It was never really cool to be from P-Grove.
As a kid growing up in Pleasant Grove, a once proud community in the southeast corner of Dallas — I’ve always assumed it was proud at one time, long before I was on the scene —I always knew we weren’t as well off as most everybody else in Dallas. I don’t think I ever lacked for a thing. But it was obvious, especially since my siblings and I went to private Dallas Christian about 15-minutes north, that the cool people lived somewhere else.
I distinctly remember a school-sponsored overnight trip to Camp Deer Run when we were kids. It was pouring down rain and blowing really hard and lightning and thundering and our teachers and counselors gathered us in the dining hall. They told us that a tornado had been reported in Dallas but “it’s OK, there’s no need to worry, the tornado was reported in Pleasant Grove.”
Pleasant Grove has been the butt of the Dallas jokes for at least 35-40 years now, maybe longer. People who live in P-Grove are called Grove Rats. It seems that 90-percent of the shootings reported on the evening news occur in Pleasant Grove. When I’ve driven my kids through the Grove to see my boyhood home, they’ve always reacted with horror. Carrie-Anne clicks the car doors locked as soon as we take the Scyene Road exit.
Can anything good come out of Pleasant Grove?
The Bruton IV theater just west of Bruton Road and Prarie Creek is where I experienced Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Pleasant Grove branch of the Dallas public library, on South Buckner Boulevard, is where I checked out all of Beverly Cleary’s books about Henry Huggins and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse. The Pleasant Oaks recreation center, just about two miles down Jennie Lee Lane, is where we played ping-pong and basketball. That’s where dad pushed us so fast around the merry-go-round we thought we would either die laughing or choking on puke. It’s where I played three sets of tennis in that record 113-degree heat of a summer day in 1980. In my blue jeans. The 7-11 at the corner of Prarie Creek and Bruton is where I spent hours playing Asteroids and slurping Slurpees. The Pleasant Grove Church of Christ, on Conner Drive, is where I was baptized into Christ. Our three-bedroom house on Terra Alta Circle is where I learned how to be a family. The old Gibson’s store where I made my first major purchase: an $89 ten-speed bike, with lawnmowing money. Craving the ninety-nine cent hamburgers at Griff’s. Pulling the levers on the cigarette machines at Dairy Queen where my grandmother worked. The Circle Grill at Buckner and I-30. Doorknocking the apartments off Lake June Road. Learning to drive on Military Parkway. Twilight Time skating rink. (Oops. Sorry. I was only going to list positive memories in this paragraph.)
Jim Martin came out of P-Grove. That’s pretty cool. When he and I get together for our monthly meetings in Waco or run into one another in Austin or Abilene, our conversation inevitably turns to something only Rats like us could appreciate. And when Jim told me a couple of months ago that Stanley Hauerwas, the great American theologian and one of my favorite authors, was born and raised in the Grove, I was skeptical.
But here’s the proof. Today’s Dallas Morning News carries a front-page story (below the fold) about Hauerwas’ roots in Pleasant Grove. He’s just released a memoir, Hannah’s Child, that details a lot of his childhood experiences as the only son of a Pleasant Grove bricklayer, faithful members of the Pleasant Mound Methodist Church. From there, Hauerwas has gone on to lecture and write and teach and preach. Yale Divinity School. Notre Dame. Duke Divinity School. He’s one of the great theological thinkers of our time.
My favorite work of his is Resident Aliens. Living as Christians in a pagan land. The Church as a colony of outsiders in the middle of hostile territory. Read it. It’s challenging. Convicting. You won’t be the same after you’ve digested Resident Aliens. You won’t view God’s Church or God’s mission for his Church the same way. His writings have certainly had a profound impact on shaping my theology. Hauerwas is a genius.
And he’s from the Grove.
The Dallas Morning News article mentions that Hauerwas graduated from Samuell High School in 1958. My dad was a Samuell Spartan, class of 1960! Is there any chance? Could they have known each other? Is it even possible? I took my driver’s education at Samuell. But does my dad know Hauerwas?
He doesn’t. I just called. My dad doesn’t even have a 1958 Samuell year book, only a ’59 and ’60.
That’s allright. Today, it’s a little bit cooler to be from the Grove.
The magic number is 26. Any combination of 26 wins by the Rangers and losses by the A’s gives our baseball team their first division title since 1999. Do you realize that there are only 32 games remaining? If the Rangers go 16-16 the rest of the way — no chance since Cruz comes back tonight and Kinsler’s scheduled to be in the lineup by this weekend — Oakland would have to go 25-8 to win the A.L.West.
I remember well those Red Octobers from the late ’90s. Whitney doesn’t. This is fun.