Category Archives: History

President of Grand Prairie NAACP reminisces on ‘Growing Up in Dalworth’

By Stacey Doud

DalworthFoodStore

A store in the Dalworth neighborhood

I was recently invited to attend a General Meeting of the Grand Prairie Historical Organization (GPHO). I wasn’t emotionally prepared to hear the stories that the Grand Prairie National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President, Angela Luckey, had to tell. She spoke about “Growing Up in Dalworth,” which is an historically poor African American neighborhood. I also grew up poor in a different place, but a lot of what Luckey said resonated with me personally.

Between 1910 and 1920, Dalworth Park was established with modern conveniences including water, gas, sidewalks and telephones. Businesses such as The Spikes Brothers Broom Factory and the Dalworth Business College moved in, boosting the local economy.

South of the railroad tracks, a community with primarily African American residents, many who worked in the Dalworth Park area, was established and named South Dalworth Park. These communities were incorporated into Grand Prairie in 1942.

After a god BBQ lunch, President of the GPHO, John Wylie, gave a little background on and introduced Luckey.

“[Luckey] is a retired DoD [Department of Defense] professional. She also worked for NASD [National Association of Securities Dealers] and retired for obvious reasons, since NASD was actually closed. She worked overseas in Family Support. As a G.I. for 26 years, stationed around the world, I myself appreciated Family Support at the bases I was stationed at [in the Air Force]. I not only appreciated them, but I used them. So, thank you, Angela,” said Wylie.

Among her 30 years of achievements, Luckey served in Federal Service at NAS JRB (Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth). She is on the Executive Board of the Greater Dallas Head Start Program and has been a candidate for mayor and for the school board. She is a past president of the Dalworth Historical Society. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Constable Ed Wright Pct. 4. On a personal note, she’s lived in Grand Prairie since birth, and has three kids and three grandkids. Her husband, Lenel, served in the Army and fought in the Middle East. He died of a heart attack in 2015.

“I am so proud of my and my family’s history in Grand Prairie. I was born over at Parkland Hospital on March 21, 1966. My family lived across the tracks of the Dalworth community,” Luckey said.

Luckey had the opportunity to attend Head Start before transferring to Dalworth Elementary School in the first grade.

“Head Start is a federally-funded daycare facility, so when the federal government decided to bring a Head Start program to Dallas County, the first Center opened up in Grand Prairie, Texas. So, I got an early head start in education and I really appreciate the federal government at the time for thinking about children in poverty-stricken and low-income areas because we had early education when I was three years old. And now I am an executive board member for Head Start. I really appreciate what Head Start did then and what it is doing today for children and young mothers that have kids, but have to work,” Luckey explained.

After making her way through the younger years of education, Luckey attended the one all-black high school at the time, which was called Dalworth High School.

“A lot of prominent people came out of that [High School] that became judges, doctors and lawyers. Every profession you can think of came out of Dalworth. We have professional athletes that went on to become inductees to the Hall of Fame, like Charlie Taylor and so forth,” Luckey said proudly.

Many Grand Prairie residents aren’t aware that Dalworth produced a championship-winning football team in 1958. The team was called the Dalworth Dragons, and they received a Proclamation that was presented by Mayor C.R. Sargent, who held this office at the time. Luckey had an original copy of this accolade, complete with the City Seal, and read it to the attendees.

“I wanted to read [the proclamation] because it’s part of my foundation – a part of how I got here,” Luckey said.

Luckey then recruited a couple of helpers to hold up a large poster of her family tree. She explained each branch and the hardships they faced, as well as the victories they enjoyed. Her Great Great Grandfather, Frederick Douglas Reed, moved out of Waco to the Grand Prairie area in the early 1920’s because his cousin, Jesse Washington Jr., was accused of raping a white woman in Waco, Texas.

“[My relatives that moved to Grand Prairie] lived on a farm and could pass for white [Caucasian]. There was a horrific accident that occurred here in Grand Prairie that involved his [her great-great grandfather’s] wagon. He was crossing the railroad track and the wagon collided with an interurban train that was coming from Fort Worth to Dallas. Three of his children died in that wreckage.

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Luckey’s Family Tree

“There’s a tiny grave at Grand Prairie High School [near the baseball fields, south of the school]. They have a little fence on Small Street, and the three children were actually buried there. I wanted to share a bit of my family history so you can understand where my roots come from,” Luckey said.

When Luckey was in first grade at Dalworth Elementary, the school district was faced with a lawsuit. One of the African American parents that had a student in Grand Prairie wanted the schools to be integrated. As a result of that lawsuit, younger children were bussed out of their neighborhoods. Luckey ended up attending Dalworth Elementary, Bowie Elementary and Sam Houston Elementary. These constant changes took the sense of stability out of their educational lives, sometimes adding to the chaos of their home lives.

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Luckey and her mother

“As a child growing up in Dalworth, I didn’t have a sense of being poor,” Luckey said. “Looking back now, I don’t even know how my parents did it. But my mother worked for LTV and had a college degree. When she worked, she made sure that she went to work during the hours we were at school. So that means when we got up in the morning, she did our hair and made sure we got dressed and went to school. We had breakfast and a dinner when we came home. [My mother] had three kids by the time she was 18 or 19 years old. She’s been married to her husband for 56 years. I tell my mom all the time, ‘They don’t make women like you anymore. Not at all,’” Luckey said, giving a nod to her mother, who was in the audience.

Luckey graduated from South Grand Prairie High School when she was 16 years old because she elected to take classes during every summer. “I thought that once you graduated school, you were grown. That’s not how my father was. His rules were, ‘Until you turn 18, you can’t have a boyfriend.’ I didn’t go to the prom or have a boyfriend in high school because that was not allowed until age 18.

“When I was 18, I was running track at the University of Texas at Arlington (UT-A). The first boy that ever took an interest in me became my boyfriend,” Luckey laughed.

Luckey then attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville and Texas College in Tyler where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She received her master’s degree from Amberton University.

Luckey then got serious.

“You guys are going to be the first to hear this. I mean, my family knows, but I’ve never told this while public speaking. I told myself, ‘I have worked 30 years for the Department of Defense. I’ve worked in Europe. I’ve worked on installations where you have to have a really secret security clearance to where the government had a sign saying if you step here, we can shoot you on the spot. So, I’ve seen a lot of things that the average citizen doesn’t get to see from our federal government. When it came to the point when I could retire after 30 years, I decided to retire. I was 50 years old in 2016.

“So, then I thought, ‘Angela, what are you going to do now?’ I wanted to volunteer for an organization that helps people. Then I began to sit and look at my childhood because some people have things that chase them. Sometimes they’re called ‘skeletons in the closet.’ I realized that I had something that chased me, but it chased me in a positive direction.

“In fourth grade, my teacher, Mr. Grant, had a cousin who was not such a good man. My teacher’s cousin molested me. I was afraid to tell my parents. They didn’t learn about this story until I was fully grown and married with children.  I think that’s why I like to work with the young and disadvantaged. You never know what their struggles are.

“I didn’t let that situation knock me down. It got behind me and it chased me. I wanted to be greater than great. I remember when I was running track at UT-A, I was coming out of the dorm and noticed that there were some yard people that were doing the yard outside the dorm. I looked up, and I saw him [the man who molested her] standing there, staring at me. I didn’t know what to do because I hadn’t [told] anyone. But I didn’t go back to UT-A. I decided I didn’t want to be where he was. I ended up going to Texas College in Tyler. My dad drove me there and basically dropped me off and drove away.

“That was the biggest blessing God could give me, being dropped off at that small black college because it was there that I understood purpose. It was there when I decided that I wanted to be greater than great, and I wanted to be someone that after I go and do whatever I was trying to do, at the end of the day I want to come back and I wanted to be able to help people just like me. That’s basically what I did. I got a master’s degree from Amity University. I have been up in Air Force Two. I have been in the White House several times, with the purpose to visit under every president’s leadership,” Luckey said.

Luckey presented Jan Barrett, the GPHO Program Chair, as well as GPHO President John Wylie, with medals of appreciation from the Grand Prairie NAACP.

Luckey then introduced the owner of Ethalue’s Salon, which has been in business in Dalworth for over 50 years. “This was not just a place to get your hair done,” Luckey said. “This was a place for fellowship, and of course, the latest gossip.”

Ms. Ethalue gave her own account of what it was like being a business owner in Dalworth. Despite some setbacks, her Salon (and now Spa) have been going strong for over half a century.

I personally know it wasn’t luck(ey) that helped Angela achieve all that she has. She is very grateful to God and her family and close friends for guiding her in the tough times. She has touched many people in a positive way, and I know she will keep going.

***

In fact, here’s some info on the GPNAACP’s next event:

NAACP Flyer

Download a .pdf version of the flier perfect for printing HERE

The future of “The Alamo Cenotaph” uncertain

By Stacey Doud

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The Alamo Cenotaph (Photo: Wikipedia)

In early 2017, the San Antonio City Council proposed the relocation of the historic Alamo Cenotaph, which would be part of the, “Alamo Master Plan, which calls for a major makeover of the plaza and relocation of the granite Cenotaph — possibly to a small park by Market Street, near a site where Alamo defenders’ bodies are said to have been burned.” [Source: MySanAntonio.com]

This Master Plan would eliminate many tourist destinations, such as Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, which many believe cheapens the Alamo’s historical significance.

Since, then, numerous protests and rallies have been held by various groups and private citizens wanting the historic monument to stay right where it is.

“This sits in in the correct spot,” said Lee Spencer White, president of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, which organized a rally in April, 2017. “Why would you think it needs to go to a funeral pyre site? This is an empty tomb. It’s commemorating the defenders. I don’t want it moved an inch. It’s right where it needs to be.” [Source: MySanAntonio.com]

HISTORY OF THE CENOTAPH: Although there had been previous plans for Alamo monuments starting in the late 1800s, the Alamo Cenotaph was the first such erected in San Antonio. During the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration, the state of Texas provided $100,000 for the monument, commissioned from local sculptor Pompeo Coppini. San Antonio Mayor Maury Maverick held a dedication ceremony on November 11, 1940.

The shaft rises sixty feet from its base and is forty feet long and twelve feet wide. The monument was erected in grey Georgia marble and pink Texas granite. It was entitled The Spirit of Sacrifice and incorporates images of the Alamo garrison leaders and 187 names of known Alamo defenders, derived from the research of historian Amelia Williams. [Source: Wikipedia]

THE LATEST: According to TheAlamo.org, “The City of San Antonio owns the cenotaph and plans to repair and restore the monument, as well as add the names of additional defenders who were unknown when the cenotaph was erected in 1939. Discussion is ongoing about where the cenotaph will be located once restoration work is complete. One idea is to relocate the cenotaph (which means “empty tomb”) to the location of one of the funeral pyres, which would serve to restore the 1836 battlefield footprint and to properly honor the location where the defenders’ bodies were burned. Evidence indicates that two of the funeral pyres were located near St. Joseph Church on Commerce Street, and the third was some distance east of the Alamo’s church. While the City of San Antonio has made no final decision on the cenotaph’s future location, what is certain is the monument will be repaired, and it will always stand to honor the Alamo Defenders.”

Where the Cenotaph will land, no one knows, but it will always stand as a reminder of the hard work and sacrifice of the Alamo Defenders. As Texans, we will always, “Remember the Alamo!”

For more information, visit TheAlamo.org.

Pearl Harbor Commemoration ceremony set for Dec. 5

HCN NEWS SERVICES

55e883ab95977.imageTo remember the thousands of Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Civilians that died AND survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the Texas Commandery of the Naval Order of the U.S. will hold its 30th annual commemoration ceremony on the deck of the Battleship USS Texas (BB-35) berthed at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site at 11:00 AM, December 5, 2015. The ceremony will last approximately one hour.

The ceremony is open to the public and access to the USS Texas is free for the ceremony. The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located at 3523 Independence Parkway South, La Porte, 77571.

The keynote speaker will be Jill Allen. On December 7, 1941, Jill was 3 years old, and her father, Army Captain Loyd Jost, was a dentist at Tripler Hospital on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Captain Jost and other doctors, dentists, and nurses cared for hundreds of wounded men from the attack damaged ships at Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, none of her family was injured during the attack.

In addition to Texas Commandery Companions, other ceremony participants will be representatives from the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors who will read the names of survivors who have passed in the last two years and will assist in throwing a lei into the water as a memorial to the survivors and those who lost their lives; the Naval Sea Cadets; Sea Scouts; Civil Air Patrol Cadets; the South East Texas Patriot Guard Riders; the Invincible Eagle Band of Liberty, Texas; a Commemorative Air Force flyby (weather permitting); and, a U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard for a gun salute.

The Naval Order of the United States is the oldest American hereditary exclusively naval society. The mission of the Naval Order is to preserve, promote, celebrate, and enjoy our Nation’s sea service history and heritage through commemorating important historical events, supporting the study of naval history, and the preservation of sea service historical artifacts, documents, and monuments.

The early Sunday morning surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy served as the catalyst for the United States entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. Over 2,300 Americans were killed, and more than 1,200 were wounded when over 350 Japanese planes struck U.S. soil. A quote that is often attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, but never verified that he either said it or wrote it down, encapsulated the feelings and mood of the American people following the attack: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

This ceremony pays tribute to both those who perished and those who survived the horrendous attack on Pearl Harbor 74 years ago on December 7, 1941.

Boat restored by League City man rededicated at Holocaust Museum

League City resident and award-winning boat builder Walter Hansen recently finished a four-year restoration of Holocaust Museum Houston’s Danish Rescue Boat, a vessel of freedom used to smuggle 7,200 Danish Jews out of Denmark and into Sweden in October 1943. Danes saved 94 percent of their Jewish population, under cover of night and right under the noses of Nazis rounding up Jews for transport to death camps.

The boat was rededicated on Sunday (Oct. 4) at a ceremony hosted by The Honorable Anna Thomsen Holliday, Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Honorable Ole Philipson, former ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark and a survivor who fled Denmark with his family in a similar boat on Oct. 6 1943, joined Holliday.

Hansen, a retired FBI agent who once ran the Houston division office, put his heart and soul into this amazing vessel with its heroic heritage. He has worked thousands of hours repairing, rebuilding and restoring the boat from the inside out to bring it back to its original 1940s splendor. The Museum is very excited to have the exhibit reopen October 5 to the public, as this anchor exhibit is a symbol of how hope can overcome hate.

“The history this boat represents is fascinating, and the more I researched the boat so it can be restored to its original appearance, the more fascinated I got,” said Hansen. “No one knew what it looked like! I found a guy who fished as a kid on this boat, and the Museum in Denmark sent pictures. I got to know the original builder, Aaga Andersen. I feel like I’ve been his apprentice for the four years I’ve been working on the boat.”

Andersen built two of these boats, called Classical Danish Coastal Fishing Trawlers, each year from 1940 – 1960.

“I want to be as close to the facts as possible in all aspects. This boat was built by hand using hand tools. A powered band saw mill was used to mill logs into lumber. I can still see original band saw cut marks on the planks,” Hansen added.

“This boat is of iconic significance. It was built in 1947 and wasn’t around in 1943 during the Holocaust,” Hansen said. “It represents other boats that were actually used. It looks exactly like the boats that were used, which were of traditional construction of Danish boats of the era.

Hansen began this project with the frames (skeleton of the boat), the hull planks, the rudder, the keel (bottom), stem and sternpost from the original boat. The Houston climate had not been kind to the vessel.

“The worst rot was in the center of the boat. We replaced 19 hull planks,” said Hansen. “Being in water keeps the boat together via pressure, and keeps it leak-proof because the wood swells. When it’s taken out of the water and put on display, the humidity and heat break it down.”

At first, Hansen recruited 18 volunteers from the Woodworkers Club of Houston and the Gulf Coast Historic Shipmodeling Guild. Over time, volunteers moved on. Hansen ended up finishing the project with four shipbuilding enthusiasts that, “Just walked up and asked if I needed help. They have been fantastic,” he said.

Hansen worked on his first boat at age 17 with his now-wife’s father. “He could fix anything and loved to work with his hands. I spent six summers helping him. He always had a boat of some kind to work on,” Hansen, now 68, said.

“After I retired, I wanted to do something serious to ‘prove my mettle.’ I entered my first boat, a dingy, in the Keels N Wheels competition. I won the Corinthian Award for entering a locally constructed, handmade boat. Everyone else did restorations. That success told me that I could do this. I met a lot of people, including Jamie White, who worked on the Elissa Project in Galveston, who encouraged me,” Hansen said.

Many of the services required, such as building the boat’s cradle and providing a crane to set the ship on the cradle, were donated. “Folks hear the story of what this boat represents, and they’ll do anything for you,” Hansen said. “As TNT Antique Crane said, ‘this boat has everybody.’

“It represents two different ways of thinking: hatred/discrimination vs. humanism/acceptance/support/life. Are you going to think about bad guys or the people who were helped by this boat? Every once in a while, you’ll see a facial expression on a kid that tells you that you’ve sparked an interest. It’s very fulfilling to see someone who gets it,” Hansen said.

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The Honorable Ole Philipson stands beside the Danish boat ‘Hanne Frank.’

The Honorable Ole Philipson is another person who “gets it.” He lived it. The former ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark fled the country with his family in a boat similar to the Museum’s on Oct. 6 1943, which was also his twelfth birthday.

Born in 1931 in Denmark to a Jewish family, Philipson said, “It never mattered that we were Jewish. We were integrated 100 percent into Danish society. Back then, differences didn’t matter; we were all Danish.”

In 1940, Germany invaded Denmark. “Germany was this huge war machine in a tiny country with no war machine. The country was occupied within hours,” Philipson recalled. “I remember the planes overhead, which were really just to scare us, and the men in their boots doing that march in the streets. There were weeks where Jewish Danes didn’t know what to do.”

The Jewish community came to a consensus to stay where they were. “We thought nothing would happen to us. And nothing did happen for about three years,” Philipson said.

“In September of 1943, a rumor started that the Germans were coming for us,” said Philipson. “The information came from high-ranking German officials. I still don’t know why they said anything. Needless to say, everyone left.

“Our non-Jewish population was not accepting that we were being arrested for being Jewish. It was absurd to them. They helped save many, many lives,” Philipson said.

Philipson and his mother, father and brother were moved from one safe house to the next for about a week. They ended up at a house that faced the coast of Sweden.

“My father had contracted with a fisherman to take us on one of these boats to Sweden. We went to the beach that night, but no one showed up. We did the same the next night, but still no one came. We went back to the safe house where the owners and some of our non-Jewish friends were. They came just to take care of us!” Philipson said, emphasizing the united front of Denmark.

“In the end, my father paid for us to go on a boat with 12 other people. The ship sent a rowboat to the beach. A few old ladies got in it and sank! The second rowboat came, and we had no choice but to go. We made it to the ship, spread out on the deck and didn’t speak or move,” Philipson recalled.

“I’ll never forget the man that was lying next to me. He was a schoolteacher and a ‘Freedom Fighter.’ He spoke to me in such a calm voice that it helped everyone relax. I remember just being in the moment. I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen. I was worried that I’d get seasick,” Philipson said.

The trip to Sweden, which was only three or four miles, took two hours instead of 30 minutes because the boat was constantly stopping to scan for danger.

“We arrived at Hven, which is a small island between Denmark and Sweden. There were women there that said, ‘Welcome to Sweden!’ and gave us chocolates. I hadn’t had chocolate in three years. That was the happiest moment of my life,” Philipson said with a tear in his eye.

The family lived and prospered in Sweden until the Jews were liberated in June of 1945. They returned to Denmark, free of German oppression.

“This boat means a lot,” Philipson said. “I’m deeply impressed that Houston, so far from Denmark, has taken this initiative. It’s tangible proof that people were not acting like heroes. They didn’t consider themselves heroes. They helped us because that’s just what you do,” he concluded, smiling.

To learn more about the Houston Holocaust Museum, visit HMH.org.