A First-Hand Recollection of the North Loop Business District

Martha Koock Ward interviewed Mr. Terrell Timmermann about 10 years ago for an article for the neighborhood newsletter.  This first-hand account (slightly modified for this blog) is the first-person recollection of life on North Loop in the 1950s and 1960s.

TimmermanYoungI moved to Austin in July 1945 to attend the University of Texas College of Pharmacy.  Austin population at the time was 97,000.  U.T. had an enrollment of 8,000 predominantly female (most men were in the service during World War II).

I purchased North Loop pharmacy at 100 East North Loop (recently Hog Wild, and now Vulcan Video) in November 1953 from Morris Austin who had founded it in September 1953.  At the time North Loop was a gravel road which connected Airport Boulevard to the Dallas Highway (Lamar Boulevard) and Burnet Road.  The other businesses on the north side of North Loop were a hardware store (now Workhorse), a garage by Archie Steaples (now Cash Checking), Bill Wilkinson’s Barber Shop and Clyde Montgomery’s Shoe Repair (now the print shop).  Mrs. Schnitzer’s variety store and Betty’s Jewelry (now Forbidden Fruit) and a service station completed the north side of the street.

On the south side of the street across from the pharmacy was Mrs Johnson’s Bakery with a large retail and wholesale business (now old locksmith shop that is for sale).  Going east from the bakery was a coin operated laundry (supposedly the first in Texas) and an Ol’ Bossy Dairy Store (milk in returnable gallon jugs) – Later this became Highland Plaza Shoe and Boot Repair and these days is part of Ararat.  Next was Tim Gardner’s Arkie’s Hamburgers with benches on the surrounding gravel (presently Ararat).  Next was Fred Wong’s grocery (now Room Service).  Next was another barber shop and Molly’s Beauty Shop followed by another grocery store (presently the Music Store).  Across Avenue F was Glenn’s Service Station (presently the car wash).  South of the corner grocery on Avenue F were a wholesale plumbing supply, Jackie’s Beauty Shop and Inez Givens T.V. repair.

The irregularly shaped parcels on both sides of East North Loop in the 100 block were owned by A. F. Smith (father in law of the baker, Howard Johnson) who sub-divided the land into the oddly shaped parcels as they are today (the Smith-Abrahamson Sub-division).  A partnership of two house wreckers (Earl Bennett and L. O. (Shorty) Goodwin) built several of the buildings utilizing use materials which were salvaged from the demolition business.  Earl and Shorty designed the buildings to fit the irregularly shaped lots, leased the completed buildings and sold them to investors.  Mrs. Earl Bennett (Delight) had a lot of input in the building operation stressing affordability for the tenants.  Delight designed a small efficiency cottage (she called a honeymoon cottage) to rent for $25.00 a month.  Earl and Shorty constructed these with used materials when they were not working on the commercial structures.  About 6 of these survive today with long term tenants.

In the late 50s and 60s many changes occurred.  I purchased the Fred Wong Grocery building and relocated the pharmacy in 1958.  In 1959 I had Shorty build an addition to the building (presently the tattoo shop) for the soda fountain.  The soda fountain was a gathering place for the area – a place to drink coffee or soda while you were waiting for a prescription, a car repair by Archie, or a birthday cake decoration from Mrs. Johnson’s bakery.  In the afternoon kids stopped in on their way home from school for drinks and a chance to check out the latest comic books.  Meanwhile the Ol’ Bossy Dairy Store Timmermanrelocated to the grocery building (Music Store), Tim Gardner enlarged the hamburger stand, the hardware store location became Chestnut Cleaners, Circle K replaced a service station, Johnson’s bakery outgrew their building and relocated on Koenig Lane, Checker Front built a new grocery at Highland Plaza, Dr. Farnsworth opened a medical practice at North Loop and Leralynn, and I decided to retire from pharmacy to concentrate on real estate I had acquired through the years.  And finally, but most important to me, my employee, my friend, and my sweetheart, Geraldine, became my wife for life.

Terrell Timmermann was born in 1929 in Freiheit, Texas (now essentially a part of New Braunfels).  After earning a degree in Pharmacy at U.T., Mr. Timmermann served in the Army during the Korean War.  He subsequently purchased the pharmacy on North Loop, and became a real estate investor, buying and maintaining scores of properties around the North Loop area.  He passed away in September of 2014.


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