It’s one way to enjoy your neighborhood and maybe work up a little sweat. But do you need a little motivation to go for a walk? This Typewriter Rodeo poem says you can’t do it wrong.
Some blocks are trick-or-treat duds — no porch lights on, no one ready with the Halloween candy, no one home? Other blocks, are like the one that inspired this Typewriter Rodeo poem. (And maybe, there’s even the full-sized candy bar house!)
Allegations of abuse at a migrant detention center for unaccompanied minors in San Antonio. What’s known and what’s not. Other stories we’re tracking, a booster shot for efforts to get more Texans vaccinated against COVID-19 by putting the clinic on wheels. We’ll hear the how and why. Plus a bill to bring broadband to rural Texas, as well as urban areas that can’t get connected. What the proposal does and doesn’t do, when it comes to an increasingly critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle. And how waste is suddenly affecting a way of life in south Texas. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:
By W. F. Strong
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of neighborhood cultures in Texas: high security and low security.
My wife is high security and I’m low security, by tradition. She was raised in Mexico, in a compound surrounded by the classic 12 foot walls with shards of glass embedded on top. I was raised in rural Texas, in a house, with an acre of yard and no walls or fences. We locked our doors at night, if we remembered.
These childhood influences carry over. My wife loves these new, inexpensive security cameras. She has six that cover the outer perimeter and four pointing inward. I told her it feels strange having four cameras watching me in the house. She said, with a smile, “Four that you know of.” She says, “It’s not about watching you or the kids; it’s about knowing where everybody is. It’s a mama thing.”
This is an interesting contrast to my life as a boy in small town Texas. There, nobody I knew locked their doors, except maybe at night. My mom’s idea of locking up for the night was to latch the screen door. You know, put the metal hook through the eyelet. She liked leaving the heavy inner door open so the night breeze could flow through the house. “Air vitamins,” she called it.
Everybody in my neighborhood would lock all their doors when they went on vacation. Yet we all knew that the key to the front door was under the doormat. And any number of neighbors would use that key to put the gathered newspapers or mail into their foyer so passing strangers wouldn’t know they weren’t home. One neighbor down the block, Mr. Jones, kept his key near the back door, third pot to the right, pushed into the dirt. You’d have to dig a bit to find it. Some around there thought that was excessive, said, “Mr. Jones was a bit paranoid.”
People also kept their car keys conveniently stored above the driver’s visor or in the unused ash tray or glove compartment. I remember a farmer, who lived nearby, calling me once and asking if I’d go over to house and drive his 3500 GMC out to the farm for him. He needed some tools that were in it. I asked if the keys were in the truck and he said, “Of course. Right there above the visor. Where else would they be? That’s how come I never lose ‘em.”
That was true. People never much lost their keys then. They were always where they ought to be, under the mat, above the visor. I can remember my mom saying, “One of you boys didn’t put the key back under the mat. Find it and put it back.” It did seem odd to go to the trouble to have a lock on a door and leave the key in such an accessible place. Might as well tape it on the door.
After all these years, I’ve drifted into a more high-security life, myself. Everything is locked and double-locked. Even if I go outside during the day for more than five minutes, I’ll find my wife has locked me out and I’ll have to knock to get back in. Wouldn’t be surprised if she soon asks for the password-of-the-day for re-entry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has limited travel for many. Some have found more time spent at home has encouraged them to look closer at their surroundings. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
There’s unrest. There’s fear. There’s frustration. And there’s still a lot of “normal” life that just isn’t happening right now. But what we can do is go outside, maybe take a walk, and share a friendly gesture. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.
In October, KUT embarked on a project to tell the story of a neighborhood in transition: the area around 12th and Chicon streets in East Austin. Decades ago, it was a center of black life in the city, but over the past few years, the forces of gentrification have taken hold. We opened a bureau there to maintain a presence in the neighborhood and allow residents to see KUT reporters on a daily basis and help us determine the stories that needed to be told.
As the Austin Independent School District deals with declining enrollment and decisions about facilities and campuses, many wonder if students across the district are getting the same quality of education. AISD school board member Ted Gordon, who represents District 1 in East and Northeast Austin, joined KUT’s Jennifer Stayton to discuss achievement gaps and possible solutions in the district.
Dr. Eric Tang is an associate professor at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at UT-Austin. After analyzing that data a few years back, Tang wanted to look more closely at why African-Americans were leaving Austin – specifically, East Austin. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton spoke to Tang about this new research for our On My Block series.
On the East Side, development and rising property costs continue to force the African-American community out. With such rapid migration, how have the neighborhood’s history and culture and the city’s African-American population been preserved? LaToya Devezin, the community archivist at the Austin History Center, spoke to KUT’s Jennifer Stayton about the work of local archivists to preserve the community’s history.
East 11th seems to be the picture of urban renewal in Austin. Since the city launched its revitalization effort in 1999, the street has made significant progress toward becoming a visitor destination. Residential, retail and office development is booming. Just a few blocks away on East 12th, things are a lot quieter.
Neighborhoods in East Austin are not immune to the difficult deliberations over housing density, affordability, and when a “tear-down” truly needs to be labeled historic. City council and the Historic Landmark Commission are challenged with weighing the rights of a homeowner and the desire to preserve Austin’s history.
Ebony Acres, a historically black neighborhood in East Austin, is at the crossroads of preservation and development. With some homes slated for demolition, some neighbors are trying to slow the tides of change.
Judy Mitchell grew up in the neighborhood and raised her children there, but she’s sad that many longtime residents are being offered money to leave their homes and then can’t afford to stay in the neighborhood. Mitchell owns the Ideal Soul Mart at the corner of Angelina Street and Rosewood Avenue.
On one East Austin corner, Bobby Mitchell operates Ideal Soul Mart, Ideal Beauty Salon, and Swamp Daddy’s Cajun food truck. Inches away, Charles Carver operates a law office from an Airstream in the parking lot. The convergence of these varied services is emblematic of the new businesses moving into the neighborhood.