On September 14, 1994, when I returned from Peru with our newly adopted 6-year-old son Sam it was to an area called The Summit and a cozy little house made just for two. Sam took my wife Judine’s study, which was also the guest room, and we quickly realized our house had become a little too cozy. So the search began.
At the time, Judine taught at Clark High School, while I taught at St. Mary’s University. Whispering Oaks is between the two. It’s also close to Interstate 10, making it easy to get downtown.
The very first house we looked at wowed us with its multiple levels and its huge, upper-level display windows. Seeing Whispering Oaks jogged a memory of my having attended a party there some years before and being impressed with the neighborhood: nicer, warmer-looking homes than I’d ever lived in.
Shortly after we moved in, neighbors down the street held a party to welcome us and some other new neighbors on the same block. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship – not just with them but with the neighborhood.
A couple of weeks later, there was a neighborhood party at the pool, where we quickly befriended an elderly couple who had lived in Whispering Oaks since the beginning and who became honorary grandparents to Sam and then to a second child, Graciela, who came to us from Guatemala when she was four. They remained dear friends until their passing.
Encouraged by the warm welcome to the neighborhood, we joined the voluntary homeowners association and the pool club, and have continued our involvement for the past 26 years.
After we moved here, two couples who were good friends decided to join us in Whispering Oaks. Now, among our closest friends are several neighbors.
Our children, too, built strong bonds in the neighborhood. The children’s swim team allowed our daughter to make a number of friends. Our children got most of their education in nearby public schools and made some friends there as well. Sam is now 32 and works as an urban ecologist in Brooklyn, and Graciela is 25 and an elementary school teacher in San Antonio. She and her 7-month-old son Bodie live in a townhouse just outside our neighborhood.
When we retired, my wife and I became more active. Judine is the neighborhood greeter of new residents, bringing a packet of useful information, some homemade cookies, and a smile. I serve on the neighborhood’s board of directors as editor of the newsletter, which we have expanded from four pages, one in color, to 12 pages in full color. And now it’s not just reports, it includes all sorts of useful information for residents, even jokes – one in English, one in Spanish. It’s all due to the positive influence of the neighborhood and the energetic, all-volunteer board.
Near us are a number of facilities we love and take advantage of. We have the “bagelería” in town in Chicago Bagel. We have one of the best taquerías in Abuela’s. And we have among the best pizza in The Naples and María’s. Close by, too, is Hardberger Park, with its doggie section and now the Land Bridge. For shopping, we are close to The Alón.
Like any neighborhood, it’s not all good, all the time. There are a few folks, like anywhere else, who don’t think rules apply to them. Maybe we’re kidding ourselves, but we think Whispering Oaks gets a bit better each year. New, younger, and more diverse families are moving in and many want to be a part of it. In any case, we’ve not been so happy in a neighborhood since we were kids. So when it comes time to downsize a bit, we’ll be looking for a one-level. You can bet it’s going to be right here in Whispering Oaks.