Texas is another country...

Texas is another country...I have driven into Texas from all four directions and can affirm that after crossing that imaginary state line you just know you are in Texas . The world becomes wide open space, the sky feels higher, you can stretch out and rest a spell.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

AVENUE B GROCERY circa 1909

Post by Alana Cash

There are 100-year-old buildings in Texas that have been in continual use for the same type of business since they were built.  The Driskill Hotel and Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Austin are two examples.  The Capitol Building, of course, and a lot of houses.  But more often, in the rush for "progress" old buildings are torn down, or if they are still standing, they have been turned into fern bars, restaurants, and offices.

One of my favorite buildings that’s still in original use is Avenue B Grocery, a little store in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin that was built in 1909 and is still operating as a grocery store.  It’s still got old-fashioned double front doors with metal-framed screen doors.  It still has metal Coca Cola and 7-Up signs tacked to the outside walls and has a covered porch. 

Avenue B Grocery is small, maybe 15 feet wide, and inside, there’s a wall with shelves, a couple of shelves in the middle of the room and wood floors.  There’s a large vintage neon clock in the window.  It’s not the kind of place that you would drive your car to buy the groceries – there’s not enough to buy to need a car to take it home and there’s no parking lot anyway.  This is walking place, a little neighborhood grocery that stocks mainly the kind of food you’d see people buying in a western movie – flour, sugar, salt, pepper, coffee, but they have extra stuff like mustard and relish and tuna and beer.   

There’s a newspaper vending machine on the front porch and a bench where you can sit with a cup of fresh coffee and read the paper or a book.  A deli at the back serves prepared food that you can eat outside on the picnic tables in the shade of pecan trees and stay as long as you like.  What’s the rush?  Listen to the cicadas singing.

This old grocery is in the middle of the 4400 block of Avenue B, a street where the sidewalks are lumpy and cracked by the pecan and elm tree roots.  And it’s surrounded by small Victorian and Craftsman houses, the little 400 or 600 square foot homes that were ordered from Sears & Roebuck and got delivered in pieces that the owners had to put together themselves (I’m not kidding).  I lived in one of those houses on Avenue D, and I used to make a point to drive by Avenue B Grocery whenever I went downtown because just to see it made me happy. And I know for a fact from my 3 a.m. insomniac strolls in Hyde Park that the neon clock is on all night. 

COMMENTS:

Phil Ayliffe said...
I love this little store. I'm glad it's still there. It's been 17 years since iIve been. Thanks for writing about it. on



1 comment:

Phil Ayliffe said...

I love this little store. I'm glad it's still there. It's been 17 years since i've been. Thanks for writing about it.