Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Tietze Park, The Most Exotically-Named Park in Dallas


by Paula Bosse

Tietze Park was my neighborhood park growing up — it’s where I learned to swim and got sunburned every summer because I stayed there so long. It straddles 75206 and 75214, in that area that’s not quite Lower Greenville, not quite M Streets, and not quite Lakewood. It’s on Skillman, bordered by Llano and Vanderbilt. You’ve probably seen the famous tree at the Vanderbilt corner. And you’ve probably jokingly referred to it as “Tsetse” Park while suppressing a power-of-suggestion sleeping-sickness-inspired yawn (like right now). It’s a cute little park, with wonderful WPA touches. Here are photos from 1946 of some repair work being done on the stone buildings and construction of a new pool. It looks pretty much the same today. (Click photos for larger images.)



To see a photo of what the pavilion looks like today, check out a great photo by Sarah Whittaker from CultureMap, here.


Photos from the Dallas Municipal Archives, accessed through the Portal to Texas History site.

A history of the park — which started out as “Keith Park” in 1924 but was re-named in 1934 in honor of William R. Tietze, former Parks Department superintendent — can be found on the Friends of Tietze Park Foundation website here.

A nostalgic look back at the park can be found in the Lakewood Advocate article “Memories of Tietze Park Pool” by Patti Vinson here.

For a video that captures the laid-back feel of the neighborhood surrounding the park, check out the video of the catchy song “We’ll Go Walkin'” by local band The O’s. It’s great. The first line is “We’ll go walkin’ to Tietze Park.” And then they do. If you’re familiar with the neighborhood, you’ll recognize everything along their walk. And they end it in front of *that tree.* So it’s totally worth it. (The band’s website is here.)


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thank You, D Magazine!


Thanks to Tim Rogers at D Magazine’s Front/Burner blog for the mention of the George Edgley  story. Check out Tim’s post “Dallas Was Trying to Save Children All the Way Back in 1940″ here. Thanks, Tim!


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Wanted in Dallas: Refugee Children — 1940


by Paula Bosse

In the summer of 1940, a group called The Children’s Evacuation Committee of Texas was organized to bring child refugees to Dallas, even if it meant sending a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to get them. Its chairman was local businessman George Edgley, a transplanted Briton who owned a music shop and performed around town as an actor and musician.

The group was formed in response to the heavily publicized plight of English children living under the constant threat of attack during World War II. The situation was of great international concern, and plans were drawn up to evacuate the children to safety. The United States had agencies working to bring some of the children to America, and communities around the country were organizing at a grassroots level.

George Edgley took up the cause in Dallas and was the driving force behind The Children’s Evacuation Committee of Texas. He worked day and night to sign up potential foster families, worked with American and British politicians and humanitarian relief agencies, and traveled to Washington, DC to petition for special immigration allowances. He even pleaded with Congress to authorize a special ship to carry children from the UK to the Texas Gulf.

Some Dallasites were adamant that only British children would be considered. One Briton living in Dallas made the following statement at an early meeting:

“It’s the Anglo-Saxon race against the world, [...] and we want Anglo-Saxon children brought over here  — not material for fifth columnists. We want English-speaking children.” (Dallas Morning News, June 27, 1940)

Edgley disagreed vehemently, insisting that a humanitarian project such as the one under consideration should not be limited to British children.

Numerous Dallas families signed up to offer their homes to refugee children. Many were willing to take any child that needed a temporary home, and most were prepared to adopt the child should his or her parents be killed in the war. There was, though, this unsettling read-between-the-lines sentence in one of the reports in The Dallas Morning News:

“A few stipulated that the children should be free of hereditary defects, should be from good families and of certain nationalities or have eyes or hair of certain color.” (DMN, July 21, 1940)

A big supporter of this effort was Miss Ela Hockaday, who worked to get her school’s alumnae and patrons to offer their homes to the displaced children. She herself had adopted the children of British novelist Vera Brittain for the duration of the war.

After weeks of determined effort, though, the inability to find a way to safely transport children en masse from the UK became an insurmountable roadblock. The bureaucracy and logistics proved to be too big a hurdle. Edgley turned his attention to working one-on-one with Dallas families who agreed to be responsible for paying the transportation costs of a child and providing for all of his or her needs until the war’s end. It would cost a local family a substantial $188 to assure a child’s privately-arranged temporary adoption (equivalent in today’s money to just over $2,200).

I’m not sure how many children found shelter from the war in Dallas, but the tireless efforts of George Edgley on their behalf are to be admired.


refugees_dmn_072140a(Click to enlarge)refugees_dmn_072140bDMN, July 21, 1940

refugees_dmn_072840DMN, July 28, 1941

refugees_dmn_092940DMN, Sept. 29, 1940


Top photo and headline “America: Haven for Refugee Children?” from the February, 1940 issue of The Rotarian. You can read the magazine’s take on the issue here.

Articles from The Dallas Morning News.

For several more articles on George Edgley’s campaign to relocate refugee children from war-torn England, I’ve compiled them in a PDF, here.

The Life magazine story “U.S. Opens Its Homes and Heart to Refugee Children of England” (July 22, 1940), can be found here.

Some background on the evacuation of British children during World War II can be found here and here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Gusher at Old Red! — 1890

artesian_bywaters-hogue_color-smu“Artesian Well Gushes on the Courthouse Grounds”
Partial view of the mural by Jerry Bywaters & Alexandre Hogue (1934)

by Paula Bosse

Several months ago, I was looking at the postcard of the Old Red Courthouse shown below. I thought it was interesting because I hadn’t seen that view before. And then I noticed what looked like a derrick just to the right of the courthouse. What was that? It  looked like it was standing over a tank of water, kind of like a windmill. And then I got distracted and didn’t come back to it until I read of an (unrelated) old well having been uncovered in present-day Dealey Plaza a year or two ago, and I remembered this postcard. Was that a well? On the courthouse property? And now I know: it was an INCREDIBLY important artesian well that had been sunk in the fall of 1890.





In 1890, Dallas was growing at a remarkable rate, and like any large city, it needed a reliable water source. In Dallas, that was a problem. Wells were dotted around town — many on private property — but a large supply of water for the ever-increasing community was needed, and needed fast. I gather things were reaching a critical point when The Dallas Morning News printed a letter from a reader named S.T. Stratton in January of 1890. Stratton, a long-time resident of Dallas, suggested digging an artesian well on courthouse property. (And while they were down there, they could check for the possibility of oil and gas.)

artesian-old-red_STRATTON-dmn_010890DMN, Jan. 8, 1890

One gathers that this might not have been an idea many people would have taken seriously at the time, because several pages away in the same issue of the paper was this little tidbit encouraging readers to seriously consider this as a viable option. (This was unsigned, but it seems likely it was written by DMN publisher G.B. Dealey.)

artesian-old-red_dmn_010890DMN, Jan. 8, 1890

The idea gained popularity, and a “special committee on artesian water” convened in February, deciding to go forward with the plan; the city and the county would divide the cost.

artesian-old-red_dmn_020690DMN, Feb. 6, 1890

Later in the year, drilling began, and on Oct. 9, 1890, water was hit. The flow at first was slow but then, just like in the movies … a gusher! A Dallas Morning News reporter had been writing a story on the initial success when, before he was able to file his report, the well suddenly became the biggest story in the city, in the state, and even around the country. When the drill hit 1,000 feet, the water began to shoot up with such force that it was estimated the well would produce in excess of one million gallons a day. There must have been incredible excitement in the wee hours of that morning, and the reporter’s story of the gusher is pretty thrilling to read — that last sentence is wonderful: “The water at 1 o’clock this morning was clear and it sparkled beautifully in the rays of electric lights.”

gusher_dmn_101090_updateDMN, Oct. 10, 1990

Below is the headline of the in-depth coverage of the successful well (full story linked at bottom of this page). Throngs of people crowded around the well, jubilant politicians patted themselves on the back, men from surrounding towns wanted one for THEIR towns (Marsalis declared he would get one for Oak Cliff post haste!). What a scene it must have been. Finally, with that massive reservoir of water underneath the city, Dallas was assured of its continued growth.

gusher_dmn_101190-headlineDMN, Oct. 11, 1890

A story that ran in the national business journal Manufacturer’s Record underlines the importance of the well’s discovery to business investors around the country:

“This successful experiment effectively settles the water supply problem of Dallas, and it removes the last obstacle possible to be urged against the rapid building up of Dallas. It insures an unlimited supply of the finest water not only for domestic use, but for manufacturing purposes, which, taken in connection with cheap fuel and ample distributing facilities in a land where various lines of raw material abound, leaves no question as to the success of manufactures.” (Quoted in the DMN, Oct. 21, 1890)

Not only was the well’s success being discussed in the national press, but it was also popping up in local ads, like this one from a real estate company — it appeared in the pages of the DMN on Oct. 12, 1890:

Is ‘a Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever.’
And the hour the drill pierced the water-bearing strata and the precious fluid gushed forth at the rate of 1,000,000 gallons a day forms a new era in the history of the metropolis of the southwest. Every foot of ground in Dallas has increased in value by no inconsiderable amount, but the few lots left on the market in Hall’s second addition will still be sold at $100 each, easy terms.”

So I’ve learned something new. I probably should have known about this, at least in connection with the series of PWAP murals produced in 1934 by Jerry Bywaters and Alexandre Hogue, two of my favorite artists. They painted ten murals throughout the old City Hall (later known as the Municipal Building), each illustrating a high point in the city’s history. The decade 1890-1900 was commemorated by a depiction of the artesian well and all that water discovered flowing beneath the grounds of the then-under-construction Dallas County Courthouse. Unbelievably, the murals were destroyed (!) when the building was undergoing renovation in 1956. Had they still  been around, I probably would have seen them, and I would have learned about this whole artesian well thing many, many years ago!

artesian_bywaters-hogue_bw-smuWho is the sinister-looking man in the dark coat? (Click for larger image.)


UPDATE: I went to go see the capped well today (July 20, 2014). It’s under a shady tree at the southwest corner of the Old Red Courthouse, at Commerce & Houston streets. It isn’t marked at all and is fairly inconspicuous. Even though I’ve known about the existence of this well for only a couple of days, I was so happy to see it — still there, where it’s been for almost 125 years. It was like seeing an old friend.


The color image of the Bywaters and Hogue mural is a photograph taken by Jerry Bywaters in 1956 before the murals were destroyed; the black and white photo is by Harry Bennett. Both are from The Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.

Both postcards are from the DeGolyer Library at SMU: the color postcard can be accessed here; the black and white one here. The black and white image has been cropped — missing is the amusing note on the front of the card, dated 1-4-07: “Dear Faye, can you imagine me a long-haired Texan, brandishing a bowie knife? Ross.”

All news clippings from The Dallas Morning News.

To read the report of the initial, somewhat tentative early-in-the-day well success, the DMN article from Oct. 10, 1890 is in a PDF here. For the crazy, jubilant, people-beside-themselves-with-joy report of the gusher, the entire article from Oct. 11, 1890 is here.

Not exactly sure what an artesian well is? Wikipedia to the rescue, here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Always Have a Bucket of Water Nearby — 1890s

fire-station-no-12Hose Co. No. 2, S. Ervay at Kelly, ca. 1890s (Click for larger image.)

by Paula Bosse


Dallas used to burn down a lot. Here is a handy tip sheet for residents and visitors printed in 1894, about the time the above photo was taken. I’m sure everyone in the city knew where the alarm boxes were and what the various signals meant. When to relax, and when to run. When to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.

fire-boxes_fire-alarm-signals_souvenir-gd_18941894 (Click for larger image.)


Top photo from The Dallas Firefighters Museum, found on the Portal to Texas History site, here.

List of fire alarm boxes from Souvenir Guide of Dallas. A Sketch of Dallas and Dallas County, their resources, business enterprises, manufacturing and agricultural advantages (Dallas: D.M. Anderson Directory Company, 1894).

A bit more on Hose Co. #2/Fire Station #12 (then, but mostly now) from the Dallas Fire-Rescue site, here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Anyone For Bowling? — 1908


by Paula Bosse

Teams contesting on the alleys of the Dallas Turnverein.

Sports and corsets just don’t seem like a good combo.

Now I know what a turnverein is.


Photo by Clogenson, from The Dallas Morning News, May 10, 1908.

Click photo for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas County Criminal Courts Building and Jail — 1915

Dallas County Criminal Courts and Jail Building, TX

by Paula Bosse

Admit it — that picture above is probably the most attractive jailhouse you’ve ever seen. The first couple of floors were devoted to the courtrooms and administration offices of Dallas’ criminal courts system, but this was primarily the county jail, designed by Dallas architect H.A. Overbeck. Still standing, it faces the Old Red Courthouse (Main St. is in the foreground of the picture above, Houston St. is at the left) — it was even built with a tunnel connecting the two buildings. I’ve always liked this building, but I don’t think I was aware that it had been a jailhouse. It’s hosted celebrity outlaws like Clyde Barrow and Raymond Hamilton, Benny Binion, and Billie Sol Estes, but  its main claim to fame is its connection to the Kennedy assassination: not only was Jack Ruby tried in one of the downstairs courtrooms for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (whom he shot while Oswald was in the process of being transferred to the county jail), but, as a reader notes in the comments, Ruby also spent considerable time there upstairs, as a prisoner, incarcerated in a cell overlooking Dealey Plaza.

When this building opened in 1915, it was a veritable showplace — one of the country’s most modern (and attractive) jails. Here’s what it offered:

“This building, representing an entirely new type of building for the administration of justice in prison architecture in this country, was designed by H.A. Overbeck, architect, Dallas, after making a study of all modern architecture of this nature hitherto built in this country. It will cost approximately $550,000. It has the character of a modern business administration building of the skyscraper type in the Italian Renaissance style. The building is eleven stories high with deep basement and tunnel connecting with old courthouse. It is absolutely fireproof in construction with reinforced concrete skeleton frame. The base is red granite. The first story is rusticated buff granite terra cotta and the same material is used for the trimming throughout. The walls above are red velvet brick. The basement has complete heating and ventilating plant with air washing equipment, also complete power plant. Two stories are devoted to the Dallas County criminal courts and justice courts, with rooms pertaining thereto. Two floors are occupied by the women’s cell rooms, matron’s apartments, hospital and work rooms. There are two main cell rooms for men: the races being segregated. There will be accommodations for about 500 prisoners. All cells are of the most modern type and construction of tool-proof steel, specially designed sanitary plumbing fixtures in each cell, forced ventilation – the air being washed and filtered and tempered to a uniform temperature. Special designed electric lighting, Watchman’s clock signal and telephone systems. Four electric prison elevators especially designed for this building. Ample provision for insane prisoners in special quarters, with padded cells for violent prisoners.” (Texas Trade Review and Industrial Record, March1, 1915)

(When you go to architecture school you probably don’t envision designing a building with padded cells and “ample provision for insane prisoners.”)

The building will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. With any luck, by then work will have begun on its much-needed restoration.


And what a perfect opportunity to share this fantastic song, “Dallas County Jail Blues” by Gene Autry, sounding not at all like a singing cowboy but like a hard-partying itinerant Jimmie Rodgers (the song was a cover of “High Five Blues” by Dallas blues singer Hattie Burleson — info on the original version coming soon):


For a perhaps easier-to-read view of the ad from The Texas Trade Review and Industrial Record, see it here.

For an interesting article on a push for the building’s restoration — and to see tons of photographs taken inside the deteriorating jail and courtrooms — check out “Old Courthouse, Jail a Fading Bit of Dallas Lore” by Tom Benning (Dallas Morning News, May 13, 2014) here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Big D — 1957


by Paula Bosse

In 1957, Neiman-Marcus presented their very first Fortnight celebration — a tribute to France, which included filling the department store with French products and couture, hosting celebrated fashion icon Coco Chanel on her first visit to Texas, promoting French culture and tourism, and even elaborately decorating the outside of their downtown building to resemble the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. It was a huge success, and it became a much-anticipated annual event in Dallas.

neiman-marcus_french_fortnight_1957_minding-storeA little bit of Paris on Ervay Street (click for larger image)

The Fortnights became very popular and were celebrated city-wide. There were all sorts of non-N-M events around town that tied in with whatever country was being honored that year (plays, art exhibits, lectures, etc.), and businesses soon realized that it was easy to share in the Fortnight spotlight and momentum by either blatantly or subtly customizing their advertisements to have a bit more international flavor for two weeks every year.

As I have a personal connection to The Aldredge Book Store, I’ll use them as an example. The ad below is one of the earliest examples of a Fortnight tie-in ad. Sawnie Aldredge, the original owner of the store, was an enthusiastic Francophile, and Stanley Marcus had been a regular customer from the day the doors opened in 1947. It seems likely that the two would have discussed the event at some point, and this type of piggy-backing seems like a mutually beneficial sales opportunity made in heaven. Even though N-M was not specifically mentioned, readers of the ad would certainly have known of the connection to the well-publicized promotion. As the Fortnights became more and more popular, everyone in town began jumping on the bandwagon, and between 1957 and 1986, the whole city went crazy for one specific country for two weeks every year. It was great. And I still miss them.

ABS_lelivreenfrance_1957“From 50¢ to $600″ (1957)


Neiman-Marcus “France Comes to Texas” poster by Raymond Savignac.

Photograph of the Frenchified facade of the N-M building from Minding the Store by Stanley Marcus (originally published by Little, Brown in 1974).

Aldredge Book Store ad from October, 1957.

One of my favorite pieces of ephemera from this first French Fortnight is a lavish advertisement insert that appeared in the October 1957 issues of American and French editions of Vogue. The 30-plus page insert has been scanned by SMU (it is in the collection of Stanley Marcus’ papers at the DeGolyer Library). It is great. If you are interested in fashion advertising of the 1950s, you’ll enjoy the sophisticated-but-fun-and-frothy art direction, seen in a PDF, here.

For an entertaining look back at the various Fortnights (including the year when Mr. Stanley & Co. had to invent a country one year when Australia pulled out at the last minute!), read “Fabulous Fortnight” by Si Dunn in D Magazine (Oct. 1984), here.

And for my previous post on Coco Chanel’s visit to Dallas as part of this first Fortnight (during which she attended a barbecue!), “When Coco Chanel Came to Dallas — 1957″ can be read here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

J.M. Howell’s Dallas Nurseries — 1880s


by Paula Bosse

Such pretty catalogues from fruit grower and nurseryman, J.M. Howell. He gave us the “Dallas Blackberry” — something he was quite proud of. Not only was he something of a “fruit visionary,” he had dreams of giving Texans more shade.

“I am looking forward to the time when Forest and Shade Trees will be planted extensively in the cities and on the prairies of this State, consequently I am giving this class of stock special attention.”

Fruit and shade. I can get on board with that.






Mr. Howell’s obituary — he was a busy man. Click to read larger image. (For more on his impact on local horticulture and fruit propagation, read the profile by Sam Acheson here.)

howell_obit_dmn_110925sm(Dallas Morning News, Nov. 9, 1925)


Above images are from scans of Howell’s catalogs on the Internet Archive: the entire 1887-88 catalog is here; the 1888-89 catalog is here. Included in these catalogs are descriptions of Howell’s inventory and his planting instructions to get the best yields from Dallas’ soil and climate.

I LOVE the top image. This area — called “Howell’s Addition” — was at the northern edge of the city limits at the time. In March of 1891 the street name “Peak” was changed to “Fairmount” at Howell’s behest. In fact, Howell named the following streets: Fairmount, Maple, Routh (after his in-laws), and Howell. (His uncle was the namesake of nearby Thomas Avenue.) Below is a map showing the area around 1890 — there seems to be a lot of development around him. The rose gardens and orchards may be gone, but at least he got a street named after him.

howell-map-1898Map ca. 1891, confusingly rotated to show same view as top image.

That triangular plot of land is still there (it was the location of the old Casa Dominguez restaurant for many years). Sadly, it’s not much of a scenic vista these days. Uptown could do with a few more orchards and a lot less of everything else.

Howell was a guy who got around. Among other things, he is credited with introducing the magnolia tree to Dallas. Also, he was particular to peaches, and he planted acres and acres and acres of peach trees in Parker County, hoping they’d be a big cash-crop one day — and he was right! “Nurseryman Named Routh Street” — a great “Dallas Yesterday” article on Howell by the always informative Sam Acheson (DMN, Dec. 14, 1970) — can be read here.

Click color illustrations for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Happy “7-Eleven Day,” Y’all!


Hope you roosters and owls got your free Slurpees today!


Ad from the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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