Deep in the Heart of Texas
This week finds Mary Lou and me in Dallas, Texas, a city that we have never spent much time in during our travels. Mary Lou came to a Cotton Bowl back in her college days and years later we attended a wedding held at Southern Methodist University’s beautiful chapel. Together we landed and changed planes in Dallas one awful night during the worst lightning storm I have ever experienced.
Hardee’s franchisees are gathering here for their annual conference. We have been in town less than 12 hours, but I already have made some quick observations and met some very interesting people.
First impression: this is a very flat place. Perhaps it seems flatter than Southwest Georgia because there are so few trees. Perhaps it seems flatter because we don’t have a hotel in Southwest Georgia with a 25th floor room where I can view my surroundings.
Since the conference doesn’t start until tomorrow, the first order of business was to pick a good restaurant. It seemed easy enough until I discovered there are over 3,000 restaurants in the Dallas area. A third of them seem to be steakhouses, offering really big pieces of meat at really high prices. Maybe another third are seafood restaurants, with the top end of the scale selling fish from around the world. Not bad for a city that is almost 300 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
We decided on a French Restaurant just to be different. It was named “The Old Warsaw” after its Polish founder. He opened it as a French restaurant in 1948 with a complicated sounding French name that meant “old Warsaw”. Since almost no Texans knew how to speak French, he eventually changed the name to something they could pronounce.
It is the classic French restaurant that is slowly going out of style in today’s fast paced world. This is the type restaurant you would take your grandparents to on their anniversary. The food doesn’t pretend to be healthy, but it is so good.
An older lady was playing the piano. She was stooped over with age and could barely walk, but when her fingers hit the ivories the music filled the room with joy. She never looked at a piece of sheet music. We found out it was her last night after performing there for years.
We struck up a conversation with the owner, who oddly doubles as the parking attendant. He fled from Tehran, Iran in the 1970s during the Revolution. He wanted to talk politics, which I find true of many citizens who emigrated from other countries.
Dallas is the largest metropolitan area in the South and the largest inland metropolitan area in the country. It has no navigable link to the ocean. This town was built by the railroads, and later the cotton and oil industries. Based on the number of construction cranes I saw coming from the airport, this is still a booming place.
After the railroads, the interstate highways came to town from every direction. There are five different interstates in Dallas. When you combine the railroad and highway infrastructure with one of the largest airports in the world, you realize this is truly major league city. No wonder they have over 3,000 restaurants.
So there you have a quick view of this big city deep in the Heart of Texas. It is an amazing place I can already tell. I just wonder where all the cowboys are.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org