The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

When I unexpectedly became pregnant with my second child in 2010, my husband Curtis, daughter Paulina, and I were living in a condo in Thousand Oaks that I had purchased as a rental investment in college. My husband’s cabinet and granite business was just starting to bounce back from the recession, but we knew that we would need more space. So, with a limited budget, we set off in search of a home located between both sets of grandparents and in Northside Independent School District.

After two trimesters of searching, we came upon a home on a tree-lined street that was halfway between my parents and my in-laws who live on opposite sides of the city. It was a short drive to Loop 410, Interstate 10, and Loop 1604, which made it easier to get around the city. I loved the neighborhood, but the home looked straight out of a horror movie.

The Apple Creek neighborhood is outlined in red.
The Apple Creek neighborhood is outlined in red. Credit: Courtesy / Google Maps

There was a hole in the roof, and raccoons had made themselves at home in the attic. The raccoons weren’t alone because rats lived in the walls, and there was a flea infestation. Stray cats roamed the yard, which was covered in knee-high weeds.

Still, we didn’t let that intimidate us, and we closed on the deal on our Apple Creek home on Christmas Eve over a decade ago. A few months later, we welcomed our daughter, Jeannette.

After living almost a year with my parents, I was anxious to help my husband with repairs. But he insisted on my not stepping foot in the home until it was safe. He spent months renovating the home before we moved in. 

The previous owners had no children from what we understand, but two of the bedrooms were decorated like kids’ rooms. One was decorated in a Victorian style, and the other my brother dubbed “the Sarah Palin room” because it reminded him of hunting in Alaska. There was a faux pine tree in the middle of the room and killer whales and seals painted on the walls. An old train set went around the top of the room, and there was even a life-size harpoon. 

From the beginning, we had plumbing, electrical, and foundation issues that caused doors to open and close, things to fall off the walls, lights to turn off and on, and pipes to make creepy sounds in the night. This convinced my kids for years that the place was haunted. Looking back on those early years in our home, we can only laugh.

After moving in, we spent many weekends on projects. My husband often grilled on the front lawn to chat with neighbors, while the kids played on the lawn and I scurried between the kitchen and the front porch. If we weren’t fixing the house, we were active in school, scouts, or sports.

As the girls got bigger, we were excited to have a great school, Frances Rhodes Elementary, so close to home. As a first-time kinder mom, I called the school to ask a few questions and spent a half-hour with the principal that made me feel safe and ready. I got involved with the PTA, the Girl Scouts, and volunteered when I could. I’d even walk over on my days off to enjoy a school lunch with my daughters and their classmates. 

The neighborhood is almost like a scene in a movie – and not a horror movie. There are mighty trees in every yard providing plenty of shade as the neighbors tend to their lawns. You will always see someone in their garden or spending time on their driveway. I’ll sneak out in the morning to add coffee grounds to the herbs on my front porch, trimming away dead leaves. Late in the evening, my husband comes home from work and waters the grass while keeping an eye on the neighborhood. 

Where I Live: Apple Creek by Irma Iris Duran. Photos taken on January 26, 2021.
The children’s playground in the Apple Creek neighborhood. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Many residents moved in when the neighborhood was built back in the 1980s.  As neighbors aged, they downsized and rented out their homes to young families that like to jog on the weekends with strollers and dogs. They aren’t as social as the other neighbors, but they still smile and wave as they become more familiar.  

The kids in the neighborhood have all been classmates at one time or another. In warmer weather, some will set up lemonade stands. Mine like to set up coffee stands in the winter. We even set up Girl Scout cookie booths at the neighborhood pool house with the several girls that grew up together. When COVID-19 hit, several of these children wrote inspirational messages on sidewalks with chalk. Others celebrated birthdays and graduations with drive-by parties the entire block took part in.  

We know every neighbor on the block by name. We even know their pets and will look out for them when they get loose. We all look out for each other. Mr. Joe across the street is a veteran who takes pride in Apple Creek looking good. He will take out our trash and blow our leaves away. We haven’t even mowed our lawn the entire time we have lived here because he is so kind to do it before we even notice the grass has grown. This past summer, he gifted us all American flags to fly proudly from the flag holders that all the homes already had.

He isn’t the only one with a kind heart and good intentions. Apple Creek is a place for loving families and friendly people. After more than a decade here, we can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Irma Iris Duran de Rodriguez is a tenured City of San Antonio employee who coordinates policy efforts between agencies, departments, and City Hall to tackle the needs of constituents in a rapidly growing...