Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

McFarlin Auditorium, Following Morning Chapel — 1927

mcfarlin-auditorium_1927McFarlin Auditorium, post-Chapel, 1927 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Another in the series of wonderful postcards celebrating the history of the Park Cities, this one shows McFarlin Auditorium in 1927, then only two years old. From the back of the card:

“This is a 1927 photograph taken following morning Chapel in McFarlin Auditorium. The building is located at McFarlin Blvd. and Hillcrest on the Southern Methodist University campus. At that time, Chapel attendance was mandatory for SMU students. Dr. R. E. Dickenson was Chaplain and conducted the daily chapel services, and Dr. Charles C. Selecman was the President of the University.”

Below are a couple of details of the photo which show, in the background, interesting (if fuzzy) views of houses and other structures along (and beyond) Hillcrest.




Postcard is from the Park Cities Bank “Heritage Series” issued in the 1970s. Photo credit line on the postcard reads “Donated by Stanley Patterson.” Thanks to the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook group for use of the image.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“So Sorry, Bill, But Albert is Taking Me to The State Fair of Texas”

state-fair_1909_flickr“The Pike” — 1909

by Paula Bosse

Hey, y’all — guess what ends this weekend? Hurry!

One doesn’t really need an excuse to post a bunch of photos of the Great State Fair of Texas, but it IS the closing weekend, so why not enjoy a few images from the past few decades.

Above, a view of the Midway in 1909 (then called “The Pike”), with The Chute, a roller coaster, and a loaded tram festooned with shoe ads (including one for Volk’s).

Below, the Fair Park entrance in 1919:


A nice little newspaper ad from 1924:


Two women enjoying fair food in 1930, with the caption, “Undismayed at the possibilities of being seen, Lucretia Eyre of 133 West Ninth street and Mrs. J. O. Sharp of 1414 Englewood street certainly were enjoying their ice cream when [this] picture was taken.”


Ad from 1946: “So sorry, Bill, but Albert is taking me to the State Fair of Texas.” The grown-up entertainment that year was provided by Tommy Dorsey, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Jackie Gleason.


In 1958, Fair Park had a monorail (the only one then operating in the United States) and a paddle-wheeler in the lagoon:


And then there’s this guy, who spans the decades:



1924 ad appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Sept. 27, 1924.

Photo of women eating ice cream (and they don’t care WHO sees it!) from the DMN, Oct. 15, 1930.

1946 ad appeared in the DMN on Sept. 24, 1946.

1958 photo featuring the monorail by Squire Haskins, from a DMN online article featuring TONS of cool photos of the fair over the years, here.

Big Tex photo (undated) from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Roller Coaster on the Prairie — 1894

state-fair-grounds_souv-dallas_1894Texas State Fair & Dallas Exposition Fair Grounds, circa 1888

by Paula Bosse

Above, a wonderful view of the “State Fair Grounds and Dallas Exposition” from an 1894 advertisement. The Little Roller Coaster on the Prairie!

If you want to see this very large (and, trust me, you DO), click here (and then click again). It’s like wandering through those old phone book covers, but without the jokes and the dinosaurs.


UPDATE: The artwork was used in a previous ad that appeared in The Dallas Morning News in 1888, with the following text:

The coming Fair and Exposition will, beyond a doubt, excel in point of attractiveness, numbers and variety of exhibits any heretofore held.

The County Exhibit Department promises to be the most attractive feature, one never before attempted by any State. Over forty counties up to date have secured space, and more still to enter. The exhibits these counties will present will be something that will astonish visitors.

Every variety of attractions has been provided for, and the musical treat we have in store for visitors will be presided over by the world renowned Cornetist , Prof. A. Liberati.

The purses offered in the Race Department cover $20,000, and will be competed for by the best racers in the land. The management of this department propose to give during the Fair and Exposition the finest races ever given in the South.

We desire to call the attention of counties to the fact that now is the time to get up their exhibits, when grain, fruits, etc. are ripening, and not wait until it is too late.

Space in the County Exhibit Department is free, and no county of our State can afford to be not represented. There will be more people here than ever before, and we want them all to see the varied resources of our great State.

To exhibitors in general we can promise them the finest opportunity ever offered to make displays from which will return good results, and to visitors we can assure them of the grandest entertainment ever given in the Southwest.



The scene above looks idyllic (to me, anyway), but here is a description of what the land was like before anything was built on it:

“An 80-acre tract approximately in the center of the present-day State Fair Park was chosen as the site for the Fair. The location was termed by some to be ‘the worst kind of hog wallow,’ and the question most frequently asked was ‘How are you going to hold a fair in all that mud?'” (Dallas Morning News, from a history of the fair, Oct. 2, 1960)

The Dallas State Fair and Exposition (which became the State Fair of Texas) was chartered in 1886, and unless that artist’s rendering is highly romanticized (which it probably is), it looks like the hog wallow was but a faint memory by the time that roller coaster was plopped down on top it.


Artwork by the Dallas Engraving and Manufacturing Company. Top ad appeared in the Souvenir Guide of Dallas (1894); bottom ad appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Sept. 5, 1888.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ferris Plaza Waiting Station — 1925-1950

railway-info-bldg_1926From The Electric Railway Journal, 1926 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across the odd image above whilst digitally thumbing through a 1926 issue of The Electric Railway Journal (as one does…) and wondered what it was. It was definitely something I’d never seen downtown. Turns out it was a combination information bureau, covered stop in which to buy tickets for and await the arrival of interurbans and streetcars, a place to purchase a snack, and a location of public toilets (or, more euphemistically, “comfort stations”). It was located at the eastern edge of Ferris Park along Jefferson Street (which is now Record Street), with the view above facing Union Station. It was intended to be a helpful, welcoming place where visitors who had just arrived by train could obtain information about the city, and it was also a pleasant place to wait for the mass transit cars to spirit them away to points beyond. With the lovely Ferris Plaza (designed by George Dahl in 1925) between it and the front of the Union Terminal, this was considered The Gateway to the City long before Dealey’s Triple Underpass was constructed.

The “waiting station” was the brainchild of the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce which proposed the idea to the City of Dallas and, as it was to be built at the edge of a city park, the Park Board. The small (50 x 30) brick building — designed by Dallas architect J. A. Pitzinger — would cost $5,000 and would be paid for by funding from local businesses, including various transportation concerns (namely, the Northern Texas Traction Company). The “traction” companies would staff the information booth and sell tickets. The plans were accepted and permission was granted. Construction began in July, 1925, and the building was opened for waiting by October.

“This improvement is the most recent of a number which have made of Ferris Plaza a beauty spot at the gateway of the city. Designed for a sunken garden, fringed with trees, the plaza is now adorned with a great fountain, illuminated with colored lighting at night, the gift of Royal A. Ferris. The new waiting station is in harmony with the general scheme of the plaza development, and combines beauty with utility.” (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 20, 1925)

The little waiting station proved to be quite popular, and by the end of its first year the Northern Texas Traction Company (who operated interurban service between Dallas and Fort Worth) was very pleased, as interurban ticket sales at the station had become a solid source of company revenue. The Ferris Plaza station lasted a rather surprising 25 years. It was torn down in 1950, mainly because the interurbans had been taken out of service and there was no longer a need for it. Also, the park department was eager to get their park back and make it more “symmetrical.”

People would just have to wait somewhere else.


ferris-plaza-info-bureau_rendering_pitzinger_dmn_031625Architectural rendering by J. A. Pitzinger (DMN, March 16, 1925)

ferris-plaza-waiting-stn_dmn_092025Nearing completion (DMN, Sept. 20, 1925)

railway-info-bldg_1926_text_smThe Electric Railway Journal (Nov. 6, 1926)

ferris-plaza_union-station_dpl_1936Union Station, 1936 — view from the “waiting station” (Dallas Public Library)

ferris-plaza_aerial_smu_c1949-det1949 aerial view, showing “waiting station” just above plaza’s circular fountain

ferris-plaza-stn_dmn_012550The waiting is over. (DMN, Jan. 25, 1950)


Top photo from The Electric Railway Journal, Nov. 6, 1926.

Photos and text from The Dallas Morning News as noted.

Photograph of Union Station from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Aerial photo showing Ferris Plaza is from a larger view of downtown by Lloyd M. Long (the original of which is in the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library collection of the Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, and which can be viewed here).

To read about the Ferris Park restoration project, see here.

For a few interesting and weird tidbits about the block that eventually became Ferris Plaza (including the fact that it was thought to be haunted and that it was once the site of a brothel), check out this page on Jim Wheat’s fantastic site.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Gets Vertical: 1887-1925

east-from-courthouse_1887Looking east from the courthouse, ca. 1887 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above and below, the view of downtown Dallas looking east from the courthouse, with Main Street on the left and Commerce on the right. The top photo was taken about 1887, the bottom one in 1925. When The Dallas Morning News ran the two photos, part of the caption read:

“So far as known [the top photograph] is the only picture in existence which shows the Dallas Opera House at the southwest corner of Commerce and Austin streets. It also shows the old Grand Windsor Hotel. Note the vacant lots and the unpaved condition of the streets and the horsedrawn vehicles on Main. This picture was made by H. B. Hillyer & Son.”

What a difference 38 years makes — the horizon has disappeared!

east-from-courthouse_1925_dmn_100125Same view, 1925


Photos and excerpted text from The Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1925.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Preston Elms: Your Country Estate Awaits — 1935

preston-elms_dilbeck_dmn_100135Preston Elms home designed by Charles Dilbeck, 1935 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This beautiful home, designed by the wonderful architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck, was featured in an ad touting an exclusive new “country estate” development called Preston Elms, located at Preston Road and Walnut Hill Lane. From the text of the ad:

The home pictured above will be erected immediately in a new tract set aside for a Demonstration Home. It will have three bedrooms, large dining room and living room. Terrace porch on south and east will be 32 feet long and can be reached from dining room, living room or hall. Two baths — most  modern type! Extraordinary hardware! …

The backyard will be walled in assuring privacy to servants and parked automobiles. …

All the details of the house and location have been studied and planned for months. …

The Better Homes of America are gradually drifting away from the urban abode of restricted activity to the freedom, comfort, seclusion and the individuality of the COUNTRY ESTATE.

A later ad would include this grabber of a line: “In the heart of Preston Road District, All City Conveniences, Minus City Taxes.”

Tracts ranging from one-half to two acres would start at $1,700. The house pictured above would cost $12,500. (I would kill for that house, but I fear it has long since been torn down as being too teensy for the neighborhood.)

“Preston Elms” (along with Preston Downs, Preston Hollow, Preston Highlands, Preston Heights, Inwood  Road Addition, Sunnybrook, and El Parado) were the subdivisions in the so-called “Preston Road District,” an area of some 1,200 acres north of Northwest Highway. When this area was being developed (by savvy speculator Ira P. DeLoache), it was not within the Dallas city limits. In 1939, after a failed attempt at some sort of merging with University Park, the residents voted to incorporate, and the somewhat sparsely-populated area became the “city” of Preston Hollow. With a mayor and everything.

But back to that house. God, I love that house. As I said, I bet that sucker was elbowed out long ago. If it’s still there, I’d love to know.


The Dilbeck drawing at the top is from a half-page real estate ad (DMN, Oct. 1, 1935), which can be seen in its entirety, here.

Examples of Dilbeck’s beautiful houses (several of which are in Preston Hollow) can be seen here.

Background on Preston Hollow and its road to incorporation can be read about in the article “Preston Road Incorporation Plan Climaxes Weeds to Orchids Development,” (DMN, Sept. 24, 1939), here.

For an aerial view of what would become Preston Hollow, check out a mostly empty 1930 vista (from SMU’s Edwin J. Foscue Library), here. Development, here we come!

Click picture for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Gumdrops Love Mr. Peppermint” — 1968


When the news is unsettling, remember your “happy place.”


1968 TV Guide ad, from eBay.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The First Texas-OU Game in Dallas — 1912

tx-players_dmn_101912bWatch out, Oklahoma: giant Texas linemen (click for larger image)

 by Paula Bosse

The Texas-OU game is a football tradition, held annually in the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas. The first game of the so-called “Red River Rivalry/Showdown/Shootout” was held in Dallas (aka “neutral ground”) in 1912. As the Cotton Bowl hadn’t been built yet, the game was held at Gaston Park, a sporting field with a large grandstand where Dallas teams played baseball, football, and, yes, even soccer. It was located at Parry & Exposition, in the spot where the State Fair Auditorium (the Music Hall) was built in the 1920s.

Since my grasp of sports is tentative, I’m not going to go into any particulars of the actual game (which Oklahoma won, 21-6), but , instead, I thought I’d mention a few of the incidental things leading up to the game that I found interesting. (For those who are interested in the particulars of the game, fret not — there is a link at the bottom of the post.)

A few things:

  • The 1912 football season began with new rules: downs were increased from 3 to 4; touchdowns were now 6 points instead of 5; the playing field was reduced from 110 yards to 100; the onside kick was abolished; a touchdown was permitted when caught over the goal line; the ball was kicked off from the 40-yard line instead of midfield; the intermission between quarters was reduced from 2 minutes to 1.
  • Fort Worth felt slighted that they had missed out on hosting the game (“it might just as well have been played in Fort Worth,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram groused). Local UT alumni swore to try “strenuously” to get the game for Cowtown the following year, because, damn it, “next year is Fort Worth’s turn” (FWST, Oct. 15, 1912).
  • The Sooners’ coach, 37-year old Bennie Owen (whom I gather is something of an OU legend), had only one arm, the result of a hunting accident. The Dallas Morning News wrote that Owen was “one of the most able [coaches] in the country. He is disabled to some extent by having but one arm, but evidenced by his success during the past season, this does not trouble him to any great extent” (DMN, Oct. 6, 1912).
  • The Longhorns’ coach, Dave Allerdice, was only 25 years old. He had been hired to fill the spot left vacant in the wake of the death of UT’s previous coach who was “killed by a fall out of the window of his bedroom” (DMN, Oct. 10, 1912).
  • Both Allerdice and Owen had been coached as students by the same man, Coach Yost, at Michigan.
  • The Gaston Park crowd was estimated at over 6,000. The crowds going to the game and to the fair were so great that the streetcars and Interurbans were jam-packed. In fact, both teams had difficulty making it to the game on time because they couldn’t find transportation to get there, and the game had to be started late to allow for the teams to arrive and warm up.
  • Oklahoma dominated the game, and the Sooners won, 21-6.

And so began the annual Texas-OU tradition in Dallas.


sooners_1912_dmn_101812Sooner boys: OOOOO (DMN, Oct. 18, 1912)

tx-ou_crowd_dmn_102012Grainy, off-kilter image of the crowd-filled grandstand at Gaston Park

tx-ou_game-photos_dmn-102012A bit hard to see anything, but here you go. (DMN, Oct. 20, 1912)

gaston-parkLocation of Gaston Park, circa 1912


All photos from The Dallas Morning News.

Map (detail) from Dallas Rediscovered by William L. MacDonald.

For slightly better photos of Gaston Park, see a previous post, here.

Wikipedia roundup: Gaston Park, here. Bennie Owen, here. Dave Allerdice, here. “Red River Showdown,” here. Defenestration, here.

The Dallas Morning News and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram are filled with numerous contemporaneous articles about this game. If you have a handy-dandy Dallas Public Library card (free!), you can pore over these articles to your heart’s content. I’ve put a couple of full pages of coverage in PDFs. To read what was printed the day of the game (Oct. 19, 1912), click here. To read about the results and the game coverage, click here.

Click pictures for larger images. They will still be muddy and grainy, but, by God, they’ll be bigger.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Snapshots of the Fair, 1936-1940

tx-centennial_strolling_fwplCentennial Exposition, 1936 — photo by Lewis D. Fox (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

An amateur photographer named Lewis D. Fox took a lot of photos at the State Fair of Texas — from the Texas Centennial in 1936 through 1940. The Centennial photos are particularly interesting, because they show what the “Exposition” was like to the average visitor — there was more going on than just the spectacular extravaganza we usually see — there are also shots of people doing un-spectacular things like just walking around or enjoying a quiet, late-afternoon cup of coffee. There are also photos of the people who do the heavy-lifting at a state fair — the men and women who work the Midway shows and the concession stands (a link to a larger collection of Mr. Fox’s State Fair photos — almost a hundred snapshots — is below).

Enjoy this look at a time when going to the fair meant dressing up and, apparently, often leaving the children at home! (Click photos to see larger images.)












All photos taken by Lewis D. Fox, from the Fox Photograph Collection in the Fort Worth Public Library Archives, courtesy of the Genealogy, History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library. Mr. Fox took a lot of snapshots at the fair — see  more here. Read about Mr. Fox and the collection at the Fort Worth Public Library, here.

On a personal note, I’m mesmerized by “The Waffle Man.” He looks just like a young Lefty Frizzell! Lefty was from nearby Corsicana and he spent a lot of time in Dallas, but he wasn’t born until 1928, so it can’t be him — but check out this photo of Lefty as a teenager and see the remarkable resemblance! Not only did the (no doubt syrup-scented) young man above look like one of my favorite singers, but he also had ready access to waffles. What’s not to love? Oh, Waffle Man….

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dallas Skyline” by Ed Bearden — 1958

dallas-skyline_ed-bearden“Dallas Skyline” by Ed Bearden (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Ed Bearden (1919-1980) was a Dallas painter who studied under Jerry Bywaters and Otis Dozier and was loosely affiliated with the Dallas Nine group of artists. He worked with Bywaters at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art as Assistant Director, and he helped found the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts. He also spent several years at SMU — both as a student and as a member of the faculty — until he decided to leave to focus on his own art career. In addition to working as a fine artist, he also owned a commercial art business.

The constantly changing Dallas skyline was a particular favorite subject of his, and he returned to it again and again. The one above is a personal favorite. I’m not sure why I feel so nostalgic when I look at it, except that I swear that I saw this as a child at my father’s bookstore. It’s a Dallas I’ve never known, but one I wish I had.


Apologies for the wonky image, but I can’t find a better scan of it. I’m assuming this was first a watercolor, then issued as a lithograph, then maybe printed as a broadside or a loose plate in a book? The date in the lower right corner is very difficult to make out — it looks like either 1958 or 1959. I’m going with 1958. ‘Cause I’m like that.

A brief biography of Ed Bearden can be found here.

An unlikely gig came Bearden’s way when director George Stevens asked him to draw the storyboards for the film Giant, hoping that having a Texas artist do them would lend an air of authenticity to the look and feel of the movie (and, in fact, Bearden’s sketches were used as reference by makeup and wardrobe personnel). Read more about this interesting assignment on SMU’s Hamon Arts Library site, and see some of Bearden’s sketches from the set in Marfa, here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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