It was just by chance that my husband Tom and I drove through this neighborhood when we were looking for a home to purchase in 2017. Oak Glen Park had the thick, sprawling live oak trees which we loved and the architecture of mid-century one-story homes we desired. Plus, it was minutes to the airport with easy access to downtown. Luckily, a house came up for sale on a large tree-shaded corner lot just weeks later.
I was raised on the West Side of San Antonio and met my husband Tom, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, at Texas A&M University. We lived on the East Coast for 33 years before returning to San Antonio, where Tom is fortunate to work from home for a high-tech Silicon Valley company. We have enjoyed rediscovering San Antonio and getting to know our wonderful neighbors these past few years.
I met Pamela at a neighborhood garage sale. Tom and I had just moved into our house and we saw the garage sale as a chance to meet our neighbors. Pamela was walking her dog and introduced herself to us, and we’ve been buddies ever since that day in September 2017.
When Pamela moved to San Antonio from New Orleans in 1970, she worried about missing the culture, food, festivals, and music. But she found San Antonio to be a celebratory city much like New Orleans. She now hosts a Bastille Day celebration with French dishes, desserts, drinks, and music. Many people attend in their berets!
I met Gayle when Tom and I hosted a meet-and-greet for District 9 City Councilman John Courage at our house. Gayle is a native San Antonian who has lived in Oak Glen Park since 2007. She and her family moved here to escape the growing amount of retail development and associated traffic on the far North Side. Built in 1956, her house was the first in the neighborhood. She and her husband Ron installed a Little Free Library in their front yard, and they are gratified whenever they see patrons stop by.
The neighbors think of Oak Glen Park as a tranquil oasis in the heart of a large city. We don’t worry about the area being developed, because it’s already established. The abundance of mature trees attracts a wide variety of wildlife to the area. In addition to many species of birds, we often see deer, foxes, possums, and raccoons. At night, we hear tree frogs and great horned owls. Two monarch butterfly way stations and a bountiful “alley” vegetable garden beautify the neighborhood. Backyard squirrel drama is always entertaining.
The Oak Glen Park neighborhood is a great mix of original owners, empty nesters, and young families. It’s a delight to walk and chat with these neighbors, especially the kids. The neighborhood is enhanced by its ethnic and cultural diversity, which is so important. Military personnel, professors, artists, small business owners, retirees, and even a tour guide specializing in Westside murals are just a few of the residents. Existing neighbors welcome new families into the neighborhood and share each others’ contact info just in case an extra hand is ever needed. Though we can no longer gather like we used to, neighbors still see each other out on walks and in a monthly book club that now continues to meet via Zoom.
Pamela often walks the tree-lined streets with her new rescue, Coco, and greets fellow gardeners, walkers, runners, cyclists, and young parents with baby strollers. Gayle and her dog, Carmen, enjoy crossing paths with friendly neighbors, both dog and human. The neighbor who planted the “alley” vegetable garden insists that Gayle harvest any ripe tomatoes or cucumbers whenever she walks by, so she gladly complies. Gayle and Carmen also enjoy walks in nearby Hardberger Park, while Tom and I like to hit the Salado Creek Greenway trails on our tandem bicycle.
Nearby, you’ll find La Michoacana, Clementine, Sushihana, and Sarita’s, just to name a few of our favorite spots. Tom and I like going to Sushihana for happy hour to sit at the bar and enjoy an early dinner.
Oak Glen Park is pretty perfect in every sense. Great location, beauty, architecture, and diversity, but most of all, the families who live here are very kind, friendly, active in the San Antonio community, and take pride in their neighborhood.
Pamela Watson Bain and Gayle Katcher Kipp contributed to this commentary.