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.
Oak Hollow Park doesn’t boast the handsome, immaculate homes of The Dominion. It doesn’t include the sprawling acreage surrounding the properties at nearby Hill Country Village. Indeed, the subdivision, tucked adjacent to the intersection of Thousand Oaks Drive and Jones Maltsberger Road, is largely unremarkable in some respects.
Save for one: The welcome heartbeat that drums through all of it.
For more than two decades, or roughly half of Oak Hollow Park’s existence, my wife Laura and I have lived in the neighborhood, a little more than four miles north of San Antonio International Airport. Our two-story, four-bedroom house, situated at the high point of a gently sloping hill of a street curiously called Pebble Bow, has been home for three children, three dogs, four cats, a couple of guinea pigs and hamsters, a parakeet and a welcome parade of friends and other family.
Simply, reflecting a city renowned for its corazon and abrazos, it has been a place of comfort since we arrived back in our native Texas from a long stop in New York.
Today, with our children grown and married and off to homes and growing families of their own, my bride and I remain in what we jokingly call La Mansion de Oliver. With bedrooms emptied and the procession in and out slowed, we have pondered the inevitable evolution of downsizing and moving on to some other burg elsewhere in our adopted hometown.
But each time, the conversation ends with a long look around, at a subdivision that has always existed as a comfortable oasis amid a teeming area of commerce and traffic.
Last spring, Oak Hollow Park, once called Pebble Forest Neighborhood, celebrated its 40th anniversary. A few of our neighbors, occupying a scattering of the more than 200 homes now in the community, have lived here for much of that time, recollecting how the houses were erected on what was then hilly ranchland in far north San Antonio. Several recall dove hunting excursions on land that now accommodates subdivisions in and around Oak Hollow, including Redland Oaks, Green Spring Valley, Gold Canyon and Scattered Oaks.
Then, around 1980, both Jones Maltsberger Road and Loop 1604 were lightly traveled two-lane roads and the retail and dining options that exist now were far less numerous. Today, the thoroughfares bordering our subdivision are multi-laned and swarming with vehicles, most coming to and from the neighborhoods that have emerged in the decades since.
It is a bustling, popular area, and with good reason. Nearly every culinary, shopping and entertainment need can be filled within a couple of miles of the nerve center that is the Thousand Oaks-Jones Maltsberger intersection. Just a long 3-iron shot distant is Northern Hills Golf Club. A movie theater is not far around the corner and such diversions as ice skating and bowling are close by.
But make the turn into Oak Hollow Park, and the tumult of the traffic and commerce fade away. The neighborhood, though deep into middle age now, looks much the same as it did when Laura and I arrived in 2000. Many of the neighbors on our block have been here for all or most of that time, and we have all experienced births, illnesses, deaths, graduations and various wins and losses as an extended family.
Over the past two years, as pandemic and Mother Nature have assaulted us, those relationships have proved invaluable. On all sides of us, neighbors are comfortably nosy. We wave from driveways, stand in yards and exchange the latest news, and text each other if something seems amiss. For instance, during last February’s damaging freeze, which knocked out power to our homes for more than 30 hours, the network of communication made sure everyone was secure, healthy — and fed.
As a bonus, Oak Hollow Park being built on what was once rolling ranchland makes it a wonderful walking track. From before dawn until evening, residents stroll up and down undulating, tree-lined streets with names like Forest Pebble, Pebble Dew and Pebble Breeze. (Yeah, pebbles are a thing in these parts, for some reason.) My favorite time to walk is in the dim light of early morning, when bats are still dipping and soaring overhead, on their way back to Bracken Cave or wherever they call home, the occasional owl is hooting and the neighborhood’s resident deer family is warily eyeing me eying them.
Inevitably, each time as I make the turn back toward La Mansion de Oliver, folks are stirring. Yawning, some still in robes and slippers, they lift steaming coffee cups in salute and exchange small talk from front porches or sidewalks. It is a heartbeat of living and caring that has thrummed strongly for decades.
And for the past 21 years, it has made Oak Hollow Park a remarkable place to live.