Susan Korbel walks her dogs through a residential Castle Hills street.
Susan Korbel walks her dogs through a residential Castle Hills street. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

My husband and I moved from Austin into a rental near the South Texas Medical Center in 1982, when I started working for Harte-Hanks Communications. We were newlyweds.  We got a puppy. We wanted kids. The puppy turned into a large Doberman, and I got pregnant. We started looking for a house with room to grow.

I thought I was too cool to live in Castle Hills. Then we started comparing costs and property size. We picked a home with a pool and extra bedrooms we hoped to fill. We filled the bedrooms, and then the pool with years of birthday parties and New Year’s Eve polar bear swims.

We were welcomed by some older neighbors, who told us how much they loved the previous owners. Over time, we have become the older neighbors, who tell the newcomers with toddlers how much we loved those who lived in their homes before.

The Castle Hills neighborhood in San Antonio is shaded in blue.
The municipality of Castle Hills is shaded in blue. Credit: Illustration / San Antonio Report – Google Maps

My kids both went to Castle Hills Elementary School, where as a kindergartner, my son sang The Star-Spangled Banner at the talent show. Our district feeds into Jackson Middle School, where my daughter went, but my son went to Eisenhower, where he played football. He later played football at Churchill as well. North East Independent School District provided both my children with a good education, and I only wish kids throughout San Antonio could have the same access to those great public school teachers, coaches, and facilities.

When I walk my dogs around the neighborhood, I meet new neighbors with strollers and old friends with new dogs. Mostly it is quiet, but certainly not dead. I walk past old basketball hoops growing moss and new hoops just going up. I see estate sales and houses surrounded with pickup trucks of workers renovating, putting in skylights, and painting bricks.

Yes, Castle Hills is an old neighborhood, but it’s changing just like San Antonio. On one side of Northwest Military Highway is a modest family community whose residents range from a firefighter family with teens and newborns who just moved in to the grandparents who walk their dogs and wait for the holiday visits from the kids. But Castle Hills is more than that – it’s also attracted successful young professionals who live in understated elegance, nestled into the trees behind the behemoth Mission City Church.

Our city politics are a blend of quaint and crazy. Our elected officials were the ones who were laughed at for wanting to eliminate VIA service and, thus, taxes. People like to say that our political spectrum ranges from Republican to survivalist, and while it may look red on the map, the majority in 2018 voted for Beto O’Rourke.

I’m the Democratic precinct chair for Precinct 3067, so I’ve learned a lot about my neighbors. Twenty-four years ago, I block-walked, wheeling my kids in their strollers holding American flags and apple pie, and got chased off the front steps by some old cranky neighbors. I still block-walk, and while not all neighbors are nicer, some have been replaced by more progressive residents. Some Democrats recently hosted a “friendraiser” in a gorgeous former art gallery on N.W. Military, and when the candidate signs went out that morning, people driving by came in, saying they didn’t know there were Democrats in this part of town.

Sushihana is just a short walk from Susan's office in Castle Hills.
Sushihana is just a short walk from the author’s office in Castle Hills. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

I ride my bike to work, and get it fixed at Bicycle Heaven. When colleagues come to my office, we eat across the street at Sushihana. I can bike to my doctor’s appointments, to Walgreens to pick up prescriptions, and to Bee’s for breakfast tacos. I’m five minutes from the airport, and the only clear inconvenience is the traffic jam near North Star Mall the week before Christmas. My husband and I are happy here, settled, and looking forward to visits from the kids.

An only child of a pro-football-playing, horse-racing, boxing promoter dad and school-marm mom, Susan Korbel was schooled in Detroit in the 1950s. In the ‘60s, she Ivy Leagued-it while swimming on the...