Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Stemmons Tower, Downtown Skyline — 1963

stemmons-tower_night_squire-haskins_041963_UTAPhoto by Squire Haskins, 1963 (UTA Libraries, Special Collections)

by Paula Bosse

Another fantastic photo from premier Dallas photographer, Squire Haskins: the new Stemmons Tower (East), with the Dallas skyline serving as a dramatic nighttime backdrop. (See this photo really big at the UTA website, here.)

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Sources & Notes

“Stemmons Tower with downtown Dallas, Texas in the background; photo taken at night,” by Squire Haskins, taken on April 19, 1963; from the Squire Haskins, Inc. Photography Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections (more info on this photo can be found here).

The first of several “towers,” construction of Trammel Crow’s Stemmons Tower East began in the summer of 1961 and was open and leasing by December, 1962. This office complex was part of the grand vision of the Trinity Industrial District and the “Stemmons corridor” (click ad below to see a much larger image).

stemmons-tower_jan-1963Jan., 1963

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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“Dallas Is a Major Target Area!” — Know Where Your Nearest Fallout Shelter Is

passport-to-survival_nov-1958_art

by Paula Bosse

During the Cold War, the fear of nuclear attack was very real in the United States, reaching its peak of anxiety in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1958, the Dallas City-County Civil Defense Commission published a free informational pamphlet titled Passport to Survival, which contained evacuation maps for Dallas County, preparation tips, an emergency supply checklist, etc. Though the information contained in this publication could be applied to any disaster or emergency (nuclear-based or otherwise), it was printed a time when visions of Soviet atomic bombs were dancing in the heads of many concerned Americans. And this mild-mannered-looking pamphlet made sure you, Mr. and Mrs. Dallas County, knew that it was talking about a potential direct strike by nuclear missiles: “DALLAS IS A MAJOR TARGET AREA!” (See images from this pamphlet at the end of this post.)

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The arrival of Passport to Survival (“presented as a public service by your friendly Mobil dealer and Magnolia Petroleum Company”) was heralded by a newspaper ad in November, 1958 (its eye-catching “DISASTER CAN HIT DALLAS!” artwork is seen above). (The full ad — with an exhortative letter by Commission chairman John W. Mayo, addressed to the people of Dallas — can be seen here.) I’m not sure how much “survival” there would be in case of a nuclear attack, but, like a good Boy Scout, one should at least be prepared.

Backyard bomb shelters were necessary in Britain during World War II and saved countless lives during the almost nightly German air raids (I wrote about these shelters on another blog, here), but it was a new concept to post-war America. It wasn’t long, though, before bomb shelters became all the rage in the early ’50s as the Cold War heated up. If it’s becoming a common reference-point on the country’s funny-pages, it’s hit mainstream acceptance.

bomb-shelter_nancy-comic_072751“Nancy” by Ernie Bushmiller, July 27, 1951

I’m not sure how many people were building these shelters, but they were certainly talking about them. When Highland Park Village announced their new underground parking garage in 1953, owners Flippen-Prather made sure to note that the two subterranean parking levels (the lowest of which was 20 feet below street level) would not only accommodate 300 vehicles, but, if needed, it could serve as a bomb shelter for 3,500 very well-dressed Park Cities residents seeking refuge.

But what really caused the mania for nuclear fallout shelters to reach its zenith was the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April of 1961. In May, 1961, ground was broken for construction of the $180,000 Civil Defense Emergency Operating Center at Fair Park (the first such center in Texas), adjacent to the Health and Science Museum. The underground bunker was to serve as a government operating and communications center for Dallas County in the event of a nuclear attack or natural disaster. It would house about 30 people (which would include the mayor and other city officials) and would be stocked with provisions for 14 days. It had its own water supply, electric generators, radios, and telephones. It was built to withstand a 20-megaton nuclear blast three miles away (i.e. downtown, where, presumably, the mayor and other city officials would be working when the 20-megaton bomb lit up Big D). When not in use as a shelter, it was to be maintained by the Health and Science Museum staff, and operated as a center for survival training. For many years it was open to the public, seven days a week. (It’s worth noting that the Civil Defense headquarters in Dallas was also located in Fair Park, at the building housing radio station WRR.)

The man behind the everything-you-need-to-know-about-Civil-Defense website CivilDefenseMuseum.com did a really interesting video walk-through of the surprisingly large decommissioned (if that’s the correct word to use here) Fair Park shelter in 2013:

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1961 was THE year if you wanted to get into the bomb-shelter business. There was even a three-day “Fallout Survival Show” at Market Hall. You couldn’t open the pages of a magazine or newspaper without seeing ads for personal bomb shelters.

Some of the ads were kind of cozy:

fallout-shelter-ad_sept-1961Sept., 1961

Some were not:

scot_fallout-shelter-ad_sept-1961Sept., 1961

Again, not all that many people were actually building them, but everyone was certainly talking about them. But in just a few short months … no one cared anymore. The ads disappeared. A lot of people who had been trying to sell them went broke. Those who survived (as it were) repurposed their products as “storm shelters” — turns out tornadoes were more of a pressing threat to Dallasites than Russian A-bombs.

Public shelters, however, didn’t disappear. In September, 1962, the very first public fallout shelter in Dallas was officially designated: the Southland Life Insurance Building could accommodate a staggering 30,000 people in the event of disaster. (The plan for this shelter was actually announced in 1954, and the Southland Center opened in 1959, but the official designation was not made until 1962.)

In 1966, Dallas had more than 300 official shelters, able to house 971,000 people:

…323 buildings in the city have been approved as shelters. The owners and managers of 204 of them have entered into agreements with the federal government and with the city to permit their use in emergencies as public shelters…. Shelters in Dallas can house 971,000 persons. Many of the buildings are permanently stocked with water, food supplies and medical supplies sufficient to sustain about 300,000 people for approximately two weeks. (“Maps at Fire Stations To Pinpoint Shelters,” Dallas Morning News, March 9, 1966)

Some of the permanent provisions kept in these places were water, food, “fortified crackers,” hard candy, bandages, iodine, and Geiger counters.

As one might expect, many of the city’s fallout shelters were in downtown buildings, their exteriors adorned with official Civil Defense signage. My favorite? Neiman-Marcus, of course, seen below in 1965, decorated for the Austrian Fortnight.

civil-defense_NM-austrian-fortnight_1965_degolyer_SMU_cropNeiman-Marcus, the most elegant bomb shelter in town…

If I were able to choose where to huddle during a nuclear attack, I think I’d choose Neiman’s. I’m sure Mr. Stanley made sure his basement was comfortable, tasteful, and well-appointed. …And one would have to expect he wouldn’t have had his guests living off hard candy and fortified crackers.

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Below are images from the 1958 publication Passport to Survival (thanks to Jeff Hanning for his original scans, which precipitated this post) — all images are larger when clicked.

passport-to-survival_1958_covers

“Introduction” / “The Dallas Plan in Brief” (more information of CONELRAD is in this YouTube video):

civil-defense_passport-to-survival_intro

“Evacuation Routes.” (This plan did not sit well with the citizens of Grand Prairie as they were not included in the evacuation plans of either Dallas County or Tarrant County — this seems to have been a particularly odd oversight, seeing as Grand Prairie was a military aviation hub — home to Hensley Field and Chance Vought — and a likely target if DFW were attacked. As an editorial in the Grand Prairie Daily News-Texan stated somewhat bitterly: “Dallas seems to have it all sewed up.”) (Also interesting in these evacuation plans was that the county was divided into four divisions, the boundaries of which corresponded to school districts: District I covered the Dallas Independent School District, Division III covered the Highland Park Independent School District, District IV covered the “Negro Unit,” and District II covered every other school district in Dallas County not covered in the other divisions.)


civil-defense_passport-to-survival_evacuation-routes-map


civil-defense_passport-to-survival_evacuation-routes

“Reception & Care Counties For Dallas Area Traffic Dispersal Routes” (the person who owned this pamphlet was planning to hightail it to Bonham):


civil-defense_passport-to-survival_traffic-dispersal_map


civil-defense_passport-to-survival_reception-and-care-counties

“Emergency Procedures”:

civil-defense_passport-to-survival_warnings

“Emergency Supply Kit” (do NOT forget the can opener!) / “Taking Cover”:


civil-defense_passport-to-survival_preparation

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Sources & Notes

Thanks again to Jeff Hanning for sending me scans of his Passport to Survival, Dallas County pamphlet.

The photo of Neiman-Marcus is from the DeGolyer Library at SMU. The above image is a really bad photo I took as a reference photo for a project I was working on at SMU last year. The actual photograph in the DeGolyer collection is, of course, much better! Apologies to the DeGolyer Library! I would link to the photo in SMU’s online database, but a scan of that particular photo is not available.

As mentioned above, if you’re interested in Civil Defense in Dallas, the CivilDefenseMuseum.com site is where you need to be. There’s TONS of stuff there. In addition to the great video walk-though of the old Fair Park shelter, there are also several pages of photos here (click through all the pages by following the links at the bottom of each page).

More on the history of United States Civil Defense, here.

And two stories from the Lakewood Advocate on Dallas’ Civil Defense shelters and preparedness can be found here and here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: Early United Flights Out of Love Field

aeiral_united-air-lines_fairchild_ebay_rppc

by Paula Bosse

See a large image of this great aerial view of downtown and appreciate how much flight times have been pared down over the past 85 years or so in the 2015 Flashback Dallas post “Fly United to Chicago in Only Eight Hours!,” here.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Willie’s Picnic Or Bust

willie-nelson-picnic_1980_austin-american-statesman“All’s we need is a ride, man…”  (photo: Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is July 4th, 2018 — the 45th anniversary of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The photo above — taken by Austin photographer Stanley Farrar — ran in The Austin American-Statesman in 1980 and shows hitchhikers (including a bare-chested Jerry Rundell and his go-with-the-flow cat “Precious”) thumbing it on Highway 71, hoping for a ride to that year’s picnic at Willie’s Pedernales Country Club, near Austin.

Take a look at the full illustrated program for the second Picnic, which was held at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, July 4-6, 1974, in a PDF, here. The huge line-up included Dallas natives Michael Murphey, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard (all three of whom attended Adamson High School in Oak Cliff), and singer-turned-DJ-turned-singer, Johnny Dallas (aka Groovey Joe Poovey). To make this a somewhat Dallas-y, I’ve pulled out a few of the local ads (click ’em to see larger images).

willie-nelson-program_cover-1974

willie-nelson-program_1974_kzewKZEW — from the Zoo’s “Progressive Country” years?

willie-nelson-program_1974_wbapWBAP — how much Ray Wylie Hubbard was WBAP playing?

Speaking of Ray Wylie Hubbard:

willie-nelson-program_1974_ray-wylie-hubbard_mother-bluesMother Blues had a one-buck cover charge, and Gertie’s was rocking until 5 a.m.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lyons-pubLyon’s Pub, 5535 Yale Street.

willie-nelson-program_1974_fannie-annsFannie Ann’s, 4714 Greenville Avenue, the lower part of Upper Greenville.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lone-star-opryhouseThe Lone Star Opry House, 1011 S. Industrial, at Cadiz (formerly the Aragon Ballroom). Willie appeared during its first week in business.

willie-nelson-program_iconoclastThe Iconoclast, Dallas’ underground newspaper, which began as Stoney Burns’ Dallas Notes.

willie-nelson-program_1974_ethylsEthyl’s (“Only Bluegrass Club in Dallas”), 3605 McKinney Avenue.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Austin American-Statesman (July 4, 1980); photo taken by photographer Stanley Farrar. See many more photos of Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics in an American-Statesman slideshow, here.

I wonder if Willie’s picnics have their own Wikipedia page? Of COURSE they do! Have at it.

I’ve written about it before, but, hey, it’s the 4th of July, so here’s Willie’s very … um, unusual ode to Dallas:

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Happy 4th!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sam Ventura’s Italian Village, Oak Lawn

italian-village_photo-holder_PEB

by Paula Bosse

In amongst photos and belongings of my mother’s aunt, I recently came across this wonderful graphic of Oak Lawn’s Italian Village (3211 Oak Lawn, at Hall). It was on the cover of one of those cardboard photo holders which contained photos of diners and club-goers captured by photographers wanting to capture celebrants’ special occasions — they would take your photo and you would later purchase prints, which would be tucked inside the souvenir folder. (I don’t recognize any of the people in the photo which was  inside — the photo is here.)

The Italian Village complex (which contained all its various tangential enterprises over he years) was an Oak Lawn fixture for over 45 years — it was apparently still around during my lifetime, but I have no memory of ever seeing it. But by the time I would have been aware of it, things had begun to get a little weird and its profile had definitely dipped. (More on that later.)

Italian Village began its life in 1934 when Sam Ventura (1907-1997) bought a popular drive-in restaurant in Oak Lawn from a man named Levi F. “Speck” Harper. In Ventura’s obituary in The Dallas Morning News, his wife said: “He bought it from a man named Speck Harper who told him, ‘Give me $250 and my hat, and you’ll never see me again.’ Sam had to go and borrow the money.” (DMN, June 1, 1997) ($250 in today’s money would be about $4,700.)

speck-harper_july-1934July, 1934

Not only did $250 start Ventura on a very successful career as a restaurateur, it also assured him ownership of what would quickly become a primo piece of real estate. (Ventura dabbled in real estate and, in 1937, along with fellow restaurant man Sam Lobello, he purchased land at Preston Road and Northwest Highway which would one day become Preston Center.) (It might be worth noting here that Sam Ventura was not affiliated with the very popular Sammy’s restaurants, run by Dallas’ Messina family.)

italian-village_matchbook_front_ebay        italian-village_matchbook_back_ebay
Matchbook, via eBay

Italian Village — a restaurant which operated for many years as a private club in order to sell liquor — was originally co-owned by brothers-in-law Sam Ventura and Nick DeGeorge (DeGeorge was later married to Ventura’s sister Lucille). By the time the ad below appeared in 1939, the place had been newly remodeled and was on its ninth (!) expansion. There were lots of new “rooms”: the Can-Can Room, the Plaid Room, the Hunter’s Room, the Gazelle Room, and the Marionette Room, the latter of which featured entertainment in the form of a marionette show with puppets made in likenesses of the owners. (All images are larger when clicked.)

1939_italian-village_feb-1939Feb., 1939

In June, 1940, Italy entered the War in Europe as a member of the Axis forces. As a result, Ventura and DeGeorge immediately asserted their patriotism and their American-ness (both were born in the United States to Italian immigrants) by changing the name of their restaurant: arrivederci, Italian Village, hello, Oak Lawn Village. The owners placed an ad in Dallas newspapers explaining their decision (see ad below) — this made news across the country, garnering both positive national publicity as well as fervent local support.

italian-village_ad_june-1940
June, 1940

Not only did the restaurant’s name change in 1940, so did its ownership. Nick DeGeorge and his wife (the sister of Sam Ventura) embarked on a very lengthy, very bitter divorce (newspapers reported that Nick and Lucille were each on their fourth marriages). The result of this marital split spilled over and also caused a business split: Ventura became the sole owner of Italian Oak Lawn Village, and DeGeorge left to start his own (very successful) restaurant career (DeGeorge’s, Town & Country, etc.). Sam announced that he was “sole owner” in a September, 1940 ad. (I hope Nick at least got custody of his mini-me marionette….)

1940_oak-lawn-village-ad_sept-1950Sept., 1940

oak-lawn-village_matchbook_flickr-coltera
Oak Lawn Village matchbook cover, via Flickr

In June, 1941 yet another remodeling/expansion was announced, with architectural design by longtime friend of Ventura and DeGeorge, Charles Dilbeck, and murals by Russ Ellis. In addition to the Gazelle Room (“for comfort”) and the Hunter’s Room (“for private parties”), there was now the San Juan Capistrano Room (“follow the swallows”), the 42nd & Broadway Room (“for luxury”), the South American Room (“for romance”), the Dude Ranch Room (“where the west begins”), the Rain Room (“for private parties”), the Banquet Room (“seating capacity 150 guests”), and an outdoor Italian Garden Terrace (“beneath the stars”).

1941_oak-lawn-village_dmn_june-41June, 1941

That $20,000 remodel (which would have been equivalent to about $350,000 in today’s money) went up in smoke — literally — in April, 1944, when the restaurant was “virtually destroyed” by fire. Ventura said he would rebuild when war-time government regulations would permit him to do so. At the end of the year he announced that he would build a new restaurant, of shell stone and marble construction, lit in front by decorative tower lights. The new place was built and in full swing — and back with its original name — in the summer of 1945.

1945_italian-village_aug-1945Aug., 1945

An ad for Dallas’ S. H. Lynch & Co.’s Seeburg Scientific Sound Distribution system appeared in the Aug. 10, 1946 issue of Billboard magazine, showing photos of Sam Ventura, the exterior of the new building, and an interior shot showing a Seeburg jukebox. (See full ad here.)

1946_italian-village_billboard_081046_ad-det-1Sam D. Ventura, 1946 (ad detail, Billboard magazine)

1946_italian-village_billboard_081046_ad-det-2

1946_italian-village_billboard_081046_ad-det-3Italian Village exterior and interior, 1946 (ad detail, Billboard magazine)

In January, 1951 another remodeling (to the tune of $75,000!) introduced the 300-seat Flamingo Room, which meant the entire Italian Village now had a seating capacity of more than 700 (Ventura had said that the original post-Speck’s restaurant seated only 40 or 50 people). The “modernistic styling” was the work of architect J. N. McCammon.

1951_italian-village_flamingo-room_jan-1951Jan., 1951

italian-village_postcard_flamingo-room_ebay

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Front and back of 1955 menu, via eBay

Further changes came to 3211 Oak Lawn in the fall of 1954 with the arrival of the Village Club, which featured live entertainment (including a rotating piano) and shared a kitchen with Italian Village. It was also a “private locker club” with personal liquor lockers available to members to keep their bottles in at a time when it was not legal for restaurants in Dallas to sell liquor-by-the-drink — “set-ups” were sold and the demon alcohol was poured from the member’s stash (or, more likely, from the communal stash).

In 1961 there was yet another remodel, which enlarged the club — now called Club Village — and shrank the restaurant. The swanky new club was designed by Charles Dilbeck and had a sort of Olde English theme (and, for some reason, featured a waterfall, a glass cage behind the bar containing live monkeys, and two live flamingos named Lancelot and Guenevere).

1965_club-village_oct-1965Oct., 1965

Around this time the (apparently short-lived) Francisca Restaurant appeared.

francisca-restaurant_menu_1961_ebayvia eBay

club-village_francisca_new-years-eve_dec-1961New Year’s Eve, Dec., 1961

1961 also marked the club’s debut on national television, appearing in scenes of the hit show Route 66, which were filmed in November. Below is a screen-capture from the episode “A Long Piece of Mischief,” with the waterfall in the background. (The entire episode, shot around the Mesquite Rodeo, can be watched on YouTube here — the two Club Village scenes begin at the 26:42 and 38:15 marks.)

1961_club-village_route-66Route 66 (screen capture) — Nov., 1961

In late 1966, Dallas filmmaker Larry Buchanan shot his cult classic Mars Needs Women in various locations all over town. I’m pretty sure one of the very first scenes was shot inside the club, after yet another remodel. (Incidentally, see what the lively neon-ified corner of Oak Lawn and Lemmon, a couple of blocks away, looked like in Buchanan’s film, here.)

1966_club-village_mars-needs-women
Mars Needs Women (screen capture) — 1966

In August, 1964 a new club opened: Gringos (sometimes spelled Gringo’s). This public club, featuring mostly rock bands, was the brainchild of Sam Ventura, Jr. (who said in an interview that he had rather brazenly sprung the whole thing as a big surprise on his father, who had been out of town on a lengthy vacation — luckily, the club was a hit and Sam, Sr. was pleased). Club Village continued as a private club, but from newspaper accounts it seems that the new discotheque displaced the Italian Village and/or Francisca restaurant completely. So now on one side you had the long-running “sophisticated” private club, and on the other side, the “new concept in continuous entertainment,” with its Mexican-themed decor and Watusi-dancing waitresses (“Las Mata-Dollies…”), which catered to a younger set. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram described Gringos thusly:

Newest “port of call” for Dallas revelers on the bistro beat is the just-opened and lavishly-done Gringos Club on Oak Lawn Ave. near the Melrose Hotel and in the location formerly occupied by the Italian Village Restaurant and Village Club. Open to the public, this night time Camelot with Mexican decor features, among other flings, Jesse (brother of Trini) Lopez and his handful of musical consorts on the bandstand and a covey of revealing young handmaidens called “Las Matta-Dollies” [sic], sort of Spanish-type Playboy Bunnies who are worthy of your scrutiny. (Chris Hobson, FWST, Aug. 27, 1964)

1964_gringos_aug-1964Aug., 1964

In May, 1967, Sam Ventura, Jr. (“Sammy,” who had taken over the family business when Sam, Sr. retired in 1966) declared that Gringos was dead: “There will be absolutely no rock-and-roll in this room anymore. It’s dead. Our whole concept [now] is for sophistication, for adult entertainment” (DMN, May 24, 1967). So adios, Gringos, hello an even bigger Club Village. (In 1968 a club described as a “new” Gringos  opened a block away, at 3118 Oak Lawn — it’s unclear whether this was affiliated in any way with the Ventura family.)

In June, 1968, the never-ending improvements, remodelings, and reconfigurings of 3211 Oak Lawn continued with Sammy’s announcement of a new (public) restaurant, the Wood ‘N Rail. This steakhouse featured a revolving “ice bar” (the old revolving piano bar, repurposed), which contained a display of raw meat — from this, customers would choose whichever cut of beef called to them, and before the meat was escorted into the kitchen, the patron would sear his or her initials into it with a “red-hot branding iron.” The restaurant’s slogan was “Personalized Beef.” The unstoppable Club Village continued as a private club and restaurant in the adjoining complex.

1968_wood-n-rail_oct-1968Oct., 1968

1971 began with a fire. The (once) unstoppable Club Village was destroyed. The adjacent Wood ‘N Rail emerged unscathed. So, yes, more remodeling! By 1972, 3211 Oak Lawn boasted three (three!) restaurants at one address: the continuing Wood ‘N Rail (steakhouse), Fisherman’s Cove (seafood), and — hey! — the return of Italian Village. As the ads said: “3 RESTAURANTS UNDER ONE ROOF!”

1972_fishermans-cove_march-1972March, 1972

1972_three-restaurants_may-1972May, 1972

Also big news in 1971: it finally became legal to order liquor and mixed drinks in bars and restaurants — the whole “private club-membership” thing in order to get around liquor laws was mostly a thing of the past (unless you lived in a dry area of the city…).

Then, in 1974, things really changed. After a “profound religious conversion,” Sammy Ventura stopped all sales of alcohol and told the TABC he didn’t need or want that ol’ liquor license. This made news around the country.

1974_kings-village_panama-city-FL-news-herald_081274UPI wire story, Panama City [FL] News Herald, Aug, 1974

Unsurprisingly, business plummeted. Two of the three restaurants closed. Italian Village continued to limp along, even weathering the introduction of the King’s Village, “Dallas’ first Christian dinner theater.”

1976_kings-village_june-1976June, 1976

This change in direction of the the 40-plus-year-old family business caused a huge rift between Sammy and his father. Sam, Sr. put his foot down, and The King’s Village (“the nation’s first non-liquor, Christian nightclub”) closed in June, 1977.

1977_kings-village_pampa-daily-news_062177
AP wire story, Pampa Daily News, June 21, 1977

Oak Lawn’s decades-old Italian Village was no more (although Sammy appears to have opened his own Italian Village restaurant in Richardson’s Spanish Village for a while). The last mention I found of Italian Village was in Feb., 1979:

After 45 years, the Italian Village restaurant has changed to another venture, the Crazy Crab. Sam Ventura opened the Italian Village in 1934 and the last event before the changeover was a surprise birthday party honoring Sam. (DMN, Feb. 23, 1979)

It’s a shame Italian Village’s last incarnation was a mere shadow of its former go-go glory, but it’s almost unbelievable that a restaurant in Dallas was in business for 45 years. Sam Ventura’s $250 gamble in 1934 paid off very, very well.

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Sources & Notes

Top image is the front cover of a cardstock photo-holder (with linked photo by the Gilbert Studios, 4121 Gaston); collection of Paula Bosse.

All clippings and images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: W. C. Connor’s (Still-Standing) Home in Highland Park

connor-home_cook-colln_degolyerW. C. Connor house, Highland Park (source: DeGolyer Library, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

When I saw this photograph, I fell in love with this beautiful house, which was built around 1910 and is still standing in Highland Park. Read more about it in the Flashback Dallas post from 2016, “The House at Crescent & Byron, Highland Park,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Last Traces of Vickery Park Are Now Definitely Gone

vickery-park_demo_062118_d_PEBThe last vestige of a one-time summer destination… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Driving along Greenville Avenue this morning, I noticed a pile of rubble where Vickery Park once stood (just south of Walnut Hill, across from Presbyterian Hospital). It seemed sadly ironic that the land which was once occupied by a fondly-remembered swimming pool and picnic area was heaped with demolished buildings on the first day of summer.

I never saw the huge swimming pool myself, but from everything I’ve read about it over the years, it seems to have been very, very popular with generations of Dallasites. It was built in the then-rural community of Vickery as far back as the 1930s (well before Vickery was annexed by the city of Dallas), and it was still open at least through the ’60s.

The pool and amusement park were long gone when the (now-demolished) small shopping and restaurant area was built in the mid-1970s on a very pretty wooded site alongside White Rock Creek. Initially, the developer envisioned lots of quaint little boutiques and cafes (similar to those found in the Quadrangle) dotting the banks of White Rock Creek, creating Dallas’ version of San Antonio’s River Walk. …No one has ever accused real estate developers of dreaming small.

It’s sad to see this anachronistic, funky little area go away. My vague memories of childhood games of miniature golf in the ’70s are about to get vaguer.

vickery-park_demo_062118_a_PEB

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I’ve never known exactly where the pool was, but I think it might have been at the back right of the photo above, just off Pineland.

vickery-park-pool_dpl_pinterest

vickery-park-swimming-pool_1950s

vickery-park-swimming-pool_legacies_fall-2002

vickery-park-pool_19461946

swim_vickery-park_19651965

1978_vickery-park_sept-1978Sept., 1978

vickery_google_may-2017Google Street View

Above is a Google Street View from May, 2017. If you’d like to take a little virtual “drive” through the parking lot, hie yourself over to Google, here.

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Here are two pieces of film footage showing the pool. The first one is from June, 1964 and is (silent) news footage shown on WBAP Channel 5. It’s a little unsettling, as it shows a boy being rushed off by ambulance after an accident, but it does have some interesting shots of the pool and the park, which I’ve certainly never seen before. I am unable to embed the video, but you can watch it here. (The script for the story is here.) (Footage is from the WBAP-TV News collection, UNT Libraries Special Collections.) Here is a screen capture:

vickery-pool_WBAP_portal_062364

The second is undated, but the clips are from home movies.

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Sources & Notes

Rubble photos taken by me on June 21, 2018 — construction was underway. And it was extremely HOT.

The first historic photo appears to be a Dallas Public Library photo, with most of the watermark cropped off. I found it on Pinterest, here.

The third photo, showing two boys, was found in the Fall 2002 issue of Legacies.

There are memories-galore of Vickery here.

A couple of interesting tidbits:

  • The Vickery pool was used as an officers’ recreation club during World War II by the Fifth Ferrying Group; an aquatic meet was held there in June, 1945 which featured a variety of exhibitions, including a water ballet performed by “half a dozen mermaids from University Park.”
  • In the early 1970s, Vickery Park (…not to be confused with Vickery Place…) was owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They reopened the park as a “family recreation center” — unlike the earlier days, alcohol was no longer sold. They sold the land to developers around 1974 or 1975; in the summer of 1975, the recreation center was bulldozed and the pool was paved over (and became a parking lot).

Articles on the disappearing community of Vickery can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Progress Overtakes Old Vickery” by Rena Pederson, with photos by Eli Grothe (DMN, August 3, 1975)
  • “Store Provides Feed For Thought On Town’s Past” (Vickery Feed Store) by Steve Kenny (DMN, Nov. 18, 1979)

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Dallas Medical College: 1900-1904

dallas-med-college_1903_utswCommerce, near Akard…

by Paula Bosse

Read about the time that Dallas had ELEVEN medical schools, in the 2014 Flashback Dallas post “Dallas Medical College: 1903-1904.”

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

No Necking Along Country Roads Until Bonnie & Clyde Are Killed Or Captured — 1934

la-pistolera-de-texas_DHS-instagramNo parking! (image: Dallas Historical Society)

by Paula Bosse

In April, 1934, at the height of Bonnie and Clyde’s murderous crime spree, Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid issued a warning to amorous Dallasites to curtail their necking in cars parked along dark, deserted country roads — at least while the Barrow Gang was at large. He even asked school superintendent Norman Crozier to make a special broadcast to high school students, warning that such behavior could be dangerous, if not life-threatening. A Dallas Morning News article advised people from “parking” “until after Clyde Barrow is killed or captured.”

“It’s a request that all citizens should observe,” Sheriff Schmid said. “There are many officers taking part in the hunt for Barrow. Some of them are young and inexperienced. All of them are very anxious to catch Barrow. If someone should mistake one of them for a hijacker he might get killed, or kill the officer. Either way it would be a terrible thing. I just want to prevent any unnecessary trouble if I can.” (“Sheriff Warns Against Parking,” DMN, April 13, 1934)

A few weeks later, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in Louisiana. Once their deadly rampage had ended, Dallasites were, presumably, free to resume their “nocturnal necking.”

bonnie-clyde_no-necking_austin-american_d_041334 Austin American, April 13, 1934 (click for larger image)

bonnie-clyde_no-parking_cuero-record_041834Cuero (TX) Record, April 18, 1934

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Sources & Notes

Top image is the lurid front cover of a rare 1935 Mexican publication about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow titled “La Pistolera de Texas” — it is from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society and was featured on their Instagram feed (more info is here).

More Flashback Dallas posts on Bonnie & Clyde can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Oak Cliff: “A City Set On a Hill Cannot Be Hid” — 1887

oak-cliff_railway-over-trinity_dallas-herald_122987Next stop: The Cliff… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Below is an article (which reads like a real estate ad) from the December 29, 1887 edition of The Dallas Herald, rhapsodizing about the wonders of Oak Cliff, the brand new development springing up across the Trinity River, not yet part of Dallas. According to the ad article, “the Cliff” was quickly becoming a bedroom community for neighboring Big City Dallas, which was apparently bursting at the seams with newly-arrived residents looking for someplace to live. Accompanying this paean were six drawings (in varying degrees of artistic accomplishment), including an interesting, if hard-to-read, map of Oak Cliff at the time (all images are larger when clicked). Here is a transcription of the Dallas Herald article (which can be seen in its original layout on the Portal to Texas History website, here).

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OAK CLIFF

STILL BOOMING IN SPITE OF THE BAD WEATHER

The Iron Bridge Will Soon be Completed and the

Transportation Problem forever Settled

(Dallas Herald, Dec. 29, 1887)

Oak Cliff was born of natural advantages and abundant enterprise. Mother Dallas has a dozen sprightly children but in the face of all of them, Oak Cliff walks off with the schnap. There is some talk of moving Dallas over to the Cliff, but the city council will not do it. It would not be a good thing. “A city set on a hill cannot be hid.”

oak-cliff_boaters_dallas-herald_122987

We don’t intend to say that Dallas is hid. The Cliff dwellers look down upon her as an open page every day. People from all sections of the state and county have turned both eyes toward Dallas, and her prominence is rapidly increasing. The growth of her population is marvelous. There are at least 2,000 recent arrivals living in tents around the city waiting for houses. Between three and five hundred of these are at Oak Cliff. It is certainly not necessary to add that the constantly increasing prominence and growth of Dallas rendered it necessary to cross the river and find desirable and delightful homes for the people. For a solution of this problem the reader is referred to the above illustration. 

oak-cliff_immigrating_dallas-herald_122987

The dummy engine brought from the Crescent City for that purpose could not pull the people. So a new larger engine was brought on to try the track and haul the folks. From the court-house to Tenth street station there is one unbroken line of excellent track, except the break at the temporary bridge over the Trinity’s channel. The iron bridge is on the ground, the huge pillars are up and the material all ready for the one missing link, which will soon be completed.

The splendid pike leading from Commerce street west is the wagon way to Oak Cliff. This is macadamized from the bridge to Grand Avenue which is a fine graded and macadamized street running entirely through the heart of the new city. Limestone in blocks about a foot square is laid first upon the well graded street and this is finished off with a filling of excellent gravel, almost a foot deep. Leaving the Lancaster road near the bluff, you turn right and follow Grand avenue more than a mile without encountering enough mud to bog a mosquito. Of course other streets, fifty of them, have been graded also. So much for TRANSPORTATION. Good roads of both kinds to the city.

oak-cliff_grand-avenue_dallas-herald_122987

Now we are over there. The first thing we find its altitude. As Col. Oliver, editor of the Oak Cliff Weekly puts it, “we are much nearer heaven.” We feel better. Next we find beautiful scenery all around us for almost a weekday’s journey. The circle around us is broad and grand. We find pleasant groves, enchanting jungles, quiet retreats, hoary rocks, delightful springs and then the lake.

The water tower and school house are not hard to find. No city in the state has better. (School begins January 1st.)

oak-cliff_public-school-bldg_dallas-herald_122987

A nobby little station after the Japanese plan of architecture, is found where each street crosses the railway. Scores of laborers are seen at work on the streets, and the saw and hammer keep up a terrible racket. There are thirteen homes now going up and as many more under contract. Scarcely a day passes without sales by the Dallas Land & Loan Co., as the lists of “Real Estate Transfers” attest. $200,000 will cover the real estate sales of most Texas towns of 5,000 people and under for six months or a year. Oak Cliff has sold that much in six weeks, and began virtually without any population at all. There has been more public improvement at Oak Cliff within the past three months than in the entire city of Dallas, or any city or town in Texas. This is a strong statement but it is backed by the figures. It is true. This improvement has been made by private capital too. It cannot stop now – it does not have to. But it is safe to say it does not wish to.

With such lovely places for home, school privileges, quick and cheap transportation to the city, highly improved streets and an abundance of as pure water as there is in Texas, the investors in Oak Cliff stock need not wait long for their bread to float back to them. But the point of chief interest has not been touched yet. THESE PLEASANT, HEALTHFUL, CONVENIENT PLACES TO LIVE ARE OFFERED AT REASONABLE PRICES. It takes more than most mortals possess to buy a 25 x 75 foot lot of black mud in other places and nothing is left to buy lumber or build a house. You do not need a fortune to get you a home at the Cliff, and you get a lot 100 x 250 or larger, in some instances. Of course you have no city tax to pay. Property will never be lower than it is now. The completion of the iron bridge will be sure to raise the value of lots.

oak-cliff_map_dallas-herald_122987

(Dallas Herald, December 29, 1887)

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Sources & Notes

Text and drawings from the pages of The Dallas Herald, Dec. 29, 1887; the original page layout can be viewed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on the early days of Oak Cliff:

  • “Oak Cliff, The Beautiful Suburb — 1888,” here
  • “The Marsalis House: One of Oak Cliff’s ‘Most Conspicuous Architectural Landmarks,'” here
  • “Thomas Marsalis’ Spectacular Oak Cliff Hotel: 1890-1945,” here
  • “Oak Cliff Wants YOU! — 1890,” here
  • “Oak Cliff Presbyterian Church, Organized 1890,” here
  • “‘Oak Cliff Is To Dallas What Brooklyn Is To New York’ — 1891,” here
  • “The St. Joseph Orphanage — 1891,” here

General posts on Oak Cliff/West Dallas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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