Feature Article: Austin Neighborhoods
by MP Mueller
Photographs by Dagny Piaseck
If Central Austin were a side of beef, Tarrytown might be considered the most desired cut. Shady, bucolic streets and an elementary school with a fall carnival that raises the kind of funds that would make a small East European country jealous. July 4th is done big in Tarrytown, too. This neighborhood’s not-to-miss event has floats.
You won’t find themed subdivision street names like Sherwood Forest and Friar Tuck Trail here, but you will find a Robin Hood mixed into a Scenic Drive. All the houses are unique, the lawns large and the neighborhoods and stores are populated by people who have known and supported each others’ families for generations. Those who leave for college or careers often feel that salmon spawning effect kick in and find themselves returning to Tarrytown to make their families.
Like Tina Hambly—Tina grew up here and went to Austin High (as did her mom). Tina loves that her kids will go to Austin High, too. She and her husband Max embraced her Tarrytown roots when they moved back four years ago with their to two teens, Kyle and Stella. A global events designer for a large tech company, Tina’s other passion is creating warm spaces for people to gather. The Hambly’s home, a renovated ranch style casa, is a Pinterest dream home board—aspirational but accessible, and with a Texas accent.
Her backyard is a hangout for the Hamblys and their Tarrytown neighbors, where she hosts a happy hour for the women she loves in her community. “We don’t get to see each other quite as often as we’d like,” she explained. “I wanted to honor them so we had a happy hour that lasted four and a half hours with 26 women bringing a bottle or a bite. These are women I didn’t know before I moved back into the community.”
She got to know her next-door neighbor, Maura Donelson, as they walked their kids home from Casis Elementary. They discovered a mutual passion for wine and bonded sharing sips and stories. “We’ve become very, very good friends—it’s a wonderful gift to have a neighbor like that,” said Tina. “Birthdays, a death, school stuff…our kids are growing up together, sharing notes and swapping information. Plus we both know when the summer wine sale is at Twin Liquors—we text each other, ‘It’s the summer sale!’” Tina laughed.
“Obviously, living here is not cheap, with the property taxes and all, but you are paying for that connection I love so much. It truly is a connected community. We support each other through different milestones of life,” said Tina. She shared a story of a neighborhood family with three children. “A few years ago the husband/father passed away unexpectedly over Thanksgiving weekend. When something like this happens, the neighbors here will quickly organize on Care.com. We created a meal plan and calendar to take care of them over the Christmas holidays. Every day for 12 days, a huge group of kids and moms dropped off gifts anonymously on the porch for their three kids. On the twelfth day, about 60 of us went and sang carols at their house and had hot chocolate and cookies. This type of support happens all the time.”
Read more from the Neighborhoods Issue | June 2016