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To celebrate Christmas 2013, Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will present “A Child is Born” on Sunday, Dec. 22nd at 6 p.m. at the church, 4711 Westside Drive in Dallas.

 

The one-act play by Stephen Vincent Benét is a Christmas drama that tells the story of the birth of Jesus through the eyes of an innkeeper and his wife.

 

It was first performed on radio Dec. 21, 1942 by the famous husband and wife team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. In the Golden Age of Television (late 1940’s to early 1960’s) the play was often performed during the holiday season on popular anthology series like The Philco Television Playhouse, General Electric Theater  and Kraft Television Theater

 

A grand finale to Central’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration, the play will be performed on-stage, this Christmas season. Directed by Ed DeLatte of Westside Players, narrated by Dr. Debbie Chisolm and Rev. Heather Santi-Brown, it will feature a talented cast of actors.

 

The performance is free and open to the public.  Following the performance, Central will host “A Taste of Christmas” in the church’s fellowship hall for the cast and audience.   All are welcome.  

 

For additional information, contact the church office at 214-526-7291. 

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Purchase cake created by former White House chef from Collins Street Bakery

“It’s fruitcake weather,” announces Buddy in “A Holiday Memory,”  Truman Capote’s autobiographical and poignant recollection of growing up in rural Alabama during the Great Depression. 

 

In spite of limited resources and difficult times, seven-year-old Buddy and his eccentric elderly cousin, Miss Sook, rejoiced in the meaning of Christmas by preparing fruitcakes to send to people they admired.

 

In Texas, about 50 miles south of Dallas, there is a small town where it is fruitcake weather year- round.

 

Corsicana is home to the Collins Street Bakery and the world famous Collins Street fruitcakes—the dense, moist confections, filled with candied fruit and nuts and packaged in beautiful holiday tins.

 

A slice of the decadent cake may very well bring back some holiday memories to you.

 

When I was growing up, our family received a Collins Street Bakery fruitcake each December from one of my father’s clients.  My younger sister still remembers jumping up and down with joy when the fruit cake arrived.

 

The bakery was founded in 1896 by August Wiedmann, an immigrant from Westbaden, Germany with the help of Corsicana businessman and entrepreneur, Tom McElvee.

 

Within the first ten years of operation, the little bakery outgrew its location and built a new facility that boasted an eight-room hotel on the second floor—a place to accommodate visiting celebrities like Will Rogers and Enrico Caruso.

 

In 1914, when the circus came to town, another component of the already booming business was born.  Ringling Brothers Circus (it did not merge with Barnum Bailey until 1919) is credited with taking the cakes with them as they traveled town to town and giving them out as gifts.   The people loved the cakes so much that they would write to the bakery and ask to have another one sent to them—thus the beginning of the mail-order fruit cake company that we know, today.

 

Lee W. McNutt, Harry Cook and Bob Rutherford purchased the bakery from Wiedmann in 1946, and it has remained in their families ever since.

 

It being fruitcake weather in Dallas, my friend Kathy and I set out for Corsican Friday morning.  Of course, we could have ordered one online, but the short road trip seemed more appealing.  You get to visit the shop, see all the confections (they now make pies, cookies, candies and more) and sample the goodies.

 

Besides the original fruit cake, there is pineapple, apricot, apple spice and of course, Texas Pecan.

 

Also on display is a cake created by Chef Roland Mesnier, former White House pastry chef.  It’s a spice cake with pumpkin, gingerbread buttercream icing and can be ordered through Collins Street Bakery.

 

The historic downtown bakery (there are now several new locations) is on 7th Street near the town square.  A portion of the interior resembles a museum, exhibiting newspaper clippings, letters and telegrams from happy fruit cake recipients all over the world.

 

“We’ve even sent cakes to Queen Elizabeth,” bakery staff member Olivia Coleman said.

 

As Coleman showed us around the bakery pointing out items and memorabilia, she said to us, “you have to see our bread box.”

 

A vintage bread box.  Everyone had one when I was growing up. I wanted one, but they are currently out of stock.

 

Apparently Ms. Kay of Duck Dynasty has one, though— bakery staff members spotted it on the reality TV series.

 

In addition to the historic downtown bakery, there is a newer location just off Interstate 45 that serves meals of soups, salads and sandwiches as well as the bakery items.

 

In fact, there are now five Texas locations.  An added bonus—they are  pet-friendly.

 

They offer an exercise area for your dog and welcome them to dine with you on the patio. This makes Collins Street Bakeries an ideal stop when you are traveling with your canine family member. 

 

Wheels, BubbleLife’s special Boston Terrier contributor,has patronized both the I- 45 and I-35 (near Waco) locations and gives them each a “four paws up” rating.  

 

Visit www.collinsstreet.com for a complete line of bakery items and locations. 

 

A colorful fruitcake makes a beautiful presentation on your holiday table—and be sure and send one to someone you admire this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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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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Frogs on Interstate 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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This past weekend I had an interesting experience and I want to spread the news!  I spent Saturday afternoon at an actor’s workshop.

 

I’ve always loved the theater.   There is truly something magical about it. Whether it’s Broadway, local community theater or a small intimate playhouse, when the lights go down and the curtain goes up¬it’s magic...

 

Did I ever want to be an actress?  Beyond a childhood fantasy of wanting to be a “movie star,” probably not.   

 

On the other hand, my sister, Terry, always had a serious interest in acting.  In high school and college, she was very involved in drama.  But like many of us, reality and responsibility seemed the mature path to follow when choosing a career, and she got a degree in political science and became a paralegal.  

 

But as for many of us, as the years begin passing, the biological clock seems more important to us than the alarm clock…and filling our bucket starts taking priority over filling our closet and living room.

 

Terry hired an acting coach¬ and lo and behold, she quickly landed a part in a local live production.  She has also assisted in directing a play and has done some commercial television spots.

 

Not looking for big bucks or awards, she is just doing what she loves doing, and she is having fun.  Now, many of her evenings and week-ends are spent at “acting workshops.”

 

A workshop came along this past weekend taught by local Dallas resident, Michael Raines.

 

Dr. Raines attended Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Rhode Island and worked as a teacher in drama at Eastfield College in Mesquite.  He has worked at professional, academic and community theaters across the Northeast and South.  He is a 15- year member of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a member of the Central Christian Church Choir.  He was selected as one of the top five professors at Eastfield College.  And he was nice enough to let me tag along with my sister and see just what goes on at these “workshops.”

 

“Bring a towel and a mirror and wear comfortable clothing” read the instruction sheet. The session began with some “loosening up” exercises, just as if you were embarking on a run or an aerobic workout.

Using principles drawn from a two-year graduate program of exercise technique, and those similar to the Alexander Technique, Raines uses the warm-up session to help students learn how to release unnecessary tension through mind-body awareness, observation and relaxation. The method focuses on balance, ease of movement and coordination, applied to such daily activities as sitting, lying down, walking or lifting.

Basically, they are simple exercises that many of us have done at our doctor’s recommendation when suffering from back pain. But the purpose of the exercises in acting class is to put you in touch with your body.  Raines himself is not a certified Alexander technique instructor, but he is a strong believer in the exercise and made sure participants were given the name of a local certified specialist.

“Our body is an instrument,” said Rains. “Body, mind and voice are all we have on stage.” 

The warmup session was followed by a video featuring discussion of technique and method by Konstantin Stanislavski and Mikhail Chekhov .

Born in Moscow in 1863, Konstantin Stanislavski was the father of method acting and had a more profound effect on acting than anyone else in the twentieth century.

Mikhail "Michael" Chekhov was a Russian American actor, director, and author.  He developed Stanislavski’s technique so that actors like Lloyd Bridges, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman and other famous actors could use the method to create characters.

After the video, we were ready for the real acting to begin.  The participants were each given a copy of a short script, basically of conversation with no particular meaning.

These brave, actor people seemed to have no reservations about being paired up with someone they didn’t know and instructed to create and enact an impromptu skit using the dialogue in the script.

The afternoon continued with other fun “play acting” workouts, much like those enjoyed as a child. ”If people remained in their free-state of childhood, unchanged by the rules of society, there might not be a need for acting workshops,” said Raines..

The workshop enforced the idea that acting is fun.

 

We already know the theater is fun. Perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention before, but it seems like more and more often I hear someone say, “can’t make it that night, I have tickets to the theater.”

 

There are more opportunities to be a member of the audience or a member of the cast in the DFW area today than ever before, sort of like the culinary influence that overtook America.  If you like it, do it! Learn all you can and have fun.

 

If you want information about forthcoming area workshops, contact michaelraines@dcccd.edu.  

 

 

 

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Many of us have known him all of our life. The towering 52-foot cowboy, sporting a 75-gallon cowboy hat and size 70 boots-- Big Tex greeted us every fall with his booming “How-dee Folks,” welcoming us to the great State Fair of Texas.

 

Conceived in 1952, brainchild of Dallas businessman, philanthropist and mayor, R. L. Thornton, Big Tex is a state fair icon so when he met with disaster on October 19, 2012, all of Texas mourned.

 

But old cowboys never die, they just ride away. And Big Tex is back!

 

However, the electrical jolt that struck Tex struck a chord in all of us, causing us to take  heart and pay tribute to such a time-honored tradition as Big Tex. This year, the Hall of State in Fair Park is celebrating the State Fair’s mascot with an exclusive exhibit, “The Life and Times of Big Tex.”

 

History buffs and Hall of State volunteers had the opportunity to preview the exhibit Wednesday evening, Sept. 25 at a reception held by the Dallas Historical Society.

 

Much of Big Tex’ life is memorialized in this year’s exhibit by monumental heads, hats, boots and period State Fair posters displayed throughout the museum.

 

Additionally, to the delight of parents, there are photo ops everywhere. Kids can don a western shirt, hat and bandana for a “sit-in-the-saddle” while mom and dad snap away.

 

Paper and pens are provided so you can write Tex a note telling him what he means to you. You are even encouraged to share memories such as what you wore on your first visit to the State Fair of Texas and whether or not you ever wore a cowboy hat to the fair.

 

Highlights of the life of the 60-year-old cowboy include “life before Big Tex.” Believe it or not, Tex was a giant Santa Claus before Dallas artist Jack Bridges turned him into a cowboy. Yes, siree, he came to us in 1951 wearing a red suit with white fur trim. The H. D. Lee Company of Shawnee Mission, Kansas outfitted him in denim jeans and a plaid shirt as part of the “new look” for his 1952 debut. Soon after his arrival in Dallas, his nose was straightened, giving him a more handsome appearance-- befitting a cowboy.  A year later, he got a voice.

 

In 1997, Tex once again underwent re-construction. This time a new frame of 4,200 feet of steel rods gave the 6000-pound cowboy a new barrel-chested appearance.  Tex had never looked so good.

 

It’s no wonder fair goers were saddened by the loss of Big Tex when an electrical fire left nothing of him but his steel frame, his hands and a belt buckle. We had lost a friend.

Grieving fans placed gifts in Big Tex Circle and made on-line donations to help fund his  re-build.

 

But for those of us who grew up in the era of Roy Rogers, Hop-a-long Cassidy and other famous cowboys, we learned early on that the good guy comes out on top. And on top is where Big Tex will be on opening day of the 2013 State Fair of Texas.

 

Friday afternoon, at 2 p.m., the new Big Tex will be unveiled and will welcome everyone to the great State Fair of Texas

 

While at the fair this year, be sure and visit the Hall of State and pay your respects to The Life and Times of Big Tex.

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St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 3204 Skillman Street, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. 

 

Although much has changed in the Lakewood and M-Street neighborhoods since the church was established, what hasn’t changed is the Christian tradition of gathering for worship and fellowship.

 

To mark the anniversary, St. Andrews will host an outdoor worship service followed by a “block party” on Sunday, September 22.  The worship service, held in the church courtyard, will begin at 10:45 a.m. and the block party will start at 12 noon.

 

Live music, Dallas’ gourmet Food Trucks, a bounce house and dunking booth are some of the attractions to make this party fun for everyone and, all are invited. 

 

In 1938, the merger of Riggs Memorial and Abbey Presbyterian churches, founded St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.  It stood on the corner of Greenville Avenue and McCommas Boulevard (now Unity Church). The location was considered then to be in North Dallas, and it was named North Dallas Presbyterian.  The name was changed to St. Andrew’s in 1947, and the church moved to its current location at Skillman Street and Monticello Avenue in 1949. 

 

Today, as always, St. Andrews is a vital part of the community. The church sponsors Boy Scout Troop 42 and Cub Scout Pack 325, English Language Ministry (ELM), Spring of Harmony Concert Series, and an annual neighborhood ice cream social. It participates in Friends of Tietze Park, Wilkinson Center, a community Thanksgiving dinner and National Night Out Against Crime. It serves as a voting place, and houses Kid Kountry Early Childhood Learning Center and a branch of Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services.

 

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St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 3204 Skillman Street, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. 

 

Although much has changed in the Lakewood and M-Street neighborhoods since the church was established, what hasn’t changed is the Christian tradition of worship and fellowship.

 

To mark the 75th anniversary, St. Andrews will host an outdoor worship service followed by a “block party” on Sunday, September 22.  The worship service, held in the church courtyard, will begin at 10:45 a.m. and the block party will start at 12 noon.

 

Live music, Dallas’ gourmet Food Trucks, a bounce house and dunking booth are some of the attractions to make this party fun for everyone and, all are invited. 

 

In 1938, the merger of Riggs Memorial and Abbey Presbyterian churches, founded St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.  It stood on the corner of Greenville Avenue and McCommas Boulevard (now Unity Church). The location was considered then to be in North Dallas, and it was named North Dallas Presbyterian.  The name was changed to St. Andrew’s in 1947, and the church moved to its current location at Skillman Street and Monticello Avenue in 1949. 

 

Today, as always, St. Andrews is a vital part of the Lakewood and M-Street community, The church sponsors Boy Scout Troop 42 and Cub Scout Pack 325, English Language Ministry (ELM), Spring of Harmony Concert Series, and an annual neighborhood ice cream social. It participates in Friends of Tietze Park, Wilkinson Center, a community Thanksgiving dinner and National Night Out Against Crime. It serves as a voting place, and houses Kid Kountry Early Childhood Learning Center and a branch of Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services.