Archive for October, 2015

Historic Texas building sees renaissance

“The Dienger building is to Boerne what the Alamo is to San Antonio,” asserts Raymond Lunsford, owner of the newly established Dienger Trading Company. Lunsford and his wife, Lisa, have consolidated their Main Street businesses next to Boerne’s downtown plaza.

“We want to be a part of the community,” Lunsford said about their decade of commercial ventures along Boerne’s Main Street including three restaurants and two clothing stores.

A year ago, the Lunsfords acquired one of Boerne’s first two-story stone structures. Joseph and Ida Dienger built it in 1885 to house their “staple and fancy” grocery store downstairs, their five children upstairs. A full subterranean basement kept Dienger’s moose and deer antler collection.

Historian Garland Perry called the building a “trend-setter” and “the envy of everybody in town” at its 1984 dedication to the National Registry of Historic Places. According to Perry, seven other “live above, work below” structures were built along Main Street in the twenty-five years following the Dienger’s construction.

Joe Dienger bought 1.18 acres at the northwest corner of Main and Blanco in 1884 for $900. He financed $1,300 worth of building materials through a San Antonio lumber company. The end result was a structure with both Victorian and German influences.

In 1900, Dienger added a north extension for a men’s and women’s clothing store run by his sisters, Lina and Louise. Members of the Dienger family operated the grocery and clothing businesses until the early 1940s.

This history, and a desire to honor the Boerne community, inspired the contemporary Dienger Trading Company.

With a bakery/restaurant, Lunsford pays tribute to Joe’s grocery, while a home goods and clothing/accessory store hearkens back to his sisters’ shop. A bookshop recognizes the building’s use as a public library from 1991 – 2011, and an event venue in the former living quarters will facilitate fresh family memories.

“People who grew up in Boerne tell me every day, ‘I never dreamed this building could be this way. Thank you so much,’” Lunsford said. “It really means a lot and I’m very proud of what it has become.”

Branding guru Michelle Ernst serves as the “The Dienger’s” general manager and chief buyer.

“Knowing the Lunsfords’ love of the community, it was a no-brainer to incorporate the history of the building into our branding,” Ernst remarked. “We‘re not here to take business from anyone else. We’re here to be added value. We try to buy lines that no one else has.”

Ernst continues, “With the demographic changes in Boerne, many new establishments aren’t geared to an older demographic. The older generation wonders, ‘Where is my Boerne going?’ That’s why we want to offer something for everyone.

“We know we’re taking a risk by not marketing to just one demographic, but we think this building is special enough to make it work,” Ernst projects.

Lunsford believes the company’s uniqueness will bring ample business.

“Between the restaurant – people love to eat-, the ladies and men’s goods, the home goods, the venue with the balcony overlooking Main Street – it’s different. People tell us this is the kind of store you’d see in New York or Martha’s Vineyard or San Francisco.”

After experiencing The Dienger’s renaissance firsthand, putting government or private offices in the structure would be like putting the DMV in the Alamo.

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

Don’t put off reading this!

If you’re reading this, you’ll know I relapsed. But don’t worry. I’m in the care of a loving and supportive group of fellow wayfarers. As you read, I’m likely introducing myself on a first name basis at the local chapter of Procrastinators Anonymous.

This is the article my editor keeps on file for a week when I wait to the last minute and then that minute gets lost to a case of pinkeye.

Or maybe I just couldn’t resist checking my bank account and the sports scores and Craigslist. Maybe I needed just the right cup of coffee to get started, but it never came. Whatever the reason(s), I procrastinated.

Procrastination occupies the punch line of plenty of jokes and quips. For example, “Procrastinators: leaders of tomorrow.”

Humorist Mark Twain spun Ben Franklin’s advice this way: “Never put off to tomorrow what you can put off to the day after tomorrow.”

In Latin, “pro” means “forward” and “crastinare” means “of tomorrow”. The two combine to stockpile many good intentions. We all know the roots of the disease, but, for therapy’s sake, let’s review.

1. Fear of failure. Whether I’m apprehensive about trying something for the first time or I’ve done something a hundred times but fear this one might not measure up, fear of getting it wrong can slow me to a crawl.

2. Perfectionism. If I can’t do something precisely right, I often would rather not do it at all. So time slips away while I think about how to accomplish a task perfectly, forgetting that it’s only in practicing a task that my performance actually improves.

3. Urgent vs. important. Small fires (aka the tasks that can’t seem to wait) burn so uncomfortably hot that I think I must address them immediately. I think they will only take a second but then wake up three days later and the fire has smoked out what matters most.

Procrastinating is not necessarily irrational. Work usually expands to fill time. So, it makes sense to compress a project into a window that closes right at a deadline. Deadlines do force action, after all.

But this is the rationale of someone who can’t leave well enough alone. Someone who obsesses over a project to the bitter end. Someone addicted to the rush of adrenaline that comes from squeaking under a wire.

Some possible cures for procrastin-addicts:

1. Let it go. If you let a project go when it is reasonably done, it will be easier to start the next one. You may need a reasonable third party to help define what “reasonably done” looks like. Your OCD won’t necessarily know.

2. Care less about what others think. All you can do is all you can do. If it’s your best effort at that point in time, it shouldn’t matter what other people think. Someone wise once said most people are neither for you nor against you. They are only thinking about themselves.

3. Visualize. This is the most cliche of my recommendations, but it really does help to imagine what it will be like to get something done. Think the thoughts, feel the feelings of relief and satisfaction. Or, conversely, imagine the consequences of inaction.

If all else fails, add a word to your vocabulary: perendinate – v. to put off until the day after tomorrow.

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

Texas town wrestles with growth

The slogan “BOERNE, TEXAS GONE FOREVER” is appearing on a growing number of bumpers. The sticker is usually attached to a work truck or a seasoned sedan. A faded Bush/Cheney sticker may also represent.

I have not chatted with any driver of any vehicle bearing the inscription, but I believe I understand the sentiment: The good days are gone. The suburbs have come.

I saw the sticker most recently at a relatively new burger café in town. The restaurant has a playground, a party room and a patio. Evidently, the driver was trying to warm up to “new Boerne” with an ice cold milkshake. He or she was enjoying an amenity made possible only by growth.

Therein lies the irony: We typically love what’s on the other side of the traffic.

Nearly ten years ago when my first child trotted out for his first soccer game at Boerne City Park, all the cars could fit in the parking lot. Today, you might have to park down by River Road or on the Kendall County Fairgrounds. The number of players and fans keeps increasing.

When my fourth child trotted out to his first game this fall, I endured the inconvenience because I want him to play on manicured fields in a well-run program. I try to remember: If the facilities were sub-par and the organization was lacking, I’d have plenty of prime spaces to choose from.

A recent snippet in the “Star Rewind” section of these pages told of a “New business for Boerne.” The year was 1955. Almega Corporation of Austin planned to come to Boerne “to manufacture toys, games and novelties and set up a complete industrial silk screening plant.”

The company had agreed to purchase an historic Main Street building built by Henry Adler in 1911. Bergmann Lumber, the oldest hardware store in Kendall County and the standard bearer for mom and pop shops attempting to stay relevant in a big box age, now occupies the space.

I don’t know how long Almega Corporation stayed in the Adler Building or if they even moved in. I don’t know what wooden or metal toys they made there or what garments they decorated. Someone with a BOERNE, TEXAS GONE FOREVER bumper sticker could probably tell me.

But the thought of a new business once occupying a now classic structure should give us some perspective.

I needed this perspective recently when I saw a strange object in town. I thought it had rolled off the back of a construction truck before I realized it was part of Boerne’s new public art initiative. Art al Fresco (art in “fresh air”) is a joint effort of the City of Boerne and the local arts community.

It may take me some time to recognize the beauty in my midst. I may very well wish for a windmill or a water tower instead. But I am committed to staying open to change.

Boerne has grown in spurts for decades. Every generation experiences it. The old Boerne commemorated on bumper stickers is really just a figment of a nostalgic imagination. The tranquility we remember over milkshakes was once someone else’s traffic.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.


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