Dallas is full of colorful characters. There are those you see monthly in the society pages, whose stories are legendary in this town. But, this feature is inspired by the people that I think you should know more about because of their fabulous style, interesting back-story or amazing accomplishments. Dallas Dweller seeks to introduce you to these fabulous faces. University Park was founded in 1915. Maxine Bennett has been around for 41 of those 98 years. She has watched this town develop and grow - oh, the stories I bet she could tell!Castle Gap Jewelry, a Dallas staple for sterling silver and Native American jewelry, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The flagship store, originally on Sherry Lane, has remained in the same University Park area all these years.
What's even more amazing is that Castle Gap Jewelry is owned and operated by the same family that established the store in 1973. Maxine Bennett, one of three owners, turned 93 this year and can still be found working in the store six days a week handling the business finances.
Castle Gap Jewelry was established by Maxine and Scotty Bennett, mother and son, and were later joined by Maxine’s daughter Beverly. Catering to lovers of sterling silver and Native American jewelry is a passion shared by all three owners and their employees.
Maxine told me, "I sometimes think of myself as a 'street urchin' since I have lived and worked in so many places. Born and raised in a small town in West Texas (Rankin, Texas), my parents owned consecutively a café, meat market, and grocery store. For many years we resided in the back of each store. My first job at 6 years old was dancing the Charleston for pennies from the truck drivers eating in the family café. Since then I have held many jobs in my 93 years including newspaper deliverer, cashier, receptionist, bookkeeper, and accountant.
During World War II, my husband and I both worked in the shipyards in Portland, Oregon – he as a welder and I selling and issuing war bonds. After the war, my husband and I both found jobs with the same oil drilling company which sent us around the world. We lived in many exotic places including Ireland, Kuwait, Mozambique, Tunisia, Singapore, Indonesia, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. After my husband’s death, I returned to America in 1973 and joined my son Scotty in starting Castle Gap Jewelry.
Being from the Southwest, we have always had an interest sterling silver jewelry and especially Native American jewelry. Our first store was on Sherry Lane in Dallas and, although we have moved three times in our 40 years of business, our flagship store has remained within a few blocks of our first location. The store is named after the Castle Gap State Park in West Texas, where it is legend that Emperor Maximilian of Mexico buried a vast treasure, I have always thought of Castle Gap Jewelry as my greatest treasure."
RAPID FIRE Q&A WITH MAXINE BENNETT
OSC: What's the one place you always take out-of-town visitors?
MB: Reunion Tower for dinner
OSC: What are your favorite restaurants?
MB: Reunion Tower, Sevy’s, Seabreeze
OSC: What are your favorite places to shop?
MB: Central Market, Whole Foods
OSC: What's your favorite Dallas festival or event?
MB: Dallas Summer Musicals
OSC: What do you think makes Dallas such a great place to live, work and raise a family?
MB: Dallas has been my home longer than any other place and has been full of rich experiences. The diversity of cultures, continuing growth of the city, warmth and hospitality of the people, and stable economic landscape all rooted in Texas pride offer the opportunity to live interesting and worthwhile lives for all generations. With 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren living in the DFW metroplex, we are a family that is proud of our Texas heritage.
OSC: Tell me something fun about you that most people don't know.
MB: At a very young age I was able to forge my mother’s signature and personally signed all of my report cards – my mother and father never saw them. Of course I didn’t share this fact with my children or grandchildren while they were in school and receiving paper report cards.
To learn more about Castle Gap Jewelry, visit http://www.castlegap.com or stop by the store at 8300 Preston Rd., Ste. 500 (Plaza at Preston Center), Dallas, TX 75225 and say "hello!" to Maxine!