There was little southbound traffic on the Dallas Parkway on that Saturday morning in late March. The drive from the northern suburbs towards Dallas was a breeze. I pitied those poor souls who have to battle the rush hour traffic every day.
The downtown area was almost deserted and finding a parking spot was really easy. I was happy. Spring was in the air and it was going to be a good day. The sky was an intense shade of blue, the temperature was comfortable – there was no hint yet of the blistering heat that clenches its jaws like a rabid dog that won’t let go -, the daffodils and tulips adorning public spaces were in full bloom, and the sun was still my friend.
I had signed up for a walking tour of the Arts District organized by the Dallas Center for Architecture. I was interested in the history of some of the turn-of-the-century buildings like the Belo Mansion, built in the Classical Revival style.
The tour was scheduled to start 10 am. The meeting point was the ceremonial entrance to the Dallas Museum of Art at Flora and Harwood streets, and the idea was to see and discuss the architecture of the Arts District -hailed by some as “the largest urban arts district in the U.S.” The whole nation knows that everything is bigger in Texas.
When I arrived, there was not a person in sight but I didn’t worry because it was still early.
The minutes ticked by. I was getting uneasy. It was possible that the guide might be waiting inside. The museum was still closed to the public but it was worth trying.
As soon as I opened the door, a female security guard materialized by my side. She didn’t look terribly friendly.
“Excuse me ma’am, the museum’s closed and opens at 10,” she said with a deep drawl.
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m supposed to meet a group of people and I thought they’d be inside,” I said, trying to appease her.
“ Y’all have to wait outside.” And Miss Congeniality proceeded to close the door on my face. So much for Southern hospitality.
To be on the safe side, I decided to check the other entrances. I walked round the block to the St Paul Street door but the only other people I saw was a couple across the street waiting for the historic M line trolley.
I took a moment to admire the bronze sculpture that guards the door (by one of my favourite artists, the English sculptor Henry Moore) and the colourful mural by the Mexican artist Covarrubias depicting an ancient Mexican myth. It is called Genesis, the Gift of Life.
Since it was a few minutes past ten, the best course of action was to get back to the meeting point and hope for the best.
I re-read the printout with the tour details. Gasp! I got the date wrong; the tour was scheduled for the following weekend.