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Tango Frogs from I 35

 

 

Trader Joe’s, the cultish, California-based grocery store arrived on Lower Greenville Avenue this summer with a local following cued-up and chompin’ at the bit to get inside the doors 

 

Making the wait even more worth-while and welcoming, the Tradcer Joe’s Company personalizes each store’s interior.  The Greenville Avenue store features check stands with names like Richard and Velasco, selected from neighborhood streets, and beautiful murals of area sights and attractions, honoring legends and landmarks of the East Dallas area. 

 

One mural of special interest, one that brought back memories to many, is the one on the store’s west wall, just above “produce,” that depicts “The Tango Frogs.” 

 

What’s the story of this band of dancing frogs?  In the early 1980’s, Shannon Wynne opened a nightclub on Lower Greenville Avenue, (Greenville Avenue south of Mockingbird Lane).

 

Wynne’s nightclub, The Tango Club, was located at 1827 Greenville Avenue, and had six ten-foot-tall revolving frogs dancing and playing the guitar and the saxophone on the roof above it.  The frogs were sculpted by Bob “Daddy-O” Wade—a Texas artist who had risen to fame by installing a 40-foot-long iguana sculpture atop the Lone Star Café in New York City.

 

Unfortunately, the dancing amphibians spent only a short period of time as part of the East Dallas skyline—the club itself had a short lived history.    Tango closed in 1985 and the frolicking frogs were hauled off to a new home in the country, -- a place on Highway 35 just outside of Hillsboro, Texas known as Carl’s Corner. 

Carl’s Corner was founded by and named after, Carl Cornelius, a local truck stop owner and long-time friend of the famous, Texas country-singing icon, Willie Nelson. The area was home to the legendary 4th of July picnics where Nelson often performed in the 1980s.  Cornelius’ private residence was just across the freeway.

The opening of Trader Joe’s, with the mural on the wall, brought about a resurgence of the Tango Frogs.  People began blogging about their memories of the little army above the nightclub and the Dallas Morning News printed photos from their archives and encouraged readers to send in their old pictures..

Having heard that three of the tailless critters were still in the vicinity of Carl’s Corner, (Cornelius had sold the truck stop to Trucks of America Petro a few years back, the truck stop was refurbished and the frogs moved to a new location) and being one the people who had blogged about the Tango Frogs during Trader Joe’s opening days, I wanted to see them in person. .

Tuesday, November 5, I accompanied my dear friend, noted Dallas author and storyteller, Rose Mary Rumbley to the Texas Hill Country for a speaking engagement. Since the destination took us past the truck stop on Highway 35, we allowed some extra time for “frog gigin’” with a camera along the way.

Three of the frogs are easily spotted on the east side of Highway 35 on land still owned by Carl Cornelius.  They are easy to see and photograph as you are traveling North on the freeway. 

That leaves us asking, where are the other three members of the band?  Some believe they met with disaster, burning- up in a fire at Carl’s Corner. Others believe that the frogs were sold off to various enterprises and no one knows their outcome.  

I contacted the birth father of the famous sextuplets, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade. 

Wade brought me up to snuff on the life and travels of the frogs after they left the Tango Club, and on their current whereabouts.

The frogs in question are living and playing the guitar, saxophone and morocco, on top of Chuy’s Restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. Spit shined and looking good, Wade predicted that they are likely to live there happily ever after.

However, Wade does not believe that the story has ended for the three dancing frogs on the Cornelius property in Texas, adding, “I suspect they have adventures and travels still ahead of them,”

Wade went on to share that he and his good friend, Johnny Langdon, are currently working on a documentary that will feature Wade’s famous roadside art, including the frogs.  Visit his website, www.bobwade.com. to stay updated on the documentary and the saga of the frogs.

Until then, next time you are traveling down south on Texas Interstate 35, be sure to stop and say “hey” to the Tango Frogs.

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