Ding Dong, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
December 20, 2019
Today I drove from just south of Austin to Fort Worth. Google Maps showed that there was a town named "Ding Dong" on my route, and I was excited to check it out.
Buddy stands by a highway pole that I believe once held the Ding Dong sign. Can you imagine how disappointed I was? Google Maps told me I had arrived, but there was nothing there! No town, no sign, no anything.
I composed myself and began to continue my journey to Fort Worth. Within a quarter of a mile, I saw a fire station on a side road so I pulled over. Success!
As I was taking this photo, there were a couple of gentlemen standing near the fire station and they approached me. I've gotten pretty good at explaining the whole Buddy thing and my walkabout. We talked for maybe ten minutes and they asked if I would let to get a photo of Buddy with one of their fire trucks.
How special is that! I learned all about the Ding Dong fire department - 31 volunteers, most of their calls are medical, they cover 100 square miles and the department finances itself with a monthly BINGO game. So successful is the game that they are sitting on a more than six figure bank account!
I spent a good 30 minutes with these folks. My heart faced as I left. I felt so energized by how wonderful it felt to talk with these two strangers, learn so much and feel a real sense of connection. They wished me well on my travels and I know they really meant it.
As I drove away from the firehouse, I came across two more Ding Dong signs - one on a store and one on a ranch. Good to know folks are keeping the name alive.
I found an article with the history of Ding Dong. You can't help but laugh when you learn that the town is in Bell County.
Here's the history.
Name of This Town Rings A Bell
Just because Ding Dong is in Bell County doesn't mean those two facts have anything to do with each other. If you think it does you're either half-right or half-wrong, depending on your disposition.
Ding Dong was named for a Bell all right, but not Peter Hansborough Bell, the third governor of Texas and the man for whom Bell County is named. Nor is it named for the "Ding Dong Daddy of Dumas" or the junk food of the same name. The Wicked Witch did not die there. Ask not for whom the bell ding dongs . . .
According to historical accounts, the Bells in question were Zulis Bell and his nephew Bert Bell. In the early 1930s the two Bells bought and ran a country store on the Lampasas River about midway between Killeen and Florence, at a place then known as McBryde Crossing.
The Bells hired a talented sign painter by the name of C.C. Hoover to paint the sign for their new store. But Hoover was no mere sign painter. He had done some fine oil paintings and could draw as well as letter. Fred Foster at Stokes-Blair Hardware Company in Florence knew of Hoover's talent so when the young man showed up at Foster's store to buy paint for the job, Foster advised him to put his creative talents to use.
"Why don't you do something original with this sign," he suggested to Hoover. "How about drawing two Bells with the name Zulis in one and Bert in the other. Then print 'Ding Dong' on the sign." In this manner manner, the deed was done. The little community around the store took on the name of Ding Dong, and there you have it.
Just because Ding Dong has made a name for itself by, well, the way it named itself doesn't mean it's easy to find. You don't even have to blink to miss it. You can be looking for it and still miss it. A couple of dozen people have a Ding Dong address. The 777 Estates lists a Ding Dong address, but that subdivision is on the outskirts of Ding Dong, not Ding Dong proper. If you pass the turn to Maxdale -- FM 2670 -- you have gone too far.