Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Allen & Cochran: Allen Street Drugs, St. Peter’s Academy, St. John Baptist Church — ca. 1946

Allen Street Drugs at Allen & Cochran… (photo: Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a group of men and boys gathered outside Allen St. Drugs — 1920 Allen Street, at the corner of Cochran — posing for famed Dallas photographer Marion Butts. Behind the group is St. Peter’s Church and St. Peter’s Academy, a Catholic church and affiliated school for black children (at 2018 Allen); facing St. Peter’s (but out of frame) is St. John Baptist Church (2019 Allen). This was a busy and well-traveled intersection for the African American neighborhood of “North Dallas.”

St. Peter’s Academy — which was still around into the late 1980s — was built in 1908, largely due to the urging of black entrepreneur Valentine Jordan and his wife Mary Jordan who were impressed with the education provided to the (white) students attending the Catholic Ursuline Academy; they requested that Bishop E. J. Dunne open a similar school for black children, and Bishop Dunne obliged. Before it was named “St. Peter’s Academy,” it was known as The Sisters’ Institute (named for the Sisters of the Holy Ghost). Elementary and high school classes were taught, and boarding options were offered to girls. In the mid 1960s the school had 600 (predominantly Protestant) students.

Dallas Express, Sept. 6, 1924

Dallas Express, Aug. 27, 1921

Dallas Express, Jan. 6, 1923

Dallas Express, Jan. 13, 1923

St. Peter’s Academy, circa 1935

The large St. John Baptist Church was a fixture of the community, led for many years by its pastor Ernest C. Estell.

Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1946-47

Sadly, these buildings are no longer standing. St. Peter the Apostle is located in a new building at Allen and what is now Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and much of their congregation is of Polish ancestry, with services conducted in both Polish and English. The drugstore seen at the top sat on land razed for construction of Woodall Rodgers. The view today can be seen here.

Allen St., between Munger & Hallsville — 1944-45 Dallas directory

1952 Mapsco (star indicates location of Allen St. Drugs)


Sources & Notes

Top photo by Marion Butts, from the Marion Butts: Lens on Dallas Collection, Dallas Public Library. More information on the work of Mr. Butts may be found here.

Most images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Dali Does Dallas — 1952

“A Dali-an door!”

by Paula Bosse

Salvador Dali visited Dallas in February, 1952 on a lecture tour. Not only was he delighted to find this oddly slanted doorway at Union Station, he also said that while in Texas he had been astonished to find himself dreaming in vivid technicolor. Read the original Flashback Dallas post “Salvador Dali Brings ‘Nuclear Mysticism’ to Dallas — 1952,” here.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Caterpillars On the Job at Ross and Market — 1922

Roadwork in the warehouse district…

by Paula Bosse

I’ve loved vintage and historical advertisements since I was a child. Since becoming more focused on Dallas history, I’m always excited to find old ads with photos of recognizable Dallas locations, like the one below for Caterpillar tractors, which was printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1922. (Click to see a larger image and read the rousing tribute given to these “motorized outfits” by City Engineer George D. Fairtrace.)


The photo shows a Dallas street maintenance crew grading Ross Avenue at the intersection of N. Market in 1922 (see the current Google Street View here). Every building seen in the photo is still standing in the Historic West End:

  • Southwest General Electric Co., 1701 N. Market (it was later occupied by the Higginbotham-Pearlstone Hardware Co.)
  • Federal Glass & Paint Co., 1709 N. Market
  • Fairbanks, Morse & Co., 1713 N. Market
  • Texas Ice & Cold Storage (partially visible at the right), 701 Ross (until recent years the long-time home of The Palm restaurant; in 1922 it was, I believe, a brand new building)

dec-2016_googleGoogle Street View, 2016

ross-and-market_bing-streetside-view_2015Bing Streetside, 2015

Thank you, Caterpillar ad!


Sources & Notes

1922 Caterpillar ad found on eBay, here.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Republic Bank Branding — 1955


When the uniforms match the exterior of the building…

by Paula Bosse

Republic National Bank opened its dazzling new building on N. Ervay in December, 1954. It was the tallest building in the city, the interior boasted gold leaf everywhere, and the exterior was covered with thousands of aluminum panels embossed with a distinctive four-pointed “star” shape.

The building’s opening was quite the PR extravaganza — so much so that Life magazine sent photographer Joe Scherschel to take photos for the Feb. 28, 1955 article “Dazzler For Dallas.” Scherschel took a ton of photos, but only a handful made it into the article — one that didn’t make it is the one above which shows five young women on a staircase, all of whom are wearing dresses with those Republic Bank “stars” on them! I have to admit, I was a little more excited than I should have been to have noticed what I assume must have been a (fairly stylish) uniform (hostesses? elevator girls?). Kudos to whomever came up with that clever way to celebrate the bank’s home by incorporating one of the most distinctive elements of one of the city’s most distinctive buildings into something as easily overlooked as an employee’s uniform. That is attention to detail!






Sources & Notes

All photos were taken by Joe Scherschel for Life magazine, ©Time, Inc. A large collection of the photos Scherschel took while on assignment in Dallas for this article can be viewed here.

I wrote about those fantastic embossed aluminum panels in the Flashback Dallas post “The Republic Bank Building and Spain’s ‘Casa de Los Picos,'” here.

All photos are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The Henry Russells Take Possession of Their Rolls Royce Silver Wraith — 1948

The car, the couple, the driver … Preston Hollow, 1948

by Paula Bosse

People seem to expect stories about painfully wealthy Texans to have larger-than-life outrageous elements. The April 5, 1948 issue of Life magazine devoted several pages to the Southwest’s “New Crop of Super Rich.” The photo showing Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell at their Preston Hollow home appeared with the following caption:

New Rolls-Royce (price $19,500) was bought by Colonel Henry Russell of Dallas as a birthday present for his wife. She liked it because “it goes with my blue hat.” The Russells claim they are just “camping out” in their house, plan to turn it over to the servants and build a bigger one for themselves as soon as they get around to it.

One can only hope this was just gross exaggeration. Or a misinterpreted joke. Or just amusing fiction. Because if not … yikes. 


Henry and Alla Russell had not been in Dallas very long when they took possession of their fabulous Rolls Royce — a Silver Wraith. When production of this model was announced in 1946, it was described as “the world’s most expensive automobile.” The Russell’s purchase made local news, with this blurb appearing in The Dallas Morning News on Feb. 12, 1948:

Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell, 4606 Park Lane, have taken delivery on their new Rolls-Royce. Known as the Silver Wraith model, the silver and blue car features a bar, vanity and other luxuries. The price? $19,274. Dealers S. H. Lynch & Co. said the car was the first Rolls-Royce sold in the Southwest.

That postwar price would be the equivalent in today’s money of about $200,000. In a 1956 Dallas Morning News article, Frank X. Tolbert wrote that Col. Russell “is still driving his ’48 model, and it’s the only one we ever see around town although there may be one or two more” (DMN, “Rolls-Royce Hard To Find in State,” Nov. 15, 1956).

There had been Rolls Royces in Dallas before 1948, but according to S. H. Lynch — the Dallas dealer of imported British vehicles including Jaguars, Bentleys, MGs, Morris Minors, and James motorcycles (as well as other high-ticket British items such as English china) — he had sold only five or six of the prestigious automobiles while he had the dealership, and that only that first one bought by the Russells had stayed in Dallas.

S. H. Lynch & Co. ad, Feb. 1, 1948 (click for larger image)

March, 1948

In 1948, S. H. Lynch (located at 2106 Pacific, at Olive) was one of only three Rolls dealerships in the county, the others being in New York and Los Angeles. In postwar Britain, American dollars were in such demand that a Rolls spokesman said that at least 75% of his company’s production was earmarked for the U.S. — American orders would take priority over their U.K. counterparts.


Even though a Roller’s always going to wow the hoi polloi, it wasn’t always easy to find a trained mechanic, as Roy Lee discovered:

Abilene, TX Reporter News, July 20, 1946

We all have our bad days, I suppose.


Sources & Notes

The two photos of the Russells are from the Life magazine article “Southwest Has a New Crop of Super Rich” (the top photo was not published).

Col. Russell, an Army veteran of both world wars, appears to have been retired by the time he got to Dallas. The only clue to the source of what must have been fabulous wealth was the final line in the obituary of Mrs. Russell, which noted that he was the son (or possibly the grandson) of the founder of the Russwin Lock Co. Mrs. Russell died in a massive fire which destroyed the large Park Lane house in January, 1976; the colonel died about 15 years earlier, in New York.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jane Asher in Dallas — 1967


by Paula Bosse

English actress Jane Asher — who has acted since the age of 5 — will probably forever be referred to somewhere (like here) as “Paul McCartney’s former girlfriend.” They dated from 1963 to 1968, and Jane always asserted that her acting career was what was important to her, not being a celebrity (or the girlfriend of a celebrity). But if you were dating a Beatle, that was probably an impossible thing to escape.

In 1967, Jane toured the United States for several months as part of the Bristol Old Vic company. One of their longest stays was in Dallas (April 10-15, at the State Fair Music Hall), where the company performed Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet (in which Jane appeared as Juliet). The Dallas performances (“The theatrical event of the season!” “Only Southwestern engagement…”) were co-sponsored by Neiman-Marcus.


It appears that Jane popped into Dallas early — on April 4 and April 5 — in order to do some publicity, catch a Dallas Theater Center production of Julius Caesar (as the guest of Richard Marcus who, afterwards, hosted a small dinner party), and, the next day, celebrate her 21st birthday at a noon luncheon in Neiman’s Zodiac Room.

Her arrival at Love Field was captured by Channel 8 news cameras (sadly, without sound).




asher-jane_ap-wire-photo_040567_dtcAP wire photo, taken in Dallas on April 4, 1967

AP wire photo, taken in Dallas at Neiman-Marcus on April 5, 1967

After cake at the Zodiac Room on her birthday — April 5, 1967 — she left for Denver, the next stop on the tour. That night her famous boyfriend joined her there for even more cake.

Denver, April 5, 1967

After the run in Denver, the Bristol Old Vic company came to Dallas for six days (and seven performances). A reviewer complained about the Music Hall’s poor acoustics and thought that the productions of the three plays were a bit “mod” for his taste (“considerable stage movement and fast-paced dialogue caused many of the lines to be lost”), but he thought Jane acquitted herself well as Juliet in a good, if somewhat undistinguished production.

In an interview with Maryln Schwartz of The Dallas Morning News, Jane — probably for the thousandth time — had to steer the conversation back to her acting and away from her famous boyfriend. When Schwartz asked who her favorite “singing group” was she told her it was the Grateful Dead.


Austin American-Statesman, Jan. 15, 1967 (click to see larger image)


Sources & Notes

Top photo by Harry Benson, Daily Express, Hulton Archive, Getty Images. The Getty caption has the date as April 25, 1967, which is incorrect — the photo was most likely taken on April 5, 1967 (Jane is wearing the same outfit seen in the Zodiac Room photo, and on April 25th, the theatrical company had been in Illinois for over a week). I have to admit, I love seeing celebrities awkwardly wearing Texas cowboy hats. But Jane looks pretty cute.

The WFAA-Ch. 8 news footage is from the G. William Jones Film Collection at SMU. The short, 49-second clip shows her arriving on a Delta flight at Love Field, met by a no doubt Stanley Marcus-approved be-costumed young man with a trumpet and a woman bearing some sort of official proclamation of “welcome.” The two color photos are my screen captures.

The birthday cake photo is from a blog post teeming with fantastic photos of Jane Asher and her stunning red hair, here.

More on Jane Asher’s career at Wikipedia, here.

More on the Beatles and Dallas can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “The Fab Four in Big D — 1964,” here. (It’s interesting to note that two important people in the orbit of the Beatles celebrated milestone birthdays in Dallas: Jane Asher turned 21 here, and manager Brian Epstein turned 30 while here with “the boys” in 1964.)


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Dallas Fire Fighter Magazine — 1960s


by Paula Bosse

I saw these covers of Dallas Fire Fighter magazine on eBay and thought they looked really interesting. I can’t find anything about this publication other than a one-sentence glancing mention in a Dallas Morning News article on fire prevention in January, 1962 — so it had been around at least since the early ’60s. Here are four covers — one from 1963, two from 1965, and one from 1966.

dallas-fire-fighter_magazine_july-1963_ebay_love-fieldLove Field engine, July 1963

Rescue of a toddler, April, 1965

Aero-Unit inspection, No. 1 Station, October, 1966

The person listing these magazines on eBay included a few (very low-resolution!) photos of some of the pages inside. Below are a few interesting tidbits from the October, 1966 issue.


The Fire House Rhythm Kings was a country band made up of Dallas firefighters, formed in 1956. They played well over 300 gigs a year (one article noted they sometimes performed at four venues in one DAY!), combining entertainment with education on fire prevention. The caption: “Fire House Rhythm Kings – left to right, Jack Mewbourne, Doug May, Les Wilson, Spurgeon Harris, Don Smith, ‘Big Ed’ Hunt, J. W. Hadaway, Don Spruell, and Leland Loggins. Members not present in the photo include Harvey Lanier, Troy England, W. T. Babb and Wendel Jenkins. Newest additions to the band include Larry Gotchel and Earl Rowe who have also joined since the photo was made.”

They also had a regular show on radio station KPCN (click to see larger image):

Dallas Fire Fighter, October, 1966

The department had recently acquired new equipment, including a heavy-duty rescue-salvage unit and an aero-unit (apologies for image quality!):

dallas-fire-fighter-magazine_oct-1966_ebay_heavy-duty-rescue-salvage-unit“New heavy duty rescue-salvage unit now in service at No. 3 Station”



And, lastly, an ad announcing a new section of Hillcrest Memorial Park created exclusively for fire-fighters and their families: “Firemen’s Rest.” This section of the cemetery featured a large marble statue by memorial sculptor Bernhard Zuckermann, which appears to be a copy of the bronze Firemen’s Monument dedicated in City Park in 1903 (the original bronze statue has been relocated to the Dallas Fire-Rescue Training Center on Dolphin Rd.). (See a transcription of the ad’s hard-to-read text here.)


Below, the original monument topped with the bronze likeness of Dallas fireman John Clark (who died fighting a huge East Dallas fire in 1902) honors Dallas firefighters who have died in the line of duty; it was dedicated on Nov. 26, 1903.

firemans-monument_dmn_112703_photoDallas Morning News, Nov. 27, 1903


Sources & Notes

Dallas Fire Fighter magazine (published by the Dallas Fire Fighters Association) found on eBay, here (now sold!).

An interesting article on the Fire House Rhythm Kings band can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives in the article “Firehouse Band Goes Like Blazes” by the always entertaining Kent Biffle (DMN, Dec. 13, 1965)


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Make Dallas the City of Mercy — 1919


by Paula Bosse

This seems to be a nice way to start the new year — by featuring a charitable appeal from a group called The Welfare Council of Dallas, which helped to raise funds annually for organizations in need of monetary assistance from the pubic.

Many are the appeals to our generosity today. Here, however, is our closest and deepest obligation. These represent the charity that begins at home. These are the forces that are driving misery and want from our city — building always a brighter and better future for Dallas.


The following nine groups — all of which aided needy children and families — were the ones chosen in 1919 as organizations which would be part of the city-wide “Welfare Week” appeal (the illustration above and the text below are from a large ad that appeared in Dallas newspapers in October, 1919):

THE UNITED CHARITIES during the last year have ministered to 12,226 individuals; 4,452 visits were made to homes to which their attention had been called; 734 cases for continued relief were opened; 152 such cases from the preceding year were given further aid; 562 destitute wanderers were furnished with homes, food and clothing, and suitable employment found for as many of them as possible; 834 cases of sickness or accident or taking care of, some for periods as long as six months; 116 persons were furnished transportation to their home or to places where their health could be restored ; 85 were aided in gaining admission to State institutions; 55 cases of tuberculosis were given extended relief; 82 wives, deserted by their husbands, and 37 widows with children were given food and shelter until proper arrangements for their care could be made by their relatives.

THE DALLAS GRADUATE NURSES’ BABY CAMP cared for and gave necessary medical and surgical attention to 178 babies during the last year. The mortality was 25, certainly a low figure, considering the uniformly serious nature of the cases treated. The Camp is under the direct charge of three doctors and seven nurses, and no baby is permitted to leave the Camp until permanently cured. The average stay of the little patients is five weeks. Besides the cases treated at the Camp over 100 formulae were furnished to outside cases. The Baby Camp is open to ALL Dallas babies who are in bad health. [Read a history of the Baby Camp here.]

THE DALLAS COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY is the founder and conductor of “Hope Cottage,” a home for illegitimate and deserted babies, where an efficient staff of nurses devote their time to providing these little ones with an opportunity to begin honorable lives. Hope Cottage averages from ten to twenty inmates all the time, as they are kept only until suitable homes for adoption can be found. The placing of orphaned children in private homes is another branch of the work. This agency also investigated 1,390 cases of reported abuses of children; 389 of these investigations were followed by prompt action: 299 homes were visited; 16 children were sent to the Detention Home, and 18 cases of delinquents received attention; 3,246 cases of abuse to dumb animals were investigated. [A similar “shelter for unfortunate women and children” was the Salvation Army’s Neighborhood Home on McKinney Avenue.]

THE DALLAS KINDERGARTEN AND NURSERY ASSOCIATION has conducted four stations during the year – the Clara Chaison Kindergarten at the Neighborhood House on Cedar Springs Road, the South Dallas Kindergarten near Trinity Play Park, the Cora Street Nursery, formerly under the supervision of the City Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Alamo Nursery at Hickory and Alamo streets. The average enrollment at all stations was 205. In connection with each station a day nursery is maintained where mothers with employment may leave their young children from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. An average of fifty mothers take advantage of these nurseries each day, and a bath, wholesome dinner, nap and play constitute the day’s program. [A similar nursery, specifically for the black community, was the Dallas Day Nursery.]

THE INFANTS’ WELFARE AND MILK ASSOCIATION, striving for better health and cleaner living conditions for children, distributed 81,828 pints of milk; visited 7,885 homes; treated 3,489 children in medical and 469 in dental clinics. The nurses at the stations gave treatment to 1,160 cases. In addition to these, 202 prenatal cases were given attention, 31 obstetrical cases disposed of and 80 bacteriological examinations were made. Twenty babies were sent by the Association to the Baby Camp and 14 to the City Hospital, while co-operation was given to other organizations in 724 cases. [From another ad: “Sick babies of many races and creeds, but all future Dallasites, find new health in [these] clinics.” More on milk stations here.]

THE DALLAS STREET AND NEWSBOYS’ CLUB, “Big Brother Work” Headquarters, is the one bright spot in many a young Dallas urchin’s life. The club rooms, at 1907 Jackson street, half inexpensive, though adequate, equipment for sports and games, reading and like activities. There are dormitory rooms for boys temporarily “on their own,” which accommodations can be paid for according to the boy’s ability to pay. A few steps from the building is the back door at the Y.M.C.A., and three times each week the Club descends upon the swimming pool en masse. The directors of the Club do not confine their work to headquarters, however, but look to the welfare of its members at work, play, school and even in their homes. [The life of a newsboy — often an orphan under the age of 10 — was not an easy one.]

ST. MATTHEW’S HOME FOR CHILDREN, by placing its finances for the coming year in the hands of the Welfare Council, adds a valuable and deserving institution to the list of member agencies. Although the property is owned by the Episcopal Church, the managing board is non-sectarian, the Home is absolutely non–sectarian in its activities and no child is excluded on account of its faith or that of its parents. At present the capacity is limited to forty little ones, and any child between the ages of 4 and 12 years may be admitted.

THE DALLAS COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS is the other new member agency. The work done by this organization and developing manhood in boys of all classes of society entitles it to our fullest support. Its influence extends into every home, school, factory and business office in the city. Its nominal dues for membership permit any boy, no matter how poor, to join and take a full share in the activities and benefits of the organization.

THE EMPTY STOCKING CRUSADE is an organization whose year’s activities culminate in providing Christmas cheer – warm clothing, fruit, toys and other tokens of happiness for little ones. It carries cheer into homes of the city to whose children the season of universal good will would otherwise bring nothing, and into the orphanages. Last Christmas 6,902 children were provided for.



Sources & Notes

More on Dallas’ early charitable movements can be found in the article “The Forgotten Frontier: Dallas Women and Social Caring, 1895-1920” by Elizabeth York Enstam (Legacies, Spring, 1989), here.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List: Most Popular Posts of 2018

Coming soon: Munger Place… (photo circa 1905)

by Paula Bosse

Another “best of” list. Today is the final post of 2018 and time to compile the most popular (new) posts of the year, according to readers who have clicked over to read them. And to all you readers who have clicked over to check out the latest look into the history of Dallas: thank you! There is more ahead in 2019!

Here are the most popular Flashback Dallas posts of 2018, starting with the most popular. (To see each full post, click on the title; to see larger images, click on the picture.)


munger-place_worleys-1909-directory1. “MUNGER PLACE, THE EARLY DAYS: 1905-1909”  (March)

This was far and away the most popular post of the year, thanks primarily to a nice shout-out from the hugely popular Facebook page Traces of Texas. Check out all the photos of a very, very early Munger Place, with several showing construction workers alongside their horses and wagons.




This Lakewood Boulevard estate appeared in a 1948 ad for Evervess Sparkling Water. I’m still not sure why it was in the ad, but it was, and because I happened to see that ad, I now know who Ray Hubbard was, what his beautiful house looked like, and what the connection is to Lake Ray Hubbard.



3. “A DRIVE THROUGH DOWNTOWN — 1970”  (September)

This was basically just my piggy-backing on the work of Jeremy Spracklen at SMU’s Jones Film Collection. He alerted me to the wonderful newly-digitized 35mm color film footage in the Dallas Theater Center collection, and I contributed some screen-captures. Click over to watch the footage of everyday life in downtown Dallas in 1970.




One day I was driving up Greenville when I noticed that what had been the rickety remnants of what had once been one of Dallas’ most popular amusement areas and swimming pools was lying in fresh piles of rubble. I stopped and took photos, feeling a little sad for what I had never actually seen photos of when it was in its prime. When I got home, I found photos and even some film footage and felt a twinge of nostalgia for a place I had never known but missed nonetheless.




This post features eight Park Cities houses built before 1914, representing various levels of grandiosity — almost all have been replaced by new, larger homes. My favorite is the very odd concrete house which once stood at Preston and University, a fortress made from local pit-run gravel and cement. At the other end of Preston was the unbelievable H. L. Edwards estate (seen in the thumbnail), which was unnecessarily bulldozed in 2017.


6. “THE ‘BLUE HOUSE’ LIVES”  (April) blue-house_google_july-2016

The continuing saga of one of the last remaining 19th-century houses in The Cedars appears to have ended happily (at least so far): the house was disassembled and moved a few blocks away to its new home. I haven’t seen any photos of the house at its new location — either still in pieces or wholly or partially reassembled — but last I heard, the project seemed to be in good hands. This was a follow-up to my original Jan., 2016 post.


7. “CASA MAGNETICA”  (April) six-flags_casa-magnetica_postcard_flickr

People love posts on Six Flags Over Texas, but people really love posts on Casa Magnetica — the childhood attraction that blew our minds! This one was a lot of fun to write.




This wonderful map — with each building apparently rendered accurately — is just fantastic.


cabana-motor-hotel_portal_postmarked-19679. “THE CABANA MOTOR HOTEL OF DALLAS”  (January)

This once-hip hotel was co-owned by Doris Day’s husband and was, most famously, where the Beatles stayed when they came to town in 1964. The place never quite lived up to its investors’ hopes and has been sold and resold several times. Currently there are plans to revive the faded structure and breathe new life into it.




This place was an Oak Lawn fixture for over 45 years. It reinvented itself several times over the years, and was variously (and sometimes simultaneously) an Italian restaurant (which operated as a private club in order to sell alcohol), a cocktail lounge, a piano bar, a disco and live rock-music venue, a nightclub, a steakhouse, a seafood restaurant, and a Christian dinner-theater — all owned by the Ventura family.


Below are the top 3 all-time most popular Flashback Dallas posts:

  1. “HOW TO ACCESS THE HISTORICAL DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARCHIVE” (July, 2015) In addition to its being the all-time most popular Flashback Dallas post, it was actually also the second most popular post of 2018.
  3. “CARHOPS AS SEX SYMBOLS — 1940” (Feb. 2015)


Sources & Notes

See all three 2018 “Best Of Flashback Dallas” lists here.

See all Flashback Dallas Year-End lists — past and present — here.

Thanks again for reading, and let’s all have a happy 2019!


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List: My Favorite Posts of 2018

dante_wfaa_SMU_2“Dr. Dante” — do not look directly into his eyes…

by Paula Bosse

Another year has zipped by, which means it’s time to foist “best of” lists upon the public. Today, in the second of three “Best of Flashback Dallas, 2018” posts, I choose my personal favorite posts of the year — the things I most enjoyed researching, writing about, and, yes, even reading! I’ve listed them in chronological order, except for the first two, which are my favorite favorites. (Click titles to see original post.)



I think this was destined to be my favorite post of the year from the instant I began  watching the old Ch. 8 news footage, part of the ongoing digitization work being done by the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at Southern Methodist University (the Dallas-history gift that keeps on giving). The only thing SMU knew about the clip was the date it was filmed. Who WAS this strange man telling an outrageous story of being shot at near the Mrs. Baird’s plant in the wee small hours of the night (on orders from Frank Sinatra)? It took some digging, but it was worth it — learning about the notorious hypnotist-slash-fraudster-slash-seventh-husband-of-Lana-Turner was one of the high points of 2018 for me. I absolutely LOVED writing this one.




I wrote about the old interurban and streetcar rails which once ran up and down Matilda in the Lower Greenville neighborhood I grew up in. I feel like I read about this rail line for days and days and days, and I enjoyed all of it. I wish I had known what the interurban was as a child so I could have appreciated how close I lived to an important historical thoroughfare. This post resulted in the arrival of photos sent in by a family friend, showing city crews working on the paving of Matilda; I loved those photos and put them in what I consider the “part 2” of the post linked above: “PAVING MATILDA — 1971.”



3.  “‘ALL THE BEER YOU CAN DRINK IN AN HOUR FOR 60 CENTS’ — 1935”  (January)

I can’t remember if I saw the newsreel footage first or the photograph, but both are great, and it’s always kind of thrilling to see Dallas pop up in old newsreels. I don’t want to say Dallas drinkers in 1935 were lightweights, but only one imbiber came out ahead on the challenge — and he was in Fort Worth.




This photo sent me off on a wild research path: the person who was responsible for this ramshackle collection of buildings (in what is now hipster-haven Trinity Groves) is just the sort of unconventional person you’d hope he’d be.



5.  “‘THE CEDARS’ MATERNITY SANITARIUM, OAK CLIFF — ca. 1923-1944”  (April)

This Oak Cliff home for unwed mothers/”unfortunate women” was just one of the many private hospitals in residential settings where women could live in comfortable seclusion while awaiting the birth of a child. Following the birth, the child would probably be put up for adoption by mothers who felt they had no other socially acceptable option.




Dallas school superintendent Norman Crozier issued a warning to high school students to refrain from pursuing amorous activities in cars parked along deserted country roads — at least while the Barrow Gang was at large — for fear they might run the risk of being caught in deadly crossfire. The “teen angle” on the well-worn Bonnie and Clyde saga.




I spent a crazy amount of time researching this place — which I had never heard of until I came across the piece of ephemera seen below, which was collecting dust, packed away in a relative’s belongings. In fact, I spent so much time reading about the Italian Village (and its later incarnations) that I now feel as if the extended Ventura family and I should be spending holidays together.




I’m glad I missed this panicky era, but I have to say, it was pretty interesting to learn about … from a distance.




It was only in recent years that I heard the name “Santos Rodriguez,” and even then I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. The story of a handcuffed 12-year-old boy shot in the head by a Russian-roulette-playing police officer in Dallas’ Little Mexico neighborhood is both tragic and infuriating; it was also the impetus that spurred political activism and a demand for social justice within the Hispanic community. Everyone should know this story. I spread my telling of it over two posts, both of which contain as-the-aftermath-was-unfolding news footage, which helps to make the 45-year-old event feel immediate and “real,” especially to those of us who did not experience it first-hand. I owe a lot to Jeremy Spracklen of SMU’s Jones Film Collection for providing me with amazing film footage of this shocking moment in Dallas’ history.




10.  “DALLAS IN ‘THE WESTERN ARCHITECT,’ 1914” (7 separate posts) (August)

This series of posts just about killed me. I had no idea when I started that I would end up writing mini-histories of over 50 buildings and houses, and that what I originally thought might be three posts (which would have been a lot) ended up spreading over seven. *I* was getting tired of the whole thing, and I worried that readers themselves would, quite reasonably, grow weary of it as well — but people seemed to like it. The photos were really great, and once I started, I couldn’t stop until I got through the whole thing. Even though it was fairly exhausting, I probably learned more about Dallas’ important early-20th-century buildings and houses by dragging myself through this slog than by approaching the subject in a more easily-digestible manner. Immersion learning! The two greatest take-away words I have from this laborious experience which capture this period of Dallas’ astronomical growth more than any others: “Lang” and “Witchell.”



11.  “OAK CLIFF: ‘A CITY WITHIN A CITY’ — 1929”  (September)

This look at a gem of a little promotional booklet touting the wonders of Oak Cliff’s business climate was packed with really, really great photos I’d never seen.



12.  “A DRIVE THROUGH DOWNTOWN — 1970”  (September)

Basically all this post consists of are screen-captures from spectacularly clean 35mm color film footage shot around downtown Dallas under the auspices of the Dallas Theater Center in 1970 and recently digitized by SMU. (I keep meaning to get around to writing about this DTC project but 1.) I’m a huge procrastinator, and 2.) I keep hoping the ever-fabulous Jeremy Spracklen will continue to find more and more footage. I will write about this one day, though!) But really, it’s all about the film, which captures downtown in a delightful little color time-capsule — and that film is embedded in this very popular post.



13.  “LIFE ON HALL STREET — 1947”  (October)

One of the things that frustrates me most in writing this blog is the difficulty in finding historical photos of everyday life in Dallas’ black and Hispanic neighborhoods. (If anyone reading this has access to great photos of these neighborhoods, please contact me!) I’ve always loved vintage advertisements, because not only do they feature styles and fashions and products of the past which are inherently interesting, they also often allow us a window into social and cultural history. When I come across old ads targeted specifically to, say, Dallas’ African-American community — especially those with photographs — I get pretty excited. Several such ads are in this post, and they’re great.




The task: find an image from each decade of the SFOT’s history from the 1880s to the 1980s. Not a problem! That well will never run dry.




I really loved writing this.




I was pretty thrilled to be invited to write a Dallas-history article for D Magazine’s “Lost Dallas” issue this past February (I wrote a short piece for the print-edition of the magazine, and a longer version which appeared on the magazine’s website). I wrote about a competition involving diving/jumping from a bridge into the Trinity River in 1897. It was a pretty big deal at the time, attracting thousands of spectators. The very idea for the event was unusual — especially if you’ve seen what the Trinity looks like unless it’s at flood-stage — but what drew me to the story was the wonderful, very funny color-commentary written by an un-bylined reporter for The Dallas Morning News. I loved writing about this and trying to imagine what such an odd event must have been like back in 1897, when one’s entertainment options were somewhat limited. The piece I wrote for D Magazine is here, and an accompanying post I wrote with additional historical background (including the original line drawings of the participants which appeared in The News, as well as photos and a map) is in the post linked above.




I never get tired of researching and writing about all aspects of Dallas’ history — both well-known and forgotten, important and trivial, serious and ridiculous. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.


Sources & Notes

See all three 2018 “Best of Flashback Dallas” lists here.

See all Flashback Dallas Year-End lists — past and present — here.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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