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The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city 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.
Our home in Roosevelt Park is a project 15 years in the making.
My husband and I are both from the South Side but, when we got married and couldn’t find a place to build a new home here, we moved out near Floresville. A couple of years after we moved, my husband drove by a house in Roosevelt Park that caught his eye. It was in terrible condition, but in the perfect location. His vision was to fix it up and move in once our kids grew up and moved out of the Floresville house.
So over the past 15 years, he has been coming out here to work on one project or another. In the process, we got to know the neighbors and the neighborhood. Slowly but surely, he turned that rundown house into our dream home.
We’ve been living in Roosevelt Park for two years now, and we love it. It’s near my office, and all our children live nearby. Now they don’t have the excuse that it’s too far to drive to our house to water our plants when we’re out of town.
Before the pandemic, we enjoyed having them over for Sunday breakfast. Now, we take advantage of our wraparound porch for socially distant visits. That porch is my favorite part of the house, and my husband and I enjoy sitting out there with a glass of wine or a beer and waving at our neighbors as they walk by.
One great thing about our neighborhood is that we all look out for each other. This isn’t a neighborhood where people just pull into their driveway when they get home from work, go inside, and that’s it. Here, people are on the porch, waving, chatting, and checking in on each other. And that’s what I’m used to. Growing up in Harlandale, we always knew our neighbors. People go out of their way to meet and engage with each other.
The neighborhood association is quite active and used to meet regularly over a potluck at Freetail. We’ve tried to keep our meetings going on Zoom, but it’s hard for everyone to participate in the same way because some of the older neighbors aren’t as tech-savvy. It was during one of these Zoom meetings that I had the opportunity to meet Rebeca Clay-Flores, who at the time was running for county commissioner against Chico Rodriguez in the primary runoff elections. That was the first time since I started attending neighborhood association meetings that anyone from commissioners court, whether serving or running, had been in attendance. It showed that she cared about the community.
Like every neighborhood, Roosevelt Park is changing. Some of the older homes where people have lived 30 or 40 years wind up selling when owners pass away, and their children, who have no interest in living in this area, sell the property. There are a lot of gripes about that. But I think if you take a home that is in disrepair or vacant and somebody fixes it up for a new family to move in, that’s a good thing. And when we see new businesses pop up, to me, it’s a sign of people investing in the neighborhood.
Of course, we have our favorite spots, like El Luchador bar, where my husband and I joke with the owner that we’re the first shift, since we like to go early. The pandemic has been hard on local businesses, so we do try to support them at least with take-out. Whether it’s going to Mad Mack’s for burgers or Bamboo for Chinese, we try to stay nearby. But we also welcome new businesses breathing new life into the neighborhood. There’s a birria tacos spot that just opened up, and the lines to pick up food are always long. My daughter has been wanting to try them out, so I told her to pick some up for us while she’s there. (Another perk of living near my kids.)
Life in our neighborhood is certainly different during a pandemic, but even as we keep our distance we haven’t lost our sense of community. And it really is a special community. My husband was right 15 years ago when he envisioned this home for us. When I’m out walking my dog along the river or at Roosevelt Park, when I see classmates I grew up with around the neighborhood, or even when I’m just sitting on my porch enjoying an evening breeze, I feel like I’m where I was meant to be. I’m home.