Creating Destinations Through Theme Bars

You couldn’t see the Hollywood and Vine bistro from the Square at Glen Rose, so Dobber Stephenson grabbed the theme from out of the air

Walnut Springs, TX  – The state highway system crisscrosses miles and miles of Texas, and it’s dotted with small towns getting smaller, venues with gorgeous stone and brick buildings that were a short wagon hop for ranchers and farmers of long ago.

On Saturdays, the family headed for the barber shop, the Post Office, freight depot, bank, lumber yard, grocery, and mercantile dry goods stores, and the obligatory parking spot, from which to watch the people, meet and greet.

In today’s jet-shrunken world, travel is complicated by fuel and insurance logistics, backed by hostile cops, mercenary wrecker drivers, and coldly calculating courts.

Locking people up for trying to have a good time has become one of the true growth industries in the Lone Star State. Don’t believe it, try it; you won’t like it. As the Governor says in his signs, “DWI: You can’t afford it.”

A trip to the bright lights of Big D, the Bayou city, Ostentatious and the Alamo could well land a dude and dudette in the hot house for many years to come – after the impound fee for parking where it looks perfectly legal to park, the obligatory fees for the bondsman and lawyer, probation, rehab, and ankle monitor costs, there’s always the surcharges imposed by the administrative court at the DPS in Austin.

The MAN has big plans for the rest of your life. No doubt.

That’s why weekending in the major metropolitan areas has become an artful pursuit of day trips to places you’ve never had time to see, wild places long abandoned and perfectly good for an R&R mental health couple of days that don’t really involve all the bummers a trip to the bright lights can bring on – in stereo.

Enter Dobber Stephenson, a guy who has helped turn more venues into destinations for the road weary, traffic-bound and uptight urban crowds than is generally known.

’32 Deuce Coupe, best in show in Saturday’s Car Show sponsored by  Blackie’s Bait Shop, The Yellow Dog Saloon,  the Tailgate Ranch, Walnuts Springs, and 111 Cycles, Clifton

To review: he, Dave Edwards and Mike Ditka, then of the Dallas Cowboys, partnered in Dirt Dobbers off Lemmon Avenue at about the time liquor by the drink became legal. They did so well, he opened up the Sportspage on Inwood Rd., with the standard attractions in what was then North Dallas – the locker room hamburger, drinks, drinks, drinks – dames – and all that jazz.

Then came the gas crunch, the oil embargo and the dippity-doo price of crude, and people needed a get-away to get away from it all. Witness, the Oar House on the eastern shore of Lake Ray Hubbard, and at Glen Rose, the remake of an old mansion in the trees above the Courthouse Square, at the corner of a street named Vine – hence, Hollywood and Vine, with more of the same, a convenient day trip from the Metromess at a well-known summer spa town recently become rich from the benefits of developing the Comanche Peak nuclear power station.

When he put up the Hollywood sign on the hill, right where a motorist emerging from the hot and dusty trail can’t miss it, he caught some flack from the historical commission, but no worries. He had informed the City Council ahead of time.

It’s still there.

“We had no visible advertising from the square,” he told the local scribes.

Done deal.

And now, there is the Yellow Dog Saloon, a part of a shop complex of Blackie’s Bait Shop, The Yellow Rose, and a second saloon right across the street. They feature cowboy art, harness, tack, lariats, antiques, and all the other impedimenta of rural ranch lands amidst the flat iron mesas of near west Texas in the breaks above the North Bosque and the Brazos drainage system.

More of the same, drinks, burgers, good-looking people out for a ride, and why not? If it works, why fix it?

The bar back at the Yellow Dog, filled with flash and stuff to look at

Crowds of kids, dogs, car restoration fanatics, and people wandering around watching the people watch the people on a rainy Saturday beheld the judging at the car contest, a spectacle of old timey flivvers made to look like they just came off the showroom floor, customized, painted in the best tangerine-flaked, streamlined baby fashion, chromed and lowered, chopped, channeled, raked and road ready.

Vroom!

There is live music at the Yellow Dog, featuring both kinds of music – country and western – written originally by singer-songwriters in their prime, guys and gals with a track record and a love of the local roads. They have Facebook pages and Reverb Nation notices of their works.

Try before you buy, just look them up, once you find out who’s appearing. Very small world, indeed, an electronic village, and getting smaller by the nanosecond. Just ask The Donald and Hillary; they will be glad to tell you all about it. But, hey, it’s the weekend.

They also have innovative trophies at Walnut Springs. Check it out:

Randy Richardson, best in show car, the ’32 Deuce Coupe depicted

 

 

 

 

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