October 7-18, 1992: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
September 15-27: A Trip to Charlotte and Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 1992

October 3-4, 1992
Tony Hirsch Visits Dallas


This weekend, my old colleague and good friend and traveling partner from Cullinane Corporation came through Dallas on a trip and stayed the weekend for a visit. My class at Lee Apparel was over on Friday, October 2nd, and I flew back to Dallas that afternoon. Since my car was in Florida, I took a shuttle in from the airport. That evening, Fred came down from Van Alstyne, and Tony came in from Vicksburg, where he had been touring the battlegrounds. We went out for Mexican food and watched a movie.

On Saturday morning, we had some breakfast, and then Fred and I talked with Tony a bit about what we might go see here in Dallas. I often say that Dallas is not really a tourist town; its two, best known attractions are (1) the place where Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963 and (2) Southfork "Ranch", where the Ewing clan lived in the TV series "Dallas". Sure, we have museums and gardens and stuff, but so does any other city our size. But Dallas has no World Trade Center, Capitol, Liberty Bell, Intracoastal Waterway, movie studios, Sears Tower, or Golden Gate Bridge.

Tony had no interest in Southfork (and neither did Fred and I; I have seen it and only a lot of photo retouching and creative camera work made it look as big as it did on television), so we started off by driving down to the West End, parking, and walking over to Dealey Plaza. (We were using Fred's truck, since my car was in Florida and Greg's Miata had not arrived yet.)

At left is a picture Fred took of Me and Tony buying a guide book from one of the vendors who are always in or around the plaza. There are always at least a few tourists there, although I have never seen it thronged with people, except on the anniversary dates of the shooting, when there might be a few hundred people wandering about.in Dealey Plaza.

In the movie player at right, I've cued up the famous Zapruder film of the assassination, and you can play it if you wish. If you do, you might be aware that in the picture at left, Tony and I are standing just behind the colonnade that you can see behind the Kennedy limousine just as it passes behind the roadside sign (that is the frame that appears in the player before you start the movie).

A museum, The Sixth Floor Museum, has just recently opened on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository behind Tony and I; we went up to it and spent an hour or so looking at the exhibits. It was all very interesting. We found someone selling souvenir books, and Tony bought one of them. Conspiracy theories aside, Lee Harvey Oswald used the second window from the right on the sixth floor of the depository; that's the highest floor you see in the picture of Tony and I above.

We did a bit of walking around downtown Dallas this afternoon. After the Sixth Floor Museum, we walked over towards the Allied Bank Building. At the base of that building is a place where there are a number of fountains. The area is named, appropriately, Fountain Place.

From there, we walked more to the center of downtown to a small park called Thanksgiving Square (which has nothing to do with the holiday, as it turns out).

We took some pictures at each of the locations before returning to where we'd left the car in the West End.

Fountain Place (the current name for what was in 1992 called the Allied Bank Building) is a 60-story late-modernist skyscraper; it is 720 ft. high, it is the fifth-tallest building in Dallas, and the 15th-tallest in Texas. While there are of course lots of people who work in the offices there, the fountains arrayed around the base of the building from the northwest to the northeast attract tourists and lots of people during weekday lunchtime.

The building is known for its unique architectureŚ it was designed as a large, multi-faceted prism, giving it a completely different profile from all directions. Today, the building gets its name from the array of 172 dancing fountains in the plaza at its base. The most interesting fountain, a large timed grid of water jets, is at the north corner of the building; you can see it just beginning a sequence behind Tony in the picture at right.

The fountain sequence is well underway now, and Tony and I are standing as close to the fountains as we can without being in danger of getting wet. During summer, you can usually find a couple of little kids doing exactly that. Tony remarked that he thought I had changed in the last few years- that I had gotten much thinner, and that is probably true.

Original plans for the project called for twin towers, with the second tower rotated 90 degrees from the original, to be built on an adjacent block, but with the collapse of the Texas oil, banking and real estate industry and the savings and loan scandal of in the 1980s, the project was never completed.

The building was designed by the firm founded by I.M. Pei, and was completed six years ago. The landscape and namesake fountains were designed by Dan Kiley.

Instead of walking to Thanksgiving Square, we decided to go back to the West End to get the car, and as we left the fountains at the base of the Allied Bank Building, I asked Tony to get a picture of Fred and myself in front of the structure. Fred looks more like a real cowboy than I do.

We had parked near the Spaghetti Warehouse, a popular West End restaurant, and when we got over by the car we were able to show Tony this entertainment area that was created from a series of repurposed industrial buildings west of Dealey Plaza. There are lots of restaurants here, and a multistory structure that was hollowed out inside and turned into an eight story indoor mall- with most of the shops catering to tourists.

Outside and around the West End area, There are also a number of carriages, some formal some not, that you can take around the area. They are busiest at night, of course, but when one made itself available as a backdrop, I got this picture of Tony and Fred.

Tony has not changed much since I saw him last, which I think was about three years ago, a year or so after his wedding. We got the truck and drove about ten blocks to an area known as Thanksgiving Square, to which I had never been.

As soon as we got there, I found out that it is actually "Thanks-Giving Square", which I guess takes care of possibly mistaking that it has something to do with the holiday. Actually, it is a small public-private complex, that was originally planned to relieve traffic in the otherwise grid-based downtown area. It was dedicated in 1976, and it consists of a landscaped garden and a major section of the underground pedestrian network downtown.

The area covers the better part of a city block, although the site itself is basically triangular. It is very pleasingly laid out and quite restful, even on a Saturday. On a weekday, it must be crowded with people who work downtown.

Thanks-Giving Square generally refers to the visible garden, which is operated by the non-profit Thanks-Giving Foundation. The garden, designed by architect Philip Johnson, was dedicated in 1976 to promote the concept of giving thanks as a universal, human value.

At the main entrance to the garden is the Court of All Nations and the Wall of Praise. The Wall of Praise features a portion of the text from Psalms 100 and a mosaic based on Norman Rockwell's "The Golden Rule". From the Wall of Praise, visitors are led to a 50-foot Bell Tower that features three bronze bells designed in the form of the Liberty Bell. The bells ring every hour. Beside the Bell Tower is the Ring of Thanks and Circle of Giving. The 14-foot diameter aluminum ring is covered in 23 carat gold leaf and invites the visitor to pass through the ring before entering the courtyard of Thanks-Giving Square.Reading all this at one of the dedication plaques at the entrance kind of brought home to me how much Texas is actually part of the Bible Belt, what with all the references to religious themes. It's a nice garden, though, so I don't quarrel if the folks who paid to build it want it to symbolize certain things.

At the north end of the plot is a chapel-like building that is entered from the bottom, although we mistakenly went to a door we saw near the top of the structure. From here, there was an excellent view south through the square to the bell towers at the southern end.

The most prominent and recognizable feature of Thanks-Giving Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, a small, spiral tower that features an enclave for prayerful thanks (a lot of the wording here is not my creation, but taken from the various plaques and signs sprinkled around the square, as well as some research I did later on).

The entrance to the chapel is at the end of a 125-foot bridge that runs over a cascading waterfall. Inside the chapel, the spiral is topped with stained glass "Glory Window", one of largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. The window was designed by Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France to feature brighter colors as the spiral reached its apex, becoming brighter as it reaches the center.

After all this, I was a bit surprised to find, below the chapel in the Hall of Thanksgiving and Exhibit Area, a telling of the story of the American Thanksgiving tradition, so I guess there is a tie-in after all. This is a really nice area, and I can see why it is a popular gathering place for office workers and the few people who actually live downtown.

Tony, Fred and I spent Saturday together, going out to Las Colinas to see the mustangs, and generally riding around the Dallas area. That night, we had Ron and Chris over, and together we played some cards and dice. Larry Marshall dropped by also, so Tony got to meet a lot of my friends.

On Sunday, we went for brunch before Tony's early afternoon flight back to Boston. It was a nice visit, and I am glad that Tony enjoyed himself. Fred and I spent the rest of the day together, and he headed off for work the next morning. I stayed in Dallas two days to catch up on mail and stuff, and then used the rest of my Kansas City ticket to go back to Ft. Lauderdale.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

October 7-18, 1992: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
September 15-27: A Trip to Charlotte and Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 1992