My fiancée and I were looking for homes before our wedding in 1986 and decided on purchasing a home in Northeast San Antonio. As City of San Antonio employees, we were required to live within the city limits. That stipulation has since been removed, meaning current City employees can live in whichever municipality they choose.
When we purchased our home in December 1985, the Northeast Side was not anywhere near as developed as it is today. I recall driving on Judson Road when it was a two-lane road with open fields on both sides and more cattle than houses on those fields. Nacogdoches Road going toward Loop 1604 was the same. At the time, Loop 1604 did not have a concrete divider, and cars frequently would cross the median and run into oncoming traffic, causing fatalities and injuries. Commercial development on Loop 1604 was nonexistent and driving on the loop was like a drive in the country.
But there were amenities that made this part of town a small enclave of convenience and familiarity. Everything we needed was within a 2-mile radius. The grocery stores and Walmart were close by, as were our church, our video stores in the ’80s and ’90s, and our family restaurants. My in-laws were within a five-minute drive and, thus, instrumental in helping raise their two granddaughters. The short distance to Loop 1604 and Interstate 35 gave us convenient access to other parts of the city.
My wife commuted downtown for 32 years, and I for 43 years, via mass transit from the Randolph Park & Ride location. This was a tremendous cost savings and allowed us to save on car payments, driver frustration, and gasoline. Our daughters’ elementary, middle and high schools were close and convenient for parent-teacher conferences and after-school activities.
At the time, Comanche Lookout Park was a wilderness area; the City later purchased it, developed it as a walking trail park, and added a playground next to the newly built Julia Yates Semmes Library. By then, my children had graduated to older pursuits found in high school, so we were never able to enjoy the benefits of the playground. But the library continues to be a source of enjoyment and recreation thanks to the media and materials it provides.
With time, Rolling Oaks Mall was built and featured many of the stores my wife likes. The Forum came later and increased our shopping choices, though Loop 1604 and Interstate 35 was at the edge of our circle. With the advent of internet shopping, the locations of shopping centers decreased in importance, as we could get most of our needs and wants delivered to our front door.
My wife’s world was expanded a bit, since she was from this side of town and had graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School. She still traveled to that area and reminisced while driving those streets and visiting those establishments.
Since our retirement from the workforce, we’ve noticed traffic on Judson Road is not as busy as it was 10 to 15 years ago. Nacogdoches Road has plenty of traffic but it originates from outside of Loop 1604. Perhaps the neighborhood’s residents are older and not enough young families are moving into the area. The school bus stop used to be full of students, but these days there seem to be fewer heads peering from the bus windows.
One concern is how well the neighborhood will hold on; currently all the homes are kept up and no abandoned homes exists. But time will tell how the next 10 to 15 years will be in our small part of the large metropolis known as San Antonio.