Disclosure from Go Oak Cliff: Schenkel Properties is a 2019 Go Oak Cliff sponsor.
Walk up the stairs 614 N. Bishop Avenue and you’ll see two things: First, a beautiful impressionist painting of a couple horses crossing a river in the West somewhere and then second, a helmet enclosed in a glass case with the words ‘COTTON BOWL’ written on the side. Soon after that you’ll likely hear Bonnie’s welcoming voice from around the way, asking, “How can we help?”
Then you meet Craig. Craig Schenkel, owner of Schenkel Properties, is a towering figure. Yet as he approaches, you’re greeted with a firm handshake and wide smile from one of the most down-to-earth guys around.
Schenkel Properties owns a variety of buildings up and down Davis Street, such as the spaces occupied by Cafe Brazil, Southern Maid, Better Block, and Nova. They’ve owned the buildings for well over fifteen years, too. After growing up in East Dallas during the fifties and sixties, Craig was drawn to the unique character of Oak Cliff. He also saw a major shift taking place that led him into real estate. “In the sixties and seventies, everyone was leaving,” he said.
Craig turned and began walking against the departing crowd. Fifteen years later, he’s glad he did. “I’m the luckiest guy in Dallas,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been very blessed and surrounded by a lot of people who helped me.”
As he set his sights on North Oak Cliff, he met two athletic directors that represented two important Oak Cliff schools: Adamson and Sunset. Wanting to know how he could help them out as neighbors, he offered to support the schools’ athletic programs. Fifteen years later, his involvement and support for both schools has grown into an impressive community partnership. But you can’t ask Craig because he’ll just humbly say, “It’s not much, but I try to help a little bit.”
At the heart of this support is the Adamson-Sunset rivalry game. “It’s a big deal,” Craig said to me with a serious face.
Outside of his financial support of each school, which has received high praise from the city, Craig has made a few other really important contributions to this rivalry game: First, the trophy. Realizing the teams needed a trophy to track the history of this game (and something shiny to play for!), Craig went to work. Soon the two teams had an almost exact replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and, just like that, the Oak Cliff Super Bowl Game was born.
Next, Craig worked with the teams and schools to organize and kickoff a pep rally. “[The rivalry] had been dormant for many years,” he said. He was excited to see it played with the same fervor and excitement that longtime Oak Cliff residents reminisced about. “The schools really, really get excited about it - and the turnout is good. The pep squads and the bands and the teams all rally in Bishop Arts and it’s a lot of fun.”
You can find Craig and his team out at the Sunset-Adamson pep rally this evening. For years, they have loved watching this rivalry continue to grow–and Oak Cliff along with it.
I asked him how he felt about the neighborhood these days and he gave me a reassuring, one-word response: “Inspired.” He’s inspired to see people lining up to be back in Oak Cliff after having left so many years ago. And now as an empty-nester, he and his wife (who just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary this past week) are having a lot of fun traveling and visiting friends and family. “I’m close to 63 years old, so I feel like I’m playing with house money from here on out,” he said with a big laugh as he leaned back into his office chair overlooking Bishop Ave.
But no matter the changes in life or the neighborhood, the band plays, the pep squad cheers, the players and coaches pump up the crowd, and the game goes on.
2019 Game Info:
Adamson vs. Sunset
Sat, Aug 31, 2019, 6:00 PM CDT
Sprague Athletic Complex
3701 Boulder Drive
Dallas, TX 75233