Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Dallas’ Aerial Police Reserve — 1921

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_aerial-police-reserve_lineup

by Paula Bosse

On September 5, 1921 — Labor Day — Dallas inaugurated its Aerial Police Reserve, comprised of 15 auxiliary policemen-pilots who patrolled from the skies, led by Chief W. C. Rice. Newspaper stories said that it was only the second city in the United States (after New York City) to have a force of “fly cops.” (Oklahoma was probably a little miffed at this braggadocio, since they had at least a dozen such “air police” squads around the state.) 

aerial-police_dmn_090421Dallas Morning News, Sept. 4, 1921

Mayor Sawnie Aldredge was a passenger in one of the “aeroplanes” which flew him around the city on that Labor Day 100 years ago, giving the relatively new mayor a birds-eye view of Dallas. Other planes performed a display of the type of aerial crime-fighting they would now be able to assist the terrestrial police with, using the wireless police communication system devised by Henry Garrett (read how that led to the origin of radio station WRR here). This was a huge step for the Dallas Police Department.

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_detMayor Sawnie Aldredge, in mayoral goggles

Read the coverage of the day’s events in the article below (click to see a larger image).

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_pageAerial Age Weekly, Oct. 31, 1921

Another photo of Mayor Aldredge (sadly, sans goggles) seated in his chauffeured airship at the Labor Day air-cop exhibition at the Oak Cliff Aviation Field.

aldredge-sawnie_police-auxiliary_dmn_090721_photoDMN, Sept. 7, 1921

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Sources & Notes

Photos and articles from Aerial Age Weekly (Oct. 31, 1921), and from The Dallas Morning News.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Dallas — 1973

royal-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMURoyal Cafe, 2726 Forest Avenue (now MLK Blvd.)

by Paula Bosse

The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU is the gift that keeps on giving (see their YouTube channel here). In addition to their vast non-Dallas-history holdings, they are the repository of the WFAA news film archives, which is an incredible collection of local news segments from Channel 8. And now they’ve begun digitizing and uploading film from KERA-Channel 13. There are all sorts of clips posted on the YouTube channel so far — I really, really loved the Blackie Sherrod profile — and I’m not even a sports fan! My guess is that a lot of it comes from the legendary local news show Newsroom, including the one I’m writing about here.

This story from 1973 was about a recent increase in crime in the Black neighborhoods of South Dallas and State-Thomas/Hall Street. Crime stories are pretty much the same decade in and decade out, but this piece is great because of the almost 8 full minutes of footage showing parts of town that the media largely ignored (ignores). I haven’t seen most of these areas as they existed when this piece was shot — many of these buildings don’t exist at all anymore. A couple of these places are “famous,” most are not. But this is just great. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for places and addresses seen in the film.)

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I was particularly excited to see the exterior of the Ascot Room, which I wrote about in the Flashback Dallas post “1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975” — it was an important music club, but I had been unable to find any images of its exterior. Until now! Granted, it’s looking a bit long in the tooth in 1973, but this was so cool to see!

ascot-room_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUAscot Room (1710 Hall, at Ross)
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bill-and-bess-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUBill & Bess’ Cafe
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black-gails-domino-parlor_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMULucky Eight Recreation Center (1804 Hall); Black Gail’s Domino Parlor
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man-1_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

blue-lantern-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUBlue Lantern Cafe (1609 Hall)
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congo-club_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUCongo Club (1801 Hall, at Roseland)
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domino-game_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

e-tx-bbq_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUEast Texas Bar-B-Q/East Texan Barbecue (2311 Hall)
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man_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

forest-ave_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU2700 block of Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)
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hall-st_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU1700 block of Hall Street, north from Ross
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houses_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

pussy-cat-lounge_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUPussy Cat Lounge (3410 Forest Ave. — now part of Fair Park)
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men_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

ross-avenue-motel_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMURoss Avenue Motel (3629 Ross) — see what it looked like new here
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south-blvd_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU2700 block of South Boulevard

Very cool! Thanks, SMU!

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Here are some of the places seen in the film, with addresses (if I could find them), in the order they appear (several places make more than one appearance):

  • Pussy Cat Lounge:  3410 Forest Avenue (now MLK Blvd.)
  • Elite Theater (sign):  2720/2722 Forest Ave. (closed; originally the White Theater, which opened in 1934)
  • Blazer Inn:  2722 Forest (in the old theater)
  • A & H Barber Shop, Recreation, Pool:  2724 Forest
  • Royal Cafe:  2726 Forest
  • Royal Barber Shop:  1813 Hall
  • Soul Shop
  • Hall’s Hotel:  1809 1/2 Hall
  • Corner of Hall & Roseland
  • Busy Bee Cafe:  1612 Hall
  • Red Door
  • Black Gail’s Domino Parlor:  1802 Hall
  • Congo Club:  1801 Hall (at Roseland)
  • Ascot Room:  1710 Hall (at Ross)
  • East Texas Bar-B-Q (listed in directories as East Texan Barbecue):  2311 Hall
  • Mary’s Place
  • Bill & Bess’ Cafe
  • Watson’s Cafeteria:  1715 Hall
  • Jim’s Liquor:  1713 Hall
  • Alvacado Inn:  1726 Hall
  • Stewart Motors:  3509 Ross
  • Vacation Motors:  3623 Ross
  • Ross Avenue Motel:  3629 Ross
  • 1600 block of Hall, looking toward Ross
  • Your Thrift Shop:  1622 Hall (warehouse), 3302 Ross
  • Forest Avenue Store:  2716-A Forest
  • Hooper’s Jeweler:  2720 Forest
  • Front of old Elite Theater, then the Blazer Inn:  2722 Forest
  • 2700 block of South Blvd. shows homes at 2707 South Blvd. and 2711 South Blvd.
  • Liberty Bail Bond Service:  1611 Hall (Theodore Greer, bondsman)
  • Blue Lantern Cafe:  1609 Hall
  • Dallas Police Substation:  Bexar and Municipal streets

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Sources & Notes

All images are screenshots from the YouTube video “KERA Report On Crime In Dallas — June 1973,” from the KERA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

royal-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Vent Reznor — The Hall of State’s Pretty Heat Machine

reznor_close_hall-of-state_may-2019_paula-bossePretty Heat Machine…

by Paula Bosse

A couple of years ago I was putting in a lot of hours volunteering at the Dallas Historical Society, which, if you don’t  know, is housed in the basement of the Hall of State in Fair Park. Whenever I left from the ground-level side exit, I passed this cool-looking pink heater hanging from the ceiling. First — it’s pink. Second — it’s made by a company called “Reznor.” To amuse myself, I named this heater “Vent Reznor” and would say “Hey, Vent” or “Bye, Vent” whenever I’d pass it. And then I looked it up and saw that this company — based in Mercer, Pennsylvania — was, in fact, established by the great-grandfather of Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor, in 1884.

None of this is historical, and only by the greatest stretch of imagination is it related to Dallas history, but it amuses me, and I’m hoping that posting this will exorcise “Head Like a Hole” from my brain, where it keeps playing over and over and over! (Oh — here’s a Dallas connection: one of the best concerts I ever saw was at the Arcadia, where the up-and-coming little band Nine Inch Nails opened for my idols, the Jesus and Mary Chain. Both bands were amazing. …And loud. (NIN was louder.) But only one of them has the sheerest of sheer connections to the Dallas Historical Society. And it isn’t JAMC.)

reznor_hall-of-state_may-2019_paula-bosse

reznor_label_hall-of-state_may-2019_paula-bosse

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Sources & Notes

Photos by Paula Bosse, taken in May, 2019 in the basement of the Hall of State, outside the offices of the Dallas Historical Society.

reznor_close_hall-of-state_may-2019_paula-bosse_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bob Lilly, Chap Stick User — 1968

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_2

by Paula Bosse

Must’ve been the Moistutane®.

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_1_ebay

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Sources & Notes

Ads found on eBay.

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_2_det

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Morning News/Fort Worth Star-Telegram Archives Update

dmn-bldg_dmn_sketch_1890sDallas News HQ, 1890s

by Paula Bosse

A couple of facts about me: I guess I’m what you’d call a “power user” of the Dallas Public Library’s NewsBank newspaper database, accessing the archives of the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram pretty much daily; I’m also fairly resistant to change (i.e. kind of lazy).

So when I encountered the redesign of the entire NewsBank database yesterday, I was less than ecstatic that I’d have to stop what I was doing and figure out where everything had been moved to. I know I’ll get used to it quickly (I already have), but, what a pain. I’m not sure why some of the changes were made, but, whatever. I actually discovered a few new things which are either brand new or were hidden in what is, let’s face it, a site with a lot of stuff going on. (There are only so many hours in the day….)

The point of this is to say that I have re-re-re-updated Flashback Dallas’ most popular post, “How To Access the Historical Dallas Morning News Archive.”

For any of you who might log on to the Dallas Public Library site and click over to the DMN archive and wonder what the heck happened, my step-by-step tips might be helpful. They might also be tedious, repetitive, and vague. But at least it’s up-to-date! Until they change it again!

Click on the link above if you need any help. (Remember: filtering is your friend!)

And, again, many thanks to the Dallas Public Library and The Dallas Morning News (and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram) (and NewsBank) for providing such a valuable resource!

dmn-bldg_dmn_sketch_1890s_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Gene de Jean Lifts a Curse on Dallas — 1970

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470Curse lifted — all in a day’s work…

by Paula Bosse

On Sept. 4, 1970, at the corner of Commerce and Ervay, a “white-magic warlock” named Gene de Jean conducted a ceremony to lift a heinous curse placed on Dallas in 1963 by a somewhat vague “malevolent black-magic coven” — this curse, which, uncoincidentally, preceded the JFK assassination, had apparently hung over the city for 7 long years. Fortunately, the media had been alerted, and we have film footage of the historic occasion in which a mysterious warlock lifted a nasty curse which no one in Dallas knew had been cast in the first place.

Do-gooding warlock Gene de Jean arrived in a “velvetized Cadillac” (a Cadillac COVERED IN BLACK VELVET!) with a be-robed bell-ringing acolyte, and, with Neiman-Marcus in the background, he uttered a few incantations and proclaimed the curse lifted. He also “blessed” a few random people in the crowd for good measure before walking back to the waiting velvetized warlock-mobile, his job done. In his wake there was much rejoicing and/or confused looks exchanged on Commerce Street. Thank you Mr. de Jean!

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In something of a kill-joy article, the Associated Press revealed that “Gene de Jean” was a warlock stage-name. In non-warlock life he was Gene McIntosh, mild-mannered Houston psychologist. When pressed by the reporter, Gene said that it was “pure coincidence” that the Texas Association of Magicians was wrapping up its 25th annual convention 2 blocks away at the Statler Hilton (which can be seen in the background of the footage). So, yes, Gene McIntosh and Lee Thompson (the bell-ringing “acolyte”) were well-known Houston magicians/illusionists in town for a magicians’ convention. And — why not? — a friendly curse-lifting.

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Here’s the footage — at the 12:19 mark — captured by a WFAA-Channel 8 News cameraman for posterity.

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And a few screenshots of the warlock in action.

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_1

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_2

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_3

gene-de-jean_dallas_090470-shutterstock_ferd-kaufmanAssociated Press photo by Ferd Kaufman

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_velvetized-caddySeriously — how do you cover a car with velvet?

Voilà! Curse lifted!

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Doing a little research, I have to say, when I came across the photo below, I felt a twinge of betrayal. Or at least disappointment. It shows Gene de Jean on the streets of Milwaukee (Milwaukee?!!) in June, 1970. The guy in the sunglasses is also seen with him in Dallas. The caption of this photo: “A self-described warlock (male witch) in black flowing cape bestowed a blessing right here in Old Milwaukee Tuesday. Gene De Jean blessed the city and a number of passersby at N. 3rd St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. He was in town for a magician’s convention.” Was it all just a schtick, Gene? And I thought we had something special.

gene-de- jean_milwaukee_june-1970via Wisconsin Historical Society

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Sources & Notes

Video and screenshots are from the WFAA NewsFilm Collection, G. William Jones Film Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the footage is from Sept. 4, 1970 and can be found on YouTube here (clip begins as the 12:19 mark).

When I posted a version of this on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, David B. commented with a couple of informative links about Gene McIntosh (who died in 2006): this overview of his career as a magician, and this tale of a stunt he performed while driving from Houston to Dallas in 1959, blindfolded the whole way. RIP, Gene.

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470 sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Few Photo Additions to Past Posts — #17

n-m_french-fortnight_stanley-marcus-papers_degolyer-lib_SMU_color_1957Rue de Ervay

by Paula Bosse

It’s time again to insert recently-found stuff into old posts.

The first one, above, is great: it shows the facade which covered the exterior of Neiman-Marcus during the French Fortnight of 1957 — the very first Neiman’s “Fortnight” celebration. I had used a black-and-white version of this photo in the post “Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Big D — 1957,” but I’ve replaced it with this wonderful original color version. (Source: Stanley Marcus Papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — more info on this photo can be found here)

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The next image comes from a postcard showing a path and a footbridge in Sullivan Park — it has been added to “City Park Construction Work — 1941.” The reason it’s been added there is because it’s the only post which mentions “Sullivan Park,” the blink-and-it-and-you’ll-miss-it period when City Park changed its name (it changed back to “City Park” in 1941 after only about 5 years)  — the main photo of that post shows construction work in (let’s call it) Sullivan Park. I’m pretty sure this is the bridge I wrote about in the post “Iola Bridge.” (Source: eBay)

sullivan-park_ebay

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And since we’re in the neighborhood — in fact right next door — here are a couple of images I’ve come across showing what most of us probably knew as the Ambassador Hotel (RIP). Below are postcards from its second incarnation as the Park Hotel, and a “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” view of S. Ervay, before and after the 2019 fire that destroyed the 115-year-old building. They’ve been added to the post “The Majestic Hotel/The Park Hotel/The Ambassador Hotel: R.I.P. — 1904-2019.” (Sources: the postcards are from eBay, and the 2018 and 2021 images are from Google Street View)

park-hotel_postcard_ebay_postmarked-1913

park-hotel_postcard_ebay_clogenson

ambassador_google_july-20182018

ambassador_google_feb-20212021

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And speaking of hotels, here’s a grainy Dallas Morning News photo of the Stoneleigh under construction in 1923 with a caption offering some tidbits about the swanky new “eleven-story affair” — they’ve been added to “The Stoneleigh Court Apartment Hotel — 1923/1924.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, April 22, 1923)

stoneleigh-hotel_dmn_042223_under-construction_photo
stoneleigh-hotel_dmn_042223_under-construction_caption

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I really enjoyed writing about the Brown Cracker Co. which occupied an imposing building in the West End. I’ve added the picture below to the post “Brown Cracker Co. Cracker Wrappers.” (Source: eBay)

brown-cracker-co-lettrhead_1919_ebay

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Here’s a very thin image of a railroad spike commemorating the opening of the new Santa Fe passenger line to Chicago in 1955 — it has been squeezed almost imperceptibly into the already-jam-packed post “White Rock Station. (Source: a nice man in Oklahoma named Joe)

white-rock-station_santa-fe_spike_ardmore-OK-antique-store_2020

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I’ve added the two postcards below to the post “Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906” — the first one replaced an inferior example I had used previously, and the other was a new addition. (Source: eBay)

lake-cliff_swing-ride_postcard_ebay

shoot-the-chute_lake-cliff_ebay

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This 1914 photo of the Wells Fargo office on Main Street has been added to “Start Your Brilliant Career at Dallas Telegraph College — c. 1900.” (Source: Dallas Public Library, Van Orden Western Union Telegraph collection, DPL Dallas History and Archives Division, Call Number PA2007-2/2)

western-union_trust-bldg_1914_DPL

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And, lastly, really wishing I had some barbecue, a matchbook from Red Bryan’s which has been added to “Red Bryan’s Smokehouse — BBQ, Oak Cliff-Style.” (Source: eBay)

red-bryans-bbq_matchbook_ebay

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n-m_french-fortnight_stanley-marcus-papers_degolyer-lib_SMU_color_1957_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Simms Super Service Station, Cedar Springs & Maple — 1930

simms-super-service-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_ca-1930Let us vulcanize your tires!

by Paula Bosse

If you call yourself a “Super Service Station,” you’d better be pretty super. And the one in the photo above is pretty super. It opened in 1930 at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Maple (on the northernmost tip of the land now occupied by the Crescent). 

Construction of the station and attached retail spaces was announced in 1929 by the Dallas-based Simms Oil Company (headquartered in the Magnolia Building, with a refinery on Eagle Ford Road in West Dallas) — it was reported that the impressive building would cost about $40,000 (about $615,000 in today’s money). It would be the 34th Simms service station in the city but it would be the first SUPER service station. Its grand opening at the end of April, 1930 was a big event, broadcast over KRLD radio, with singers, music, and flowers for the ladies. No business was conducted during the grand opening — it was strictly an open house, offering prospective customers the opportunity to walk among the gas pumps and admire what the company called “the last word in service station art.”

simms_cedar-springs-maple_grand-opening_043030_detDetail from grand opening ad, April, 1930

The filling station will be equipped with ten electrically operated gasoline pumps. Every kind of automobile repairs and battery and tire vulcanizing service will be offered. (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 20, 1929)

The building is of terra cotta in modernistic design with the well-known Simms color scheme of blue, white and red used. […] On top of the structure is a beacon bearing the Simms triangle. It will revolve with flood lights playing on it all the while. (DMN, April 27, 1930)

I never think of businesses of that period being open 24 hours a day, but this one was. Super!

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Here are a few zoomed-in close-ups of the top photo, which shows the Cedar Springs side of the building. (Click pictures to see larger images.)

At the left of this detail you can see a glimpse of Maple Avenue, which, at the time, was still lined with large, expensive homes.

simms_det_to-maple

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In the shadows, a man who no doubt has prodigious vulcanizing skills.

simms_det_emp

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In addition to housing a gas station, the building had 6 retail spaces — 3 on Maple and 3 on Cedar Springs. One of the businesses seen here places the date of this photo at 1930, when The Radio Shop was located at 2304 Cedar Springs (the next year it appears to have moved around to the Maple side of the building). Next to it is the Fishburn Oriental Cleaners at 2308 Cedar Springs. (The official address of the Simms station was 2623 Maple, but it was usually just listed as being at the southeast corner of Maple and Cedar Springs — after Simms, the building’s address was 2312 Cedar Springs.)

simms_det_truck_oriental-cleaners_radio-shop

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Here’s a close-up of the company truck and an easy-to-remember number when you needed to call for help with a broken-down vehicle.

simms_det_simms-truck

And here it is in an ad. That motorcycle is cool. For some reason I really want that sidecar to be filled with sloshing gasoline.

simms_ad_082630_detAd detail, Aug. 26, 1930

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And here’s the revolving rooftop beacon. (What looks like a spray of water is just damage to the surface of the photograph.) (…But a fountain on top of a gas station would be pretty amazing.)

simms_det_tower-cu

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You know you’ve got a cool building if you can include an instantly recognizable line drawing of it in your ads.

simms_cedar-springs-maple_060330_detAd detail, June 3, 1930

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I think the company might have disappeared before the 1930s ended. Because this is the only “old” “modern” map I’ve got, here’s where the Simms gas station had been located, courtesy of a 1952 Mapsco.

cedar-springs-maple_1952-mapscoMapsco, 1952

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Here are a couple of later photos of the building, post-Simms. The first one is from a grainy Shook Tires ad from 1938. The color postcard is from the 1960s when it was the C. S. Hamilton Chrysler dealership. The beacon is still there but, surely, it was no longer beaconing (unlike the Republic Bank “rocket” seen in the background, which was beaconing big-time). (See below in the comments for a 1940s photo of the building.)

shook-tires_ad_2312-cedar-springs_051338Shook Tires, 1938

hamilton-car-dealership_cedar-springs-at-maple_ca-1962_ebayC. S. Hamilton Chrysler, ca. 1962

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Sources & Notes

Photo — titled “Simms Oil Station (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” — 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

simms-super-service-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_ca-1930_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Dallas, Center of the Universe — 1920s

ad-dallas-chamber-of-commerce_tx-almanac_1929-det“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille…”

by Paula Bosse

If you’ve noticed I’ve been posting very, very little over the past few weeks, it’s because I’ve been dealing with medical issues of a family member, and it’s pretty much taken over my life at this point. I hope to get back to regular posting soon. 

Here is a Dallas Chamber of Commerce ad from 1929 which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how the city of Dallas sees itself in the grand scheme of things. See another very booster-y ad from the same period in the Flashback Dallas post from 2015, “‘A City Built On the Solid Rock of Service’ — 1927.”

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

State Fair of Texas, From Above — 1959

sfot_dallas-magazine_sept-1959A bird’s-eye view of the Great State Fair

by Paula Bosse

I think I see Waldo.

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Sources & Notes

Front cover of Dallas magazine, Sept. 1959.

sfot_dallas-magazine_sept-1959_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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