Friday, January 13, 2017

Keeping up with Kennedale

Village Creek was the biggest ‘river’ I’d ever crossed in my young life and at flood stage it
Open field in Kennedale
gave me respect for the power of swiftly moving water. In those days the forested area made me think I saw fairies or even Native Americans moving stealthy through the shadowed green. And one exciting day another car was motionless in the narrow two lane track; as Dad pulled carefully around the vehicle, the reason for its position was apparent. What appeared to be a Great Dane was standing with its front feet on squarely the hood peering through the windshield with a look of joy only a puppy can have at the amused driver. Village Creek road was one of those mystical lanes we traveled along on our way somewhere else.

Before Anglos arrived in this region, Village Creek tribes hunted and fished in this fertile area, but once they signed a peace treaty in 1843 with the Republic of Texas, settlers began
Older house in Kennedale
populating the region. And as with many small towns in Texas, the coming of the railroad to Kennedale boosted the population and economics of this rural farming community. A train depot was constructed to service the Fort Worth & New Orleans Railway Company line, and with it developed the central business district that included a blacksmith, bank, drug store, general merchandise store, hotel, lumber company, and post office. Although the town was doing well, a fire in the early 1900s destroyed the business district; it was never rebuilt. By the 1930s State Highway 34 had crossed the area becoming a focal point for the construction of businesses along its route. The 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s marked an increase in infrastructure, following city incorporation, with electricity, city water lines, and city sewer lines installed in respective years. Kennedale’s population has grown slowly and by 2014 was just over 7,300.

The drive through Kennedale has changed over the years. While there are still some treed
Top: Kennedale Speedway Park
Bottom: Texas Raceway
areas and pastureland, much of the business on old State Highway 34 (West Kennedale Parkway) is related to the scrap metal industry. If you’re looking for car parts, there are several places you can buy body parts and most likely parts of motors, brake systems and so forth. It’s not attractive. However, this is an area frequented by racing enthusiasts. Just down the road are two places you can test the speed of your vehicle. In my teenage years, I went a time or two to the Kennedale Speedway Park to watch local guys compete in dirt track races. It was noisy, dirty, and oh so romantic to see hopped up cars and their testosterone laden owners. This tradition is quickly fading since the land the track sits on is worth more for housing developments than it is for holding races. However, the Texas Raceway, a dragstrip also with in the city limits seems to be going strong. This track is much more up-scale with seating area and organized races in several classes. Although some of the grungy romance has gone out of this racing venue, none of the strutting testosterone has diminished.

There is a place in Kennedale that holds some of the quietness I remember from my
Top: Sonora Park pond with ducks
Bottom: Geese
childhood. Just south of down town, Sonora Park is a manicured space with woodlands on one side. There is a large pond, a short trail, a playground and other modern park facilities. The day we visited there were ducks and geese on the water. The guiding hand behind this park and many other social amenities was Mrs. Sonora Fenoglio. A long-time resident of Kennedale, she raised money for many worthy causes, sat on several civic committees, and attended city council meetings with the goal of supporting the welfare of the community and its development. The park is named in tribute to this lady.

Three Carrots

Our lunch spot was the Pitt Stop Café (7019 East Kennedale Parkway, Kennedale, TX 
Top L to R:: Menu, Catfish with slaw and red sauce
Center L to R: Pudding, Cottage cheese and fruit
Bottom L to R: Tarter sauce and Black-eyed peas
76060, 817-563-9226). A fixture in the community, the décor is a tribute to racing and race car drivers. If you don’t come early, you’ll have to compete for a table with locals from the businesses up and down the highway, as well as with the regulars who seem to have a room just behind the cash register. These ‘good ole boys’ hold forth on the prices of equipment, the weather, politics, and latest gossip. We got a table near the back of the other room behind two local ladies who were debating rather intently which was the best pie to share for dessert. The Friday special is fried catfish with two sides, and dessert. The three of us hardly ever pass up fried catfish, so we all had the same thing. However, I had slaw, Vince had cottage cheese and fruit, and Dave had black-eyed peas. Our waitress was excellent; kind, efficient, and fast. The plates of food looked very good. Unfortunately, we all agreed that the fried okra was soggy and the hush puppies were cold. I was okay with the catfish but Dave didn’t like the batter nor the fact that it had bubbled up around the fish without actually sticking to it. Dave also was disappointed in the peas; they were pretty tasteless. Vince was happy with his fruit, although it was canned rather than fresh. I liked the slaw; it was a bit sweet and crunchy. None of us were enamored with dessert, since it was chocolate pudding with whipped cream and a cookie. All of us said we’d give the place another try, mostly because we had such a good waitress and the décor was funky. Perhaps there are other things on the menu that would better suite our tastes. (Note: Dave rated the Pitt Stop 2 ½ carrots while Vince and I gave it a more generous 3. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.)

Muscovy Ducks resting
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