Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Interurban Miscellany

interurban_dallas_photo_ebay_redWooden, red… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Just a few miscellaneous photos from the days of the Interurban, the electric railway which ran through Dallas from 1908 to 1948.

The photograph above has the following written on the back: “The Texas Electric has a whole flock of fast interurbans. Most are steel and painted blue. This older wooden car is red and was used on the Dallas-Denison run. Dallas, Tex.”

Below, “Evolution of Transportation,” a postcard featuring “Miniature Interurban Exhibit, Showing a Model Suburban Home and the Splendid Service Between Dallas, Fort Worth and Cleburne.”

interurban_evolution-of-transportation_postcard_ca-1916_ebayvia eBay

An Interurban mishap:

interurban_mishap_ebayvia eBay

A couple of pleasant waiting-shelters, circa 1925:

interurban-stop_neighbors-pamphlet_portal_1925via Portal to Texas History

interurban-shelter_neighbors_1925via Portal to Texas History

Another stop, with a sign (“ALL INTERURBAN CARS STOP ON SIGNAL”):

interurban-stop_flickr-lynneslensvia Lynne’s Lens Flickr photostream

And the Interurban Terminal, downtown, ca. 1925:

interurban-terminal_1925_neighbors-pamphlet_portalvia Portal to Texas History

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Sources & Notes

Top photo found on eBay. “Robert M. Hanft, Brainerd, Minn.” is printed on the back. Hanft (1914-2004) was a rail enthusiast and photographer — his obituary is here.

The Texas Interurban route connected with Dallas in 1908 and continued for 40 years until being discontinued in 1948. More at the Handbook of Texas here, and at Wikipedia here; a look at the stops can be seen in an illustration here.

Check out these two Interurban pamphlets with lots of great photographs, scanned in their entirety by UNT’s Portal to Texas History:

  • Making Neighbors of the People of Dallas and Kaufman Counties, and the Towns of Terrell, Forney, Mesquite and Dallas (20 pages, Texas Interurban Railway) — read it here.
  • Making Neighbors of the People of Dallas and Denton Counties, and the Towns of Denton, Garza, Lewisville, Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Dallas (24 pages, Texas Interurban Railway) — read it here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on the Interurban can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Few Photo Additions to Past Posts — #13

skyline_downtown-to-fair-park_1936_GE-colln_museum-of-innovation-and-scienceA blinding celebration of the Texas Centennial…

by Paula Bosse

Time again for a round-up of photos and various images I’ve come across recently and have added to old posts.

First, a photo I was really excited to stumble across — one I’ve never seen (above): a view of the blindingly bright bank of searchlights set up as part of the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration at Fair Park — this photo shows the lights (which were multi-colored and visible for at least 20 miles away) as seen from downtown Dallas. This is a fantastic photo, and one can understand why many visitors to the spectacular no-expense-spared Centennial cited the lights as the most impressive thing on display. I’ve added this photo (and the postcard image below) to a post all about electricity and the Pan-American Exposition (the extravaganza held the year following the Centennial, which used many of the same features): “Albert Einstein ‘Threw the Switch’ in New Jersey to Open the Pan-American Exposition in Dallas — 1937” (a post which features several other images of this amazing fan-shaped array of lights set up behind the Hall of State, as seen from the Esplanade and as seen from White Rock Lake). (Source of top photo, “New skyline at night, at Dallas, Texas,” from the GE Photo Collection, Museum of Innovation and Science — more information on this photo is here; color image found on eBay)

tx-centennial_night-scene_espalanade_hall-of-state_lights_ebay

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This postcard of the Lake Cliff amusement park’s cafe and “circle swing” have been added to “Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906.” (Source: eBay)

lake-cliff-cafe_circle-swing_postcard_postmarked-1909_ebay

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This photo of the Knepfly Building (Main and Poydras) has been added to the post “Labor Day Parade — 1911,” replacing a less interesting view of this building (in the post, I recount a story of young men jumping from the third floor to escape a fire — one of them survived, even though he landed on his feet!). (Source: DeGolyer Library, SMU)

knepfly-bldg_church_dallas-through-a-camera_ca-1894_SMU

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This 1908 photograph of a group of students standing outside the Dallas Telegraph College building has been added to the post “Start Your Brilliant Career at Dallas Telegraph College — c. 1900.” (Source: George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU)

dallas-telegraph-college_1908_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMU

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This circa-1920 photo (sadly, not the greatest resolution) shows road construction to straighten Maple Avenue (which immediately followed construction of the MKT bridge); that and a more recent view of the same spot have been added to the post “The Gill Well.” (Sources: Dallas Public Library, I think, and Google Street View, 2014)

maple-MKT_ca-1920_DPL

maple-MKT_google-street-view_2014

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This 1963 photo of a billboard which instructed motorists which frequency WFAA was at that moment broadcasting on (it varied, depending on the time of day…) has been added to the post “WFAA & WBAP’s Unusual Broadcasting Alliance,” one of my favorite weird bits of trivia in Dallas radio history. (Source: Broadcasting magazine, April 22, 1963)

WFAA-WBAP_broadcasting_042263

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This super-blurry screenshot shows the hopping nightlife which was once a staple of the two blocks immediately south of the Adolphus Hotel on South Akard. Those two blocks were really interesting and a mecca for bars, seedy and otherwise. It’s been added to the post “Gene’s Music Bar, The Lasso Bar, and The Zoo Bar.” (Source: WFAA-Channel 8 coverage of the… um… boisterous activity downtown during the 1969 Texas-OU weekend, as seen at the 6:16 and 9:13 marks in the video here; from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Arts Library, SMU)

lasso-bar_jones-film_WFAA_101169

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Another screenshot (watermarked, sadly) is this one, which show the wife of Santa Fe Railroad president Fred G. Gurley christening the new Texas Chief streamliner at Union Station — the train made its inaugural Dallas-to-Chicago run on Dec. 5, 1955. The reason I chose this screenshot (which I’m adding, along with the YouTube video below to the continually popular post “White Rock Station”) is because Mrs. Gurley is christening the engine with a bottle of — no, not champagne… — water from White Rock Lake. (Source: Huntley Film Archives, YouTube)

white-rock-station_christening_youtube

Check out the very short color film this comes from below, with footage of the new station along Jupiter Road near Kingsley, and ceremonies at Union Station (or for those who always write in to correct me, “Union Terminal“) — there might be some shots from ceremonies at Denton. The shot of the train passing in front of the Dallas skyline is pretty cool.

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And, lastly, a 1963 photo of George Senator, a man often referred to as Jack Ruby’s roommate, but it seems he was more a sort of good-natured sponger, who was frequently out of money and frequently out of a job — Ruby helped him out with cash and let him stay at his apartment. I’m adding this photo (which has been cropped and flipped) to the post “Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960,” in which a man who may be Senator is seen in B-roll film footage shot by Channel 8, showing Ruby standing in a crowd at a musical performance on Elm Street at Ervay. (Source: Photo titled “George Senator at Dallas police station at time of Jack Ruby arrest,” Nov. 24, 1963, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, UTA)

senator-george_FWST-collection_UTA_112463.det_flipped

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: Dallas’ First Concrete Bridge?

iola-bridge_city-park_ca-1908

by Paula Bosse

City Park’s lovely little “Iola” bridge paved the way (…as it were) for concrete to become the favored material in the construction of the city’s bridges, usurping wood. Built in 1905, “Iola” was the first such concrete structure in Dallas (or possibly the second…) — its legacy lives on in the Oak Cliff/Houston Street viaduct, which, when built, was the longest concrete bridge in the world. Read more about “Iola” (find out where the name came from) in the 2015 Flashback Dallas post “Iola Bridge.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Architectural Crossroads: Commerce and Akard

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay

by Paula Bosse

In Dallas’ early days, Commerce Street was once considered so far off the beaten path that major businesses did not build there. By 1925, though, the intersection of Commerce and Akard streets boasted three Dallas showplaces: the Adolphus Hotel (still standing), the Magnolia Building (still standing), and the Baker Hotel (not still standing). (Before that, it was the Adolphus, the Magnolia, and Busch’s other hotel, the swanky Oriental.)

Ever noticed that the corner “turret” of the Adolphus looks like a traditional German beer stein? An ode to the source of namesake Adolphus Busch’s wealth? I certainly hope so!

adolphus_terracotta-detail_western-architect_july-1914

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a pack of postcards, found on eBay.

Detail of the Adolphus is from the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas in ‘The Western Architect,’ 1914: The Adolphus Hotel.”

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-1

Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-5

Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-2

Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-3

And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-6

Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

magnolia-petroleum-station_manufacturers-record_121422_ad-det

Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

magnolia-petroleum-station_KLIF-bldg_dallas-public-library_crop

And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

KLIF_color

This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

magnolia-filling-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

West Jefferson Blvd. at Night

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_night_oldoakclifflodge_flickrW. Jefferson & S. Madison (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love night-time views of a lit-up city, and this circa-1949 bird’s-eye view of West Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff, looking east, is pretty cool. If this photo had a soundtrack, it would be moody and atmospheric saxophone music.

Hunt’s department store was at 303 W. Jefferson, and the Oak Cliff Bank & Trust Co. was at 250 W. Jefferson — S. Madison is the intersecting street in the center of the photo. At the upper left you can see the bright lights and triangular marquee of the Texas Theatre. Below is a view of the same street today, still recognizable.

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_google-aerialGoogle Maps

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the Flickr photostream of OldOakCliffLodge, here.

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_night_oldoakclifflodge_flickr_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Influenza Pandemic Arrives in Dallas — 1918

influenza-epidemic_love-field_1918_natl-archivesIn line at the Love Field “spraying station” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I write this as the U.S. is bracing for the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus which has just been declared a world-wide pandemic by the World Health Organization — this inescapable news item reminds me of a previous post I wrote about the local response to another major epidemic. In 2014, Dallas (of all unlikely places) was ground-zero in the U.S. for a feared Ebola outbreak — back then I wondered how Dallas had handled health crises in the past, specifically the spectre of the Spanish Influenza, which, like the coronavirus, swept around the globe. So I wrote “When the Spanish Influenza Hit Dallas — 1918,” and I have to say, it was pretty interesting. The flu first hit the regional military bases during World War One: Love Field, Camp Dick at Fair Park, and Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. It wasn’t long before people beyond the WWI camps were contracting the Spanish Flu, and then it just spread and spread and spread.

The photo above, from December, 1918, shows Love Field military personnel waiting in line to be “sprayed” — the caption reads:

Love Field, Dallas, Texas: Preventative Treatment against influenza.
The line at the spraying station.

influenza-epidemic_love-field_1918_natl-archives_INFO

Here’s the throat-sprayer waiting inside the tent:

spanish-influenza_love-field_otis-historical-archives_nmhm_110618Love Field, Nov. 6, 1918

spanish-influenza_dmn_100118_sprayingDallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1918

I’m not sure how effective this spraying was, but the advice given to Dallasites in 1918 is still good today: wash your hands, keep your surroundings clean, and do not spit in streetcars!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the National Archives at College Park; more info is here.

Second photo, showing the inside of the “spraying station,” is from the Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine; more info is here

For a more detailed post about how Dallas dealt with the Spanish Influenza, read the 2014 Flashback Dallas post “When the Spanish Influenza Hit Dallas — 1918.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Marching to Mess — 1918

ww1_fort-dick_fair-park_marching-to-mess_roller-coaster_1918_natl-archivesNot your typical boot camp setting… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Camp Dick, an Air Service training camp which took over Fair Park during World War I. The War Department caption of this 1918 photo:

Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas: Men marching to mess after evening parade. Roof in foreground is the Officers’ house.

At the right is a roller coaster, a popular ride when the State Fair of Texas (rather than the U.S. military) is occupying the park.

Here’s a photo from 1911:

state-fair_street-scene_john-minor_1911_cook-colln_degolyer

When Preston Sturges trained at Camp Dick — well before he became a legendary Hollywood writer and director — he and his fellow cadets did not let that roller coaster go to waste. He wrote this in his autobiography, Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges:

Out on the parade ground, boys fell over from [the intense heat] all the time and had to be revived with cold water and a sponge. Nights we would climb up the shaky apex of the large roller coaster in the corner of the fairgrounds to try to find a breeze.

An unexpected perk of basic training.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the National Archives at College Park; more info is here.

State Fair photo is a real photo postcard, taken by John R. Minor, and is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Camp Dick can be found here.

ww1_fort-dick_fair-park_marching-to-mess_roller-coaster_1918_natl-archives_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mystery Photo: Standpipe Foundation — 1937

stand-pipe-foundation_ebay_july-1937Big D construction crater… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across this photo on eBay a year or more ago, but I’ve never been certain where it was taken. The photograph was processed and developed by Skillern’s in Dallas, but it’s always possible it wasn’t actually taken in Dallas. The back of the photo can be seen below, with the following penciled notation:

“Stand pipe foundation, July ’37”

I can’t make out the writing above and to the right of “foundation.”

stand-pipe-fouindation_reverse_ebay

The only newspaper archive mention of construction of a stand pipe/standpipe in July, 1937 was one described as being in the “2400 block of Alamo, near Cedar Springs” (Dallas Morning News, July 13, 1937). That area has changed a LOT since 1937, with several streets changing names, changing course, being created, etc. — here’s a detail from a 1952 Mapsco to give you an idea of where it was:

alamo-street_2400-block_1952-mapsco2400 block of Alamo (1952 Mapsco, det.)

So, north of downtown Dallas, near-ish to the present location of the American Airlines Center.

But the photo at the top looks like it would be well beyond the downtown area — the 1921 Sanborn map shows a lot of residences in the area (the 1937 city directory shows the 2400 block of Alamo was a mostly Mexican-American residential area with a few light industrial businesses) — the area to the west was less developed, with rail yards and railroad tracks and the Dallas Power & Light building. (The standpipe built in this block of Alamo might have been located in the middle of the block’s south side, where there was a gap in the numbering of occupied lots.)

There were probably other standpipes under construction in the city at the time, but the one on Alamo was the only one I saw mention of in the newspaper in the summer of 1937. Even if the site in the photo above is not this Alamo one, the story of that standpipe had an interesting story which took place in… July, 1937.

On July 12, 1937, Walter Gray, a laborer working on the standpipe, collapsed at the construction site. He was working inside the water tower, at the bottom, and had been overcome by gas fumes. A fellow worker, Bud Young, was at the top of the 80-foot tower and saw Gray collapse. Somehow he got the unconscious Gray up to the top of the standpipe, but he was unable to get him down. He shouted for help and two policemen rushed over. One of them, patrolman T. B. Griffin, fashioned a “bucket” out of a 50-gallon oil drum, climbed to the top of the tower, got Gray and himself in the bucket and had workers lower them precariously to the ground. A doctor administered oxygen at the scene and rushed Gray to Parkland. Walter Gray, whom the doctor described as having been near death, survived. And patrolman Griffin was nominated for a Carnegie Hero Award for his heroism and quick thinking.

I looked up T. B. Griffin (Tracey Boyd Griffin, 1908-1982) to see what else he had done, because that was quite a display of dedication to public service. A few months after this dangerous act, he lowered himself down an elevator shaft in which a man had stepped, not realizing there was no elevator — just open doors and no lightbulb (!). Also, in what seems like a hackneyed, unbelievable plot device that would happen in a Road Runner cartoon, Griffin and a partner snatched a burning fuse from a safe primed with nitro-glycerin just seconds before it was about to blow. Yep. A year after that, in 1939, he and his regular partner J. W. “Joe” Sides were moved to the vice squad as plain-clothes detectives where they busted innumerable gambling rings and bookie parlors (which, lordy, Dallas was overrun with like you wouldn’t believe). I bet ol’ T. B. had some stories to tell.

But back to the standpipe… still not sure where it was. Any ideas?

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

Never heard of a “standpipe”? See photos in the Flashback Dallas post “The Twin Standpipes of Lakewood Heights: 1923-1925.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

African-American Businesses and Notable Dallasites — 1930

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det“Madame Pratt” in her music studio

by Paula Bosse

I’ve recently posted lots of photos of black schools and black churches which appeared in the Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc., an absolutely fantastic historical document (which is scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History site here) — now I thought I’d post some of the businesses and people featured in the directory.

First is the woman seen above, Ella Rice Pratt (1893-1966) who was known professionally as “Madame Pratt” and seems to have taught an extremely wide range of musical instruments. According to this 1930 ad, she was “The only woman of her race in Texas who performs successfully upon two instruments at the same time.”  (Most images are larger when clicked.)

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

Her 1966 obituaries (one of which is here ) list a string of accomplishments, including having studied music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, toured as a concert pianist, trained a 30-piece touring orchestra, and opened what was described as “the first music studio in Dallas where Negro musicians could receive training on all instruments” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 3, 1966). Not only was she a notable Dallasite, so were members of her family: her father, Charles A. Rice was a principal at Booker T. Washington High School (and is the namesake of Charles Rice Elementary School), her mother, Sally Rice, was the first supervisor of Griggs Park, and her husband, T. W. Pratt was a long-time principal in Dallas schools (at the time of this directory he was the principal of the Pacific Avenue School (he might be seen in this photo which also appeared in the 1930 Negro Directory). The Pratts lived at 3612 Thomas Ave., near Washington, where Madame Pratt also had her studio. (Her headstone in Lincoln Memorial Park has musical notes engraved on it.)

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Speaking of music, R. T. Ashford was a prominent businessman (he was one of the founders of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce) who owned R. T. Ashford’s Music Shop, a popular record store at 408 N. Central (at Swiss), just north of Deep Ellum. Before this 1930 directory was issued, Ashford had called his shop “Black Swan Music”(I’m not sure whether this was an “homage” to the Black Swan record label or some sort of partnership). Ashford’s store was apparently very popular and Ashford himself seems to have been taken seriously by record labels whenever he would recommend local talent (he appears to have figured prominently in Blind Lemon Jefferson’s recording career). Ashford moved from Central Avenue to Hall Street in 1931, but he was a Deep Ellum music and business fixture for many, many years. I think the location of Ashford’s record shop (if not the actual store) can be seen in this photo from 1919 (on the street-level floor of the Thorburn Broom & Brush building). (Fun fact, perhaps only to me: Ashford’s Music Shop was next door to a business proprietor named “Simpson.”)

ashfords-music-shop_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

ashford_dallas-express_122223Dallas Express, Dec. 1922

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Another entrepreneur was Thad Self, whose main business seems to have been a grocery/general merchandise store on Routh Street south of Colby. He also owned a transfer company, a hotel/boarding house, a barber shop, a cafe, and at least one other general store. Most of his companies were located in buildings on the neighboring lots at 2113 Routh and 2115 Routh, one or both of which he appears to have purchased in 1913 for $100 (about $2,600 in today’s prices). He built a large three-story building on Routh in 1913 (which, according to this 1921 Sanborn map) was built over the Dallas Branch of the Trinity which snaked through downtown and the State-Thomas area — that  basement was probably pretty damp.

thad-else_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

thad-else_dallas-express_120619_HOTELDallas Express, Dec. 6, 1919

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Speaking of hotels, one of the most prominent hotels in the era when blacks were not allowed to stay in “white” hotels by law was the Powell Hotel at 3115 State Street (between Ellis and Hugo), owned by D. H. Powell and his wife Susie. In May, 1929 Powell was issued a permit to tear down a frame house at 3115 State, and he built his 40-room hotel on the property soon after. The Powell Hotel was where almost every notable African-American visitor to the city stayed. By the late 1940s, Powell had built something of a hotel empire in Dallas with several locations. (I will have to write more about him in a future post!) I like this very early ad, from the 1930 directory, describing it as the “Powel Hotel & Pleasure Dome.” The photo shows a pleasant-looking place, but you and I and Kubla Khan and Coleridge would probably agree it’s no Xanadu.

powell-hotel_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

powell-hotel_legacies_spring-2007Dallas Public Library, via Legacies, Spring, 2007

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Speaking of “resting places”… another essential element in any community is the funeral home. One of Dallas’ most prominent undertaking firms for black Dallas was the E. J. Crawford Funeral Home at 804 Good (now N. Good-Latimer, between Live Oak and Bryan), founded by Mr. Crawford in 1909. “The last word in funeralizing.”

crawford-funeral-home_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

crawford_e-j_dallas-express_020422Dallas Express, Feb. 4, 1922

Another prominent funeral home/ambulance service was Black & Clark, founded originally around 1914 by S. C. Black; in 1927 he was joined by his nephew C. J. Clark. For years they were located in Oak Cliff, at 1109 E. Tenth St., west of what is now South R. L. Thornton, near Cliff Avenue. This funeral home is still in business, and there was recently a profile of the Dallas institution on Channel 5 News (watch it here).

black-and-clark-undertakers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

black-and-clark_archives_1802-n-washington1802 N. Washington (woozy screenshot of photo in Ch. 5 news story)

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This is Genevieve T. Starks, a woman with a lot of extra-curricular activities! I love this photo.

genevieve-starks_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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The G Clef Club was organized around 1921 by Lincolnia Hayes Morgan, music supervisor for Dallas’ (black) public schools. A blurb about the group appeared in The Crisis, the official publication of the N.A.A.C.P.: “The objects of the club are to assist worthy music students and to raise the music standard of the community” (June, 1921).

g-clef-club_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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A popular singing group was the Belt Sacred Quartette (comprised of J. J. Mollis, J. Poindexter, F. W. Grant, and N. Tisdale) — listen to their recording of “I Have Another Building” below.

belt-sacred-quartette_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

belt-sacred-quartette_blackwell-OK-journal-tribune_072332Blackwell (OK) Journal-Tribune, July 23, 1932

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The Davis Bible Singers (C. Davis, I. H. Burrell, R. Smith, and O. B. Walker) seem to have been pretty popular, having appeared on KRLD, WFAA, and WRR radio. They even recorded for Columbia Records (listen to their great recording of “Daniel Saw the Stone” below).

davis-bible-singers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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One of the most important doctors in Dallas in the 1920s and ’30s was Dr. Lee Gresham (L. G.) Pinkston (1883-1961), who opened the Pinkston Clinic at 3305 Thomas Avenue, between Hall and Central, in 1928 or 1929 (it made its first appearance in the 1929 city directory). In 1954, Pinkston — physician, surgeon, and civic leader — was one of the first five black doctors allowed to practice in a “white” Dallas hospital (St. Paul’s Hospital) — before that, the only hospital in Dallas where black doctors could practice was the Pinkston Clinic, which had 15 beds (32 beds were allotted for black patients at St. Paul’s in 1954). (See a photo of the five doctors here, Dr. Pinkston is seated.) A new West Dallas school — Pinkston High School — was named in Dr. Pinkston’s honor and opened in 1964, three years after his death. 

pinkston-clinic_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

pinkston-clinic_DHSDallas Historical Society

Below, a portrait of Dr. Pinkston with the artist, Calvin Littlejohn (whom I’d known only as a photographer previously), destined to hang in the new school.

pinkston-l-g_portrait_calvin-littlejohn_pittsburgh-PA-courier_112864Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, Nov. 28, 1964

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Sources & Notes

All 1930 images are from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here.

See the two other Flashback Dallas posts which also use this wonderful directory as a source:

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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