Filed Under:  Columns

Building the city of man/city of God

25th April 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

“Would you do the invocation for a seminar by the Fort Worth Association of Realtists and a subsequent tour of District Five Monday morning?”

The request came from Sherley Spears, real estate broker, certified tourism ambassador and radio/­computer talk show host of the erstwhile community information show, The Village Marketplace. She had made all the necessary real estate and political contacts and organized the place and time of the community meeting.

We met at the Stop Six Heritage Center adjacent to the Paul Lau­rence Dunbar Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA), the district’s first single-gender school for boys. Principal Rodney White, obviously and deservedly proud, said, “Next door we have 150 disciplined young men, 6th- and 7th-graders eager to learn all there is to learn.”

After a 30-some minutes seminar, we prepared to board a bus to be taken on a guided tour of District Five. Fighting the inconvenience of a time-delay loudspeaking system, District Five Congressman Frank Moss none­theless managed to prerecord his remarks that the loudspeaker played back to us after an interruption of about 30 seconds.

Rolling through various parts of historic Stop Six – built by Blacks for Blacks in the mid-1950s – the bus carried us past very low-income houses that did not appeal to the eye. Truth to tell, there were traces of depression in some ill-kept, smallish dwellings, most of which showed little or no sign of pride of ownership or happiness of habitation.

Yet, so named because it was the sixth stop along the interurban rail line run by Northern Texas Traction Co. between Fort Worth and Dallas, Stop Six still has charm.

From there we proceeded south along 287 S to a massive 84-acre industrial park bristling with scores of sundry businesses. This was the first bustling indication that the city of man is alive and well in the Stop Six area. To all appearances, the businesses that are already there are proving to be a magnet drawing other businesses to the park.

Their mien and tone climbed suddenly to a higher level as we left the industrial park and headed for Cobb Park, a well-wooded, well-manicured area of some 224 acres whose assets were sung by one salesman. Their tone mounted still higher as we left Cobb Park and headed for the rather exclusive housing initiatives around Lake Arlington.

En route, the real estate agents waxed eloquent whenever they had something to say about new developments, especially Renaissance Square off 287 S, a self-contained community, minutes from downtown, Cobb Park and Glen Garden Golf and Country Club. One could see the smack of sweetness as they touted this and houses on the southwest tip of Lake Arlington, the dividing body between Fort Worth and Arlington.

I could not help but reflect on how intensely, wholeheartedly and gleefully the realtors prized their wares and made their totally believable sales pitches. Despite their intensity, they made their pitch with a smile, savoring each word on their tongues. Yes, this was a live display of how hard they labor to develop and beautify the city of man.

“This house is so reasonable,” observed one confident, engrossed representative of the firm that built it, “that I don’t see how you cannot buy it, and if you don’t buy it, you will be asking yourself forever, ‘Why didn’t I buy it?’”

Coming in at $150,000, the two-story house they chose for a rest stop, for a BBQ box lunch – useless for a vegan – and for demonstration purposes, was truly nice, with a partial view of the lake from the second floor. The house is not situated on the lake, but is part of the second row of houses away from the lake with an intervening access street.

Departing from there a bit after 1:00 p.m., we had ample time for the remainder of the tour through some red-brick public housing and back toward Rosedale where the bus found its way to our starting point at the Stop Six Heritage Center. By the end of those four hours, I had exchanged business cards with a half dozen realtors and others.

Southside neighborhood Presi­dent Al Piper extended a reminder to me that second Monday was the neighborhood regular meeting time at the Community Center.

So, later that day, I attended the 6:00 p.m. neighborhood meeting at the Southside Community Center several blocks from Our Mother Of Mercy Church. At the end of the meeting, to mine and the surprise of all, Neighborhood Association President Al Piper gestured toward me and said with a beaming smile, “The Pope of Southside Fort Worth!”

“Whoa! Hold on a minute!” I cautioned him while everyone broke into laughter. Coming from a staunch Baptist, the remark was as humorous as you can imagine.

My prayer is that the realtors will be just as zealous for the City of God as they are for the city of man, and that the rest of us will learn an object lesson from the realtors on how alert, intense, wholehearted and gleeful we can be about building the City of God.

This article originally published in the April 22, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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