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The Lookout

I would like your help to piece together a clear picture of what The Lookout was like. I'll then compile the stories and information and post it back to this page.

Email Me
Please send your stories or comments to gregsmith@tomatocapital.com

What I know so far
The site of the Lookout had previously been a peach orchard owned by John Wesley Love. J.W. Garrett purchased 9 acres of land and he and C. J. Barbier opened the Lookout in 1936.

The pool was the first cement pool in East Texas and included underwater lighting. At the time of its opening, a day-long swim and bathing suit rental were available for ten cents. Portraits of Dagwood and Blondie, Alley Oop and Daisy Mae were painted on the bath house wall.

The Lookout was closed for four years during World War II. In 1945, it was re-opened by Garrett's son-in-law, Ernest Hendrick. According to David French, the late Dorothhy Hendrick's financial advisor, the pool was closed sometime between July 1976 and June 1977. The Hendricks operated the Lookout until Ernest's death in 1982, at which time it was closed.

At some point, the Lookout included a small "amusement park". I'm unsure of the dates.

A tornado in November of 1983 [I've been informed that it was actually on November 15, 1987] damaged many of the buildings. The remains of the buildings are still present on the site.

Some of this information was taken from articles from the Jacksonville Daily Progress.

Stories

"... When we were first married, (in 1954) we used to go there to visit. ... We used to go to Love's Lookout for the pool, and picnic area, since this was pretty much the day before tv was too well known in this area. The local tv stations were just getting started at that time, we lived in Palestine, and did not have tv until late 55 or 56. We spent lots of pleasant summer trips (this was a trip from Palestine to Jacksonville then) to the Lookout for swimming and picnic. ..."

- Kathy Odom, Palestine, TX

 

"Ah, yes, the Lookout. Everytime I come home to East TX (and I left TX in 1962), I know I'm home when I pass the Lookout area. As kids in the 50s, we had great times in the pool out there and would even climb the Lookout fire tower. I have pictures of some of us on various steps of the tower. A locked fence was later put around it to keep us out but what fun then.

The pool, of course, was segregated in those days as were the schools of J'ville. That was just the way life was then. I remember trembling in fear the first time I jumped off the high board. Oh, Lordy!! I don't think I ever did that again.

I was lucky enough to have a little Chevy Coupe and we gals would pile in there and head for the Lookout. Seems like the guys always got wind of our plans and would feel a need for a swim that day, too.

There was roughhousing but no one got hurt and our parents just knew we'd be safe then. It saddens me to see the old buildings in disrepair because that seems to be a picture of life in this country now. Parents have to be so careful for the safety of their kids, there are rules in every pool and people disobeying the rules, damaging property, and hurting each other.

The Lookout to me is a symbol of "yester-year." I'm glad it was there even though it was a bit run down even then. It brought kids together in fun. The friends I made then are still my friends today even though I've never lived in East Texas since I left in '62. Those friendships are strong and true----and your old friends know you best and love you no matter what. Who could ask for more."

- Nancy Pippen

 

"In the 50's (would say between '54 and '57) My sister and I took swimming lessons up there. I cringed to have to go into dressing room and walk on the concrete floor for it seemed just filthy. This was before time of plastic flip flops. Around '56 a group of us from East Side school (as part of the music program) square danced up there with local adult square dance group. By that time Lookout was rather seedy but it provided the only pool in town. Sometime in there Country Club built a pool offering better/cleaner facilities. Also it was in this era polio was such a fear. Would think I had my first Salk vaccine about '57. My feeling is that the country club pool and the polio scare were the kiss of death for the lookout. Also by that time the facilities were not new and falling into disrepair. I believe the Lookout was only a memory by the time integration took place."

- Shannon Smyrl, Jacksonville, TX

 

"... We did go to the pool some but it was several miles out and in my earlier years we didn't have transportation out there. My memory may not be correct on this, but seems like in the 1950's it cost 50 cents to swim. That was quite a bit for that time. ..."

- Pert Garraway

 

"My memories of The Lookout date in the late thirties. The Lookout was a very popular place for the Lon Morris College students which I attended. The dance hall played the popular music of that era. For some reason "Your are my sunshine" sticks in my mind. That will give you an idea of the genre of the music. Music was played mainly from a jukebox. Sometimes a live local group.

As best I recall, the swimming pool was open all week and the dance hall on Friday and Saturday nights. Contrary to one of your letters, I remember the bath house as being a clean and cool area. It is possible the photos you mention are the bathouse facing Highway 69.

The ampitheater was in use in those days and the park a great place for picnics and gatherings. Tom Dean, the goverment representative of possibly the Farmers Home Administration, would often dig a trench in the earth there, wrap various meats in newspaper, place it in the trench and cover with soil and build a fire on top of the trench and cook the meat in this fashion all day and in the evening open the trench and serve the deliciously roasted meat along with plenty of East Texas side dishes. Roasted corn in the shuck and on the cob would be included. I know many more memories will come to me as I think more."

- Dub Gentry

 

"There was a large swing thing that rotated and had seats on it. Several people could ride it at one time. It never looked too stable or safe to me in the mid fifties. Polio had less to do with the death of the Lookout than Mr. Hendricks himself. He was an original "biker" and many parents did not want their kids going to the Lookout because of his seedy appearance.

There was a large metal elephant chained to the bottom of the pool that you could climb up on and ride--if you were good enough. Mechanical bulls are much easier! There were lots of broken arms and wrists as well as a few bumps on the head from that elephant.

By this time, the amphitheater was only used for Easter sunrise services. It was in such sad shape. The other buildings were also in disrepair. One was a "concession stand" which served snacks and drinks. I remember green slime growing on the floor of the bath house, too.

Still, it was a fun place to go for those of us not fortunate enough to be able to afford a membership at the Country Club."

- Jerry Heilman

 

"I went to the Lookout in the 50's and some into the 60's. As someone else said, it was the only public swimming pool. (In the 60's, after Lake Jacksonville opened, we sometimes went swimming at the public "beach" near the concession stand there.) By my time, the Lookout was pretty run down, but still a huge wonderful pool (to me). I took swimming lessons there from Billie Holcomb Strickland (who just recently died), later the P.E. teacher at the high school. I also remember that metal elephant. It was a great accomplishment to finally get on top of the thing! That high diving board was another accomplishment. I haven't seen one that high in a public pool since! The side of the pool facing the parking lot was a shalllow "baby pool."

I think the dance hall was no longer operating by the mid-50's, but then I was a kid and wouldn't have gone to anything there. The swing contraption also wasn't working, but it looked like it would have been fun. Sort of a merry-go-round with swings hanging from it.

I believe the building in the lower right photo was the concession stand. I don't know what they served other than ice cream, what I always got! On hot summer nights, (we didn't have air conditioning) my mother and father and I would go for a drive to cool off, and often end up at the Lookout for ice cream. There were various arcade games to play in there. My favorite was "Shoot the Bear." [see below] It had a rifle mounted in front of a glass front cabinet that had a mechanical bear in a forest of trees. The bear had several targets on its body. If you shot it in the target, it would rear up on its hind legs and growl. The trick was to keep shooting and keep it standing there. If you missed it would make a loop behind the trees and then you could aim and shoot again. Ah, the simple life!"

-Kay Moffeit Stringfellow, Maryland


"I worked at the concession stand one summer when I was 13 or 14 the Hendicks always treated me real nice. Ernest Hendricks alway made sure I had a way out there if not he would come and pick me up. This was in 1972 or 73 I believe. The concesion stand wasn't always real busy except on Friday and Saturday nights when the dance hall was open. The swimming pool was always busy during the day.

Before I started working there I remember going to the Dance Hall with my family on Friday and Saturday nights. There ways always a live country band to dance to. It ways always a fun place to go."

- Wayne Harp

 

"Oh yes, the Lookout pool was a great place for us kids to stay cool during the hot days before our parents had A/C.  Ten cents to swim all day, another nickel for a soft drink and 15 cents for a hot dog.  With 75 cents in your pocket you could really live it up, "shoot the bear" as well as test yourself on a machine with pistol grips that measured how much electrical shock you could take and play the juke box.  If our parents couldn't drop us off there we would ride our bikes, swim all day, then ride them back to town.

Ernest's biker friend, Van Buren, painted the comic characters and every 2-3 years would come thru with his son and touch them up.  Van Buren also painted a couple of religious murals inside Newburn's Hospital that were destroyed in remodeling.

Also a short lived race car track was located to the west of the pool across the railroad tracks for adult amusement.  Last time I looked you could still make out the track.

The Lookout was, in my opinion an OASIS for us younger kids as well as high school and Lon Morris students. Don't know what we would have done without it. I feel Ernest closed  it and went back to work for the railroad because of forced integration."

- John Lang

 



Linen postcard from 1939



This is the photo that the
postcard was based on

The photos below were taken by Hank O'Neal in 1972.
http://hankonealphoto.com/

The photos below were taken in November 2003.

 





Compiled by Greg Smith. If you have any materials you'd like to contribute, please email me.