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.
MacArthur Park, situated on the edge of Converse, is nestled in the shadow of the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph “Taj Majal” and D.W. Rutledge Stadium, also known as Rocket Stadium. The mid-sized neighborhood came into existence in 2010 and is the last neighborhood before Schertz. It accommodates an array of residents and offers easy access to Loop 1604, U.S. Highway 90, and Interstate 35. At the time it was built, it was one of the few subdivisions springing up along this stretch of the loop.
With space around Loop 1604 on the far West Side filling up, plans for developing this area continue. Headed south, you can see the new subdivisions and businesses that have replaced the cornfields and pastures that once stood as stewards over this landscape.
Having grown up in Converse, I always knew this area as being “out in the country.” It was like living on the edge of civilization, and if you dared to go beyond Boysville, you did so at your own peril. Riding our bikes down the loop to Graytown Road felt as if nothing was guaranteed. It was wild out there, or so my friends and I believed. Aside from two pretty good fishing holes where my dad would take my brother and me fishing when we were youngsters, there was only wide-open space from Rocket Lane to Highway 90.
I remember back in the ’90s, Converse was considered by most San Antonians as being “out in the sticks.” And the city of Converse was proud of that assumption. That pride was deeply rooted at Judson High School. Like many, I spent my Friday nights as a student going to Judson Rockets games. Boys couldn’t wait to try out to be a Rocket, and girls couldn’t wait to try out for the pep squad or the Galaxies dance team. As a child, these people were celebrities in our eyes.
My favorite part of football season was the first weekend of October when the Night in Old Converse (NIOC) carnival took place. The first day of the event would be a Friday. As far back as I can remember, that Friday night game would be a home game. My friends and I would walk from Rutledge Stadium to Converse City Park after the game, and it seemed like the whole home side from that evening’s game made that walk with us. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic.
I was able to take my family last year, being our first full year retired from the Navy. I made such a fuss about it all the way through the summer, hoping my kids would enjoy it as much as I had. Night in Old Converse takes place at the city park in the neighborhood I grew up in, where my parents still reside. We drove from MacArthur Park to my old neighborhood. On the way, you can’t miss Sabrositos Mexican restaurant, which in my day was a Dairy Queen where I wasted plenty of summer days just hanging out eating as many Blizzards as I possibly could.
Besides the Pokey’s Bait shop that looked like it was ready to crumble at any minute, that Dairy Queen, the Diamond Shamrock, and the Zamzows across the street were essentially the only businesses in that area of FM 78. The Diamond Shamrock is now a Valero that sits across from a Bayseas Seafood restaurant. I know there are other Bayseas in San Antonio, but this one in Converse is the best. I know because I’ve tried them all, and I’m sort of a fried catfish connoisseur. Since working from home for over a year now, I often find myself at their counter ordering a catfish plate with all the fixings. They are good, genuine people, the type you find a lot of around Converse.
When we arrived at my parents’ house for NIOC, we parked the truck and walked the one block to the park. The event takes place Friday to Sunday afternoon, and we went both nights. We had an absolute blast, and I’m glad I was able to share that experience with my kids.
My parents’ neighborhood is made up of small ranch-style homes. I loved growing up there. Every street had a cluster of kids busy being kids. Most of my childhood was spent outside playing sports on the street or playing war in the woods or at the creek at the park. It was the safest place on Earth to me.
Years before my retirement, I knew I was coming back to the 109. It was just a matter of when and if I would be married or not at the time it happened. My wife Wendy and I love our neighborhood, and our kids do as well. There are groups of kids on every street, just like my childhood neighborhood. We look forward to making forever memories in this city, in this neighborhood, and in this home. We are excited about the growth that has already happened in Converse, and cannot wait to see what’s next.