My name is Largent Parks, maybe we’d better say Largent Parks, Senior, since there is now a Junior, and also a Third. I was born in 1907 at 4321 Swiss Avenue, which is the block between Peak and Carroll. My father had just built a large frame, two-story house with great rambling porches all around it. It was one of five houses on that side of the block at that time, and, remarkably enough, all five are still standing and still in use (1973).
At that time Peak Street was the location of the streetcar line, and right across Peak Street was the new Terrill School, which M. B. Terrill had just founded. The street in front of us at that time was not paved, and one of the sights I remember best as a small child was watching the sprinkler wagon come by, now and then, to sprinkle down the streets and keep down some of the dust. Within a very short time it returned.
Our home was a rather large, rambling house, now standing, but shorn of the wide porches that ran around it. It was a nice, quiet neighborhood, and I remember on summer nights that the young people would go buggy riding and drive out our street to the slow clomp of the horses’ hooves, singing songs and having a pretty good time. It wasn’t long, however, before we got rid of the horse and buggy. It was a real sad day when we sold old Charley and got our first automobile which was a Mitchell. One of our next-door neighbors was a Dr. Neel. Dr. Neel and his dad would go together and buy two MitchelIs to be shipped out in the same rail car so that they could save some freight that way.
There was always a great deal of competition between them as to which one got the best car, and it was usually settled by taking them both out to the famous Chalk Hill on the other side of Oak Cliff and seeing which car could get furthest up Chalk Hill in high gear before being forced to shift down. It was pretty good to get to the top of the hill even in first gear. Since then, of course, the grade has been cut down low, and cars are much better. But climbing Chalk Hill was the acid test of an automobile in those days. The old Mitchell had acetylene lights: gas-type lights which had to be lit with—by primping them up and using a match. I well remember one time when we were ready to go to the state fair for an evening, the wind was blowing so hard that it was impossible to get the lamps lit; so the excursion was called off, to great wailing and consternation on my part.
Photo and information courtesy Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.