Cowtown Yoostabes, Vaughn Boulevard Edition: The Middle-Class Mile

If Rosedale Street, running east to west, is Poly’s equator, . . .

yoostabe vaughn rosedale sighthen Vaughn Boulevard, running north to south, is Poly’s prime meridian.

vaughn 1957 cdVaughn Boulevard stretches a mile from TWU to Masonic Home. And the 1957 city directory confirms what we who walked, biked, and drove that mile and frequented its merchants know: Vaughn Boulevard was solidly middle class. Along its one mile in 1957 were ten beauty and barber shops, twelve cleaners and self-laundries, three liquor stores, two feed stores, two shoe shops, four TV repair shops, four auto repair shops, eight groceries, two surplus stores, seven gas stations, two florists, four pharmacies, one watch repair shop, two photo studios, four bookkeepers, seven places to eat, three places to drink, one dairy, one hardware store, one bicycle shop, one movie theater, one general-practice physician, one chiropractor, one clinic. And one church.

Here is a first sampling of some yoostabes along the Middle-Class Mile:

yoostabe vaughn city hallBuilt in 1914, this yoostabe the city hall and fire hall of the city of Polytechnic before Fort Worth annexed Poly in 1922. The building now belongs to TWU.

yoostabe vaughn partlowAs this ghost sign shows, the building later housed a pastry shop. In 1957 it was Bryan Bakery. Later it was Partlow’s.

yoostabe vaughn griddleFort Worth had a handful of Griddle diners. This yoostabe Griddle no. 2. It became the Poly Grill, which has closed. Next to the city hall building. Bottom photo shows the grill in more prosperous times.

post polyThe Poly branch post office is now Fresh Start House for veterans.

yoostabe vaughn hanebuttIn 1957 there were several single-family houses along the Middle-Class Mile. For you sports fans, in a big house on the corner of Vaughn and Avenue H, where the post office would later be, lived Elmer Hanebutt, TWC basketball coach 1956-1969.

yoostabe vaughn fobb63Warning: Digression ahead! At TWC in 1956 Elmer Hanebutt replaced Sam Rasco, who in 1963 would be coaching basketball at Forest Oak Junior High. In this photo, supplied by Gary Pillers, are (I think) Vernon Johnson (1), Larry Hensley (2), Phillip Barney (3), Joe Wylie (4), Jimmy Griffin (5), Donny Thompson (6), Gene Wilson (7), Jay Myatt (8), Norland Crow (9), Bobby Gillingham (10), Gary Gibson (11), Gary Pillers (12), Mike Wylie (13), Gary Elser (14), Steve Burris (15), Rickie Newberry (16), Coach Rasco (17), Dennis Ray (18).

(Scads more group photos from Polytechnic area schools and sports at and

davis 3130 hBack to the intersection of Vaughn and Avenue H. On the corner across the street from Coach Hanebutt yoostabe another big house. Therein dwelt the Marquesa of Multiplication, the Duchess of Division, yes, the Queen of the Equation: Poly High math teacher Alton Ruth Davis.

yoostabe vaughn hermanIn 1957 this building housed Harry’s Shoe Repair. By the 1960s it housed Herman’s Shoe Repair. Herman Culbert would, in exchange for the school lunch money a boy had saved up, put taps on the heels of the boy’s shoes, much to the consternation of the boy’s parents. If a boy was determined to show that he was totally beyond redemption, Herman would put taps on the heels and toes.

Herman has much to answer for.

yoostabe vaughn crossingThis intersection of Vaughn Boulevard and Avenue N yoostabe where patrol boys of D. McRae Elementary enjoyed one of the perks of the high office: getting out of sixth-period class early to swap dirty jokes on the corner.

yoostabe vaughn knoxThis modest building was the office of Dr. Warren G. Knox. He made house calls.

yoostabe vaughn brannen groceryThis long building yoostabe Brannen’s drive-in grocery, a shoe repair shop, a photo shop, and a cleaners. It is now Rev’s Funeral Parlor.

yoostabe vaughn ray cloudThis vacant lot is all that remains of Ray Cloud Pharmacy at 1902 Vaughn, where many a boy sent by his parents to fetch a prescription squandered the money instead on a Revell model airplane. Inset photo of the sign is from an earlier trip down memory lane.

yoostabe vaughn wagon yardThe Wagon Yard is all partied out. Inset photo of the sign is from earlier times.

yoostabe vaughn theaterThe Poly Theater opened in 1951, operated by Imogene (1912-1990) and Boyd Milligan (1905-2000), who also operated the 7th Street Theater. The building has been derelict for years after the last owner, a church, left town owing delinquent taxes.

yoostabe vaughn theater sign skyThe theater’s marquee is dilapidated. Now showing: Blue Skies Above.

yoostabe vaughn houlihanWhere M&S Tires & Wheels is today just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway yoostabe Robert and Kate Houlihan’s kingdom of commerce: their grocery store and variety store. Later an A. L. Davis supermarket yoostabe there.

yoostabe vaughn may cleanerMay’s Cleaners is now Poly’s Smoker’s Paradise (“Drinks Snacks Hookahs Accessories”).

yoostabe vaughn weldonsThis yoostabe Weldon’s Café, built in moderne style and opened in 1946 by Ivy Weldon and Edna Bodiford (parents of Sandy Bodiford, Poly High class of 1955, who married classmate Kenneth Copeland). Weldon Bodiford was a brother of James Bodiford, who in 1968 operated an auto repair shop across the street from Weldon’s. The café building last housed Diva’s Lounge (“Restaurant Extraordinaire!” “Fort Worth’s Finest BYOB” “Billiards Karaoke Hookahs”). Hmmm. That’s the second place with hookahs.

Indeed, since the 1957 city directory was printed, the Middle-Class Mile has (like us) changed. Some of the buildings we recall on Vaughn Boulevard are gone, some are shuttered, and the rest have new occupants. Thomas Wolfe reminded us that “you can’t go home again.” But you can go again to where the Poly equator meets the Poly prime meridian: the intersection of Rosedale Street and Vaughn Boulevard. Then point your shoes south and walk that mile of Vaughn Boulevard as Memory Lane.

But please, no taps.

To read more about Vaughn Boulevard:

Cowtown Yoostabes, Vaughn Boulevard Edition: Driving the Middle-Class Mile

Cowtown Yoostabes, Vaughn Boulevard Edition: Don’t Be Afraid of . . . The Dark

This entry was posted in Advertising, Cowtown Yoostabes, Downtown, All Around, East Side, Life in the Past Lane. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Cowtown Yoostabes, Vaughn Boulevard Edition: The Middle-Class Mile

  1. Martha Bell says:

    I am overwhelmed with the amount of information you’re able to offer. After reading this reply from you, I pulled up your Ellis Empire post and found it most interesting. When I was out driving past the Houlihan’s house just last week, I also drove by what I NOW know was the Ellis house! I had seen an aerial pic of it and noticed the pool appears half empty and green. I might have to drive by there again, now that I know what I’m looking at! I am enjoying the heck out of reading your posts. Thank you for filling in alot of blanks for us older Ft. Worthians who don’t know all this history!

    • hometown says:

      I know, I know–it’s a sickness. But seriously, I grew up knowing less about my hometown than most other natives. Then, about nine years ago I got on a bicycle and began to see Fort Worth for the first time.

  2. Martha Bell says:

    Thank you for replying. I was hoping against hope that you had old photos of Houlihan’s. There must be photos out there somewhere. I am not giving up! But yes, I also remember the creaky and uneven floors of both Motts and Houlihan’s. Today that would be part of their charm. Do you have any reference as to when Houlihan’s was torn down?

    • hometown says:

      A tiptoe through the S-T archives finds some dates that call into question my memory.
      A Houlihan’s grocery at 3112 Vaughn (later the site of the variety store) appears in 1946. A Houlihan’s grocery store one door south at 3116 Vaughn appears in 1947. The 3116 store last appears in a Houlihan’s ad in June 1958. The very next month 3116 Vaughn is an A. L. Davis store! So when did the store transition from what I remember as an old building with wavy floors to a modern concrete building with tiled floors? Or maybe only the variety store building at 3112 had wavy floors, and the 3116 store was concrete during Houlihan’s ownership and was not built by Davis. I can find no reference to a building being torn down or built at that address. But I remember poking through the concrete rubble of the Davis store after it was demolished.
      The 3116 store last appears in a Davis ad in May 1962. That was the year that right-of-way for the freeway was being acquired. Davis went bankrupt the next year, and the stores were bought by other grocers.
      A fabrics ad for wife Kate Houlihan’s “Houlihan’s of Poly” at 3112 Vaughn appears in 1960. That store moved to Meadowbrook Drive in 1962—probably torn down that year along with 3116.
      Looks like Robert Charles Houlihan built the Ellis Ranch Trail house in 1952. I did a post on the Ellis empire after I ran across the adjacent Ellis house while looking for the Houlihan house on aerial photos.
      R. C. had been a grocer since the 1930s. He died in 1965, and the house went on the market.
      Brother William T. had a grocery store on West Vickery.

  3. Martha Bell says:

    I was introduced to your site recently and have really enjoyed the history of Ft Worth you share. I was born in Ft Worth in 1951 and still reside here. I went to Mitchell Blvd Elem, William James, and Poly High. Very recently something jogged my memory of Houlihan’s so I began a little online research and that’s where you site was first discovered. I would not have remembered the exact location of their stores. So thank you for that information! As a child I remember going to their stores with my sister and mother. I’m sure that’s where she bought the fabric that she sewed almost every garment I wore through elementary school. But another memory I have of the Houlihans is of their home. As a child it appeared to be HUGE. I remember there was a pond out front of the house with an arched bridge over it and swans swimming in that pond! It was like a fairytale house to me as a child. I had a very general idea of where their house was but not enough memory to be able to locate it. I asked a friend to help me research the house and she was able to get an address for me! Of course I wasted no time driving there to see it. The property is very overgrown. The house looks to be vacant and in poor condition. But when I peeked between tree trunks and overgrown shrubs, I was able to see the pond! It is stagnant and very green. What I am hoping for is that you (or maybe someone you know)might have photos from “way back from my childhood” of the Houlihan’s storefronts when it was still Houlihan’s. But mostly I would love to see a picture of their beautiful home…..and the swans! I can see it in my head but would love to see photographs. Thank you so much for any information you can give me.

    • hometown says:

      Thank you, Martha. I grew up a block from Houlihan’s but did not know about their home until I began writing this blog. I, too, would love to see photos of the store and the house but know of none. I remember that the wooden floors of the Houlihan variety store were uneven, like the floor of the Mott’s on Rosedale. I remember when the Houlihan stores were torn down for an A. L. Davis store and when the Davis store was torn down for the freeway.

  4. Nancy Brownlee says:

    I lived on Eastland, at the top of ‘Poly Hill’, across Wichita from the Masonic Home. In the summer I walked to Houlihan’s Dry Goods Store to go to the bookmobile, ate ice cream at Ashburn’s (the made homemade peach in July…), said hello to Paul Burge, at the hardware store- and was banned from Poly Theater by Imogene for a whole month – for spitting off the balcony.

    Poly girl.

    • hometown says:

      I lived just north of there on Burton near Vaughn, one block from Houlihan’s. If you didn’t get in trouble with Imogene Milligan at least once, you just weren’t trying. She called the POLICE on me, beginning my long career in crime.

    • Nancy Brownlee says:

      You win.

    • hometown says:

      I was probably twelve. The two policemen took me aside and told me to go on home. A couple of years later my first kiss came in that theater. I imagine that balcony seat is still warm to the touch.

  5. Mellinda Timblin says:

    Look Homeward Angel was just disturbing.

  6. Ramiro Garza says:

    I guess it is true, when you are older things do not seem as far (must be because we drive everywhere). It sure seemed more than a mile down that stretch of road. How long would you estimate from Vaughn/Rosedale to Vaughn/Childress?

    • hometown says:

      Vaughn end to end is more like two miles, but I was focusing on the retail stretch from Rosedale to Reed Street (Rev’s Funeral Parlor), which is 1.2 miles. But “the Middle-Class 1.2 Miles” just does not have the same ring.

  7. Janie Sims says:

    In the immortal words of the old ski nose, Bob Hope, “Thanks for the Memories”. Lived on Ada until age 5, then we moved to Grayson, by the Masonic Home. Just for fun, we would sometimes walk from Poly HS home. Mom shopped at all the stores along Rosedale/Vaughn. In highschool, Fredrika and I would walk down to the coffeshop by Houlihans, get a burger and coffee and play the jukebox. TD’s Boogie Woogie was a favorite tune. After i married, I lived on Thannisch and shopped at Worth Food Market. I remember who I am and where I am from.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Janie. Very bittersweet to tour the old drag again. I did meet one familiar face, but that’s for another post.

  8. Sandy Carlson says:

    I rode the school bus down Vaughn for six years and all these things are so familiar to me. Thank you SO much for doing this.

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