LIVING DALLAS OUTBACK

Yes, there is life north of LBJ.

CALL IT BY its fancy new name, far North Dallas or call it, more accurately, Piano, Addison and Richardson. Either way, the territory adds up to the Great Unknown to most intown Dallasites. Crossing LBJ Freeway and heading north still gives the confirmed urban pioneer a fever, and a dinner guest driving out to Piano from University Park is more likely to bring a compass and a sleeping bag than a bottle of Chateau Margaux.

But even the most hardened downtowner now suspects that there is civilization in the Dallas Outback. Far North Dallas boasts some excellent restaurants (such as Agnew’s, Laurent and Gallé); and the shopping at Prestonwood, Collin Creek, Sakowitz Village, Adelstein Plaza and Galleria is among the most glamorous in Dallas.

To really understand far North Dallas, it’s important to remember that the small towns were here first, and many of the restaurants, shops and services still bear the mark of the individuals running them. And far North Dallas still has a lot of countryside, which lends itself to lively bucolic pleasures.

ANTIQUES, ETC.

Antique dealers and handicrafts and collectibles merchants in Addison, Piano and Richardson offer everything from warehouses filled with European antiques to small boutiques specializing in handicrafts. Classes in glazing, ceramics, quilting and tole painting are also available.

The Old Mercantile Store, 1025 H. 15th St., Piano. 422-5306. This store specializes in handmade country goods. From quilts and pillows to quaint toys (there is even a wooden rack to hold a boy’s bat, ball and hat), the work is beautiful. The shop has the feel of a tiny country store-just what owner Becky Alexander was aiming for. Alexander also offers classes in cross-stitch, quilting, English smocking, candle-wicking and pillow finishing.

The Cabbage Patch, University Village, Richardson. 644-7055. Nearly hidden in the midst of a shopping center, this is a happy mix of country goods, American and English antiques, and knickknacks. Salespeople are friendly and helpful; tell them you’re hunting for a particular item, and they’ll even take you over to the warehouse and let you poke around. If a piece needs restoring or refinishing, they’ll tell you how to do it; if it costs more than you like, they’ll bargain.

Cintra Antiques Inc., 2305 Belt Line, Suite 190, Carrollton. 242-7502. A huge, musty warehouse filled with European antiques, from country French to Portuguese to Italian ornate. Not cheap, but the place to look if you want complete sets of furniture. Cintra specializes in bedroom suites -armoires, night stands and bureaus. Regular shipments arrive on a six-to eight-week basis, and the owners will scout around for special-request items.

Country Sonshine, Preston Road at FM 544, Piano. 596-0903. No, “Sonshine” is not misspelled. A religious affiliation is attached to this small antique shop and its restaurant, which is the reason for the “son.” Country Sonshine offers beautifully restored and refinished antique furniture with very few reproductions. The displays are lovely, and the pieces are most unusual. Restoration is done on the premises in a studio behind the shop.

The Magnolia House, 1206 14th St., Piano. 423-3822. From a sagging front porch to musty rooms crammed with treasures and trash, this is a genuine country antique store. Trays of wood type jostle for space with old cutlery and odd chairs, but don’t stop rummaging or you might miss the beautiful oak washstands and the secretary-dresser just waiting for a discerning buyer.

Antiques from the Past, 1313 Avenue K, Piano. 424-3336. Another modest frame house, where American, French and English antiques plus primitives are invitingly displayed, each in the right room: Dressers and beds are in the bedroom; dining tables, sofas, etc. are in the formal rooms; and antique kitchen items are in the little farmhouse kitchen -which is fitted so completely that visitors often assume proprietor Jerline Davis lives there, too. Davis sells all her furniture ready-to-go-any restoring or refinishing is done before the pieces go on display. Davis has two sales a year and will hold items on layaway for Christmas.

Architectural Heritage, 1606 Avenue K, Piano. 424-3102. One of the most ambitious and complete shops we found, John Walker’s shop and studio specialize in custom woodwork handcrafted from carved English oak that was salvaged from churches and houses scheduled for demolition. If you have a hankering for a bar made from the pulpit of a church, Walker will design and craft it for you. And if you want to perk up the exterior of your house with a set of castle doors, he can oblige. Walker also offers one of the finest collections of English and American stained glass to be found, as well as mantlepieces and traditional antique furniture.

Now and Then Shop, 1613 Avenue K, Piano. 423-8007. The smell of burning beeswax candles greets you as you enter this refurbished frame house, and a welter of handicrafted items and antique furniture meets the eye. Owner Sheryl Young has many unusual offerings, too, such as framed scherrensnitte (scissors snips, or cut paper), beeswax candles, bobbins and spools of all sizes, preserved flowers and a variety of handmade Christmas gifts and ornaments. Her American and English antiques include pot cupboards, a Dutch desk, armoires and small dressers.

Something Different, 1029A 15th St., Piano. 422-1355. This tiny shop is lined with unglazed stoneware (called green-ware), though there are also many finished pieces for sale. More than a shop, Something Different offers a complete series of courses in all types of glazing, porcelain dolls, decals, fretwork and Hummel work. Paints and supplies can be purchased in the shop, where a 10 percent discount is available for those enrolling in the courses. Owner Linda Camp teaches the classes, and she hopes to offer a course this spring in Sumi -E, a special Oriental technique.

Country Collections. 1604 Avenue K, Piano. 424-5271. Based in a charming house painted dark blue, Country Collections is a delightful place to while away an hour. Owner Cheryl Riley has assembled a colorful and lovely collection of handmade goods and gift items -quilts, pillows, carousel horses and a variety of ornaments. Even the tiny bathroom is decorated to display things for the bath.

The Calico Cat, 1423 Avenue K, Plano. 422-5166. Need a special handmade gift? Bring your idea or design to The Calico Cat and they will help you get it done. This tiny, cozy shop offers a unique collection of handmade goods tucked into every available nook. The owners offer classes through the Richardson recreation program in everything from Hawaiian quilting to the folded star.

Argyll’s Antiques, 19200 Preston Road, Piano. 596-3009. Watch for an old wagon by the side of the road, bearing the sign “Argyll’s Antiques” and follow the arrow. You’ll find a collection of Victorian and American pieces well worth the stop. Proprietor B.B. Montgomery will tell you about the family-owned business and will even help you locate a special piece. Stop in the refinishing studio on the premises and watch the work in action.

New Addition, 1033 E. 15th St., Plano. 423-2201. Owner Sandra Skaggs offers hand-selected baby gifts and clothing, featuring some handmade garments, quilts, wall hangings and a wonderful selection of maternity clothes.

DISCOUNT MARTS/USED CLOTHING

If you’re willing to drive a few extra miles, a wide variety of discount shopping is available in far North Dallas. Clothing, exotic plants, accessories and furniture can all be had for prices considerably below market. Quality secondhand clothing can also be found, often in attractive little shops lacking the traditional “thrift shop” ambiance.

The Market Sampler, 1007 E. 15th St., Piano. 423-4440. A veritable treasure-trove of accessories, The Market Sampler offers something to fill every empty nook in the house. Brass and copper accessories and planters, crystal and decorative items of all kinds are arranged in rows without much attempt at attractive display, but the price tags compensate for the lack of atmosphere. Nearly everything in the store is offered at wholesale prices or less, and the Sampler frequently offers shipments of furniture from the showrooms of the World Trade Center. Italian inlaid desks, tables and occasional pieces were featured recently, as well as a large selection of ornate German clocks.

Real Flowers and Care, 2300 Overglen Road, Piano. 424-9027. Quaintly named and currently operating out of owner Nell Bowden’s house, this discount and wholesale service offers interior plant design for both commercial and private clients, handles weddings, funerals and other “floral occasions,” and offers plants, flowers and hanging baskets at cost.

The L’il Angel, 805 E. 15th St., Piano. 423-2299. This pristine little shop specializes in used children’s clothing. Owner Rosie Hutson will take goods on consignment but is extremely particular about the quality of the items she sells. The only faded clothing she will accept is denim; everything else looks nearly new, and the prices are right.

The Second Time A round, 1813 Avenue K, Plano. 423-9262. Lined wool slacks, designer outfits and sportswear of good quality can be found here, and bargains abound. The selection is good, and most of the clothing looks barely used.

The Clothes Shoppe, 1013 E. 15th St., Plano. 423-8643. Proprietor Mavis Ramay owns the building that houses her shop, so she can pass on the savings in rent to the consumer in the form of good discounts on name-brand sportswear. Clothing is offered at wholesale prices or less, and Ramay has regular shipments of jeans and casual clothes.

The Market, 2005 Preston Road at FM 544. 867-4140. The Market is really a warehouse full of tropical plants of all sizes and varieties offered at wholesale prices that can’t be beat. The Market is well worth the drive for anyone who wants exotica in quantity. Open year-round, seven days a week, 9 to 7.

Ann’s Sample Shop, 1011 E. 15th St., Piano. Here you’ll find well-known casual clothes reduced by 20 percent or more. Another good place to clean up on new sportswear at excellent prices.

Tuesday Morning, Parker Road and Custer, Plano. 867-6163. Christmas decorations, gifts, silver, brass, linens, bric-a-brac and housewares of all kinds are discounted up to 50 to 75 percent in this barracks-like shop, one of several in the Dallas area. A great place to stock up on paper goods and Christmas wrappings, as well as other items, Tuesday Morning offers four sales a year, each of which runs approximately four weeks.

ADVENTURE

Let us joyfully explode a few myths and pass on the good news that hot-air balloons aren’t just for the Wizard of Oz, and polo isn’t strictly for the rich. The flat but graceful countryside of far North Dallas lends itself perfectly to some pleasures that would be impossible to encounter closer to town. If you’re looking for adventure, head north.

Air Venture Balloon Port, Forest Lane and Greenville. 231-7908. For that special occasion, AirVenture will provide the cruise of a lifetime: a champagne flight in a hot-air balloon above the rolling countryside of far North Dallas. The $250 fee includes pilot and equipment, champagne for two and a chase vehicle (should the going get rough). Rides are scheduled for sunrise and sunset, and AirVenture offers gift certificates and specials in time for Christmas. Call Leslie Pritchard for more information. AirVenture is affiliated with the Piano Balloon Association, which sponsors a Hot-Air Balloon Festival every year.

Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, FM 544 between Preston Road and Dallas Parkway. 248-6298. Sunday polo has always been well-attended, but thanks to the recent NFL strike this polo season might break records. Willow Bend offers spring, summer and fall polo that is exciting enough to bring even a jaded football fan to his feet. You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy polo as a spectator sport – you don’t even have to be a member of the club (general admission tickets are sold before each game). International polo players and local citizens share the field with those other stars -the ponies -and pregame and half-time shows include sky divers during the summer and the glorious spectacle of hunting and hounds during the fall. Willow Bend members can enjoy the fitness center, restaurants, tennis and rac-quetball courts.

Dallas Airpark and Rainbow Aviation, FM 544 and Dallas Parkway. 248-6050. At this small airfield straight out of Nevil Shute, Cessna 152s and 172s can be rented for $27 and $37 an hour respectively. There is a flight school for lessons, and Rainbow would like to acquire a few Ul-tralites to rent out. For the uninitiated, the Ultralite looks suspiciously like one of the Wright brothers’ rejects: a brightly colored monoplane with a seat suspended beneath the wings for the pilot. Propelled by what seems to be a very tiny motor, these crafts soar above the countryside. Airpark/Aviation also sponsors an air show in the summer featuring exciting aerial hot-dogging.

White Rock Creek, off FM 544. If hiking in autumn and spring attracts you (no one sane hikes in a Texas summer), White Rock Creek meanders through lovely country still relatively unscarred by developers’ bulldozers. Thanks to flood-plain legislation, the area should remain unspoiled. Wear boots, though: Snakes and other varmints abound.

Addison Municipal Airport and Texas ProAir Center, Addison. 458-7900. Addison Airport, an up-and-coming community facility, offers flying lessons and rentals. Separate from it but on the premises is the unique service of the Texas Pro-Air Center, a full base operation that caters to the needs of the corporate pilot, from the servicing of the company plane to the providing of accommodations and recreation for the pilot.

Racquetball Resorts International, 6150 Independence Pkwy., Piano. 596-7808. Opening December 1st under the aegis of FGR Developers, Piano’s first full fitness center promises to be very complete in its services. A private club with a limited membership of 2,000, the center will offer racquetball, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, dance classes and a nursery in the more than 27,000 square feet that it comprises.

Country Collections, 1604 Avenue K, Piano. 424-5271. Priscilla Pilliod offers classes in the decorative arts, covering tole painting, Norwegian Rosemaling, stenciling and many other techniques. Classes run through May; one is devoted to special decorations and gifts for Christmas.

Great American Coverup, 8007 E.Parker Road in Adobe Villa, Piano. 423-4939. Quilts are sold here -but even better, lessons are offered. Owner MartyWoolsey offers a complete schedule ofcourses in the classic American art ofquilting, plus classes in basic applique andpatchwork, folded star, scherrensnitte,soft sculpture, hooked rugs, braided rugs,stenciling, making cotton-string vests andmany other aspects of folk art and handwork. The quilts, pillows and other goodsin the shop are all for sale, and freedemonstrations are given on how to padwalls, repair and restore quilts, and give aquilting bee.

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