Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

JFK Aftermath: Chaos at the City Desk — 1963

JFK_DTH_newsroom2_portalIt was all-hands-on-deck for a shocked and solemn Times Herald staff, 11/22/63.

by Paula Bosse

Photos of Dallas Times Herald reporters in the newsroom on November 22, 1963, scrambling for information after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the biggest news story of their careers — the biggest news story in the history of Dallas.




Photos (by an unidentified DTH staff photographer) are from the Sixth Floor Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection, accessible through the Portal to Texas History. Other photos of no doubt shocked reporters in the DTH newsroom who were probably running completely on instinct and adrenaline that day are here (click thumbnails for larger images).

Identification of DTH reporters and other staff pictured above is welcomed.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

JFK’s “Last Hour In Dallas” — 1963


by Paula Bosse

How is a city supposed to respond when it is suddenly plunged into the international spotlight? Does it grieve and try to forget, or does it grieve and capitalize? Dallas has had over 50 years to deal with/come to terms with the assassination of President Kennedy, but sometimes it seems as if the City of Dallas is still shell-shocked and isn’t quite sure how to acknowledge it on an official level. Let’s face it, Dallas is known to the rest of the world for one thing: the Kennedy assassination (and perhaps the TV show, and maybe the Cowboys). Yes, we have the justly-renowned Sixth Floor Museum, but it took 26 years to open it!

The cottage industry that sprang up in the wake of the Kennedy assassination has been big business for decades, some of it generated by people who live in Dallas, but most of it by people who have probably never even been to Texas. Since 1963, the “assassination literature” (…and, yes, it’s called that) has mushroomed, with local contributions coming from Dallasites whose brush with the President before, during, or after the events of November 22, 1963 have probably been pored over by numerous people either trying to understand why what happened happened or by people searching for hidden conspiracy clues to explain what really happened.

One local resident who added to the assassination literature was John E. Miller who took photos of the arrival of President and Mrs. Kennedy at Love Field and then apparently hot-footed it over to Parkland when the news of the shooting broke. These photos were issued as postcards in 1964 in a packet of 12. (Click pictures for larger images.)

JFK_envelope_frontAbove, the front of the envelope containing the cards; on the back: “A Real Picture Treat For Years To Come.”

JFK_card_01From the back of the card: “No. 1, Arrival of President’s Escort Plane at Love Field, Dallas, Texas.”

JFK_card_02“No. 2, Presidential and Escort Planes at Dallas’ Love Field landed shortly after this picture was taken.”

JFK_card_03“No. 3, President John F. Kennedy and party leaving airplane at Love Field. (Mrs. Kennedy — pink hat.)”

(UPDATE: The two little girls in the photos above and below are Carolyn Jacquess, in blue, and Debby Massie, in red. Their little group arrived at the airport about an hour before the president’s plane arrived, walked through the terminal and out onto the tarmac, right to where the plane taxied up to the small crowd of about 100 people. Just like that. There was no special invitation, and, other than the chain-link fence, no real security. Both women were unaware of these postcards.)

JFK_card_04“No. 4, President John F. Kennedy and Party in foreground at Dallas’ Love Field.”

JFK_card_05“No. 5, Vice-President Johnson, Governor Connally, Mrs. Kennedy (pink hat), other members of party at Dallas Love Field.”

JFK_card_06“No. 6, Vice-President Johnson, Governor Connally, Presidential Party and Newspaper Men, Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_07“No. 7, Forming of Presidential Parade, Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_08“No. 8, After Assassination, TV Unit arrives at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.”

JFK_card_09“No. 9, Blood Bank Unit at Parkland Hospital on fatal day. Dallas, Texas.”

JFK_card_10“No. 10, Hearse carrying President John F. Kennedy’s body and Mrs. Kennedy from Parkland Hospital back to airplane at Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_11“No. 11, Presidential plane awaiting President Kennedy’s body, Vice-President Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy, for return to Washington, D.C. (Note Presidential seal.)”

JFK_card_12“No. 12, Texas School Book Depository building from which authorities believe fatal shots were fired. (Note second window down on right corner of building.)”


Photos and captions © John E. Miller 1964, 3500 W. Davis, Dallas, Texas 75211. (Mr. Miller was a Dallas businessman who sold motor homes and trailers in Oak Cliff between 1945 and 1976. A photo of Mr. Miller is here).

Many thanks to “amyfromdallas” for scanning and contributing the images in this post. Thanks, Amy!

For other Flashback Dallas JFK-related posts, see here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

El Presidente y Su Sombrero — 1975

Pres. Ford In SombreroEl Prez at SMU, Sept. 13, 1975  /  ©Bettmann/CORBIS

by Paula Bosse

Politicians have to do a lot of silly things at public appearances, and some of them handle the baby-kissing and tedious chit-chat more gracefully than others. President Gerald R. Ford seems to have been pretty good-natured about this sort of thing, even in the wake of the Nixon impeachment and even while being incessantly lampooned by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live every week.

For reasons I’ve never understood, politicians and foreign dignitaries always seem to be presented with hats when the make an official visit somewhere, and when they come to Texas, they almost always get a cowboy hat. But on President Ford’s 1975 visit to Dallas and the SMU campus, he was made an “honorary Mexican-American” and was presented with a (very large) sombrero by Andrea Cervantes of the Mexican-American Bicentennial Parade Committee. He looks ridiculous, but it’s a fun ridiculous. I think he liked it — Mrs. Cervantes even got a kiss for her gift.

ford-sombrero_FWST_091475Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 14, 1975

The sombrero re-appeared a few months later, autographed and on display at Pike Park. It never left Dallas. What a shame. I would have liked to imagine the President and First Lady relaxing at Camp David, Jerry wearing his sombrero, smoking a pipe, and watching college football on TV, while Betty sat at the other end of the couch, chuckling to herself, and shaking her head.


ford-sombrero_dmn_121575DMN, Dec. 15, 1975 (click for larger image)


Top photo from CorbisImages, here.

Newspaper clippings as noted.

This sombrero-donning was just seven months before the now-legendary “Great Tamale Incident” in San Antonio. Read how NOT to eat a tamale here.

Ford took his gaffes in stride, even going so far as to appear on the show that made note of his every stumble, literal and figurative. Read a behind-the-scenes account of Ford’s 1976 Oval Office taping of one-liners for SNL — including his “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” show opener (although I’m pretty sure he did it without the exclamation mark) — here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas News Hustler — 1908

newsboy-horse_dmn_012608_lgErnest d’Ablemont, 13, newspaper carrier aboard his trusty steed, 1908

by Paula Bosse

The photo above appeared in the pages of The Dallas Morning News on Jan. 26, 1908 under the headline “One of the Dallas News Hustlers.” The caption:

“Ernest A. d’Ablemont is one of the hustlers selling The Dallas News. He began selling the paper in March, 1905, on Sundays at the age of 11 years. He is now 14, or will reach that age on his birthday, March 16, 1908. Since he began, he has never missed a Sunday, rain or shine, hot or cold. Since his business career began he has clothed himself and has accumulated sufficient money to enable him to make a loan of $150 at 10 per cent.”

Quite the business-minded newsboy — the Inflation Calculator estimates that $150 in 1908 would be equivalent to almost $4,000 today! In 1909 — just a year later — he had his own entry in the Worley’s city directory, but he had jumped ship from the News and was working for The Dallas Dispatch.


Ernest d’Ablemont was born in Dallas in 1894 to immigrant parents — his father, Felix, was French, and his mother, Inga, was Norwegian. One wonders what could possibly have enticed a Parisian to come to Dallas, but Felix had been in the city since about 1883, working first in a meat market, then spending most of his life as a produce man. Felix was a “truck farmer” (he grew vegetables to sell locally), and he had a small piece of land off 2nd Avenue in the old Lagow Settlement area, south of Fair Park, about where S. 2nd Ave. intersects with Hatcher. Felix placed this ad in 1903:


“German, Swede, Norwegian or French preferred.”

Ernest followed in the footsteps of his farmer father. After his early entrepreneurial foray into the world of newspaper delivery and a couple of years of service in World War I (which took him overseas where he was assigned to a field hospital and a “sanitary train”), he returned to Dallas and worked the family’s truck farm until he retired. He died in 1954 at the age of 60.



Top image of young Ernest on horseback from The Dallas Morning News, Jan. 26, 1908; photo by Clogenson.

Want-ad from the DMN, Nov. 1, 1903.

Ernest D’Ablemont’s obituary from the DMN, Sept. 15, 1954.

WWI “sanitary trains”? I’d never heard the term. Find out what they were and see what one looked like in this GREAT photo from Shorpy, here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Babe Didrikson, Oak Cliff Typist

babe-corbis_102132Babe Didrikson at a desk she was probably pretty unfamiliar with, 1932

by Paula Bosse

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson has been called the greatest athlete of the 20th century — male or female. She was an All-American basketball player, she set a number of world records in a wide variety of track and field events (she was so good at all of individual sports that she was entered at least once as an entire TEAM — a team of one!), she won two gold medals and one silver (which should have been three gold medals…) at the 1932 Olympics, and she was, perhaps most famously, a champion golfer who was a founder of the LPGA. She was also highly proficient in softball, bowling, diving, swimming, roller skating, and tennis, and she dabbled in hockey, skeet-shooting, billiards, and even football. There was no sport she didn’t try — and even if she had never tried it before, she was probably pretty good at it.

babe_dmn_080231(click for larger image)

babe_dmn_080231-caption(DMN, Aug. 2, 1931 — click for larger image)

How did she find her way to Dallas?

Babe Didrikson was born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1911 and grew up in nearby Beaumont. She excelled in sports in school, especially basketball. In the late-’20s, a man named Col. M. J. McCombs, who was the head of the women’s athletic program for an insurance company, saw Babe in action and recruited her to play for his company’s basketball team in Dallas. She was offered a job to do vague secretarial work for the Employers’ Casualty Company (which had offices in the old Interurban Building downtown), with the understanding that she was really being taken on in order to play on the company team. With the blessing of her Norwegian immigrant parents, she interrupted her high school education in Beaumont to accept the $75-a-month job and was moved into a Haines Avenue rooming house in Oak Cliff.

Babe soon became the star of the Golden Cyclones, her company’s championship-winning team which participated in an “industrial” league governed by the national Amateur Athletic Union (the AAU). In the off-season she was introduced to track and field events by McCombs, and she quickly mastered them all.

babe_emp-cas-coFlying the company colors

Before she knew it, it was the summer of 1932, and the Olympics were being held in Los Angeles — the 21-year old won three medals, emerged as the star of the games (she was frequently referred to as “the wonder girl from Dallas”) and began her climb up the ladder of celebrity.

After the Olympics, the city of Dallas gave her a victory homecoming, with a parade, a luncheon, and various presentations, all covered widely in the local press, etc. The Dallas Morning News described it as “a demonstration the magnitude of which has never before been accorded a son or daughter of this city” (DMN, Aug. 12, 1932), bigger even, they said, than the reception that had greeted Charles Lindbergh on his Dallas visit.

U625776INPBabe’s post-Olympics parade through downtown Dallas — Aug. 11, 1932

After the celebrations had settled down, Babe Didrikson, sports superstar, was back at “work” — at least long enough to have photographs of her taken at the most uncluttered desk imaginable. (Though to be fair, Babe did claim to have been a typing champion in high school. Even if that were true — and she was known to be something of an exaggerator — it’s still almost impossible to imagine this world champion athlete typing up an afternoon’s dictation on insurance matters.)

babe_insuranceEmployers’ Casualty Co.’s casual employee — Oct. 21, 1932

Babe eventually turned pro, left Dallas, married wrestler George Zaharias, and became an incredibly successful golfer. She died from cancer in 1956 at the early age of 45, but her legacy lives on as one of the greatest and most versatile athletes of all time (…who, for a few short years, also happened to do a bit of light secretarial work for an insurance company in Dallas).


Below are a few of my favorite random Babe-related tidbits.

babe_dmn_071732(DMN, July 17, 1932)

Some of her contemporaries thought she was abrasive and arrogant. It might just  have been that she was confident. Either way, she was an intimidating competitor.


babe_hat_dmn_071232(DMN, July 12, 1932)

Babe was often ridiculed by male sportswriters for her bearing and physique, which they thought were not feminine enough for their tastes. This ridiculous criticism must have stung, because she made efforts to placate them, some of which seemed very awkward, such as this. The caption: “Mildred (Babe) Didrikson (left) and her chaperon, Mrs. Henry Wood, are pictured above as they appeared Monday afternoon just before boarding a train for Chicago, Ill. for the national AAU track and field championships in which Babe…hopes to carry off high honors and win a berth on the American Olympic team. This is the first picture ever taken of Babe with a hat on. She has never worn one before” (DMN, July 12, 1932).


babe_insurance_ad_dmn_081132(DMN, Aug. 11, 1932)

babe_insurance_ad_dmn_081132-det(DMN, Aug. 11, 1932 — ad inset)

Ad taken out by the Dallas company Babe worked for, welcoming her back home from her Olympic triumph. Drawing by Jack Patton. (Even though Babe had buckled to pressure with the whole hat thing, I can’t quite picture her wearing gloves.)


babe_olympic-homecoming_wfaa_dmn_081232Yes, *that* Ownby (DMN, Aug. 12, 1932)

Babe, just off the plane from the Olympics. Caption: “Jordan C. Ownby, chairman of the chamber of commerce athletic committee, is broadcasting [...] a welcome home speech from the American Airways office at Love Field. Babe is standing by the microphone” (DMN, Aug. 12, 1932).



Babe and the other Babe, August 12, 1947. I love this photo.



Fantastic photo of Babe in her prime by Lusha Nelson, from the January, 1933 issue of Vanity Fair. More photos from this shoot, here.




The two photos of Babe Didrikson at her desk, the photo of the parade in Dallas, and the photo with Babe Ruth are from the huge selection of photographs of Babe at CorbisImages. See 161 photos of her throughout her career, here. The photos of her training and in action are exhilarating, but it’s nice seeing her looking so happy and relaxed in her later golfing days. She definitely smiled a lot more after she started making more than the measly $75 a month she was making in Dallas.

Other images and quotes from The Dallas Morning News, as noted.

For more on Babe’s time in Dallas and Oak Cliff, she writes about it in her autobiography, This Life I’ve Led (1955), here. (The entire book can be read for free at the link.) Also, check out this article by Gayla Brooks that appeared in the Oak Cliff Advocate.

A really well done, comprehensive overview of Babe Didrikson Zaharias’ career (with lots of great photos), can be found at Pop History Dig, here.

One of my favorite weird Babe things is the record she made with her “golf protege” Betty Dodd. Betty sings (not very well) and is accompanied by Babe on harmonica, an instrument she loved all of her life and which she taught herself to play as a child. The song — and a bit of backstory on Babe and Betty’s relationship — is here (click the arrow at the left of the strip beneath the record label to hear the song “I Felt a Little Teardrop”). Babe’s solo starts at about the 1:06 mark.

And, lastly, newsreel footage of Babe over the years, from the early track meets and the Olympics, to her later career as a golf superstar (including footage of her with Babe Ruth). The 3-minute film is here.

Several images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Theater Row Block Party! — 1948

theater-row-block-party_082648_preservation-dallasDallas premiere, “Red River” — Aug. 26, 1948 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

On a rainy night in August, 1948, United Artists premiered the movie “Red River” in Dallas at the Majestic Theatre. The now-classic Western about a Chisholm Trail cattle drive, directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and newcomer Montgomery Clift, was actually “premiered” simultaneously on August 26, 1948 in 250 theaters in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico, the four southwestern states most closely associated with the Chisholm Trail.

red-river_ad_dmn_082648(DMN, Aug. 26, 1948)

In Dallas, the publicity machine was cranked up. The main attraction was a free-to-the-public street party in which the 1900 block of Elm Street was closed to traffic for a slate of western-themed festivities. The “jamboree” included square dancing, a musical set by cowboy singer Jim Boyd and his band, “cowboys and cowgirls from the Pleasant Mound Rodeo,” the Dallas Mounted Quadrille, and the Sheriff’s Posse. Or, as the ad said more succinctly, “Cowboys! Horses! Lights! Music!”

red-river_block-party_dmn_082648Great ad! Click to see it bigger! (DMN, Aug. 26, 1948)

red-river_premiere_dmn_082648(DMN, Aug. 26, 1948)

No Hollywood celebrities were there, but the big Western Jamboree was apparently well-attended, even in the rain:

“Despite showers Thursday night the crowds gathered in the roped off space in front of the Majestic for square dancing in the rain.” (DMN, Aug. 27, 1948)

(Wow. “Square dancing in the rain.”)

As for the movie itself, local critic John Rosenfield generally liked it (“So as westerns go, it is a not-to-be-missed item. You may have seen a better western but never a bigger one.”), but he was particularly taken with the screen debut of Montgomery Clift:

“The most interesting performer is Montgomery Clift…a rare combination of thespic sensitivity and swoonereal good looks. … Mr. Clift, along with Marlon Brando of Broadway’s ‘Streetcar Named Desire,’ is the hope for a great actor from the under-thirty generation.” (DMN, Aug. 27, 1948)

The movie was a huge hit, so much so that the Majestic added showings, including one at 9:30 in the morning (!). It had a record week in Dallas, and, nationally, by the end of that first week it was reported to be the biggest-grossing picture in the history of United Artists.

The “world premiere” is interesting and all, but that photo of a brightly lit-up Theater Row is even better!


The original source of the photograph is not known, but I stumbled across it on a Preservation Dallas page, here.

Clippings and ads from The Dallas Morning News as noted.

“Red River” is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. Even if you think you don’t like Westerns. Roger Ebert’s review/analysis is here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Police Blotter — 1880s

san-angelo-saloonA saloon in a calm moment

by Paula Bosse

A few snapshots of life among Dallas’ lively and unruly set in the 1880s, as reported in The Dallas Daily Herald:

police-blotter_dal-her_061681(June 16, 1881)

police-blotter_dal-herald_060381(June 3, 1881)

police-blotter_dal-her_102782(Oct. 27, 1882)

police-blotter_dal-her_111782(Nov. 17, 1882)

Looks like Dallas had a steady flow of cash coming into the city coffers. The usual fine seemed to be five dollars, and that was a LOT of money back then. If you plug that into the Inflation Calculator, it shows that five bucks in 1881 would be equivalent to about $118 in today’s money. So, yeah — the city was raking it in. Prosperity! Thank you, drunks and reprobates — you  helped build our city!


Top photo shows imbibers inside the Arc Light Saloon in San Angelo, Texas; photo found here. Not Dallas, but I was unable to find a photo of a saloon in Dallas in this period. (I bet there’s a Tumblr. Or a Pinterest page….)

All newspaper clippings from The Dallas Daily Herald, accessible through the invaluable Portal to Texas History; browse through the collection here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Armistice! — 1918

wwi_parade_dallasDowntown parade for returning troops — June, 1919 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Dallas found out that the Great War had finally ended at around 3:00 in the morning of November 11, 1918 when the siren atop the Adolphus Hotel sounded with “maniacal shrieks.” People poured into the streets to celebrate.

“The crackle of revolver reports began to sound. Sleep was murdered, even had one been so disposed, and many residents from all parts of the city foregathered in the downtown district to jubilate and exult in various ways until daylight came.” (Dallas Morning News, Nov. 12, 1918)

Giddy celebrations and impromptu parades were the order of the day, and the joyous spirit that erupted throughout the city is reflected in this Dallas Morning News report of “the first day of world peace since August, 1914″ (click for larger images):


armistice_dmn_111218b(DMN, Nov. 12, 1918)

Local businesses got in on the action by placing heart-felt patriotic advertisements (some of which also quietly reminded readers that Christmas was just around the corner).




When World War I officially ended on November 11, 1918, the military and civilian deaths and casualties totaled more than 37 million. All everyone wanted was for their loved ones to return home safely and for life to return to normal as quickly as possible. There was a lot to be thankful for that Thanksgiving.


Photo of the 111th Engineers from the Tarrant County College Northeast, Heritage Room, via the Portal to Texas History, here.

Ads from the Dallas Morning News, Nov. 12, 1918.

The Wikipedia entry for World War One casualties is here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Main Street — 1905

main-st_1905A wide Main Street (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Just another day on Main, here looking west from the middle of the block between Ervay and St. Paul. The Wilson Building is on the right, the Juanita Building is at the top left.


Postcard from eBay.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Preston Royal Fire Station — 1958

fire-station-41_royal-laneStation No. 41, 5920 Royal Lane (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Dallas Fire Station No. 41 on Royal Lane, just west of Preston Road, about the time it opened (the back of the photo says service began Jan. 16, 1958). It looks as if it’s been set down upon a bleak and barren piece of land in the middle of nowhere, but, actually, commercial development in this Preston Hollow-area neighborhood was … um … on fire in 1958. The large shopping centers at Preston and Royal were under construction at this time, and even though it was very far north, it was most certainly a desirable area in which to live (as, of course, it still is).

The station was designed by architect Raymond F. Smith who had previously designed a couple other fire stations in town, but who was known mainly for his work designing movie theaters, such as the Casa Linda (1945), the Delman (1947), and — hey! — the (long-gone) Preston Royal, which opened in 1959 right across the street from this fire station (both of which were, rather conveniently, a mere four blocks away from Smith’s Royal Lane residence).

The station is still in operation, working to keep North Dallas flame-free — it just has a few more neighbors (and trees!) now than it did in 1958.



Photo from the Dallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History. It can be viewed here.

Image of the present-day firehouse from Google Street View.

Photo larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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