From holidays to class reunions, every tradition needs a start, and this year is perfect to create one for your family. But first, the backstory.
When Dallas County’s first physician Dr. John Cole’s son Joe Cole returned to the Dallas area from the Civil War, he “unknowingly plowed over a small pecan tree” with his mule team on his father’s acreage. So the story goes that the lad, having “witnessed so much destruction and killing, staked the tree up to protect it, and hand-watered the pecan tree as a testament to life.”
As the years passed by, the property exchanged hands and legend has it that Joe had a caveat placed in purchases: the pecan tree had to be protected. While KERA’s Robert Tranchin’s research reported that no official claim along those lines could be found, the small tree standing alone on the field grew just as its surrounding community did.
Still another story reported that when developer Hugh Prather Sr. started creating the town of Highland Park in the early 1900s, he “was offered a million dollars for a lot that would include the pecan tree” — Joe’s tree. While Prather shunned the offer, the tree earned the nickname, the Million Dollar Monarch.
Prather and his landscape architect/urban planner Wilbur David Cook had other plans for the pecan tree. Cook had created a master plan for the town that had a grand parkway — today’s Armstrong Parkway — with the tree at the entrance in the center park. Like Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, the tree served as a hallmark for the town as prestigious mansions were built across the way.
In 1927 the tree that was now more than 60 years old was adorned with lights, becoming the “oldest community Christmas tree lighting tradition in Dallas County.” Only during World War II and the 1973 energy crisis did the lights not shine.
Over the years the tree took on a certain grandeur and became officially known as the “Monarch Pecan Tree.” But for generations of locals it was just “The Big Pecan Tree.” And, like any grand lady, she received the ultimate in attention. Still, recognizing that all things, no matter how fastidiously cared for, have an end, steps were taken for the future. A sapling grown from the Monarch was planted less than 100 feet away in the park on January 20, 1951.
Long after her protector Joe’s demise, Mama Monarch continued witnessing more than 54,750 sunrises and sunsets, being a playground for squirrels and the perfect spot for birds to nest. She weathered freezing temperatures and sweltering summers, welcomed returning heroes from wars and watched wide-eyed youngsters grow into grandparents. She stood stout as automobiles provided transportation instead of horse-drawn buggies, cellphones replaced Alexander Graham‘s telephones and, yes, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic ravaged the world.
As the decades rolled by, Monarch, now more than 150 years old, was starting to show her age due to time and disease. In late 2019 the reality of her being too frail to stand forced the town to take her down.
Standing literally in the wings was that former sapling, now known as the Landmark Pecan Tree. For 70 years, like a dutiful daughter, she had grown and waited her turn to carry on the tradition created by her mother.
On Thursday, December 3, at 7 p.m. Landmark will be officially lit by Highland Park Mayor Margo Goodwin and a “surprise guest.” While the event is not … repeat “not”… open to the public due to the prevailing COVID-19 concerns, the lighting will take place virtually.
And speaking of tradition, why not start your own? Why not take a family photo with Landmark this year and in each of the years to come? Imagine how both Landmark and your family will grow, expand and change with the times and trends.
According to Highland Park Public Safety Lt. Lance Koppa, Landmark will light up nightly until Sunday, January 3, and is absolutely free for one and all to start their own tradition — all thanks to a fellow named Joe, who cherished the testament to life.
While so many associate Florida with the very touristy Disney World and party-hardy Fort Lauderdale, those-in-the-know can be found far away from the madding crowd in South Walton’s WaterColor. This idyllic community is the perfect getaway with its coastal dune lake — Western Lake — just made for kayaking, Grayton Beach State Park for hiking, the Gulf Coast for polishing up that faded tan or just settling back on the porch to enjoy the evening.
After winning this package and picking the lucky folks who will go WaterColoring with you, don’t forget to pack your camera, sunscreen and a good book and leave the tuxedos and worries at home.
WaterColor Private Home** (Value: $8,000)
Enjoy a one-weekend (sever days, six nights) say at a six-bedroom, three-story luxurious WaterColor, Florida, home south of 30A. House had four king bedrooms, one queen bedroom and one bunk room with two sets of bunks. There is also a “man cave” on the first floor. A six-person golf cart is ready to shuttle you about.
* Compliments of: Beth and Chuck Thoele ** Restrictions: Dates must be mutually agreed upon with owner. Maximum of 12 people. Expires December 5, 2021. *** Photo provided by Crystal Charity Ball
According to Texas Vignette President Jessica Ingle,
“For emerging artists, gaining momentum and the pathway to a sustainable career depends largely on elusive opportunities to exhibit, yet there continues to be a large gender disparity in terms of museum exhibitions, acquisitions, and gallery representation. In response, Texas Vignette was formed in 2018 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and connecting women in the arts in Texas. Our largest initiative to date is Vignette Art Fair, a submission based fair which provides female identifying artists with a chance to exhibit their work while keeping 100% of sale profits.
“This year, Texas Vignette is excited to announce a brand-new initiative to award five $2,000 grants to female-identifying artists creating in Texas. This grant initiative comes in place of the annual Vignette Art Fair, as a way to continue supporting female-identifying artists in need during the pandemic. In order to award these grants, the organization has a fundraising goal of $25,000, of which we have raised $15,000.
“My wish for this holiday season is to raise the remaining $10,000 of our fundraising goal which will go toward the grants, future programing, and a return to Vignette Art Fair in 2021. Please visit our website at texasvignette.org or contact the Development Chair Emma Vernon to help us make these initiatives possible. ”
* Photo provided by Texas Vignette
It may be Black Friday, but the winning bidder of this 2020 Crystal Charity Ball silent auction item will have scored the brightest find of the year. With its rows of dazzling diamonds, this spectacular diamond- and-white gold bracelet will prove that the expression “diamonds are forever” is absolutely true.
And as everyone knows, diamonds simply go with everything from courtside seats at a Mavs game to being the breathtaking standout at a black-tie gala.
But it can only be yours, if you have the winning bid when the online auction ends at 5 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, December 6. Remember to register now and start your bidding at 9 a.m. (CST) on Wednesday, December 2.
BTW, if you’d like an in-person visit with this knockout bracelet, pop by Diamonds Direct Dallas on Preston Road.
One-Of-A-Kind Diamond Bracelet** (Value: $20,000)
This breathtaking piece features 19.25 carats of round brilliant diamonds and is set in 14 karat white gold. Recipient will be provided with an appraisal from Diamonds Direct.
* Compliments of: Diamond Direct ** Restrictions: No returns or exchanges. *** Photo provided by Crystal Charity Ball
According to The Winston School PTO Treasurer Stacey T. Quarles,
“For every parent of school aged children, 2020 has been a year that requires ingenuity and innovation to meet the challenges of learning during lock-down and other pandemic protocols. Parents of students who learn differently are no strangers to challenge. Our family joined the Winston School in 2019 specifically to empower our son Ian to meet the challenges of our evolving world with confidence.
“During our school tour we saw the Solar Car Laboratory, where the team was wiring the electrical components of their competition vehicle. In the 3D Arts Studio, Ian was fitted with protective welding equipment. In an instant my truculent teen transformed, studiously engaging with the student who taught him how to safely operate the torch. When we were shown the space where the Innovation Studio would be constructed, we knew we had found a school where Ian’s academic capability and visual-spatial talents could be polished to the unique creative brilliance that can be found among so many students who learn differently.
“Used by students from K to 12th grade, problem-based learning will be the cornerstone of the studio. By providing appropriate space and resources to students, they will be able to identify a problem or need, prototype a solution, and refine their prototype as they move through testing their theory. This design-based process and collaborative refinement will lay the framework for lifelong skills and success in the competitive marketplace.
“My wish this year is that we will be able to secure the funds necessary to complete the Innovation Studio at The Winston School, so our talented young people are ready to be a part of our growing Dallas economy.”
* Graphic/photo provided by The Winston School
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