Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

“We Like to LIVE in Dallas!” — Chrysler Ad, 1939


by Paula Bosse

Madison Avenue knows a thing or two about who we Dallasites are, what we want, and — more importantly — what we need.

“We Like to LIVE in DALLAS!”

“Yes, we like to *live* in Dallas … and that means we want a car that’s *alive* like that stunning new Chrysler!

“How that Chrysler loves to GO … and how thrilling it is to make it go! Without half trying, you’re first away at the traffic lights and flashing down the street!

“You’re even more conscious of Chrysler’s extra power out in the country, because it seems to have enormous reserves in store for any emergency. When you want to pass another car, you simply zip past. That’s the safe way. When you’re in a tight place, tap the throttle and you leap ahead to safety!

“It’s astonishingly smooth and quiet. Frank says that’s because of Floating Power and Superfinished Parts; an engineering combination you get only from Chrysler. I don’t understand these engineering terms, but I do know the wonderful qualities of this engine.

“We have to drive long distances in Texas, but I can drive all day without getting tired … the Chrysler handles so lightly and rides so comfortably. Shifting gears, braking and parking require so little effort.

“We’re both proud of the tapered styling of our beautiful Chrysler … and of its handsome, roomy interior. But we’re still more proud of its ability to GO — GO — GO! We like to *live* in Dallas … and life, to us, means action!”

But wait … there’s more! The inset (the ad-within-the-ad):

THE GIRL … wears a striking sports costume from Neiman-Marcus Company, Dallas. The sweater, striped in the colors of the necklace, is worn with a green crepe skirt.

THE CAR … is a smart Chrysler Royal Sedan.

And now you know. (Unless you’re a woman, in which case you will need Frank to explain all of this to you. Ask him to speak slowly and use small words.)

“Be Happy, Buy Chrysler!”


Click ad for readable text and to get a closer look at that necklace and oddly hausfrau-ish turban.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

“A Cavalcade of Texas” — Dallas Filmed in Technicolor, 1938

cavalcade-tx_triple-underpassScreenshot from “A Cavalcade of Texas”

by Paula Bosse


Brought to my attention last night in a Dallas history group was the heretofore unknown-to-me full-length, Hollywood-slick travelogue called “A Cavalcade of Texas,” shot around the state in 1938 under the auspices of Karl Hoblitzelle in his capacity as chairman of the Texas World’s Fair Commission. (Hoblitzelle also built the Majestic Theater and founded the Interstate Theatre chain.)

“A Cavalcade of Texas” — a 49-minute full-color travelogue touting the beauty, history, natural resources, and industries of the state — was made to be shown at the New York World’s Fair, but because of a variety of production and logistical problems, the film was, instead released theatrically. John Rosenfield, the legendary “amusements” critic for The Dallas Morning News, was suitably impressed. After an early preview of the film he wrote:

“The picture should be a revelation to the outlanders who still think of Texas as the backwoods with a hillbilly civilization.” (DMN,  June 27, 1939)


Missing out on the premiere at the World’s Fair had to hurt, but Hoblitzelle spun it as being a good thing:

cavalcade-tx_dmn_101239DMN, Oct. 12, 1939 (click for larger image)

The film opened in Dallas in October of 1939 at, unsurprisingly, The Majestic, second on a bill with a Ginger Rogers film (which was fitting, as Ginger had begun her professional career at The Majestic as a teenager). The pertinent paragraph from Rosenfield’s official review is amusingly snippy:

“‘Cavalcade’ shoots the Houston skyline as a bristling metropolitan acreage, but hides the Dallas buildings behind the towering Magnolia Building. Maybe we are sensitive about it but we don’t feel that architectural justice has been done. The Fort Worth aspect is glorified more than it deserves.” (DMN, Oct. 15, 1939)

(Sorry, Fort Worth!)

The Dallas scenes are only about 4 minutes’ worth of the whole film, but to see Dallas at this time in color — and moving — is kind of thrilling. The entire film is on YouTube, but I’ve bookmarked the two Dallas bits. First, after an interminable sequence on how fantastic things will be when we finally make that darn Trinity navigable, is a Dealey Plaza-less Triple Underpass, shots of Main Street (including the now almost obliterated 1600 block at the 17:52 mark, on the right), Fair Park (including a description of the Hall of State as “the Westminster Abbey of the New World” (!)), and the neon-lit Elm Street at night. (If you let it keep going, you’ll see “the Fort Worth aspect.”)

(I am having problems embedding this clip to begin at the 17:30 mark. If the above does not begin at the Dallas sequence, see it at YouTube, here.)


Twenty minutes later, the viewer is, for some reason, shown the Dallas Country Club with what I’m guessing are Neiman-Marcus models pretending to play golf.

(If the above does not begin at the Dallas Country Club sequence at 40:09, see it at YouTube, here.)


Those are just the Dallas bits — the whole film is an impressive undertaking, and it’s great to see documentary footage of this period in rich color, presented with incredibly high production values, in full Hollywood style.


“A Cavalcade of Texas” was directed, edited, and narrated by James A. Fitzpatrick and can be seen in full on YouTube, here.

John Rosenfield’s full review can be read here.

Background on Karl Hoblitzelle can be read in information provided by the Handbook of Texas, here, and by the Dallas Public Library, here.

The wonderful and vibrant 1939 footage of downtown Dallas that was discovered on eBay a few months ago and “saved” by a group of preservation-minded Dallasites, which included Robert Wilonsky and Mark Doty, is one of my favorite Dallas-history-related stories of 2014. Read the story behind the 1939 footage here, and watch it here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Panoramic View of the Entrance to the State Fair of Texas — 1908

state-fair_clogenson_1908_LOC“Texas State Fair, Main Entrance” by Clogenson, 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is opening day of the State Fair of Texas. Always an anticipated annual event, this is what the crowded entrance to Fair Park looked like 106 years ago — still pretty recognizable, especially the firehouse at the top left. Below is a detail of the first third or so of this amazing panoramic photo. For a gigantic image of the top photo, click here (and then keep clicking until it’s gotten as big as it’s going to get — and don’t forget to use that horizontal scroll bar).

Below is a detail I’ve cropped from the larger photo, showing the Parry Avenue portion, with the still-standing firehouse at the top left.

Have fun at the fair, y’all!

state-fair_1908-detDetail showing Parry Avenue, looking north (click for larger image)


Original image titled “Texas State Fair, Main Entrance” by Clogenson, 1908, from the Library of Congress. Photo and details can be viewed at the LOC website here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

W. W. Orr: Buggies, Phaetons, Carriages — “Everything on Wheels!”

ad-orr-carriages_directory_1878-det1878 ad (detail) for W.W. Orr’s carriage business on Main St. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across the image above in the 1878 Dallas city directory, and my eye was immediately drawn to the novel open-air display of  buggies on the second floor of the building. I’ve never seen this before — the frontier version of the auto showroom!

I hope this is a depiction of the actual shop owned by W. W. Orr at 724-726 Main Street (corner of Main and Martin — see map below) and not some sort of early augmented clip art. Orr ran a successful business selling buggies, phætons, and carriages, and he probably did have an imposing shop.

William Wallace Orr was born in Ohio, and after the Civil War, he made his way to Texas, where he served for a short time as an East Texas postmaster before coming to Dallas where he and his wife, Amanda, operated a livery stable.

orr_dallas-herald_041973Dallas Herald, April 19, 1873

I’m not sure whether “epizootic” is used here as some sort of 19th-century tongue-in-cheek hard-sell advertising term (“His prices are INSANE!”) … or whether it means the horses have some sort of disease. I tend to think it’s the former.

The carriage business, which had started by 1878, is notable (to me, anyway) because it was housed in a building with a basement — I wasn’t aware that basements really existed in Dallas at the time. Orr rented out the basement beneath his “carriage repository” as a beer cellar. If TV westerns are anything to go on, drunken brawls in most drinking establishments of the time were to be expected. What might not be expected is an account of a bar fight to be reported like this:

orr_cellar_dal-her_060278Dallas Herald, June 2, 1878

Regardless of what disreputable activities were going on in the cellar, it seems that Orr’s business of manufacturing and selling “everything on wheels” was a booming one.

orr_dal-her_060380Dallas Herald, June 3, 1880

He had stylish conveyances, cheap prices, and good goods:

orr_dal-herald_081283Dallas Herald, Aug. 12, 1883

After the death of his wife in 1886 (she died of consumption at the early age of 42), Orr passed the business to his son. In poor health, he left Dallas for Mississippi, where he met a woman who nursed him back to health and whom he later married. After a few years of an apparently happy second marriage, W. W. Orr died in 1894. He was a wealthy man when he died — cash, investments, and real estate holdings back in Dallas — and his family in Dallas was dismayed to learn that he had left his estate to his infant daughter in Mississippi. As one might expect, his three grown children from his first marriage were not happy, and they contested the will. (The case is covered exhaustively here. I think the baby daughter emerged victorious, but I’m not absolutely sure.)

It’s interesting that Orr and his first wife are buried side by side in Greenwood Cemetery. Amanda Melvine McQueen Orr has a large, ornate monument and headstone; W. W. has his name — and nothing else — carved into an unadorned marker. It would have been nice to have a little a buggy in the corner. …Something.


The location of Orr’s buggy and carriage house was at the corner of Main and Martin, shown above in a map from around 1900. (Click for larger image.)


And here’s the full ad, with that incredible artwork! (Click it!)


Illustrated ad from the 1878 city directory.

All other ads from The Dallas Herald, as noted.

Map is a detail from a map of Dallas, circa 1900, from the Portal to Texas History, here.

Amanda Orr’s headstone and memorial statuary can be seen here; W. W.’s sad unadorned slab can be seen here.

Phætons? They sound dangerous!


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

1611 Main Street — Another One Bites the Dust

1611-main_clogenson_1909_degolyer_detThe 1600 block of Main St. in 1909, from Ervay (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday (Sept. 21, 2014), a 129-year-old building — one of the oldest buildings still standing downtown — built in 1885! — was demolished. Today it’s a pile of rubble. Yeah, I don’t understand it, either. Dallas has a real problem with preserving its history. In the 1909 photo above, it is the one at the right, behind the three men in white shirts who are standing above the crowd. And now it’s gone. And so is the Praetorian, the tall white building on the corner of Main and Stone. Maybe someone should make sure the Wilson Building has armed guards on 24-hour wrecking-ball watch.


Photo is a detail from “Parade Day, Military Tournament, Dallas, Texas” by Clogenson (1909), from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. It can be viewed here.

The original photograph is the subject of a previous post, “Parade Day — 1909″ which can be viewed here.

A Dallas Morning News article by Robert Wilonsky on the surprise demolition of 1611 Main Street (which, until 1911, was actually 369-371 Main Street) can be read here.

Interestingly enough, there was an effort of sorts to declare the building a city landmark back in 1981, when it was a mere 96 years old. A list of buildings eligible for landmark status back then can be seen here; a few on the list didn’t make it nearly as long as 1611. RIP.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Parade Day — 1909

parade-day_1909_clogenson_degolyerMain Street looking west from Ervay, 1909 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

“Sun-bronzed, khaki-clad soldiers representing the three important branches of the army, paraded through the city evoking the admiration of 60,000 persons who lined the streets all the way from Fair Park to the end of the downtown business district.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 24, 1909)

This is a GREAT photograph, looking west on Main Street from Ervay, with the Wilson Building in the foreground at the right, and, a few doors down, the tall white Praetorian Building at Stone Street. With so much going on in this photo, it’s a great opportunity to zoom in on the crowd and look a little more closely at the details. (All photos are much larger when clicked.)

parade-day_1909_det1My favorite “vignette” from this photograph.

parade-day_1909_det2Dedicated parade-watchers. The Elk’s Arch welcoming visitors spans Main Street, a holdover from the 1908 Elk’s convention.

parade-day_1909_det3The dark-colored three-story building behind the three men in white shirts standing above the crowd (1611 Main) was demolished yesterday, Sept. 21, 2014. (A better view of the full building can be seen in the post “1611 Main Street — Another One Bites the Dust,” here.)


parade-day_1909_det4aWorkers in the Wilson Building with a pretty great, unobstructed view.

parade-day_1909_det5When this photo was taken, Labor Day was fast approaching — that guy had two more weeks to wear those shoes.



Original photo by Clogenson, titled “Parade Day, Military Tournament, Dallas, Texas,” taken August 24, 1909; in the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The photo can be viewed here.

Newspaper articles describing exactly who was involved in the parade and why it was happening can be read in the easily digestible report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, here, and the drier, more comprehensive report from The Dallas Morning News, here (each opens as a PDF). (This photo accompanied the DMN article.)

See other photos I’ve zoomed in on, here.

All photos much larger when clicked.



Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Go Away! Can’t You See I’m Listening to WFAA?” — 1947




Cartoon/ad/PSA by “Peach” from The Dallas Morning News (owner of WFAA), September 1, 1947.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Chute”

chute-roller-coaster_c1908_tshaThe Chute and The Tickler, Texas State Fair, 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Construction began in 1906 on a new entertainment area at Fair Park called The Pike.

“What is known as ‘Smokey Row’ has been set back against the fence on the south side of the grounds, and the space between it and the race track, all the way to the grandstand, will be occupied by exhibits. Two streets through this part of the grounds lead to the grandstand and the Pike. The Pike will be located beyond the grandstand, occupying a space 250×1125 feet. Here are being constructed the scenic railway and the shoot the chute, which will represent an investment of $75,000. The State Fair has agents in the East booking the remaining attractions for this department. These agents have instructions to pay the money and get the newest and best things to be had.” (Dallas Times Herald, June 24, 1906)

The new Pike meant that visitors to the State Fair of Texas would be able to ride “The Chute,” an amusement park attraction that had been popular in other parts of the country (and which automatically brings to mind the log ride at Six Flags Over Texas). In 1908, a roller coaster with the delightful name of “The Tickler” joined the rides in the area that was referred to as the “Pleasure Plaza” in at least one newspaper account. The Chute/Shoot the Chute/Chute the Chutes lasted a relatively short time — only until 1914 when it was torn down to “make room for the new shows known as the ‘World at Home,’ to be open to the public at the State Fair next fall” (DTH, Aug. 18, 1914).

Rides such as The Chute and The Tickler were enormously popular, and one wonders how all those hats managed to stay on all those heads of all those pleasure-seekers.


The Chute, head-on (all photos are larger when clicked):


A view of The Pike, with The Chute to the right, above the sideshow banners.


In action:


At “night” (the second photo above, glamorized, with postcard magic applied):



Top photo from the collection of the Texas State Historical Association.

Second photo, a 1908 postcard, from eBay.

Third and fourth photos from the book Fair Park by Willis Cecil Winters (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2010). Photo of The Pike from the Dallas Public Library; photo of the boat from the State Fair of Texas Archives.

Night scene from a story by Robert Wilonsky on Winters’ book in the Dallas Observer, here.

Dallas Times Herald quotes from the indispensable Dallas County Archives pages compiled by Jim Wheat; these two articles can be found here.

Yes, Wikipedia does have an entry on the history of Shoot the Chute rides, here.

 As always, most pictures are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Fab Four in Big D — 1964

beatles_memorial-aud_091864_ferd-kaufmanThe Beatles at Memorial Auditorium, Sept. 18, 1964 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Beatles came to Dallas fifty years ago this week. There was pandemonium at Love Field when they arrived. There was pandemonium at the Cabaña Hotel when they got there. There was pandemonium at the press conference. And there was pandemonium at the concert at Memorial Auditorium on September 18, 1964, the last date of their American tour. This event has been pretty well covered over the years, but here are a couple of cool photos of the Fabs’ time in Dallas, and a couple of droll columns from DFW entertainment reporters who seem to be vaguely amused, vaguely annoyed, and vaguely impressed — all at the same time.



Above, the Dallas press conference, with Beatles press agent Derek Taylor (holding microphone), manager Brian Epstein (who, still in Dallas, would turn 30 the following day), and road manager Mal Evans (with glasses). And a Dallas cop (who, over the years, must have told a thousand people about this momentous day).


Below, the always-entertaining Elston Brooks of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes about his “Harried Talk With Hairy 4″ (click article for larger image).


beatles_FWST_092064bFWST, Sept. 20, 1964


Below, the Dallas Morning News’ man-about-town, Tony Zoppi, enlisted the aid of a teenager to explain to him the nuances of Beatlemania. His opening paragraph is pretty good:

“It was Mardi Gras, V-E Day, the Texas-Oklahoma excitement and The Alamo all rolled into one — only louder. It was the Beatles, winding up their American tour deep in the heart of Texas. It was Dallas playing the role of uninhibited host to the hilt.”

beatles_zoppi_dmn_091964smDMN, Sept. 19, 1964 (click for larger image)


And lastly, the short scattershot interview by Bert Shipp of Channel 8, followed by a short clip of the Beatles performing “Twist and Shout” at Memorial Auditorium (which I’d never seen before):


Top two performance photos of The Beatles at Memorial Auditorium by Ferd Kaufman (the one of Ringo is GREAT).

Photo of the press conference by John Mazziotta of The Dallas Times Herald.

More photos of the Dallas visit can be seen here.

And a nostalgic look back at the Beatles’ visit can be read in Bonnie Lovell’s entertaining Dallas Morning News essay, here — Bonnie was there in the thick of it as a Beatle-crazed 13-year old and was one of the lucky few who had a ticket to the show and got to see the boys shake their mop-tops in person.

Click pictures and articles for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff Trolley — 1895

trolley_oak-cliff_stark_1895_hpl“Dallas from Oak Cliff” by Henry Stark, 1895/96 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

As present-day trolley service to Oak Cliff has yet to be realized, here’s a pastoral view of a little trolley chugging through the wilds of Oak Cliff in 1895. In the background, across the river, the new courthouse looms like a mirage. Below are a few details, magnified. (All images are much larger when clicked.) Enjoy!






Photo (labeled by the Houston Public Library as “Trolley moving through the woods”) is by Henry Stark, taken on a visit to Dallas in the winter of 1895/96; from the collection of the Houston Public Library — it can be viewed here.

For more on Henry Stark, see the previous post “Henry Stark’s ‘Bird’s Eye View of Dallas,'” here.

Other photos which I’ve “Zoomed In On the Details” can be seen here.



Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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