When I was 9 years old, in November 1961, Austin was a very different place. It got it’s first shopping mall. It was called Capital Plaza Shopping Center. It wasn’t anything like some of the ones that would follow. Hancock Mall, Highland Mall, & Barton Creek Mall were a decade or so later.
The center piece of Capital Plaza was a Montgomery Wards Department Store. There were about two dozen other stores located within the center. The first McDonalds in Austin was built there. Prior to this time there there were small little strip centers, like Delwood and of course downtown was the real shopping district.
Capital Plaza is on I-35 just north of the old airport area. It was the biggest thing to happen in a while. That area was really considered the far north side of Austin back in the early 1960s.
There was a big parade organized to celebrate the opening. On a Saturday morning we loaded up a horse for my brother Kenny and Tar Baby the donkey for me to ride and we went to be a part of it all. The area where the Paupadeux Seafood Restaurant is now and all the land north US 290 were open fields. That’s where the parade started and we all rode the 1/4 mile or so to the north parking lot of Capital Plaza, then circled around the whole center and ended up in front of Montgomery Wards.
The grand spectacle of the day was a greased pig contest. A portable pen was erected in the parking lot where a dozen or more kids were allowed in with one small pig that was coated with axle grease. The object was for whomever could catch and hold on to the pig, won it. I was by far the smallest of all entrants.
When it all got underway, the big boys hemmed the pig up in the corner. While they each planned strategy on how to grab ahold and hold on to it. I dived in under all the big guys, through their legs and grabbed the pig and wouldn’t let go.
I was awarded the pig. I was given a shopping basket and allowed to go to the toy section and load it up with everything I could get in it and under the bottom. It was a pretty good deal. There were a lot of envious kids there that day.
Taken at the contest, with me in the white t-shirt and my jeans legs rolled up. (The fashion of that day)
Kenny and Me down at the pig pen with Greasy. This photo was taken at our home, out near Bull Creek close to Jollyville in July 1962. Greasy was getting up to good eating size by this time.
We took Greasy home, fed him until he was nice and fat and big, then we had him butchered and ate him. Was it a sad occasion? Not really. If it was, as soon as I started eating some pork chops, ham, bacon and sausage I got over it real soon.