The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.
Willowwood Estates has always been home to me. My parents built this house when I was 4 years old with the help of contractor Fred Michaux, who was truly ahead of his time in terms of architecture.
Our house had all the bells and whistles, like central heating and air conditioning and an intercom system — things that were not common at that time, especially for a young Black couple in the ’60s.
Though I was an only child, it never felt like it. My next-door neighbors on both sides were like siblings, and all the neighborhood kids would play together. After dinner, we’d all go out and play hopscotch and jump rope. Drivers were always careful because we would all ride our bikes in the street and the boys would play football.
We also had the beautiful Pletz County Park to play in and formed our own softball league in the summertime. Though I didn’t attend the neighborhood school, I would go to the recreation center run by the city’s parks and recreation department there over the summer to participate in their programs.
Our parents, especially our moms, were also close. Many of the girls attended the same dance school, so our mothers would alternate taking us to our dance lessons. My closest friends would even travel with my family to Houston or to visit my grandparents. We were just that close.
Even after I grew up and moved out, I remained close with many of my neighborhood friends. I was in the Camp Fire Girls with two of my closest friends and, though they’ve both moved away from San Antonio, we make sure to reunite at least once a year.
And the neighborhood still felt like my neighborhood because I was here almost every day. Over the years, there were not many changes. The homeowners association kept the community connected with events and parties, and most people stayed in the neighborhood, creating a bond that lasted for decades.
The sense of community was so strong that when my mom passed in November, many neighbors attended her memorial services. Because this neighborhood and home meant so much to my mother, I decided to make my childhood home my retirement home.
In the backyard, there’s a pear tree that is near and dear to all of us in the family. It always bears so many pears and last summer, my cousin gathered up all the pears and took them to Houston where he lives. He and his girlfriend got my mom’s recipe for pear preserves and came back with delicious preserves that tasted just like what my mom used to make.
There’s also a patio that holds special memories of family gatherings, and I want to enhance the view of the park from the patio. As I think about renovating the home, I want to preserve its primary look but upgrade it inside and out. I cherish the memories and the history associated with the house and want to work with someone who can help bring my vision to life — a process that I know will take time but is worth it. My goal is to have the renovations done by next Christmas to gather family and friends to honor my mom and carry on her tradition of hosting gatherings.
The pride we have in our community, led by a childhood friend who is now the homeowners association president, gives me hope for the future of our neighborhood. Keeping the legacy of Willowwood alive is our shared vision. The community provided the best childhood, and we aim to preserve and improve it for generations to come.