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Reefmonkey

Kuykendahl btwn the creek and Louetta in the 80s

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I was brought home from the hospital as a newborn to my parents' house in Cypresswood in 1976, and lived there the first 9 years of my life. If you went to Haude Elementary, Benfer Elementary, or Strack Intermediate in the early through late 1980s, these are some places you might remember.

The Del Taco on the southeast corner of Louetta and Kuykendahl. I remember their steak and cheese buritos with grilled onions fondly. I guess this California-based fast food chain didn't take, as I only remember them being open a few years.

And what was that grocery store that was the anchor for the strip center that Del Taco was in the parking lot of? It wasn't "Minimax," was it?

We never went to that grocery store, whatever it was, because our regular store was the Kroger right across the street, with the very greenhouse-looking glass overhead windows in the front. I remember in the early 80s, when we finally got a VCR, we used to rent movies from them. It also had a little cafe there in the store.

The parking lot of that Kroger, at one time had one of those tiny little freestanding "Fox Photo" booths, that looked like a toll collection booth.

In the Kroger strip center was a place I remember fondly: Rainbow Popcorn. They were open at least as late as the summer of 1984. They sold prepopped popcorn in all sorts of different flavors, such as sour cream and chives, pizza, as well as cheddar cheese, caramel, etc. You could also buy big metal cans that they would personalize for you, for special occasions. I remember my mom getting one for my older brother with a big red cougar on it to celebrate his "graduating" from Haude in 1984 and going on to Strack.

Further south was Chef Chan's, a standalone chinese restaurant, in a really nice asian-style building on landscaped grounds. We used to go there a lot, as well as getting takeout from them. A little further south, and across the street on the northeast corner of Cypresswood Drive and Kuykendahl was a convenience store, Mr. M, which was about the only store my older brother was allowed to ride his bike to once he turned 10.

Continuing south across Cypresswood, but staying on the same side of the street, was a low, brown strip center that had J. Christopher's Pizza, still stands in my memory as some of the best pizza, that super-thin crust pizza cut into squares. One of the few places I know of in Houston that makes pizza like that is Keneally's on Shepherd in town.

Behind and also to the south of that strip center, going all the way down to Cypress Creek, it was all just untouched woods at that time, and all the boys in the neighborhood used to play in those woods all the time. There was a little muddy-water ravine in those woods, a tributary of Cypress creek, and my older brother and I made a boat out of wood from old coke bottle crates, which promptly sank as soon as we stepped into it. We used to catch crawdads, tadpoles, and little fish in there, too. In the late 80s to early 90s, the virgin woods were razed to put in patio homes and a Kelsey-Sebold clinic.

On the other side of Kuyendahl, right on the creek, was an "upscale" restaurant that went by several names through the years, most of which I forget, but at one point in the 80s it was called "Classics After 6". I just looked it up to be sure that was the name and found an old ad for it in a Texas Monthly from 1989, being touted by Erin Gray of the Ricky Shroeder vehicle "Silver Spoons" (and the Buck Rogers TV series before that) http://books.google.com/books?id=Pi4EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA190&lpg=PA190&dq=classics+after+six+kuykendahl&source=bl&ots=xsSFD2CR5Z&sig=ncDhkGH_k9z5T24kgYdpVnA3CV4&hl=en&ei=OojRTaeWN4m4twfI-oj2DQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=classics%20after%20six%20kuykendahl&f=false

I also remember, on the east side of Kuykendal, a house right on the south bank of the creek, with a pond and a really cool pool.

Shooting up back to the north, on Louetta just west of Kuykendahl was Strack Farms, a farmers market in an open air building, that actually sold some produce grown on site. Of course next door was the restaurant, which I think is still there. Next time I'm up visiting my parents, I may have to take my wife and kids there, see if the chicken fried steak is as good as I remember it. Since my wife is a Lyle Lovett fan, it won't take much convincing to get her to go to a place that was one of his favorite haunts.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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Interesting, my cousins lived in that neighborhood over near Ella and Louetta, and went to the schools you listed, but we were all born a decade after you.

When did that area north of Louetta start feeling less "exurban"? Who knows, Google Earth's 1970s-90s imagery shows a progression of new subdivisions along Kuykendahl up to The Woodlands. Its kind of like, at some point in the 1970s the Houston metropolitan area reached its maximum northward geographic extent(up to about Conroe) with isolated subdivisions way out in the middle of nowhere, and since then most of the growth has been filling in the spaces in between.

Edited by zaphod

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Remember J. Christophers, good stuff. It is a lot like Kineally's pizza. I think they still have a location in Kingwood. I also remember many a little league (Spring/Klein) baseball party at the pizza place over in the Kroger shopping center at the corner of Kuykendahl and Louetta. The name escapes me, but the pizza was good...was it Royal Pizza?

We lived in Ponderosa in the 80's , I remember the BMX track over on the other side of the bridge along Kuykendahl. We always used to ride bikes and hike down there by the creek. A guy I went to school with made the papers after finding a Kimodo Dragon down by Cypress Creek. It was evidently released by a pet owner.

Edited by mrfootball

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When did that area north of Louetta start feeling less "exurban"?

That's an interesting question, and a tough one to answer. Probably depends on your perspective. From my perspective, someone who was born in the area in the mid 70s, there were two periods that there seemed to be notable change. The first was during the early to mid 80s, just before the oil bust. That was the period when FM 1960 really exploded in growth. The growth of commerical development right along 1960 during that period was a good way to understand the development of the area, and this occured in an east-to-west direction, starting at I-45, and when the development reached 249, that was the end of that phase. I remember in the very early 80s, the bulk of the commercial development along 1960 only extended to Kuykendahl. Sure, there were little pockets of development here and there, like Cornerstone, or further west in Popolo Village, Champions Village and Champions Plaza, but there was a lot of undeveloped land in between these scattered developments. Back then, Northland Christian School, which isn't that far west of Kukendahl, looked like it was in the deep woods back then. During the early 1980s, before the opening of Willowbrook Mall, there was pretty much nothing out past Cutten Road, and it looked like you were out in the woods, 1960 was narrower then, too. At that time the last development was right before Cutten, on the right, I think it was either called Champions Plaza or Champions Village II, and it had a 2 or 3 screen movie theatre and the Shoe Box, a children's shoe store where we used to get our shoes. Oh, and back then, the Randalls flagship on Champion Forest Drive and 1960 actually had a fairly fancy cafe in an upstairs area with a balcony overlooking the store. Another interesting fact about that intersection, what is now the Sun and Ski Sports used to be a Sakowitz department store at one point.

The next major phase, from my perspective, started in the late 90s. When I was in high school (I graduated in 94), Louetta Road was the boundary of suburban development, with the subdivisions that fronted the north side of Louetta being the last major developments, and none of them went through to Spring-Cypress, and beyond them it was mostly woods, farms, and countryside until you got to the Woodlands (especially west of Kuykendahl). Spring Cypress and 2920 were both rural roads, mixtures of dense woods and fields, with farmhouses (some going back to the late 1800s). It was a great place to drive around. North Eldridge Parkway between Grant Road and Cypress-North Houston was so undeveloped and wooded back when I was in high school, under the bridge where it crosses Cypress Creek was my girlfriend and my favorite makeout spot. We also called it "the Autobahn" because we imagined that it was like driving through the Black Forest, with all the dense, uncut pine forest that grew up within a few yards of the road. In the late 1990s, early 2000s, all three of these country roads became spans of treeless McMansion subdivisions and Kroger Signature-anchored strip centers.

Of course, if you ask my parents, who moved to Cypresswood and Kuykendahl in 1970, the area was pretty well developed in the early 1980s, the time I remember it being so pastoral. My parents remember the early 70s, when the nearest grocery store was several miles to the east, the Eagle grocery store, at 1960 and Ella or Red Oak. Back then, FM 1960 was more commonly called Jack Rabbit Road, and had much pasturage. It wasn't uncommon to see coyote carcasses hanging on fence posts along the road, coyotes shot by ranchers and placed there to scare off others.

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Remember J. Christophers, good stuff. It is a lot like Kineally's pizza. I think they still have a location in Kingwood. I also remember many a little league (Spring/Klein) baseball party at the pizza place over in the Kroger shopping center at the corner of Kuykendahl and Louetta. The name escapes me, but the pizza was good...was it Royal Pizza?

We lived in Ponderosa in the 80's , I remember the BMX track over on the other side of the bridge along Kuykendahl. We always used to ride bikes and hike down there by the creek. A guy I went to school with made the papers after finding a Kimodo Dragon down by Cypress Creek. It was evidently released by a pet owner.

Oh, I vaguely remember the pizza place you're talking about, I am pretty sure we had a soccer party there. I also remember tearing it up on my Murray BMX (circa 1982-1983 model) on the BMX track there. Good times.

Do you remember East and West Strack roads, off Cypresswood Drive just west of Kuykendahl? A few little old houses on big wooded lots, roads so primitive they were almost dirt roads. Do you remember there being a legend about a guy having killed his family back there, and at night you could supposedly hear their ghosts' screams?

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I moved to Cypresswood in early 1977. Kuykendahl was still a 2 lane road when we got here, but they had begun construction on the 4 lane section between I-45 and FM 1960. The old 2 lane road ran where the median is today. It seems that they made the section north of 1960 into 4 lanes sometime around 1980. FM 1960 was 4 lanes back then, with drainage ditches. I think it expanded to 5 lanes, then 6, then finally 7.

In the 70s, it was still very wooded, and Louetta was still 2 lanes, and not very busy. I still remember riding a Honda CB750 down Louetta past Strack Farms at 105 mph! Yeah, I was a bit stupid back then. Cypresswood, Cypressdale and Candlelight Hills were the only subdivisions all the way to Enchanted Oaks. There were several streets being cut back there, though, and we would sit back there and get hammered, fight, and molest the neighborhood girls. Cops only rarely came back there then, and they just told you to leave, or poured out your booze and beer.

West of Kuykendahl, only Terra Nova existed until you got to Wimbledon. Again, several of the newer subdivisions were starting up. Since 1977-1983 were the Boomtown years, these subdivisions were going up in a matter of months at times. Even so, not much existed north of Louetta. That part really cranked up in the 1990s.

My brother just got remarried a few weeks ago, and he invited all of the guys from the neighborhood from 1977-1980. It was hilarious talking about all of this stuff 30 years later.

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Back around 1980, 4 wheel drive pickups with huge mud tires and jacked up suspensions were getting popular. Myself and a few others bought little 4WD Toyota pickups and put 35 inch mudders on them. Those things were a riot. We'd take them down by Cypress Creek, either behind Cypresswood, or behind Terra Nova, near the two Strack Roads. I got stuck in there once, and by the time we got back my stereo had been stolen. I also buried it off of Kuykendahl behind Burke's Upholstery. For you Woodlanders, I also buried my truck in what is now Lake Woodlands. My college buddy was a project manager for the lake construction, and he would let us drive our dirt bikes and $WDs all through the future lake.

Edited by RedScare

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