Once upon a time, I was 29 years old and exhausted with an infant of the non-sleeping variety.
We lived in the most charming duplex in the M Streets, a neighborhood strewn with 1920s Tudors, neighbors we loved, and places we could walk to. But as anyone with a non-sleeping baby knows, to find sleep you must drive, so drive we did.
As babies get older and you get bored with the same old route, those drives take longer, go farther. One lazy day, Little Buddy and I embarked on a new path that brought us, I was sure, to a place no one had ever been. We went east on Mockingbird, past Abrams, past the lake, EVEN PAST BUCKNER, where Mockingbird morphs into its alter ego, Peavy.
With no obvious way to turn around, we advanced. But wait. What is this? Winding, hilly, tree-lined roads? Hilltop view of White Rock Lake? My East Coast heart skipped a beat. I took a bold, brave left on Creekmere into a neighborhood called Eastwood. There I discovered a quiet street that ambled alongside a creek secreted by trees, wild flowers, and fields of prairie grasses that bent with the breeze. People rocked in their front-porch chairs enjoying views of “their creek.” Parents pushed strollers. Big kids played tag. Dogs jogged their humans. Mid-century modern homes blended with nature. Stumbling into Eastwood’s natural serenity felt a little like arriving in Narnia (minus the witch and truffles.)
Little Buddy and I made it back to Lakewood just fine, but we didn’t stay long. After campaigning to buy a home and the ensuing financial negotiations with the Mister, we found a real estate agent. She understood my need for nature, Tim’s need for a low cost-per-square-foot, and that we both wanted a cool, move-in-ready home. Serendipitously, she took us (directly and without trepidation, I noticed) to Eastwood. It was meant to be.
We moved in one especially steamy summer day in 2000. We met our new neighbors Connie and Vel Hawes that day. She’d packed a cooler full of snacks and beer for me and Tim and a juice box and PB&J, cut in triangles with the crusts cut off, for our son. On the cooler was a note filled with important information like the neighborhood’s best sitter and best yard guy. It also included their number, which 16 years later we still use like a hot line.
It wasn’t until after moving in that we learned from Vel, a revered architect, that we lucked into owning a Ju-Nel Home. Except, that really wasn’t a thing until our son became elementary aged and attended Hexter, a Blue Ribbon School in our neighborhood. Because of Hexter, he made a band of awesome neighborhood friends whose parents have become second parents to him and friends to us. While at Hexter, a group of parent volunteers and I unearthed the Ju-Nel story — that it was a mid-century modern architecture firm created by two Howard Meyer understudies. The 50 or so homes Ju-Nel designed are found almost exclusively in Eastwood, Lochwood, and a few adjacent neighborhoods. We launched the White Rock Home Tour to shine a light on the community, the architecture unique to this nook of Dallas, and Hexter.
Much has changed since landing in Eastwood that hot summer day. I now have my own front-porch rocking chairs. Little Buddy is big brother to Sweet Baby, our fourth-grader who has introduced us to a whole new array of neighborhood friends. Sleeping is only hard to come by when our son, who now drives his own car, takes too long getting home. Neighbors convene at Lippitt Park — an age-agnostic park a few neighbors and I designed on a wedge of flood plain flanked by two creeks. Visit gently there; it is home to tadpoles, turtles, frogs, fish, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, hawks, and eagles. Drive slowly here; our roads are welcome mats for runners, cyclists, strollers, and dog walkers. We are all headed to White Rock Lake, the Bath House Cultural Center, the Rugby Fields, Good Local Markets farmers market at GreenSpot, Good2Go Tacos, Cultivar Coffee, GoodFriend, or 20 Feet. If not there, you’ll find us at Samuell Grand Tennis Center, Tenison Park Golf Club, the KayCee Pool, White Rock Skate, White Rock Coffee, or Gecko Hardware. Hope to see you around.
Christine Rogers, co-founder of SparkFarm marketing and PR firm, is a bleeding heart Virginia girl who believes firmly if she can’t live there, Eastwood near White Rock Lake is the next best thing. Full disclosure: Tim Rogers, editor of D Magazine, is her husband and didn’t pay her a penny to write this piece. Cheapskate.