Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Summer Rerun: Street Life Around Neiman’s — ca. 1920

6-ervayNewsboy racing down Ervay…

by Paula Bosse

The image above is a small detail from a photo of the Neiman-Marcus building at Main and Ervay — the streets and sidewalks around the store are crammed with people and traffic. This is one of my all-time personal favorite posts, originally posted all the way back in the first months of Flashback Dallas, in May 2014. Check out other wonderful “hidden” glimpses (as well as the equally wonderful original photograph from SMU’s DeGolyer Library) in the post “‘There Are Eight Million Stories in the Naked City…” — ca. 1920.”

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Elks-a-Plenty — 1908

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Begirt with ruffles and studded with elks…

by Paula Bosse

Conventions have always been important to Dallas. One of the most important conventions ever to descend upon the city was the annual convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in July 1908. There were approximately 38,000 attendees, but when you added to that number spouses and various others with business, social, or just looky-loo interests, it was estimated that more than 100,00 out-of-towners clogged the streets of our fair burg during the time of the convention. Dallas was a sizeable city in 1908, but the sudden swarming into town of 100,000 people (twice the actual population of the city!) must have been… challenging. (And profitable!)

Dallas welcomed the Elks with enthusiasm and open arms. Everyone knew they were coming, and everywhere there were splashes of the Elk colors, purple and white. A special (and later notorious) semi-permanent arch was erected to span Main Street at Akard. And businesses competed with one another to see who could decorate their building with the most spectacular and festive bunting.

Above is a photo of the Dallas Morning News Building at the northwest corner of Commerce and Lamar, crammed full of flags, bunting, pennants, cowbells, lights, little statues of elks, medium-sized statues of elks, and large statues of elks. (There is an elk in every window.) It also had a large clock erected which was perpetually stuck at an Elk-y 11:00 and a parallelogram-shaped sign which lit up to flash the Elk greeting “Hello, Bill!” So… a lot. But what might seem like overkill — like The News was trying a little too hard to be noticed… the Elks loved it. LOVED IT. They loved it so much that they awarded the newspaper an award of $250 for the best decorated building in the city (that would be about $8,000 in today’s money!). Scroll down to read a breathless description of these decorations, with details of absolutely everything that was flapping, clanging, flashing, billowing, and throbbing at Commerce and Lamar in the summer of 1908. (I have to put this sentence from the article here because I love it so much: “To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle.”)

So, those elk statues. I mean… they’re fantastic. Little elks in every window, illuminated by a single electric bulb positioned “between the forefeet” of each mini-elk. And then there are the larger ones appearing to step out of — or off of — the building. But back to those little elks — are you wondering what happened to them after the conventioneers headed back home? Wonder no more!

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Dallas Morning News, July 18, 1908

That would have been a great souvenir!

The photo at the top of this post (by Frank B. Secrest of Hunt County) was issued that summer as a postcard. The News did not miss an opportunity to mention it:

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DMN, Aug. 7, 1908

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And because I love to zoom in on these sorts of photos, here are a few magnified details:

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Here is a lengthy description of the decorations, from The Dallas Morning News — direct from the horse’s mouth:

To decorate The News Building in celebration of the coming of the Elks has been the labor of two men for more than a month, and of a dozen for two days: for, though it was only three days ago that the first bit of color appeared on the outer walls, the preparations were begun in the seclusion of a workshop early in June. The draping of the building with bunting and flags was done under the direction of W. T. Senter of the National Decorating Company of St. Louis, and of Edward A. Gebhard, librarian of The News. In working out their scheme they have used 4,200 yards of bunting, purple, white and purple, and twenty-four immense flags, and disposed of it in such artistic fashion as to avoid a sense of crowding.

PURPLE, WHITE AND PURPLE RUFFLES

The building is thrice begirt with big ruffles of purple, white and purple. But, to begin at the topmost, three large flags, one the United States, another the Texas and the other The News’ flag, float high above the Lamar street side of the building. To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle. From one to the other of the flagstaffs hundreds of small pennants in the colors of the Elks flutter gayly in the breeze. Festooned from the heavy cornice which crowns the building are heavy folds of purple, white and purple so arranged that with every vagrant breeze it swells and sinks like the surface of water. Once on the Lamar street side, over the entrance, again at the corner and once on the Commerce street side this bunting is gathered around an immense United States flag, fashioned fan-shape. Poised on the cornice of the building at the corner, as if surveying the land preparatory of a leap, is the graceful figure of an elk, five and a half feet high, made out of plaster of Paris, painted and enameled until he glistens.

The two lower ledges of the building are draped in similar fashion, except that the streamers at these places are narrower than those that festoon the cornice. Above the main entrance on the Lamar street side and extending from below the second story to the third-story ledge is the piece de resistance. Here set in an embrasure of the building, is a clock dial twelve feet in diameter. The gilt letters marking the divisions of the circle are two feet high. The hands point to the hour of 11. The pure white head and shoulders of an elk seven feet high are shown in the center one foot forward, as if he were about to emerge from the fluffy mass of purple and white bunting that forms the background dial. On each side an immense flag is gathered in a way to make it fan-shaped. Circling the clock dial are six large incandescent lights.

WHOLE HERD OF ELKS

From the third-story corner of the building, above which stands a five and one-half foot Elk, as if surveying the country from a precipice, are festooned two twelve-foot flags that fall almost to the second-story ledge of the building. One is gathered around on the Commerce and the other on the Lamar street side. And there yet remains to speak of the most distinctive feature of the whole scheme of decoration. The News, in preparation for this event, had made a whole herd of elks. There are forty-two of them, each thirty-two inches tall, and one, mounted on a pedestal, stands poised from the ledge of every window in the building. They are pure white, made of plaster Paris, painted twice and then enameled. Between the forefeet of every one is an electric bulb. The elks are from models designed by Mr. Gebhard and were cast in The News Building.

BRILLIANT ILLUMINATION

Of course the whole building is brilliantly lighted. In addition to the electricity used ordinarily, which lights the exterior of The News Building pretty well, bulbs have been studded profusely midst the decorations and over the Lamar street entrance is a parallelogram of electric lights which illuminate the sign, “Hello, Bill!”

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The article then launches into more self-promotion, with an, admittedly, interesting description of the layout of the News Building:

ATTRACTS GENERAL ATTENTION

The building of The News attracted general attention from the thousands of visiting Elks. Many expressed their surprise that a city the size of Dallas had such a complete, modern building and equipment, and the compliments concerning The News as a newspaper have been very pleasing.

The News Building has all the modern fireproof features. It occupies a space of 300×100, having three floors and a basement, the whole being used by the newspaper. Its business office is one of the handsomest in the State, and, as one visitor remarked, it looks more like a prosperous bank than the ordinary newspaper office.

The first floor is given up to the business and circulation departments, the press room and the mailing department. In the basement are the paper storage rooms and the power department. On the second floor are the editorial rooms, telegraph rooms and the general circulation department and the newspaper job department, besides the Employes’ Library and Recreation Room. On the third floor are the composing and the linotype rooms, the stereotype room and the engraving department.

INDIVIDUAL ELECTRIC MOTORS

Every piece of machinery in the house is operated by its own individual electric motor. Power is supplied from two immense engines and generators combined, the engine room being one of the show places in the building, having a metal ceiling and white glazed brick on the walls, with a cement floor. The press room contains two three-deck presses, one quadruple press and one sextuple press.

TWO DAILY NEWSPAPERS

The Dallas News is the offspring of The Galveston News, which was established in 1842. The two papers are under the same management. The publication offices of The News, Galveston and Dallas, 315 miles apart, are connected by special wires for interchange of news matter. The Galveston paper supplies the southern part of the State and the Louisiana border, while the other covers all North Texas and goes well into Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

THREE SPECIAL TRAINS

For upward of a quarter of a century the two papers have operated at their own expense, every day in the year, three special newspaper trains, one running Galveston to Houston, one Dallas to Denison and the third Dallas to Fort Worth. The Dallas News covers hundreds of thriving towns throughout its territory, many of them before breakfast time, through its unrivaled facilities of distribution. Starting in 1885, The Dallas News has been a continuous success, and has achieved an enviable reputation wherever American newspapers are known. As an advertising medium it is in a class by itself so far as papers in this section of the country are concerned. Starting at 1885 with thirty-three classified ads in its Sunday issue, it now runs each Sunday about 2,000. It is a success because it is enterprising and because it is clean, both in its news columns and in its advertising columns; because it is fair-minded and because its efforts have always been uplifting from a moral and intellectual standpoint and fair to every interest.

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And then it launches into many, many testimonials from Elk visitors on how much they love the decorations. This is the first. You get the idea.

J. T. McNulty of Baltimore, grand trustee of the Elks, prominent in National circles of the Knights of Columbus and a central figure in the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, who has traveled largely and visited every State in the Union, being prominent in business and political circles said: “I have been to many conventions, my son, and have seen many decorations, but the one at The News plant, in my estimation ‘takes the cake,’ figuratively and literally speaking. It is the most unique, the most artistic and the most beautiful I have ever seen in all my attendance at conventions in this country, and I have attended many of them. I was agreeably surprised at the way Dallas has decorated, but nothing gave me such a shock of pleasurable surprise as the first sight I had of The News’ decorations.”

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And this is the dark and grainy photo that ran with the article:

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DMN, July 15, 1908

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I kinda want an elk statue now. Also, according to the article, I now know the Morning News has its own flag. Can someone point me to more info?

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “[The News, First Prize for Decorations, Dallas, Texas]” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photograph (postcard) can be found here.

Lengthy quote is from the article “Dallas News Building Decorated In Honor of the Elk’s Grand Lodge Which Is Now Holding Its Annual Session and Grand Jubilee in This City,” The Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1908.

More Elks-related Flashback Dallas posts:

And more photos of this beautiful Dallas News Building can be found in these posts:

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Fountain: “A Resort for Gentlemen” — ca. 1911

by Paula Bosse

This postcard (which has a 1911 postmark) shows The Fountain, a well-appointed drinking establishment (not lacking in ceiling fans). The caption reads:

Meet me at the Fountain, a Resort for Gentlemen, 1518 Main Street, Dallas, Texas.
John H. Senchal, Propr.
Don’t fail to see the Greatest Fair on Earth at Dallas, Texas.

This bar-with-food was located on the south side of Main, steps away from the present location of Neiman Marcus. It was in the block seen in the picture below (it is just out of frame at the bottom right, next door to the Colonial Theater):

Main Street looking east from Akard

Its address was originally 350 Main — after the city-wide address change in 1911, it became 1518 Main. It appears to have opened in 1907 and was in business until at least 1918 (after Dallas voted to go “dry,” the former saloon became The Fountain Cafe). Here are a few early ads for the “High-Class Stags’ Cafe” in its early go-go “gentlemen’s resort” days: 

Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1907

Dallas directory, 1909

Dallas Police annual, 1910

A few years later, the owner, John Henry Senchal, opened Senchal’s Buffet and Senchal’s Restaurant and Rathskeller at 1614-1618 Main.

Dallas directory, 1915

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Johnnie Senchal — born in Galveston in 1875 to a French father and American mother — appears to have been a popular, civic-minded man’s-man. He frequently traveled with Dallas businessmen to other cities and states to act as a booster for the city. He also indulged in sporty activities such as being a regular wrestling referee and sponsoring horse races at the State Fair of Texas (in 1914 a $2,000 “Fountain Purse” was offered — in today’s money, more than $56,000!). One 1915 newspaper report said he was “probably the best known saloon man in the city.” He was very successful and was not hurting for money.

He also seems to have had a cozy relationship with members of the Dallas police department — a situation which is probably commonplace between saloon-owners and cops. One news story described how he had leapt to the defense of a policeman who was waylaid by a large group of men while he was walking prisoners to jail — a huge brawl broke out, and Senchal and the cop emerged victorious. Also — in a story which wasn’t fully explained — Senchal and another man ponied up $5,000 in bond money ($140,000 in today’s money!) for a Dallas policeman who was charged in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old, Those are some strong ties between a saloonkeeper and the local constabulary, man.

In 1912 there was another confusing story concerning a man who had been arrested and convicted for being the owner/lessee/tenant of an establishment which was “knowingly permitted to be used as a place in which prostitutes resorted and resided for the purpose of plying their vocation. […] The house was a ‘disorderly house.’ Prostitutes resorted there and displayed themselves in almost a nude condition.” The man who was charged was seen there on a number of occasions “dancing with the prostitutes.” The man appealed his conviction because he had been charged with being the owner/lessee/tenant of this “bawdy house” — but the lessee/tenant was none other than Johnnie Senchal and another man. As far as I can tell, Senchal was not charged with anything regarding this case. 

But a couple of years later, in 1914, he was charged with running a “disorderly house” (a term often meaning a bordello or gambling den, but also meaning a place which is frequently the site of disturbances and is generally considered to be a public nuisance). It seems Johnnie and other were offering “cabaret” entertainment which might gotten out of hand. From The Dallas Morning News:

Alleging that the cabarets are conducted as “disorderly houses,” [charges were filed] on behalf of the State of Texas against owners of three restaurants in the downtown section. Affidavits accompanying the petitions alleged that women were allowed to drink at the places and to act in an unbecoming manner. (DMN, March 12, 1915)

I’m not sure exactly what constituted “an unbecoming manner,” but Johnnie Senchal was one of the men charged. At the very same time he was fighting this violation of the cabaret ordinance, it was reported that “an involuntary petition in bankruptcy has been filed in the United States court here against John Senchal and J. O. Walker, partners in the saloon business on Main Street. The petition was filed by local brewery agents and whisky houses” (DMN, June 20, 1915). Bankrupt! Even though he was apparently rolling in dough for years, he was rather ironically pushed to bankruptcy because he couldn’t pay his own bar tab.

And so Johnnie put the barkeeper’s life behind him. And I mean he REALLY put it behind him: he became a fervent speaker at Anti-Saloon League events, saying that having been forced out of the saloon game was actually a godsend — he was quoted as saying that his profits increased 75-80% when he stopped selling alcohol and became a full-time restaurateur. That seems unlikely, but that’s where he was in 1918, an improbable evangelist for Prohibition. 

Soon after, he and his family moved to Houston, where he opened a small cafe. On Oct. 9, 1929, after closing-time, Johnnie Senchal died in his cafe from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 54 years old.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard of The Fountain found on eBay.

Postcard of Main Street found on Flickr.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Summer Rerun: Once-Beautiful South Ervay Street

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by Paula Bosse

No new post this week, I’m afraid. But here’s a nice old one, plucked from the archives: “Beautiful South Ervay Street — ca. 1910.”

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Claes Oldenburg in Dallas — 1962

oldenburg-claes_dallas-museum-for-conteporary-arts_april-1962_WFAA_jones-film_SMU_postersClaes Oldenburg at the DMCA, April, 1962 (WFAA Collection, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

Claes Oldenburg, the Swedish-born American sculptor, died this week at the age of 93. Among his connections to Texas are two of my favorite Oldenburg pieces: the fabulous “Monument to the Last Horse,” a permanent fixture of Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation in Marfa which he created with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, and the much-missed “Stake Hitch,” a site-specific work commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art (installed in the brand-new DMA in 1984, and, sadly, de-installed in 2002 after a nasty contretemps between Oldenburg and the museum).

Oldenburg’s first visit to Dallas was in April, 1962, at a time when he was known mainly to NYC art-world hipsters — well before he had achieved anything approaching his later international acclaim. He came to Dallas to present “The Store,” a pop art installation which was part of the group show “1961” at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts (the DMCA, was merged with/absorbed by what is now the Dallas Museum of Art in 1963). While Oldenburg was in Dallas exhibiting “The Store” (comprised of 45 individual works, the placement of which he re-created from the original December, 1961 run in Manhattan), he also presented “Injun,” the first-ever “happening” held outside New York or Los Angeles and the first such interactive event commissioned by a museum (Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Theater performance-art “happenings” were much talked about and had gained a cult following in New York, and having him in Dallas to present a “happening” was a definite “get” for the DMCA).

“The Store” and “Injun” — and Claes Oldenburg himself — were very un-Dallas. The reception Oldenburg received from Dallas’ followers of edgier contemporary art appears to have been positive, but his work was handily dismissed by Dallas Morning News art critic Rual Askew, who, invoking the “royal we,” wrote this rather laborious sentence:

Claes Oldenburg’s ‘The Store,’ a painted-plaster waste of time in our view, has interest as assembled pattern with carnival colors at a considerable distance perhaps, but displaces space out of all proportion to aesthetic experience. (DMN, April 15, 1962)

As I work with the WFAA Collection (held by the G. William Jones Collection at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library), I was pretty excited when film footage popped up a couple of years ago showing Oldenburg and his first wife, Patty Mucha (who collaborated with Oldenburg and helped with the making of many of the art pieces), at the DMCA on Cedar Springs, a place I’d heard about for several years but had never seen an image of. The Oldenburgs are seen walking into the DMCA, tinkering with the installation before the show opened, inspecting the store’s “foods” and other “merchandise,” and playfully “playing store” and exchanging imaginary cash at his “cash register.” Sadly, there is no sound for the one-minute-45-second film, but — being an art history major (that always sounds pretentious…) — I really, really love this. A young, happy Claes Oldenburg and his moth-eaten sweater, here in Dallas, in the early years of his what would become an artistically important career.

I have been meaning to write this post since I first saw the WFAA footage two years ago. I’m sorry that it’s taken the death of the artist to finally get me to do it. RIP, Claes.

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UPDATE: Morgan Gieringer, Head of UNT Special Collections, alerted me to a WBAP-Channel 5 news script they have in their collection which describes much the same sort of thing that is going on in the WFAA-Channel 8 film above. In the script, Oldenburg discusses some of the pieces — read the two pages here. (The Ch. 5 report was filmed on March 29, 1962, which could be the same date at the Ch. 8 footage.)

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“The Store” at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, 1962 — in vivid color:

oldenburg-claes_the-store_DMCA_1962_DMAvia Dallas Museum of Art

via Dallas Museum of Art

1961_claes-oldenburg_catalog_DMCA_1962_injun“1961” catalogue, via DMA/Portal to Texas History

Screenshots from the WFAA footage, showing Oldenburg and his wife, Patty (who worked alongside her husband and was a frequent participant in the “happenings”) preparing “The Store” for its opening at the DMCA.

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Sources & Notes

Top image (and all other black-and-white images) are screenshots from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the footage was filmed in early April, 1962; the clip may be viewed on YouTube, here.

The color photograph of “The Store” and the poster for “Injun” are both from a publication of the Dallas Museum of Art, here.

Other Oldenburg-related sources:

  • The “1961” exhibition catalogue — this group show featured heavy-hitting up-and-comers such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, James Rosenquist, Joseph Albers, Morris Louis, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, and Richard Diebenkorn — see the fully scanned Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts catalogue here, via the Dallas Museum of Art Exhibition Records, Portal to Texas History
  • Candid photos from the “Injun” performance can be seen here
  • See several great photos of Oldenburg taken during the installation of “Stake Hitch” in 1984, in a DMA Bulletin here, here, here, and here
  • Watch a short video about “The Store” when it was restaged at the Museum of Modern Art in 2013, with comments on the pieces by Oldenburg; see what the pieces shown in the 1962 black-and-white film made in Dallas looked like 51 years later, in color, in the MoMA video, here

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Summer Rerun: ICE! — 1890s

dallas-ice-factory_dallas-observer_ebayIce…

by Paula Bosse

It wasn’t quite as hot today as it was when I wrote “Dallas Ice Factory” in 2018. But it was close. Stay cool, y’all. Close the blinds, draw the curtains. Wish for the quick arrival of September October November.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

S. Mayer’s Summer Garden, Est. 1881

mayers-garden_DPL_1885Roll out the barrel… (collection Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the 4th of July. I had these two articles stuffed into bulging digital files:

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Dallas Herald, July 4, 1882

4th-of-july_dallas-herald_070384_mayer-gardensDallas Herald, July 3, 1884

I had seen the photo of Mayer’s beer garden posted above, but I didn’t really know anything about it.

Simon Mayer (1843-1924) was born in Germany/Prussia and came to the United States in 1866, first settling in Milwaukee. He came to Texas in 1869 where, as his obituary in The Dallas Morning News says, “he owned and operated the first brewery established in Fort Worth.” He moved to Dallas in 1871 and entered into business with pioneer Dallas brewer Charles Meisterhans. 

In December, 1881 he opened what would become one of Dallas’ foremost gathering places, Mayer’s Summer Garden. He built a 3-story-plus-basement building (at what would later be 1601-1603 Elm Street) and added a charming outdoor beer garden. It stood on the north side of Elm and looked directly down Stone Street (now Stone Plaza) toward Main. You can see it on an 1885 Sanborn map here.

A 3-story building in Dallas in 1881 was nothing to sneeze at. He was putting a lot of money into it, and people were interested in its progress. The opening was touted in the paper for several months (click articles to see larger images):

mayers_dallas-herald_090181_constructionDallas Herald, Sept. 1, 1881

From the above article: “Mr. Mayer proposes to have a garden where gentlemen can take ladies and enjoy a glass of beer or wine in a quiet way, without coming into contact with the rough class that frequent beer gardens. No improper characters will be tolerated. There will be music but no dancing.”

mayers_dallas-herald_120981_to-openDallas Herald, Dec. 1, 1881

Finally. the opening was about to happen: “the grandest blow-out ever witnessed in Dallas” was promised (who knew “blow-out” was a term used in 1881?):

mayers_dallas-herald_121081_to-open_blow-outDallas Herald, Dec. 10, 1881

Over a thousand curious and thirsty Dallasites turned out.

mayers_dallas-herald_121181_grand-openingDallas Herald, Dec. 11, 1881

mayer_dallas-herald_121381_adDallas Herald, Dec. 13, 1881

(Don’t know what “drummers” are? Check it out.)

You might have noticed mention of zoological specimens. Yes, not only did this establishment offer a beer garden, a meeting hall, a hotel, a restaurant, a saloon, a performance space, and a lecture hall, it also had lots of animals in (and out of) cages — Dallas’ first zoo. He had alligators, birds, lions, eagles, prairie dogs, a Gila monster, a bear, and a pet crow. And a lot more. The bear escaped at least once — it wandered down the street and bit a guy who was making a commotion about a bear wandering down the street. But the bear was fairly easily recaptured and was waltzed back home along Elm Street without further incident. (Apparently, Mayer was a taxidermist by trade. One wonders how many of these creatures ended up stuffed and mounted and displayed in Herr Mayer’s home.)

People flocked to the Summer Garden. They loved the outdoor beer garden with its trees and fountains and performing bands. …And alligators. Below is a, sadly, washed-out circa-1885 image of Mayer’s garden. It actually seems fairly cosmopolitan for a Texas city in the 19th century. (Although, on the other side of the trees at the right was a livery stable and a wagon yard, so I would assume the jovial tippling, socializing, and oom-pah music was accompanied by unpleasant smells that were hard to ignore.)

mayers-summer-garden_1885_degolyer-library_SMUMayer’s Garden, circa 1885 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

Mayer’s was one of the first businesses in Dallas (or, according to lore, THE first) to have electric lights — lights were switched on to great fanfare in August of 1882. Before that, Mayer utilized an interesting lighting technique I had never heard about: “Mr. Mayer had the latest thing in kerosene lamps. An attachment to the lamp sprayed kerosene on the blaze, making it much brighter” (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 14, 1924). (Perhaps the bear had escaped in fear for his life!)

Mayer eventually closed his very popular business sometime in the 1890s after being unable to fight the “Sunday-closing” laws which forced him to close on his most profitable day of the week. By 1901, he placed the ad below and was selling the building.

mayers_dmn_112401_property-for-saleNov. 24, 1901

I’m not sure when the building was demolished — probably in the ’20s or ’30s. I just found a photo of the building as it looked about the time Mayer sold it (it was the Clifton Hotel for a while).

mayers_clifton-hotel_ca-1900_cook-coll_degolyer-library_SMU_cropped
No more garden, ca. 1900 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

The beer-garden era had ended. There were several in Dallas in the 1880s and 1890s, but Simon Mayer’s was perhaps the creme-de-la-creme. I mean, he had an eagle!

mayers-garden_icollector-comvia iCollector

mayers-garden_token_ebayvia eBay

mayers-garden_dmn_091424

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — “[Mayer’s Beer Garden, Dallas, Texas”] — is from the Dallas Public Library (Call Number PA87-1/19-27-1).

The photo of the “garden” is titled “Mayer’s Summer Garden on Elm and Stone, 1885,” and it is from the Collection of Dallas Morning News negatives and copy photographs, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — more info can be found here. (There is another photo of the garden in this collection — it’s really hard to make out clearly, but I swear I see an alligator int he foreground. And maybe some other zoological specimens out of their cages. …Or not. It’s here.)

The photo showing Mayer’s building in about 1900 has been cropped from “[Elm Street between Stone and Ervay Streets].” which is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — see the full photo here.

All articles and ads are from The Dallas Herald, editions of which are scanned in their entirety and can be found at the Portal to Texas History, here — thank you, University of North Texas!

A lot of colorful info can be found in Mayer’s obituary in the Dallas Morning News archives: “Simon Mayer, Early Dallas Entertainer — Death of Pioneer Brewer Recalls Pleasure Garden He Founded” (DMN, Sept. 14, 1924).

mayers-garden_DPL_1885_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Summer Rerun: “Melons On Ice”

wiley-grocery_1890s_haskins-coll_utaIce-cold watermelon beckons….

by Paula Bosse

It’s hot. An ice-cold slice of watermelon sounds great. The above photo is one of my all-time favorites, from the 2016 Flashback Dallas post “‘Melons On Ice’ — 1890s.” Enjoy the flashback Flashback!

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Sources & Notes

This photo is from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, here.

wiley-grocery_1890s_haskins-coll_uta_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The DALLASOUND — 1971

dallasound_1971_amazon
Staight outta Big D…

by Paula Bosse

The Boston Symphony Orchestra had Arthur Fiedler and its popular-music offshoot, The Boston Pops. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra had Anshel Brusilow and The Dallasound. 

Brusilow, a Philadelphia native, came to Dallas in 1970 as the resident conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The DSO was in financial straits at the time, so in a bid to increase the orchestra’s demographic reach, Brusilow borrowed Fiedler’s idea and formed his own “pops” orchestra, which played jazzy arrangements of pop songs and light classical music. He named this sideline project “The Dallasound.” It was very popular, but it didn’t improve the financial problems of the DSO, and Brusilow was gone after only 3 years. He then went on to accept a teaching a position at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas). After 9 years at UNT, he began teaching at SMU’s Meadow School of the Arts in 1983. Brusilow died in 2018 — he spent the last 48 years of his life in Dallas.

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Here are the liner notes for the Dallasound album (1971):

THE DALLAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

One of America’s oldest orchestras, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1900. Through the years, it has served its community and the entire North Texas area with the finest in music from the greatest composers the world has known. From a modest beginning — with 35 members giving a handful of concerts a season — the Dallas Symphony Orchestra currently has 85 members and performs more than 160 concerts each season. Its membership would comprise a “Who’s Who” of some of the finest artists in the world.

With its reputation for the classics well-established, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra now adds another brilliant facet to its already illustrious history — the DALLASOUND — a new sound and a new concept in music making. A big band sound incorporating the latest and most exciting modern-day pop sounds – special arrangements of tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Jim Webb and many others.

Featured as special guest artists on the first recording on the DALLASOUND Label are three outstanding jazz musicians from the Dallas area — Paul Guerrero on drums, Jack Petersen on guitar and Al “Little Al” Wesar on Fender bass. Arrangements are by one of the most gifted arrangers in the business — Wilfred Holcombe of Trenton, New Jersey. Not just stock orchestral arrangements, but the swingingest, rockingest big band arrangements around! Settle back and listen to some of the most exciting music you will ever hear made by a symphony orchestra!

ANSHEL BRUSILOW

Like many of the world’s great violinist/conductors, Anshel Brusilow laid aside his Stradivarius several years ago and took baton in hand in earnest. His extensive performing and conducting experience with three of the world’s greatest conductors — Eugene Ormandy, George Szell and Pierre Monteux — placed him in good stead on the podium. He came to Dallas after two extremely busy years and more than 300 concerts with the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia, including five recordings with RCA Victor.

With him he brought the DALLASOUND and a new era for Dallas’s symphony orchestra. Completely at home with the standard symphonic fare, he is equally proficient when ” swinging” with the DALLASOUND. Thousands of Dallasites have been converted to the new sound a symphony orchestra can make, a fact which substantiates Anshel Brusilow’s theory that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra belongs to all the people of a community and must therefore serve them in as many ways as it can. Thanks to Anshel Brusilow, the Dallas Symphony embarks on a new direction in music — the DALLASOUND!

The album’s musical offerings included arrangements of George Harrison’s “Something” and “My Sweet Lord,” The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” and “Delilah,” and everyone’s favorite ubiquitous weird song from the late ’60s, “MacArthur Park.”

dallasound_back-cover_amazon_brusilowAnshel Brusilow

dallasound_back-cover_amazon_det

dallasound_back-cover_amazon_logo

dallasound_030771_adTitche’s ad, March, 1971

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Sources & Notes

Images from the front and back cover of the DALLASOUND album were found on Amazon, here.

A really good interview with Anshel Brusilow can be found in the “High Profile” article by Marty Primeau (Dallas Morning News, July 17, 1983).

dallasound_1971_amazon_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Autos, Autos Everywhere, and Not a Place to Park — 1971

cabell-fed-bldg_flickr_wayne-hsieh
Earle Cabell Federal Bldg. / Wayne Hsieh, Flickr

by Paula Bosse

The other day I was looking for some information on the 1971 opening of the new 16-story Federal Center at 1100 Commerce Street (the name was changed to the Earle Cabell Federal Building in late 1973 to honor the former Dallas mayor and U.S. congressman). I came across the Dallas Morning News article “Center Augments Parking Woes” by Earl Golz (DMN, Jan. 12, 1971) which had a couple of surprising tidbits. The new federal building — which was expected to be occupied by more than 5,000 workers — had a grand total of 59 underground parking spaces. …Fifty-nine. FIVE-NINE. Let that sink in. This was a brand-new building. It’s not like they squeezed those pitifully few parking spaces under an existing building. This was in the plans. That’s a lot of car-pooling.

Three years earlier, in 1968, One Main Place opened at 1201 Main — it was more than twice as big as the Federal Building. When it opened, it was noted that there were 800 underground spaces (with a planned-but-never-realized massive underground parking garage for 4,000 cars, to go along with the never-realized Two Main Place and Three Main Place complex). But, somehow, by 1971, One Main Place’s parking had decreased to a mere 400 spaces, all of which were completely filled daily. I have images of panicky office workers constantly circling blocks in search of a place to park. Stories were rampant that parking-lot attendants were reserving weekly and monthly spaces in pay lots for exorbitant under-the-table cash transactions. 

How did this happen? Who would design such large modern buildings with such woefully inadequate parking? Were “interested parties” strong-arming architects or city planners to skimp on the parking? Is there such a thing as a big “parking-lot lobby”? (What am I saying? I’m sure there is.) Ever wonder why Dallas kept tearing buildings down in the early ’70s and replacing them with pay parking lots? I’m sure there were many reasons, but I saw more than one newspaper mention that parking lots (not garages, mind you — just lots) could be more profitable than aging buildings. It’s always seemed odd to me that there were (are) so many surface parking lots downtown, rather than multi-story garages. Imagine how much more money parking lot operators would be making with garages. Not that multi-story garages are in any way more desirable, aesthetically, but why didn’t land developers build garages which could accommodate so many more paying customers than these puny little lots? Some lot operators insisted that it benefitted everyone to have these lots — insisting that the buildings which once stood on the land were old and ugly eyesores which needed to be torn down, and that these lots were basically just placeholders until a fat-cat developer forked over multi-millions to build something tall and beautiful on it.

Was the lack of underground spaces in these two new buildings intentional? This would have been a weird way to force people to use public transportation. It might even have been a bit of strain on public transportation — the Dallas Transit System was already losing the fight against car-culture and downtown workers who lived in suburbia.

In the early ’70s, Dallas and Fort Worth were both experiencing a severe lack of downtown parking. In 1970 there had been a major excavation to build underground parking below the Old Red Courthouse — it was probably helpful, but it was just a band-aid on a much bigger problem.

A few of the proposals to deal with these parking woes:

  • Dissuade people from bringing their cars downtown by significantly raising fees for parking lots and parking meters and to cut the time limit for parking (quickly approved by the City Council)
  • Build satellite lots outside the Central Business District where people could park and then bus into town (“Park and Ride” stations began, shakily, in 1973)
  • Imagine the use of “people-movers” in varying degrees of sci-fi futurism

As far as “people-movers,” there were several automated transportation systems on drawing boards around the country at the time, a couple of which were being developed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There was the electrically powered monorail-like AirTrans — a joint project of Vought Aeronautics of Dallas and Varo Inc. of Garland — and there was the similar but less well-known Sky-Kar of Fort Worth. AirTrans was very successful and was first adopted by DFW Airport, but Sky-Kar seems to have fizzled out after the death of the company’s president in the early ’70s. 

One of Sky-Kar’s salesmen was Paul Groody (he can be seen being interviewed in one of the kars in a WFAA clip from October 1970 here, with additional kar-footage here). Groody (who, in this interview, is a couple of months from full Asimov muttonchops) gained some national notoriety as the funeral director who had been given the task of driving from Fort Worth to Dallas to pick up the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and “prepare” him for burial — because there were no pallbearers, he had to scrounge for volunteers among the reporters covering the interment. Because I may have no other opportunity to post this, below is the cute and compact Sky-Kar Transivator prototype from 1970. …Sky-Kar, we hardly knew ye.

sky-kar_wfaa_SMU_oct-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

Below, Paul Groody, Sky-Kar rep (1970), and Paul Groody, funeral director for Lee Harvey Oswald’s burial (1963) (he is seen partially obscured, all the way at the back right, wearing glasses).

sky-kar_paul-groody_wfaa_SMU_oct-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

oswald-funeral_FWST_1963
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Equal time: see the Vought/Varo AirTrans prototype running on its test track in Garland in December 1970 here, along with interviews from company reps here.

airtrans-prototype_garland_wfaa_SMU_dec-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

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So, anyway. Forget the flying cars. I’m waiting for my monorail. And it’s probably still best to leave your automobile at home if you’re heading downtown.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo, “Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse” (2019) by Wayne Hsieh — found on Flickr, here. (I have cropped it.)

Screenshots from Channel 8 news film posted on YouTube, from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

cabell-fed-bldg_flickr_wayne-hsieh_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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