The Taylor South Eastside Project was created out of frustration from the negative things we all have heard about these one vibrant and thriving neighborhoods. That and the fact that our kids need to know whose shoulders they are sanding on. Several years ago, my wife and I were standing next to a woman at an event. She was on the phone giving directions to someone from Dallas on how to get to the event. She told them frantically “If you go over the overpass. Turn around immediately and don’t go down any of those streets. That is the perception that many people have of these old neighborhoods. People I know always say that “we grew up poor but did not know it.” This was true and a big part of it was because of the neighborhoods and people cared about each other and their struggles. This is the reason I call it a neighborhood and not the hood. I know the hood sounds cool but to me the hood has negative connotations and that was not what I experienced growing up here. They were family friendly.
I have been working on this project for about 4 years or really let’s just say it feels like over 50 years. There was so much for the youth and adults to do during this time period. From the baseball games at Fannie Robinson park where people would come from Austin, Temple and every little town in between to be part of that atmosphere. People would be everywhere with cars lined up in the right outfield and along the road leading into park on both sides all the way to Walnut. Also from center field on Dolan all the way to the Chicken Shack. The stands would be full. People would be sitting all on the hill and train tracks. There was a concession stand and Mr. Cole selling snacks out of his truck. The Boy Scouts kept us busy also. I remember going to summer camp and the boys from Gary Job Corp would try to bully us. Well when we got on that baseball field, and other obstacle courses etc. we would kick their butts. Then they gave us county boys some respect. The youth programs sponsored by the Neighborhood Center were great. We went to the State Fair, Houston Astros games, watched movies in the gym and had life lessons, sessions.
The Neighborhood Center played a huge part in or lives at that time. From getting grants for the neighborhood, the Vista program, and organizing people to vote. Also the O.L. Price School and the Gym provided Golden Gloves and later wrestling on Friday nights. The churches always had something going on. Tony Von who was the biggest R & B radio personalities in Central Texas if not the whole state would bring some of the big artist at that time to Taylor. When we would go to Houston or San Antonio and people found out you were from Taylor they would say “Do you listen to Tony Von?” We mowed yards and sold bottles so we would have money to go swimming or to the movies. During the summer we would go swimming 2 or 3 times a week at Fannie Robinson Pool.
The adults and teachers cared about the young people and the young people respected adults and teachers. If someone saw you out of line then they had the authority in more ways than one, to tell you to straighten up. After doing your chores and then playing until the sun went down. That was the life. Being so close to the school, swimming pool, the creek where we would fish (even though we were not supposed to be there) and Fannie Robinson Park gave us the resources to do something every day all day. I ride on my bicycle through there now and it kind of saddens me that some of those same yards that I mowed are empty lots now. The houses were not large or fancy but people took so much pride in having a little part of the American Dream. Thank you for vising this website!