A silver anniversary in these times is rare, but a silver anniversary it was on Sunday afternoon when dignitaries from the City of Brownwood, Early Chamber of Commerce, and Gilbert Hinds, 76, of Goldthwaite, were on hand to witness the Park Plaza sign’s 25th year of utter disrepair.
A ribbon cutting was not held because nobody could find where the giant wooden scissors went, according to the Early Chamber. “Plus, it’s in Brownwood. We have our own grocery store now.”
Nobody is quite sure when the K fell off, or when the other letters on the other side fell off, but citizens gave up hope on ever seeing them repaired about 25 years ago, according to Geoffrey Nash. Nash, a local historian specializing in grocery stores, told the Examiner that Park Plaza was once land owned by Daniel Baker College and it was sold to the Park Plaza People LLC sometime in 1961. The current building housing Brookshires and Family Dollar was finished in 1969.
Nash told us an interesting fact that we already knew, but we pretended to be impressed out of politeness. “There used to be a service station and a car wash where we are standing right now, and there used to be a few other buildings by where that building that had an Asian market in it used to be. I miss that market. Oh how I miss that wonderful place.”
Nash was correct, Park Plaza used to have a lot more going for it. Over the years it has had tenants as illustrious as Mott’s and Winn-Dixie. The Weakley-Watson building used to be an Eckard’s Drug Store, and the aforementioned car wash was for a small amount of time affiliated with the Tandy Corporation. All stores that have long went to that liquidator in the sky.
Nash, awaking from his Filipino food daydream, went on to explain that Park Plaza was seen as South Brownwood’s pride and joy. “When they said “Let’s put in a grocery store right across the street from a grocery store, everyone laughed”” said Nash, who was honestly unsure if Park Plaza or the eternally vacant former JRB/Fiesta Foods store came first. “I know one thing though, we got mad at them when they tried to say they were part of Park Plaza. JRB and that Green Stamp Shop and the drugstore, they were trying to ride the coattails of Park Plaza but they never gave a dime towards upkeep of the sign.”
And so the long tradition of neglecting the Park Plaza sign began.
“I don’t recall the last time the damn thing lit up at night, frankly!” interjected Gilbert Hinds. It’s a shame, one of these days someone’s going to take responsibility and fix it up. All the pigeons that live in it will have to find a new home, and Brownwood will look just a little less slummy. It’s a shame.” Hinds continued “The S on Schwartz Food Store in Goldthwaite has been gone for a while, we just wanted to see what kind of competition we have when it comes to unmaintained facades!”
Hinds stated that his calls to the State Board of Vintage Signs went unanswered. “I guess nobody but me cares about old signs. I want to save Park Plaza before it meets the same fate as the once grand Edgewood Shopping Plaza sign in Abilene.”