Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Simulcasting the World Series In Dallas In the Days Before Radio, Via Telegraph

world-series_dmn_100422-smThe later version, for radio listeners, 1922 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s 1912. You’re a huge baseball fan, and the World Series is about to begin — New York vs. Boston! But you live in Dallas, a million miles away from the action. You can’t wait for the results in the paper the next day because you’re an impatient S.O.B., and radio won’t be introduced for another ten years. Do you panic? No! Because you live in a big city with a taste for new technology, and the Dallas Opera House is going to present a sort of early simulcast of the games on a “mammoth automatic score board.” Your sports prayers have been answered!

1912_world-series_dmn_100612(DMN, Oct. 6, 1912)

You lean back in your comfy theater seat and smoke your smokes in plush and civilized surroundings as each play is sent by telegraph to Dallas from the ballpark back East where the game is being played RIGHT NOW, hundreds of miles away. The telegraph operator in Dallas will relay the play-by-play information to personnel in the theater who will somehow do something to some sort of “automatic electric board.” And, according to promoters of these “reproductions” of baseball games, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the thick of the action. You’ll “see” the game played before your eyes!

I’ve read several articles about these boards and these reproductions, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how it worked. I assume there was a large traditional scoreboard on stage that lit up, keeping track of the score, runs, outs, etc. But apparently there’s more, and I just can’t picture it. Here’s a somewhat confusing description of what happened during these productions:

WORLD SERIES WILL BE SHOWN AT THE OLD MILL

Manager Buddy Stewart of the Old Mill Theater announced that he secured the New Wonder Marvel Baseball Player Board to reproduce the World Series baseball games. This board is declared the greatest board ever invented for reproducing baseball games. It is not a mechanical board and no mechanical devices are used, and very little electrical appliances are necessary. The games are reproduced by a crew of six experienced baseball players who are carefully rehearsed and each has a part or position to play. No other board is so complete as this. The board does not require sign cards to denote players as in other boards. You see the ball going and do not have to look in any other direction to see what it means.

Spectators will see each play reproduced in less than two minutes after it is made on the playing fields of the World Series as the board is connected with a direct wire to the baseball field, and as fast as the telegraph operator receives the play it is reproduced with as much realism as on the field. The players are seen to run bases, the ball is seen bouncing or soaring to the infield or outfield, and anyone who is familiar with baseball will know just exactly what is happening on the field by the plays made on the board with very little left for imagination.

Every hit, run, error, strike or ball, the number of strikeouts, or balls made by pitchers, or the number of hits, runs or errors made by the players is always prominently shown on the board which makes it [un]necessary for individual scoring during the progress of the game. (DMN, Oct. 3, 1920)

Doesn’t really help much. It sounds as if people are on the stage acting out each play. That would be weird. These “reproductions” of World Series games were quite popular in Texas (and probably elsewhere) for at least 15 years. If anyone reading this has a photo or diagram of one of these vaunted Marvel scoreboards, I’d love to see it!

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An earlier description of the 1912 Opera House reproduction sounds more like an audience watching a baseball game on a giant Lite-Brite “score board.”

1912_world-series_dmn_100812(DMN, Oct. 8, 1912)

The trick to keeping the telegraph operators calm and on-their-toes during a lengthy baseball game? Make sure they have no interest in the game.

1915_world-series_FWST_101415(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Oct. 14, 1915)

Fort Worth was also getting in on the action. And they had celebrities — people like Clarence (Big Boy) Kraft and Ziggy Sears (who I’m going to assume have something to do with baseball). I’m not sure what these celebrities were doing exactly, but whatever it was, they were there doing it.

1921_marvel-score-board_FWST_100221(FWST, Oct. 2, 1921)

These things seemed to be a popular annual event, but in 1922, something more technologically advanced than the Marvel board appeared on the scene: radio! WFAA and WBAP began broadcasting in 1922, and, suddenly, following sports became a whole lot easier. In something of a transitional technology, there was the outdoor board as described below. The games were not only broadcast live on WFAA, but The Dallas Morning News (WFAA’s parent company) also erected one of those old-fangled “electric boards” out on the street so that passersby could keep up with the scores. (Portable transistor radios were decades and decades away.)

1923_world-series_dmn_101023(DMN, Oct. 10, 1923)

It was surprising to see that the “Marvel score boards” were still being used as late as 1926 (Yankees vs. Cardinals, at the Capitol Theater). Every baseball fan worth his salt should have had his own radio by then so he could listen to the World Series in the comfort of his own home and curse and cheer as loudly as the vicissitudes of the game demanded. Eat my dust, Marvel board! Radio changed everything, and radio was here to stay.

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The top image is the “G.E. Radio Baseball Player Board” — a sort of home version of the big scoreboards used in theaters, printed for WFAA listeners in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 4, 1922. The instructions are in a PDF, here. And feel free to print one out and use it while you watch the Series this year. Still works in the 21st century!

For an article on listener response to the successful first broadcast of the World Series by WFAA radio (listeners picked up the signal in England!), see the DMN article from Oct. 6, 1922 in a PDF, here.

And because they have such great names, you might want to know who Clarence “Big Boy” Kraft and Ziggy Sears were. If you’ve read this far, you owe it to yourself. “Big Boy,” here; Ziggy, here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dear Folks: Dallas’ New Filtration Plant Is Simply Glorious! Weather Great! Wish You Were Here!”

filtration-plant_c1916_lgA famed Dallas beauty spot, circa 1916 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a postcard from a lady visiting Dallas in 1916, sent to her “dear friend” back home in Wilmette, Illinois. The card has a short, chirpy “hello, hope everyone’s well, be home in a couple of weeks” type of message on it. But there is no mention of the fact that the picture on the other side shows a water filtration plant. …A water filtration plant. Dallas was a big and impressive city in 1916, and there were a lot of beautiful postcards to choose from, so one wonders why she chose THIS one. I’m not even sure why there would be a picture postcard of a water filtration plant in the first place. Maybe to make municipal workers in other cities jealous. “Dallas has a magnificent state-of-of-the-art sedimentation basin, and you don’t!” But, actually, it’s kind of a cool postcard.

This water filtration plant and pumping station was located along the Trinity (before the river’s course was changed), at what is now Oak Lawn and Harry Hines (now home to the Sammons Center for the Arts, a designated historic landmark which contains part of the old Turtle Creek Pump Station).

The filtration plant was built in 1913. Here are a few photos of its construction (click to see larger images):

water-filtration_photo1_102313

water-filtration_photo2_102313

water-filtration_photo3_102313

A large-capacity water filtration plant is a necessary thing for the city to have, certainly, but it still doesn’t explain why Mrs. [Illegible] was sending a postcard of it to her friend in Illinois.

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Postcard of the filtration plant (wow, I’ve typed that a LOT today) from a site that sells postcards. It shows the reverse of the card with the hard-to-read message, here.

Photos of the filtration plant (…there it is again…) from the Oct. 23, 1913 issue of Municipal Journal, here. The entire article should be of interest to people who are interested in … this sort of thing.

Even MORE about this plant, along with diagrams, photos, and an in-depth analysis on its operation, can be found in the July 16, 1914 issue of Engineering News, here.

History page for the Sammons Center is here.

A couple of other early photos of the Turtle Creek Pump Station (from 1894 and 1908) can be seen in a previous post — “City Hospital, a Pump Station, and the County Jail — 1894″ — here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Pink Panther-Mr. Peppermint Connection

mr-peppermint_dmn_1961Mr. P. — 1961

by Paula Bosse

I had no idea that the “Mr. Peppermint” theme was by Henry Mancini! It’s from a 1960 movie called “High Time,” which, I have to say, I’ve never heard of. It starred Bing Crosby, Fabian, and Tuesday Weld (I kind of think Bing may have been in it solely for the paycheck). Check out the movie’s main theme music. Sound familiar?

Hearing this brings back a flood of happy memories — an aural version of Proust’s madeleines.

In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) had this to say:

“I never met Captain Kangaroo; I probably would have completely freaked out if I met Captain Kangaroo. In fact, when I meet people who are just beside themselves to meet me, I always think they’re reacting like I would react if I met Captain Kangaroo, I was so crazy about that television show as a child.” (LA Times, Oct. 21, 2014)

I ran into Jerry Haynes (aka Mr. Peppermint) several times around town over the years. The first time I saw him, I was in my 20s, and he was doing some sort of promotion (in character) at a store in, I think, Northpark. I was unaware that he would be there, but when I saw him at the top of the escalator, I was shocked. My childhood TV pal right in front of me! It’s a bit of a blur, but I think I giddily foisted myself on him and told him all the things other Dallas kids raised on his show probably told him. I might even have gushed an involuntary “I love you, Mr. Peppermint!” Yikes. I bet he got that ALL THE TIME. He was very sweet and didn’t treat me like a crazy person.

The last time I saw him, he was just Jerry Haynes, shopping for cheese at the Tom Thumb on Mockingbird and Abrams. I didn’t bother him, but I still got a little happy jolt of recognition when I saw him.

And now I find out that the composer who wrote so much of my favorite movie music wrote the music so tied to my childhood. Thanks, Mr. Mancini! Thanks, Mr. Peppermint! Thanks, Mr. Wiggly Worm!

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Top photo from The Dallas Morning News‘ gallery of charming photos of Mr. Peppermint/Jerry Haynes, here.

Quote from Paul Reubens’ Los Angeles Times interview, here.

Wikipedia roundup: madeleines, here; “High Time” movie, here; Henry Mancini, here.

(Thank you, Steve S., for bringing this to my attention!)

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Century Room’s Retractable Dance Floor

ad-adolphus-hotel_century-room_sm(click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

If you’re getting all dressed up for a night on the town, you want to make sure you get your money’s worth, entertainment-wise. That’s why you head to the tony Century Room at the swank Hotel Adolphus. Not only is there dining and dancing, there’s also an ice show. Yep, an ice show. When “Texas’ Only Complete Floor Show on Ice” has wrapped up, a dance floor magically covers the ice, and you and your honey can trip the light fantastic to the fabulous strains of Herman Waldman & His Orchestra. Skates optional.

adolphus_hotel_century-room

adolphus_century-room

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An entertaining page with facts and photos of the Century Room’s many looks and themes over the years can be found here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Please Don’t Pull the Daisies

city-park_no-one-allowed-to-pull-flowersCity Park, 1909-ish (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Back when Old City Park was merely “City Park.” The sign at the bottom right reads: “WARNING: NO-ONE ALLOWED TO PULL FLOWERS.” Seems a bit brusque. Not even a “please.” Still, one best not.

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Hand-colored postcard with an odd color palette, probably by Weichsel, around 1909.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Wonderful K-BOX” at 1480 On Your AM Dial

kbox-djs“Wonderful K-BOX” jocks atop the Southland Life Bldg. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When I was a kid, it seems like KBOX was always on in the background. Always. My father was a huge country music fan, and it was one of the (if not THE) top country stations in town. This was in the ’70s. So it’s a bit of a shock to learn that KBOX had been a Top 40 station in the ’50s and ’60s — in fact, it was the major competitor of top-dog KLIF.

The photo above was shot atop the Southland Life Building in 1966 and appeared on an LP called “Dusty Discs.” On-air personalities shown are (top row) Terry Byrd, Ron Rice, Frank Jolle/Jolley, (bottom row) Dan Patrick, Bill Ward, and Bill Holley.

The competition between KBOX (owned by John Box — the “Box” in KBOX) and KLIF (owned by the legendary Gordon McLendon) was fierce. This explains the banner below, which was the idea of John Box, and which he had his DJ’s hold during the same photo shoot. Box had the photo printed up and gleefully sent to McLendon as a Christmas card that year (during which KBOX had trounced KLIF in one of the crucial ratings periods). (I’m sure McLendon enjoyed seeing his name misspelled.) AM radio ain’t for the meek.

kbox-mclendon-banner

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Top photo/album cover from eBay.

Second photo from a Frank Jolley site, here. (Jolley’s name is spelled “Jolley” and “Jolle” almost interchangeably all over the internet, so I’m not sure which is correct.)

Absolutely everything you’d ever want to know about KBOX can be found here (and this is just part two of the history!).

BEST OF ALL, though is this aircheck from 1959, featuring Dan Ingram. It’s crazy. The energy level is exhausting to listen to. They were really pulling out all the stops. (And, hey, you could go see Johnny Cash at the Sportatorium for ONE DOLLAR!) This is great:

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas High School Football, 1909-Style

football-team-1909High school football team, 1909 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Great photo described only as “a high school football team,” from 1909. The team most likely represented the “Colored High School” located at Hall and Cochran, the only high school in Dallas at the time for African-American students (it eventually merged with and relocated to the nearby Booker T. Washington High School in the early 1920s where, incredibly, it remained the city’s only high school for black students until Lincoln High School opened in South Dallas in 1939).

As everything was segregated at the time, including schools and sports, the number of black high school football teams they could play was severely limited — in-town opponents were non-existent. In fact, a 1909 blurb in The Dallas Morning News announced that “[t]he football team of the Dallas Colored High School will play the Wylie University team from Marshall at Gaston Park” (Nov. 12, 1909). They were playing college teams. From 150 miles away. At least they were the home team.

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Photo from the J. L. Patton Collection, Dallas Historical Society.

Click picture for larger image.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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.

mcfarlin_det1

mcfarlin_det2

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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.

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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:

fair-park-entrance_1919

A nice little newspaper ad from 1924:

state-fair_092724

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.”

state-fair_dmn_101530

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.

state-fair_dmn_092446

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

state-fair_lagoon_squire-haskins_dmn-1958

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

big-tex_briscoe-center

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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.

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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.

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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.

dallas-fair_dmn_090588

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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.

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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.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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