61 Years Ago Today-The Lake Air Mall!

61 YEARS AGO TODAY…

The Grand Opening of Lake Air Mall!

In 1959, it was announced that a shopping mall would be built on Bosque Boulevard. The Lake Air Mall was developed by Arthur Temple, Charles Sligh, and George Nokes. Goldstein-Migel, was the first store to open in the new mall on Monday, October 31, 1960. The Grand Opening of the Lake Air Mall was Thursday, March 16, 1961. The Lake Air Mall was an innovative and amazing place, and will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who knew it. It closed in January, 2002.

These postcards are from our collection.

STORES OF LAKE AIR MALL

According to the 1961 Waco City Directory, all spaces except for Goldstein Migel were vacant. This reflects January-February, 1961. By March 1961, much of the spaces at the mall were filled.

The First Phase of the Opening of The Lake Air Mall was the opening of Goldstein-Migel’s on October 31, 1960.

The Grand Opening of the Second Phase was March 16, 1961. The stores that were on the mall by then were:

5201 Pioneer Savings Association

5201 Lake Air Mall

-232 Lake Air Barber Shop

-234 Sherwin-Williams Paint Co.

-236 Bettis Art Center

-237 Holt’s Sporting Goods

-240 Walgreen’s Grill & Restaurant

-241 Walgreen’s Drug Store

-247 Butler’s Shoe Store

-249 Cardinal Co. Apartment Managers

Lake Air Inc.

Lake Air Development Co.

Lake Air Merchants Assn.

George Nokes, Lawyer

Town Hall Meeting Place

Waco Property

-250 Texas State Optical

-251 Lewis Shoe Store

-252 South’s Gift Shop

-253 TG&Y Variety Store

-254 Book Nook

-258 Morris Jewelers

-259 National Shirt Shops

-261 Grayson’s RTW Women’s Clothes

-264 Andes Candies

-275 Goldstein-Migel

By the end of 1961, The Third Phase had occurred, and included the addition of Safeway, Montgomery Ward, Piccadilly Cafeteria, Casual Corner, and Bauer McCann.

By the time the 1963 Waco City Directory was published, Lake Air Records, Farmers Insurance Group, Junior House Children’s Clothes, and Singer Sewing Machine Co. had been added. At some point, the office area of the Lake Air Mall was added, but we are not sure of when that happened.

The layout of the stores in the 1963 Waco City Directory is:

5201 Pioneer Savings Association

5201 Lake Air Mall

-211 Safeway Store No. 259

-215 Montgomery Ward

-230 Lake Air Records

-231 Piccadilly Cafeteria

-232 Lake Air Barber Shop

-234 Sherwin-Williams Paint Co.

-236 Bettis Art Center

-237 Holt’s Sporting Goods

-238 Farmers Insurance Group

-240 Walgreen’s Grill & Restaurant

-241 Walgreen’s Drug Store

-247 Butler’s Shoe Store

-249 Cardinal Co. Apartment Managers

Lake Air Inc.

Lake Air Development Co.

Lake Air Merchants Assn.

George Nokes, Lawyer

Town Hall Meeting Place

Waco Property

-249A WACO Radio Station

-250 Texas State Optical

-251 Lewis Shoe Store

-252 South’s Gift Shop

-253 TG&Y Variety Store

-254 Book Nook

-258 Morris Jewelers

-259 National Shirt Shops

-260 Junior House Children’s Clothes

-261 Grayson’s RTW Women’s Clothes

-263 Singer Sewing Machine Co.

-264 Andes Candies

-267 Casual Corner

-271 Bauer McCann Co.

-275 Goldstein-Migel

2021 George Randall Scott

Two Aerial Views of WACO

Waco, Texas
Two Aerial Views of Downtown

These two postcard photos of aerial views of Downtown Waco were taken by Chuck Hatler. Notice that the S. 100 block and N. 100 block between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Streets are bare except for City Hall. The buildings from the square have been removed. I’m not sure of the year, but Urban Renewal removed the buildings in the Square in 1970-71, and the Hilton was built in 1981.

The postcard backs both say:

“Waco was established by the Huaco Indians in 1844 and grew as a frontier and plantation trading center. During the post-Civil War cattle drives, Waco‘s location on one of the Chisholm Trails, along with the establishment of three railroads, developed its position as a distribution center for Central Texas. Waco’s strategic location has made the area a center for distribution, trade, banking, and general commerce. Photo by Chuck Hatler.”

These two postcards are from our personal collection.

We Remember…

W E R E M E M B E R . . .

Pearl Harbor was attacked 80 years ago today. Wacoan Doris Miller, serving aboard the USS West Virginia, risked his life to defend his ship and help his shipmates. Through his selfless and sacrificial actions, he became a WWII hero, and we are grateful for his service. We celebrate this great Wacoan on this date which still lives “in infamy.”

For more information:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Miller

Photo from The Texas Collection, Baylor University,

It Was Just a Little Tree

IT WAS JUST A LITTLE TREE
by Virginia Plunkett

Once upon a Christmas, there was a little tree nestled in among the taller ones on the Christmas Tree lot. Shirley and Bob Brothers, with their young sons, Bob, Jim, and Bill, browsed through the lot hoping to find the perfect tree.

Up and down the Christmas Tree lanes they walked and then the boys saw the little tree. They all fell in love with it.

They learned that the tree was a cedar of the deodar family, or devadaru, which means “divine tree”, closely akin to the cedars of Lebanon.

They took the little tree home. And, trimmed with tiny lights, ornaments, and tinsel, it sat on a living room table and seemed to glow with pride all through the holidays. Hoping the little tree might possibly take root and live…a very doubtful possibility…they planted it in the front yard on New Year’s Day.

In 1965, Bob and Shirley sold the property at 4400 Live Oak to John and Vivian Walker, and for twenty years the tree stood majestically in their front yard. The once tiny little Christmas tree, planted on a New Year’s Day in 1961, had grown up with the neighborhood children.

Now it so happened that the little tree had another mission to fulfill…the Greater Waco Beautification Association was searching for “the perfect tree” to be the city Christmas tree. Headed by the GWBA president, Jackie Wooldridge, the committee drove all over town looking…and then they saw it! It was “the perfect tree” and they fell in love with it just like the three little boys did that Christmas in 1961.

John and Vivian Walker, the gracious couple they are, told the committee that of course they could have the tree. “But,” John said, ”You will cover up the hole won’t you?”

On a December evening at Indian Spring Park, the once tiny little tree stood 40 feet tall. It had a bright star on the tip top and, trimmed with thousands of colored and red bows, the tree again glowed with pride because now it was the City Christmas Tree!

The scene that December evening brought back a nostalgic interlude for one of the neighborhood children…Christi Ratliff Breeding . “I played under that tree when I was a little girl,” Christi said. “Bob and Shirley Brothers’ yard was our gathering place, and Bob, Bill and Jim had the best baseball equipment.”

Christi said she played outfielder and, “I was a good hitter, too.” Trying to remember the names of the neighborhood friends, Christi remembered Gail St. John, Carolyn, Mike and Dale Carlisle, Klaus and Martin Krohn, Rick, Randy, David and Cathy Hensley, Bill Casey, Jim and Bob Stewart, Rhett Taylor, Mark, Linda, and Allen Storey, Sue Ingram, and Randy Fondren.

The Christmas 1984 tree-lighting ceremony was the usual happy occasion, yet for many it was not without sadness…the tree had been slowly dying from blight. After the holiday season, the red bows and colored lights were removed, and the tree that had reached out its leafy arms with the love and spirit of Christmas, was cut down.

There’ve been other beautiful Christmas Trees and there’ll always be beautiful Christmas Trees at Indian Springs Park, but there’ll never be another just like the City’s first Christmas Tree.

And so, with love from three little boys, the neighborhood children on Live Oak Street, and all of us-Thanks for the memories, little tree!

From the book “Around Again” by Virginia Plunkett.

(This is the type of tree mentioned here, but this is not that tree. Image from Google Images. )

Fourth and Mary

FOURTH AND MARY 1915/2020
Looking north up Fourth Street

The photographer is in the intersection of South Fourth and Mary. Union Depot is on the right, and the old Post Office is just beyond it, on the corner of Fourth and Franklin. The Metropole Hotel is across Franklin. The building on the left was and is the Behrens Drug Building. The Natatorium Hotel would be just to the right of the photographer in 1915, across Mary from Union Depot.

This postcard was postmarked September 20, 1915. It is addressed to Mr. Louis Divina, c/o J. T. Karth, Bruno, Nebraska. Can you translate the message?

Postcard from our personal collection.
Present-day photo from Google Earth.

The ALICO Building

THE ALICO BUILDING

Photo by John R. Gorham

From the reverse side of postcard:
“Built in 1911, it is 22 stories tall and when built it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. During a devastating tornado in 1952* which virtually destroyed downtown Waco, the Alico Building withstood and sustained no damage.”

*The postcard incorrectly states that the Waco tornado was 1952. It was May 11, 1953.

This postcard is from our personal collection.

Photo by John R. Gorham.

The Flooding Brazos River

Flooding of the Brazos affected East Waco much more than downtown Waco. 1913. The Suspension Bridge (1870), and the recently completed Interurban Bridge (1913).

Photo by Fred Gildersleeve. From the Gildersleeve-Conger Collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

From the book “A Pictorial History of Waco” (1964) By Roger Conger.