May 31, 2016

Oakhurst Roots Run Deep in Riverside and Fort Worth

Contributed by Libby Willis:

These are heady days for Oakhurst as many new residents are finding and deciding to move to our neighborhood.  They are discovering our great small town feel, green space, lots of trees, charming period houses, and a walkable neighborhood with many friendly neighbors.  What isn't always apparent is what has gone before.  Those reminders come only when we get to know our neighbors, talk to them about their lives here, and learn some fascinating stories.  In Oakhurst, the presence of the past is real.

For instance, a fair number of neighbors have longtime family ties to greater Riverside.  Bluebonnet resident Paul Griffin’s family has lived in Oakhurst since the early 20th century.  His grandfather was Edwin Perry Barclay.  He and his parents, Lawrence & Frances (Stevens) Barclay, were from the Toledo, Ohio area.  They came to Texas (via Kansas City) for the men to work in the cooperage business.  Edwin met & married Zora Rachael Cleckler in about 1898.  They moved to the Riverside area in about 1900 & built the house at 914 Chandler (it's still there).  The Riverside streets Barclay and Cleckler were named after the two families.

Edwin Perry Barclay, third from left, front row, was Paul Griffin's grandfather.  He is shown in front of the 1895 Tarrant County Courthouse at a Labor Day Parade in the early 20th century.

Other Oakhurst families have strong ties to businesses of local, statewide and national importance.  Between 1942 and 1951, the Frank Hames family lived at 2312 Primrose Avenue.  The Hameses have lived at other addresses in Oakhurst and Riverside and have been fixtures in the community for many years.  They had three sons, including Frank, Raymond, and Mike.  Mike and his wife Kay still reside on Bluebonnet.  The brothers are the grandsons of Bill Hames who created Bill Hames shows and carnivals based in Fort Worth and known across the United States and Canada.  If you’ve ever been to the midway at the Stock Show, you’ve seen or ridden Hames family rides.  If you’ve ever ridden the Miniature Train at Forest Park, you’ve been on a Hames family operated train.  They had midway concerns at the Stock Show when it was still held on the Northside in the Fort Worth Stockyards before 1944.  They even had a similar train and other rides in Sylvania Park on Belknap Street during the mid-1950s according to Frank.

Far left, 1959:  Bill Hames, founder of the Forest Park Miniature Train and Bill Hames Shows

The railroad’s first passenger cars were named for family members of the original Bill Hames, who developed the miniature train.  Cars were named for Frank and Mike Hames (Here’s a Western swing footnote: The “Mary Helen Special” car was named for Hames’s daughter, who was married to Milton Brown, Brown pianist Fred “Papa” Calhoun, and Bob Wills).  Frank Hames calls himself “the one and only concrete carney.”  That’s because besides his prodigious work in the carnival business, he has also had a decades long and successful career in the concrete business constructing well known facilities like Texas Stadium, the upper deck at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium and major buildings such as 777 Main Street in downtown Fort Worth.  “But we loved Oakhurst,” Hames said recently.  “Those houses were well built,” he said.   (That’s a relief, coming from someone who knows the construction business!)  “At 2312 Primrose, we kept about 41 chickens in the backyard,” he said.  “One day, Dad got tired of all of them and decided it was time to have them meet their maker.  We put them in the freezer and had many fried chicken dinners from those birds,” he said.

Old 101 Ranch Calliope, acquired by Bill Hames in 1938 and shown in 1950 at Hames' WInter Headquarters in Fort Worth; later donated to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Oakhurst residents have been associated with great local community institutions for many years as well.  A little remembered fact is that the Fort Worth Community Theater had its first home in Riverside.  Many well known actors and productions came out of that organization which has been the bedrock of theater in the city.  Paul Griffin tells the story about his experience.  One day in 1964, while he was doing volunteer work painting sets at Fort Worth Community Theater (when it was housed in the Morgan Theater at 608 North Sylvania around the corner from Race Street), the director of “Two Blind Mice” asked if he would do a bit part in the play.  “You don’t have to audition, there are no lines.”  So he did.  Meeting neighbors like Paul and former neighbors like Frank help us remember all the people and institutions which have made Oakhurst and Riverside what they are today.

Paul Griffin on stage at Fort Worth Community Theater in "Three Blind Mice" about 1964; at this time, the former Morgan Theater on Sylvania was home to the FWCT.  Today, the building houses Prayer of Faith Temple Church.
 This article originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of the Oak Leaflet.

May 3, 2016

May Oak Leaflet Now Online!

Check out this month's issue of The Oak Leaflet online!  This month's newsletter features Oakhurst Roots Run Deep, an editorial by Libby Willis on residents of Oakhurst and the Riverside area over the years, April's Yard of the Month, Fred's patrol report (including info on the recent police and firefighter event at Oakhurst Park), a copy of the neighborhood garage sale sign-up form, and more!
Visit our Newsletter Archive to view or download your copy.