Category Archives: History

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Frenchy….

Denton, the town we choose to live in, is a cool place. Cool because of its history, cool because of its unsurpassed music, cool because of its unique demographics, cool because of our Square and surrounding areas, but especially cool because of the people who live here.

Andre Rheault, “Frenchy” is one of those people. Frenchy’s orange vans have been an iconic part of Denton for decades. Frenchy does a lot for the City of Denton……and when I say “a lot” that is an understatement. Frenchy is selfless when it comes to loaning anything he has to the numerous events that help define Denton.

Frenchy “adopts” parts of Denton to help keep it the beautiful town we all so love.

Frenchy is a Denton ambassador, helping keep Denton in the limelight…….which translates to a better economy.

Frenchy is dedicated to US Veterans………the people who have given so much to allow us the privilege of living in such a great country and city.

Frenchy is now being targeted by the City of Denton over code violations, primarily due to the constant and petty complaints of ONE individual. Frenchy is an asset to Denton. Should the complaints of one Denton citizen overrule the fondness for Frenchy of the majority of Dentonites? Should one person cause the City of Denton to harass a man who does so much for Denton?

Frenchy has 15 AMERICAN flags flying proudly on his lot…….in a commercial area.

The City wants that reduced to one.

Codes are in place for a reason. But codes are handled with discretion on a regular basis. I know of numerous people who say they know they are “home” when they see Frenchy’s flags on Dallas Drive.

I also find it unusually coincidental that a member of Denton’s Planning and Zoning Commission (who is married to a Denton Code Enforcement official) was out-voted on a sign variance by the rest of the Commission (which used discretion and approved a larger sign at a certain location)….and within days Frenchy is targeted by Code Enforcement. Was a message being sent?

Frenchy is a part of what makes Denton…..Denton.

Frenchy is eccentric…..as is Denton.

Now is the time to show support for Frenchy who has worked from the same place on Dallas Drive for 29 years……..why is this harassment happening now?

His AMERICAN flags are a constant reminder of the greatness of our country, our town, our way of life.

Denton has a reputation for being “different”. Let’s keep it that way.

“North of Ordinary” is not just a slogan……

Shame on the City of Denton for putting this man who has done so much for Denton in this position.

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Dentoning….1st guest blogger- Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Dentoning is what it is in no small part to the vision, wisdom and hard work of former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock. It is with enormous respect, and an honor to me, that former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock, becomes Dentoning’s first guest blogger:

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

“Early voting for the May 10 city election is underway, and we are being swamped with newspaper ads, letters to the editor, mailings, and messages on social media.

It’s time to sort out some of the claims that have been made and look at the facts. I am supporting Jean Schaake because I believe she would be an excellent mayor, but also because I am concerned about Chris Watts’ qualifications for that important job.

You may have examined the large Schaake ad in last Sunday’s DRC (April 27). If you looked closely, you could see that the two mayors Chris served with—Perry McNeill (2006-08) and Mark Burroughs (2008-14)—are both supporting Jean Schaake over Chris Watts.

In addition, other past mayors are also supporting Jean—Jack Miller (1996-00), Euline Brock (2000-06), and Bill Neu (1973-75). These are people who know what it takes to be an effective mayor, and they have chosen Jean Schaake over Chris Watts.

The ad also lists current and former council members who support Jean Schaake. Four of those served with Chris Watts—Pete Kamp, James King, Bob Montgomery, and Jack Thomson. [The other three—Roni Beasley, Guy McElroy, and Randall Boyd—served on earlier councils.] Joe Mulroy is supporting Chris, which is not surprising given their mentor/mentee relationship. No other council colleague has come forward to endorse him.

After each election, the council elects the Mayor Pro Tem from among their number. In Chris Watts’ six years on council, not once did his colleagues have enough respect for his leadership abilities to elect him to this important position. And he wants us to believe he is a leader, a consensus builder?

(Chris’s followers have pointed to his election as president of the TMPA board as evidence of his leadership qualities. They have neglected to mention that the TMPA presidency is rotated among the four member cities—and it was Denton’s turn.)

Jean Schaake does not believe that labeling Denton as “anti-business” is a good way to promote desirable economic development.

Jean Schaake understands that our downtown is not only the heart of our community, but is a major economic development tool. Chris Watts voted against a downtown TIF (tax-increment-financing) and has repeatedly said that the city is paying too much attention to that area. He is equally contemptuous of the A-train and is unable to see what DCTA means for Denton’s future, especially for economic development.

Jean Schaake did not wait until she was running for mayor—or for any other office—to start supporting charities and community service projects.

Jean Schaake has not only proved that she is an effective leader, but she is totally honest and honorable—a person of real integrity.”

Euline Brock

(Mayor, 2000-2006; City Council, 1992-1998; Planning and Zoning, 1986-1992)

FEMA logo

Dentoning….bunker on the edge of town

Denton underground…..nope, not the rumored tunnels under the Square, but the giant hole on the east side of town. Dentonites frequently drive by the Cold War relic on the hill. It is unassuming,…..not insisting upon itself. The only give-away that the building might be more than a small office is the manned guard shack. The building has been on Loop 288 for 50 years……the guard a “new” addition courteous of Arab terrorists.

FEMA logo

The underground Federal Center was opened in early 1964. It was the first of 6 fortified federal buildings dug out of the ground and built to withstand a 1 megaton nuclear detonation as close as a mile away. The reasoning behind the center revolved around the real possibility, at the time, of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Denton was chosen as the site due to its relative distance from the more vulnerable cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth and because of the NIKE missile base, in operation at the time, just north of Denton.

The building visible from Loop 288 houses a small meeting room, a reception desk and two entry ways…..a stairway and an elevator to the two floors lying unseen beneath. The surface building is nondescript and wouldn’t survive a run away car, much less a nearby nuclear blast, but in it are two massive doors, each weighing 25 tons which would quickly seal access to the subterranean office and command center if required.

FEMA Center

One of two above ground turrets. The only physical access to the surface if building sealed.

FEMA building

Ladder to surface turret.

The two floors below are massive, each over 25,00 sq ft. The building was designed to be completely self contained……able to allow 500 people to live and work for 30 days with no contact with the outside world……whatever might have been left of it. Food was stockpiled, a filtration system kept the air breathable, it has it’s own well and three massive diesel generators kept the lights on. The generators, overhead lights, even the toilets were on springs. Had the worst happened, the conditions would not have been ideal, but would certainly have kept that part of our government housed, alive, and safe.

Then there is this.....

Then there is this…..

Toilet

Fortified toilet

For the first couple of decades after opening, the Federal Center was maintained and consistently upgraded to perform it’s intended purpose. As time wore on and our world changed with the end of the Cold War, the facility began to downgrade not through neglect, but through conscious decisions not to maintain and/or replace systems which made the building self sufficient. With the Soviet Union no longer an eminent threat, the powers that be rethought the need for a stand alone bunker on the outskirts of Denton.

Two of three massive diesel generators

Two of three massive diesel generators

The Federal Center took on a new role with the global changes of the 1980s. The building is still well maintained, but is now dependent on surface utilities, water etc, to function. The two story underground office building primarily houses the Federal Emergency Management Agency which was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Above ground warehouses now store a variety of vehicles used in any type of national emergency. Mobile command centers, communication vehicles……… even support vehicles capable of accessing underground fuel sources are maintained and ready to go at a moments notice.

FEMA

Mobile Emergency Response vehicles

I can't read underground

I can’t read underground

The Federal Center on the edge of town has been repurposed in response to major changes in our world. It’s not the “bunker” it once was, but the unique building, built for the problems of another time, still stands ready to address the problems of today……

Dentoning….We-Do Walnut….Dry run

The vision to close permanently Walnut St (1/2 block south of the Square) is growing legs. A dedicated group of local business people and interested citizens is working diligently to create a block-long oasis in downtown Denton. As covered in previous Dentoning blogs, the plan is to close Walnut Street to vehicular traffic, clean the “alley” and then create an urban park……with trees, grass, shrubberies, benches, other seating areas. This would be done with the City of Denton doing only what it has to, with the remaining labor, materials and talent provided by volunteers.

Much work has already been done, including discussions with the City of Denton. One thing the City requested was having an event or three to provide an example of how the idea would work. So……..on Friday, February 28, Walnut Street will be closed and the first Mardi Gras on Walnut will happen starting at 5:00 pm.

We-Do Walnut

On the 28th, Walnut Street will be closed at 8 am and clean up of the unsightly alley will begin. The street will then be transformed into a mini- New Orleans, pedestrian-only area for that day. The festival will start at 5 pm. There will be a stage featuring Dixieland/Zydeco music. Community Market vendors, jugglers, surprises, Cajun food, and libations which can be freely carried within the festival area will be available. There will also be mask, costume and float contests (floats can be kid’s wagons or anything 6 feet long or less).

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut will be the first of what is hoped to be an annual event ……..and is FREE!! The event will be family-friendly and the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for awesome weather………..!!! Tell your ma, tell your pa and tell all your friends. Put this on your calendar now!!

What better way to spend a pre-Spring evening in Denton!!

Dentoning….life

I am coming up on an anniversary. It is one that I celebrate for a couple of reasons. One, the experience changed my life and gave me a completely different outlook on it. Second, I am extremely glad to be alive, living in Denton and having the family and friends that I do.

Life is good.

I’m going to write about this not to be a showboat or to draw attention to myself. I had nothing to do with the final outcome. I have found through the years though that sharing my experience has been helpful to others either going through what I did or to those taking care of someone who is. I know that talking to someone at the time sure helped me with questions and expectations. People DO survive even nasty forms of cancer…. The recent scare with my brother’s health also re-enforced my appreciation for the fragility of life……

Thirty-three years ago, on December 12, 1980, I had surgery to remove a small knot under my right arm. When my primary care physician Dr. Croissant, recommended having surgeon and friend, Dr. Gill Adami remove it, I had no thoughts of it being anything serious….I mean, I was 23 years old, people that age don’t get cancer. Well, I was wrong.

When I woke up in the hospital room after the surgery, I was surprised to see the room filled with family and friends. In a post-anesthesia haze, it almost seemed as if I was going “toward the light”. After all, I’d just come in for a knotectomy……why were they all there?

It turns out that I hadn’t gotten all the information they had.

I went home to my duplex on Carroll Boulevard after a day or so and waited for the pathology reports. I could tell people were acting a little strange around me, including my girlfriend at the time, Mindy Rue. Mindy was in nursing school and she knew “they” were thinking I could have cancer, but not what kind. I began to suspect, but said nothing, probably in hopes that it would just to go away.

The pathology report took about 3 days to come back, as I remember, and I called Dr. Adami’s office and asked them to let ME know first when the results came back. On the morning of the 3rd or 4th day, I was sitting in my living room, watching the news. John Lennon had been murdered just a few days before, and there was still a lot about his death on TV. As I was watching, I heard two car doors slam shut outside. I went to the window, pulled back the drapes and looked outside. What I saw sucked the soul of my body for a few seconds.

Walking up to my front door were my parents, arms around each other and both crying. That was when I KNEW. Having sons of my own now, I can’t imagine the anguish they were feeling. I let them in and they told me that they had just gotten a call from Dr. Adami (pre-HIPPA days) and that the tests showed that I had a malignancy. We talked, cried and planned. I told them that I didn’t want anyone to know because I didn’t want to be treated differently. They told me that they had requested prayers from friends at church and that my situation was already well known in Denton.

I remember feeling numb….literally numb. It took another day or so to get the final pathology tests back which would identify the type of malignancy I had. When the tests were in, Dr. Adami himself called and asked me to come to his office. Dr. Adami was/is a good friend. He and his family had lived down the street as I was growing up (?) and I was great friends with his kids. Dr. Adami’s personal call gave me the first gut-punch that this was not a run of the mill cancer. (If I do something, I do it right!).

Mindy went with me to Dr. Adami’s office and there I saw for the first time, a certain look in the faces of his office staff, a look that I would be seeing for the next several years. It was a look of hesitancy, of pity and of the fear of what to say. I got used to it. Dr. Adami guided Mindy and I to his office and thoughtfully, but without delay, told us that I had a malignancy that was probably related to a mole I had had removed three years before. Mindy asked if it was melanoma, the good doctor said “yes” and Mindy began to cry.

With Mindy having a medical background, I realized that this was REALLY not a “good” type of cancer to have. Dr. Adami went on to explain that what I had was metastatic malignant melanoma. “Metastatic”, for those of you lucky enough not to know, means that cancer has spread from a primary site to an outlying part of the body. With most metastisis, the odds of survival go down precipitously. I was soon told that I had 15% chance of living another 2 years.

After leaving the office, Mindy and I drove quietly to my folks house. We arrived to a house full of family and we all had a good cry after Mindy explained the diagnosis and prognosis. Dr. Adami is not an oncologist and had told us what he had quickly researched about my cancer and what his colleagues had told him. He said that basically, chemotherapy was not effective with this stage of melanoma and nor were any other forms of treatment. Thankfully, I soon found that Dr. Adami was misinformed.

By this time, I was really feeling numb….out of fear, the unknown, shock, the “why me” and from the looks on the faces of my loved ones. After we had been sitting at the house for a while, the doorbell rang. I answered the door and there stood Father Joseph Schumacher, the priest from the Emaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton. I had grown up Baptist, yet the first person to come visit after “the news” was a Catholic priest. I have always had great admiration for “Papa Joe”, and his being there really meant a lot to me. (I had been the president of the Catholic youth group, “Shalom Sharers”, in high school, and thus my connection with Father Schumacher)..

The next few days are a blur. Dr. Croissant and Dr. Adami contacted a mutual oncologist friend, Dr. Merrick Reese, to decide on the best plan for my treatment. They eventually agreed that my best option was to go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was several days before I could get an appointment in Houston, so I stayed at the folk’s house and waited.

Many of my friends came to visit and some really good ones did not. I’ve heard of the same thing happening from other cancer survivors, especially those who were young at the time. My friends and I were in our very early 20s and some were just not prepared to face mortality in the form of a friend having cancer….they just could not face me. I wasn’t, and I’m not bitter about this. I completely understand. It is what it is….

We had a great Christmas with a sad, underlying feel of foreboding. For the 2-3 weeks between the surgery and my first appointment in Houston, I think most people thought I was going to die….including me. My folks, Mindy and I drove to Houston a couple of days after Christmas. I remember as I walked in the front door of M.D. Anderson for the first time, a very young girl in a wheelchair was coming out. She was bald, had a leg missing and had tubes running in and out. I immediately wondered if that was my future.

After hours of paper work that first day, I met the man who was to be my doctor for the next 25 years, Dr. Carl Plager. Dr. Plager had looked at slides from a mole I had removed 3 years before and told us that I had melanoma back then. This news hacked me off of course, but my new outlook on life was beginning to take form and I decided again…it was that it was….The next several days were FULL of every bodily diagnostic test you have ever heard of and several you haven’t.

Once all the tests were in, Dr. Plager told us that the information would be taken before a board of physicians (Tumor Board) who would analyze the info and decide what actions to take. The Board is a form of triage. He told us that one possible option was to do nothing. We waited for their recommendation at the home of my dear great-aunt and great-uncle, Joyce and Bill. It was very nice to have a place to stay other than a hotel during those first weeks in Houston.

During the first couple of days of January 1981, we met with Dr. Plager and he gave us the decision of the Tumor Board. They had decided that even though the statistics were against it, they were going to have me do chemotherapy and immuno-therapy for two years….and 10 days of radiation. At the time, the French were using extremely heavy doses of radiation in cases like mine, and the Tumor Board thought that since I was young and strong, they would try it on me.

On Jan. 5, 1981, I began a 5-consecutive-day-a-month regimen of chemo and 10 days of twice-a-day radiation treatments. I think it was on that day I relaxed, the fear left me and I decided that I was doing everything I could and that fear and worry would be a waste of time. It was what it was….

My outlook on life had changed. I did the first round of chemo in Houston, but was able to do the rest of it at Baylor Hospital in Dallas in order to avoid monthly trips to M.D. Anderson. As it turned out, I completed 18 months of chemo and immunotherapy. One of the drugs I took was cardio-toxic and the people at Baylor said after 18 months that they would not continue the chemo for fear of damaging my heart. Dr. Plager agreed.

The months of chemo were hellacious. I was sicker than I’d ever been before or since….for three weeks out of every month. Thankfully for those facing cancer now, things have improved and chemo is much easier to handle.

The only long term side effects I’ve had are 33 additional years of life (so far) and both my sons were born naked…….

The surgery performed on Dec. 12, 1980 was the last sign of cancer in my body. It’s a somewhat arbitrary anniversary, but it’s as good as any to celebrate survival. I am thankful for each and every day of life. Since that day, through good times and bad, I have realized that life is a blessing no matter what.

No matter what….

Enjoy life and enjoy Denton!!!