Random Memories of The Settlement

White Settlement Water Tower

Water Tower with White Settlement Motto

White Settlement… known as “The Settlement” to those who grew up there.

My parents still live in White Settlement in the same house where I grew up. While the house hasn’t changed all that much through the years, White Settlement certainly has. Cuts in defense spending closed Carswell AFB (now the Joint Reserve Base) and put the brakes on continued growth at Lockheed Martin. They still manufacture planes, but it’s not like it was — and I feel like an old-timer for using this phrase — back in the day when F-16 fever was everywhere. A lot of retail business has moved out of White Settlement. Texas Motors (the only new car dealership that was in White Settlement) and Home Depot are two of the major businesses that have moved outside the city limits. In fact, you can’t find a grocery store within White Settlement proper anymore. You have to go outside the city limits to Westpoint (where there is a Walmart SuperCenter, an Aldi, and an Albertson’s) or over to Alta Mere and the Walmart SuperCenter that’s over there.

The point of this blog post is not to discuss current city politics or to debate the reasons why so much retail business has moved outside the city limits. Some retail business has come to White Settlement fairly recently. The former K-Mart store is occupied by Conn’s Electronics and Academy Sports. And surely other locally owned business have opened in White Settlement. I don’t live there anymore and can’t enumerate them. The point of this blog post is to share some of my random memories of growing up in The Settlement. If you have some, feel free to share.

  • The Only Game in Town – K-Mart: Before Walmart came to town, K-Mart was it, and K-Mart in the late 1970s-early 1980s could be a trippy kind of place. They sold just about everything, including major appliances. Sometimes Mom would treat us to a night on the town by taking us down to K-Mart and buying us a cheeseburger in the little grille at the back. We could, more or less, have the run of the store in those safer days. Mom would have us paged on the speaker if we hadn’t caught up with her when she was ready to check out. Sometimes her friend Shirley would come along with us for company and she and Mom would prowl the store. I remember when we didn’t have Ridgmar Mall; K-Mart was truly the only game in town at that point. We had Best Products, but otherwise, that was it as far as shopping was concerned.
  • The Cherry Lane Drive-In: Current residents may be surprised to learn that the area off of Cherry Lane behind what was once K-Mart (and is now Academy/Conn’s) was largely occupied by the Cherry Lane Drive-In. It was built in the mid-1960s [editor’s note: I’ve been told that it opened around 1965] and had two screens: East and West. My brother and I (and most kids in town) were mildly envious of anyone who lived close by, because we figured they could watch free movies anytime they wanted. However, they couldn’t hear anything. I remember going to this theater once when I was very young and we watched Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. I’m not sure why we never went back. The Drive-In was razed in the mid 1980s when Walmart moved in. At the end of this post, I’ve attached a picture of the old marquee.
  • The Days Before Fireworks Were Illegal: Believe it or not, there was a time when you could pop fireworks in the city of White Settlement. In fact, every July 4th, there was a huge fireworks display at the main city park. We could see it from our front yard, and often neighbors would come over to our yard for a ringside seat.
  • Rickey’s: This burger-and-fries place was a local legend. My grandparents lived right next door for many years, and it was so much fun to beg for quarters so we could go get a small Coke. (Small drinks were around 50-60 cents.) Their food was pretty good. I had always liked their burgers. My grandfather would go over there every morning for his coffee and social time with the employees. He’d walk over there in his usual uniform (white t-shirt and overalls) and order a cup of coffee and a cup of ice, which he would slowly stir into his coffee. After visiting for a bit, he’d head back to the house to watch TV or to take a nap. On holidays, they were always closed, so my brother and I could take our bikes up there and ride around all day. We would jump up and down on the rubber cord that rang the bell for drive-thru customers… that is, until a relative would come out and tell us to stop. Rickey’s had the best fountain drinks in town. Cristy’s mom and I used to tool through there every so often for a Rickey’s Coke.
  • Home Town Food Store: The building that housed this mom-and-pop grocery store still stands at the corner of White Settlement Road and Saddle Drive. I’m not sure when it opened, but my mom loved shopping there. They didn’t have the widest selection in the world, but they had enough of a selection to get the staples. We loved their toy rack — overpriced as it was — and our uncles worked in the meat market. They always had the best cheese! You could get a soda out of the machine (in glass bottles that you had to return before leaving) for about twenty five cents (or maybe less). They used the old mechanical cash registers and there were only two check out lines. We could run around in that store barefoot, believe it or not. For some reason, I always loved the area where the cleaning supplies were, because you could smell the fabric softener and the laundry detergent. High schoolers often got their first jobs working for Bill as sackers and stock-boys.  My grandmother would be irate sometimes because some new sacker would put her eggs or her bread on the bottom.
  • Vacation Bible School: When summer came, my mom did what she could to get us out from underfoot, so she sent us to every Vacation Bible School that she could find. If the Manson family had run a Vacation Bible School in the summer, Mom might have given it some thought. For the uninitiated, Vacation Bible School usually ran from 9:00 AM until noon and included Bible stories, missionary films, and (always) kool-aid and butter cookies for snacks. VBS usually ran for about a week and at the end, students had some kind of craft project to take home, such as a cigar box covered with spray-painted macaroni. Mom still has one of those for her jewelry. Vacation Bible School ended around 5th grade. One time, we went to an evening VBS, and we felt so grown-up.
  • When Walmart went 24/7: I was older when this happened, but when our Walmart started being open 24 hours a day, it became the rage to go down to Walmart at 3 AM and buy something random just to say you were there. As I mentioned, it was the rage — it wasn’t something that was profound or truly meaningful in any way. Either we were generally silly or things were just that slow in White Settlement at 3 AM.
  • Dairy Queen: It seems unholy, in a way, but there is no Dairy Queen in White Settlement anymore. The closest one to White Settlement is a Dairy Queen/Orange Julius place in Ridgmar Mall. Dairy Queen had been in White Settlement since the early 1950s (if not the late 1940s). The original Dairy Queen location was where Duke’s Donuts stands today. Mom remembers being taken across the street from Central Elementary (which no longer exists) to Dairy Queen to get a small ice cream cone. Most small towns in Texas have (or had) a Dairy Queen. It was something you could count on. Sometimes Mom would run us through the Dairy Queen drive-thru to get a hamburger. I remember the old red vinyl booths; the springs were sprung, so you usually sat in a hole.
  • Movie Theaters: Two movie theaters opened in White Settlement in the early to mid 1980s, and this might have hastened the demise of the Cherry Lane Drive-in. United Artists (UA 8) and General Cinema (GCC Cinema V) owned these theaters. Both theaters are now closed; Cinema V has been demolished. I believe Cinema V was built first, but I’m not sure exactly when it was built. My guess is the very early 1980s. UA 8 was a newer theater with upgraded seats and sound systems; eventually, they got all the super-hot movies. General Cinema opened a larger theater north of Ridgmar Mall and they got the bigger films distributed in General Cinema theaters. Cinema V started to get the dregs. I got my first job at Cinema V in March of 1988, and the last really big movie we got was Die Hard. We had some interesting films come through before we went to dollar theater status: The Telephone, Picasso Trigger, and Frankenstein General Hospital to name but three. Colors was a surprise hit; we got it twice (once as a full-run house and once as a dollar theater). We were told to expect riots and violence in the theater when it came to town, but nothing happened outside of the usual mess. I didn’t get paid much money, but we had fun that summer. I learned a lot about working and doing a good job. And we got to see free movies around town as long as they weren’t in the first week or so of release. (If the film was advertised as not accepting passes, we couldn’t get in for free.)
At this late hour, these are the memories I can put down to paper. Care to add to the list?
And as promised.. (photo credit: Brian Roper from his fascinating blog; I’ve linked to his post that has additional history of the Cherry Lane Drive-In)
Cherry Lane Drive-In Marquee

Cherry Lane Drive-in Marquee (photo credit - Brian Roper)

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44 thoughts on “Random Memories of The Settlement

  1. …and when I was a little boy, I had to walk 3 miles in the snow just to go to school. What are you, 100? and I mean that in the most kind, loving way, really, I do. :)

    • I’m sure you walked to school in the snow when your family’s Conestoga wagon was in the shop. I don’t think this blog post makes me sound old at all, prithee. I was just in a wistful mood for the past. I’ve rekindled memories for my ones and possibly even tens of readers out there.

      • I’m not a blogger but I came across your blog typing in Kreamy Kreme in WS. lol So many memories i have as well living in white Settlement off of Meadow Park in my parents house which they still live in. Some good memories sparked when reading your blog. It was a great town to grow up in. One of my freinds mother worked the Dairy queen. The new VFW 5617 there now. I learned to play bingo at the old VFW on WS rd. They kept flooding so they moved into a building off of Grants lane. Kreamy Kreme and Ricky’s were owned by the same man , I tried to get a job at Ricky’s when i was 16 but i looked 13 so they didn’t hire me. I ended up working at TJ’s on WS rd. I remember jumping in the back of the pickup with freinds of my parents and there 4+ kids because you only had to pay by the carload at the Cherry Lane drive in. I was a skater and I was just looking up Silver Wheel and they celebrated 60 years last year. Very good days. Thanks for sharing yours.

      • Thank you for sharing your memories! Yes, this post triggered a lot of comments. I remember the old VFW moving around a bit. I played bingo there once or twice when it was on Grants Lane. One of these days, I’d love to go back to Silver Wheel and see how much it has changed. I remember the 1970s version with the shag carpet everywhere and the stripes painted on the wall (which glowed when they turned on the black lights).

  2. I cannot tell you what great memories you’ve brought back for me. I actually went to that drive-in in high school. But I gotta say I never watched a movie while I was there. . .lots of socializing, though. I was in third grade when the mall opened. It was a really big deal!! I miss Rickey’s and the super greasy, delicious hamburgers and the .25 kids cones. I totally agree they had the best sodas in town. And I remember shopping at K Mart with DD right before it closed. I was in the last group of kids that went to Central Elementary. I think for a while after we left that was where they sent the special ed kids.

    I remember Mary and I riding our bikes up to the water towers before they were painted and before those houses were around it. It was disgusting. Needles and porno mags and other things that our innocent little eyes just didn’t know about. That’s my only really icky memory.

    Man, I guess it wasn’t such a bad place to grow up after all.

    • Oh, I’m glad! I was hoping to bring back some memories. It’s a shame we don’t have that drive-in now, since they’re (sort of) coming back into fashion a bit. Going to the drive-in is cheaper than going to the movies. We used to go up to the top of that hill too, but I don’t think we went as far as the water towers and therefore we missed seeing the yucky stuff on the ground. We would go to the hill around Lake View Ridge and Gibbs and then take our feet off the pedals all the way to the bottom at Wyatt Drive. Speaking of Rickey’s – Mom was mentioning this weekend how much she missed them. They would take checks, but if you gave them a bad check, they posted it in the window for everyone to see. They had the best fountain drinks in town.

  3. What a great stroll down memory lane. I remember when:

    Our neighbor sat on the roof of our house on Downe Dr., it was the highest on the block, and watched Star Wars. He watched the whole movie without sound. The next night, he packed up his family and me and Big Sis and off we went to see Star Wars.

    Mom worked at Kreamie Kreme for awhile. I loved when she would bring us cheeseburgers, french fries, and cokes for dinner, then go back to work.

    Every morning, if you had a car, you had to go to Duke’s in the morning before school. It was the place to be seen.

    Ricky’s had the best steakfinger basket. They had me at the gravy, but the steakfingers were super, super yummy.

    A little boy hit me in the back of the head with a rock at Central Elementary going to the buses.

    I remember when Liberty Elementary opened. I was in first grade. It was shiny and new and had a very innovative for the time open floor plan.

    I remember switching schools in the 5th gade and meeting an amazing boy that I still love dearly. He is doing this great series on his blog about old movies. He makes them come alive.

    So much emotion churning up with the memories. What a great blog! Thank you!!

    • I’m glad you liked the posting! That’s really cool about Star Wars at the Drive-In. I didn’t know about Duke’s being the social hub that it apparently was, but I guess I wasn’t meant to be seen in those days. :) I still remember getting Duke’s donuts and an ice-cold Dr. Pepper in the glass bottle. Even now, I think that would be heaven. Ricky’s did have a good steakfinger basket. Remember how they tossed in some lettuce so you could pretend you had a salad with it? Theirs really was better than Dairy Queen’s. Liberty Elementary was the talk of the town because it was so open. Later, they closed up the rooms so they were regular classrooms. I wonder how West Elementary looks on the inside now. The outside has changed quite drastically.

      And I remember a wonderful, lovely girl who always had a big smile and the most amazing hair I had ever seen. I still love her dearly.

  4. My neighbor and her mother went to Kmart EVERY day!! If I wanted to know if they had something I could ask her and she could even tell me how much it cost. I really missed it when it was gone. I do remember going to the drive-in, but not very much. Guess we should have gone more often. And even I could go to Cinema V for free. Was hoping if that was the case wherever Cristy worked, she would go to work for an airlines. And Rickey’s was the absolute bomb!!! Took Bo to Rickey’s and taught her how to lick an icecream cone. But I think when Phoebe came along, her mother went with us and ruined all our fun. She had to use napkins!! How rude. White Settlement isn’t much, but don’t think the ruling class wants it to be much. There are very few businesses there or at least businesses that are open to the public. There is a great Dairy Queen here in Bowie with a smoking section. It’s old enough to have that old DQ patina to it. But the burgers are wonderful, but not as good as Rickeys. And you’ll never find cokes as good as Rickeys. White Settlement was a great place to raise childlren, and it served it’s purpose, but I am more than happy here in Sunset even tho it doesn’t have a Rickeys or a DQ.

    • I loved K-Mart, but I don’t know if I could have gone every day. I remember those massive air vents on the ceiling and thinking they looked like spaceships. I still remember seeing you pull up at Cinema V to pick up (or drop off) Cristy. Bonnie was often in the front seat with you and smiling to beat the band. Imagine, using napkins with ice cream cones! The mess is part of the fun – especially with dipped cones. I think White Settlement mourned when Rickey’s closed. Dad got a hamburger there one time with a waterbug cooked into the meat, and my grandfather went over there and raised holy hell. After hearing that story, I always checked my Rickey’s burgers very carefully. :)

      I’m so glad that you’re loving life up in Sunset, even though it doesn’t have a Dairy Queen. Where else can you say, “Turn right at the mobile home to get to our house”?

  5. You covered a lot of ground I left out in my post but I was concentrating on the Cherry Lane Drive-in ( I wrote a series of posts about FW’s former drive-ins ) in mine.
    Great job of covering the WS of the era I grew up in; I remember most of these places and the Kreamy Kreme one of your commenters mentioned; that was just a few yards north of the Cherry Lanes entrance if memory serves right.

    • I hope you don’t mind that I linked to one of your pictures. I found your blog one night (when looking for information about the Cherry Lane Drive-In) and just kept reading entry after entry. It’s a great blog! Kreamie Kream (which is also long gone – but the building is still there) is north of where the Drive-In used to be. It might have been a block or two north on Cherry Lane.

      Take care –
      Scott

      • The kreamie kream was 2 blks north of the intersection of gibbs and cherry lane. it was owned by harold crow. harold crow also owned crow motors on cherry lane.

      • Did the Johnstons own it at one point? I thought Kreamie Kream and Rickey’s were owned by the same family, but I could be mistaken. I’m sure lots of people were sad when they closed.

  6. I’m not sure how I found this site but I’m glad I did. I used to live in White Settlement…back in 1979/80 (can’t remember) until about 1986. I worked at the Dairy Queen there. That was my first job, I was 16ish and worked there until 1985. I remember an older grandfather type man that used to come in everyday for coffee and a cup of ice, and I believe he wore overalls to. He liked fresh coffee. He used to tell me that I made the best coffee (I didn’t realize it then, but I think this was his way to get me to make a fresh pot!) He was very nice.

    There used to be a Diamond Shamrock…it was a gas station/convenience store/car wash. I worked there for about 1 year from late ’85 until mid ’86 before moving up to PA. Evelyn Smith was the manager at that time and 2 of her daughters worked there at the same time she did.

    I remember Home Town as we did not have a car and would have to walk there to grocery shop ( we lived at the now defunct Cactus Apartments). There was also a Five and Dime store that used to have the most unusual/coolest items for sale.

    Anyway, I wanted to share and hope I get some responses.

    I also remember a Sandwich shop that was katy corner to Dairy Queen and they used to kid with us that they were the ones behind a car driving through the front of our building because they needed the business (which the got alot of for the several days that DQ was closed to fix the damage!

    • Greetings! I’m glad you visited the site and liked the post about White Settlement. Wow, that must have been a haul from the Cactus Apartments (they’ve been bulldozed, I’m afraid) to Home Town. Do you mean the grocery store next to what used to be Ben Franklin? I used to love going to Dairy Queen. I remember the sandwich shop across from Dairy Queen. I think it used to be a barber shop at one time. Did you know that a movie theater used to stand where the Dairy Queen was?

      Anyway, thanks for visiting the site and leaving your comments. Enjoy your weekend1

      • My memory is a little foggy regarding the grocery store and the five and dime. Wasn’t the grocery store called Home Town? Or am I way off base?! Was Ben Franklin the five and dime? Anyway..I liked living in that little town. Is it still dry…no alchohol sales?

      • Home Town was a bit further away. Food Bin would have been down the street from the Cactus Apartments and next door to the five-and-dime (Ben Franklin). Surprisingly, White Settlement is not completely dry anymore, though there are very few places where alcohol is available. It has to be a certain distance from any church or school, and there are plenty of both there. I think maybe one convenience store meets the legal requirements inside the White Settlement city limits. White Settlement is a good little town. I hope that it can bring more business in. Personally, I think they’d be a great candidate for one of those Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

      • That was definitely a barber shop across from the Dairy Queen. I got my hair cut there for many years during the 50′ and 60’s.

  7. I was actually born in the White Settlement Hospital. The Cherry Lane Drive in was about 2 blocks from my house. And Silver Wheel Skating rink about 4 blocks. I remember when Quik Sak was still in that old building the same side as Kreamie Kreme.It was a thrill when I was old enough to walk there with my brother!

    • If 1970 indicates your birth year, then we are the same age. I can barely remember when the White Settlement Hospital was actually a hospital. I’m not sure what it is now. It was a rehab center at one point. Silver Wheel Skating Rink — I remember when that was the happening place to have your birthday party. All the cool kids had their birthday parties there. I also remember when Quik Sak was in that old building on the other side of Cherry Lane. I’m surprised that old shopping center is still there. I bet it was a thrill getting to walk to Quik Sak with your brother! We lived closer to Las Vegas Trail and the Quik Sak was further away.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your memories of The Settlement!

      Take care,
      Scott

  8. Berkets (sp) had a small dime store and seperate small grocery down on Cherry Lane. just before where the school was at the corner of White settlemant and Cherry Lane. A favorite hang out for school kids.

  9. I was born and raised in White Settlement and my grandfather and grandmother and their family moved into the Liberator Village back in 1943 and he w orked at GD as my mother did until her retirement in 1985. The old Sunset and Village Theatres were some we attended back when I was a kid. The Sunset is that car repair place on White Settlement Road now and the old Village Theatre was closed about 1956 and burned down a couple of years later. I was living over on Odie at the time and ran up and watched it burn. My grandfather built the house Mr. Andrews lives in on Melrose now. He built two houses there on West Melrose by the creek, which flooded a lot back in those days.

    I attended Central way back then and we used to also eat at the Dairy Queen and the drug store that was just across the street there. Our family doctor, Dr. Lauderdale, used to have a office in the end of that same strip mall, north end in late 40s. Lots of memories about the town. We attended that Cherry Lane Dr In theatre when it first opened in 1965, our senior year at Brewer.

    My teaching and army careers kept me moving a lot over the years but I visit there every so often and see how much it has changed.

    J. Winfrey, Lawrence, Ks

    • Hi, John –

      Thank you for reading and responding. I’ve gotten many responses on this particular blog posting. White Settlement has such an interesting history. There’s a great story there, particularly in the Liberator Village area and the times during and just after World War II. I loved hearing my grandmother’s stories about White Settlement.

      Your grandparents probably didn’t live all that far away from my grandparents in Liberator Village. Only one of those buildings is left now. Thank you for clearing up some mysteries for me. I knew the Village Theater had closed, but I didn’t know it had burned and was later torn down. I also didn’t know the year the Cherry Lane Drive-In opened. That creek still floods, though I think they have finally made some progress in addressing it. I had a friend who lived on Judd between the duck pond and the creek and she was flooded out several times. Water would come in from each direction until she finally gave up on carpet.

      White Settlement has changed so much through the years, but you can still catch glimpses of what life was like back then.

      Thanks again for commenting and sharing your memories. Enjoy your week!

      Take care,
      Scott

  10. Does anyone have a photo of C&J Grocery that was north of Clifford St near Wilbur? They sold hamburgers, barbecue and fishing bait.

  11. Yes, George all that is correct. I used to buy those cheap good barbeque sandwiches at C & J back in the mid sixties on the way home from school. There is a church there now. And we used to shop at the old T Js there in the strip mall too on White Settlement Road. And we used to eat a lot at both Drusy’s restaurant locations in that same strip mall and down on the corner of White Settlement and Cherry Lane in that old restaurant right on the corner there and they had those litttle table juke boxes in there. She had the best homemade rolls in those restaurants and cobblers. In the late 40s they played music all the time right there behind Buddies store, where the bingo is now. People would come down and play and sing C and W stuff. My mom was one of them.

    Yes, the names of the plant have changed several times over the years-Consolidated, Convair, GD and now Lockheed. My grandfather and my mom were two of many who worked on all those planes since 1943. The B-24, B-36, B-47, B-52, B-58(I saw two of these crash at Carswell in 50s and early 60s), F-111,. and the F-16. I was there that day in Dec 1973 when they rolled out the prototype of the first F-16. There is a commerative coin of that around. I have one of them.
    Best, J.

    • My Uncle and his brother owed C & J’s and I worked in the deli area during the summer. I also worked at TJ’s, Ricky’s and the NCO club on the base before graduating from Brewer in 67.

  12. Thank you for your comments! I’m fascinated by stories about how White Settlement used to be. My mom’s family moved to WS in 1947 and lived in Liberator Village. So much has changed over the years. The high school is no longer in that same building on Cherry Lane; it’s west of town now in what is technically Fort Worth, though it’s White Settlement ISD.

    Take care & thanks for posting,
    Scott

  13. They are building that Hawaiian Falls water park just north of the Post Office there on Las Vegas. One of the first notable additions to the town in years. As you know most of the Cherry Lane area has been cleaned out over the years with many of the older buildings including Central Elementary torn down.

    Where they are building this park is right where my old baseball diamond was in 1974 where I coached a LL team in town there. It was one of my better coaching experiences.

    Veterans Park is one of the better things in White Settlement now. I walk, jog, etc there on the paths around the pond whenever I am in town and I used to bring my Mom to eat lunch there a lot, which a lot of folks do now. That park is one of the best things we have in town now. When I was a kid we had a skating ring over by the GD spur that everyone used to go to. That place was really busy for several years in the late 50s and early 60s.

    Those old Halloween carnivals we had back at Central long ago used to have large crowds. Its funny seeing that empty space now there, you can see the foundations of the buildings there still. They had the best cooks in the lunch room there too. They used to bring out extra rolls and give to the kids, man those were good.

    J>

    • Thank you for reading & sharing your memories. I go out there fairly often to see my parents but I don’t drive around it all that much. I’ve never explored Veteran’s Park. We grew up going to the park over off Las Vegas Trail (I think it was called Central Park at one time). I remember Halloween carnivals at the elementary schools and what fun they were. As for the Skating Rink, if you’re talking about Silver Wheel, I believe it’s still there.

      • Yes, we played a lot of LL games there in Central Park back in the early 60s. I umpired there some and coached there some too in 1974 before I started moving around in my teaching and army career again. I also announced some of the LL games up there in 64-65 for the American League. We spent a lot of time there playing ball. I used to bring my children there to play in the mid and late 70s too.

        J.

  14. I think that’s where most of the Little League games were played once upon a time. They’ve been doing some renovation there on the ball fields. I went to baseball and football games there. That park was just a fun place to be. I wonder how many kids go up there now.

    -Scott

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