Tag Archive: Valley View Mall

[Read part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven]

My immediate concern following the robbery was to get another guitar – the sooner, the better. Fortunately, my parents’ homeowners insurance covered the loss, but not did not pay enough to replace my Martin.

I flew back to Dallas. The next day I was in McCord Music in Valley View Mall. They had sound-proof rooms in the back. I picked out about six guitars. Four were within the range of the insurance check, and two were in the “if I like one of these, maybe I can talk Dad into it” category.

I was apprehensive because I wanted a guitar then, but I wanted to get the right guitar. I don’t remember what kind the other guitars were. I picked up the first two, played them a bit, and put them back. Then I picked up the handmade bicentennial edition Alvarez. I loved the color because it matched my red hair. It had a clear pick guard which I loved. Then I began to play it. It sounded so sweet and when I sang it complimented my voice. It still does – and it really sounds good now with John Pearse strings. The only other set of strings the Alvarez has had on was whatever was on it when I bought it.

Obviously, I’ve never regretted my decision – or losing my Martin really.  I have three Alvarez guitars now. They’re all three great sounding guitars, although I still call that first Alvarez the “good” guitar. It’s the one I’ve got in the picture above. As you can hear when you listen to River That Flows that is out now from Southern Plains Revisited and other songs to come from that album, the Alvarez became an integral part of the Southern Plains sound.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.(





[Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5] Stay with me and all will be revealed – you probably figured that out by now.  As I said in one of the earlier posts, this is where we would always park and enter the mall. The building on the left was a later addition and was a JC Penney store. On the other side of the Penney’s was where they built the original movie theater.

I don’t remember going to the movies there a lot. I had other things to do. Then there were girls. But I do remember going to midnight movies there. Midnight movies were new and a very big deal. You could go to parties, or places where you could drink beer, burn vegetation or practice better living through chemistry. Then go and see a show. Perfect. All these years later, the only time you hear of a midnight movie, it’s the five millionth showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A few of us would put on suits and go downtown to Gatsby’s Bicycle Bar in the Hilton. Once there, we would walk in like it had been a tough day at the office. We would order Tequila Sunrises and talk bullshit as usual. I’m glad I don’t remember a lot of what I said in those times. We would go on the same day of the week each time, because the bartender knew us and wouldn’t ask for I.D.s

When our house burned down (see part 4) with a car in the garage, my parents traded the Mustang I was driving that night in on two cars. The car that I drove, except when mom needed it and I couldn’t run her errand, was a ’69 – I’m pretty sure – Thunderbird. To my surprise and enjoyment, it had eight freaking speakers. Quadraphonic was still a concept in the research and developmental stage, if at all. And the back doors opened the opposite way of the front doors. I felt like a chauffeur.

We would take the Thunderbird down to Gatsby’s. On one particular occasion, we stayed longer than we should have, and drank more than we should have. I don’t remember how we left downtown. I assume the tollway (which was a quarter) to Lovers or Northwest Highway and then to Inwood. I was driving pretty well. I had the least to drink. It was either between Hillcrest and Preston or Preston and Royal when one of those unforgettable events happened.

Brian was in the back seat and said he felt sick. I asked him if he could hold it. He answered in the negative. Before I could say anything else, he opened the door to lean out and throw up. The door opening the opposite way almost jerked his arm off and threw him out of the car. But he held on shakily.

I turned right onto the next street. I was trying to get past that particular neighborhood. There were no sides to the two lane road, just front yards. Front yards that led up a lush lawn to very expensive houses, several of which had very bright security lights.

I pulled over and told him to hurry the hell up. Fortunately, it did not take long, but I kept the window down all the way to Brian’s house anyway. I very carefully made a u-turn without leaving tracks on manicured lawns. Then it was my turn to hurry the hell up and get out of there. I was praying no one had seen us and called the cops.

After making a series of unnecessary detours that my paranoia thought were entirely necessary, I dropped my passengers off at their homes, which were, mercifully, on the same block. I was home ten minutes later. I walked into our apartment down the street from Valley View Mall. Of course, people were still up. I did my best to act sober as I worked my way toward my room. I fell asleep glad that no one had called the cops and Brian hadn’t thrown up in the car.

Peace be with you.

Sanger-Harris Mural

[Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4] The picture is of the mural on the south side of Sanger Harris. There was also one on the west side of the store, but a little different. When the artist – I forget who it was – painted these murals, it was a big freaking deal.  The media came out and took pictures, filmed interviews, and the like.  And not just Dallas media.

And it was interesting. On several occasions I knew of – or was with – people who spent a considerable amount of time staring at the mural transfixed. No doubt it was due to consumption of one substance or another. Although the mural was, indeed, fascinating, they would have been just as transfixed in a donut shop watching the holes go through the donuts – if you catch my drift.

Speaking of substances, transfixation, and the mall, there would be, maybe once or twice a year, a carnival in the parking lot of the mall. I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to find time – and remember – to go take pictures of the carnival they have had there. The carnival there recently was a full scale traveling carnival. Nice, well-kept  rides, fun house, food, the works. Despite what the pictures show, there were people there. Just not where I was taking pictures.

Which is a contrast to the fly by night outfits that used to come through back in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Some of them had, maybe, five to eight rides. None of them were big rides. They might have a little trailer where they served popcorn and drinks. The man in charge was usually fat, big, and smoked cigars. It was like there was a corrupt carnival managers union.

I had friends that worked at the carnivals – usually only once. I was not fond of working around moving metal parts that squeaked and sounded like they could fall apart at a moments notice with tremendous speed. The manager would promise to pay them like $10 an hour -quite a bit back then. He would pay them on Tuesday, the second day, for the first day if not both days. Then he said he would pay them again on Friday.

When Friday came he would say that he had already been to the bank -he paid in cash. He said he would pay them on Sunday with a bonus if they would go ahead and work Saturday. You see it coming, don’t you? My friends would show up on Sunday morning and there would be nothing but a bunch of trash in the parking lot blowing in the breeze.

Sometimes things change for the better. I was tempted to visit the carnival, but I was short on time. That, and I don’t do rides – except maybe, the Log Ride and the Runaway Mine Train at Six Flags. However, standing there watching the carnival, for a while I was back there as a teenager. Sauntering through rides and bright lights, watching the girls that were wandering through. Having nothing else to do or any better place to go. Maybe Papa’s Pizza on Northwest Highway for a pitcher of beer.

Then I sighed, got back in the car, and drove back home to one of the girls I watched back then. I guess change is relative, huh?

Peace be with you.




[Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4] As I mentioned in an earlier post, McCord Music was upstairs on the right side of the wing toward Sanger Harris. When our house burned down – see part 4 – I bugged the crap out of my parents to replace at least one of the two guitars that had burned in my room. For some reason, they were a little more concerned about the blackened house on Courtshire Dr. with no roof.

I finally convinced them that my way of dealing with the situation was with a guitar and writing songs. I can be stubborn. So I went to McCord at the mall and bought another Yamaha to replace the one that had burned.

By the end of the school year, we were back in the house. During the summer, I started working at the car wash at Forest Ln. and the Tollway. In front of the Pizza Inn by the Safeway. Then the Pizza Inn became Kel’s Kitchen. It now sits empty. The Safeway is now an Antique Mall. Or was last time I bothered to check.

I was still working there went I started at Richland College before transferring to NTSU, now UNT. When I had some money saved up, I talked my dad into co-signing a loan for a Martin guitar. Thanks in large part to the staff at McCord Music.

A year and a half later, I took a break from school and moved to Nashville with Joel Nichols. One day while we were working at Deli Junction (our day job), Joel got a phone call. One of our roommates called to tell him that our apartment had been broken into and his guitar was stolen. It turned out that it was my guitar that had been stolen, along with anything that you could play music on or with. When Joel looked into his room off of the kitchen, his guitar was still there. We figured it was a friend of his that didn’t want to take his guitar.

Fortunately, my parent’s home insurance policy would cover the guitar and tape recorder. I took the bus back to Dallas. Unfortunately, the insurance wouldn’t pay out enough to replace the Martin. So I took what they gave us and went to McCord Music of course. I sat in one of the listening rooms, surrounded by guitars. Most of them were in the price range. A couple of them were a little more. I’ve always thought positively.

I came to an Alvarez. I played a couple of songs and then called the salesmen back. I told him I’d found my guitar and he could put the rest up. The sound actually fit my voice. It had a clear pick guard and the wood matched my hair. I had my guitar.

That’s my history with McCord Music in Valley View Mall. Although I was in there at least a hundred times over the years. That Alvarez guitar sounds better today than it ever has. You can hear it at my show on Sunday.

Peace be with you.

Sears Store at VV

Sears Store at VV

[Read part one, part two, part three]  The Friday before the first Monday of senior year, I came back from an evening at Up Your Alley – still close to the coldest beer I’ve ever had – to find that our house was burning down.  The fireman saved a lot of our possessions. But with the fire starting in the garage and attic, it burned straight through my room next to the attic. What I was wearing was pretty much all I had left. By Monday, we were living in an apartment on Noel road near the mall. Our apartment was in the far back upstairs so we could see Alpha from the walkway.

We bought furniture for the apartment at Sears. Over the years, if it had to do with tools, yard equipment, or appliances, and furniture on occasion, we got them at Sears. When I stopped showing up at home to live “for just a little while” for the final, last time, I bought things at other places. But when Cyndy and I and the boys moved into this house eight years ago, we got appliances at Sears. Even after shopping around.

Ten years or so after we bought the furniture at Sears for the apartment, I worked at Sears as a “facilities engineer” in the morning before the sears-automotivestore opened. Besides being a cleanup person – there wasn’t a carpet I didn’t clean on the second floor facing the mall – I had two other part-time jobs. One I don’t really remember. The other was writing a music/entertainment column for the North Richland Hills News, which is long gone now.

Fast forward to last year when our youngest son, J.D., got a job at Sears while he was home from school for Christmas. We hadn’t been to the mall Sears for some time. Buying stuff while J.D. was working there brought back a lot of old memories. Which is a good thing considering its future.

Peace be with you.

regular-parking-place[Read part one and part two] The summer Valley View mall opened, a lot of teenagers – myself included – spent way too much time there. Conveniently, there were balconies a couple steps down from the second floor walkway spaced around the center of the mall with the food court. They had benches to sit on and rest from shopping or just watch the people on the first floor – who would occasionally look up to see if anyone was watching.

A group of girls would huddle on one side of a balcony pretending to completely ignore the group of guys on the other end. The guys were busy “ignoring” the girls. Both groups watched the people on the first floor. Then they would watch the good looking members of the opposite sex. When the person being watched looked up, the trick was to not get caught looking.

That exciting activity would last quite some time. Then both groups would wander away ignoring each other. They would proceed to the food court and start the game all over with different people. Except with food and drinks.

The picture above shows the parking lot at the entrance where my friends and I always parked. The building on the left, I believe, was a   regular-entrancePenney’s store. It was not there when the mall opened. It was added later when the original theater was built. To the right is a closer picture of the entrance. The first store inside on the right was Sound Warehouse. Upstairs to the right down by Sanger-Harris was McCord Music Company. In the food court, one of the eateries was Famous Ramos Hot Dogs. All three would be the sites of interesting stories of me and the mall.

Feel free to leave comments as to memories you have of Valley View mall – both on the blog and on Facebook.

Peace be with you.



target-on-montfort-3Now that I’m past the pesky winter cold that thousands of us had to varying degrees over the past few weeks, I can continue the Valley View mall saga – read part one here. First of all, thanks to Andy Merritt for calling my attention to the Shell station that was on the corner next to the McDonalds that I didn’t mention in part one.

It occurred to me when I was thinking about the Target being there before VV mall that it was arguably one of the first super Targets. From inside Target, you could walk through a small cafeteria area to the grocery store on the other end of the building. At one time – or another – Target owned the grocery store. At other times, it had different owners.

When it stopped being a grocery store, it was the original site of the Chuck E. Cheese that is now down the block – connected by concrete to the ill-fated VV mall. It was a few other things over the years, but they escape me. I’ve slept since then. But it was an experience in that grocery store that led to my song Supermarket Wreck of ’75. Which I still end a lot of my shows with.

But back to the issue at hand, it could very well have been one of the first super Targets by design. An experiment, as it were. If you were around then, you remember there was always a sense of change when you went into the store. People greeted you cheerfully and there always seemed to be something new or different. But at the time that sense of change was felt a lot.

The irony of this post just occurred to me. I’m writing about the Target being one of the only businesses there before the mall was built. And it will be there after the mall is gone.

Peace be with you.


mcdonalds-on-montfortA friend from high school, Claudia Noble-Stooksberry, posted in a W.T. White Facebook group. With the Valley View Mall shortly becoming a memory itself, she asked for memories of the mall. It was finished in 1973, before our senior year. As you look at the picture of the McDonalds, ponder this: McDonalds and the Target to the right behind it were the only businesses there. Most of the buildings you see in the picture were not there. The McDonalds was half the size it is now. Across the street from both was a lot of dirt that led to a dirt cliff. On the hill, at the top of the cliff, was Sears. When they put Christmas lights up, you could see them for miles around.

I had jobs since I was six, selling things door to door, delivering newspapers, and so on. But my first “real” job, was at that McDonalds. I had target-on-montfortlong hair then, much like I do now, but it was a little more red then. I had to wear a wig at work. It was the closest I could come to red – cheaply – but it looked on the purple side to me.

One evening some cute girls were sitting on the patio. It no longer has a patio. I felt subconscious in the wig and I knew it made me look a little strange. But with long hair, I was used to people thinking I was strange. Now I just accept the fact that I am, after all, a little strange.

But I was about to punch out at the end of my shift (by punch out, I mean actually putting the card into the top of a clock and having it print the time on the card) and I thought I would impress the girls. I would walk out on the patio, take off the wig with flair, and let my hair roll back out onto my shoulders. And, hopefully, they would think that was cool. I shoved the door onto the patio to draw their attention. I reached up, jerked off the wig – and sent my glasses flying across the patio. A cool moment spoiled.

There would be more cool moments – some spoiled, some not – in the mall when it was built. But first, way back then, the Target was the first “Super Target”?…..

Peace be with you.


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