A Conversation With The Owner Of Doug's Gym, Which Closed After 55 Years In Dallas
After more than a half-century of whipping people into shape, a legendary Dallas gym closed down this past weekend.
Doug's Gym in downtown has been in operation for 55 years, after owner Doug Eidd came to Dallas from Corpus Christi in the fall of 1962.
Eidd joined me to talk about his time in Dallas.
Why he closed the gym
There's been a lot of construction around here — that's not it. The rent has been going up the last seven, five or six years — that's not the main issue. The main issue of why I'm closing is I'll be 88 years old in a few months, and I want to leave healthy and strong.
I'm not a fool to say nothing can happen to me — it can. I've never been sick in my life. I've been here 55 years, I haven't had a day of sickness. Only time I left the gym would be a funeral or a wedding. And my Medicare card, all I have on it is just a physical, that's it.
If I was younger and everything got out of place here — say the rents went sky high — I'd try to move to another location. But I can't do that no more, there's no more time, time is shrinking. Thought about this two years ago, the biggest thing that got me worried about it was, "What happens if I did get sick or in a car wreck? Who is going to run the gym?"
What he remembers about the John F. Kennedy assassination
I remember the swiftness of the city shutting down. Kennedy was shot — I'm just going to approximate at 1:30 p.m. — and was announced dead somewhere in the area. Within an hour there was nobody working nowhere. Everybody had left town, the whole town shut down. When I looked out the window about 6 o'clock, the streets were packed with so many wires and reporters all over, from all over the country they flew in. You couldn't even hardly see the street.
"I want to leave healthy and strong."
If he thought he'd be running the gym for 55 years
No, I thought I'd be here two or three years. But the thing that really made me stay: I have two kids. They were born in 1956 and 1958, so they had to go to school. I had to stay in one spot. I thought I'd be here three or four years, and, you know, when you're young...I could go anywhere and make a living in this business.
But my wife liked it in town, and I was from Houston, and I was making a living at it. I didn't get rich on it, but I was paying my rent and paying my car payments like everybody else. You do that, you become self-sufficient, you're lucky."
Interview responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.