Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

“Along the Tracks” in the Fair Park Area

bywaters_along-the-tracks_fair-park_smu_1947“Along the Tracks” by Jerry Bywaters, 1947 (Hamon Arts Lib., SMU)

by Paula Bosse

As we’re currently experiencing an extended period of cold, snowy, icy weather, what better time than now to post this atmospheric watercolor by Jerry Bywaters? Titled “Along the Tracks,” it was painted during a very cold and snowy early January of 1947, in the area around Fair Park (where Bywaters worked as the head of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts). Railroad tracks ran on either side of Fair Park — the Texas & New Orleans tracks ran along Trunk on the west side, and the Texas & Pacific tracks ran along Pacific on the east side. The DMFA was on the very western edge of Fair Park, and as it was bitterly cold, Bywaters probably wasn’t traipsing any farther than he had to — the west side of Fair Park near the T&NO tracks would certainly have been more convenient for him. But I came across a photo that looks pretty much the same as the scene Bywaters painted, only from the T&P side to the east, so who knows?

pacific-parry_ca1916_greene(click for larger image)

The photo above (taken around 1916) shows the intersection of Pacific and Parry, looking west on Pacific. “Along the tracks.”


Jerry Bywaters’ painting “Along the Tracks” is from the Bywaters Special Collections in the Hamon Arts Library at Southern Methodist University; it can be accessed here. As far as I can tell, that street sign doesn’t actually say anything, but if you see something in the scribble, let me know!

The 1916-ish photograph of the Pacific and Parry intersection is from Dallas, The Deciding Years by A. C. Greene (Austin: Encino Press, 1973).

Here is a 1919 map detail showing the area around Fair Park (full map is here):

pacific-parry_1919(click for larger image)

When Bywaters painted “Along the Tracks” it was REALLY cold. A couple of photos from the Jan. 1, 1947 edition of The Dallas Morning News showing a snow-dusted Cotton Bowl and two Oak Cliff girls ice skating on West Jefferson Blvd. can be see here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dallas in Winter” by Guy Wiggins — ca. 1942

wiggins_dallas-in-winter_c1942_dma“Dallas in Winter” by Guy Carleton Wiggins (Dallas Museum of Art)

by Paula Bosse

A nostalgic look back at a snowy Dallas scene from the 1940s by Guy Wiggins (1893-1962), an artist most remembered for his snow scenes of New York City. Wiggins was apparently quite fond of Dallas and was a frequent visitor, beginning in the 1930s. He had countless gallery shows here over the years, and while in town he’d often present lectures and “master classes” to arts groups and women’s groups. According to articles in local newspapers, Wiggins painted views of the Dallas skyline several times, paintings which no doubt found their way into private collections and are probably still hanging on the walls of local art patrons. In 1952, his daughter and her family moved here, giving Wiggins yet another reason to visit.

The wonderful snow scene above is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art; this is the DMA’s description of the painting:

A rare snowstorm in Dallas captured the eye of Guy Carleton Wiggins, who recorded this scene from the downtown vantage point of Live Oak and Pearl streets, showing the skyline’s distinctive historic landmark of the red statue of Pegasus on the Magnolia building.

Although born and raised in the East, where he was affiliated with the artists’ colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut, Wiggins traveled widely throughout the United States during his career. He became known for urban winter scenes such as this one.


The painting “Dallas in Winter”  by Guy Carleton Wiggins is from the Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, Dallas Museum of Art; it was a bequest of Patsy Lacy Griffith. More information on the painting can be found on the DMA’s website, here.

(Patsy Lacy Griffith was the daughter of oil millionaire Rogers Lacy, who was this close to building the incredible Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel downtown. I wrote about it in a previous post, here.)

More on the career of Guy Wiggins, from Wikipedia, here, and from a 2011 New York Times profile of the Wiggins family of painters, here.

Because he visited so often and had many friends here (and because he apparently painted very quickly), Wiggins’ paintings were well represented in private collections in Dallas. Among works depicting views of the city were oil studies with the titles “Morning Over Dallas,” “The Akard Canyon,” “Dallas: Morning From Cliff Towers,” and “Dallas Nocturne,” all of which were probably still damp when first shown, as The Dallas Morning News reported that they had been painted “little more than a week ago” before they went on display at the Ed Spillars gallery on Fairmount at the end of December, 1948 (DMN, Dec. 22, 1948). I’d love to see these paintings.

UPDATE: Want “Dallas in Winter” hanging on your walls? Buy the poster from the DMA Shop here. Look at it longingly when it’s 157 degrees in August.

Click picture for larger image.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Dunbar Branch: Dallas’ First Library for the African-American Community, 1931-1959

dunbar_hazel_dpl-bkThe Paul Laurence Dunbar Branch of the Dallas Public Library

by Paula Bosse

The Paul Laurence Dunbar Branch of the Dallas Public Library was the first library in Dallas to welcome and serve the African-American community. It opened in June of 1931 at the northwest corner of Thomas and Worthington in what was then the predominantly black neighborhood of “North Dallas” (the area now known as Uptown), a thriving business and residential neighborhood which was home to everyone from the city’s black professionals who lived in large, lovely gingerbread-style houses, to middle- and lower-class black families who lived in more modest homes.

This was a time when almost every aspect of life was racially segregated — the grand downtown Carnegie Library was expressly off-limits to non-whites, and few of the black schools had any sort of functioning library. It was a long, hard bureaucratic battle of petitioning the city, the state, the Carnegie corporation … anyone … for a library that the city’s woefully underserved black citizens could call their own. It took years until the powers-that-be gave the go-ahead to finally build one. The building was designed by Dallas architects Ralph Bryan and Walter Sharp. Below is their drawing of the proposed library and an explanation of its style.


dunbar_drawing_dmn_081530-captionDMN, Aug. 15, 1930 (click for larger images)

The completely charming one-story, brick and reinforced concrete building was very, very popular and was a source of pride in the community. And it was beautiful!

dunbar_ref-and-reading-rm_hazelThe reference and reading room.

dunbar-lib_hazel_062931-photoOpening-day crowds, June, 1931

dunbar-children_hazel_1949Children in costumes to celebrate National Book Week, Nov. 1949

In the late 1940s, construction began on Central Expressway. Unfortunately, this much-needed highway cut right through the North Dallas/State-Thomas/Freedman’s Town area and was a devastating blow to the African-American community who lived, worked, and shopped there. That and other economic forces led to the eventual dispersal of the area’s black population to other parts of the city. By the 1950s, the library had lost many of its core patrons, and in 1959 the Dunbar Branch closed. At some point that beautiful building, located just a few blocks south of McKinney Avenue, was demolished. The historic State-Thomas area has now been almost completely obliterated as “Uptown” has taken over. And another part of the city’s history has been lost.


Unless otherwise noted, photos are from the book Dallas Public Library, Celebrating a Century of Service 1901-2001 by Michael V. Hazel (Denton: University of North Texas Press/Friends of the Dallas Public Library, 2001); photos presumably from The Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Hazel’s chapter on the Dunbar Branch is well worth reading. Not only is it interesting (and kind of shocking to learn the lengths that a community had to go to simply to have access to the library system which their tax dollars were contributing to), but there are also more wonderful photos like the ones above. The Dunbar chapter is accessible here.

An article from The Dallas Morning News (May 15, 1959) on the decision to close the branch and sell the building is here.

The library’s architects, Ralph Bryan and Walter Sharp also designed the nearby Moorland YMCA — it was built at almost the same time as the library, and, hallelujah, the building still stands, currently housing the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. A few years later Sharp designed Lincoln High School in South Dallas. All in all, these architects were responsible for three extremely important buildings that served Dallas’ black citizens.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was one of the first nationally prominent African-American writers; more about him, here.

There is another Dunbar branch library in the Dallas Public Library system — the website for the Paul Laurence Dunbar Lancaster-Kiest Branch Library is here.

Click photos for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Fine Black Land Is Around Dallas, Texas”

old-red-courthouse_earlyOld Red doesn’t disappoint (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A quick note to the folks back home on an impressive picture postcard.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Continental Gin Complex — 1914

continental-gin-bldg_1914_cook-degolyer-smuPhoto by Chas. Erwin Arnold (DeGolyer Lib., SMU) (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This is a really wonderful view of the Continental Gin Company complex, a Dallas landmark, much of which is, remarkably, still standing in Deep Ellum. Granted, my experience is limited, but I’ve never seen a photograph from this period showing the manufacturing end of Deep Ellum and the residential neighborhood just beyond it to the north. This is another incredible image from the George W. Cook Collection at the DeGolyer Library at SMU. A few magnified details, below. (Click for much larger images.)




map_1919_continental-gin-bldg1919 map


Photograph titled “Continental Gin Company on Elm Street, Facing North” by Charles Erwin Arnold; from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection housed at the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The photo and its details can be viewed here.

Map detail from a large 1919 Dallas street map (which can be seen via the Portal to Texas History, here).

A view of this area from the 1921 Sanborn maps can be found here (click to make larger). (What’s a Sanborn map? Wikipedia tells you here.)

I wrote at length about the history of the Continental Gin complex of buildings in the post “Munger’s Improved Continental Gin Company,” here.

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940

male-car-hops_AP_1940“At your service, ma’am” (click for larger image) AP Photo

by Paula Bosse

In 1940, Dallas was in a tizzy about the sudden fad of scantily-clad “girl carhops.” This scourge had made its way to Dallas from Houston, and in April of 1940, it was a newspaper story with, as it were … legs. For a good month or two, stories of sexy carhops were everywhere.

The girls started wearing uniforms with very short skirts — or midriff-baring costumes with cellophane hula skirts. Some of the women reported an increase in tips of $25 or more a week — a ton of money for the time.


carhops_dmn_042440DMN, Apr. 24, 1940 (click for larger images)

The public’s reaction ranged from amusement to outrage. There were reports of community matrons who reported the “indecent” attire to the police department and demanded action. Other women were annoyed by the objectification of young womanhood. Lawmakers in Austin discussed whether the practice of waitresses exposing so much extra skin posed a health risk to consumers.

But it wasn’t until a woman from Oak Cliff piped up that something actually happened. She complained that she didn’t want to look at girls’ legs when she stopped in at her local drive-in — she wanted to look at men’s legs. Drive-in owners thought that was a GREAT idea, and the idea of the scantily-clad male carhop was born.

carhops_dmn_042640-photoDMN, Apr. 26, 1940

carhops_FWST_042840Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Apr. 28, 1940

One might think that the woman behind this “equal ogling” campaign was sort of proto-feminist, until you get to the part where she said that the whole girl carhop thing was “wrong socially and economically and should not be tolerated” (DMN, Apr. 27, 1940) — not because of the skin flashed, but because men needed jobs, not girls. And that also raised hackles.

carhops_letter_dmn_050540DMN, May 5, 1940

The photo at the top (syndicated in papers via the Associated Press) ran in The Dallas Morning News under the headline: “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand.” The caption:

“First large roadside stand Friday to bow to the demand of Dallas women and feature husky young male carhops in shorts was the Log Lodge Tavern at Lemmon and Midway where four six-footers found jobs. Above, in blue shorts, white sweatshirt and cowboy boots, Joe Wilcox serves Pauline Taylor who smiles her approval of the idea. Bound for another car is James Smith, at right.” (DMN, April 27, 1940)

There were other male carhops around town, some not quite so hunky. This guy — game as he was — really needed to reconsider his outfit.

carhops_xenia-ohio-daily-gazette_050340Xenia (Ohio) Daily Gazette, May 3, 1940

But back to the female carhops and their siren-like hold over their male customers. This was, by far, the best story to hit the wires:

carhops_dmn_071640DMN, July 16, 1940


Top image originally appeared in The Dallas Morning News on April 27, 1940, and was then syndicated by the Associated Press. The story that accompanied it — “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand” — can be read here. (The Log Lodge Tavern was located at 7334 Lemmon Avenue, which was across from Love Field and adjacent to the Log Lodge Tourist Court.)

Other photos and clippings as noted.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Everyday Life” on Elm Street — ca. 1905

elm-street_everyday-life_UCR-smallElm Street rush hour (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Automobiles would be rolling down Elm Street very soon, but even when the traffic was still mostly horse-related, there’s a lot going on here: horses, buggies, barrels, saloons, a bored kid on a wagon, a street car, and the Wilson Building.


elm-st_everyday-life_UCR-zoom(click for larger images)

And what was The Mint? The Mint was a saloon. I’m not sure when it first set up shop in Dallas, but it was listed in an 1877 directory, one of the city’s earliest.


Speaking of 1877, read about a typical frontier day at The Mint in two accounts of a stabbing, from The Dallas Herald in April, 1877, here, and the follow-up, here.


Photo is from a stereograph titled “Everyday Life, Elm Street, Dallas, Tex.” from the Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside; it can be accessed here.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mardi Gras: “Our First Attempt at a Carnival Fete” — 1876

mardi-gras_dhs-1876When cotton was Rex (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In the 1870s, if a Dallas resident wanted to celebrate the glitzy revelry of Mardi Gras with a parade and balls and didn’t want to travel all the way to New Orleans, the place to go was Galveston. Galveston had a lock on Texas Mardi Gras galas. But Dallas being Dallas, there were soon plans to stage a massive Carnival right here. The day-long celebration debuted on February 24, 1876, which, oddly, was on a Thursday. (Mardi Gras that year was actually on Tuesday, Feb. 29, and it was probably celebrated early in Dallas so as not to interfere with the hey-we-got-here-first celebrations in New Orleans and Galveston.)

It was estimated that the festivities cost the city more than $20,000 (which, if the Inflation Calculator is to be believed, would be the equivalent of almost $450,000 in today’s money). The city was cleaned up in preparation for the anticipated onslaught of visitors and was decorated with flags and bunting along the lengthy parade route of Main, Elm, and Commerce streets. Revelers had elaborate costumes made for the processions and the grand masked balls, some with fabric imported for the occasion from France

mardi-gras_dal-herald_021876Dallas Herald, Feb. 18, 1876 (not 1676!)

The Dallas Herald and The Dallas Commercial were incessant in their whipping up of excitement for the big day. And it worked. People streamed into town from all over Texas. Hotels were packed, and it was estimated that over 20,000 spectators watched one or both of the day’s parades.

The following day, The Dallas Herald apparently devoted their entire front page to coverage of the event, under this wordy headline:

“A Day in Dallas, Our First Attempt at a Carnival Fete. The City Aglow with Enthusiasm and Wild with Rollicking Revelry. Visit of King Momus — His Cordial Reception by the People — The Procession in His Honor. The Season of Merry-Making Brought to a Happy Close with Balls and Bouts — Well Done, Dallas!”

(Sadly, this issue is not available online, perhaps because there were none found to scan as it sold out more than five editions and was probably the paper’s best-selling edition to-date.)

Dallas’ first Mardi Gras had been an unqualified triumph, and newspaper editors and city leaders were beside themselves with joy. The parade — and the city — had been covered enthusiastically and favorably by newspapers around the country, and the success of the huge celebration was seen as having been better advertising for the exuberant and growing city than could ever have been hoped.

Galveston? Pffft!


A few tidbits from that first Mardi Gras.

There were very few “incidents” reported. That’s not to say there weren’t a lot of incidents that occurred that day, just that not a lot of them found their way into the newspapers (apparently whiskey was free-flowing all day long, and one suspects there were “incidents” aplenty connected with that). The very few non-“jolly” things that happened on carnival day and the day following included the following:

  • A small boy had been run over by a carriage (“but not dangerously hurt”)
  • A child and a horse had been burned severely when a can of gasoline was thrown into a bonfire “to increase the flame”
  • A member of the Stonewall Greys who had participated in the noontime parade had fallen whilst “foolishly scuffling” and had “received a slight but painful wound from a bayonet”

Also, there was some sort of “fireball discharged from a rocket” which caused some consternation:

fireball_dal-herald_022676Dallas Herald, Feb. 26, 1876


All residences and business along the parade route during the evening procession were “commanded” to be illuminated. Even if gasoline-fueled bonfires were raging along the parade route, the elaborate procession was probably poorly lit.


My favorite “float” was the huge wagon of lumber meant to draw attention to East Texas timber and the thriving lumber industry in Dallas. One report said “the immense moving forest of pine” was drawn by “32 yoke of oxen,” another said “nearly 100 Texan steers.” Whatever it was, that must have been spectacular to see.

oxen-team_dal-herald_022676Dallas Herald, Feb. 26, 1876


The massive amount of publicity and praise that Dallas received quite clearly irked other cities. Austin, especially seemed perturbed. There had been a small outbreak of smallpox in McKinney preceding the big day, and several digs at Dallas (like the one below) appeared in newspapers around Texas, accusing the city’s leaders of knowingly endangering the welfare of the entire state just so they could put on their little parade. The exaggerated furor passed fairly quickly, and the het-up schadenfreude expressed by rival cities was amusing.

small-pox_austin-weekly-standard_031676Austin Weekly Standard, Mar. 16, 1876


The photo at the top shows the parade wagons representing the brand new Dallas Cotton Exchange (which seems to have been organized the previous month). As described in The Galveston Daily News, the Cotton Exchange’s offering “represent[ed] King Cotton enthroned on six bales of cotton, with numerous subjects appropriately costumed, and occupying two cars” (Feb. 25, 1876). Below are a couple of magnified details of the photo. I’m not sure, but it looks as if the horse and rider in the foreground are covered with cotton. Like tarring and feathering … but fun … and with cotton. The King of Cotton is surrounded by what look like henchmen. The masked man on the right in the elaborate costume is both cool and kind of creepy. (Click both photos for larger images.)




Top photo appeared in the book Historic Photos of Dallas by Michael V. Hazel (Nashville: Turner Publishing Co., 2006); photo from the Dallas Historical Society.

Newspaper clippings as noted.

To read the coverage of Dallas’ Mardi Gras parades and balls —  “a grand pageant and general jollification” — see front page of The Galveston Daily News (Feb. 25, 1876), here (third column, top of page). (Zoom controls on left side of page.)

I wrote a previous post called “Mardi  Gras Parade in Dallas — ca. 1876″ which features a photograph which I think is probably from this first Mardi Gras. That post and photo can be seen here.

Happy Mardi Gras!

mully-graw_dal-herald_022476Dallas Herald, Feb. 24, 1876

Photos larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Roseland — 1916

roseland_terrill_yrbk_1916The Roseland Theater, 1613 Main St. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Despite its grainy quality, I really like this photo. It shows people walking past the Roseland Theater at 1613 Main Street, a theater I’d never heard of. I couldn’t find out much about it other than that it doesn’t seem to have lasted very long (from at least 1914 until at least 1916). It was owned/managed by P. G. Cameron, who ran several theaters and was in the general “amusements” business around town (he had run the Fair Grounds Skating Rink back in the aughts for a short while, until the place was shut down because of the discovery of a prostitution operation being conducted there … on city-owned property).

roseland_dmn_050914Dallas Morning News, May 9, 1914

In 1916, the north side of Main Street contained three theaters: the Nickelodeon, the Roseland, and the Best. This is the much-beleaguered (and now mostly demolished) block of Main, which in 1916 was anchored by the dazzling Praetorian and Wilson buildings. The Roseland occupied part of what we now think of as the Everts Jewelers building. Below, another view of this block in 1916, with the theater(s) on the right, about halfway between the tall white Praetorian Building and the stately rounded Wilson Building.

main_1916_smu-rotunda_sm Another grainy photo (click for larger image)

I like this photo because it’s a candid shot taken by a teenager on the sidewalk of a lively downtown Dallas who had happened upon his teacher away from school. And the sign is cool. Too bad it’s so hard to see.



Photo from the 1916 Terrillian, the Terrill School yearbook. (The caption for the photo of one of the school’s teachers: “Passing by or coming out, Mr. F.?”)

Photo of Main Street, looking west, from the 1916 Rotunda, the yearbook of SMU.

Below, a recent Google street view of the building that housed two theaters in 1916: the Roseland Theater in the left half, and the Best Theater in the right half. This building may already have been razed. What a shame.



Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Views from a Passing Train — 1902

edmunds_pacific-bryan_free-lib-phil_1902Pacific, looking west toward Bryan, 1902 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Franklin Davenport Edmunds (1874-1948) was a Philadelphia architect whose hobbies were travel and photography. A 1902 train trip to Mexico took him through Texas, during which there as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stop in Dallas.

edmunds_whos-who-philadelphia_1920Who’s Who in Philadelphia, 1920

On the way to Mexico, he stopped in St. Louis for a while (where he took several photos on Feb. 12), passed through Arkansas (on Feb. 13), apparently saw very little of Dallas as he rolled through, and then took a lot of photos when he reached San Antonio (by Feb. 14). He then continued on to a vacation of at least two or three weeks in Mexico, where his camera was never far from his side.

The two photos that were taken as he passed through Dallas (which I’m assuming were snapped from the train) were probably taken on Feb. 13 or 14, 1902.

The location of the photo above is not noted, but it appears to be Pacific Avenue looking west. Peter S. Borich’s sign-painting business was on the northeast “corner” of Bryan and Pacific (at the point of the diagonal intersection). The photo shows the back and side of his building. It’s hard to see them, but there is a wagon with a team of horses at the Bryan St. intersection. Behind Borich’s is a blacksmith shop, and across the street, there are several furniture stores. Straight ahead is an almost mirage-like smoke-spewing locomotive heading toward the camera. (Unless Edmunds was standing in the middle of Pacific, I’m guessing he was taking the photo from the rear of the train.)

Seconds later, the train would have pulled into the old Union Depot (located about where Pacific would cross present-day Central Expressway).

edmunds_old-union-stn_free-lib-phil_1902(click for larger image)

Even though not identified in the photo description, the distinctive old Union Depot is instantly recognizable (an unrelated photo taken from about the same spot can be seen in this one from the George W. Cook collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library). Again, the photo appears to have been taken from the train.

Edmunds took a ton of photos on this trip, but, sadly, he seems to have merely passed through Dallas without wandering around to explore its streets (which I would think would be interesting — if not downright exotic — to a Philadelphia architect) — I’m not sure he even got off the train to stretch his legs! But I’ve never seen these two photos, and they’re pretty cool. So, thanks, Frank — you should have hung around a little longer.


Both photos by Franklin Davenport Edmunds are from the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Pacific Avenue photo can be accessed here; the Union Depot photo, here. Other photos he took in Texas during the 1902 trip (and a few from a previous 1899 trip) can be viewed here.

A biography of Edmunds can be read at PhiladelphiaBuildings.org here.

A detail from the 1905 Sanborn map showing the businesses located at Pacific and Bryan, with Borich’s business circled in red and the camera’s vantage point in blue, can be seen here.

Below, a detail from a map (circa 1890-1900), showing the locations of the two photos, with the Pacific Ave. location circled in green and the Union Depot location in yellow.

dallas-map_ca1900(click for larger image)

And, lastly, a present-day image showing the same view as the top photo (from Google street view).


My previous post, “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935″ — a history of the station with several photos — can be found here.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 187 other followers

%d bloggers like this: