Posts by Karley Kiker
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the February edition of Park Cities People.
Harry Hunsicker’s latest book, The Contractors, opens in Dallas and quickly takes readers on a tour of the seamier side of the Texas Hill Country. And while the thriller’s tangle of drug traffickers, police, and government officials certainly required extensive research, there’s one thing Hunsicker wants to make clear:
“I’ve never been into a Korean massage parlor. Please put that down,” Hunsicker quipped.
The same can’t be said for Hunsicker’s newest protagonist, a “disgraced ex-cop” turned contracted DEA Agent named Jon Cantrell — although it should be noted that Cantrell’s appearance at a fictional Dallas brothel is strictly business-related.
“Dallas is so fascinating because there are so many different areas, and it’s incredibly diverse if you really think about it,” said Hunsicker, a fourth-generation Dallasite who lives in Highland Park. “As a commercial real estate appraiser, I’m always driving around to obscure parts of town that most people in North Dallas and the Park Cities don’t get to.”
Robert “Bob” Cullum and his brother Charles didn’t sell success at the flagship Tom Thumb store that opened on Lomo Alto Drive in 1948. But they certainly stocked the supermarket with the ingredients it took to create it.
“I cannot define it precisely,” Charles was quoted as saying in Tom Thumb: The Little Giant. “But some of the ingredients were faith, mutual trust, sharing, high aspirations, a pinch of creativity, and, of course, the old reliable, hard work.”
And, perhaps, just a dash of good luck.
“When [Bob and Charles] started the company, they competed with the three largest grocery chains in America, which were A&P, Safeway, and Kroger,” said Brooks Cullum, who began his own grocery career working for his father, Bob, as a package boy. “They thought that if you gave better service, took better care of the customers and employees, that you could compete with these giants. And they competed very successfully, until they became the largest [chain] in Dallas.”
On the road to creating a booming business out of a small neighborhood grocery store, however, the Cullum brothers and partner J.R. Bost were often confronted by a bit of the bizarre. Consider the chain’s cinematic beginnings, when the owner of Toro supermarkets — the biggest customer at the A.W. Cullum & Co. grocery supply firm — skipped out on his bill, not to mention the United States.
“The man that ran Toro ran off to South America and left [A.W. Cullum & Co.] holding the bag,” recalled Brooks’ sister, Sally Cullum Holmes. “They were owed so much money by [Toro] that they ended up buying the [six] original supermarkets and renaming them Tom Thumb.”
A butcher strike at Safeway would go on to introduce a new wave of unexpected customers. And then there was that surprisingly fortuitous accident on Lomo Alto.
“A car came along and, instead of putting it in reverse, [the driver] accidentally put it in drive and smashed into the front of the store,” Holmes said.
What could have been a nightmare turned into a dream thanks to a bit of ingenuity.
“My father was a very creative guy,” Brooks said. “He took a picture of it and ran an ad in the paper immediately after that. It said, ‘We know you love Tom Thumb, but please don’t go this far.’ ”
Customers loved Tom Thumb so much, in fact, that by the 1950s the chain had expanded to 20 stores.
“The openings were a great festival,” said Lee Cullum, Charles’ daughter. “Often, people would line up in the morning to get in the door because the specials would be terrific.”
For Lee’s father, success was most often measured by the sale of a very specific product: bread.
“I’m sure Bob would have had other measures, but for my dad, it was a matter of checking the loaves of bread,” Lee said. “If the bread shelves were pretty well empty, that was a good sign that business had been good that day.”
Through the years, the Cullum brothers went on to shelve as many accolades as they did apples, thanks to their deeply held personal and professional commitment to civic leadership and philanthropy.
“The legacy, of course, is a standard of excellence in the business they did, not only in the service and products they provided, but also their business practices … and also enormous involvement in the community,” Lee said. “They were of a generation that believed that if Dallas grew, their company would grow.”
In 1992, the company merged with Houston-based Randalls. The original Tom Thumb stores have all since closed, and that neighborly feeling is harder to come by when shopping at one of today’s expansive versions of the supermarket. Which is precisely what makes the Tom Thumb in Highland Park Village so special.
“That’s where I shop, and that’s where my pharmacy is,” Holmes said. “It’s small, but it’s a friendly place where you see everybody you know. So it still has that kind of hometown feeling.”
Yes, Ali Nugent’s bio clearly states that she won the title of Little Miss Gingerbread when she was 18 months old. But the current Miss Texas USA was no toddler in a tiara — you know, the spray-tanned, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo-type child who’s often seen on television smothered by sequins and demanding a sippy cup filled with “special juice.”
“That throws people off, I think, when they read it,” Nugent said. “They probably assume I did a ton of pageants when I was little, and then I was a Teen, and then I was a Miss.”
In reality, Nugent’s early victory was followed by a long hiatus. She didn’t compete in another pageant until vying for the Miss Dallas USA title during her senior year at Highland Park High School.
Although shorts and T-shirts had been Nugent’s uniform of choice throughout high school, she decided to re-enter the pageant world at the encouragement of a family friend. It would be cool, after all, to give a demure beauty-queen wave in the hallways of HPHS as a newly crowned titleholder. But as the youngest competitor in her division, Nugent found the Miss Dallas USA 2011 experience to be “extremely intimidating.”
“All the girls above me had already been local titleholders and had already competed at Miss Texas [USA],” Nugent said, “and this was my first pageant as a senior in high school. So that was kind of nerve-wracking.”
Although Nugent was ready to hang up her heels after failing to win a local title or place at Miss Texas USA 2012, her mother, Jamie, surprised her by submitting the paperwork needed for her daughter to give the state competition one last shot, as Miss North Texas USA.
“I’m thankful now, obviously, for my parents really pushing me and encouraging me to go back and compete for a second time,” Nugent said. “My goal was top 15.”
If she made the top 15 at the 2013 competition and enjoyed herself, Nugent reasoned, she’d come back the next year with her sights set on placing within the top 5, ultimately aiming to take home the 2015 crown.
“It’s funny how if you make a plan, God completely laughs in your face,” Nugent said with a laugh. “I mean, I was called first for top 5. I didn’t even pay attention to the choreography of what we were supposed to do in top 5.”
Nugent’s come-from-behind win at the Miss Texas USA 2013 competition guaranteed constant allusions to the proverbial “dark horse running.” Even physically, the description seems to fit, as Nugent has intensely brown hair, which she recently dyed to cover up a few strands of experimental highlights that caused an online frenzy among her fans.
In just a few short days, Nugent may find herself in the midst of a much bigger change than that of the hair-color variety — the kind where Donald Trump becomes her boss; she gains a New York apartment; and the Diamond Nexus Miss USA crown becomes her most-often-worn accessory.
Now that she and her 11 suitcases have settled in at Planet Hollywood in Vegas, Nugent feels confident that she’s ready for the pressures of the Miss USA competition, which NBC will broadcast to millions of viewers on June 16.
“[Ali’s] not easily intimidated,” said Miss Texas USA state director Gail Clark. “She’s met all kinds of celebrities and people, and nothing ever seems to intimidate her. She is very relaxed, and she has a lot of substance and content.”
Together, those ingredients combine to give Nugent a quality that’s difficult for any beauty queen to master: relatability.
“It’s hard when you have someone come in who’s been a ‘Pageant Patty’ for so long, and then they win; it’s hard to relate to someone like that when you’re someone like me,” Nugent said. “I just hope my story can get out there and inspire other young girls.”
Even if she doesn’t capture the Miss USA crown, Nugent is well on her way to making an impact that reaches far beyond her reign as a state titleholder. She’s joined with Helping a Hero to establish her own organization, Crowns for Heroes, which helps build homes for wounded troops. She’s received well wishes from admirers living as far away as China. And she’s gained the respect of those closest to her in the process.
“No one’s reached their full potential at 20 years old. But she’s growing … and I think that a lot of what she’s done has prepared her for the rest of her life,” Clark said. “The stars are the limit for her.”
Karley Osborn was a contestant in the 2012 edition of the Miss Texas pageant, which is a separate competition from Miss Texas USA.
About two weeks ago, I got engaged. The only reason you need to know this is because it explains my recent visit to Warren Barrón. In between all of the ooh-ing and ahh-ing I was doing over the gorgeous spring gowns, I learned that the iconic Highland Park Village bridal boutique will be moving to Snider Plaza at the end of the summer. I couldn’t believe it — but staff writer Sarah Bennett confirmed the news during our editorial meeting today, saying she recently spotted a “Coming Soon: Warren Barrón” sign hanging in Snider Plaza. So, is this news to anyone else? And will you be sad to see the store change locations?
PARKER — Around Dallas, there are two pieces of iconic real estate that everybody should (and does) know about: Southfork Ranch and Ebby Halliday.
It makes sense, then, that J.R.’s place was selected to house the “Duchess of Dallas” and her family of associates Tuesday for a breakfast celebrating her 102nd birthday.
“This is a great tribute to Ebby because Ebby is the icon, obviously, for our business,” said Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies. “She’s set off a great pace for a lot of us, given a lot of us opportunities, and so what’s better than that?”
After filing through the pancake buffet lines set up outside the Oil Baron’s Ballroom, guests assembled to sing “Happy Birthday” to Halliday, who waved her hands and conducted the ensemble like a grand maestro from her throne-like seat at the front of the room.
“Thank you for coming,” Halliday told her guests, all smiles upon the song’s conclusion, “and take a horseshoe when you leave.”
Among the guests was Sylvia Sotelo-Kidd, who manages the Ebby Halliday Realtors office in Rockwall.
“To be able to be with a legacy — a legend — and an organization that just has the highest standards, and just to be surrounded by terrific people is just unbelievable,” Sotelo-Kidd said. “She has created a company and a corporation that we’re all so proud of being a part of, and every time I say I belong to Ebby Halliday, the doors just open wide.”
The parting favors were symbolic of good fortune, of course. But thanks to a life-long knack for making even complete strangers feel as if they’ve known her forever, neither Halliday nor the sprawling company that bears her name have ever needed to rely on something as transient as luck.
Which is just one of the many reasons why, as Burleson said, “She really is the queen for us.”
The 2013 Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary fashion show and luncheon is set to strut on May 6 at Brook Hollow Golf Club. In the mix: a “Chic Boutique” presented by Tootsie’s, silent auction items ripe for bidding, a runway show produced by Jan Strimple, event co-chairs Karen Dealy and Nancy Bierman, and honorary chairs Nancy Perot, Suzanne McGee, Carolyn Rathjen, Katherine Reeves, and Sarah Perot. How could you say no to such a fabulous line-up of luxe and ladies?
When: Monday, May 6
Where: Brook Hollow Golf Club
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sponsorships: Tables range from $2,500 to $50,000 ; individual tickets begin at $250. For more information, call 214‐637‐8122 or email email@example.com.
If Peter Pan‘s “Mr. Darling” had been my escort at the last few events I’ve covered for our “People Watching” section, he could have shouted his classic line from the rooftops…and still I’m pretty sure that no one would have heard him. At one luncheon, a cancer survivor spoke about her aggressive fight for health, which necessitated over 100 hours of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, she was all but drowned out by the clink of cutlery and echos of conversations that couldn’t be paused. At another luncheon, it took three podium-pleas to call the room to attention before the program could proceed. The same was true at a recent ball, where a frustrated speaker finally asked, “Everyone who can hear me, can you please tap your knife against your glass?” Yet the talking persisted, even through a brief presentation about a particularly heartbreaking CASA case.
I love covering events, and have been a firsthand witness to the hours upon hours of thought, planning, and hard work that go into bringing each one to life. Co-chairs often pull me aside to emphasize the importance of bringing attention to so many worthy beneficiaries in print. I couldn’t agree more with the directive — in fact, I count it my greatest privilege as a social columnist to spotlight all the good I’ve seen in Dallas. I’d just like there to be “a little less noise there,” so that I can hear a few good things, too. Anyone else?
And because of their hearts (and significant contributions to fostering growth and development in the Dallas arts community), they’ll both be named Silver Cup honorees at this Friday’s 35th annual TACA luncheon. Andrew Teller, chairman of the TACA board of directors, summed up the duo’s selection nicely:
“Peggy and Roger lead by example in their giving of themselves and their resources to the Dallas arts community. It is our privilege to honor these esteemed volunteers by awarding them the TACA Silver Cup.”
And it’s our privilege to write about them post-luncheon. You’ll find our coverage in the March 8 edition of Park Cities People.
Highland Park Middle School librarian Jill Bellomy can’t say it with absolute certainty, but she’s fairly confident she’s the only HPISD employee who’s been to new-teacher orientation four times.
Bellomy’s introduction to the district came in 1991 at Armstrong Elementary, where she worked as a second-grade teacher just after graduating college. After a brief stint at the Covenant School, it was back to HPISD to teach at Bradfield for two years. Next came a break from the full-time grind, which allotted just enough time for a year-long experiment with architecture school. (“I thought, why not just pursue that and see if something’s there, and at least I’ll know,” Bellomy said.)
A position as a reading and language arts teacher at McCulloch put Bellomy back in the district, and eventually transitioned her into a role as an elementary librarian. But then a pesky “life-long learning” itch kicked in, which sent Bellomy to Texas Woman’s University in pursuit of a Ph.D. in library science. This time, Bellomy thought, she was really going to take an extended leave of absence — schoolwork would be her sole focus, which meant leaving the bookshelves behind.
“I was going to go [to school] full-time there for a while,” Bellomy said as convincingly as possible, although her seat inside the brightly-painted HPMS library office made it clear that things didn’t exactly go according to plan. “And then when this came up, it [was] a great chance to come back.”
Despite a heavy workload in her Ph.D. program, Bellomy couldn’t resist the lure of the library — especially once she heard that longtime HPMS librarian Sally Collins’ retirement had left a position open at her old stomping grounds.
“My heart always will belong to Highland Park ISD,” Bellomy said. “It’s such a fabulous community. I had such a great experience from day one here with supportive families, amazing students — everyone is so supportive.”
Another plus: working side-by-side with friend and former Bradfield colleague Leesa Cole, who’s now the librarian for McCulloch.
“She is a true partner in every sense of the word,” Cole said. “I was thrilled, as a matter of fact, when I called and told her that we had a position open up and she said, ‘Oh I might be interested.’ And from that point on I was like, ‘Please, let it happen. Let all the stars align.’ Because I knew it would be fabulous, and it is.”
Both Cole and library assistant Kathy Gardner were quick to describe Bellomy as a hard worker with a heart for students and a serious creative streak. Which, among other reasons, is exactly why the self-described “lover of learning” will be receive a scholarship at TWU’s 11th annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon next week.
“[Jill] was nominated because of her character, personal and professional accomplishments, and community service,” said Nan Restine, dean of TWU’s College of Professional Education. “She is gracious, thoughtful, dedicated, and passionate … like [award namesake] Virginia.”
Until the award luncheon, Bellomy — who described her selection for the scholarship as a “huge honor” — will work on preparing a statement detailing her research interests (practices of adolescent readers) and possible future plans (teaching at the university level). For now, though, she’s staying in the moment — which means drafting plans to revamp the HPMS library (fresh paint, updated technology, and new furniture will give the space a “teen lounge” vibe), hosting student book clubs during lunch hour, and more.
“I’m thrilled to be in Highland Park. I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing,” Bellomy said. “My main thing is connecting kids with books, and I need kids to do that.”
Hence the librarian’s most recent appearance at last fall’s new-teacher orientation. And although her full-time position at HPMS will undoubtedly bring a few changes to her study schedule, Bellomy doesn’t mind that her life has become quite the page-turner. Again.
“Even though it’s going to slow me down a little bit on my schooling, I’m not in a huge rush. I love to learn, and I’m not going to stop with that,” Bellomy said. “This is the next chapter.”
What is it about that thing called love that we just can’t get enough of? Whatever it is, these three couples have it. In grand total, their unions amount to more than 170 years of marital bliss. (OK — they all admit they’ve shared a few not-so-perfect moments, too.) Valentine’s Day is here, but take our panelists’ advice; all that chocolate-buying and flower-sending can wait. As it turns out, the heart of true love runs a bit deeper. Read on for their words of wisdom.
The couple: University Park residents Shirley and Buddy Macatee
Wedding date: Sept. 4, 1954
How they met: Things began early in January of 1954, when the two were paired for the Hesitation Club’s annual ball. After the dance, Buddy landed a kiss underneath the one-bulb light of Shirley’s back porch. Instinctively, “I felt that my time had come to an end,” Buddy recalled. Post-kiss, he impressed avid-golfer Shirley by “sinking putts from all distances” and writing love letters while she spent the summer working as a camp counselor. Back in Dallas, they made a quick thing of their engagement, and were married by September.
What they wish they knew then: The “content” of marriage — the solemnity of the vows, the fact that marriage equates taking a leap into the unknown, and that love plays the smallest part of all in the life-long pursuit of one’s partner.
Greatest discovery in marriage: “As our lives together began, I would come to know through thick and thin of conjugal life the wisdom of the female through the doggedness of my lovely bride, Shirley, that becoming as one had little to do with joining at the hip or plastic surgery,” Buddy mused. “It had to do with discovering one’s self through serious interacting with the other, all the highs and lows of love and anger that can destroy as well as meld.”
Their best advice: Talking and listening inclines two lives to jell — as do moments of “blessed quiet between two people so comfortable together that they can know what the other is thinking.”
The couple: Caruth Hills residents Claudette and Bill Ballard
Wedding date: June 22, 1957 — The date was specifically selected to represent the couple’s ages (they were both 22) at the time.
How they met: Although Bill and Claudette had several mutual friends (and she’d watched him from afar at more than a few basketball games), the two didn’t formally meet until attending a dance at a place named Lou Ann’s on Lovers Lane … where they both arrived on someone else’s arm. Still, sparks flew, and soon Bill was asking Claudette for their first date on the driveway outside a party hosted by the University Park mayor. “We’re so corny in our wedding rings,” Claudette said. “It says from D to E: driveway to eternity.”
How they “knew”: “We just like to hang out with each other, you know — we enjoy each other’s company all the time,” Bill said. At the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, Bill put it this way: “Every time I was away from her, I wanted to be with her. And that told me a lot. Since I’ve been with her, that hasn’t changed.”
One reason why they work: “In some marriages, handling finances seems a problem. We never had any to spare, so Bill was happy for me to handle making ends meet,” Claudette said. “Also being able to apologize — even when you were right — and go more than halfway will keep peace in a marriage.”
Their best advice: After God, put each other first — be considerate, patient, caring, and sincere about each other’s feelings. Work hard to never be hurtful in speech or actions.
The couple: North Dallas residents Frieda and Max Glauben
Wedding date: June 14, 1953
How they met: A survivor of the Holocaust, Max came to America in 1947 after being liberated while on a death march to Dachau. After being drafted into the United States Army, Max was stationed in Fort Hood, where he met Frieda at a friend’s house. They hit it off while bowling on a group date, so Max and Frieda began seeing each other regularly. And then they didn’t. And then they did again. “I have a theory that it was just meant to be,” Frieda said of the couple’s on-and-off courtship. “And he’s a good man, and you can’t ask for better — I feel like I got the best of anybody’s draw.”
The most rewarding thing about marriage: Having children, raising them, and having grandchildren. Said Frieda: “If I’d known grandkids were so good, I would have had them first.”
How to make it “stick”: “Begin with a permanent attitude, not ‘if it doesn’t work, one can get a divorce’ — not an option,” Max advised.
Tricks of the trade: After 60 years together, Frieda has her husband’s ins-and-outs down pat — from the amount of cream he takes in his coffee to his preference for homemade cookies and pastries that are more crispy than chewy.
Their best advice: Be honest with one another. Respect one another. Plan things jointly, and try keeping a family unit with respect and appreciation for one another.