Sunday, February 7, 2010

Book on Crestview brings back a lot of memories

My home life didn’t quite stack up to “Leave It To Beaver” level in 1958, but all these decades later, it’s easy to understand why so many of us who were there tend to look back at the 1950s as an idyllic time.

You know. Safe streets. No TAKS tests or whatever they’re called now. Homemade Halloween candy. Life in the suburbs, at least in Austin, Texas, USA was generally good.

A year after Russia shocked the world by launching the first man-made satellite, I lived in the Crestview neighborhood in Austin. Just a block from our duplex was the Crestview Shopping Center that in one small area provided for most of our day-to-day needs. We could shop at a small grocery store (still in business all these years later), a drug store (yep, still here), a dry cleaners, and a hardware-variety store.

My grandparents lived in the same neighborhood, and I ended up inheriting their 1957-vintage house. My mother lived there for a time, followed by me. I sold it in 1999, though as housing prices began to mushroom, there were times I sure wished I had it back. That realistic transaction ended my legal connection to Crestview, but not my spiritual connection.

OK, that’s a brief introduction to set up my recommendation of a small book called “From Abercrombie to the Violet Crown, A History-in-Progress: Brentwood and Crestview, Austin, Texas” by Susan Burneson. (Available from the author at, $20.)

Those two neighborhoods did not develop until after World War II, but Burneson starts her story by tracing their history to an 1836 land grant. The “Abercrombie” part of her book’s title comes from the name given to a railroad stop in 1881 when the Austin and Northwestern Railroad came through the northeast corner of the future subdivision.

Anyone who grew up in either of these adjoining neighbors will find a lot of memories in Burneson’s 38-page book. And third- or fourth-generation occupants of all those hardwood floor homes will enjoy learning more about their heritage of their part of Austin.