Teens couldn’t wait to lace up their skates on the weekends. Families piled into booths for burgers and curly fries at Next Door. Longtime neighbors remember the man wearing a striped suit who doled out peppermints or Gertrude the chicken, who played tic-tac-toe in a glass box. You know you grew up in our neighborhood if…
You listened to KBOX.
In KBOX’s heyday, listeners tuned in to hear DJ Big Dan Ingram “laughin’ and scratchin’ ” or a hit from The Shirelles. The radio station found a home inside a simple red building at McCree and Audelia in 1958. The property — dubbed Radio Park — was a hangout for teens eager to spot their favorite DJs. KBOX played tunes and aired news until Nov. 14, 1982. The building and its transmission towers were demolished in favor of the Highland Hills subdivision, but KBOX memorabilia found a safe haven at former newscaster Jay Ward’s home in Richardson.
You know where Little Egypt was.
Little Egypt’s inception traces back to the post-Civil War era. Former slaves Jeff and Hannah Hill were the first to settle on the property near Ferndale and Northwest Highway. Their first order of business: constructing the Little Egypt Baptist Church. The dirt-road subdivision was without running water or sewage, even in the ‘50s. Then, in 1962, all 200 residents simultaneously packed their belongings into moving vans and vacated Little Egypt. They sold their land to determined developers, and many relocated to South Dallas.
You laced up your rollerskates at White Rock Skate.
Maybe your first date (or first kiss — don’t worry, we won’t tell) was at White Rock Skate. “A guy came in, and right there, right in front of the money machine, he went down on one knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him,” owner Chuck Connor said in 2012. “It was an impressive and beautiful moment. That’s the only proposal, but many people have told me they have met their husbands or wives or ex-husbands or ex-wives here.” Chuck’s father, Charles, constructed the 20,000-square-foot property in 1973. His son, Chuck, took over in 1980. Once described by the Advocate as the “Sultan of Skate, the Roller King, the Lord of the Rink,” Chuck never missed a day of work during his 40-year career. He enforced the rules and ensured the floor was slick. Neighbors were emotional when the Connors sold the rink, and a piece of Lake Highlands’ history, in 2016. Chuck died the following year.
You know it’s Kingsley, not Walnut Hill.
Walnut Hill Lane became a thoroughfare through Dallas in 2005. But before that it was a two-lane blacktop road called Kingsley, and a handful of neighbors refuse to acknowledge it as anything else. “It’s the mark of a true LH native,” neighbor Glenn Stone says.
Yelling “red red red red, white white white white white white white” isn’t all that weird.
As the Lake Highlands High cheer goes, “What about? What about? What about that Wildcat shout?”
You went to Next Door.
Every booth at Next Door restaurant included a red phone where you placed your order. Much to parents’ delight, kids ate for free on Sundays. The restaurant, located at the southwest corner of Kingsley and Audelia, was known for for its burgers and curly fries. It closed in the early ‘80s.
You ate a peppermint from Jerry Haynes.
Sure, accepting candy from strangers is frowned upon. But Jerry Haynes, also known as Mr. Peppermint, was far from unfamiliar. The children’s show host akin to Mr. Rogers wore his signature red-and-white striped suit, walked the neighborhood in the evenings and passed out peppermints, longtime neighbor Robin Moss Norcross says.
You knew Helen at The Pizza Spa.
Teens called her “Mama,” but The Pizza Spa manager’s name was actually Helen. She resembled Aunt Bee, minus her silver shoulder-length hair. She had no qualms with teens loitering in the parking lot, although she was quick to kick you out for misbehaving. Helen treated everyone like family, Lake Highlands native Darryl Williams says. “The Safeway store that was across the parking lot complained once about the traffic. Helen defended all of us, and no more was said.”
Northlake Bakery made your birthday cake.
Located at Northlake Shopping Center, the beloved bakery concocted confectionary delights for neighbors’ birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. It reportedly moved to Casa Linda in the 1980s but went through several iterations (and owners) before becoming Casa Linda Bakery.
You spun in a teacup at Penny Whistle Park.
Highlights from Penny Whistle Park, at 10717 E. Northwest Highway, include spinning teacups, a bouncing bubble and Gertrude, a chicken with a knack for tic-tac-toe who resided in a glass box. The indoor amusement park boasted about its affordable birthday parties, with costs ranging from $15-$40. Penny Whistle Park closed in 1995. The park’s rusty sign still is visible on the property.