Chua Dao Quang — Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in Garland

Chua Dao QuangLike most of America, North Texas is a melting pot of culture and diverse ethnic groups.  Over 20,000 Vietnamese Americans call the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex home.  It’s no surprise, then, to also find Vietnamese Buddhist temples throughout the area.  Chua Dao Quang is one such Buddhist temple complex.

You don’t need to be Buddhist to visit the temple and grounds.  Visitors are welcome.  And you don’t need to be Buddhist to engage in mindful contemplation.  Concrete benches litter Chua Dao Quang pathways.  Throughout the grounds, you’ll find several shrines with Buddha depicted in various forms.

There is a happy, smiling Buddha shrine.  This fat and bald Buddha is actually a depiction of a tenth century monk, Bodai, respected for his happy contentment and open heartedness.  Some Buddhist traditions consider him the ‘future’ Buddha.  There is another shrine with a reclining Buddha, symbolic of enlightenment; and, in the middle of a pond, a standing Buddha.  A beautiful stone panel relief depicts Buddha’s life.

At each of the shrine, you’ll find offerings of incense, flowers and fruit.  On the day of our visit, neatly piled, mountains of fresh oranges graced many of the shrines.

The Buddha Dharma Education Association ascribes the following meanings to shrine offerings:  incense reminds us to cultivate good conduct; flowers reminds that all things are impermanent; fruit symbolizes the ultimate goal of enlightenment; and light (a candle) symbolizes wisdom and dispelling darkness.  Just outside the main entrance to the temple, you’ll find a table laden with vases and a barrel of water should you choose to bring a flower offering.

Visitors may also enter the temple, but please first remove your shoes.  And, like all places of worship, be respectful (e.g., ask permission before taking pictures, etc.).

Chua Dao Quang is located at 3522 North Garland Avenue, Garland.  Temple grounds are open daily until 10 p.m.

Gainesville Community Circus

North Texas Ramblings Gainesville Community Circus

Vintage postcard of Gainesville Community Circus from Boston Public Library collection (published by Frank Dustin)

The title of the 1934 Popular Science article by A. Morton Smith says it all:  “Worlds Strangest Circus.”

Back in 1930, the townspeople of Gainesville held a circus to raise money for the town’s community theater group.  The circus was so popular, that nearby Denton asked them to perform there, too.  And so the Gainesville Community Circus was born.

Staffed by mostly amateurs, the circus gave over 350 performances during its 23 years.  From housewives to mayor, townspeople trained year round for their acts.  Sometimes professional circus performers would winter in Gainesville, and provide the amateur circus artists with training in tightrope walking, acrobatics and even contortionism.

During the circus season (summer and fall), Gainesville Community Circus performed throughout Texas. Even with its new found fame, the circus retained its amateur status.  Circus proceeds went to buy circus equipment and maintain the growing number of circus animals.

Yes, Gainesville became home to not only the horses used in the bareback acts, but also to circus lions and elephants.

Whole Gainesville families participated, some as performers and others as supporting staff.

“Little Jimmie Scruggs, an eleven-year-old school girl, performs on the loop-the-loop trapeze. Mrs. Geraldine Murrell, young society matron, supports the weight of a 200-pound man on a rope looped around her waist as she does a split on the roman rings. Margaret Talley, beauty shop operator, throws her body over a trapeze bar in a muscle-grind endurance test as many as 103 times at a single performance,” writes Smith in his article.

 In 1954, a fire destroyed circus equipment ending the performing days of the Gainesville Community Circus.  However, a bit of the circus continues to this day.  The Frank Buck Zoo in Gainseville was created to house and keep the circus animals.

See Frank Buck Zoo – a Gainesville Gem for more information on the zoo and town.

 

 

Eisenhower’s Birthplace in Denison, Texas

North Texas Ramblings -- Eisenhower Statue in DenisonOne of the great heroes of World War II and our 34th president, Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower , was born right here in North Texas in Denison.

Located just 70 miles north of Dallas near the Oklahoma border, Denison thrived as a railroad town in the 1880’s as a stop on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (KATY) Railroad.  It was a railroad job that brought Eisenhower’s parents, David and Ida, to the town in 1889.  The couple already had two boys, Dwight, their third child, would be born in 1890.  The Eisenhowers lived in Denison only three years, returning to Kansas when Dwight was just a toddler.  Ironically, Dwight Eisenhower did not even know he was born in Denison until mid-life.  A Denison teacher, Ms Jennie Jackson, thought she remembered the Eisenhowers, and discovered the family’s link to the town by combing through old city records.  Following World War II, the local community bought the house where Dwight Eisenhower was born and that his family had rented while living in Texas.  Eisenhower visited Denison for the first time as an adult in 1946 having breakfast with community leaders and Ms Jackson at his birthplace home.

The Texas Historical Commission now operates the site.  Eisenhower’s Birthplace in Denison has a small collection of Eisenhower memorabilia including a painting by the President.  A film in the visitor’s center provides a short history of President Eisenhower’s life and legacy.  The docent lead home tour is well worth the admission cost.  The knowledgeable guides paint a picture of Denison life in the 1890s, and share a wealth of information about the challenges Eisenhower’s parents faced in those early years when David, Ike’s father, worked for the KATY railroad.

Eisenhower’s Birthplace (609 S. Lamar, Denison, 903/465-8908) is open Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for students.  There are picnic grounds next to the visitors’ center.