Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Tracking Down a Photo Location & Discovering a City Pioneer: D. M. Clower, The Man Who Brought the Telephone to Dallas

house_RPPC_1909_ebayMystery house, Dallas, ca. 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Not too long ago I came across the above photo which had been made into a “real photo postcard.” It was postmarked January 12, 1909, and it contained a chatty message.

“A very good picture of our house. Cold as can be here today – guess I will freeze going to the theater tonight. Quite a good deal of snow and sleet. All doing fine – wish you were here to help me make candy & pop some corn. Tom Dechman from Okla. City spent today with us. Maud.”

house_RPPC_1909_ebay_back

Such a nice photo of a modest little house in Dallas, probably taken in 1908. When I saw it, I thought it would be cool if I could figure out where it was. There wasn’t much to go on from the postcard, though. But, as it turns out, there was just enough information to put the pieces together and figure it out. Someone asked me recently how I track down things like this. Basically, I look for a long time in a lot of different places. Here’s how I found out where this mystery house was.

Using Ancestry.com, I found Virginia (“Virgil” — sometimes “Virgie”) Cavaness in Monticello, Arkansas. She was born in 1871 and would have just turned 37 years old when she received this card. The familiar tone of the postcard message indicated to me that Virgil was probably a close friend or family member.

I found Thomas Dechman in Oklahoma City — he would have been 23 when he visited Maud. He probably wasn’t a close friend or immediate family member because she writes his full name out. According to the 1909 Oklahoma City directory (accessible on Ancestry.com), he worked alongside his father, A. F. Dechman, at a wholesale produce company.

Then I checked the Dallas Morning News archives and found this from Dec. 30,1909.

clower_dmn_123009DMN, Dec. 30, 1909

Tom Dechman was Mrs. A. F. Dechman’s son. So I searched on “Maud Clower.” Maud was D. M. Clower’s daughter, born in 1877. Mrs. A. F. Dechman was her sister Annie, and Tom was her nephew.

In 1906 Maud had married Jesse (J. D.) Patterson — and Virgil had attended the wedding.

virgie_dmn_090206DMN, Sept. 2, 1906

I checked to see where Maud and J. D. Patterson were living in 1908/1909. Most directories are available on the Ancestry site, but, as it happens, the 1909 directory is one of the very, very, very few historical Dallas city directories that is available online (for free) — you can access it here. I found this under the street directory section. (Street directories help with knowing which blocks specific addresses were in as they show addresses with their occupants and they show which cross-streets those addresses were between; this is extremely helpful when trying to figure out where things were when streets had different names and when trying to figure out where things were before all of Dallas’ street numbers were changed in 1911.)

clower-patterson_1909-directory1909 city directory

So there it is. When Maud sent that postcard to Virgil, she and her husband were living with her parents at 491 N. Pearl Street. The house in the photo was at the southwest corner of N. Pearl and Thomas. It’s always helpful to check a street map from about the same period for context and to make sure you’re looking at the right location — many street names have changed over the years, and if a street named “Forest” is being referenced, for instance, you need to know that Forest Avenue and Forest Lane are absolutely nowhere near each other. Below is a map drawn about 1900, with the location of the Clower house circled in red (this is one of many maps found on the Portal to Texas History site; the one below is a detail of the map found here).

clower-home_map-ca1898

I also checked out Sanborn maps to see if the house in the photo matched the house that was actually on the lot at N. Pearl and Thomas. It does. To see what the general footprint of the house looked like in 1905 (the Clowers lived at 491 N. Pearl from about 1905 to 1910), see here. In the 1921 map (by which time the address had been changed to 2221 N. Pearl), you can see that additions had been made to the house since 1905 and that it looks more like the house in the photo (a room now juts out at the right and there is an out-building behind the house); see the 1921 Sanborn map here. To see what that Uptown block looks like now, see here (N. Pearl is on the left, looking south). Quite a change! It took me a long time to realize just how essential Sanborn maps can be — they are incredibly useful, and I try to use them whenever I can.

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I really didn’t expect to track down the actual address of an unidentified house found on a picture postcard, but persistence pays off. A bonus of this persistence was that I ended up learning about the very interesting man who owned the house — a man who played a pivotal role in the development of Dallas: Daniel Morgan (D. M.) Clower. Clower was an electrical engineer who, in 1881, installed the very first telephone in Dallas (for Judge John Bookhout) and ran the city’s first telephone exchange; he also set up phone systems in other cities. In addition to his work for Bell Telephone, he also ran Dallas’ electric company for many years and was was responsible for setting up the city’s first electric street lights and helped in developing electrified rail systems in the region.

During the Civil War, Clower was a Confederate telegraph operator in the 1st Louisiana Regiment (see Clower’s fascinating obituary below). When the Union army was advancing after the fall of Vicksburg, Clower directed (and helped in) the destruction of the Confederate telegraph system he had helped set up, in order to prevent its being commandeered by Yankee forces — he and his men raced to pull up over 40 miles of wire and equipment, loaded everything on wagons, bugged out, and then used the same wire and poles to string a new Confederate line into and across Texas.

clower-telegrapher_dmn_010822DMN, Jan. 8, 1922

The war ended before Clower had completed his line northward from Houston, but his efforts had helped lay the telegraph infrastructure that the state of Texas relied on for decades afterward.

(Read Clower’s story about this very cinematic period of his life in an extended interview he gave to The Dallas Morning News in 1924, here.)

I found only a couple of photos of Clower. The one below — undated — appeared alongside his obituary in 1927.

d-m-clower_obit_081927-photoDMN, Aug. 19, 1927

And this photo — probably the last one taken of him — ran in the News just a few months before his death at the age of 92; Eli Sanger, of Sanger Bros. is on the right. (Clower once had a business in Millican, TX when Sanger’s opened there at the close of the Civil War, and he proudly boasted that he was one of their first customers.)

clower_eli-sanger_dmn_050127DMN, May 1, 1927

I’m not sure who the people are in the top photo of the house. When that photo was taken, D. M. Clower and his wife would have been about 73; his daughter Maud and her husband would have been in their early 30s. It’s either D. M. and his wife Ellender standing together with a mystery bearded man in the foreground, or it’s Maud and her husband, with D. M. in the foreground.

You never know what you’re going to discover when you read a 106-year-old postcard and wonder where an old house used to be.

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Postcard found on eBay.

Daniel Morgan Clower was born in Alabama in 1835; he arrived in Dallas in 1879, coming from Comanche, where Maud was born in 1877. Clower died in 1927 at the age of 92; Maud died in 1948.

D. M. Clower’s obituary is here (with his wife’s name was badly garbled — she was Ellender Paralee Clower; when she died in 1917, they had been married for more than fifty years).

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign

hotel-jefferson_neon-dr-pepper_cook_degolyer_ca1945(Click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Jefferson Hotel probably made some serious money leasing out rooftop acreage to the Dr Pepper people who had that huge neon sign erected there. The hotel was located across from Union Station and a couple of blocks from the Old Red Courthouse. For people approaching the city from the southwest, there was absolutely nothing between them and that refreshing beacon rising tantalizingly above S. Houston and Wood streets.

hotel-jefferson_neon-dr-pepper_cook_degolyer_ca1945-verso

Texlite — the Dallas company that made the sign — was the first company in the Southwest to build and sell neon signs. Their first neon in Dallas advertised a shoe store in 1926 or 1927. (Texlite is best known as the company that built the red neon Pegasus and installed him on top of the Magnolia Petroleum Building in 1934.) My guess is that this Dr Pepper sign went up sometime between 1927 and 1934. It was up there for quite some time. Below is a detail from a photo taken sometime after 1943, and that DP sign was still there, continuing to make people subliminally thirsty

hotel-jefferson_dp_foscue-det(click for larger image)

It’s surprising Dallas didn’t have more neon back then. With a pioneering hometown neon company, the Dallas skyline should have been lit up like a Christmas tree 24 hours a day!

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Postcard is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.

The 1940s-era photo is a detail of a larger photo, “Downtown Dallas looking east (unlabeled)” by Lloyd M. Long, from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Central University Libraries, SMU; the full photo can be viewed here.

A great photo of the hotel and sign can be seen in Sam Childers’ Historic Dallas Hotels, here. Childers writes that the Dr Pepper sign came down when the Jefferson was sold and became the Hotel Dallas in 1953. 20-some-odd years for a sign like that to remain in one place is a pretty good run.

The Jefferson Hotel (or as it’s sometimes identified, “Hotel Jefferson”) was at 312 S. Houston St. The building was demolished in 1975, as can be seen in a Dallas Morning News photo on the DMN photography blog, here. It is now a hotel-shaped parking lot.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

James Surls & David McCullough: Art in Exposition Park — 1973

surls-mccullough_dec-1973From the DMA archives (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a postcard advertising a 1973 art show at 839 1/2 Exposition (Parry & Exposition, across from Fair Park), featuring the work of James Surls (right, next to one of his sculptures) and David McCullough (left, in front of one of his paintings).

James Surls (b.1943), originally from East Texas, came to Dallas in the late-’60s to teach sculpture at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, from 1969 to 1976. His first mention in The Dallas Morning News, though, was on Sept. 12, 1967, when a 23-year-old Surls was mentioned as a participant in a group sculpture show at Atelier Chapman Kelley (on Fairmount Street) alongside major artists such as Georges Braque, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, and Henry Bertoia. Surls made his first professional impact on the art world while he was living in Dallas, and for years he was known as a “Dallas artist.” Surls eventually left Dallas for Spendora, Texas, and he now lives and works in Colorado and is an important internationally admired and collected sculptor.

After studying in Boston and Kansas City, and after a stint in California working on “happenings” with Allan Kaprow and Dick Higgins, David McCullough (b. 1945) moved to Dallas in 1970 where he quickly became part of the local art scene. After only seven months as a resident of the city, McCullough was commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts to execute “Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March,” an art and performance piece which was Dallas’ first outdoor environment “happening.” A respected artist, McCullough continues to create and continues to call Dallas his home.

The McCullough/Surls show touted in the above postcard paired the two local artists, and it was well reviewed by Dallas Morning News arts critic Janet Kutner, an early fan of Surls’ work. (Click for larger image.)

surls-mccullough_dmn_021674DMN, Feb. 16, 1974

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For a FANTASTIC look at this period in Dallas’ contemporary art scene, Ken Harrison’s 1975 documentary “Jackelope” (which aired on KERA, Ch. 13 in January, 1976) is absolutely essential.

jackelop_dmn_012576-photo“Jackelope” subjects Wade, Green, and Surls

It profiles Surls, George Green, and Bob “Daddy-O” Wade (who will forever be known in Dallas as the creator of Tango’s dancing frogs), and the Surls and Wade portions are extremely entertaining. I watched this documentary earlier this year, and I’ve found myself thinking about it frequently. I highly recommend this deliberately slow-moving documentary for anyone interested in Texas art (…or just art). Or for anyone who’s a fan of incredible Texas accents (why don’t we hear accents like these anymore?). To view the full documentary, click here. Below is Janet Kutner’s review.

jackelope_dmn_012576DMN, Jan. 25, 1976

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Postcard is from the Paul Rogers Harris Gallery Mailings Collection, Dallas Museum of Art Archives; found as part of the interesting article “Fair Park-South Dallas: The City’s First Arts District” by Leigh Arnold, here.

To view the DMN article which first mentioned James Surls, “Kelley to Unveil Sculpture Show” by John Neville (Sept, 12, 1967), see here.

To see just a few of James Surls’ wonderful pieces, click here. To view a slideshow of the DMA retrospective, “Visions: James Surls, 1974-1984,” click here. His official website is here.

There were a couple of unusual articles that appeared in the DMN while Surls lived in Dallas. One was an article about the bronze movie awards — the “Sams” — which he created for the 1972 USA Film Festival — read the article here. Also, there was a thoroughly delightful interview about “The Dog Show,” a 1975 group show at SMU consisting of over 50 artists (!), which Surls organized (and created a sculpture for) on a $50 budget (“It’s both serious and non-serious, maybe ‘arf ‘n ‘arf…”); read it here.

For a profile on David McCullough that appeared in The Lakewood Advocate, click here. To watch an entertaining video in which he paints before a crowd at the Dallas Arboretum as the Dallas Wind Ensemble plays, followed by an interview, see the YouTube video here. McCullough’s website is here.

Read the background of McCullough’s 1971 “Baggie sculpture” — the outdoor “happening” at the lagoon at Fair Park — here; read Janet Kutner’s review (…the lady was busy…), here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thank You, Weird Hollywood!

weird_hollywood

by Paula Bosse

Thank you, Joe Oesterle, for the very flattering post on your (great) Weird Hollywood Facebook page! His mystery photo of the Gunther Castle was a lot of fun to research (the “castle” was at 2308 Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, California), and, yes, as a matter of fact, I’d love to help you research a building or person or old news story or mystery photo. I CAN be bought! If you have inquiries, please click the “Contact” tab at the top of the page and send me an email. If there’s something I can help you with, we’ll talk turkey.

As this is a blog devoted to Dallas history, the Hollywood stories are a bit scarce (even though classic Hollywood and entertainment history is a passion of mine), but there are a few. These Flashback Dallas posts might appeal to those new visitors more interested in Hollywood than Dallas: (click title to see post):

Thanks again for the kind words, Joe! And keep Hollywood weird!

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For some reason, hyperlinks do not show up consistently on mobile devices. So here are some direct links:

  • The Weird Hollywood Facebook post I mention with the much-appreciated personal shout-out is here; the main Weird Hollywood page is here. The original post containing the mystery photo that I identified is here. (A Facebook account may be required to access these.)
  • To view the five Flashback Dallas posts listed above, click on their titles.
  • To find out more about Joe’s Weird Hollywood book, click the cover at the top of this post.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Magnolia Building, Pre-Pegasus — 1920s

magnolia-bldg_pre-pegasus_RPPC_smBeautiful! (Click for very impressive large image!)

by Paula Bosse

This is such a wonderful photo of the Magnolia Petroleum Building — even without Pegasus on top of it! When it opened in 1922, it was the tallest building in the state — all 29 stories of it. (It was so tall, apparently, that the photographer couldn’t get the whole building in the shot!) It certainly looks impressive — and impressively ominous — in this photograph. An added bonus is the beer stein-shaped turret of the Adolphus Hotel peeking around at the left. Fantastic photo!

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Photograph from a postcard found on eBay; written on the back is this message to folks back home in Oklahoma City: “Arrived at 11:30 PM. in this burg. It’s some big place, believe me.”

Brief history of what is now the Magnolia Hotel, is here. (Pegasus was not placed on top of the building until 1934.)

Some more Flashback Dallas posts featuring my favorite views of the Magnolia Building (with and without Pegasus):

  • here — photos showing the major change in the skyline between 1929 and 1939
  • here — incredible photo of the skyline taken from The Cedars, by Alfred Eisenstaedt
  • here — the Magnolia Bldg. lit up at night, with the Mercantile Bank Bldg. in the background
  • here — one of my favorite postcards of Dallas, showing the city at night, with Pegasus the highest point on the horizon

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Nardis Sign-Painters: “Everything In Sportswear” — 1948

nardis_sign-painters_ebay_1948You don’t see this much anymore (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m sure there were people in the past who thought that advertising painted directly onto buildings was as tacky as billboards are today, but I love it, and, sadly this type of sign-painting has become something of a lost art. Here we see men painting a sign for the successful apparel manufacturer Nardis Sportswear (later, Nardis of Dallas). The company’s corporate headquarters appears to have been on Browder street, with manufacturing factories on N. Austin and S. Poydras streets. The sign in the photo would seem to have been painted on the side of one of the factory buildings.

nardis_1948-directory1948 city directory

nardis_1952-mapsco1952 Mapsco

I think all these Nardis buildings are gone, so we don’t even get any faded ghost signs to remind us that Dallas was once a large-ish garment manufacturing center.

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Photo — dated 1948 on reverse, with stamp of the Hank Tenny Studio at 1420 Wood Street — found on eBay.

My previous post on the Nardis company — “Nardis of Dallas: The Fashion Connection Between ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and the Kennedy Assassination” — can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Our First Joy Ride” — 1911

mule-joyride_pop-mechanics_jan-1912Mules taking a load off, Main & Ervay, 1911 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Flipping through the pages of a Jan. 1912 issue of Popular Mechanics — as one does — I came across a photo of a truckload of joyriding mules which was accompanied by this explanatory text:

mule-joyride_pop-mechanics_jan-1912-text

Ah, a publicity stunt. A Chicago newspaper offered a bit more background, and gave us the delightful phrase “joy-riding equine debutantes.”

mules_chicago-inter-ocean_102311Chicago Inter Ocean, Oct. 23, 1911

Another report added that the mules were “adorned with a collection of discarded women’s hats and bonnets elaborated with all the old ribbons, feathers and similar gee-gaws […] securely tied on with pink and red mosquito netting…. The procession was headed by Dallas’ most prominent business men in a brand new White 1912 ’30′” (Automobile Topics magazine, Oct. 28, 1911).

Despite the fact that this, let’s face it, pretty unusual “parade” happened on Main St., with apparent participation by “prominent businessmen,” I can find no mention of it in local newspapers. Maybe because it was a publicity stunt and there was no advertising fee collected by the papers. The story ran in a handful of newspapers (Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC), and the Washington Post ran this photo under the headline “New Way to Advertise Motor Trucks”:

mules_washington-post_102211Washington Post, Oct. 22, 1911

The White Motor Company (makers of the mule-laden truck) must have been quite taken with the unnamed entrepreneur’s banner, because they used the exact same wording on a banner draped on one of their trucks (which, depending on the source, was filled with either horses or mules) which was a featured attraction on Transportation Day at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Let’s hope the original Dallas guy got a little something out of all this.

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On further investigation into The Case of the Joyriding Mules, it appears that this was the brainchild of the General Manager of the White Motor Co., A. E. Creeger (or perhaps that of one of his gung-ho underlings). In a 1912 article in The Dallas Morning News, Creeger talks about the relatively soft truck market in Texas (!), and it’s easy to see why he was doing all he could to draw attention to his company’s line of trucks — even if it meant loading them up with “emancipated” livestock; the DMN article can be read here.

And here’s one of his ads from almost exactly one year after the mule stunt:

white-motor-co_dmn_101312DMN, Oct. 13, 1912

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Top photo appeared in the January, 1912 issue of Popular Mechanics.

The “parade” (which took place sometime in the middle of October, 1911) is seen heading west on Main Street, just about to pass Ervay. The inescapable Wilson Building dominates the photo, with the tall, white Praetorian Building in the background. The restaurant at the right — at 1705 Main — was the California Restaurant, a Dallas eatery specializing in Chinese food since at least the 1890s.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Radio Broadcasting, 1922-Style

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_1922WFAA “newsreader,” 1922 (click for larger image) Belo Collection, SMU

by Paula Bosse

This fantastic photo shows the interior of a little shack-like building on top of the old Dallas Morning News building at Commerce & Lamar, soon after WFAA radio had begun broadcasting in the summer of 1922. There are so many things I love about this photo. Let’s explore the details. (All pictures are larger when clicked.)

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The Magnavox speaker/monitor.

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_det1

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The booster seat and the shoes that need a shine.

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_det2

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The announcer at work. (I’m assuming this telephone was being used as an early microphone?) The newspaper is The Dallas Journal, sister publication of The Dallas Morning News which owned WFAA radio. The headlines appear to be about the nationwide railroad and coalminers’ strikes, both of which had been getting more and more violent throughout July of 1922 (violence surrounding the railroad strike led to Texas Governor Pat Neff declaring martial law in Denison that month).

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_det3

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The control panel (which has its own fan).

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_det4

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And an open window around the corner, in the supervisor’s office. Cross-ventilation and oscillating fans might not have been hugely effective in keeping operators and machinery cool in the summertime.

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_det5

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Here’s another view of the “Operating Room,” as published in the DMN on June 25, 1922, the day before WFAA began broadcasting.

wfaa_operating-room_dmn_062522DMN, June 25, 1922

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Photo titled “WFAA Radio Original Control Panel” from the Belo Papers collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.

A companion post to this, “WFAA’s ‘Altitudinous Antenna System'” — which contains a background of WFAA’s debut and several photographs — is here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas Radio and TV are here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

WFAA Radio’s “Altitudinous Antenna System”

wfaa_towers_1920s_belo-coll_degolyerSeems … “busy” … (click for much larger image) Belo Collection, SMU

by Paula Bosse

Broadcast radio was very, very, very new when WFAA radio went on the air in June, 1922; it was Dallas’ second radio station, but it was the city’s first commercial station, and its debut was a BIG deal. (WRR had preceded WFAA, but it was mainly used for city business.) Figuring out where to place towers and aerials and antennae (which may all be the same thing, for all I know) was a major problem, with not a lot of precedents. So why not just do what they did in the photo above?

WFAA began broadcasting at 12:30 p.m. on June 26, 1922, and the day before that, a giddy and surprisingly technical article appeared in The Dallas Morning News (which owned WFAA). The full article is linked below, but this is the specific passage devoted to those towers/aerials/antennae:

wfaa-towers_dmn_062522DMN, June 25, 1922

I’m not sure if the photo at the top was from these first days (it appeared, undated, in the DMN in 1927), but here is a photo that accompanied the above article from 1922:

wfaa_tower_dmn_062522

Is that a little building? Why, yes it is.

wfaa_beginnings_dmn_052150DMN, May 21, 1950

When WFAA began, it broadcast from inside of and on top of the old Dallas Morning News building, which was located at Commerce and Lamar. By 1927, it had moved its studios to swankier digs in the Baker Hotel. Below, another description of how the rooftop aerial situation functioned, featured under the headline “Broadcasting of WFAA Programs Requires Much Equipment.”

wfaa_photos_dmn_022027

wfaa_photos_dmn_022027-captionDMN, Feb. 20, 1927

But back to that little shack. Let’s see it a bit closer. Here’s the exterior.

wfaa_rooftop-broadcasting-room_belo-degolyerBelo Collection, SMU

And here’s the interior.

wfaa-studio_ca1922_belo-degolyerBelo Collection, SMU

The generator and battery room.

wfaa_generator-battery_dmn_062522DMN, June 25, 1922

And the supervisor’s office.

wfaa_supervisors-office_dmn_062522DMN, June 25, 1922

And Dallas broadcasting never looked back from its humble beginnings.

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ad-white-electric-co-detail_dmn_062522Advertising detail, DMN, June 25, 1922

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wfaa-logo_dmn_062522***

Photographs from the Belo Records Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. Top photo can be accessed here; rooftop “broadcasting room” (exterior) is here; “broadcasting room” (interior) is here. More photos here. (The interior and exterior shots of the studio seem to be from 1922. The announcer is reading from the DMN’s sister publication, The Dallas Journal, which contains an article about a subject hot in the news in July, 1922 — a strike by Kentucky coalminers.)

A Belo photo identified as showing the room containing the “Transmitter on top of The Dallas Morning News building, 1924″ is here.

To read the article describing how WFAA (which, by the way, at some point stood for “Working For All Alike”) was put together — how it was literally put together — see the Dallas Morning News article “Most Complete Radio Station in the Southwest to Begin Broadcasting” (June 25, 1922), written by R. M. Lane, here.

See the companion post, “Radio Broadcasting, 1922-Style,” here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on WFAA radio can be found here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas Radio & TV can be found here.

Photos and many of the images larger when clicked.

 

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Year Big Tex Lost His Hat — 1957

big-tex_100357_utaHat still on… (click for larger image) Special Collections, UT-Arlington

by Paula Bosse

The above photo shows Big Tex in1957 during his annual “look, he’s up” photo-op held for the local media before the State Fair of Texas begins — just like every other year (although, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him standing — almost Godzilla-like — next to a car).

The State Fair coverage continued with the standard “man, those clothes are really big” blurb that always appears in the paper.

big-tex_dmn_100657Dallas Morning News, Oct. 6, 1957

And the obligatory photo of Giant Tex presiding over his realm was published — like this nice night-time shot (where we see the somewhat unsettling profile of the original Big Tex).

big-tex_dmn_100657-photoDMN, Oct. 6, 1957

So, everything was pretty standard.

Except that this was a particularly rainy State Fair, and the rain had caused the papier-mache covering of Tex’s hat to start peeling — apparently pretty badly. I’m sure there were frenzied meetings called to decide what course of action should be taken, and it was decided that Big Tex’s hat would be removed for repairs — during the fair! The powers-that-be decided that Big Tex’s “bald spot” would be covered by a “giant-sized handkerchief.” That must have been a pretty strange sight.

big-tex_dmn_101757-photoDMN, Oct. 17, 1957

If any SFOT groupies out there have a better photo of a kerchief-covered Big Tex, I need to see it!

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Top photo (dated Oct. 3, 1957) from UT-Arlington Library, Special Collections; found on Flickr, here. UTA’s fantastic Flickr photo stream is here.

Dallas Morning News photos and clipping as noted.

Other Flashback Dallas posts featuring Big Tex can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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