In 1962 we moved from Mt. Pleasant St. to our house on Ovid, which was in a very new neighborhood farther south in Oak Cliff. Westcliff Mall was my favorite hangout. It was an easy walk from our house, and I could get there on my own. Per the Oak Cliff Advocate article by Gayla Brooks dated October 27, 2014, mall construction began in 1963. Oak Cliff’s first indoor mall was located on the northeast corner of Ledbetter/Loop 12 and South Hampton Rd. intersection, about one-half mile south of our house.
Mother made almost daily trips to the Kroger grocery store at Westcliff Mall. If not there, she went to the A&P on Kiest Blvd., which was only slightly farther from our house. I often walked to the mall with one of my two best friends Saranne or Gay. I loved browsing through the cosmetic section of the drug store. Lipsticks, eye shadows, and powder compacts were my favorites. My parents didn’t particularly like the idea of my hanging out in the drug store, and they lectured/cautioned me at least once about shoplifting – if a product went missing in the store, I could be accused of taking it just by being there. I was very careful not to do anything that might lead anyone to think I was shoplifting.
After I graduated from high school in 1968, I used money I earned from my summer job at LTV to shop at Margo’s La Mode for a few clothing items to take with me to Texas Tech in the fall. I don’t remember what else I bought, but I vividly remember purchasing a very stylish 60s style lime green suede and black leather coat with three-quarter length sleeves, which I wore with three-quarter length black leather gloves. I loved that coat. It was “groovy.” I wish I had kept it, but I still have the gloves and wore them with other things until maybe only a decade ago. Mother seemed to approve of my purchases. I think the coat cost about $50, and I wore it a lot. I don’t have a picture of it, but I drew a rough likeness of the coat on the computer just for fun.
There was an apartment complex on the east side of the mall. A very visible alley ran between the apartments and Loop 12 to the south. One day Mother let me have the car to run to the grocery store for her. While I was out, I took the car for an unapproved spin around the block and ended up going down the alley, where I got a flat tire. When I began driving, Daddy showed me how to change a flat tire, but then he told me never to change a tire myself, unless absolutely necessary. So, like a good daughter, I called home, and he came to change the tire for me. I don’t remember how I explained to him why I was in the alley. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe he didn’t ask. He was a good father.
While I was still in elementary school, my dad said I could get my teeth straightened, but only if I decided on my own that I wanted to correct my overbite – the decision was mine to make. At first, I said no; but I thought about it for years and became more and more self-conscious of my teeth, so I finally decided in tenth grade to do it. I remember when I first thought seriously about it: the school held a “hillbilly day,” and for some reason I thought I would wear red lipstick with my costume. I quickly discovered that dark red lips made my overbite/buck teeth even more prominent. I wore braces for three years. My orthodontist Dr. Robert Stringfellow officed in the Westcliff Mall office building. He didn’t promise, but he said I might not have to wear headgear if I followed his instructions. He also said overbites like mine often needed headgear to correct. So I followed his instructions to a T, my teeth did exactly what he said they should do, and I never had to wear headgear. Dr. Stringfellow removed my braces a few months after I was married in 1969. He liked to take credit for my “finding” a husband. I only recently quit having bad dreams about my teeth hurting or falling out or losing my retainer. I recently Googled Dr. Stringfellow’s name and discovered that he passed away in 2017. May he rest in peace.
Westcliff Mall was entirely demolished in 1997 and replaced with a new shopping center.