25 Signs you grew up in Dallas in the 90’s

The following is based on questions I get about what it was like to grow up in Dallas.

1.  The Texas Giant – You remember how big of a deal it was when the Texas Giant opened. Like seriously, it was a really really big deal.


2.  Cowboys and 49er’s – You had one friend that hated the Cowboys and loved the 49er’s. Despite how awesome the Cowboys were in the 90’s, you had one friend that just had to be different and like the 49er’s.


Suck it 49er’s…and Keith from 9th grade for liking them

3.  The Toadies Rumor – There was that rumor at your school about the Toadies Song “Possum Kingdom” being about the lead singer sister’s death or something to that effect.


The Toadies were way more than one song from Guitar Hero

4.  Kenny “the Shark” Gant – You remember Kenny “The Shark” Gant from the Cowboys and his dances before kick offs.

KENNYGANTSHARKIt just goes to show that if you dance before kickoff and you’ll be more remembered than the starters.

5.  Penny Whistle Park – Looking back, a shed that housed a dozen carny-style amusement park-ish rides probably wasn’t that cool. But to the eight year old version of myself, it was an absolutely amazing place to have a birthday party.

penny whistle parkThat’s not a mistake, it’s just that no photo does Penny Whistle Park justice.

6.  The Black Hole at Wet ‘n’ Wild – First of all, it’s Wet’ n’ Wild, not six flags hurricane harbor splash world or whatever it is nowadays. And second, as soon as you went down the black hole at Wet ‘N’ Wild for the first time, you told everyone at school.

wet-n-wild-arlingtonUpon further review, building an entirely black water slide that soaked up the Texas sun, becoming blistering hot, might not have been the best idea.  But I’m not listening.

7.  Tatu and the Dallas Sidekicks – I can’t name a single other player on the Sidekicks, nor a single team that they played. But I know how big of a deal it was to go to a Sidekicks game and see him take his shirt off after a goal.

DSC03023No one is looking at you #15, stop waving.  Everyone is staring at Tatu’s early 90’s aura.

8Scotty’s on Park Lane – You spent days at Scotty’s on Park Lane. Before it was turned into Top Golf, that place was Scotty’s. And you probably spent countless afternoons playing miniature golf there, or in the batting cages.

scottys-golf-park-74231035If you know about Scotty’s then you know how awesome it was.  If not just trust us.

9.  Fair Day: Day off from school + free ticket to the State Fair + corny dogs and ice cream sandwiches + the pirate ship ride = best day ever.


F.Y.I.  Whenever you decide to go to the  Fair nowadays, always always check when Fair Day is for schools.  Don’t go on those days.

10.  The West End was cool – There was that arcade in the big building’s basement, like a three floor arcade. Plus the free fudge. Also a Planet Hollywood and some other stuff. Either way, as a kid it was a cool place.

wem-081709-0+(12)Whatever happened to that Giant Cowboy boot wearing Dinosaur?

11.  Mavericks games were free– You went Dallas Mavericks games basically for free.  Winning tickets to a Mavericks game in the 90’s was essentially the same as winning a pizza party for your class in grade school. Except the Three J’s weren’t at your pizza party.

three j'sBy “Crown” they meant, not last place.

12.  1994 World Cup – You remember the 1994 World Cup and that mascot dog thing. You may not have gone to the games, but you remember all the hoopla surrounding the games played at the Cotton Bowl.

world cup 94 mascotHis name was Striker, really I looked it up.

 13.  Your Favorite Texas Rangers were Rusty Greer, Nolan Ryan, “Pudge” and Steve Booooooo-shell, in some order.

41g-xY9LfeLPretty sure this baseball card is in a box at my parent’s house.

14.  The black tar heroin in Plano – You got lectured about drugs after all those kids in Plano died of black tar heroin.  Either at school or from your parents. The kids in Plano freaked out a lot of adults.

cheeseToday’s kids use “cheese” not harder drugs like the 90’s kids.

15.  Crystal Pizza – It was like Chucky Cheese on steroids, and way awesomer. A true birthday party Mecca.

crystalspizzaIt had a “Cartoon Theater”

16.  The Coca Cola Starplex – It’s not the Gexa Energy, Livenation.com Shirmoff Vodka Musical Arts Performance Center, it’s the Coca-Cola Starplex.

mXxqMDg5ArjOEx1AshrT3TAWish I could find a better picture, but this is a ticket stub from a Hootie and the Blowfish show at the Coca-Cola Starplex.  Can’t get much more 90’s then that.

17.  Dazed and Confused or Varsity Blues – These movies had some real similarities to your high school life. Sure, one of them was set in the 70’s and the other in a small town, but other than that, they weren’t that far off.

polls_varsity_blues_3835_124721_answer_1_xlargeI don’t want your life.

18.  Deep Ellum was cool and hardcore, or so you heard– Unless you were a teenager when 1990 rolled around and were old enough to claim you went to the Nirvana Trees’ show; you, like me were probably a little too young to really experience the Deep Ellum that your older cousin talked about. But still if you were lucky enough to see a show at Trees, or even to perform in Deep Ellum during the 90’s it was a badge of honor.

1e-002-ss-07-kpask_lgI knew that place was cool before I even knew what cool meant.

19.  The 972 area code role-out – You remember when they introduced the 972 area code. Before DFW had like twelve area codes, Dallas had one: 214. And when you called your friends you didn’t need ten numbers.


What would people get tattoo’s of if 972 was never introduced?

20.  Hoop-it-up – If you played basketball, you remember hoop-it-up. It was the pinnacle of quasi-non-organized basketball no matter what your age.

m_81Q2hD0g6SroblikhCLIQAnyone else remember the rumor that the Mavericks found Mike Izzuilno playing at Hoop-It-Up.

21.  White Rock Lake was a scary place – Before it was turned around, and became a haven for blue toothed bikers, slow runners and rowing teams; White Rock Lake was a bad place full of trash, dead bodies, and questionable men in cars cruising around.

117-rray-cycling-wrlSide Note:  If you think Oak Cliff is scary or dangerous today, twenty years ago you would have shat yourself.

22.  Town East, Redbird, and Valley View Malls – They were still decent malls, or well, they were still actually malls that were open.

TownEastMall030513Town East now advertises that they have a McDonald’s, never a good sign for a mall when it’s pimping Mickey D’s.

23.  The Dallas Times Herald –  I was too young to really read the paper when the Times Herald was around, but I do remember my father buying copies of its last edition.

1b-ashx1Biggest rule of Dallas media: no matter what’s going on, even if you’re going out of business…The Cowboys are more important.

24.  1310 the Ticket – Your dad listened to 1310 The Ticket while driving you around. I didn’t become a P1 until I was like 25 or 26, but my father like most fathers in Dallas was a day one P1.

Ktck11Do you like your gig?

25.  Mr. Peppermint and his musical son.  Mr. Peppermint was part of your childhood. So as a teenager your mind was blown when you found out that his kid was one of the Butthole Surfer guys.

mr_peppermint-630x329Side note, apparently Jerry Haynes, the guy who played Mr. peppermint, like to curse like a sailor when he was off camera and around adult guest stars just to get a reaction out of them

Old East Dallas/ East Dallas – What They Both Mean

I keep hearing people say “Old East Dallas” and East Dallas. Are they interchangeable? Is there a difference? Is Old East Dallas just the old part of East Dallas, or are they using it as an adjective, like saying, “old man Stevens is a ornery fella”? – RM

No they are not interchangeable, they have two different meanings. In fact depending on who you’re talking to, even the term East Dallas can have different meaning. But first East Dallas v Old East Dallas.

east dallas orginial

Know what it means before you wear the shirts guys.

Old East Dallas refers to a particular neighborhood in Dallas. It’s a triangle-ish shaped neighborhood bordered by I-30, Central Expressway and Munger Ave.   A hundred and thirty years ago, before the freeways, it was its own separate town complete with an 18 mph speed limit for horses.   The town, incorporated in 1882, had begun to develop in the 1870’s after the railroads arrived at a junction roughly where Baylor Hospital is today.


Notice this Mosaic at the Hall of State, says the railroads came to East Dallas, not Dallas.

The settlers had initially wanted to name it after its leading citizen Colonel Gaston. However they eventually settled on the name “East Dallas.” The Old East Dallas neighborhood sits where the much of the original town site for East Dallas was. The reasons why East Dallas is no longer a town and now part of Dallas, goes back to Dallas’ hunger for growth and a shady state senator.


This guy.

East Dallas grew rapidly, and by the late 1880’s had 6,000 residents. The City of Dallas, had been trying to annex the new and quickly growing East Dallas throughout the 1880’s. Dallas’ goal was to annex East Dallas before the 1890 census in the hopes of combining the populations and becoming the largest town in Texas. But again and again, East Dallas rejected and voted down the annexation effects. That is until Dallas went over the head of the East Dallas citizens. In 1889, state senator R. S. Kimbrough revoked East Dallas’ charter with the state and allowed Dallas to proceed with an annexation scheduled for January 1st, 1890. As part of the agreement, Dallas promised to take over the debt, public holdings, property and streets of East Dallas. So on December 31st, 1889, the day before East Dallas was to be annexed, they dedicated the land for numerous streets and passed bond measures to fund their construction. Dallas was forced to take on the debt and ultimately build the roads. Hence the reasons why Old East Dallas is bisected by nice, fairly wide (for the time) streets like Live Oak, Ross, or Gaston.

 imagesCAAL4F01East Dallas seen here sticking to the Man (i.e. Dallas.)

As far as the term “East Dallas,” depending on whom you ask, East Dallas can mean a wide variety of places. If you’re talking to a man in his 80’s and who begins any discussion with “When I was a kid, the streetcar down Gaston cost a nickel!”, then he’s probably going to have a pretty strong opinion about which neighborhoods are actually in East Dallas. Same goes for the hipster transplant that has lived off Ross for 5 years. They may claim that you can only call the old 1,400 acre town site of East Dallas…East Dallas.



The East Dallas railline station of the “old school East Dallasite”


The backyard chicken tour of the “new school East Dallasite”

And they might be right. But the vast majority of the almost 7 million people living in DFW, and most of those with a vague familiarity with the area have a different understanding, It’s best summed up by the following conversation I swear I had with a half dozen kids when I started college.

Them: So, where’d you grow up?

Me: Dallas.

Them: Oh, me too, I’m from Plano what about you?

Me: Um…Dallas…Dallas.

Them: Oh, cool, where abouts?

Me: East Dallas?

Them: Like Lakewood, the Arboretum, White Rock Lake?

Me: Um, yeah, there abouts.

To many people living out in Frisco or somewhere out in the North Texas hinterland, that is what East Dallas is. White Rock, Lakewood, the Arboretum.


East Dallas right?

To them, East Dallas is some general area, vaguely identified by those markers, located north of I-30, east of Central, and including everything all the way out to Garland and Mesquite. Of course that thought usually pisses off the old timers who correctly point out that White Rock was built 20 year after “East Dallas” was incorporated into Dallas, and several miles away from the Old East Dallas city limits. Who’s right? The answer is probably somewhere in between. And it’s probably somewhat of a generational opinion. My great grandparents most assuredly did not call the White Rock Lake area East Dallas. They called that area of unincorporated Dallas County; the Big Thicket (best hunting in the county). But my great grandchildren, if they live in Dallas, will most likely say East Dallas includes White Rock Lake. Of course they may also call Tyler a suburb of Dallas by then.

future people

Future population of Dallas discussing whether or not to put a “Hoover-Expressway” along the Trinity River bottoms.



Why Texas-OU is the biggest game in the State and biggest party in the City

Why is Texas-OU such a big thing in Dallas, – co-worker from Kansas


Because it’s about America, and football, and Texas and Liberty…wait let me start over.

First you got to understand that the football game and the celebration of the football game are different, but are intertwined so much that they’re almost the same.  And both are big, big deals in Texas, Oklahoma, and Dallas.  Hundreds of thousands people come to town for the game, which includes two teams that have played for half of the national championships in the past 12 years.  20 million in revenue is generated because of the weekend, during which more beer in Dallas is consumed then any other weekend.  So let me explain why it’s so big.

The game, well it’s an old tradition, like really old.  The first game happened before Oklahoma was a state, the Longhorns weren’t even called the Longhorns, they were called the Varsity.  Oklahoma looked like this when they started playing.


Throughout the history of the game, both teams have been consistently good, sometimes scary good.  Since World War II at least one of the two teams have been ranked in the top 25 an astounding 65 out 67 times, and in the top ten 48 times.  The two teams have combined to win a national champion once every seven years.  And though Oklahoma’s been arguably more successful nationally, Texas leads the series 59-43.


Their success has led them to becoming the top programs in their respective states.  Sorry A&M, two years of Johnny Football doesn’t make up for a century of playin second fiddle in the state, (though I should note that they’d be a strong first fiddle in 40 of the other 49 states in the union).

Man too stupid to use hat

Sorry Aggies

As marquee the most successful programs in the area, they’ve naturally become each other’s biggest rivals.  Again, some in Aggie land will remark its A&M that’s Texas’s biggest rival, but I’ll let hall of fame coach Darrell Royal answer that question.

“That game – the rivalry game for us has always been Oklahoma. The A&M game’s been a great game and all of that. And we may play ’em. But it’s not something that we have to do. I think the Oklahoma game is something we have to do.”


Here’s the coach Royal getting what I’m sure is a “Three Legged Race Award Plaque”

In case you didn’t catch what he’s saying, it’s that, for seventy years, Texas didn’t have to play Oklahoma but they wanted.  They had to play A&M for decades for conference reasons.  Once the two teams didn’t have to play each other last year, they stopped.

For Oklahoma, their best in state rival is the Bedlam game against Ok State.  Which Oklahoma has won 80% of and once went on a 43-3 streak.  So yeah, not really a fair matchup.  Nebraska might have been a good example, but much like the Texas-Texas A&M game, once the two teams stopped having to play each other for conference reasons in 1996, they stopped playing each other regularly.

But what makes this game even more meaningful, what turns it from a big rivalry game into an cultural event, a day circled on thousands of calendars, is the unique venue, the surroundings, the atmosphere, in short the party, the celebration that surrounds the games.

utexas_480_271_c1_c_t_0_0What comes before Part B…

So let’s talk about that party.  Why is it so big.  Well first, as I’ve said, the game’s a big deal, but it’s also at a neutral site.  Which means for the college kids it combines both aspects of a drunken tailgating home game, and s-faced road tripping away games.    As crazy as the kids from Norman and Austin are nowadays they used to be worst.  Columnist A.C. Green used to say that in the 70’s, you couldn’t walk across the intersection of Commerce and Akrad (where the two largest hotels in Dallas were) because there was six inches of glass in the streets from all the beer bottles and broken windows.  It was all in good fun, I mean there were arrests but usually only for drunk and disorderly or criminal mischief for throwing a flaming mattress out a hotel window.  Another writer put it like this “…the Friday night before the annual Texas-OU game is a night that Dallas must brace for all year long.”

7335540_87They are completely sober….really.

But it’s not just the kids from UT or OU that make it a crazy party.  It’s their friends too.  Every 17-25 year old that doesn’t attend OU or Texas has a friend or cousin or significant other that did.  So they come out and party too.


An OU girl, her friend, a Texas girl, and her two cousins.  All are welcome

Their 41 year old uncle that attended UT law school parties too.  There’s a famous story, like a hallmark story in sports journalism, that encompasses the game and the weekend.    Written by Dan Jenkins for Sports Illustrated, Jenkins wrote of a party he and two forty something bankers (and Texas alumni) attended that included “…Texas fans, Oklahoma fans, Dallas Cowboy fans, Dallas Cowboys, bartenders, musicians, entertainers from the city’s private clubs” (Jenkins code for strippers). And If you trace just the amount of alcohol that Jenkins mentioned in his story that these two guys drank, it’d make the Mad Men cringe.


What all this party us partying?


Oh yeah, okay carry on

In fact it was the result of another alumni, David Harold Byrd, that locals in Dallas used to know that the party had started.  Byrd was a big booster of the university, the football team and in particular the band.  So whenever the band arrived in Dallas the Friday before the game, it would march through the streets of downtown, on a Friday afternoon, to Byrd’s office on Ross Ave for an impromptu show.  Once you heard the sound of the band in downtown, you stopped working and starting drinking.  Byrd would help the town out with this whole heavy drinking by throwing an open party at his home with 50 cases of liquor.  That’s right I said 50 cases and I said liquor, 500 bottles of hard booze.

liquor-gallery2Bascially he had a liqour store at his house

At his party he served beef, pork, deer, elk, buffalo, zebra, camel, and more.  He also has a mountain range in Antarctica named after him.


Do you have a mountain range named after you?  No, then you can’t come to my 500 liquor bottle party.  J/K here have a zebra burger.

So you take all that, the importance of the game, it’s history, the throngs of drunk college kids, their friends and the alumni and put it in a city that knows a little about partying, at an event like the Fair, which knows in particular how to party and entertain people. ..And you get a wild crazy party like atmosphere around a huge game.


If you can’t decide who to root for, go for both, and then get really really drunk.

The party’s died down a little in recent years particularly when one team has a few down years in a row, And the St. Patty’s Day Parade is slowing challenging Texas-OU for the city’s biggest annual party, but Texas-OU is still king among the annual partying event in Dallas

Why the Cowboys are called “America’s Team”

Why do the Dallas Cowboys call themselves America’s Team, kinda presumptuous for a mediocre team to do that isn’t it. –  KZ from Chicago

Well obviously you’re not a Cowboys fan.  But in short the answer is that throughout the 1960’s, 70’s 80’s and 90’s the Cowboys were both extremely successful AND extremely marketable.


The Team that was first called America’s Team (dallascowboys.com)

The term was coined in 1978 by NFL Films.  They were producing an end of the year highlight film, and were looking for a nickname for the Cowboys.  It was the late 1970’s and football was coming into its own as a sport.  Though pro football had been around for a number of years, the 70’s saw huge gains in popularity for the sport.  This was in part because football, more than any other professional sport; looks and plays great on TV.  And the Cowboys, in particular looked and played great on TV more than anyone else.


The 1978 “America’s Team” included your balding Uncle, Questlove’s cousin, and a porn star.

In 1978, the Cowboys had just finished their 12th consecutive winning season, a streak that would hit ultimately hit 20.  In those 20 years they made the playoffs 18 times, both are records.  They owned their conference, the NFC, playing in the NFC championship every other year for over thirty years.  In the 1970’s they played in as many Super Bowls as all the other teams in the NFC combined.

But they weren’t just successful in transformative years of the NFL, they were marketable.  They had that iconic Blue Star on their helmet, one of the most recognizable sports logos worldwide.

dallas-cowboys-helmet-logo-e1325797190394-250x192 People on tiny islands in the Pacific know what this is (dallascowboys.com)

They played in a stadium that unlike many in the NFL was also recognizable.  The not quite a doom, not quite an open air stadium that looked like it had a hole on the roof.  That hole by the way was put there so that , as linebacker D.D. Lewis said, so “  God can watch His favorite team play.”  Now that’s presumptuous.

Texas%20Stadium-dallas ob Why God had to put a hole in the roof to see is beyond me(dallascowboys.com)

As for the players, the teams of the late 60’s and 70’s included a Heisman Trophy winner (and future hall of fame) running back, and another Heisman Trophy winner at Quarterback who just so happened to be a Navy War Hero (also a hall of famer).  At Wide Receiver, they had a bona fided track star.  As in a Olympic Gold Medal winner, literally the world’s fastest man.  Bob Hayes, Or Bullet Bob Hayes was the  Usain Bolt of his generation who then also became Calvin Johnson, (not to be confused with Navin R. Johnson).  Of course they also had true blue western cowboys, Danny Dons, members of the Rodeo Hall of Fame, the author of whats considered the best novel ever about professional football, Tonight Show guest hostslotto winners, pro wrestlers, and other assorted characters.

As coach they also had one of the best known hat wearing man in the western world…Tom Landry


So by 1978, when NFL Films was trying to think of a nickname, they realized that no matter where they went to film the Cowboys on their road games, there were always Cowboy fans.  The Cowboys also played more national TV games than anyone else, including the Monday Night games and the Thanksgiving Day games. When foreigners were asked to name an American football team, the Cowboys were named most often and their Blue Starred helmets identified.  The Cowboys had become the most popular team in the NFL, so if football was quickly becoming America’s new past time, the Cowboys were becoming America’s Team.

0123_largeSports Illustrated, back when the cover was edited by 7 year olds

The name has stuck in part because of the wave of successful and the characters of the 1990s.  If the Cowboys had only been successful and charismatic in the 60’s, 70’s and into the 80’s, the name may have faded.  But in the 1990’s, football’s second boom time with the explosion of cable tv, espn, highlight shows, and fantasy football; the Cowboys were just as successful and just as marketable as they were in the earlier years.


Available on ebay for a small fortune

They’d play in three Super Bowls in the 90’s making the playoffs eight times, their quarterback, Troy Aikman would win more games in that decade than any other quarterback in history had and would date America’s sweetheart in the early 90’s Nancy Kerrigan.  They also had a fur coats wearing Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith the all time leading rusher NFL history, and their biggest free agent of the time was nicknamed, “PrimeTime”  for his antics.  He also had a rap song…it’s awesome. It inlcudes the lyrics…”Hey, my snakeskin shoes gonna change into gators- Hey, my library cards gonna change into credit cards”

deion1992skyboxprimetime Deion’s Poster c2_24343_0_PrimeTimeNFLStarringDeionSande Deion’s Game

And though the Cowboys have not had the success they had in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s or 90’s, they do still have this.


Which should make America’s Team forever