Downtown Ft Worth…a few years ago

I would catch the bus to downtown on E Lancaster or at my friend’s Grandmother’s home on Meadowbrook Dr. and head to a full day of downtown Ft Worth fun. Usually go play basketball, swim and Judo classes at the YMCA then off to the joke shop, Monnings, Striplings and later in the 60’s grab one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten at Famous Hamburgers (Click the link to see a pic). If I remember correctly no place to go inside, just order at the window and enjoy. Started going to downtown as the Leonards subway was beginning to be built. Since I or a friend rode to downtown on the bus we really didn’t need to ride the subway when it was completed in 1963 to get anywhere, we just did it because that was what you did! I remember the doughnuts at Leonard Brothers. Wow those were good and we loved to watch the doughnut making machine they had. Krispy Kreme’s are good but had nothing on these. At Christmas the “Toyland” located in the basement of Leonard’s was like really cool and can’t remember what it was called except Santa’s express or Santa’s monorail? Leonards was the original Wallmart, Hypermart and any other large “we’ve got it all” store only 100 times better!

Then after half a day of all the above we would head to either the Palace, Hollywood or Worth theaters for a movie, of course depending on what was showing! Got to see John Wayne at the premier of the War Wagon, 1967 at the Worth Theater…now that’s what I call very cool. The Worth theater had all these hidden hallways going through the complex and when they would find us running through them one of the ushers, usually someone who looked like some dude from the TV series Route 66 would make us go back to our seats. You know the look, hair slicked back with a duck tail and enough grease in their hair to change oil in a car!

We noticed that Leonard’s dept. store did not have separate “white” and “colored” signs on all rest rooms and drinking fountains as Monnings, Striplings and several other stores did. Turns out some years later I discovered that Leonards was the first downtown retailer to desegregate. In the early 1960s, before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the store’s maintenance crew removed the designations previously mentioned! My friend Dennis and I still talk about how amazing we thought it was that stores had those signs. We called the folks that put those up and the mindset that inspired them complete idiots then…still do now!

Closer to my home in the old Meadowbrook area who remembers the Gateway TheaterMerry Christmas