Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

“Meet Me in Dallas, On June the 23rd…”

jeannie-c-riley_flickrJeannie C. Riley

by Paula Bosse

Until last week, I don’t think I’d ever heard the 1969 song “The Back Side of Dallas,” sung by Jeannie C. Riley, who had had the blockbuster hit “Harper Valley PTA” the previous year. How have I never heard this? I was going to post it last week until I realized that it would be better to wait until today, because of this line from the song: “Meet me in Dallas on June the 23rd, his letter read.” And here we are, June 23rd.

The song, written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice was released in October, 1969. It wasn’t the huge, crossover, multi-award-winning monster hit that “Harper Valley PTA” was, but it did earn Jeannie another Grammy nomination (she lost to Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” — if you’re going to lose, that’s a perfectly acceptable performance to lose to).

Like “Harper Valley PTA,” it was one of several songs of the era which brought country music into the somewhat seedy realm of 1960s American culture. “The Back Side of Dallas” is about a small-town girl who finds herself as a lonesome “working girl” in Dallas, chain-smoking king-size cigarettes, drinking in dingy bars, and popping pills. This ain’t no Kitty Wells song, y’all. (I’d love to hear Miranda Lambert — who also has an incredible country voice — cover this.)

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Jeannie C. Riley — born in Anson, Texas in 1945 — was one of the first certifiable sex symbols in country music, always gorgeous, outfitted in miniskirts and go-go boots, with sky-high hair teased to a fare-thee-well. AND she had an absolutely fantastic voice. Below is video of a 24-year-old Jeannie C. Riley singing “Back Side of Dallas” on Del Reeves’ Country Carnival in 1969 (Del Reeves had some great songs in the ’60s, but his TV persona was a little too Dean Martin-wannabe for my taste … and … oh dear … that set!):

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I prefer the studio version, below. I’ve listened to this song dozens of times now, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet!

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And here’s Jeannie singing it in 2011, still sounding great! (Her thick Texas accent is the absolute best, and her laugh is fantastic.) She talks about the song a bit at the beginning with Jerry Foster, one of the writers of the song — the song itself starts at about the 3:10 mark.

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And a few photos of Jeannie C. — surely one of the most photogenic faces and bad-ass vocalists in the history of country music — to round out this “June the 23rd” post. As my father used to say, “hot damn.”

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Most, if not all, photos of JCR from Pinterest.

Record label image found here.

A biography of Jeannie C. Riley is here.

“Harper Valley PTA” — you know you want to hear it. This is a great live version she did on, I think, the Wilburn Brothers Show, with Harold Morrison on dobro.

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Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas History on “Jeopardy”

delta_jeopardy_061917“What is….”

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday an old Flashback Dallas post from 2014 got a TON of hits. As the hits continued to rack up all day, I thought, “This is really weird.” The reason? Jeopardy! Even better, FINAL Jeopardy! Do you know the answer (…phrased in the form of a question)? See if you do, here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Pickle Brine Ryan” — 1968

baseball_nolan-ryan_pickle-juice_1968_corbisBrining the blisters away….

by Paula Bosse

I give you a 21-year-old Nolan Ryan soaking his pitching finger in pickle juice. As one does.

Years before the future Baseball Hall of Famer made it to DFW, young Nolan was the star pitcher of the New York Mets. He was prone to blisters on the middle finger of his pitching hand, so Mets trainer Gus Mauch put him on a strict pickle juice regimen of soaking the affected finger between innings to toughen the skin and prevent blisters from popping up at inopportune moments. And, of course, this weird pickle juice thing became really big news in May, 1968. Sportswriters jumped all over it, and a few began calling him “Pickle Brine Ryan,” because it sort of rhymes.

The delicatessen where Ryan’s pickle juice of choice was purchased tried to cash in on what they hoped would become a fad by placing jars of the brine in the window with a sign proudly proclaiming that they were the source of the famous “Mets’ Pitching Juice.” According to a UPI story, when another pickle company offered the Mets five gallons of their pickle juice, trainer Mauch responded, “Gosh, you could embalm a whole swimming team with five gallons!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS, from May 6, 1968; it appeared in newspapers with the following caption:

While teammates relax before a game, using anything handy for a pillow, New York Mets’ pitcher Nolan Ryan (left) soaks his pitching fingers in pickle juice. That’s right — pickle juice! Ryan says the juice toughens his fingers so that he doesn’t get blisters.

I wonder if he kept it up? By the time he got back home to Texas and signed with the Rangers, I’d love to know that he upped his brine game by using pickled jalapeño juice.

An earlier Nolan Ryan-related Flashback Dallas post — “Nolan Ryan’s Celebratory Pancake Breakfast — 1972” — is here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Country Music — Every Saturday Night on Channel 11

country-music_saturday-night_channel-11_ktvt_1969The warm-up for wrestling…

by Paula Bosse

I have a surprisingly deep knowledge of classic country music. And it can all be traced back to sitting with my father every Saturday night as he watched the jam-packed lineup of country music TV shows on KTVT-Channel 11.

Followed by wrestling.

Which I also have a surprisingly deep knowledge of. If only by osmosis.

Thank you, Channel 11, for providing this bonding time with my father, which I didn’t really appreciate as a child, but I do now.

(And, yes, I’m happy that my antiquarian bookseller father and Comparative Literature-degree-holding mother often took our family to the Sportatorium to see both country music package shows and wrestling matches. You can’t say our family wasn’t well-rounded.)

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1969 ad from an odd little local publication (which probably used to belong to my father) called Country and Western — The Sound That Goes Around the World, published in DFW by PegAnn Production.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: “The Manure Problem”

main-and-stone-looking-west_ca-1900_cook-colln_degolyer_smuSee all those horses?

by Paula Bosse

There’s a headline that’ll get attention. Check out the post “‘Male Fixings’ and Horse Manure Akard Street, ca. 1906″ in which I wonder how cities used to deal with all the horse manure in the streets. (Augusts must have been especially unpleasant back then.)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mosaic Restoration at Downtown’s St. Jude Chapel

st-jude-chapel_scaffold_052417_bosse_bosseTile by tile by tile… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A couple of weeks ago I went downtown to check out the restoration of the large mosaic above the entrance to the St Jude Chapel on Main Street. The 1968 Gyorgy Kepes mosaic (which I wrote about here) is undergoing needed repair work, restoration, and cleaning, in preparation for next year’s 50th anniversary of the downtown chapel. The work on mosaics inside the chapel as well as the large one outside is being done by artist and preservationist Julie Richey of Julie Richey Mosaics in association with Art Restorations, Inc.

As you can imagine, the outdoor mosaic overlooking Main Street has, for 50 years, weathered everything from intense summer heat, freezing temperatures, automobile exhaust, slight shifting of the building’s structure, damage to individual tiles, mildew, grout decomposition, and a host of other factors, all of which led to the much-needed restoration work.

A couple of things that I found interesting, in talking with Julie Richey and Cher Goodson (of Art Restorations, Inc.) was that there are over 800,000 glass smalti tiles (or tesserae) forming the sunburst mosaic. 800,000! I had no idea it was so large until I was standing right below it. After missing or damaged tiles have been replaced, all 800,000-plus will be cleaned — by hand, I think — with, as Cher told me, Dawn dishwashing liquid (good for cleaning greasy dishes, oil-soaked waterfowl, and Venetian glass tiles). Speaking of those tiles, one of the most serendipitous moments in this project was when Julie was able to track down slabs of smalti in New York which were the very same smalti used in the original 1968 mosaic — they had been kept in storage for 50 years, and they look brand new. That means that the tesserae being used to replace the damaged or missing tiles are from the exact same batch as the originals, which means the vivid colors, the composition, the opacity, and the surface texture are the same. That is an incredible stroke of luck!

The work should be wrapping up soon — if you’d like to catch the last few days of this project, hop downtown and say hello to the women doing such great work! (UPDATE: The project actually ended Friday. But you should still go down and take a look at it!) While you’re there, you should step inside to see the little chapel, a calm and peaceful oasis in the heart of downtown. There are several other mosaics inside — Julie and company did work on some of those as well, most notably the very large, striking “Risen Christ” above the altar.

Below are some photos I took inside and outside the chapel on May 24, 2017 — most are larger when clicked.

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St. Jude Chapel is in the 1500 block of Main, between Ervay and Akard.

Here it is, seen from Neiman’s, across the street.

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Below is part of the mosaic by Gyorgy Kepes — seeing it up close, you begin to realize that, yeah, there probably are more than 800,000 glass tiles up there. (Definitely click the photo to see a very large image.)

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The photo at the top of the post shows the lift used to tackle the job; looking on is Dallas filmmaker Mark Birnbaum who is documenting the project. Below, Julie Richey and Lynne Chinn are raised up on the lift to do their torturously tedious and very, very detailed work (imagine working on this huge thing using tweezers!). Julie can be seen snipping “new” smalti to replace the damaged or missing tiles, working from photos, diagrams, grids, graphs, and guides to make sure the restoration is as close as possible to the original mosaic: the colors must match, the shapes must match, the placement must match.

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You really have to be focused to do work like this. Here, Julie is setting a tiny piece into that giant mosaic (the marked vertical strips of tape help map the mosaic and insure that everything goes back in exactly as it was originally placed in 1968.

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Speaking of snipping the smalti (which sounds like a naughty euphemism used amongst naughty mosaicists), here’s what’s left over, below. I talked to conservator Callie Heimburger who gave me a lot of interesting information on how the whole intricate process worked — she was set up at a table on the sidewalk and had containers full of these beautiful discarded glass shards in front of her. I really wanted to scoop up a handful and sneak them into a pocket, but I managed to control myself.

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Everything is meticulously color-coded.

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And smalti? Here are bags of “new” bagged tiles — not shown are the slabs or the larger pieces which look a little like brightly colored peanut brittle.

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Julie asked if I wanted to go up on the lift and take a closer look. It was even more impressive (and a little overwhelming) to be right next to it. I also got to take a look over the top of the building. There Julie pointed out all that remains of one of downtown’s biggest and busiest retail stores, W. A. Green. I didn’t have the presence of mind to get a good photo up there, but here’s the “ghost sign,” seen from across the street.

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Since I was there, I had to step inside to see what the little chapel looked like. It’s very charming. And the mosaics inside are also impressive.

Here’s what you see as you step in.

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To your left is the altar. This lovely mosaic was also restored and cleaned. Also: curved walls, a stained glass skylight, and a light fixture that is one of my very favorite decorative elements of this chapel.

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A closer look at “Risen Christ.”

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Turn around, and from the pulpit you can see the choir loft.

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A wonderful depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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A detail.

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I’m afraid I’m not very well-versed on my saint iconography, but this might be St. Martin de Porres, with a broom, and mice at his feet.

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Leave it to me to be find these little mosaic mice to be my favorite tiny discovery of the day.

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And here’s the view from the chapel toward Main Street.

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The St. Jude Chapel offers a nice, tranquil respite from a loud and busy downtown Dallas. You should visit sometime. All are welcome.

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Thanks so much to Julie Richey, Callie Heimburger, Cher Goodson, and Lynne Chinn for taking the time to chat with me. Julie Richey Mosaics website is here; Art Restorations, Inc. website is here.

You can see more on this project (including photos and video) on Julie’s Facebook page, here, and Art Restorations’ Facebook page, here; see photos from the Risen Christ restoration on Julie’s blog, here.

The St. Jude Chapel (Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas) website is here; videos on the history of the downtown chapel are here.

All photos by Paula Bosse.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: High School Football, 1909

football-team-1909

by Paula Bosse

This is a great photo of intense facial expressions and odd photo manipulation from the J. L. Patton Collection of the Dallas Historical Society. A bit more about what appears to be the football team representing Dallas’ only black high school can be found in the original post “Dallas High School Football, 1909-Style,” here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Need Bonnie & Clyde and Smoot Schmid Memorabilia?

bonnie-and-clyde_ring_rr-auction_june-2017Nothing says “I love you”…

by Paula Bosse

Thank you, Robin McLauren, for making me aware of the upcoming “Gangsters, Outlaws, & Lawmen” auction presented by RR Auction (the sale is June 24, 2017, with the lots available to be previewed here and bidding to begin next week). Of particular interest to those of us in Dallas are the lots concerning Bonnie & Clyde and the lots concerning Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid (known for, among other things, his involvement in the Bonnie & Clyde case) — these Dallas-specific lots can be viewed separately, here (there are three pages, see the page numbers at the bottom of the page).

There is everything from photos of B&C’s bullet-ridden car, photos of the two West Dallas outlaws lying on morgue slabs, Bonnie’s blood-stained glasses, Schmid’s gun, and even his Shriners fez. Here are a few of the items I found interesting.

The first one is pictured at the top: a 3-headed serpent “promise ring” Clyde made for Bonnie while in prison (information on the lot can be found here). It’s kind of cool. (Most images on this page are larger when clicked.)

Another lot (here) contains four photos: two show the crowds attending Bonnie Parker’s viewing at the McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home on Forest Avenue, taken by Dallas Times Herald photographer Denny Hayes, and two show the gravesites of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

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Another lot (here) has 36 photos concerning Blanche Barrow, wife of Clyde’s brother Buck Barrow. Here she is marcelled and striking a pose.

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By far the best item is the bitter and angry letter of April, 1934 sent by Clyde Barrow to ex-Barrow Gang member Raymond Hamilton who was incarcerated in the Dallas County jail. Clyde dictated the letter to Bonnie, who must have had better penmanship (he signed it). A month later, Bonnie & Clyde were dead. The content of the 4-page letter is fantastic — read it here.

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There are several items that once belonged to Sheriff Richard A. “Smoot” Schmid, including this 14K gold diamond-studded badge presented to “Smoots” Schmid by his detectives in 1933.

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And, his boots, with his “SS” initials on each.

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And just because it’s odd, I have to admit I’m quite taken with this photo tucked into a lot containing several photographs which shows Schmid slapping cuffs on a robot.

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Bidding begins June 15!

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The RR Auction website is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Bonnie and Clyde are here.

Most photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

San Antonio Extra: The Texas Transportation Co. and the Pearl Brewery Electric Freight Trolley

texas-transportation-co_cook-coll_degolyer_smu_san-antonioT. T. Co. No. 1, at your service… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I come across a lot of interesting Texas photos that have nothing to do with Dallas, so I think I might, on occasion, post them here, knowing that someone else is also likely to find them interesting. Like the one above.

This photo is from the incredible gift that just keeps giving, the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, held by the DeGolyer Library at SMU. Most of the items in the collection have a Dallas connection, but there are several others of general Texas interest.

When I saw this photo I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like an electric trolley, but I’d never seen a shape like that before. It turns out it was, indeed, an electric freight locomotive. It was one of two locomotives that belonged to the Texas Transportation Co.’s tiny fleet of two — this was engine No. 1. The T.T.C. operated a freight service on their very short 1.3-mile track for 113 years (1887-2000), serving primarily the Pearl and Lone Star breweries of San Antonio, running freight to and from the breweries and the Southern Pacific rail yard. (More at Wikipedia, here.)

Here’s a later photo of the locomotive (October, 1928), now emblazoned with the Pearl Beer logo.

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As hard as it is to believe, this electric freight trolley ran along the streets of San Antonio until the year 2000, when it became a victim of the Pabst Brewing Company’s acquisition and shuttering of the Pearl Brewery. Without the brewery, there was no need for the trolley to continue to run. A month before it stopped running, a man shot video footage of the locomotive(s) trundling through San Antonio. I particularly liked seeing the locos push freight cars as well as pull them (seen at about the 12:50 mark). (Read the notes of the man who shot the video on the YouTube page under “Show More.”)

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Top photo — titled “T. T. Co. No. 1. Texas Transportation Co.” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist Unviersity; more information about this photo can be found here.

Second photo — titled “Texas Transportation Co. locomotive, engine number 1, engine type Electric” — is from the Otto C. Perry Memorial Collection of Railroad Photographs, Western History Department, Denver Public Library; more information on this photo can be found here.

A great short, illustrated history of the Texas Transportation Co. and the various locomotives that ran on its rails can be found at the Don Ross Group website, here (be sure to read the reminiscences of a man who worked at the Pearl Brewery as a college student in 1960 at the bottom of the page).

I wrote about electric interurban freight-hauling locomotives in the Flashback Dallas post “Interurbans: Freight Movers?”

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Zang and Beckley

oak-cliff_zang-and-beckley_dfw-freewaysGulf’s “No-Nox” gas just 18¢/gallon… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This photo shows the Oak Cliff intersection of N. Zang Blvd. and N. Beckley Ave. The 1953 Dallas directory shows L. B. Poche’s Oak Cliff Tire Co. at 1101 N. Zangs and K. R. Hollis’ Gulf service station at 1102 N. Zangs (this was before that “s” in the street name was eliminated).

The photo comes from the exhaustive tome Dallas-Fort Worth Highways, Texas-Sized Ambition by Oscar Slotboom. His caption for this photo (found on page 98 of the PDF here):

This undated view shows the predecessor of IH 35, US 67, aligned on Zang Boulevard through Oak Cliff just south of downtown at the intersection with Beckley Avenue. The three highway shields show that this alignment also served US 77 and US 80. The narrow streets leading into downtown were unable to handle increasing traffic after World War II, making freeway construction a top priority.

Zang Boulevard was originally called “Zang’s Boulevard” (later just “Zangs Boulevard”) after J. F. Zang. When it opened in 1900 it was the only direct road between Dallas and Oak Cliff.

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Dallas Morning News, Oct. 26, 1900

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Oscar Slotboom’s Dallas-Fort Worth Freeways website is pretty amazing. If you’re interested in the evolution of Dallas’ highway system, you will be glued to this site which is full of incredibly detailed information.

Photo and clipping are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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