Who is my Neighbor?

Even if you have been in Frisco for a few years, you will have noticed that our neighborhoods are changing drastically. For us “old-timers,” many of whom grew up here, those changes, both good and bad, are monumental.

These changes are reflected in all areas of the community, and dramatically in our schools. You may have read the statistics in a recent article in the Dallas Morning News regarding the make-up of the population in our school district. According to that article, just 15 years ago, more than 70 percent of the Frisco ISD’s 13,284 students were white. Today, the school district has grown to 60,000 students, of which about 42 percent are white, 29 percent are Asian, 13.5 percent are Hispanic and 11 percent are African American. Those numbers are so different from those of Frisco’s early days – in the 1920s and ‘30s. The 1920 census showed only 733 people in Frisco. The very idea of what it takes to make a neighborhood has changed from Frisco’s early days. 

New residents are arriving daily, and you are a welcome addition to our fair city. Real estate ads offer picture-perfect neighborhoods. While I am not sure about that, I know Frisco offers you the luxury of choosing to live in all types of wonderful communities or neighborhoods. 

We have gated communities such as Starwood or Stonebriar and age-restricted developments like Frisco Lakes. There are also retirement facilities like Parkview, an independent living facility for “old-timers” like my wife and me. We live there and consider the whole facility our neighborhood. We all eat and play together, so we are more like one big family than just neighbors. There are also a multitude of single-family and multi-family developments to choose from in Frisco. And, in recent times, a number of fine, new, luxury apartment buildings have been built. 

Today, there is something for everybody in Frisco. But, it has not been that way very long. I want to take you back in time and look at some of the changes I have seen in Frisco’s neighborhoods since my childhood days. 

I was born here in 1921. There were no hospitals here, so I, like most Frisco babies at that time, was delivered at home. Our home on Williams Avenue was the last house on the street and was bounded on the east by Mr. Fletcher’s field. As I grew up, what I call my “neighborhood,” consisted of about three blocks to the west. That is where all my friends lived, but our playground included Mr. Fletcher’s field. There, we hunted rabbits and played in a little creek located where Dogwood Street is today.

As we grew older and started school, our neighborhood, the area where we spent our time, expanded to downtown Frisco and even to Frisco Lake, so that, with our bicycles, all of the Frisco area became our playground. In those days, it was not hard to know, at least casually, most everyone in town, and we did, so I guess you can say that our “neighborhood” included all of Frisco.

The town was so small that everyone knew practically everyone in town and the surrounding country. If a stranger came to town, which rarely happened, he or she stood out “like a sore thumb.” They were welcomed only after enduring close scrutiny to see their reason for being here. 

In the 1920s and ’30s, the business section of downtown Frisco existed almost entirely to serve the farming area surrounding the town. It was here farmers bought their groceries from John Carter’s City Cash Grocery, their meat at Carter’s Meat Market and purchased drugs at one of the two drug stores, either Curtsinger’s or Wall’s. They did their banking here, bought their Farmall tractors from Claude Rogers, the local International Harvester Dealer, and got their farm implements repaired at Gaby’s Blacksmith Shop. They filled their gasoline tanks at Sam Lane’s Texaco station and purchased their clothing at Martin’s Dry Goods Store. A beauty shop and two barber shops were here to serve those needs, and as many as five doctors made their headquarters in Frisco at one time. 

The farmers brought their grain to Griffin Grain Company and had their choice of several cotton gins to gin their cotton. At one time, there were five cotton gins in Frisco. After all, cotton was the “king crop” here for years, until prices tumbled during the Great Depression of the 1920s and ’30s when farmers had to turn to other crops.

There were additional businesses in early Frisco. You could get your clothes cleaned and buy a tailor-made suit at “Frog” Sapp’s tailor shop. Or, up the street a ways, you could buy a new car at the Carpenter Brothers Ford dealership. Those were the days of the Model T and Model A. 

That covers most of Frisco’s early-day businesses. By the way, there were no hotels in Frisco at that time, but there were a couple of boarding houses where the itinerant railroad workers and a few other “strays” could find lodging.

You can easily see how much neighborhoods have changed and are continuing to change today. Now, let’s look at the word “neighbor.” The dictionary says a neighbor is a person living next door or nearby, and that is what we ordinarily think. Today’s concept of who our neighbors are and how well we know them is far different from that of the 1920s and ‘30s. In those days, there were few wooden fences between houses, and, before air conditioning, in the warm months, our windows were open to catch any breeze, so we could hear some of the neighbors’ conversations. Any loud “squabbles,” ours or theirs, became common knowledge. We learned of each other’s ailments, good and bad fortunes and many other things people do not normally share today. Mothers took care of each other’s children. Without fences, the whole neighborhood was our playground. Needless to say, many of us became very good neighbors. 

Out of curiosity, I went to my Bible to see how it defined a neighbor. For those who do not know me, I am a Christian, and believe the Bible is God’s word. Regardless of your religion or non-religion, I recommend you find a Bible and read it. It is, if nothing else, an excellent guide as to how we should (and should not) treat our fellow man. In fact, I found more than 25 references to how we are to treat our neighbors, and eight of these tell us, in essence, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” 

In Luke 10, the 29th verse, we find the question “And who is my neighbor?” To answer the question, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. In it, he tells of a man who fell prey to thieves while traveling a road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The thieves beat and robbed him, leaving him half dead. A priest and a Levite both passed him by without offering to help, but a lowly Samaritan saw him, helped him and took care of him. Jesus asked which of the three who saw the injured man was the man’s neighbor. The answer, of course, was the Samaritan who stopped to render aid. The story tells us that a neighbor is someone who shows compassion for his fellow man – not just a person who lives next door.

To all you newcomers and future residents, I say, “Welcome, but leave any biases at the city’s limit and come share your talents and a neighborly attitude.” To our present residents, I say, “Open your welcoming arms to share your neighborly attitude with all.”

That is the end of my sermon.