can't get there from here
Horned Frog annual from at least the mid-1940s to 1971, in the back where
local companies indicated their support for the University by buying ads,
there is a full or half-page spread from the Fort Worth Transit Company.
The page usually shows TCU students boarding a bus at the corner of University
and Cantey, where stands the University Christian Church, or the corner
of Bowie and University, where stood the old TCU Drugstore. Back in those
days, few students had a car, and the bus was our means of getting around
to places removed from the immediate campus. Called the "T" now, the Transit
Company ran the city buses then.
malls and only the TCU Theatre close, students regularly took the bus
to the main shopping district in downtown Fort Worth and to the movie
theatres on 7th Street -- the Hollywood and Worth -- and farther east,
to the Palace and Majestic. It was considered a pretty special date if
your boyfriend took you to town via bus, treated you to dinner at Anders
Cafe, then walked the block-and-a-half to the Hollywood to see a first-run
film starring Dana Andrews, Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery
Clift, or Cornel Wilde, along with the beauteous stars, Joan Crawford,
Katherine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, or Deborah Kerr.
I was certainly
no stranger to the TCU bus route, even before I entered the freshman class
of 1952. Growing up on the TCU hill in a faculty family that had known
the Depression, the deprivations of World War II, and financial crises
at the University, our one Chevy was an extravagance and was used sparingly.
The Hewatt girls walked to Alice Carlson Elementary School and McLean
Junior High School (where Paschal is now), and rode the bus to and from
Paschal High School (where Trimble Tech is now). The Hewatt girls rode
the bus to their "lessons" -- ballet at Frances Burgess' Dance Studio
downtown, to their Aunt Tare's "expression lessons" on South Lake Street
near what is now the hospital district, and to piano lessons on Mistletoe
Ave., about a mile or so south of the TCU hill in Mistletoe Heights. The
Hewatt girls regularly rode the bus with their mother on shopping trips
to Leonard Bros., Stripling's, Monnig's, Penney's, and to Meacham's and
The Fair in the heart of downtown. Being given to visiting the scenes
of my childhood and youth with fond recollection, I had thought recently
to take a nostalgic trip on a city bus from TCU to town and back, and
one day last June I found my opportunity.
at the stop in front of the TCU library with a mix of emotions -- anticipation
and trepidation among them. I hadn't ridden a Fort Worth bus in years,
perhaps 35 or more, and didn't know the fare, or the procedure to pay,
or the general decorum of bus riding anymore.
I also had
a certain confidence, for I had known the old bus route as well as the
backyard of my home on Rogers Road. It ran north on University from the
Bluebonnet Circle turnaround to Park Hill Drive, where it made a turn
toward the east and on to Forest Park Blvd. From thence, north all the
way to Mistletoe Blvd., where I disembarked for the 2-block walk to my
piano lesson on Mistletoe Drive. (Lest you become confused, or think I
am, there are three Mistletoes, the third one a Street. Each connects
with the other.) East again then on Mistletoe Blvd. to Eighth Ave.; north
on Eighth to Pennsylvania; a short jog east on Pennsylvania to the Scott
Mansion (now Thistle Hill), then north on Summit past the good smells
of Mrs. Baird's Bakery (removed several years ago to the far south of
Fort Worth), then east on Texas Street to Henderson. North on Henderson
to W. Seventh, where we turned onto the downtown streets. I guess I didn't
pay much attention once we entered that area; the sure and certain memory
gets fuzzy here.
To add credence
to my memory route, I tried finding archival evidence, to no avail. But
surely, I reasoned, the neighborhoods we used to go through as we wound
toward town were much the same, so today's way would not have been altered
too much. Guessing the fare was less than a dollar (was it 10 cents in
the long ago?), I handed my dollar bill to the driver. He indicated that
I was to deposit it in the elevated "box" to his right. That much was
familiar. However, there was obviously not to be any change. There was
no move on the driver's part, nor was there the old metal change dispenser
hanging on the box, as of yore. I assumed, then, the fare to be a dollar,
and found out only later that it is 80 cents, and one should have correct
seat in the first forward-facing twosome, I subtly looked around. There
were two other passengers, both looking like they knew what they were
doing and where they were going. A sign by the door told me that "L. Tribble"
was my driver. I looked up to see the advertising that had always been
in slots above the windows. No advertising. Air conditioning ducts had
taken their place. That modern miracle (as I write, it is the 20th day
of over 100-degree temperatures) we did without, in the ago. On days such
as this, we lowered the window to let in at least a hot wind. Now, with
conditioned air, windows that open are obsolete. Straps to hold on to
if you have to stand up while riding may be obsolete, too; there were
none on this bus.
Mr. L. Tribble
pulled our bus away from the curb, and off we headed north on University
past Cantey toward Park Hill, just as I knew we would. But, he didn't
turn at Park Hill, as I thought he must. Instead, we continued on University
toward the zoo and the Trinity River in Forest Park. Well, he must be
going to turn at the zoo and get to Forest Park Blvd. that way. But no,
we just kept right on going up University past I-30 and Trinity Park,
straight on to Bailey, then White Settlement, and so to town. Perhaps
I was on the wrong bus?
to the side-facing front seat across from the driver, I confirmed with
him that I was, indeed, on the TCU bus to town and yes, if I stayed on
it, he would deposit me where he had picked me up. Answering another query,
he said that there was no bus now, that followed the old route down Forest
Park Blvd. to Mistletoe. So again, as often goes with memory dredging,
"you can't get there from here, anymore."
get to my piano lesson by bus anymore, nor take the winding way through
old neighborhoods with stately homes, anymore. But then, Mrs. Baird's
is misplaced, and the Hollywood and Worth and Anders Cafe aren't there
anymore, either. All of that would have to forever remain in the corners
of the mind where forgotten things are kept until you miss them and go
looking for them.
venture to guess that a very small percentage of the current student body
at TCU has ever ridden a city bus. Affluence has put a car at nearly everyone's
disposal, with the independence and supposed prestige that goes along
with that. If we had had our own cars in my student days, we probably
would not have taken the bus either. But I remember the old bus trips
fondly, and although it didn't go my way this time, I enjoyed the attempt
to once again ride around in the past.
Hewatt Swaim '56, author of Walking TCU: A Historical Perspective, retired
in 1995 as coordinator of bibliographic control for the Mary Couts Burnett
Library after 18 years of service. She now lives in Granbury, working
part-time as an office manager for an oil company and playing full-time
with her grandson, Asher, who is 6.