Sheffield's there is more boxcars to haul around!
6. & 7. My Freeway Sign & The
Hill of Death (And The Fall of The Hill of Death)
The hill provided us poor kids in the area a lot of 'double dog dares' and no one ever broke anything that I am aware of, there was a number of kids flying thru air, bikes flying higher, good X Games youtube 'highlight reels' there. Needless to say on a quick road trip to Corpus Christi at end of July 2018, I found myself drawn back to my old crappy forgotten & long neglected neighborhood and was surprised to see the amount of work going on as new roads, highways, and bridge goes on.
Crawled up hill thru sticker burrs (ha ha we used to call them Flour Bluff Strawberries) to top, over rail and voila! Standing in middle of Interstate 37 facing "THE SIGN" As I wrote about before, since we rarely, if ever took photos inside house due to junk, no lights or electricity, this old sig sort of photobombs a LOT of my old photos of youth that were not destroyed in hurricane Celia. So might be brother & me going to wedding, there is sign.
Me standing outside (we never invited people into house) there is sign in background like a 'hey bro!' I crawled across inside this sign a few times, first time I did made momma cry though.
The sign, like hill of death, is fixing to be nothing more than distant memory. Decades from now someone will ask 'what was The Hill of Death? or "what was The Sign" or "where was Coca Cola" or "was there really train tracks in this area?" so yes, all of above. I stood there in the repressive heat I had brought down with me to share from Houston. Face to face with The Sign one last time. I will have to kick the gang member's ass who scribbled that BS on the "I37/Bayfront" though, well, if I could read that, stay the hell off my sign like a Gran Torino or 'you kids get outta my yard!' senior moment. The inbound traffic whizzing by in outbound rerouted lanes.
The widening at the Hill of Death surprised me, figured since there was a big grassy \/ shaped median between inbound & outbound they would have enough room, but looks like it is moving farther over, a good thing, as the one lane from I-37 here to Crosstown (Texas 286, Crosstown Expwy, "H" exit 1-C) was always too small and single lane, maybe they won't let Texas A&M Aggies design this new stretch & have 'two lanes' to turn. Or maybe Ags will put bike trail there, ha ha.
Anyways, my sons thought I was nuts crawling up here in construction zone and yes, I am nuts but admit it. Wife stayed in car running, down next to where I grew up, now a abandoned, overgrown lot. My late brother Tommy let taxes slip on this property for years, finally city took it over for something like $2800 or $2400 owed.
Photos! Of course I took photos. Photo #1 shows me face to face in
middle of Interstate 37 for the final time. Had to salute the old sign that has appeared
in many family photos since mid 1960s.
Photo #2 shows The Hill of Death "as it was" in 1960s/70s,
hell until recently. On TOP of the Hill of Death looking downward! Go ahead, ride your
bike down this now punks. Triple dog dare you, will buy you a Triple Burger at Vicks if
Maybe they should have put this in the CC museum with moon rock. Photo #3 ok, scratch that museum thing, Hill of Death reduced to old 1960s dirt. Sure smelled good, but keep in mind this dirt had not been uncovered since LBJ was president. My kids found some coins here also, all from 1960s. Probably from kids flying uncontrollably thru air after bike hit bottom.
Photo #4. The Sign from what was our front yard from 1950s thru when brother, wife, and dad moved in 1990s.
Photo #5 on top of I-37 looking directly at my old yard where two homes once stood. There is a LOT of memories stacked into this small parcel, over 1/2 CENTURY of them. Over 80 years if you count my grandma Maria D Alcala. In the corner of this lot homeless sleep. In the corner of this lot there are hundreds, yes, hundreds of pets buried, many of them strays people used to drop off in middle of night as they knew my mom, with big heart for animals, 'would take care of them'. A lot of them did get care from what a poor woman could afford, often times not buying her heart & diabetes medicines instead buying cat & dog food. The Rabago's duplexes are next to lot, look closely, the roof is caving in but someone obviously STILL living in there. And Gulf Radiator can be seen at end of block!
Photo #6. I am up on top of The Hill of Death for the LAST TIME. Looking Southwest at what would have been Missouri Pacific railroad, Devine Printing Press, big HEB on corner of Leopard & Port, and across from it, Lew Williams Chevrolet.
6 & 7: MORE ON
THE SIGN & THE HILL OF DEATH.
It Must Be A SIGN! And The Hill Of Death! #6 on my big map stands out like sore thumb. Ok, Interstate 37 sign in our front yard photobombed many a old photo before word photobomb ever invented. Even before 'Al Gore Invented The Internet' or whatever that was about. We had little disposable Kodak cameras, cheap, and old Polaroids, but those more expensive. The sign, pretty much up the hill from Doss & Antelope intersection and lets drivers eastbound know go right for Crosstown or straight to shoreline & downtown.
It was put up in 1963. It stretches across all three lanes. If you crawled up the // and \\ metal rails, first rail you can see St. Josephs church from it, over Crosstown can see most of Wilson Tower, 600 building & Driscoll hotel even steeple of Sacred Heart off Lipan or that next street. So could see a lot from good vantage point.
I crawled across this a few times, the traffic whizzing under me 60-70 miles per hour, as long as you kept steady footing and sound mind, you could do it, very easy. After momma found out I did this she simply cried. Don't make your momma cry, that is screwed up. There was no lecture, no silent treatment, just crying and I never crawled over it again to middle of grassy median. The sign for some reason always seems to be in background, but that was mostly as we took photos outside, never took photos in our crappy rundown ghetto house 2009 Antelope or 723 Doss. Even the camera would try to get out of the house. So took photos with whatever little cheap camera we had, outside. And like the song John Mellencamp sings about "Little Pink Houses" where old black man lives with freeway in front yard & God Is So Good, that was us. THE HILL OF DEATH! Only for the brave, this big cement hill hold up bridge in the turnaround at I-37 directly across from Coca Cola company at Lester. None of the other Hills of Death, 2 at Port, other opposite at Buffalo...mattered. This was the one that me & the kids in the hood dared each other to go down on bikes. No...there was no deaths, and believe it or not, no broken bones either. But some spectacular crashes with bikes and kids, flying thru air like Evel Keneivel though, lots of road rash. How did we survive? Was easy, if you had balls enough to take the dare, push bike to top, stand there looking at forever in front of you facing SW towards HEB & Lew Williams...you rode your brake pedal down. Yes it would leave skid mark, but better skid mark on cement that in your shorts from fear. You could waste a whole tire going down skidding. And my dad sold bike tires at our house so business sometimes good. If you DID go down no brake, you only had seconds to jump curb on turnaround maybe 20 yards, then jump other side of curb, then you are headed towards Missouri Pacific rail road tracks and rocks. But a truck here was hit brakes as soon as you hit grass if you could hold on, as the jolt was bone shaking and this is where sometimes kids flew thru air without capes of secret decoder rings.
If you ever wonder why most of my photos taken outside, is we didn't let people into out shithole of a house.
Photo #1, my dad Homer T Stakes sits in high grass in front of and across street from our house on I-37 hill, THE SIGN in background.
Photo #2, Tommy & me clean up pretty well considering had to take showers outside in hot and cold weather with pipe. THE SIGN in background.
Photo #3. The HILL OF DEATH in background on right in this 1980s photo of my family.
Photo #4. Wife Paige had heard about THE HILL OF DEATH & while didn't ride down it, rode down grassy hill towards house on one of the bikes my dad had for sale. So does not count.
Photo #5, me & my old buddy THE SIGN in background.
Photo #6 Es todo la familia (the whole family!) momma had already died, and here is a whole mess of Stakes. The HILL OF DEATH approves this photo looming omnipresence in background. Clockwise: Paige, me, Tommy, Homer, Maria & new baby Sarah
Photo #7. Baby Sarah being babysat by THE HILL OF DEATH in background. These are a mess of bikes my dad rented and sold, to visiting sailors
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!
Tasty Restaurant Southeast corner Port & Leopard
Opposite side of Hasty Tasty NW corner was HEB. It had a cool, soft, lavender light on tower angled to catch mostly Leopard traffic, but also pull in people from The Cut down Port, which was mostly black folks. I rarely went into Hasty Tasty as a kid 'ain't got no money' and coffee was 10 cents a cup in 1960s, what the heck would I want coffee, when I could get all the Cokes, Sprites, Fanta red, grape and orange I could want next to our crappy house, as I knew most of the workers, and could walk into the bottling plant from Antelope side (about 50 yards from our front door) which was a loading dock, but walk in like I owned place 9 years old, no one cared. It was at this place I found out what salt tablets were as small dispenser next to vintage Coke machine, also there was peanut machine with lightbulb in it for "hot peanuts" which were usually stale for 5 cents. I thought GOOD DEAL! The salt tables were free and looked like little gumball machine also, so usually took a few of them. They tasted like sh*t to a kid, probably still do.
When I WOULD go into Hasty Tasty it was to buy a Corpus Christi Caller Times for my dad. I just ride bike up there, put coins in machine, take only ONE paper, no stealing. At later date when i did have some money, I walked in with impunity, parking my beat up bike out front, and sat at the small bar and waitress with big beehive hairdo (think Marge Simpson but not blue!) looked at me and asked 'what can I get you kid?' to which I replied, 'a order of toast ma'am' she hooked me up with FOUR slices, and little butter and strawberry packs! I left her dime tip, which is probably more than the old grumpy looking man near me who had probably had 10 cups of coffees left. So for one quarter, the poor kid got hooked up. Same 'deal' I could get at Woolworth downtown or Atlantic Thrift or Woolco on Staples when we went to rich people's hood.
I had heard from neighbor's this place had (gasp!) awesome steaks, as the owners were supposed to be Greek. The only way I was going to get some of that action was picking up someone's leftover pieces on plate and hauling ass out door, but none of that. The steak plate did look good with big tater, and if I recall was about $5.95 a lot of money I guess in 1960s.
There is back story some of ya'll probably do not know of the founder of Hasty Tasty, who 'was too poor to afford shoes' (yup, welcome to my world in 1960s!) but the family founded a number of Corpus Christi eateries, great short story if you have moment to read, real rags to riches thing! http://inspirecoastalbendmag.com/./great-food-great-experi./
"Paul's father had already settled in Corpus Christi and opened a diner known as Hasty Tasty with his brother-in-law. The diner became popular and yielded enough money for the rest of the family to leave Greece and come to the United States. They soon opened a second location." I didn't know the family owned The Astor restaurant out Leopard near North Padre Island Drive, I do not know who owned Hasty Tasty when I was digging thru their grease pit and trash in 1960s though! A side note is my oilman uncle in 1960s, Travis Smith, used to walk into Astor and say "I'm buying everyone's tab!" so would buy everyone's meal, how cool is that. I have done that in Houston bars I have worked in, but only after last call & just me & few waiters & waitresses left ha ha, then I comp it anyways!
14. The Devine Printing Company & slap heard thruout the Cathedral. Located on Port Avenue directly behind the big HEB store at corner of Port & Leopard, and a Mobil gas station corner of Antelope & Port not shown. Across the street was Hasty Tasty restaurant. Us kids in the 1960s had two printing places to dig thru trash back then, great stuff, found pencils, paper, and great things only poor kids could love with imaginations could know of 50+ years ago. Paper airplanes could toss off I-37 overpass, cardboard pieces to stick in spokes in bikes to make them sound like motorcyles, but also take the things to school to enjoy. HEB trash dumpsters behind close by, so could catch mice & rats there also. Yep, we played with rats & gave them the dozen or so back at the house!
Mister Devine was a diminuative fellow, looked like Penn & Teller magician, the smaller guy who never speaks. His wife was just butt out crazy. We didn't have specialized fancy words to describe crazy back then. Loco, coo-coo, you name it. She wore a heavy coat with fur lined hat to Cathedral and one of the altar boys, maybe Danny Castro or Humberto Ramos, someone nick named her "The Easter Bunny". I was a altar boy at this time in 1960s (photo 1) which shows me at church, although not in my smock thing.
The Devines usually sat in middle of Cathedral where it splits pews if any of you ever been in this majestic church. (photo #2) Everyone would sit and stare wondering what would happen next when they sat down. This old Easter Bunny woman with a permanant scowl & cat eye glasses looked intimidating back then, especially to us kids. Priests like Monsignor Schmidt (photo #3 is Monsignor Schmidt, a heavy German man who loved popcorn) & Father White (he was a rookie) KNEW she was a nut job, as several stunts she had previous pulled off in this House of God: one time she walked right up to front alter (there were 2 of them, large back wall altar & smaller front alter to face people) and grabbed the new microphone and screamed" I WANT TO INVITE EVERYONE TO THE GLEN CAMPBELL GOODTIME HOUR TONIGHT AT 7:00PM ON CHANNEL 11" of course Father White silently stepped back and didn't intervien. We had electricity during this time over at the old crappy house at Doss & Antelope so you know we tuned in the see Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour later that evening on the old black & white Zenith TV. Another time she reached into her Lincoln type stovepipe hat (with fur around top ha ha) and grabbed out a Whataburger! Sat there slurping on it, looked like Gallagher concert onions, lettuce flying everywhere, some parishioners chuckled, others rolled eyes, Mass went on, but boy, sure smelled good, Whataburgers always smell good. Another time she rolled orange down aisle towards alter. My dad said she was a loon.
And then there was THIS. I was about 9 years old, and serving Holy Communion holding my gold (gold looking) platter under people's chins as they lined up and Monsignor Schmidt (who was highest ranking priest in Corpus Christi) was giving out those wafers. Easter Bunny in my lane, no big deal, had served her before. This time she came up, Monsignor Schmidt said "Body of Christ" and she slowly turned to look at me and said CORPUS CHRISTI!
She slapped the shit out of me.
My head spun sideways even Linda Blair would have been proud. The first 10 or so rows that saw what happened the collective GASP drowned out the soft organ music from above. It was all slow motion to me as I saw the horrified worshipers with huge eyes staring, shocked at what had just happened. I had tears already swelling in my eyes and was going to run and tackle this old bitch and Monsignor Schmidt whispered 'Eddie don't do anything, don't do anything' as she walked off.This all in span of 10 SECONDS or less!
We finished Mass & as usual, would walk to foyer and out onto front steps porch of Cathedral to tell folks bye. Photo #4 shows me with candle photo #5 shows the steps out front that is me with bowtie crooked just above girl with tiera, hey I want a tiera!) A crowd had gathered around momma, telling her what happened.
My mom, Sarah Stakes was a short lady over 200 lbs. Sweetest person you ever met, would give you her last tortilla or bread knowing she might not eat for days since we were dirt poor (photo #6) she was FUMING. Funny thing is no one from "church" said anything to HER about it, it was parishioners who normally would not give her time of day that told here, including a Cathedral teacher!
Since the Easter Bunny went to 9am Mass, momma made sure that I served 7am and sometimes 10am Masses, but not 9am. A month passed no big deal, didn't see Easter Bunny. So we went to 9am Mass. I served Mass with Monsignor Schmidt & at end, walked out to steps like had done for years. Uneventful Mass, but crowd standing out front! Momma had saved up a big mustard jar and filled it with dog shit & mustard and smeared it all over the Devine's little white Renault Dauphine parked right out front! It was most disgusting looking & smelling thing I had ever seen! In a time before cell phones this would have been viral video. My dad went to his grave not telling me if he was in on this.
Mister Devine, took off coat, wiped dog poop off windshield and doors, let his crazy Easter Bunny wife in car, and drove off. Even Monsignor Schmidt was laughing, my momma nowhere to be seen. My poppa drove & picked me up. Everyone seemed to know who was repsonsible however. The kids in my class next day all asking questions about it, i played dumb of course.
Monsignor Schmidt told momma later "that was not a very nice Catholic thing to do" while snorting chuckling. Us kids continued to plow thru the Devine Printing Press dumpsters. I didn't really forgive miss Devine & have actually had nightmares of that incident over 50 years ago. We never saw the Devines again, I think they switched to Sacred Heart 8 blocks away.
Photo #1 me in Cathedral about 1965. Photo #2, inside Cathedral facing altar. Where the people are kneeling near it is where Easter Bunny grabbed mike and wanted everyone to watch Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. In the center mail aisle is where she rolled oranges and various fruits. Never easter eggs though. Photo #3 that is rare photo of Monsignor Schmidt in center, not sure who ladies are. Photo #4, Robert Canas on left with crucifix, me on right with candle. Photo #5, Confirmation Day I am the kid squinting 3rd row left I clean up good. 3rd grade teacher Miss Francis near top and the nun appears to be 4th grade teacher Sister Berchmann, I do not know who the man on right is. Photo #6, don't slap the shit out of my baby, that is my mom and dad & me years later. #7 Renault little ugly ass car, made uglier if you can imagine it covered in dog shit & mustard and only God knew what.
15.HEB Grocery Store (NW corner of
Leopard & Port)
In about 1967 or 68, we were not having a Christmas tree. My dad, was making $156.00 a week working at a Andy Anders Rambler dealership downtown, and while that might seem like a lot of money then, it really wasn't for family of 4. So no Christmas lights, no tree. Still had to go to Midnight Mass & serve as a altar boy at Cathedral however which was about 3 hours long!
Us kids, me & brother Tommy, were bummed about this development. However, a sort of little Christmas Miracle happened this year. I rode my bike around this area with impunity, well, except the area black folks lived other side of I-37 was Forbidden Zone, as was the downtown area north of Zales with XXX dancers. Momma's rules, probably for good reason, but if I did, and got caught, she would take a orange Hot Wheels track to my ass, and that would leave racing stripes on hinie, so better not do it to begin with.
At this HEB it was always sparking clean. I befriended a nice young girl (I was about 9 or 10) but she was pretty brunette with curly hair, name was Sally and she called me "her little froggy". She knew I lived in area, of which the area was poor, working class folks, she didn't know my family was so poor even homeless people gave us food. I wore dirty sometimes ripped clothes. I liked this place because candy was cheaper here than Beils a block away, and this place had comic books. I bought a lot of comic books here, as would sell Super Balls to kids at Cathedral for a dime, but it only cost me 5 cents to buy them. Suckers. But comic books were 10 cents so I had a good racket going! Also sometimes take brother Tommy's newish Schwinn bike with three speed shifter to school, & after school, kids give me dime to ride it around perimeter block of Cathedral.
HEB had a beautiful lavender large sign you could see from different angles, you can see that in the big photo at top. At this HEB, the vegetables and fruits all in west side, meats in back, registers up front, and frozen stuff on east side of store near Port. You could stick your head in the frozen foods and had a wonderful smell! HEB also had some fancy new step on mats, so you step on the mats either side of door and door swing open, wow! My dog Bootsy quickly figured this out so had to escort her back outside to my bike a number of times while I read comic books I had no intention of buying, I had to pick & choose Superman, Green Lantern & Batmans you know. Oh, on the door, this was NEW STUFF in 1960s, modern Jetsons stuff, step on mat, doors swing open.
This HEB at corner of Port & Leopard, the store layout etched in memory.
Forever too, might be good thing, maybe I help them design stores now, meet JJ Watt or George Springer, Altuve or Correra ha ha. Go Astros! You had fold out glass doors facing west (where Citizens Bank later would be) same type doors facing Lew Williams Chevrolet across street. On west side of store, front to back, veggies, fruits, good array about 4 rows. At back you had bathroom, next to it a full scale meat and fish area with angled thick glass, with the fish on ice, the meat lined up pretty (don't lick the glass damned poor brat) and separated from the fish, different temperatures. Front to back the aisles faced Leopard. So can and dry goods and what not from fruits, veggies, then about 3/4 ways thru store towards Port, it changed to books, magazines, pots, pans, forks and things like that. After few aisles, it got to frozen foods, they were open casket type freezers, so look down into them and get frozen shrimps, lasagna, egg rolls and stuff. Ice cream too. You could stick your head into the freon type fog in these and take a big whiff, wow, does that transcend time. Against east wall had stand up freezers for more frozen stuff. But the best thing was waving had thru the frozen fog to make waves like on McGee beach. Up front next to Leopard was a courtesy booth for things like paying telephone and CPL electricity bills, cashing checks and getting money orders. Then about 10 checkout lanes, Sally used to run one of those.Behind HEB on Port side facing Hasty Tasty and directly next to Devine Printing was HEB dumpster area, a concrete enclosed area they threw all trash into, was great digging in here and catching rats and mice, sometimes watch traffic signals on Port or Leopard when they turn green, throw the rat or mouse into street, many of them got squished by tires, but some got away like that mouse game on Price is Right! But found a lot of cool things back there including food thrown away 'because it didn't look right' you know, we didn't have expiration dates then, so if it still looked or smelled good, we ate it. Even if Mighty Mouse (aka Super Raton!) might have had a few nibbles first, when you poor, you not picky.
So I rode my bike up to this HEB with Bootsy in tow as Christmas got closer.
The good Christmas trees pretty well picked over on west side of store ooutside in little fenced area, nothing left but sad little Christmas trees nno one wanted, even Charlie Brown would have walked away. The 'best' ones were about $8-$10 so you can see why we were not going to have one. We were gogoing to celebrate Christmas, just no tree.
I have to explain this to people just because were were dirt sh*t poor, didn't mean we were not HAPPY. The photo shows me, my dad, the only photo I have of my dog Bootsy & late brother Tommy at this time, note shotgun house in back and Tommy's torn pants.
So 2 days before Christmas December 23rd, I rode bike up there to see what all was left. Sally had seen me looking at them, sizing them up, day after day, so figured something was up. So she asked me. "Honey, why have you been looking at these Christmas trees a lot?" I said "Miss Sally, we ain't gonna have a Christmas tree this year, poppa ain't got no money" Yes, she teared up, hell, I tear up just remembering this, she really was a angel.
Sally the cashier walked back inside, came back out and said "pick one & take it home, free" I thought she was kidding, but no, free tree. Sure, I almost got hit twice on Port, then Antelope on my bike with this ugly thing, pine needles flying off it straddled between my handlebars on my bike hauling butt home.
My mom, Sarah Stakes, saw me ride up and said "where did you get that honey?" I said "Miss Sally at the HEB gave it to me free, since I told her were we not going to have a tree!!" Well, at first momma not to happy I was spreading word how poor we were, but then for a moment, swallowed her pride and said "lets fix it up before your daddy comes home" and went inside and propped it up, and brought out old Christmas ornaments from years past. Put lights on it too, as we had electricity (gee, a phone and flushing toilet and hot water!) at this time BC (Before Celia) We had a good Christmas that year, lots of toys for us boys, us kids didn't worry about what crap cost then you know, even the big bag of apples, oranges and nuts one of the Cathedral nuns gave us rocked. My brother Tommy (sure miss him) and my dad both came home later and momma had house dark in front room. My dad and Tommy slept in same bed, my mom and me same bed of old shotgun house at 2009 Antelope. So when poppa & Tommy opened door she flipped on switch, wished I had photo of that and the smiles on their faces.
Photo #1, the soothing lavender sign could easily be seen from east Leopard, and west on I-37 inbound.
Photo #2 clean store, the lady is not ghoing home to eat Tide Pods.
Photo #3, check out the strips of florescent lights, rows, and the noisy, but effective, cash register. This was one of the first HEBs in the area to have the conveyor belt for groceries.
Photo #4, there is one of those, ok, rows fo the frozen fog coolers you can take whiff of next time you in store. Lady is buying Bird's Eye frozen things, junior sit the hell down in basket.
Photo #5 is NOT about 67-68 but from 1960, that is my
first Christmas was 9 months old, brother Tommy excitedly checking out the
Photo #6, our crappy shotgun house 2009 Antelope, me on left, dad Homer T Stakes with the only photo I have of my dog Bootsy (I mention her a lot!) and brother Tommy in the torn up school pants. HEB was just over the tracks from our house, Beils was across street from Gul Radiator.
17.The Little Field. Corner of Antelope & Port SE side
Unkept and sort of unclaimed, like rest of this neighborhood Corpus Christi forgotten. Never had a For Sale sign, any development. If you don't count the tree in back of Ordner's car lot next to their lean to garage thing, it had 3 trees. One of the trees was a yellow flower tree like we had in front of house on 2009 Antelope. Pretty, little yellow flowers that attracted big, black bumblebees and smaller honey bees. Also had thorns.
We had some superstitious people in the neighborhood who said there were bodies buried there, don't cut thru. But us kids more worried about black kids from the cut hiding in there, or snakes that jump out like coil springs and winos and drunks, like The Wino Behind Beils who frequented the are and looked like one of the Duck Dynasty guys, but you could smell him block away. So first time I ventured thru there in the day was about 6 years old, headed to HEB (#15 on the big map) with some change to go buy comic books.
Scared? Oh hell yea. It was a small thin trail rubbed down by Coca Cola employees cars & people walking from The Cut, a sort of "S" shaped trail that adventure or murder was behind every wild bush. The bushes here seldom got about 3-4 feet and no one that I recall ever maintained this property or cut grass & weeds. So you on your own. The black folks those coming from HEB would push carts along Port, then Antelope, on way home, could not push grocery cart thru there... so stayed on street. Coca Cola employees would also park cars back there which I find odd, in the big map photos looks like 5 cars back in 'the little field' parked, and even odder is two cars parked against Coca Cola building 2A, that would have been a tight squeeze for the choo choo train coming thru, but guess it made it fine.
On the Antelope side next to rail road tracks sort of open like a funnel, smattering of weeds, oyster shell and gravel, and small bushes. For about 30 yards it got smaller, smaller and restrictive in middle as the bushes closed in on you, snakes, winos, and such just waiting to jump out at you take your comic book change. At the far end it turned into a Y shaped funnel again. So you could come out on Port directly across from Devine Printing Company (#14 on the map & that is the crazy lady who slapped shit out of my serving mass at Cathedral when I was altar boy) but wide open behind Hasty Tasty, you were face to face with their grease pit which smelled wonderful. And their dumpster too, also great smelling to a hungry kid, will leave it at that.
About only incident I had in the 'little field' was with yellow & black spiders. These were big as hand. And had large webs too. There were large red ants that had mounts here, like the one mound we could never kill in front of house at 723 Doss. These big red ants if they bit you, scratch, red, and itch for days. Painful. So step on damned thing first, then pick them up, toss in web, send them to hell where they belonged.After we got tossed out of 642 Naples and family found ourselves back in stone age 723 Doss in about 1973/74, I STILL feared going thru 'the little field' and would ride bike extra fast thru there. About 1975 there was activity and lots of trucks. So a number of us hood rats, went over to watch and someone started putting up a oil rig there! First time ever something there. Run over all the bushes, the small trees cut down, winos, black kids with snakes that looked like springs all running down Leopard. Actually, there was now a fence there. The oil well derrick towered maybe 30 feet up, lit up like Christmas Tree. My dad could not figure out why put oil well there. Even with Coca Cola buildings as out block you could still hear noise from the place 24 hours a day.
Then one day...it was gone from the little field. A Christmas Tree or pump like thing there, small fence around it, ground all nasty, smelly, and Coca Cola employees started parking there again, but the "trail" was altered, and near the small well, it had meters and a constant Hisssssssss.... to it. So they hit something, but no longer disturbance in the force in the 'little field' Never saw another big spider in there either. After I moved from Corpus Christi in 1983 a small motel built there which remains to this day. I never stayed there when coming down to visit my parents until mom died in 1988 from cancer, simply because my dad said 'it is where truckers take whores, they rent rooms by the hour'. Yikes no, would stay at Sand & Sea on Bayfront I-37 & Shoreline even though that place falling apart, still better than hourly rooms. And one more thing. Horney Toads used to be everywhere when I was a kid in 1960s, and found two of them in The Little Field.
PHOTOS: Photo #1 Between the Missouri Pacific railroad tracks & Port Avenue in SE corner of Port & Antelope was The Little Field. And you just walked faster thru here, and rode bike full tilt. Never know what might jump out from behind tall weeds and grass. Nothing ever did but imagination.
Photo #2. My late dad Homer T Stakes is STANDING in high uncut grass across from our house on Antelope, note "The Sign" which always seemed to be in our pictures, looming up hill. The grass at Little Field often got this high but due to Coca Cola people driving thru there, at least we had trail.
Photo #3. On the left is remainder of Coca Cola company on Lester, facing South towards Leopard this is building #2A on the map. The green hump is old Missouri Pacific railroad tracks. I am standing on Antelope street. To the right is new motel and where little field used to be. Ironic took over 50 years of my life to see something BUILT there! No more spiders, no more horney toads.
Photo #4. Standing on The Hill of Death or what is left of it as new freeway built...looking SW towards The Little Field. The horizontal line is where Missouri Pacific train tracks were, and the arrow points at The Little Field. The intersection right there is Antelope & Port.
Photo #5. Grapefruit sized yellow spiders nothing worse than trying to haul ass thru The Little Field on bike and hit invisible web with one of these monsters in it. Caused quite a few wipeouts. Never got bit, I don't know if they bite either, but scare the hell out of you factor off charts. They are about 3-4 inches long and in Houston 1/2 century later I coexist with them as they eat LOTS of bugs, I just don't ride bike thru web at high speed.
18. Lew Williams Chevrolet Lew Williams Chevrolet was our neighbor. Located at the corner of Port & Leopard, 2 blocks from our old house(s) at corner of Doss & Antelope. #18, 18A, 18B, 18C.
From our house at night you could see the glow of the lights from this place, was brighter than even the glow of I-37 in our front yard. Across the street was Sheffields, (#19 on my file) a Snapkas like Drive In which is where Vicks stands today. At the NE corner was Hasty Tasty restaurant and at NW corner was HEB.
Lew Williams for years tried to lure my dad away from All American Motors, then Andy Anders Rambler downtown. But he liked working both places, and was ace certified mechanic. He liked Chevrolet too, even had two 1962-63 trucks I never found out why he never made the move, after all, when Coca Cola bought 1/2 of the Bates property which ran from Antelope on north, down all of Lester facing Coca Cola on west, and on east backed up to our property, the barbed wire fence actually hung over our roof, momma was pissed about that, and on the south Leopard, so when Coca Cola bought 1/2 of the property while Miss Bates still alive, for some reason Lew Williams stored brand new cars in there, sort of like sub lease from Coca Cola.
As kids, we used wooden Coke crates to prop up fence, crawl under it, and play in the new cars, would have paid to see a worker get in car, wipers, heater, radio full blast, everything turned on except lights and ignition..we never stole anything nor destroyed anything. The stealing stuff come later when older with Coke cases & bottles.
At the Chevrolet dealership, photo #1 shows the back area is was the most active. On the right is the Service area, where you would bring car, check it in, then get work done. On the left is the Used Cars building, same Jetsons type art deco design. The Used Car building is # 18 E on the big map photo. You can see all the Quality Used Cars, and the flags hanging in lot in the arial photo in the land before drones. # 18 A & # 18 B are Service areas, more on those below. I hope Corpus Christi never tears down these buildings, but Corpus like Houston, not know to saving historic stuff.
Photo #2 shows a number of new Chevy II, and Novas on showroom floor about 1966-67. When this iconic building was designed, I don't think they thought about annoying kids taking their bikes up the ramp in middle of photo, to ride bikes on top of building, which was FUN. The security guards here were much like the security dogs next to our house that 'guarded' the cars, could be bribed, or just not interested. And these ramps area all around building so if guards standing on Port side, we just rode down Leopard side an escaped down Lexington or other street, ha ha. Or even worse...escaped to Charlie Thomas iams arch nemesis a block away next to Rainbo Bread, bwahhahahah. As they say in Scooby Doo "I would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling kids!!"
Photo #3 is about 1966-67 and Port Avenue side which faced downtown for those of you wihout a compass. In foreground are new Corvettes. Lew Williams NEVER parked thosenext to our house in fenced in Coca Cola lot, I wonder why. Behind it is row of Corvairs that Ralph Nader claimed would destroy America. I sort of like Corvairs and run into a number of owners at car shows of which I vend and attend. On the Showroom floor appears to be some Biscaynes, Impalas too.
Inside on showroom floor I walked around like I owned the place. Ther were mod and bright banners, posters, racing posters, and many glass cibicles where the salesmen retreated to sell you a new Chevy. I would knock as a courtesy before entering and can't tell you how many Worlds Finest Chocolates BOXES of them, I sold at this place to raise funds for Cathedral. The sheer amounf of glass at this place made me think what would happen if hurricane have to wait long to find out in August 3rd, 1970 with Celia, lots of glass lost. But replaced.
Photo #4 is a shot of iconic Chevrolet sign from Leopard Street side. This neat photo courtesy of old Caller Times ad shows whole building at street level, sans cars. The cars were there, just below photo.Photo #5 shows the Service area from different angle. As a kid, we sort of stayed away from THIS area anyways, several salesmen and reps told us to, which we did, just because you could get squished on your bike.
Back to the BIG photo on my site, # 18C & # 18D. Not bra sizes, but 18C was a Exxon at the far corner of this dealership, this is at Lipan & Port, way over there. They had M&M and peanut machines in this place, also free maps, (which i would sell at Cathedral for 50 cents each) here was a super cool car wash located here also, that is 18D. I could stand there on my bike for hours with dog Bootsy and watch the guys drive up car, they would bar behind the car, put car in neutral, and a chain driven conveyor would hook up with vertical bar and push car forward thru big buffers...first soap, then wash/rinse, then sometimes wax. At the end, guys would hustle and jump in car (still rolling as in neutral!) and pull it up next to the CPL fence to dry off and detail interior, tires. I believe the Royal Chevrolet treatment was $5 in 1966-68. A really wonderful experience I am guessing for those whose cars were given the royal treatment, again, that is # 18 D on the map.
The double rows of cars & trucks facing Port next to this place are NEW.
Farther down in front of main building single row of NEW cars. # 18 A & # 18 B are
the Service Stalls. This is where they tried for years to get my dad to work, was top of
line stuff, they did alignments, oil changes, brakes, transmissions, even rebuild engines
in here. The only was I know was I walked around in here 2 times a year selling my
candies. Ok, seriously I knew this damned place like back of hand. At far bottom of the
big photo on my site is # 19, all these cars BEHIND # 18 A & # 18 B are waiting for
some service. Not to say they were bad cars, could have been easy things like oil change,
tire rotation, but big business then...and now! Or maybe Charlie Thomas good sabotaging
their arch rivals cars at night. Or could have been stuff us kids did, hope not!
Photo #6 this is Leopard Street side facing Port avenue. Lew Williams had 'Quality Used Cars!' and "OK Cars!" signs.
Photo #7 inside the showroom facing North towards Leopard. Besides the Biscayne or Impala there, look past north and will see the big HEB sign that would glow a wonderful lavender at night. On the right is THE CHEVY SHOW! touring big van!
Photo #8: Inside showroom facing south, Chevy II, Nova, Impalam, wagons, oh my. The booths on the right in photo is where I would walk in, and sell a hell of a lot of Worlds Finests chocolates for my school, being a car guy, the tail lights on ther Impala with butt facing you is 65 or 66.
Sheffield's Drive Inn Sheffield's
is the U shaped building across from Hasty Tasty (#13). Port Avenue is #16 while the
Missouri Pacific Railroad train yard sandwiched between Port & Larry Street. Larry
street was never really a street, as was mostly oyster shell driveway, although on Mestina
there was asphalt. Sheffield's was a type of Snapkas on crack, bigger, better burgers,
pool tables, pinball machines 3 plays for a dime! The big "U" shaped awning cars
park under in shade, and they would bring out your food on Sonic type metal trays (think
American Graffiti) to your car. Wanted something else? Flash your headlights the car hop
lady come back out. Inside was all blue collar, the cold beers included Schlitz, Hamms,
Falstaff, Lone Star & Pearl to name a few. Workers from nearby refineries, the car
lots, and just all around area come in for cold one & beer. As a kid I got a
cheeesburger at this place was about 6 and was sort of hooked. I would ride my bike up
there, trusty dog Bootsy would patiently sit outside with my bike leaning against wall,
while I would go in, play quick pinball game. People would pet Bootsy on the head, she was
really friendly dog. And patient. This area would later be where Vicks is, before it was
Vicks was Ruby Reds a sort of spin off of Orange Julius in the Padre Staples Mall. I do
not remember when Sheffield's went away, but it was there as late as 1970. Maybe Celia
took them out. Sheffield's was a real blue collar diner & bar. Burgers, shakes, malts
(malts ha ha), beer, could sit inside with 'Cold Air Conditioning' at lunch or after work,
even had a jukebox & pinball & cigarette machines.
20 & 21. Auto Center The Auto
Center had two buildings right behind Sheffields. The main building was like a O'Reillys
or Auto Zone, sold auto parts, you could walk in and get brake shoes, water hoses, fan
belts and headlights, my dad really liked this place as the old school guys would take
time to look at books in land before computers, to match up the parts he needed to keep
our several Ramblers on the road. Not all auto parts folks are friendly, some should not
be in customer service, but these guys all were super friendly. I liked to walk around
store (was 6-9 years old) and check stuff out. No toys, bummer. But they did have a triple
head gumball machine near front door and a modern light beam thing that when you came
inside door, you broke beam and it would go DING DONG! loud as hell to let employees they
had customer. My dad told me stay the hell away from that as used to put hand in front of
it annoying everyone. One day at this place they had some UFO frisbees you put batteries
in so when you toss them, light up like UFO. Those were $5 and that was a ton of money
back in 1960s, so every time would go in, would go check stock to see how many left. After
3 months only few left and I had saved up some dinero from trading in Coke bottles, so
bought one. A blue UFO frisbee. Looked great at night but due to weight with batteries,
could only toss it about 15 feet. I would later find another for sale at Cages hardware a
block away year later so bought another since Bootsy chewed up the Auto Center one. The
other building on this lot was Auto Centers shop. This is where people took cars to get
worked on, stuff like brake jobs, air condition, tires installed, alignments. It is #21 on
the map, catty corner sort of facing intersection of Leopard & Port. Can't tell you
much about it as never went inside it, had no business in there you know. Auto Center had
modern equipment like Sun Tuning systems to get your car running right, Rows of Snap On
Tool boxes the grease monkeys worked hard, no AC in this hot & humid area. Just big
fans us kids were fond of standing in front of and making stupid noises to hear echos
Unnamed Car Lot across from Lew Williams &
behind Auto Center, this was a used car lot with a variety of names
in 1960s, eventually ending up partly Lew Williams used car lot as I guess Lew Williams
had lots of used cars they could no longer fit on the west side of big lot. If you look at
partly obscured #18E..that is Lew Williams USED Car lot Jetsons type mini building. Well
this used car lot on Port sort of made lots of sense. At night they had cool looking
strands of edison type lights and rows and rows of flags flapping in breeze. You felt
comfortable there, even when CLOSED, so we would ride bikes thru there checking out some
barely used cars. At the back fence was "secret trail" as several vertical wood
fence pieces were missing, so we could go basically from the car lot, thru high overgrown
little field, directly onto Missouri Pacific railroad tracks. Yea, we though the secret
way was cool.
23. Carl Kuhen's Paint & Body This striped building always seemed to have cool cars near it. Not sure if it was auto body men cars or cars they had done paint & body work on. In `1960s/70s was Carl Kehens' though. Behind it of course is Missouri Pacific rail yard, there was small fence in back, and there were 'long term' projects in back, something I can relate to since I restore old American Motors cars. These were cars that if you ever tell a paint/body shop guy 'take your time' they really do take their time and could be awhile before you see it again, like years.
Monita's Tortilla Factory, facing Port and Lew Williams. You could
smell this place mile away when the wind was right. Just smelled 'homey' though, made you
hungry. They made a lot of tortillas here and could be found in many Corpus Christi stores
like HEB, Kroger, Beils. You could walk up the stairs to inside and buy directly, didn't
have to be wholesaler, the heavy set Mexican ladies always greeted us neighborhood rug
rats with a smile. I never bought anything as my grandmother used to make us a boatload of
tortillas from scratch, so many she would give them to neighbors. So no tortilla shortage
at our house. The smell inside the building was only surpassed by the nice ladies and
employees here. Not sure if still around, or moved on. Monita Tortilla Factory had a LOT
of 'modern' tortilla making equipment for it's day, but still a lot of ladies worked in
this area bagging up flour and corn tortillas to ship out. I don't think Monita used the
train tracks behind them for shipping, was all trucks.
25. Zarsky's Lumber Company #25 & #25A on the map, this was at corner of Port Avenue & Lipan, backed up to Missouri Pacific railroad tracks. They utilized a lot of railroad boxcars for their lumber. Even across tracks there was almost along all of Mestina tons of lumber, stacked as high as Cokes in Coca Cola across Leopard, I mean 15 feet or so high. The forklifts constantly coming & going here so not really good area for kids. But being kids we would pick up 2 x 4s discarded or broken here. Take home, and get a mess of Coca Cola, Sprite and other bottle caps and nail them to board. Then put metal wheels on bottom, another board up front with another smaller board up top, there you have poor kids scooter to ride up and down street. Can't tell you how many of those we made. But Zarsky's was a endless supply of lumber.
One day a guy asked us what we were doing with the boards we were ferrying off between train tracks. I told him making scooters. He thought that was neat and said he would instruct some of the guys to put 'special boards' out for us, away from the yard itself. So not even more kids in the hood had scooters and mini skateboards. We did buy some lumber there after hurricane Celia, (Aug 3rd, 1970) place was packed, and even though Zarskys was pretty beat up building wise, they had truckloads and trainloads of wood coming in from all over country to sell. So there, you have quick side trip away from Leopard on Port Avenue. Circa 1966-70. Above the Lew Williams Chevrolet complex you can clearly see Zarsky's top center of photo, Lipan is the intersection upper right. This neat photo shows my stomping grounds & why I am dedicated to trying to preserve it's history. Besides Zarskys, to the left of it Monita's Tortilla Factory, left of it the striped paint & body shop of Carl Kuhen's, left of that the no name car lot. Behind them extreme top of photo is Missouri Pacific rail yard with some tankers, loads of lumber & a chemical storage bin
26 & 27. Noe's Cafe & Mario's Barber shop This was a small, old, strip center on the north side of Leopard up against Coca Cola. Yes there was a narrow passage between two properties, why I do not know as was filled with small, forgotten trees, trash, possums and rats. For us kids, we were about only ones that could fit back there. But some well fed rodents, just like behind Beil's across street trash area enclosure next to tracks, and also HEB on corner of Port & Leopard, we would catch the rats or mice, wait for stop light to change, then as cars came down street, tossed them into traffic right in front of cats, sometimes they flattened ha ha, other times did get away, curses on you Ratouille. Noe's I knew a Noe who when I was about 7 or 8 he was already a teen, maybe 17-18, and used to play baseball with a number of hood kids, myself included at the oyster shale flat lot in front of our house at 723 Doss. But I do not know if he was related to owner. Inside this place banked from mostly Coca Cola employees, great big breakfast ham, eggs, bacon or sausage with eggs, toast for $1.25. Coffee was quarter. My two pieces of toast was 10 cents here too like at Hasty Tasty.
But I rarely went in here. The cigarette smoke battled smoke from bacon, quite a mix. Probably toxic but what the hell, smelled great. Even waitresses smoked. But for MY two pieces of toast, I usually went to Hasty Tasty (#13 on map!) a few steps away, whereas they were more tolerant of a kid...much less one who would order damned 10 cent toast, then put 3 pounds of strawberry jam packets and butters on them. Nest door was Mario's Barber Shop, it had a hypnotic barber shop pole, you know, red, white and blue strips spinning inside long tube thing. This fascinated me and wanted to take it home with me for my room, but left it alone. Where are all those stripes going thru top? Where are they coming from bottom, nothing attached to it? Mario's Barber shop (#27 ) got a lot of business not only from Coca Cola employees but also people up and down Leopard street businesses, they also did shoe shines and shaves, whole works. And shines were dime, the cost of 2 pieces of toast. Since I rarely had shoes, this eliminated me right off the bat. Kids in the neighborhood also supported this small business, Mario looked like well, Super Mario Nintendo guy with thick black moustache too.
Strange as many times that I did go into here, never got haircut. Just always went with
kid friends like Mondo or Juinor Rabago, walked from next block. I used to get hair cut at
home, momma put bowl on head, which looked like I had mange afterwards and got lots of
flack at school for days until it grew back. There was a reason for this, had gotten
haircut at Barber College across from Braslaus Furniture, and got ringworm from places,
damned thing was as big as Great Red Spot on planet Jupiter, nuns sent me home so had to
put iodine on it for week until went away.
photo #1 This is similar to inside Noe's Café on Leopard behind Coca Cola in 1960s. NOT Noe's just similar greasy spoon. Always seemed to be loaded with Leopard street people who worked close by. Competition for your dining dollars was fierce, with Hasty Tasty about 2 football fields away on corner of Port & Leopard & across from them, Sheffield's a big Snapka's type place. You could get big, and I mean BIG breakfast at Noe's for about $1.25. Note the Pig's Knuckles, who eats that sh*t? Gag. Ok, I will try it. Sign has 'fried eggs & sausage 25 cents' sign. So earlier than 1960s.
Photo #2. Not Noe's but also in competition for your money on a vibrant Leopard as Bunk's Café corner of Sam Rankin & Leopard directly across from Sears. Pretty much same menu as Noe's too, chili, burgers, breakfasts, note spokesman Wimpy' from Popeye cartoon 'I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today' ha ha. There was yet another place to eat, SW corner of Carrizo street & Leopard, was small white building, maybe seated 20-30 people max. I have the name of it on tip of tongue, but for like of me, can't remember it. And God forbid I don't mention Chat & Chew again, which was next to Bunks!
28 & 29 Gulf Radiator &
GULF RADIATOR. Ironic that it is called Eddie's now as I spent a lot of time there, mostly riding bike under the metal tin roof on Doss side. There was, probably still is a cement anthill thing sticking up from cement next to sewer, if you hit it just right with bike, could go airborne. Amazing Gulf Radiator still around. Nice people worked here, and nicest of them all was a really tall fellow named Mister Pena. I can't put that little wavy thing above the N so bear with me. He was a tall fellow with graveled face. Nice smile. To all us kids in the neighborhood he was a god. Inside Gulf radiator was a big pool of stinky water, maybe 10 feet by 10 feet. They would fix radiators, seal them, then dip them in this old water to look for leaks, also to cool the damned things off after they welded them. The smell of sauder 50+ years later can close eyes and see this wonderful gentleman standing there with goggles on fixing things. Well, if he had time, he would take our bike tires and pump them with air, and drop in water to see where leak. He fixed many a tire for the poor kids in neighborhood, myself included. Not that my dad could not do that, which he did, it is just Mister Pena had big stinky pool with stagnant murky mystery water! What else was in there? Snakes? Monsters? Chupacabras??!!?? Bottom line he also did some of our bikes, WELDED them, or customized them when he had time, boss said it was fine as a number of parents were also customers. A good man with a smirky type smile, I will say a prayer for Mister Pena tonight in Houston, may God Bless you, world would be better place with more Mister Penas. There is a old iron pipe next to fireplug still standing as a solemn reminder of 50 years ago in 2019, the pipe used to have a Gulf Radiator sign that hung out over curb into Leopard. Was funny to be dropped off if I caught bus, as bus would swerve around it.
SANDLINS: The iconic blue building used to be white. The diamonds still there at top either side, we never did find out if real diamonds. In the barrio, ghetto, whatever you wish to call it, rumors and gossip can spread quickly. Sometimes too quickly. Someone one day in 1960s these were real diamonds, so parents and kids alike would walk over to look up. Sandlin's somehow was related to whoever owned Gulf Radiator back in the day. Nice guys, sort of cowboy guys. You walk in, the place sold nothing by new
radiators: Daniels; also radiators I am familiar with like Blackstone & Modine of which a number of my classic AMC cars STILL have originals in them. Not from Sandlin's but from factory in Kenosha. This place had a really neat little water cooler with big bottle upside down, and when you pushed button to fill your little cone pyramid cup, big bubbles BLORT, BLORT! to the top of clear bottle. Cold water, we knew all in the neighborhood where to find cold water whether fountains or these bottles.
They also had penny gumball machine, cheaper than Beils across street, sometimes stale but penny. Between Sandlin's & Gulf Radiator there is a driveway. If you followed it straight back, you ended up in Mondo's driveway & both rabago family. Walk thru both oyster shell driveways, and at back of fence there was some boards you could peel back, and end up in MY backyard.
There were two cool houses, behind Sandlin's, I thinjk one of the owners lived there, mayb both. Small duplex, probably both 2 bedroom efficiencies.
At the back of Sandlin's was a "Y" shaped drain for roof, you could toss oranges in it and thump, thump, they come out at bottom like 10 foot gumball machine. But if you missed tossing it in top, they go on top of roof of Sandlin's and never seen again.Photo #1. Gulf Radiator with Sandlin's next to it in background. I lived with family at end of lonely Doss street in right. The pole I mentioned that hung into traffic for busses to swerve around still there, it is one next to fireplug, if you drive by, wave at it for me.
Photo #2 Sandlin's used to be white, now blue. To the left was filled to brim with Coca Cola trucks loaded with new sodas ready for delivery. Now some sort of scrap yard. Nice little building has withstood test of time and hurricanes.
Photo #3 Between Sandlin's & Gulf Radiator this was our shortcut. No one ever bitched about us cutting thru either in 1960s/70s. There was oyster shell and at back you simply walked to right where driveway ended, under tree and in Rabago's back yard basically! There was a pretty blonde lady with all her teeth that that lived in one of the two small apartments or whatever you call them back there. Farrah type smile!
30.Mobil Gas Station
Back in 1960s this was a Mobil gas station. to the immediate west, Gulf Radiator & Sandlin Radiators. Directly behind it was "the big field" a vacant lot of oyster shells all the kids in area played in and rode bikes, but sometimes impromptu baseball games, with Antelope side 2nd base & home run area, and I-37 backdrop. Later, Coca Cola would buy this lot and use for employees to park cars. And with that, they had to walk past out crappy run down house corner of Doss & Antelope, sometimes late brother Tommy & me sleeping on porch ha ha, as no electricity, hot inside damned house, but porch offered good breeze. Across from Mobil was Kelly Springfield Tires, #41) which was connected to Beils (#42). The Mobil offered both full and self serve. We never seemed to buy gas there, my dad opted to buy gas at cheapest place which was FINA station up around curve south of Lipan, and directly behind the cemetery, gas 16 cents a gallon there in 1960s, and guy would come out, and also check tires, clean windshield and if time, check oil in our Rambler. The gas pumps had spinny wheel near top and DING! DING! bell each gallon. Mobil didn't have this. Was to use kids, hypnotic, and we stared at the damned ting from windshield, never getting out of car. Maybe poppa onto something there too.
Mobil made most of it's money (at least to a observant kid) with service. It had two service bays and always cars in them for tune ups, oil changes, tire changes and so forth. There was a big, heavy set man who seemed to be the boss inside. Behind Mobil fenced in, number of cars waiting their turn to get fixed. Inside had air condition, maybe why fat man always stayed inside.
There were gumball machines too, penny & nickle ones. And the small Coke machine had a ice water thing on side of it, so could put bike down outside, walk in, drink water, and leave. Cold water, but not as cold as KAYO a block away, I will get to them later. As.. Leopard street slowly evolved, Mobil closed down, then became a service place only.
Photos #1 Mobil as it exists today, building intact and still being used. KC Hall would have beenon right, Gulf Radiator is shown on left of photo. The arrow in background was where Maria D Alcala's house was we were living in after Celia. Photo #2 This is a rare photo of me in front yard of 723 Doss washing my 68 AMC AMX. In background on upper right is back of Mobil station. If you can get past my big head of hair, directly behind it, is KC Hall, follow it to left upper corner that is whole building! My head, and ego blocking the steps though facing Mobil. The cars in fenced in area behindme, Coca Cola had bought that for employees to park. See here is a Dodge Polara a 74 Mustang. If you look above my car on right, that is Junior Rabago's 70 4 door green Impala parked facing me. Photo #3 a different angle of me washing car in front yard, note above my head is Ortiz's shotgun house, Meme & Trina raised a boatload of kids in it, was painted olive green. The big Agnes sign is also shown from 1979 there. Barely visible above my head, Wilson Tower, 600 Building & Driscoll building which is sort of black. And Coca Cola's lot behind me with a Ford Granada, Buick Skylark, Chevy Truck, and Ford LTD on the big oyster shell lot. My tshirt is Styx Memorial Coliseum
31.Knights of Columbus Hall
The two story Knights of Columbus building next to Mobil was on the corner of Leopard & Cleveland. It is a Catholic organization and I'm Catholic. This place was like La Terraza Ballroom farther up Leopard. Not bext shape, but clean, and welcoming to anyone.
Catholics drink, Baptists do too, just tell you they don't but take it from me, a bartender 30 years, they drink like Green Bay Packer fans. However, us Catholics can outdrink them, like New Orleans Saints fans. Well, this hall, had Bingo, also dances, and other festivities, meetings too, even BBQs. It was about 100 yards from front door of our house, could actually look from our yard and see most of building. When we would hear music at night, many times us kids would simply wander over to see what going on. You could DO THAT on Leopard street in 1960s.The bingo games were neat, as could check out blue hair old ladies sitting next to nuns, sitting next to sub commandante Marcos playing. There was 4 colored thin bingo sheets, red, yellow, blue, green, and at later date, found orange and purple. The bingo guy stood up on small stage. There was a thing similar to what you see with Texas Lotto now, spins and spins then ball pops out, he/she (sometimes a lady!) call the number. Some of the folks take this way too seriously and intensity shows on faces. But everyone seemed to have good time, don't recall Corpus Christi Police ever coming over to arrest anyone, as the police station was corner of Brownlee & I-37, just 2 blocks away. People parked their cars on Leopard, Cleveland, Mobil gas station, even Doss to go play. Rarely and I mean rarely, would we go inside though. didn't want to ruin welcome. So would play out front, or up and down stairs. The stairs. On this building there was a stairways to upper floor, on west side, brick steps on some kind of stuccoes type building, which was regular ACME type bricks in front and Cleveland side. Not sure if put in later date. The guardrail was also cement, and no one would slide down it like you could other places like Fedway's downtown between escalators. If you fell, 10-15 feet to cement.
Sunday morning. Leopard street back then deathly quiet on a Sunday morning.
And if I didn't have to serve Mass at Cathedral, would ride bike over the KC Hall & look for coins the drunks dropped. Also fun was going thru the trash, handful of worthless bingo cars like Venezuelan money. I mean LOTS of them.
I never saw any that WON, and guess that the winner cards torn in half. But the loser cards, again, really thin paper as a kid these things had all sorts of uses, even if trash. Sometimes a number of us get together on top steps and make paper airplanes and toss them to see who wins. Sometimes just grab handful and toss them in the stiff south CC wind from up there and watch them scatter wherever. Never got in trouble doing it, no one was there that time of morning. The sheets would fly into Mobil, also their locked back area, and if lucky flew into the Coca Cola 'baseball field' across from grandma DeAlcala's house 723 Doss, with some even making it to I-37 and Antelope!
Directly behind KC Hall on Cleveland Street was Mataquita's house. I don't know what Mataquita means, but this was a little old Mexican lady maybe 5 feet tall on a good day, with piercing brown eyes that would melt you, wanted to adopt her, just give her hug. Her little shotgun house was impeccably maintained since she was in her 80s. And in her yard, it was a real Garden of Eden, with potted plants beautifully taken care of, flowers, and for such a tiny yard, just whisk you away to another place & time seeing her work. She also had some damned parakeets that would talk to you. The reason I even mention her is out bingo fun many times blow into her yard.
She would never complain, but in a rare act of remorse for me, would, stop by and offer to clean yard for free, never letting her know I was uh, sort of responsible for it, she just assumed wind did it.
The KC Hall is long gone, as is Mataquita's house, and the other little shotgun house next to it, the white duplex still there. Also on east side of KC Hall, the black marble front building gone, Lucky Lady gone, hell, everything about gone from 1960s there. Even our old houses 2009 Antelope &
723 Doss. A lot of good memories of both places, am surprised the Mobil station is still there though. Wished I had some of the neat posters that used to be stapled to wood board on front of KC Hall for upcoming events!
Photos: Photo #1 This is a rare photo of me in front yard of 723 Doss washing my 68 AMC AMX. In background on upper right is back of Mobil station. If you can get past my big head of hair, directly behind it, is KC Hall, follow it to left upper corner that is whole building! My head, and ego blocking the steps though facing Mobil. The cars in fenced in area behind me, Coca Cola had bought that for employees to park. See here is a Dodge Polara a 74 Mustang. If you look above my car on right, that is Junior Rabago's 70 4 door green Impala parked facing me. Photo #2 Original 1960s bingo paper sheets. Besides the red, yellow, green, blue, and sometimes orange and purple, but here is brown, maroon, pink, and grey ones. Damn, these things can fly amazing distances! Photo #3. the benefit bar b ques at Knights of Columbus hall would smell up whole neighborhood. It was $3 whole chicken then. But only got to eat a plate or two thru years as well, poor! Not mentioned was next day after one of these, would take big box over to dig thru trash for chicken bones for out 6-10 dogs. So someone got some use from it.
32. Black Tile Building Corner of Leopard & Cleveland 1900 Leopard.
On the corner of Cleveland & Leopard was a "black tile building" that in my life, was only opened when Buccaneer days came to town, as this is there they stashed all the balloons, flags, and beads and stuff to sell. You go in, sign up and they give you a mess of things to sell. I did this several times as a kid, selling Pirate flags for 50 cents each. And they give you a dollar or two. I quit doing it when I was holding a $20 bill proudly in front of me (was about 11) and he just reached over my shoulder and snatched and and bolted for door. A number of workers, carnies, whatever you call them, bolted after him. I was left in tears. Boss still paid me, but I didn't ever sell any more flags after that. The building on lower front had cool solid black tiles, which ran up either side, the doors were rickety identical to the Hamauei's Waco Food Store a few blocks up Leopard. I do not know when this building town down as was still there when I moved to Houston in 1983. It is parking lot now.
Photo #1. This is Antelope street at Doss about 1967, maybe 1968. I'm the one with grimace like pirate (AAARRHHHH...it buc days matey!!!) That is my brother Tommy in red, white and blue American Motors dealership racing jacket, my dad, next to him, me and then small kid was neighbor called Pete Kawas, also known as 'Peetoe'. Interstate 37 behind us (was our front yard duh) where it curves towards crosstown. Behind dad hidden by trees is Driscoll hotel, 600 building & Wilson Tower. It was about this time that I was selling these plastic flags for Buccaneer days parade.
Photo #2. The bikes my dad fixed up and sold and rented to sailors, he also fixed up lawnmowers on the side. Earlier he would fix up televisions that mister Aldrich (that Aldrich of the Christmas house on Doddridge) had taught him. Since momma and poppa never went to parade less than 100 yards away, we would rent spaces in our driveway and onside of house. That is little Sarah selling lawnmowers there. Side note since am going on about Buc Days Parade.. my dad built a UPSIDE DOWN BIKE for the parade one year, was huge hit, a clown rode it )except walked it down S hill at Wilson Tower into downtown) but kids loved it. Pretty much two bikes welded together, rider sat about 4 feet up in air!
Photo #3. And with Buccaneer Days quickly approaching, beautiful girls would 'kidnap' the mayor at City Hall and toss them in the water. This would officially launch Buccaneer Days for Corpus Christi when the beauties took over, not sure if Corpus Christi still does this funny and neat tradition, which would garner a lot of attention for the city! And darn it, was fun, unless mayor didn't swim I guess.I can think of a few Corpus Christi mayors I would love to toss into drink, but would be big tank of piranahas ha ha!
33. The "Lucky Lady" in
1900 Block Leopard.
The Lucky Lady Bar: ain't no ladies in there and sure as hell no one ever got lucky. As kids, we would ride past this seedy place and look up the stairs to see the borrachos, or drunks for my english speaking customers. This place had it's own ecosystem and atmosphere. The stench of stale beer and urine could be smelled outside when ride past on bikes. Purposely slow down to peek inside. The bartender had some large beehive hairdo and oversized boobs at least compared to our moms around hood. Her makeup... lots of it. But she was friendly as hell, and even gave us some Cokes several times, in REAL cocktail glasses! Wow! Only place I had ever drank from real glasses like that was Hasty Tasty, Sheffields and if you could wipe the lipstick and grease off it, Noe's Café, all within spitting distance of The Lucky Lady Bar. Inside a cooler there were old school beers you can still find today: Hamm's Jax, Pearl, Lone Star, Schlitz to name a few. You could not get Coors or Strohs in Texas in 1960s, another story for another day, I am showing my age again. The wooden steps about 5-7 of them, went up into The Lucky Lady. My dad, a ex sailor, said "it was a sailor's bar" which I would have to sort of believe, as my dad rented...and sold... used bikes he fixed up to a LOT of sailors from around world who stopped by our 723 Doss a block away house, and would rent for day or week. Back inside the bar, it had squeaky old wooden floor.
I was too timid and shy to ask 'where is the smell of piss coming from' but guess some guys never made it to bathroom. Barf too. I want to say lady's name was Anita. Started with "A". My mom would have had 2 cows if she knew I went in that place, even if for a Coca Cola. In real glass. Speaking of appetizing, this place had a small stand up cooler straight back near door, (with aforementioned beers) so look directly in from front door, it straight back, and it was full of bottled beers, also looked like sandwiches. A educated guess here is that this cooler used to chill more popular beers, but main cooler behind bar. And also a possibility that placed had some 'daily lunch special' many small bars do without a kitchen...I have worked in a number of them in Houston for instance, you make some sandwiches, or big pot of queso, beef stew, something for regulars, or happy hour. I'll never know as never got that far into place!There is a side story here. One night I was staring out of our old shotgun house east window as could not sleep. We had electricity at this time as did grandma Maria D Alcala house next to it. My favorite light on her house was outside kitchen door. Everyone asleep in out house on 2009 Antelope. I see a guy dressed in total black, cowboy hat, walking on Antelope, he turns, and comes RIGHT UP TO ME in window and pulls a GUN!! The guy looked like a guy from old Gunsmoke series, black moustache, no beard, brushy eyebrows under black hat. I fell backwards into our old chair with floral pattern and hid. Got up next morning still scared. Toll momma, poppa and Tommy about it they thought I had nightmare or something. It was not until my dad saw the bootprints in driveway between houses, and up to the window he knew I was telling truth. To make matters worse, guy had shot and killed someone neat or at Lucky Lady it was reported! I probably got a trip to dairy Queen or something out of it everyone felt sorry for me. Still have that guys' face burned into my memory over 50 years later though.
Photo #1. This is what I recall the Lucky Lady looking like sans the big screen. Just seedy place, dark & foreboding, especially to a kid. Even the old Christmas lights didn't breath life into the place. There was a back door like this, probably to storeroom and/or bathroom. And ironically there was a smaller black and white TV screen in about same place. This would have been looking inside up stairs from Leopard Street. Wished this photo was 'scratch n sniff' so people could smell it ha ha
Photo #2. This NOT Lucky Lady but me at a high volume Houston sports bar in late 1990s. No kitchen. Made sandwiches and hot dogs. Doing over $100K a month. Look to the left of me, there is a old Lucky Lady cooler. And darned near identical! This was my 'buffalo wings and Shiner Bock are 2 of my main food groups' period, and have lost over 40 pounds since then. Guy on right is a doctor of infectious diseases, woud have probably come in handy at Lucky Lady
Photo #3, our old falling apart house on 723 Doss a block from Lucky Lady. That is late brother Tommy, me & dad next to car I gave to my dad. But if you look at the arrows, the one on left is "my special light" that faced Antelope. And the one I saw the evil black cowboy wearing hat guy first lit up as he walked on street, then came into driveway to our shotgun house (2nd arrow) and pointed a gun at me as a kid!
Photo #4. I wished I actually had photos of this Lucky Lady place now, as few people would believe a place like that existed in 1960s, but many of them did on Leopard After I wrote this, Rene Sandoval showed me a photo of place he took in 2003. The description of mine was from MEMORY, and guess I still have all my marbles. Ok, most of them, same stairs, same door, looks like same drunk(?) on steps. Place is gone now.
35. KAYO. Kayo gas station was surrounded by Leopard on front, Coke street on west and Crosstown feeder on east. Super corner catch everyone who was coming from uptown, and fixing to head out to suburbs...BEFORE they got on crosstown! Old school gas station in 1960s, we bought gas there all the time, the pumps were under Y shaped lights! The gas station 'business end' was short long glass enclosure facing Leopard & the pumps. On the Coke side was a small metal shed. Coke machine and Lance type crackers and chips in there. Next to it was free air and water for cars. But also in this small metal shed was a water machine, free ice cold water. So us kids could come over here and put air in tires, spray off bikes and get cold drink of water on hot Corpus day.
My dad, Homer T Stakes Sr, knew the fellow who seemed to be here all the time, heavy set Mexican fellow, jolly, and sat on his stool behind small counter. Inside the small place was crackers, cookies, and stuff you could not get in machine outside, but also car things like oil, transmission fluids, wiper blades and what not. Not big place maybe 15 feet long and 4-5 feet wide. One night we heard a lot of sirens, as CCPD station was only a few blocks away on Brownlee & Buffalo or I-37. A number of us kids being, uh, kids, jumped on bikes and hauled ass around corner. Our friend, whole neighbor hood friend, had been shot and killed at KAYO. I struggle to remember his name, Jose, Juan, Jorge, started with "J" but had been shot during a robbery. KAYO had zero security, you walk in, you face to face with 1 employee who had cash box in front of him. Really sad to see this happen to a good man who was liked, loved by whole neighborhood. My dad just shook his head. I still remember the attendant's smile, and have prayed for him and family. I don't know what ever happened to the bad guy who robbed the place, this would have been about 1966-68.
Photo #1. This is 1960s KAYO gas station. Before someone goes 'uh dude, Corpus ain't go no pine trees' well, you right, just goofy palm trees. But the stations buildings were same. Red neon letters, flags, even glass in front with restrooms on the side. 18 cents a gallon, even year is the same. This is what the Leopard & Crosstown location looked like. Does not have those "Y" lights over pumps though.
Photo #2. Standing on a desolate once vibrant Leopard street looking at lonely KAYO former location. About where the three crucifixes are, was where the small shed with Coke machine, Lance crackers and coldest water fountain in hood was! To the left is where you get on Crosstown to head towards SPID. I used to floor it getting on here, one time 80mph, ha ha, not too smart considering police station other side of freeway. Coke street is on the right. Further back is THE BIG DITCH.Really tough to believe this corner has never had anything on it since I was a child. Maybe haunted, maybe landowner wants too much, maybe Corpus crappy zoning laws?
Photo #3. KAYO (yes, a lot of businesses spelled their names all in CAPS LIKE THIS then, but KAYO had a lot of auto products. I do not know if they had a refinery in Corpus Christi back then, their little mascot fellow named Speedy, and looked a lot of like Jeff from the Burger Chef & Jeff commercials. Not to be confused with Speedy the mascot used in 1950s with Alka Seltzer. How old are you? Not to be confused either with the little street kid Kayo in Moon Mullins 1940s cartoon.
36.Fire Station Corner of Coke &
Can't tell you the guys names, nor can't tell you fire station number. Is blue not but used to be whole in 1960s/70s. Lots of glass down the Coke street side, often have wondered if these guys got glimpse of the guy who killed my KAYO friend. When the fire engine came out, you could easily hear it from our house. Sometimes we would chase it, other times if busy playing Hot Wheels or marbles, well, let it go. The firemen at this place I would press my face on their front door screen and look inside.
Spick & span place, they were usually playing cards, watching tv, reading book, sort of boring but that is what they did. A number of times they would ask me in, and ask if I wanted to walk to Beil's for them and buy a box of crackers for 19 cents "keep the change" I was on it. The louvers storm windows still there as is the steeple on roof. Go drive by check it out if in the area. The firemen were always professional, and one time, don't tell momma, they even gave me bowl of chili. To a kid who was always hungry since we didn't have much food, would have been fool to turn that down.This small firehouse had ONE garage door, and a older 1950s fire engine that the guys kept spectacularly pristine shined like a marble in a goat's ass. Inside the firehouse itself, and to the Coke street side, their beds, and kitchen towards back, along with bathroom, shower too. The beds were (to me) spartan, as Firemen were Kings to a kid. These guys should be on gold thrones. But no, just old run of mill beds, but still light years better than what we attempted to sleep on in our crappy house. I do not know when this fire station closed, but not only did it serve a purpose in a hardscrabble and down on luck neighborhood in 1960s, the men (never lady women firemen here) but the men who worked here were really community oriented, even ran into some of them at Knights of Columbus Hall across street. I don't think any of them ever went into Lucky Lady Lounge across street though as all of them had their teeth.
Photo #1. The small fire station at corner of Coke & Leopard sits closed up now. Not sure when it closed. The cool bell tower still there. To the left is where KAYO gas station was. The garage door of the station not biggest, but it had a modern fire truck in 1960s, probably a 1950s type.
Photo #2. This haunting image is what fire fighters and EMS folks go thru daily. I remember my dad saying 'well they only work sometimes' to which to me meant they only work a few hours a week but get paid full. But when people, kids die in fires, car wrecks, suicides wherever these guys needed, it is just not like you can 'leave it there' and go back to station about your business. The faces, fatalities, burned buildings, houses, stay with you. I don't think my dad understood that in 1960s, and a lot of folks don't now.
Photo #3. The little firehouse on Leopard not upstairs/downstairs, so none of the stuff you see on television where guys run, hit the pole slide down to firetruck coats and boots on. No, was one floor, rather sparse, and well, sort of no privacy unless you went to kitchen or bathroom. Place was always spic and span just like shiny Corpus Christi firetruck! I didn't mention that in the kitchen, it was sort of oversize with large table enough to seat ten, but this place I recall had 3-6 guys any given time.
Photo #4. The firetruck that called this small station home looked like this. I do not know my fire trucks, I do know my vintage cars and REALLY know my AMC cars. But not firetrucks, this is a Seagraves unit, and the firetruck had these type shiny horns, sirens, and sport lights, and only one big red cherry on top. And as I recall, was open top.
Photo #5. Over FIFTY YEARS later I still like firemen and not uncommon
for me to step in front of one in Houston restaurants and buy their meal! And know a
number of The Villages crew, hey, they parked their fire truck near my classic 1968
American Motors convertible Machine, not other way around. All of them are big old car
fans and have seen a number of my classic cars. Damn, those guys can eat, sometimes I joke
about what all in their baskets inside the HEB at I-10 & Bunker Hill but they let me
know they shop most times.. for the week. And they know over 50 years ago I would run to
Beil's in Corpus Christi with quarter tightly I hand to buy saltine 19 cent crackers for
fireman. They probably have heard damned story dozen times.
42. Kelly's Tires
Kelly Springfield Tires. This place was next to Beil's grocery store, Beil's is #43 on the map. This place sold new tires but also had services like front end alignments, brake jobs, oil changes. The big garage doors opened front north and south, so like most Catholic school classrooms, no air condition, breeze blew straight thru. I guess a good thing except on one of Corpus' famous summer days of 100 degrees and 100% humidity, that must have been living hell working in stall. There was a pit here also, kind of unheard of back then for a place like this, as pits usually reserved for big car dealerships, a pit is where mechanics can get under a car to work on it, change oil, most quick oil change places like this now, but in middle 1960s, unheard of.
Photo #2 This is what is called "the pit" even to this day, crawl under car and work, looking up, but easy to get to. Some places like hydraulic liftsd, but in 1960s those were more expensive than just digging a cement hole as Jed Clampett would say.
Photo #3. Another angle front view of the pit, shows how deep they were, this fellow obviously is working on brakes, and has a smoke in his mouth, probably viceroy, Pall Mall, ugh. Gas tank right above his head maybe he is a Aggie.Photo #4The Kelly Tires place had girlie calendars in it, some naked girls, some good looking ones in 'tasteful' poses, and uh, always with TIRES! You can still find vintage ones and those from 1950s command top dollar. My old lady neighbor had a 1957 one she gave me 5 years ago, I sold it on ebay $125.00.
43. Beil's Grocery Store (later changed
name to Opportunity Store)
Beil's Grocery Stores. In 1960s there was a Beil's grocery store on Leopard, across from Gulf Radiator, sandwiched between a large furniture store, and other side was a Kelly's Tires. Lester on west, Doss on East. A railroad track ran in back of it to Bekins Furniture store, this was Doss & Leopard, or parallel between Mestina & Leopard. Beils is #43 on my BIG MAP you will have to click on the link to view the location as I rampage thru my old neighborhood in 1960s. Beils is #43, the furniture store #44, Kellys Tires #42, Bekins #51 where the rail road (follow #5 Missouri Pacific railroad, if I could follow this around as a kid under 10 you can too).
Beils. In the 1960s this old industrial working class blue collar hood was thriving in Corpus Christi. LOTS of small businesses. Like the ones mentioned here. Beils had several locations all over Corpus Christi, including the building that one day would be White Rabbit Disco. But we are in my old hood so lets stay here. This Beils was a smaller store but had lots of things piled high, on the east side was fruits, veggies, breads, tortillas, cookies, in back was a small meat market where you could get fresh cuts of all sorts of meats cut by butchers. About 10 aisles front to back. 4-5 check out counters, they also had baskets to push around food, a modern thing. Near front was some gumball machines, and one of them had Super Balls that looked like pool balls, with numbers. The most coveted one was of course 8 Ball, but not a lot of those in machine, and no matter how much you shook it, they never move. I was about 7 years old this time. Would buy Super Ball for 5 cents, take to Cathedral school 7 sell them for 10 cents, quite a racket, the nuns feared those would break the stained glass on church but of course never did and many kids lots their balls (ha ha) on roof when it went down gutter, so would have to sell them another one.
I bought my first can of fried onion rings here for about 20 cents, what type of sorcery is this in a can? It is DELICIOUS!! Eh, but also 20 cents a ton of moolah for a kid. The employees were always nice, and one Mexican guy I do not remember his name, said 'no te des rascando lot pelotas de la cocina!' one day to another employee, they both started cracking up, as did my two friends Mondo & Junior Rabago who lived next door to us. They knew spanish, I didn't so was like laughing at a Cantinflas or Herma Linda Linda or Super Raton cartoon, laugh but not sure why. I thought it was funny too so when I got home repeated it and momma turned several colors of red then plaid then green. I basically said 'don't be scratching your balls in the kitchen!' of course not knowing spanish, this fell into same line as when I was yelling 'puto, puto' and momma had same face reaction. I tried to quickly tell her it was Pluto! Pluto! to no avail. So she got the Hot wheels track and spanked my butt really bad telling me never to repeat that even though she didn't tell me what the heck I just said. Now my hinie was same color as her face, but hurt. I DID use that saying thru years at bars & restaurants I worked at ha ha to my fellow co workers who loved it. Ok, no one was scratching anything, just thought it was funny getting same reaction as decades before. Sometimes while walking past the fire station #36 on the big map) the firemen would ask me to go buy a box of crackers at Beils, give me 25 or 50 cents and 'keep the change' wow I was OFFICIAL fireman, the crackers mostly about 19-26 cents so profit margin was good for walking block! The old firehouse is #36 on the big map, had a bell tower. The firemen always welcomed the kids in firehouse, super friendly guys, and place was always spick & span clean, smelled good as always seemed to be cooking something.
There was a open trash area behind Beils next to railroad tracks. Same type as HEB at corner of Leopard & Port 2 blocks away, brick enclosed area, no lights. Everything got tossed in there, old fruit, veggies, bread, boxes, everything. The mice & rats easier to catch in here as just stand near open door, there was upper part, lower part, but stand there with box, chase them towards door, get in box, then go out to Leopard & time stop light at Port & toss them into street as cars got close, many squished, others actually got away! Sometimes they met their fate with the cats at our house people who didn't want cats dropped off in middle of night. There was a old wino who ate lots of food back there, us kids called him 'The Wino Behind Beils' of which we saw him as far away as Ben Garza park, and walking down Agnes, and behind buildings walking along tracks on Agnes too. Looked like Jesus, scraggled, smelled like a sasquatch, we always just strayed away from him he had issues in head. His clothes were tattered & torn, beard & hair matted, and more than a few times he surprised us kids by popping up like Jack In The Box in back of Beils where he was sleeping in trash.
One day the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile showed up at Beils. This was a huge event in Corpus Christi am guessing, at least on Leopard street. There were midget chefs, bands (might have been Miller High school or maybe the junior high place on Old Brownsville Road near Johnnys Fish & Chips, don't remember name, possibly Driscoll?) but band, free hot dogs, free Cokes and Sprites.
all the neighborhood kids there eating up a storm. Even the firemen came by, a number of Coca Cola people from across street on Lester too. I took home 6 hot dogs to my mom & dad. Brother Tommy didn't try to put them out of business eating like he did Shakeys though. The Weiner car was covered by Caller Times & some TV stations then, again, was really big deal, some promotion, either by Beils, Oscar Mayer or both. Catholics and old blue haired ladies who would never leave a open bingo card came over from KC Hall (Knights of Columbus) across street as did Mobil gas station people. Mobil is #30, KC Hall #31 on the map.
This nice, generally clean store ended up turning into something called Opportunity one night, went there that day, came back next day, new sign, and same employees, and everything else. As the neighborhood changed, this was Opportunity LOST as it closed down later, too much competition from I guess HEB (#15 on map) which was 4 times bigger Port & Leopard, maybe even from Hameweis (#85 on map) next to Sears corner of Sam Rankin & Leopard, too many grocery stores, not enough people in slowly dying off neighborhoods.
Beils either pulled out of or was bought out eventually. And not sure how long they lasted into the 1970s. Competition fierce? Who knows, but for a lot of us who went to Beils, especially Leopard street location across from Gulf Radiator, a lot of great memories remain!
Photo #1, this is Beils on Staples, not Leopard, but the one on Leopard at Doss was identical façade, even lights hanging down same.
Photo #2, diet Rite Cola, momma loved them...and Tab. Tab was made across street from Beils at Coca Cola on Lester. Vile tasting stuff, no amount of sugar made it taste good yuck. Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, French's Mustard in the little barrels, and mayonnaise in this end of aisle photo.
Photo #3. Beils didn't have a whole lot of push carts though they were a "Self Service Grocery" And there was a one foot drop off from around front of building to parking lot if you pulled in from Leopard. Never fear, the baggers and sometimes cashiers would take out the groceries for you.
Photo #4. Big carton milk. We didn't buy milk at Beils or HEB, we bought it stores all over Corpus Christi in GLASS gallon jugs, Old Bossy ha ha, there was small store across from Hi 9 bar where Old Brownsville splits at Leopard we bought at. I was fond of 1/2 & 1/2 milk people use for coffee, didn't know NOT supposed to drink it straight but every now & then momma buy me one.
Photo #5. The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! With a chef, I guess he was a chef, looked like one to a 7 or 8 year old. Nothing says street party like FREE anything in the hood! Side note: I still have about 5 Hot Wheels Oscar Weiner Mobiles in my big Hot Wheels collection in 2018.
Photos #6 thru #12. These are Beil's downtown Corpus Christi at their location on Starr Street, before I was born ha ha. But you can see how unique, clean, the store was, and this extended to all the Beil's store, even the one on Leopard years later. NOTE HISTORICAL COMMENTS.Photo #6: The 4 guys in this photo at Beil's Downtown had same nice, clean aprons in 1930s that the guys on Leopard Street wore in 1960s. The fellow on left is John W. Buster who was a hired gun and owned the meat market inside Beil's until Beil's bought him out. Next to him Irwin Peterson. If you look closely, will see canned goods in back, and cakes and wafer, including Sunshine biscuits on right, can boxes of fresh picked strawberries on checkout counter. This was a novel idea in Corpus christi in 1930s, "self Service Grocery Store" now the norm.
Photo #7 416 Starr Beil's reconfigured, you know how places, even now like Wal Mart move stuff around. Goblin Sugar 6 cents; hot sauce 9 cents; Argo cornstarch 10 cents; apple butter which to this day I still can't stand taste of, 14 cents; Libby's 1/2 GALLON of fruit cocktail 53 cents' Pioneer Whitewing flour also shown. Upstairs in shadow you can see owner Emil Beil who was checking out action. A lot of stores even into 1960s/70s had offices upstairs to catch shoplifters like me. The Beil's on Leopard had long row up mirrors at back upstairs to see all rows for instance.
Photo #8 416 Starr Beil's downtown fresh fruits and vegetables from around Nueces County. Yum! Apples were 33 cents a dozen, not sure where the heck those came from as don't remember apple trees down there, maybe valley? You could get 3 for 10 cents. No refrigeration, no little happy misty rain things like at HEB then. Damn those are fun, can't get naked and crawl on cilantro and take showed though. For those of ya'll with not best eyesight or don't have dollar store glasses in every room in house or car, the sign in way back says: For Health And Slenderness Eat Salads Daily With BestFoods: Mayonnaise. For me would have just ate the jar of mayo.
Photo #9 416 Starr Beil's downtown meat counter. This Beil's had L shaped one in 1930s, the Beil's on Leopard in 1960s, it ran straight length of store in back. Deli foods too. Fellow in middle is Ray Peterson, and Joe Peterson on right. Besides fresh cuts of meat, a sign lets people know just came in Jones Dairy Farm sausages. Also in back Kraft Cheese, pickled pigs feet and big pickles, and Armour Ham to name a few. The big fan on wall on right is similar to what Japanese ladies dance with all flirty eyes, except huge, the ladies fans just cover face. If this was a fan for dancing girl, she would have to be a big Moody cheerleader. (Ok, don't write me deer meester ette) NRA sign is not NRA National Rifle Association of which I am a member for really no reason, but National Recovery Administration back in 1930s.
Photo #10 Beil's 416 Starr downtown Corpus Christi with owner Mister Emil Beil sitting at desk, 1930s rare photo of him. You can see how he could look down into whole store from upper office here, Starr street can see thru front window. Clearly visible is adding machine and a safe against wall.But what I stare at like a flounder staring at light on Oso Peir is those hanging lights, love them. These were also found in Sear's on Leopard street, UFO looking things, and in some churches too in the 1960s.
Photo #11 Beil's 416 downtown... since Self Service sort of unheard of back then, here is a interesting photo. The glass case willed with things like Dentyne gum, Baby Ruth, Life Savers, above Fuller's dental cream (not for kids ha ha) and Vicks cough drops to name a few. While in photo #3 no happy, misty tings like HEB has now, in this photo, something had changed and there are not one but two vegetable misters sticking up from lettuce, bell peppers, onions and other veggies in the box to keep them fresh. So somewhere in 1930s I would assume someone discovered one could make vegetables last longer with misty things. Photos courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center, of which I have IDed a few for.
And lastly A original Beil's Grocery Ad & a "new" Beils that opened on south Staples. Courtesy Corpus christi Caller Times newspaper
44. Unknown Furniture Store
45. Cage's Hardware. This Cage's on Leopard & Lester had all sorts of great stuff. The employees were really friendly except they would tend to stalk us kids. Probably for good reason as some of us went in lighter than we came out. I didn't steal from here, as my dad shopped here.
Besides your normal hammers, saws, and things, they also had ceramics, and collectibles, in front windows, not sure why, maybe to hit with hammers. I saved my dimes and bought a lighted UFO frisbee here, would later buy a different same at Auto Center, but this one had 2 small AA batteries, and some little lights on top, so when you tossed it, it would spin and light up! Wow! Sure could not toss it more than 15 yards due to weight but who cares, was heavier than regular frisbee. One of my favorite pastimes was chasing Missouri Pacific trains a block away, anytime I heard the long soulful whistle, grab bike and off Bootsy & me went unless dark, rain, of homework. Well I had this crazy idea to put little nails on railroad track, train smash them, they looked like Cross of Lorraine swords now. Ten I would take to Cathedral and sell them to kids. Cage's was part of my evil plan, as they had several cool scales hanging from ceiling, you load in nails, and get price from clerk, usually the old lady with cat eye glasses. So for 10 or 20 cents, could get little brown bag of nails to flatten. Also got nails from here to use on skateboards we made, as had unlimited amount of Coke, Sprite & other bottlecaps to nail into the wood upside down to keep shoes on. This place also sold bicycle things like tires, tubes, and even television tubes that glowed and poppa was repairing televisions on the side so this came in handy.
Photo #1 Inside Cage's Hardware on Leopard street, they had more paint than modern places like Home Depot. And friendly staff to boot. Plumbing, whole toilets, lights, fixtures, LOTS of tools like hammers, screwdrivers, could build whole house just using stuff bought here. Actually we tried that after hurricane Celia. Epic fail, not on Cage's part, but had huge hole in old roof from 500+ lb fan from Coca Cola it destroyed the whole house.
Photo #2. Cage's Hardware inside, not best lit place, had big glass windows facing Leopard Street, of which have long since been nailed shut. The hanging lights inside, were pretty much same UFO looking ones Sear's up the road had, and even in some stores downtown like Litchenstein's. Note the big trash cans for sale lower right of photo. Towards back, some of these were filled to brim with popular nails! And.. you had ice scoops to scoop them out into bags. But where the hell fun is that, as a kid, stick hand in there and grab them, he who gets most cuts wins.
Photo #3 Cage's Hardware in 2018 is now a York Air Condition place, the windows all boarded up. Boo! But Cage's once had larger windows, not these child portion ones. And looks like subdivided also, not sure what the hell that is in right. But the little alley there next to it, is where could go down that alley, go up stairs, and spy on people in apartments up there, the apartments long since removed too. I wonder how many kids that couple in 1960s we saw ended up with? Probably not as many as me.
Photo #4 Looking past the time ravaged Coca Cola company that was next door to our crappy house for decades, I took this photo from atop The Hill of Death facing south summer 2018. Antelope is foreground, Lester street on left with Leopard in background. Central Office Supply was once a furniture store, don't remember name, on left was Beil's Grocery Store. To right of it was Cage's Hardware. Behind Coca Cola shown here was Mario's Barber shop & Noe's Café.
46. White upper apartments. There are/were/might still be some apartments upper floor here ( # 46) and small oyster shell alley from Leopard to lonely railroad tracks behind it. So you had to go up long set of stairs to get to apartment. As kids we would go up and down stairs, and one day looked in a window to see a couple doing something, not sure what, but went and got other kids. So now looked like Little Rascals looking in window watching this couple go at it. We were all jostling for position (ha ha guy inside was too but in different manner!) but they never saw us, despite the creaking wooden stairs under all our weight. Hell even dog Bootsy came up stains. Decades before viagra that got old and we left. Eventually.
(ain't got no photo of this place, sorry)
47 & 48. US Post Office & KZFM. Across the street was a US Post Office, ( # 48 ) right next to railroad tracks, pretty red brick building, and Bootsy would quietly wait for me outside with bike when I went in to dig in trash. Found lots of stuff here, but nothing of the sheer volume of the US Post Office on Upper Broadway near Cathedral where I stole a pencil from blind man inside, which to this day, still haunts me. Monsignor Schmidt long since forgave me in the Cathedral confessional, hope God does. Or maybe God will whip out the pencil one day at pearly gates and say 'remember THIS' and down I go into the Grandpappy's long slide into hell. This place didn't smell like the unique and wonderful smell of the Broadway post office, just smelled, I don't know, generic. Sort of like Mc Inness bookstore at Six Points. Smelled 'booky'. But as they say when I buy another Shamwow drunk at 4:00am, "But Wait! There is more!" Next door ( # 47) expanded with post office. Well, at this time we moved from old crappy destroyed house at 2009 Antelope that Celia had taken out with 500+ pound fan from top of Coca Cola, to a new trailer Senator John Tower gave out 10,000+ long trailers, so that was now next to house. Then we lost trailer after year and Lloyd Remple a friend of my dad's let us rent 642 Naples for $300 a month, so moved there. In the time we moved there to time we moved back 2-3 years later after getting kicked out of 642 Naples as Lloyd wanted to 'rerent' the house for $600 a month, the post office closed and now local radio station KZFM had moved in. I do not know if they kept their location in top floor somewhere in 600 building though. ad visited that as a kid, walked right in like I did lots of damned places, and they gave me tour. 1/2 the fun was not only seeing all the lights, turntables and microphones but of course, going up and down the elevator. ALONE. So now this place KZFM.At one time, KZFM radio was in one of the upper floors of 600 Building about mile away. Then they appeared in this building, across from Noe's and beside Cage's in 1970s. But before it was KZFM was a US Post Office with beautiful red bricks. And whoever the owner is of building guess they subdivided it, as the Post Office was both places, and the big US postal 18 wheelers would come in on the Larry street side facing Missouri Pacific tracks (Auto Zone & later Vick's side) and plug up what was, then, a crappy little street, some paved, other dirt! KZFM had all the same equipment inside there, as several of us kids who had went to see the 600 Building location, also checked in here. There are some former KZFM dee-jays & workers that occasionally pop up in facebook Corpus Christi group, if you have photos or more info on timeline here place comment! And belated 50 year old THANKS from a kid who got to check out BOTH locations & didn't steal anything while there!
49. L. L. Bean. The Missouri Pacific train tracks ran behind it of which was US Post Office then KZFM #48, #47, and Cages Hardware #45. But #49 was L.L. Bean of which as a kid, Bootsy & me not allowed, but we would go up thick wooden plank stairs to look at the Coke machine like we were buying, and sometimes drop nickle in the gumball machines. Just for show & spy. This place was packed to the rafters, and I didn't really understand concept of how if it was a store like HEB across street or Beil's a block over on Leopard, how did they make money if they didn't let people in? The railroad track ran behind it and had docks, where the boxcars unload. So would also peek in no one even minded that. It I guess was wholesale, so people just could not walk in like HEB or Beils, I never found out. so guessing here wholesale only like modern day Sams Club or Costco. I can go in those.
L L Bean place still exists, that is it straight ahead and it faces what is left of Mestina street where Missouri Pacific tracks used to be, and where Larry street was. I didn't drive down on it because was in wife's fancy ass new car, if I was in one of my American Motors cars, especially 4 wheel drive Eagle, it's on! But that is it with small squared boarded up windows. If you look tor right, the red brick building was US post office I mentioned and then later KZFM radio. There are some satellite dishes there. The white sloped rood building and back of barn building far right was Cage's Hardware. Not shown but still there is the old rail road tracks that ran between L L Bean, and buildings on right.
50. Big White Warehouse, corner of Mestina & Lester. This big warehouse always had trucks coming and going, no lettering on them. So can't tell you anything about it. But one day there was a nighthawk sitting on wire crossing Mestina, maybe 12 feet above street here. I hated the nighthawks after one flew at my face, then had nightmare about it, kicking in bedroom wall middle of night leaving big hole. So in afternoon, I must have wasted hour throwing rocks at this big mouthed bird who was not amused. My aim was like Storm Troopers in Star Wars, fire 100 shots never hit anything. The bird just watched my rocks sail past, and if one would have hit him, it would have killed him, if not, Bootsy would have grabbed him and maybe no more nightmares. Well, he lived another day as arm got tired and Mestina was riddled with rocks. Strange how I could hit a car up on I-37 with a Missouri Pacific railroad rock travelling 50-60 miles per hour and get trajectory right, but damned bird only feet from me could not smack.This is part of #50 the big white building I don't know what it was back in 1960s. But the east side had a dock, similar to L. L. Bean, except these were commercial trucks always coming and going. Now it is City Produce. The building on the left was not there in 1960s, that pretty much was where the #53 lawyer building full of Perry Masons sat. If you look closely, the wire hanging really low across Mestina is where I chunked rocks at the nighthawk. I seriously can't believe the crappy City Services or CPL, someone has not pulled that up, it STILL hangs way it did from 1960s ha ha.
51. Bekin's Moving & Storage
BEKIN'S: This was a really cool place only because the Missouri Pacific train tracks came from between Leopard & Lipan and a cut off, went between buildings, KZFM, Cages, Beils, and just barely across Doss and stopped at Bekins. It might still be there, but a STOP at end of tracks kept the boxcars, always boxcars, from plowing into apartments in Coke street. The stop was some gadget end of tracks for wheels, then a large amount of rail road ties, big stinky creosote ties, made sure no farther. Don't touch creosote, it can burn you is tar & other chemicals, stinky black stuff.
Would not hurt as much as the belt or Hot Wheels track on your ass when momma found it on clothes as could not get out. But the big treat was looking out front door or off porch and seeing big locomotive with boxcar or two ON YOUR STREET just across Leopard, I don't know how the hell none of ever got hit flying across to go check out the choo choo. As poor kids, this was pretty much going to a baseball game!
Bekin's we thought was for rich people but wasn't. They did haul a lot of furniture and what not for people, as we would watch them take from train, put in trucks and it was residential deliveries, all that personal things, wished we could have boxcar full of nice stuff. Well, we could not afford or have all that nice stuff so we took the boxes bwahahah. The big wooden boxes us kids would play I, around, under, on top of, plywood. And my dad, genius that he was, took one and adapted it to back of his old Chevy pickup truck like camper, even had windows. The Bekin's people didn't mind and told him to take several! So! Not only did he make camper, he put a "T" pipe to our gas stove, ran some pipes into one side of house and put small radiator in it. Instant poor man's sauna. We would put pans of water above the little flame, and boy, would it steam up box! He thought (as did momma) that it would help her lose weight like Turkish Bath! A bunch of us kids sat in therewith towels around us when cold, and hot, steamy, talking about anything. Don't think we lost any weight maybe brain cells, but was FUN.
Soon other neighbors asked my dad to help them get big wood box, and set up same. But
there was just something special about seeing big locomotive in area one would not think
to see one, next to Bekin's...on OUR street, and then slowly lumbering between buildings
Doss, Lester, then back over to 'where supposed to be'. In the little strip from behind
KZFM (used to be Post Office) behind Cages, Beils, this small alley way quite amazing how
train tracks stuffed in there, the locomotive and boxcars so close to the back alley
apartments could reach out and touch them. Now fenced from Lester, Doss, but next time
down there I'll scale fence & get some photos. All those years of jumping fences at
CPL still GOT IT.
Photo #1 This is a photo of me on North Beach when I was 15. Bootsy got pregnant, had one little her whole life, there are 3 of the puppies there. Patsy, Curly Murphy, O'Brien, O'Toole, Dolly. Not sure which ones which there, but we would drive them over to North Beach to let them play in water, wash away fleas. It was at this time well, we also living no electricity, hot water, AC, indoor plumbing. And there is the ONLY photo I have of a Bekin's Box! And driving across the harbor bridge on windy day with that on it...wow, adventure!, would have loved to see my dad's face, learn some new cuss words as he drove over Harbor Bridge in this truck, but I was always in back sliding around with puppies. At later date, we had these dogs all chained up in yard (had to or get killed on I-37 our front yard) but two of the dogs sort of close chained up0 getting it on, us teens laughing and brother Tommy nick named them Humper & Pumper ha ha
Photo #2 This lonely photo shows gated off on Doss facing west towards Port. This is where the train came thru to stop at Bekin's about where standing in photo. Farther down behind the building on right was Beil's. And the back of their building had cement enclosure room for all trash, veggies, everything and we used to catch mice in there, then wait for traffic to come down Leopard from Port when stoplight changed, and toss the mice in street, ha ha, squish! There was also 'the wino behind Beil's' who scared us kids, he would eat the old rotted food back there. The building on right was at one time (in 1960s) was Kelly's Tires.
52. Another warehouse, this faced directly down Doss, you had big white warehouse #50 on one side and Bekins Moving & Storage on other #51. But I can't tell you anything about this place. When I got nosy about a place, I would walk in like I was looking for mom or dad, or had lost something. That way a adult would ask 'hey kid, can I help you?' and would blurt out something stupid like 'sure mister, you have a gumball machine here?' or 'I'm looking for my dog' of which if I had turned around, Bootsy behind me so that one not used often.
(sorry, ain't go no photo of this and believe long gone place, see big map for location)
53.Two story building
facing Mestina at Doss
This two story building faced Mestina, and had sloped roof. I believe it was offices, as had lawyer this and that on sign. Seemed to be about 8 offices here. Would have liked to go up big stains, but even if I had Worlds' Finest Chocolates for sale, didn't go. Not sure why, maybe just intimidated?
(sorry, ain't got no photo of thios one, you will have to look at the big map photo to see it)
61. Montalbano Tire Company
MONTALBANO TIRE is # 61 on the list. There was a old man whose teeth looked like piano keys who either owned, or was manager here. If you look closely, you will see the one, single, pillar at front of this place, this faced Josephine on the corner of Leopard. I may be spelling the name wrong here, might have been Montabano. I for some reason thought it had a "L" in name.
Might be wrong about that too, doing this crap from 50+ years of memory and operating on Windows 2 with dial up sometimes in brain. The guys in here wore blue. They did tire stuff, changed tires, and seemed to have bought, sold and traded tires. My dad bought some good used tires on the cheap from here for one of our Ramblers. I do not know if they sold new, chances are they did. You could ride bike thru and under this easement overhand. White building, big letters, and office just to side, and tire changing machines.
You know as vibrant as Leopard street was in middle of 1960s, besides this place, you could get tires at Sears across street, B F Goodrich on corner of Staples & Leopard, next to Chat & Chew was Goodyear, and down road near Beils was Kelleys Tires. Am I missing anyone? Nice guys worked here, patched a few bike tires for us kids who lived 5-6 blocks down. Also had ice cold Coke machine in there, but was 10 cents at Coca Cola next door to us.
Sorry I have no photos of this place
62.Gonzalez-Cantu (Angelus) Funeral
CANTU FUNERAL HOME It was just next to Schaffer's Muffler shop. A big, I mean BIG white house with two huge round brush something or other either side of steps. The steps though was what was imposing. About 20 of them led up to a porch and creepy door. I do not remember the name of this big white house funeral home. I can tell you that my grandma when still had legs, we would walk past it and her step would quicken and she would murmur 'fantasmas!' which is 'ghosts!' in spanish. I didn't know what she was mumbling about she was grandma and always mumbled, and whistled. I was more concerned about the bag she was carrying as we used to walk up to Mirabel's bakery behind Shaffer's muffler shop and walk home, about 6 blocks. People DID that then on Leopard IT WAS SAFE. Well, not safe if I get ahold of those Mexican sweetbreads in bag bwaha hahhaha! This funeral home was also home to a 1968 or 69 Dodge Charger. As I got older into teens, I had my eye on it. I just could not figure out why they let it sit and rot next to the funeral home between Montalbano Tire & funeral home, next to building, this was a parking lot for people to come view dead folks I guess. I had zero interest in buying it, as my dad was working at All American Motors downtown, and was a AMC man, even though Lew Williams Chevrolet tried to hire him away repeatedly. But there the Crarger sat. And sat and was STILL there in 1983 when I moved to Houston, by now, probably unsaveable.
And full of damned fantasmas! Eating sweetbreads from Mirabels! During my living in this area 6 or so blocks away, name changed from Angelus, to Cantu to Gonzalez-Cantu. Same place, huge steps leading up to heaven, same Dodge Charger sitting on side of place.
Sorry I have no photos of this neat looking building.
63.Schaffer's Muffler shop
SHAFFERS MUFFLER SHOP This place has not changed much thru years and as a testimonial of their great service and products, they are still around! As a kid though, when you look in this place was like seeing UFOs, dragons, cyclops. None of it made much sense to a child. You knew what the things were, just foreign like tires, rims, shocks, big placards and signs with special this and that, bah, can't do anything with that stuff, will wander around but no interest to a kiddo. What the hell is a muffler anyways? Looks like something you store gumballs from Chat N Chew in maybe. Still was a fun store to wander around in, and they had a large open garage facility in the 1960s where they did sort of things like alignments, brakes, shocks, mufflers of which they were famous for. So lot of grease monkeys wandering around just like Auto Center garage at corner or Port & Leopard. Wow, you can see yourself in those shiny Cragar & Raider SS rims! As a kid...those were cool. As a teen, I ended up buying a set for my 1970 AMC Javelin. As a rabid car collector who has personally owner 392 AMC cars now since 1976 (11 currently) and drive them daily, still a fan of those Cragar rims. Yes, if still living in Corpus Christi, Shaffer's would be my proverbial 'kid in candy store' and get a lot of my money now.
MIRABEL BAKERY, (panderia!) is #64 on the list. This little Mexican owned place was a oasis that seemed to have been around for many, many years. You walk in and behind the glass counters was a array of pan dulces, conchas, cuernos and cookies. Colorful things, these ladies really knew their stuff.
And probably why many of us are diabetic now. Oh what the hell, if you have ever been
inside City Bakery on 19th at Ruth next to Saint Josephs, this about same thing, except it
was so....so....COMPACT. The ladies would bounce against each other like bumper cars
behind counter. And never in all the times I went here did I see someone frown. How could
you frown surrounded by all those pan dulces? Everything was cheap, the conchas which are
like a shell, were 5 cents each. You could get Mexican wedding cookies dozen for 10 cents!
Little various colored cakes, things that were filled with crema, twisty rolls...I would
be lying if I said that if we walked up here, NONE of this stuff ever made it back to
house. My brother Tommy went to Cathedral with a guy named Ted Mirabel, but they lived on
corner of Horne road near Kostorzy, not sure if same family. Next to this place was a
small, oyster shell alley. I loved hauling ass on my bike down this as it made crazy
crunching noise on bike, but had to watch side traffic at Josephine then Mexico streets
and that is where little alley ended. este lugar, esta pequeña casa panderia, trae
algunos maravillosos vívidos recuerdos de mi juventud!! (this place, this little home
bakery, brings out some wonderful, vivid memories of my youth!)
Photo #1, Mirabel Bakery is the pink house, someone living in it, wonder what would happen if I walked up to door and asked for some empanadas or conco shells, yummy! Photo #2 is self explanatory, thay is pretty much same face I make on right.
65.Godoy's Pool Hall
What as a kid I always thought was a LIQUOR STORE was a POOL HALL just west in same littrle strip with Chat & Chew. Later would be come some taco stand I believe, building STILL there. But as a kid this place seemed to always have open door, smelled like old beer, and had a hot looking chick poster in front window selling schlitz Beer.
Can't tell you much about it as never would go in it, was a kid, kids not supposed to be in liquor stores, or pool halls, and Leopard was filled with them too. Did you know that my dad, Homer T Stakes & mom, Sarah Stakes NEVER drank or smoked? So this place would have been worthless as tits on a boar hog to them. Still, it had some cool looking posters in windows and could see some neons inside hanging on walls. Enticing to a kid? Nah. This place is STILL there, if anyone wants to drive past it. Stay out of the dumpster, that is my job.
Sorry I have no photos of this place
66.Chat & Chew
CHAT n CHEW. directly across from the sprawling big Sears complex at the corner of Sam Rankin & Leopard, Chat & Chew was on Leopard. The Chew featured all sorts of great food items from burgers, sandwiches, cakes and pies. Classic diner but more of a restaurant, including big breakfast menu. I understand the place was bought for $75 in 1930s. Was not born yet so will tell you about 1960s. It was sandwiched between a Goodyear Tire Store on left, and on right, was a little liquor store. Later that liquor store would end up being a taco house. At the Chat & Chew however seats were limited, originally had about 20 seats, then 'expanded' with some booths, and a little bit longer counter so at height in mid 1960s could fit maybe 100 people. Inside door was a cigarette machine, the kind you plunk coins into like trying to win something, only to pull knob and pack of smokes drops into tray. Next to it was a small gumball machine, one had round gumballs, the other sort of breath mint things squares, both penny. I was about 10 first time into this place, had passed it for years on bike, even going behind it to dig in dumpster, just not inside. Very inviting place, and large portions of food like Noe's Café down the road near my house. When I first ate there got a breakfast plate of eggs, bacon, toast, wow was a lot of food! My dad took me there and 'sprang for the meal' as we were fixing to go across street to sears to look at Christmas stuff. Never bought anything, Santa brought us stuff. The glasses of ice cold milk from this place haunt me to this day, must have been 40-44 degrees was icy cold, that cow was shivering. Since I had gotten my feet wet by going inside, I would also go back not to eat but sell Worlds Finest Chocolates for Cathedral.
72. THE MELBA THEATER. Located directly across from Braslau's Fine Furniture on Leopard street, is #72 on my BIG MAP here way up Leopard. Easily visible. It opened in 1927 (or so) about same time my mom and dad were born. Corpus Christi's main drag was Leopard, a gateway as it was called. So not only many, many small shops, but theaters, grocery stores. I can't tell you a whole lot about the place except I did peek inside one time, just being nosy kid. When it was open, you had a lot of nice lights out front and inside small foyer near where ticket booth was. Then more doors, then another foyer, then more doors to movie theater. I am guessing like Ritz downtown and Amusu also downtown, the area between sitting and front was for smokers.It was legal then and everyone lit up.
Judging by the 1930s photo it looks like some country movie must have been the showcase, not sure if it by then had 'talkies' or movies with sound or not. There is some cowboy on the marquee. The old movie theater went the way of 8-tracks, drive inn movies, and Blockbuster to put it in sort of timeline. At one time, going to movie theater was a event! Get all dressed up, we had to wear shoes, and put on our Cathedral church clothes. And the old movie houses were quite spectacular inside like Ritz, some even had chandeliers. The Melba closed in 1966, and I was still at Cathedral being altar boy, but would ride past it. There were still old posters inside the glass encasings in front, or course, those got broke and glass everywhere. I didn't do that though. In the 70s, by then it was changed to a homeless shelter, but not much shelter as roof had holes, which continued to get worse as whoever the landlord was of it, let it rot. So rained inside as much as outside. Stripped of all the fancy chairs, light fixtures and more, I believe the name of it was now Bread of Life, or something like that, go in, get Bible lesson and then eat, and if want, a cot to sleep. It got to point where building was dangerous and would have to be demolished. This is a short 2 minute video from Caller Times of it being torn down in 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dima7opHdT8\
It is a parking lot now I understand, as is Braslau's Fine Furniture across street.
PHOTOS: Photo #1 A split photo showing The Melba in 1930s and in 1980s.
Photo #2. Looking east at The Melba on Leopard street towards uptown. This is in 1990s.
Photo #3. Not sure how the cases for movie posters survived so long as were aluminum! A photo of The Melba in 1990s showing intricate artwork and construction on front façade. Especially near top. Note one walled up small opening on right had now bucked, showing contents inside.
73. Ace Signs (seen on left)
74. Greenberg's Jewelers (seen on left)
75. Ridgway Printing: "In their own words" (Jim Berridge, whose dad was Branch Manager) Eddie, Ridgway's was a business specializing in architectural, drafting, surveying supplies and did did building plan reproductions using the old blue print hydrogen developed wash and drum dry method that was the state of the art used it that period and before. They also did film and ammonia reproductions, which became the standard for many years, extensively for big and small building and engineering projects all over Corpus Christi and the surrounding area. If there was building and construction going on in those days and beyond, Ridgway's likely had a hand in producing plans for their distribution for contractors, and sold the tools of the drafting, engineering and surveying trades they needed. Ridgway's was eventually acquired from the Ridgway and Blaylock families in the 1990s and the business name changed to the current day ARC company name. That company name may be in Corpus nowadays, that was once Ridgway's. There was a Peacock Cafe very close to Ridgway's back then that was my very first job of washing dishes one summer for a while at the age of around 11-12 years old. I also used to walk from Ridgway's some days to the uptown location of the YMCA to spend my summer days also.I was born at Thomas Span hospital in 1955 and eventually Dad (Ed Berridge) and our family were moved to Shreveport in 69-70 where I am today. Lots of fond childhood memories in Corpus and Portland, where we lived before moving. Thanks again!" (Ridgway Printing is YELLOW SIGN on left)
80. Braslau's Fine Furniture.
Most of my experience in 1960s was riding my bike past this big place, looking at all the neat stuff inside we could not afford. Window shopping was free then, still is. The family came from Ukraine near Russia, and started a house to house clothes business. The family went into business in some form in 1920s, mostly selling clothes and fabric out of wagons I understand early on, and after almost 100 years in Corpus Christi, closed down shop. I don't remember when the Leopard street location closed down, but was more of 'the land is worth more than what is on it' like The Cut.
In 1960s, it was well lit even on outside. Not unusual for mom and dad to stop, park the Rambler wagon, and we would all pile out and look at couches, tables, beds, some 3-5 rows from window. Lamps, accessories, vases. Didn't need any vases, as Tommy & me would probably knock them over anyways. We would catch buckets of crickets at night, the crickets attracted to the lights inside, so would pile up near big glass windows. We would also let them go before drive home, momma didn't want that stuff in car.
We applied for credit here, but to no avail, my dad used to say he could not afford bubble gum if free. When it was time to sell World Finest Chocolates for my school CC Cathedral a few blocks away, I would go inside this sprawling place from the back. Just park bike, and lots of workers back there, no one ever asked me to leave, but a few said be careful, as they would be loading trucks with new furniture for some lucky customers.
This place also had a ice cold water fountain near bathrooms. The neon out front when neon signs popular where white, blue and yellow, would flash with arrows pointing downward. Not as fancy as Rainbo Bread huge neon farther down Leopard west, but quite attractive.
The street that Braslau's was on is no longer there, Leopard is, and on west side Waco had little insurance company building, otherwise Braslau's would have stretched to Waco street. But on east, the street filled up I guess long ago when the furniture store, warehouse, showroom, all sold and gone. I don't remember name of street, but believe it to be Artesian Street. Now some parking lot.
Just to the east of Braslau's was small white café on corner of Carrizo & Leopard. White building, maybe seat 20-30 people in it, similar to Noe's Café back near our house. I to this day struggle to remember name of it, although went past it DAILY. Behind it, there was grove of mesquite trees and some hills that rolled off in undeveloped land towards Lipan. In the little café, seemed to sold mostly breakfast. Villareals? Villanueva? Seems to me was a "V" name in 1960s.
The view from front of Braslau's front door was nice. A few blocks away on hill loomed Wilson Tower, 600 Building, Driscoll Hotel & some bank I was not supposed to go in. Across street you had Perry Mason like laywers, Greenberg's Jewelry, All-Right Parking small lot, Ridgeway, which I believe was a bunch of printing stuff. Directly across from Braslau's the abandoned Melba Theater (#72 on my BIG MAP) a beautiful building in 1960s that yearned for glory days of old when Leopard Street was the main drag into Corpus Christi. But time, and freeway 2 blocks behind it, changed this. Sometimes in the 1970s someone opened it as a homeless shelter and while Leopard was in decline, the sudden influx of hobos, winos, potheads and drunks, now Leopard death knell. They were everywhere, the tunnel under Broadway to go to La Retama library, sometimes even sleeping in pews at Cathedral, so the front big metal doors no longer open, only enter thru side. Another story for another day. Not sure if The Melba still standing but sure was nice place in 1960s.Photos: Braslau's Furniture on Leopard Street. Building showing age here, but in 1960s, not uncommon to see folks standing around outside of it at night. Yes, foot traffic on Leopard. At night.
Photo #2, different angle of Braslau's from Leopard facing east.
Photo #3, the photo from Braslau's front door, intimidating wall of buildings few blocks east include Wilson Tower, 600 Building, Driscoll Hotel. You 'old car people' like myself will quickly pick out on right, a Chevrolet Bel Aire, Oldsmobile Cutless, AMC Matador and CC Metro Bus; on left Buick Skylark, Ford LTD. On left also ACE Signs, Greenberg's Jewelers, Allright Parking, Ridgeway & (I think) Texan Guaranty Bank. On right neat metro bus white building was another bank, possibly CC Mercaltile at this time.
Photo #4. The Melba Theater across from Braslau Furniture, shown in it's heyday, then well, later sadly. Historic building. TORN DOWN 2018.
Photo #5. Farther back view of Braslau's Furniture the Loan Company is right behind bus turning out from Waco street.
Photo #6, tired and weathered paint proudly lets South Texans still know that: "Braslau's 1st In South Texas: EZ Terms-Selection-Service-Value-Quality. Not mentioned here was FREE Parking! Might not seem big deal to some but all along Leopard was parking meters.
Photo #7, the small Loans place also at one time, sold insurance on Leopard, this business was attached to Braslau's on west side facing Leopard. My only experience here was riding my bicycle past employees smoking outside.
Photo #8. Braslau's now closed down. The Going Out Of Business signs gone, some windows busted out by vandals and thieves who were cannibalizing insides for anything of value like copper pipes. There was another Braslau's across from Parkdale Plaza on Staples, can't tell you anything about it, never went inside it. Hell, never even went in parking lot to that one.
Photo #9. Braslau's sign on Leopard street got your attention in 1960s, 1970s. Neon lit and colorful! You can see the parking meters in front, why that FREE Parking was so important in back.
Photo #10. Front door of Braslau's on Leopard proudly had marble in red, green, "B" on white, with attractive diamonds going into main entrance. I have often wondered what happened to this, did Braslau family someone save it for nostalgia purposes? Was a real piece of art.
84. Sears's Roebuck (corner of Leopard
& Sam Rankin)
At the corner of Sam Rankin & Leopard in 1960s was a sprawling Sears store.
They had EVERYTHING, well, except food, that was left to Beil's on other side of crosstown a few blocks west, and 2 blocks from there at corner of Port & Leopard, a big HEB. Sears was about 6 blocks, short Corpus Christi blocks, from out house 2009 Antelope & grandma's house next to it 723 Doss. So we could ride bikes over there.
Sometimes a whole group of us kids rode over there and invaded the store. No one ever used the front entrances facing Leopard, there were some big plate glass windows with neat things from mannekins in dresses, to lawnmowers, to tools. And Christmas time, toys, lots of toys. Everyone went in back doors, more parking, we could park bikes there no one bothered them either. And then you go down about 20 steps, but from the perch as soon as you walked into the store, could smell the popcorn, cotton candy.....
My dad, Homer T Stakes Sr, used to buy his tools there as Craftsman tool are some of the best in world, even back then, Made in USA stuff. And he was ace mechanic in ths time frame for some downtown American Motors dealershisp so tools were his 'right hand' he used to say. Besides the stuff mentioned above, Sears was loaded with neat reasonably priced clothes, modern black & wite televisions, and bikes! The area around the bikes always smelled great with new tires. Us kids would sit on the bikes hoping Santa would bring that new banana seat Schwinn to one of us for Christmas.
Sears also had a large area with iceboxes, freezers, washers and dryers like their Kenmore brand, this was located in the "84A" area of my big map. Just to west of Sam Rankin in spitting distance was a long, and I mena LONG row of bays to work on cars. Sears did alignments, engine repair, brakes, you name it, had lifts in there for the cars. That is "84B" on my big map.Behind the Sears automotive repair building was a Coca Cola machine that you put dime in, it drops a cup, drops shaved ice, then fills cup and ice with soda. Quite novel in 1960s, but no match for me. After everyone went home, was dark, or on Sundays when closed, I would ride my bike up there, sometimes with dog Bootsy in tow, and stick my hand up inside machine, easy to grab a cup and pull down, then bend the nozzle to spray soda, sometimes you got Sprite, sometimes Fanta, sometimes yucky Fresca. Sometimes soda ran down arm, so sticky arm, but free soda no ice.
We bought a number of things from this Sears store on Leopard, momma bought material to make curtains, we had clothes, socks, even icebox (this was all BC Before Celia) but the thing that permeats my brain about this Sears store 50+ years later is the smell of it inside, and the UFO type lamps that hung from ceiling. Before you went down stairs inside store, you were looking straight across at all the lamps, sometimes thought could grab them. And the smell, now I believe this was Sears selling technique with no ventilation for popcorn, cotton candy (they had tons of different nuts like cashews and candys too!) but it just would hit you as soon as you walked in store no matter what door.
At a later time on east side they had some Credit Union stuffed in there, possibly with
a Lay Away too. The Sears looked similiar to Sears in last photo, but I do not know if any
Sears photos of the actual building on Leopard & Sam Rankin from 1960s exists still.
Was a great time & place to be a kid!
Photos! Photo #1 Sears entrance facing Leopard Street.
Photos #2, #3, #4 inside of Sears offered wide array of items, clothes, televisions, tools
Photo #5, dude you have greatest job in world, meet hot chicks all day, don't look so bummed out for that $1.75 a hour job
Photo #6. Rare photo of Sears on Leopard taken from corner of Sam Rankin, it would later expend to include large auto repair place next to Hameueis store.
85. The Hamauei's Waco Food Store Leopard & Sam Rankin (next to Sears). The Hamauei's had a two story white building sandwiched between Sears Automotive Garage & a car lot facing Leopard near corner of Sam Rankin. Across street was Schaffer's Muffler Shop, the big white funeral home with the old Dodge Charger on the side parking lot & Montabano's tire. To first familiarize yourself with the location, see big map up above, #85 is Hamaueis Their store was nothing short of organized chaos. Thru the front door which was screen & I believe had Butter Krust on it, you entered a near convenience store chock full of damned near everything. Smack dab in front of you was two ice cream coolers with sliding glass horizontal doors filled with goodies like Nutty Buddy, Creamsickle, Maltos, and Borden & Hygeia battled it out for ice cream supremacy. And why not? Both had factories in Corpus Christi. Behind it was the counter where you pay. Sometimes so much stuff there didn't know where to pay but the daddy wave you over to a clearing next to old push button register that probably should have been retired in 1940s, but seemed to work fine in 1960s. Off to the side you had arab type stuff like cookies. Things I was not familiar with pastries and what not, but just didn't know much about those, besides less than 50 yards away behind Schaffer's Muffler shop there was Mirabel Bakery, a 'panderia' Mexican sweetbread pan dulce place my grandma & mom took us too, so was familiar with those sweets. A little too damned familiar with those conches, empanadas, campechanas, filled cookies I think I just put on 2 pounds thinking about that stuff now. However! Like Mirabel's Bakery (& Sears next door with wafting smell of fresh popcorn) Hamawei's place when you opened the door, the aroma hit you in the face. And as a kid, never it seemed to be the same. I never knew where it came from, just different, and made you hungry. In all the times I went there, I never saw the momma, or maybe I DID see the momma, just never knew it was THE momma you know. I always dealt with the daddy. Mister Hamawei was a portly fellow, round jovial face who always seemed to be smiling. And wearing a long apron. And 'doing something' by that I mean stocking apples, fruits, veggies, boxes, cigars, sweeping, you name it, one man gang. But always smiling!Off to one side was a comic book rack. And he knew that was what I was there for. Not gum, not sodas, not ice cream, comic books. So on my way home from Cathedral on old bike, would stop in, still in Cathedral khaki pants & plaid shirt. He see me come in and say stuff like 'hey...I just got in new Supermans' or 'big batch of April 1966 issues came in today, on rack!' as comic books issued by month back then, and us kids seemed to know when they came out like some know date of new Iphone date. Uncanny! Comics were 10 cents too, so I didn't just read them like I did at HEB at Port & Leopard, here I would buy them, same with Al's News Stands downtown, one near Cathedral, other in Forbidden Zone poppa take me to. I could 'speed read' some comics, but didn't want clerk to get mad, so many times ended up reading 'rest of story at home' by buying it. You know we still had modern things like electricity, even telephone at this time.
This was a big one room downstairs here with EVERYTHING shoved into it, sometimes up to ceiling, for sale or stored. I am making a guess here that the extended family lived upstairs. Could hear footsteps inside ceiling like people walking around, sometimes voices too. My dad always thought these people were Syrians or Albanians, but someone told me they were Lebanese Christians. That I guess would make more sense since one of the girls was Alberta, and she was in my class at Cathedral. Seems the Hamauei's must have had a kid in each damned grade or were breeding like rabbits, as I believe there was one in my late brother Tommy's class, possibly Mike(?), and several more in grades below me. Alberta had long black hair, quick with a smile, and sort of a tomboy. By that I mean she liked stuff like sports, we didn't have any team per se at Cathedral although we were called Corpus Christi Cathedral Cougars. Yup, CCCC almost like to old Soviet space program CCCP. But we did play kickball between church & school, also had basket ball hoops on cement pillars on school itself between 1st & 2nd then 3rd & 4th, so lots of HORSE games. She was pretty good at stuff like that, and she could probably kick a lot of the guys asses to boot, tough girl that Alberta. I never seemed to see the kids at the little store though. I can tell you there was a big nest of them.Anyways, the old man is who I dealt with personally. And out conversations were only about comics, sometimes Cathedral. I never stole anything from this place. For whatever reason I simply saw a hard working man who had competition stacked against him with Beils being 6 blocks west, and HEB at corner of Port & Leopard 2 blocks further. So (to me as a kid) it seemed he simply had to work HARDER to get customer's dollar in 1960s and while the money I spent there on comics was not life changing, and may or may not have made a difference, I would give this little store the nod over bigger places. My mom or dad never shopped there, but mom rarely shopped at Beils either, even though could look out front door, down towards Gulf Radiator and right there, right THERE across Leopard 1/2 football field away, there it was. Now I wished had more money as a kid, but we were poor you know, but if I had more money would have bought some of those yummy looking deli sandwiches made fresh daily there, or the fruits, or even some of the strange arab looking sweet things. Obviously they had a large following from area places like Sears, Good Year, even up street like Wilson tower, 600 Building, Driscoll Hotel, maybe even other side of Crosstown like Lew Williams. I don't know what ever happened to the Hamauei's, as lost touch with Alberta after 6th grade, she went some school, I went to CC Academy. The building was still there when I moved from Corpus Christi, but gone now. Cheers to the Hamauei family & God bless them, were hard working good people & hope some of the kids later on in life ended up in the food & restaurant industry with some of the obviously delicious recipes as Corpus Christi & beyond would be a better place for it. But you would NOT leave the Hamauei store without buying something!
Photos: #1 inside the store was similar to this, just packed with stuff, even to ceiling. Like Home Depot, Lowes in modern stores, guess most was storage making use of limited space.
Photo #2. Hey kid! you gonna buy something or stand there all day? Well, uh, uh, ok! And I would usually buy something 10 cents, sometimes 12 cents a book. Sharp eyed folks will see Little Lulu, Woody Woodpecker, Casper, Mystic, Matt Slade/Gunfighter, Action Comics, Bob Hope, Dennis The Menace to name a few, all popular. But my hard earned coins were reserved for:
Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Action Comics/Superman, Detective Comics/Batman and some Archie & Jughead. Imagine going thru life with name like Jughead, must have gotten his ass kicked a lot. And old Bruce Wayne aka Batman, if you ever wonder how he could afford luxurious Wayne Manor & expensive butler Alfred, it was by all the comics he sold to us kids.Photo #3. This is called a 'Comics Book Stand Topper' these metal pieces rested on top of the spinning comics books stand and was like throwing a bottle water in middle of Flint, Michigan to us kids. Or television set after tubs glow orange and warm up on Saturday morning 5:00 AM to watch Go Go Gophers, Underdog & Bugs Bunny. A mint condition 'comic book stand topper' sold in 2018 for $24,000.
Photo #4. Kraft! Velveeta! Yes, two of the five main food groups. Oops, covered up the register, where do these palookas pay now eh?
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