The Arlington Historical Society recently interviewed me for our newsletter. The newsletter occasionally does a Member Spotlight Interview, and it’s a fun way to learn more about members.
The interview also announces that I will take over as newsletter editor at the end of the year, which I haven’t shared yet. It will be a challenge, but I’m excited about it!
This interview first appeared in the August/September 2021 edition of the newsletter, which can be found at www.historicalarlington.org/newsletter.
AHS Member Spotlight Interview
When and why did your family first come to Texas?
Most of my family’s recent history is in Texas. My parents were born in DFW. My mom’s side of the family goes back a few generations in Texas. My dad’s parents came from Oklahoma, but most of their descendants were born in Texas. In the last 150 years, most of my family was born in Texas or spent most of their life here.
You’re a native of Arlington, but where did you grow up? Attend school? Why did you decide to return to Arlington?
I was born in Arlington but grew up in Mansfield. I graduated from Mansfield High School. I lived in Mansfield for 24 years and moved to Arlington 14 years ago. I’ve lived in this area my whole life, except my freshman year of college in Miami, Florida.
Growing up, Arlington always felt like the big city next door. We would visit often. I remember Cooper Street being a two-lane road — if I’m not mistaken — and mostly rural. It was much different from today.
I remember going to Interlochen often to see the Christmas lights. Six Flags was always fun, and we spent time at Putt-Putt in the summer. Campo Verde and Chapp’s Hamburgers were places we liked to eat in Arlington.
My parents and grandparents took me to a lot of antique stores when I was a kid. Antique stores are similar to local history museums, in a way, and maybe that’s where my interest in the past started.
When it was time to leave Mansfield, it seemed fitting to move to Arlington. I had fond memories of it and knew it well.
You are the first millennial to be interviewed for the newsletter. How did you become interested in local history? What inspired you to volunteer for the AHS and the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission? How can the AHS attract more members from your generation?
I always liked history, but we learned very little about local history in school. Texas History class was mainly about the Alamo, but there’s so much more to our history than that.
I’m new to Arlington’s history and still learning about it. It is truly fascinating with many eras, layers, and topics. I’ve finally begun to explore the city that I’ve always known but never really knew.
I became interested in local history a couple of years ago when I saw a Texas Historical Marker. It wasn’t the first one that I saw, but something about it sparked my interest. I then discovered other historical markers, which helped bring local history to life. I also like reading local history books, and the library has a wide selection. I’ve branched out to other parts of Tarrant County and North Texas, so there’s plenty to learn and explore. It’s become a hobby for me.
Joining the AHS and volunteering at Fielder House seemed like the next step. I wanted to learn more and be around like-minded folks. History comes alive when you’re around people passionate about it and in a museum that preserves it. Plus, I wanted to do volunteer work, and the AHS/Fielder House offered opportunities that interested me.
The AHS needs more members from my generation, and there are a couple of ways we can attract them.
For starters, we could expand what we consider “history.” Historical preservation efforts often use “50 years” of age as a starting point to gauge something as historic. Yet, the recent past — maybe 30 years ago — is more relatable to my generation. We could have an exhibit at Fielder House showcasing Arlington in the 1970s-1990s. I think younger people would see that and realize that there is more to history than what they learned in school. For people to appreciate local history, it often must be relatable to them.
Another possible way is through outreach and promotion. Many people my age may not know that we have a historical society or a local history museum. We can’t assume that people know who we are or that we exist. It may take some creative ways to get people interested or involved, but it’s doable. It takes all of us in the AHS to help tell Arlington’s story and get the word out.
I also serve on the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission. It’s a great way to get involved with local landmarks and historic preservation efforts. More than old buildings, these sites help tell our story. We must do what we can to save these sites and preserve them for future generations.
You will take over as newsletter editor at the end of this year. What changes do you foresee?
I’m excited to be part of the newsletter! I enjoy writing about Arlington and plan to contribute to each newsletter.
Even though we’re a historical society, we can’t spend all our time in the past. We must think about the future, grow, and adapt to changing times.
The newsletter is currently bi-monthly. I’m proposing we do it quarterly, shifting from six newsletters a year to four, starting in January 2022. I want to see us have more content on social media and our website, though. I’d like to start a blog on our website and use some of the previous newsletter articles as part of the content. Our newsletters have valuable information that can be re-used in other ways. And you never know what story or topic can spark someone’s interest in local history. I’d also like our website to be a hub of local history information. We could have pages on our website dedicated to various topics as a resource for others.
Those are simply my ideas, of course, and whatever direction we go in needs to be for the good of the historical society.
I think that concludes our interview! Thank you for including me in the Member Spotlight!
The newsletter interviews often include photos — an older one and a current one. The one on the left is about 2nd Grade, while the other is from 2019. Alas, these were the best ones I could find!
Blog post by Jason S. Sullivan, 08-06-21
For more information about the Arlington Historical Society, visit us at the Fielder House Museum, check out our website, or find us on Facebook.