-By Ernie Kluft, HOA member
The Saga of “Little Town Creek”
It was 1976 and after searching for the ideal place to build our dream home, my wife Cheryl and I found the perfect lot. It was on Vista Oaks in Town Creek, an almost completed subdivision. From our chosen lot down to Arbor Park and out to Royal Lane was a heavily forested field of Crepe Myrtles. It would be the last area to be developed and was dubbed “Little Town Creek” by one of the builders, Jim Kienist. In my opinion he built the biggest and best, but our lot was owned by Jerry Goolsby, another prime builder. The location met our criteria. It was close to downtown Dallas yet within Richardson ISD. The lot was huge, almost 80 feet from the back of our house to the fence. And lots of room for our two pet German Shepherds and kids to play. Perfect.
Goolsby said he needed four months from start to finish. Okay, let’s do it. Initially I thought our lot looked relatively flat. However, after a tractor worked it over, we needed of a four-foot retaining wall built near the alley. Still, okay.
Then, while I was at the office one morning, Goolsby called me to say, “Ernie, I can’t build your house without power, and DP&L (Dallas Power & Light) won’t hook-up temporary service.”
“Why not,” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “you may not believe this but in that Crepe Myrtle forest southeast of your lot there’s an elderly woman living in that old, framed shack. She believes the Town Creek developer, along with DP&L, sneaked into her home one night and stole the deed for the whole of Town Creek and she’s saying she’s not going to let them get away with it.”
“That’s crazy,” I said.
“Sure is,” he replied. “And, here’s the worrisome part. As the linemen went to install power so I could get started, she pulled out a rifle and said she was going to shoot them off the pole. I believe she meant it and so does DP&L.”
I started to panic. With Vista Oaks being on the outer boundary of Town Creek, the power poles were easy targets. Fortunately, I had some stroke with the lawyers at Lone Star Gas who dealt with DP&L lawyers all the time. Together, we hatched a plan. Sheriff deputies were to accompany the linemen and arrest the lady if she provoked a confrontation. I was ecstatic watching everyone arrive and start to work.
Then suddenly, another setback. An emergency call from the sheriff’s dispatcher called off the deputies. Seems that the sheriff was up for re-election, and, as I was told, “he wasn’t about to be politically damaged with his deputies shooting some 70-year old woman.” We had now wasted the better part of a month with all these delays.
Not to be deterred, however, we came up with plan B. Accordingly, the Vista Oaks builders and DP&L arranged for a third-party company (with no markings on their trucks) to come in just days later at 2:00 a.m. and dig a 5-foot deep trench down the front of all those lots on Vista Oaks. Power lines were then dropped into the trench and energized. Our house, the first on Vista Oaks, was finally built. Cheryl and I moved in September 26, 1976.
Just two days after the lady living in that shack behind us died, giant earth-movers were churning the ground from Arbor Park to behind our alley all the way to Royal Lane. As a result, “Little Town Creek” was developed along the Autumn Oaks cul-de-sac and east to Arbor Park.
And if you ever wonder why so many Town Creek homes have Crepe Myrtles in their yards, that Crepe Myrtle forest is the answer. It was quite a sight…literally hundreds of Crepe Myrtles growing in neat rows. And I’m told it had been a nursery around the time of WWII and later abandoned. Apparently, various Town Creek builders took advantage of the availability and met their clients’ landscaping needs at a discount.
And that’s the rest of the story.