THE YEAR IS 1980. PlLgrims flock to Southfork to glimpse J.R., Sue Ellen, and Bobby Ewing feuding, cheating, and drilling for oil. Reporters are routinely dispatched to interview tourists, to get their reaction to the fiction and the fact. One reporter approaches a visitor from Dijon, a man in his mid-30s who appears dazed. The man’s Dallas experience has been brief but overwhelming. The evening before he encountered love, drunkenness, and jail. Somewhere along the line he lost his wallet.
When the Frenchman is asked to offer his observations about the city, the man musters up a tired smile. “Zat Harry Hines. He must be one helluva man.”
The Frenchman was obviously talking about the boulevard. Turns out we don’t know much about Harry Hines, the man. In fact, here’s a little quiz for you.
Harry Hines was:
A) SMU’s all-time home run leader for whom the university’s baseball stadium is named.
B) Texas state highway com missioner in the 1930s.
C) Dallas’ oldest surviving
Confederate Army veteran.
If you answered A, you ought to check with the Rangers front office; they don’t know anything about baseball, either. (SMU hasn’t had a baseball team in more than 25 years. They have no baseball stadium.) C is incorrect as well. That is William Murchison, who still writes for the Morning News. If you said B, you are correct.
Hines was the state highway commissioner from 1936-41 and was responsible for the construction of the thoroughfare named in his honor. He was an oil operator from Wichita Falls and founded the Texas Layman’s League for the Disciples of Christ. Harry Hines died in 1954.
There are many aspects of Harry Hines Boulevard that would make Harry blush today, as he objected to pool, pinball, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And yet, if you want to explore the genuine Dallas-inhale its past and imagine its future-it can all be accomplished in a single swoop along Harry Hines Boulevard, which is to Dallas what the Mississippi River is to St. Louis: a means of transportation, a base for commerce, and a place to recreate.
Harry Hines Boulevard is lined with grit and grandeur. There are sections stained by saloons that reek of Lysol and cigar smoke, and there are other sections crowded with Nobel Prize aspirants and medical researchers in starched white coats. Harry Hines stands in denial of the charge that Dallas is a plasticized, yuppified suburbia.
The road was completed in 1936-37 and was considered an engineering marvel, the city’s first divided highway. About the time Harry Hines Boulevard turns 100, it will serve as one of the vital arteries of greater Dallas, linking downtown with Car-rollton, Lewisville, and beyond, into an area expected to receive at least 2 million new residents in the next 30 years. By then, broad sections of Harry Hines that today constitute the warehouse district will be replaced by sparkling new office and hotel buildings befitting the hottest economy in the world.
Let’s explore some Harry Hines landmarks, circa 2000, beginning at LBJ Freeway and proceeding south to Cedar Springs Road and Akard Street downtown, before they are bulldozed and paved over, to make way for the future.
1. Hole In the Wall Hamburgers. Depending on which direction you’re driving, Hole In The Wall is where Harry Hines starts or stops. (Actually, Harry Hines continues beyond the city limits, but north of LBJ it serves only as an access road to 1-35.) In 1998, The New York. Times reported that Dallas’ Stoneleigh Pon Maple Avenue served the best hamburgers in the country. Bui Hole In the Wall serves something better: It’s one of the few places in Dallas where a person over 40 can listen to live music and not feel ancient. On a Sunday evening, you can sit on the back patio and enjoy authentic Texas blues. If the breeze is cool, the twilight can seem eternal.
2. Forest Lawn Cemetery. File this among the places that you didn’t know existed in Dallas until you took the Harry Hines tour. Along the northern reaches of the boulevard, out among the Janitor’s World warehouse, the Salty Dog used car lot. and Pandora’s strip club, this modest and silent grave site is the final resting place for Dallas residents born as early as 1846. Forest Lawn even contains a cemetery within a cemetery. Situated under a flagpole erected by the American Legion in 1927 is a small military burial site for World War veterans, some of whom died in Europe. Forest Lawn is not exactly Arlington National Cemetery. But stroll the grounds at sunset and listen carefully and you can hear the sound of bugles.
3. Danal’s Super Mercado. Who said NAFTA would be bad for Texas? The Super Mercado features 15-pound bags of frozen tripe, entire beef heads, chicken feet, and any other animal part not stocked at Simon David. But what sets the Harry Hines store apart from other Latino food outlets is its small cafe, specializing in $4.95 servings of menudo. Give it a try, then happily toss away your Prozac and Viagra forever.
4. Mecca. Beneath the green awning pass the best-fed diners on the planet. For 62 years, Mecca has won more citations for excellence in the art of country cooking than the Mansion has won Mobil stars. The only discernable shortcoming might be that a customer who arrives later than noon will learn that the collard greens are already gone. At least twice a year, everyone should indulge in Mecca’s Big D breakfast. The Big D offers a choice of a ribeye or two pork chops, two eggs, grits or hash browns, fresh biscuits the size of Corsicana, and the same cream gravy served in heaven. All for $8.50.
5. Easy Riders. The man behind the 5. Easy Riders. The man behind the 6. Exchange Park. Open since 1964, the development stands out as a showcase for the amalgamation of space and simplicity of design. The broad-shouldered office towers characterize the cereal box motif in vogue during the reign of John Stemmons, when Dallas surged onto the playing fields of global finance. Two local companies of some prominence began in Exchange Park. Mary Kay Ash opened a little shop to sell wigs and later added a cosmetics line. Ross Perot started a little computer-leasing outfit and went around to other tenants hawking shares for a $ 1,000 investment. We don’t have a record of who took him up on his offer, but that’s because they are probably retired in Bermuda.
7. Brook Hollow Golf Club. The course, which opened in 1919, is a proud example of a grander time of golf course architecture. Brook Hollow is a championship test of golf that has none of the ersatz undulations and faux waterfalls found on many modern courses. Obtaining a membership might not be as hard as at Dallas Country Club, where members had to be born in John Neely Bryan’s cabin. Those with the funding, connections, and lineage can climb aboard Brook Hollow’s waiting list.
8. The Med-Opolis. The Parkland Hospital emergency room is one of the best trauma centers in the nation. UT Southwestern Medical Center has occasionally been ranked among the top five in the United States. The UT Health Science Center can produce enough brainpower to light up 30 states. Faculty members include Nobel Prize winners Michael Brown, Joseph Goldstein, Johan Deisenhofer, and Alfred Gilman.
9. The Infomart. Technically, none of Market Center’s behemoths is on Harry Hines. but the road practically passes the Infomart’s back porch. It is a replica of London’s Crystal Palace, the world’s first fireproof building, which burned down in 1936. When out-of-towners first see the Infomart, their reaction is, “What is that?” Tell them this: “The Infomart develops and operates technology communities using buildings with extraordinary infrastructures to bring together telecommunications switching operations and heavy bandwidth users. In this manner. the Infomart facilitates the collection of bandwidth providers and users into synergistic communities that enable them to pursue their common objectives.”
10. Motel Row. Nestled amid the shadows of the Market Center, in the area where Wycliff Avenue intersects with Harry Hines. sprawl some of Dallas’ worst-kept lodging secrets. The city’s oldest professionals work the area. In a long row you’ll find the La Casita cabins, the Parkcrest, and the Living Inn. An inquiry at the front desk of the Parkcrest found that rooms go for $30, although they are rarely available. At the Parkcrest, non-smoking rooms are optional. The Living Inn apparently has a mechanic on duty, He was spotted working on cars in the courtyard.
11. KERA. An enterprising student can stand at the intersection of Harry Hines and Wolf Street and earn a bachelor of fine arts merely by studying the marquee. The PBS studio has seen its share of memorable moments in local broadcasting and offered the career-launching site for Jim Lehrer. anchor of the Newsroom program (1969-71), before he moved on to network.
12. Town House Hotel. Currently the site of the Bradford Homestead condominiums. The motel, which was demolished around 1990, gained notoriety on Nov. 6, 1960, when TV star Ward Bond, who played Major Adams on Wagon Train, dropped dead of a heart attack in the shower of Room 132. Bond was in Dallas to hook up with country music legend Johnny Horton. Eerily, Horton didn’t make il either, En route to Dallas after a performance in Austin, he was killed in a car crash.