Monday, January 24, 2011

Four Pieces of Fort Worth

Last weekend we made our annual trip to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo: pics of Emma in her first pair of cowgirl boots will be posted on Facebook soon. In some ways, Fort Worth will always be home, so I want to use this post to give a few of the reasons I think the city is one of the state's most under-appreciated.

1) Ol' South Pancake House. It's not just the Dutch Babies. I love the place for managing to be both trashy and charming, eccentric and traditional. But we would be remiss not to talk about the Dutch Babies, which are miniature German pancakes swimming in lemon juice and butter and powdered sugar. You can eat three or four if you don't get sidetracked by the rest of the menu. But there's the problem: the rest of the menu is very tempting. For years I've watched waitresses (always waitresses--as far as I know, Ol' South has never had male servers) bring out waffles, french toast, and stacks of pancakes. But I'll never know how they taste--the stomach can only hold so much, and when I'm in Fort Worth, that space is reserved for Dutch Babies.

2) Cold Fort Worth Beer. Fort Worth is the home of Lone Star and Miller Lite. I only drink either when driven to financial desperation, but that happens a lot.

3) Dickies. When I moved to Fort Worth as a middle-schooler, I noticed right away that Dickies clothes (made on West Vickery Street) were everywhere: on every janitor and bus driver in town, on the budding gangsters that rode my school bus, on the country boys that came in from Mayfield and Weatherford for the Stock Show. I didn't get the appeal. I knew they were cheap, but cheap clothes aren't usually worn with the kind of pride that Fort Worthers afforded Dickies--a pride that, to me, seemed unwarranted. The shirts were stiff, and the pant legs had a peculiar stove-pipe shape.

Then, the summer before I went away to college, I worked in a factory just south of Burleson. Those days were spent entirely in Dickies workshirts and somehow, at some point, I came to like the unfussy Dickies aesthetic. Now I get excited at Wal-Marts with large Dickies selections, and one of my favorite sartorial items is a canvas Dickies belt I bought for something like $6.

4) The Cultural District. Philip Johnson's Amon Carter Museum, Tadao Ando's Modern, and my favorite, Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum. Not just good buildings--perfect buildings. Buildings that change the way you think about light and space, buildings that make you fall in love with architecture. And they're surrounded by perfect lawns, green space that stretches from the bricks of Camp Bowie Boulevard, over the Stock Show grounds, all the way south to the Botanical Gardens. When I was a teenager we lived just a few minutes away, off of Forest Park; growing up so close to these buildings, and the art inside them, and the lawns, restaurants, and coffee houses around them--all of that shaped my idea of what it means to live in a city. Frankly, it spoiled me: now I'm unsatisfied if a city doesn't offer intimacy and surprise, friendliness and beauty.

That's a start, anyway. Someday I'll have to write odes to more of Fort Worth's wonders, like Ranch Style Beans, Record Town, and Mrs. Baird's Cherry Pies.

1 comment:

  1. I love your descriptions... this really makes me miss home, and appreciate it in a new way. :)