INDULGE YOURSELF THIS SUMMER.
DON’T withdraw into your air-conditioned cocoon to dream of cool weather, football, and the kids back in school. You did that last summer, and where did it get you?
Find something to do that will change your life; learn to do whatever it is you’ve always wanted to do; explore an out-of-the-way corner of the state or a part of your own city you never even knew was there; learn a sport; master a craft; set your sights on something you’d ordinarily do for entertainment in the winter.
If you think there’s nothing you can do in a Texas summer that will change your life except perhaps to have a fatal sunstroke—well, just read on.
Tunnels and Towers
Sound the depths, scale the heights of downtown Houston. The city has two major tunnel systems in the downtown area, and several shorter ones. You can travel underground from City Hall to the Alley Theater, or from the Gulf Building through the “financial district” ending up at the Hyatt Regency Garage. Then, if you like, you can walk through the red-carpeted, tube-like hallway that links the garage to the hotel. The architecture in this towering hotel is, in a word, remarkable; and if nothing else, the Hyatt-Regency is very Houston. You can take the “Spindletop Express” elevators up to the restaurant for a drink or a meal, although this revolving bar is far more commendable for its panoramic view of Houston than for its food.
Speaking of views, one of our favorite old Houston buildings is the Gulf Building, a fine old structure straight out of the 1920’s: for a good eye-to-eye look at it, go to the 18th floor of the Rice Hotel and turn east.
As far as Texas rivers go, the canoeing waters closest to Houston seem to lie in a ten mile stretch of the Trinity River from Lake Livingston to Highway 59. According to the publication Texas Rivers and Rapids: Canoeing Guide to the Rivers of Texas, this section of the river is relatively calm, deep and easy to negotiate by even a novice canoeist. Put-in point is at the concrete launching ramp opposite the Dam Site Marina below the dam at Lake Livingston; take-out point is on the right bank almost directly below the Highway 59 bridge. The Brazos River is also a popu1ar canoeing site for Houstonians, with several put-in points reasonably close by. Your best bet for canoeing information is the Texas Rivers and Rapids publication. You can get it for $3 by writing P.0. Box 673, Humble, Texas 77338.
It’s Got to Be Beaches ‘Cause There Aren’t Any Mountains
If you’re reluctant to drive down to Galveston or Freeport on a weekend because of overcrowded beaches, you might be interested in what our beach expert has to suggest. This gentleman, who has spent a good deal of time exploring beaches up and down the Gulf Coast, says that Bolivar, the peninsula east of Galveston, is an interesting place a lot of beach-goers just pass by. For one thing, you have to take a ferry to get there. (The ferry dock is on Far-East Seawall Blvd.) Bolivar has a pleasant beach and various historical oddities as well.
As far as the best beaches along the entire coast go, our beach nut recommends Mustang Island and the beach just across the border at Brownsville, about six miles east of Matamoros. Of the latter he says rapturously, “It’s like being in another world.”
Don’t Knock It If You Haven’t Tried It
Yoga. Though less faddish these days than a few years ago, Hatha Yoga (the “physical” Yoga) is a worthwhile endeavor for those interested in bodily control, particularly as an aid to mental clarity. While there are countless books on Hatha Yoga, it is probably better to study with an expert Yogi or Yogini, if you are seriously interested in this ancient discipline: Yoga is subtle, powerful and really rather difficult to practice except through example. Some of the more popular places to study Yoga include the YMCA and YWCA (check your phone book for the one nearest you), the Jewish Community Center (5601 Braeswood Blvd), Neiman-Marcus in the Galleria and the School of Yoga (517 Lovett Blvd).
Browsing for Books
Houston is not noted for its bookstores: if you are looking for a book even mildly esoteric, chances are you’ll have to order it. For casual browsing, however, you might find interesting if eclectic summer reading at the Libran Bookstore, 3700 Yoakum, or the South Main Bookstore, 6624 S. Main. The Libran has an extensive psychology section, plus a large but spotty selection of fiction titles. The Libran is perhaps the only bookstore in town with the complete, paperbound collection of an old series of fairy tale books, each of which are designated by a different color, like the Red Fairy Tale Book, the Violet Fairy Tale Book and so on.
The St. Thomas University summer session opens June 4, with registration through June 1. Tuition per semester hour is $35, with an additional $10 facilities use fee where necessary. The summer courses offered include the usual range, with an emphasis on the humanities and the arts. One popular course is Harris County Commissioner Tom Bass’s political science course.
For more information, contact the Registrar’s office, 3812 Montrose, 522-7911.
God Is Alive and Well and Living at the Astrodome
If you’ve nothing better to do July 4, you can always praise the Lord. At the Astrodome, yet. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society convention will bring close to 100,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses from all over the world into our fair city, for a four day conference, July 4-8. There will be Bible discourses, Bible dramas, lots of sound and fury, and it’s all open to the public. Perhaps the glorious Astrodome scoreboard will light up with illustrations from The Watchtower. (And don’t forget that the Astrodome is packed with righteous air conditioning, and it probably will be hot as That Other Place outside.) If you miss this one, you can always catch the All-Lutheran Youth Conference August 4- 7, also at the Astrodome.
Barefoot in the Park
A sure bet on any simmering summer afternoon is a visit to Hermann Park. Ride the train, quack back at the ducks, amble over to the Zoo and be nice to the polar bear. Or plop your bod down atop the hill at Miller Theater and, especially if it’s a Sunday, take in the scene: longhaired frisbee whizzes teaching those plastic saucers to dos-a-dos; pink-robed and pig-tailed Hare Krishnas chanting and giving away funny cookies; skinny papas and fat mamas trailing uncountable bambinos, fox terriers and tuna fish sandwiches. Plus there’s free entertainment on the open air stage.
The Buffalo Field Archery Club maintains, with the help of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, one practice range of ten targets, another range of 28 field targets (10 to 80 yard shots) and a bow hunting range—thirty acres in all. The field targets are carefully plotted along a trail through the woods to assure you will not be impaled from the rear by a would-be William Tell.
Applications to the Buffalo Field Archery Club are available in a wooden box at the fieldhouse. (You don’t, however, have to belong to use the ranges.) For information, call the secretary of the club at 723-9836. Tournaments are held on the second and fourth Sundays at 2 p.m. Memorial Park, Loop 610 and Woodway.
Hiking in Houston is not limited to going from Montgomery Ward to Foley’s in Sharpstown Center or from your car in W3 to your seat in the east side of the Astrodome.
The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens encompass 260 acres in Memorial Park and have a network of trails for hikers and browsers. A free map is available at the Arboretum office. It shows both the two-mile outer loop trail and the shorter trails through the sanctuary. No picknicking or bicycling is allowed and you’ll feel that you are in the piney woods rather than within a few miles of downtown Houston. Native trees are identified for you. Seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If walking one hundred miles, or parts thereof, races your motor, you’ll find that the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has provided a magnificent, almost primeval trail that stretches from the western tip of the Sam Houston Forest near Richards, Texas, northeast towards Huntsville and then southeast towards Cleveland, Texas.
In the bedroom burg of Castle Hills, Slim Lambert’s gambling casino is still in operation for those who feel like indulging in some extra-legal gambling. Since the casino was raided by the DPS a few years ago, it’s restricted itself largely to card games on weekends, and Slim is careful about who he lets in.
More open gambling can be found at quarterhorse races such as the Dutchman Downs held June 2-3 at the Comal County Fair Grounds or the dog races held frequently in Seguin.
Cockfights continue to attract the aficionados to Nixon, Texas. Local authorities seem to take no notice. To find the fights ask the nearest passerby in Nixon.
Take to the briny with skin diving lessons at Texas Divers Scuba School, 1943 N. New Braunfels. Cost of lessons is $45 plus $36 for renting the equipment for your first three dives.
20,000 Leagues Beneath the Dirt
Texas’ Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio is laced with caves, many of which are unexplored. The adventuresome type may contact a local spelunker’s club (check with the geology department of your favorite college). The more timid can take a conducted tour of the tamer, commercially operated holes.
A Votre Sante!
Become a classy wino by joining one of the rapidly growing wine-tasting clubs. The clubs usually meet once a month, sample about five different wines, compare notes, and sometimes take in a bit of cheese or a speaker on the art of crushing the grape. You can find out where one club, Les Amis du Vin, will be meeting next by contacting Mrs. Janet Alyn, 822-1618.
Texas Is a Summer Festival
For food, drink, games, dancing and general merriment swing through some of the festivals being held in South Texas during the summer. The Czech Fest will be held June 2-3 at the Comal County Fair Grounds in New Braunfels, and the Leather Tom-Tom Festival, in honor of Yoakum’s leather industry, will be pounding in that town June 1-2. The Uvalde Hunter and Jumper Show, with about 300 horses competing in several events, will be held June 29-30-July 1.
With a good bike and fair-to-middlin’ leg muscles you can take a leisurely tour of the Hill Country just outside San Antonio. For a trip that won’t be too tiring, but which will enable you to enjoy as much countryside as possible in a day, leave San Antonio on State 16 (Culebra Road), take a right on the Scenic Loop at Helotes, pedal to U.S. 87 and head back for the city. It’s a round trip of about 35 miles, and the countryside has quite a few ups (the downs are no problem); so if you’re not sure of your stamina, try some biking in the Northwest preserve or south of San Antonio.
Always wanted to see what those triple-Xer skin flicks were all about, but didn’t have the courage to walk into a theater and plop yourself down beside some guy with a twitching overcoat in his lap? There’s a solution—for a price. Mr. Joe Ricco, manager of Joy Adult, King Arts Adult, Capri Adult, and Fiesta Theaters, is willing to talk about renting one of his steamy theaters for you to view the latest toad movie by yourself or with family and friends. This private type of voyeurism will cost you about $1,000, however.
If you have any sort of urge to be creative, this might be the time to develop it at the Southwest Craft Center, 300 Augusta St. Practically every type of craft or art is taught at the picturesque school, including some things, such as Tarot card reading, that don’t exactly fit into the Da Vinci syndrome. Take your pick from jewelry making, photography, pottery, ceramic sculpture, kiln-building, furniture design and construction, weaving, painting, stained glass, guitar, experimental 3-D painting, creative stitchery and “development of the creative individual.”
I’m Dreaming of a Snow White Labor Day
Miss the icy winds of winter? The experience of snowflakes a-battering at your door? (Sometimes it’s possible to miss them even during the winter in San Antonio.) Well, you can have your private blizzard the year ’round for right at $48.25 per blizzard. It breaks down this way: 200 lbs. dry ice delivered from City Carbonic Co., 1122 E. Houston, (223-6313); three 20-inch fans, $5 each, and one 100-ft. extension cord ($4), all from the closest Abbey Rents; a couple of bushels of feathers, styrofoam chips, or shredded foam rubber (about $5), from any dime store, and one laborer at $4.25 an hour (scale wages) from Laborers International Union of North America Local 93, 1306 W. Martin (227-5742). Stack the dry ice in front of your door, place the fans behind the ice, have the laborer toss the “snow” in front of the fans, and you have instant winter.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
Have a visit from Santa Claus. The Shoestring Players of St. Mary’s University will furnish one of their actors to impersonate St. Nick at the rate of $5 a day plus costume and travel expenses. Tree and presents up to you. Call 433-2311, ext. 240.
Amateur theaters are largely closed during the summer, which is also when some persons have more time to indulge that urge to try on some greasepaint. But two community theaters keep their curtains open during the summer. Contact the Ft. Sam Houston Playhouse, (221-5655 or 221-2748) or Music Theater (224-2211 or 334-3822) to find out when auditions for their next production will be.
Sounds and Sweet Airs
Live classical music dies out during the summer in San Antonio. But for $125 to $200 you can have a string quartet (two violins, viola, cello) perform in your home. Contact the Musicians Society of San Antonio. Local 23 AF of M, 618 Ave. E. (227-3582).
The Fort Worth Bicycling Association sponsors a ride every Sunday, including every type from races and family rides to long hard rides of a couple of hundred miles. Membership is $5 a year for families or $4 for individuals. Most bike shops in Fort Worth offer 10 per cent discount to members. The club hopes to build its membership to lobby for more bike trails. Members receive monthly newsletter announcing future rides. More information: Evelyn Hill, 924-3174.
The Sierra Club plans some kind of trip every weekend, including camping trips in Arkansas. Learn to love dried fruit and freeze-dried beef stroganoff; everybody’s doing it! For information and an outings bulletin write Ev Harding at 7040 Valhalla. The family that backpacks together…
Trinity River Float-lns
Get to know the Trinity River and you may become interested in doing something about it for Fort Worth’s sake. Trinity Park has its waterspout but what about the fine white water area in Benbrook Park? The Corps of Engineers periodically releases water from Benbrook Dam which makes an exhilarating four mile canoe or innertube ride down the Clear Fork of the Trinity. This summer be alert for radio spots or newspaper publicity on short notice. It’ll be one of your best summer weekends.
The Parking Lots Are Alive With the Sound of Music
Fort Worth shopping centers sponsor a couple of old fashioned fiddlers’ contests every summer for fiddlers of both sexes and all ages. More fun than the contest itself is to get off into a corner and watch the fiddlers play for each other. Get caught up in it July 12-14 at Seminary South Shopping Center.
And Leave Your Sony at Home
Read up on Japanese Gardens, then spend a dollar and a peaceful hour at Fort Worth’s new Japanese Garden, the 14-year-dream-come-true of the Garden Club and the city horticulturist. Note how one stone in the meditation garden is always hidden from view; ponder why none of the bridges is the shortest distance between two points. It’s open Saturday 10-5, Sunday 1-5, with tours on weekdays by special arrangement for groups of 25 or more. Always $1 for visitors over 12.
These Infinite Spaces
The Fort Worth Astronomical Society holds its monthly meetings outside in good weather and could open your eyes to the Universe this summer. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Why not? One member, an employee of the city water department, is credited with the discovery of a galaxy. Call Bill Williams for information about meetings, fourth Thursday, at 229-0451.
This is quilling, not quilting. The Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History has found a teacher for its new course in quilling, a form of weaving with pieces of material or paper wound on a quill, or weaver’s spindle. For information call the Museum School at 732-1631, ext. 36.
After All, Van Cliburn Came from Texas
Summer is the time to develop that musical talent that you’ve always wanted to go back to but never had the time for. Tarrant County Junior College, Northeast Campus, offers a series of private lessons in piano, voice, guitar, organ, and strings, beginning June 11. It’s inexpensive and just long enough for you to find out if you’re serious about studying after all. If you haven’t sung or played in a long time, don’t be embarrassed: it’s between you and your teacher, who will arrange lessons to suit your summer schedule. Get up your nerve and call 281-7860.
Sumo Wrestlers Need Not Apply
In addition to competitive team league sports like soccer and rugby, Fort Worth Park and Recreation centers offer classes in everything from square dancing to chess, from sports officiating to fly-tying. Recreation Superintendent Ashworth says he is on call and will try to organize any kind of class that people have interest in. Keep this in mind if your child wants to take up fencing or something equally unusual for Ft. Worth. Get a group together and call 335-7211.
Everyone in Fort Worth ought to go to Panther Hall at least once; why not this summer? This country music palace is known nationwide as the site of television’s Cowtown Jamboree. In fact, your Saturday night ticket will admit you to the telecast at 6 as well as to the regular show 9-1, and you can go out for dinner in between. You’ll probably wind up meeting some of the West Texans who have driven in for the show, and as the night progresses, so will your good old country feeling. To find out who’s playing when, call 536-2891.
When Was the Last Time You Saw a Sunset?
Turn off the TV. Revive the old American custom of porchsitting. Hear the crickets tune up and see if lightning bugs still light.
A Walking Tour in Dallas
A meditative meander along Turtle Creek is always good for the soul, but if you’d like a livelier stroll, here’s a shady walking tour of the oldest, newest, changing areas in town.
Try a late breakfast (10 a.m.) of hot-from-the-oven gingerbread from The Cakery in the Quadrangle and an exotic sample of coffee from the Coffee Company. If you haven’t been to the Quadrangle since Christmas there are pleasant additions to browse. (Of current interest is a fabric shop, Materialistic, which features the real thing—no polyester dynel synthetics—in frameable patterns and prints.)
Strike out in any direction from the Quadrangle (Routh, Howell, Fairmont) and you’ll see tree-lined streets experiencing a gradual renaissance. Several of the grand old multi-porched Victorian houses have been respectably selling antiques for years; their more colorful, recently-restored sisters, (“The Creative Urge,” “Temptations,” or “Plant Plant”) are peddling less likely wares such as wine-brewing kits, African beads and crafts, and contemporary sculpture.
Outstanding galleries and intimidating interior design studios dominate Fairmont Street, but also notice “The Quill and Pen” which sells only “autographs and documents of distinction,” the “Hodge Podge”, a particularly gingerbready edifice which boasts “Clothes from better Dallas Homes,” (supposedly worn-once haute couture is available here), and the “Uncommon Market” which must have stripped the London pubs and transport systems of barrels, bars and signs.
White Rock Lake area has the most scenic bicycle trails, but weekend traffic makes it less than ideal. Bicycles may be rented near the lake at Hundley Boat Concession (3241 W. Lawther Drive) or at Little John’s Rent a Bicycle (5511 Greenville). If you’re considering a bike purchase and missed Richard West’s “How to Buy a Bike” (Texas Monthly, March ’73), bike-buying advice is free at Preston Royal Library, June 9 at 1 p.m.
Eastfield College (746-3100) offers a 12-hour beginning course ($20) at White Rock Lake Boat Club. All equipment is furnished. Advanced course is $25.
Check with the White Rock Lake Club or the Corinthian Club for Regatta information.
Canoeing, Backpacking, Camping
If you’re a newcomer or a novice, your best source of information is the North Texas Group of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. For $2 a year, the newsletter will keep you apprised of one day canoe trips down the Elm Fork of the Trinity and Brazos Rivers, backpack trips to Big Bend and the Guadalupe and family outings to the Big Thicket, Padre Island, Gus Engeling, Daingerfield and Mother Ness State Parks. (Write Nancy Weber, Editor, North Texas News, 3431 McFarlin, Dallas, Texas 75205).
Check the weather section of the Saturday Dallas Morning News for Texas River and Flow Rate.
Richland College (746-4400) offers a 30-hour course for $50 including tank and regulator. Starts June 6.
Your Friends Back East Think Texans Do This Every Night
Mesquite Championship Rodeo (Hickory Tree Rd. 285-8777, Mesquite, just off LBJ and Military Parkway) has Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Calf Roping and clowns every Friday and Saturday night through the summer.
Eight Miles High
A recorded message (270-0714) will tell you who is jumping where with the Dallas Parachute Association. Instruction is available. Even if you don’t have a death wish, call the number to hear the monologue. The rainy weekend we dialed, it recommended “Hop and pops in the elevator shaft of the Republic National Bank.”
The Greening of North Dallas
The Greenhouse of Neiman Marcus (P.O. Box 1144, Arlington, Texas.)
Enter this serene sanctuary and leave ringing telephones, spilled milk and the meat boycott behind. This is Shangri-La with all the conveniences you don’t have at home. Eighty-five staff members are at the beck and call of 35 guests who retreat to be reshaped, refined and refreshed. Breakfast in bed begins a day of individualized land and water exercise, beauty treatment and gourmet dieting.
Lest your mind become mushroom with all of this paradisiacal pampering, “mental stimulation” is provided by an astrologer, experts on wine, jewels, or travel, or a private shopping tour of Neiman’s. Ordinarily a refuge for women, the Greenhouse offers its creature comforts to husbands and wives June 17-24. ($948.75 per week for a single room, but if you had to ask…)
Ich Bin Ein Amerikaner
All of the community colleges offer at least two levels of conversational Spanish and French. Beginning classes in German are available at Eastfield only. 24 hours for $15. Classes begin in early June.
The Y’s also have Spanish classes running through out the year.
For Home Bodies
Before your lawn succumbs to the Dallas heat, try an evening course in gardening at El Centro. (25 hours for $15)
To see live alternatives to cementing the front yard, take a covetous stroll through Lamberts Landscape and Nursery, 7300 Valley View.
Eastfield and Richland Colleges offer Interior Design and Furniture Refinishing, but if you’re really ambitious, try Eastfield’s “So You Want to Build a House” (Plumbing, electricity, the works.)
Richland completes your remedial home-ec with courses called “Grill and Gourmet” and “At Home With Wine.” (10 hours for $12)
Get Ready for Aspen
If the heat, the mosquitoes, and the kids make you long for the shorter days of winter, turn up the air conditioning, build a fire in the fireplace and call the Ski-Skeller in the Quadrangle, 2800 Routh, to arrange for summer ski lessons on their artificial slope.
Learn to Be a Street Vendor
Laguna Gloria Art Museum, 3809 W. 34th (452-9447). Beginning June 18 a wide variety of five week classes are available for adults and teenagers at $35, children at $30. A partial list of course offerings includes beginning painting, life drawing, color theory, pottery for children, and others. Brochure available.
Municipal Art Guild, (476-8311). Offers weekly painting sessions at Municipal Golf Course Club House.
Natural Science Center, 401 Deep Eddy (472-4523). Offers four two-week summer sessions at nominal charge, teaching science-for-fun, handcraft skills, lapidary, silver casting, photography, etc. The center is open daily from 2 to 5, admission 25 cents, children admitted free with adult.
Weavers’ Cooperative, 504 E. 5th (477-8864). Presents classes and work-shops in weaving and spinning for young adults and older. Call Mon. thru Sat. 10 to 2 for additional information.
U.T. Classes for All
The University of Texas Union Programs Committee, (471-3616), offers a diverse range of enjoyable and enriching programs like wine-tasting, gourmet cooking, knitting and other handicrafts, bicycle repair, etc. for a nominal fee (usually in range of $2). Registration held June 4 thru 13. Complete listing of offerings available on request.
Exercise Your Second Amendment Rights
Safariland Guide Service, 1913 Junction Hwy., Kerrville (1-257-7567). Hunting of exotic game animals for entire family. Prices depend on bagged animal, ranging from javelina at $100 to Axis deer at $500. Not for the squeamish. No lodging provided. Reservations at least two to three days in advance.
Sierra Club, 905 W. 34th (454-5256). Continuing action in monitoring alterations in Austin’s environment requires those committed enough to spend two hours or more weekly doing essential paper work, lobbying, or whatever.
Texas Environmental Coalition, 904 W. 34th (454-5256). Help create environmental improvement with application of clerical skills. Basic office skills will help implement necessary checks on deteriorating ecosystems.
Hillside Theater is an Austin summer tradition offering free evening entertainment weekly, June through August. Patrons bring blankets or lawn chairs to hillsides at show time.
Pan-American Hillside Theater, 2100 E. Third (476-8311), provides Latin music and novelty entertainment every Tuesday night.
Zilker Hillside Theater, (476-8311), offers variety entertainment on Mon. & Thur. evenings, beginning at dark. Zilker’s Summer Musical production will be “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Performances July 26 thru 28, August 2 thru 4, 9 thru 11 & 16 thru 18. Free.
Gardens to Explore
Austin Area Garden Center, Zilker Park (477-8672). Surrounding the center are a number of botanical highlights: the fragrant Garden of the Blind; Water Garden featuring recirculating streams and aquatic plants; Cactus Garden; Horticultural Theatre; tropical paradise of the Botanical Greenhouse; Topiary Animals, plants trained to climb around animal shaped frames; Swedish Pioneer Cabin; Hamilton Azalea Garden; and the new Rose Garden.
Isamu Taniguchi Oriental Garden, Austin Area Garden Center, Zilker Park (477-8672). Of unparalleled beauty, this artistic composition is one of the most poetic retreats of Austin. Mon. thru Fri. 10 thru 4:30 & weekends. Free.
Visit the Ranch
The LBJ Ranch, accessible from US 290 outside Johnson City on Ranch Road 1, is located adjacent to well-developed LBJ State Park which includes a visitor center, museum, theater with presentations every half hour, swimming pool, picnic sites, nature trails, and display of famous longhorn steers. Bus tours of ranch including ranch house start at State Park visitors’ center. Free.
Adventure in the Outdoors
Sierra Club, 905 W. 34th (454-5256). Summer activities offered include bicycling trips, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, day-long trips, weekend or extended trips. Prices are usually quite reasonable.
FOR THE CHILDREN
What to Do with the Kids
Unless they’ve vegetated in air conditioned T.V. dens too many years, children don’t need much encouragement to celebrate summer. If they haven’t tuned you out entirely, rediscover it with them.
Plant an herb garden together. Parsley and mint are easy and make for memorable summer smells. (Read William Saroyan’s poignant story “The Parsley Garden” when the tiny garden is at its peak.)
Find a recipe book for mudpies (Mudpies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow) or write your own to occupy the sandpile set.
Read or let them read Hailstones and Halibut Bones, a particularly vivid book of color imagery. Assign everyone a color for the day. Then have them write their own book at rest time.
Try a similar activity with A Riot of Quiet by Virginia Sicotte and Edward Ardizonne when the noise level makes you wish school would open July 1st.
Take them to a real live baseball game, rodeo, or other spectator sport. Then check out a collection of contemporary poetry called Some Haystacks Don’t Even Have Any Needle and forbid your teenagers to read it. Boys will be aghast to see that poetry can be written about baseball pitchers, double plays, ex-basketball players and football passes.
Classes Without Tears
Dallas parents should posthaste find “Imagination’s Growing Place,” S.M.U.’s Experimental Arts Program for children ages 4-15. Classes named “Both Feet First,” “Look Through Any Bagel,” and “The Hats People Play” suggest that this is no traditional summer school. Eight-year-olds may find a dog named Bagel teaching them to make toothpick giants and tie-dyed pillow monsters, while a giant mouse, purporting to have known Picasso, Van Gogh and even Rembrandt, squeaks Art History to an eager audience.
Now in its sixth year under the direction of Ann McGee, this program combines master teachers, imaginative S.M.U. students, and naturally spontaneous children in a creative environment where everyone learns. Parents are invited to attend any two sessions. Two short summer terms: June 4-15 and June 18-29. For further information, call 692-2068.
C’mon, Let’s Go to the Park
Caruth Park in University Park has the most creative play area, but recreation leaders are on hand in all of the Dallas parks to lead games, teach sports, arts, crafts and dramatics. Register Monday, June 4, at the park nearest you. Additional information is available from the program consultants:
Area 1 (South Dallas, South Oak Cliff): 375-1407
Area 2 (South and West Oak Cliff): 337-9593
Area 3 (North and East Dallas): 341-5830
Take a Day Trip
The Children’s Guide to Dallas (yellow paperback at most Dallas book stores), compiled by the Montessori Academy Mother’s Club, devotes an entire chapter to short trips such as the Canton Antique Fair, Dinosaur Valley Park, Old Fort Parker, etc. This guide not only tells you what, where and when: it also gives suggested activities and books to read before and after. Notes for mother give safety tips, dress of the day, and what attention span can be anticipated.
Santa Fe Depot
Drop by Fort Worth’s picturesque Santa Fe depot just before noon any day and watch Amtrak arrive from Chicago. The train will be at the station only 15 minutes, but there’s plenty of excitement, with passengers, baggage, and blocks of ice going by. There won’t be time to walk onto the train, but you and your child will find someone to wave goodbye to. You may even pick up a schedule and plan your own trip to prove to your child that tracks are back. To check on arrivals, call Amtrak at 332-5141.
Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow
See trains put together at the switching yard of the Missouri-Pacific Texas & Pacific Railroad Company in Fort Worth. Take I-20’s Montgomery exit south to Vickery and you’re in railroad territory. You might even want to drop in at the Round House Cafe, where railroad men gather for homestyle meals at reasonable prices. Because of all the activity at the switching yard, visits are by appointment only, and for groups only. Call Larry Teems at 332-3201.
Better than a Richard Scarry Book
Not every American child is lucky enough to ride on one of London’s red double decker buses. Leonards Department Store runs five of them downtown from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday free of charge. Show your child downtown Fort Worth: park at Leonard’s parking lot on the Trinity River and ride the free subway to Leonard’s where you can pick up a double decker every ten minutes. Make stops and walk up the long steps to the County Courthouse where you may even peek into a courtroom, explore the new Municipal Building with its indoor fountain, check out a book at the Central Library, and walk over Houston Street on the Continental National Bank’s sixth floor sky tunnel, have a picnic in Burnet Park. It’s all free.
The best days to explore Fort Worth’s historic stockyards are Mondays and Tuesdays, when typical West Texas cattle auctions begin at 9 a.m. in the Livestock Exchange. There are plenty of places to poke your nose into around East Exchange and North Main, but be sure to drive north to Ryon’s Saddle and Ranch Supply. Your child will love the orange horse on the house, and inside you can see hats creased and learn what creases are all about. For special attention at Ryon’s, call 624-2197.
A Day at the Airports
Now that construction at the new Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport is less dangerous, there will be weekday as well as weekend tours of the airport. The hour-long tour leaves by bus from Greater Southwest Regional Airport and costs $1 for anyone older than five. Before or after your tour take a close look at Greater Southwest, which is the closest thing Fort Worth has to a ghost town. For tour information call Surtran at 263-4313.
Skip This If Your Name Is Nader
A tour of General Motors provides many interesting angles for a child hip to pollution, mass transit, auto safety. See how precocious (or indoctrinated) your child really is. Arrive at Gate C of the East Parking Lot off Hwy. 360 at 9 or 1 for an hour tour. It’s free.
Weatherford Farmers Market
Involve your child in some home baking or canning by first taking a trip west on Hwy. 80 to Weatherford to the marvelous farmers market there. It’s about an hour each way and is especially nice on the way home with a bag-full of cherries or something else irresistible.
Glen Rose Dinosaur Park
Before driving 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth to Glen Rose, you may want to heighten your child’s dinosaur appreciation by stopping first at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, where a new exhibit features full size skeletons and mammoth tusks. Then on to Glen Rose and its authentic, full size footprints. It’s a lovely drive, southwest on Hwy. 377 to Granbury, south on 144 to Glen Rose, then west on 67 to Park Road 59. The park never closes. Admission is $l/vehicle unless you have a State Park Annual Permit. For information call 817-897-4588.
At Southwest Craft Center, San Antonio—the same place adults can satisfy that urge to throw a pot—there are two programs for youngsters, ages eight thru nine and ten thru 13. Working in ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture, macrame, crochet, batik, tie-dye and weaving, the programs stress experimentation in creative growth rather than the finished product. Call 224-1848.
The Mexican Cultural Institute is offering a variety of programs for children this summer, all with a Mexican flavor. Dance, art and Spanish-language theater will be among the activities. For details call the institute, located at HemisFair Plaza, at 227-0123.
In the Swim
Kids used to learn how to swim by being thrown in a river. This summer they can learn by attending classes at St. Philip’s College, 2111 Nevada St., San Antonio, June 4 thru 30. If your child can stand in four feet of water, he’s eligible for the program. Meets 10 a.m. Mon thru Fri. $2.50 a week. Call 532-4211 for details.
For kids who are natural-born hams, here’s their chance to be in the spotlight in the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department’s Talent Show. Acts from jugglers to singers to flamenco dancers can try to break into the Medium-sized Time. Junior Division (ages five thru nine) tryouts will be held 2 p.m. June 18, Intermediate Divisions (ages 10 thru 13) audition 2 p.m. June 19, Senior Division (14 and up) at 7 p.m. June 25, all at the Arneson River Theater. Those who make it will perform June 27, July 11 and July 18. Call 826-6336 for details.
When people take the kids on picnics in San Antonio, they always seem to crowd into Brackenridge Park or Olmos Park. The result is a lot of dead grass, noise and a lot of people in one place. Don’t give up picnics. But take the kiddies to those parks on weekdays instead of the weekends when everyone else in South Texas goes there. Or, if you can’t make it during the week, go to the Northeast Preserve or one of the smaller neighborhood parks around the city. The neighborhood parks aren’t very big, but most of them have playground equipment, and you at least have a plot of ground to call your own.
Oldies But Goodies
Some of the places to take your children in San Antonio aren’t likely to be surprising unless you’re new to the city, but in case your kids have never seen them, here’s a reminder list: