Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Super-Cool Roger Miller in Dallas — 1960s

roger-miller_venetian-room_oct-1969_wfaa_jones-film_SMURoger Miller on the Venetian Room stage, October, 1969

by Paula Bosse

Who doesn’t love Roger Miller? He was always one of the most effortlessly “cool” entertainers, celebrated as much for his songwriting and singing as he was for his humor and storytelling.

Roger Miller was born in Fort Worth in 1936 but spent most of his childhood in Oklahoma following the death of his father. He launched an entertainment career after a stint in the U.S. Army came to an end. (See an extensive timeline at Wikipedia, here.)

After years of struggling, he finally hit the big-time in 1964 with the hit “Dang Me” and, a few months later, with his biggest hit, the classic “King of the Road.” He won a huge number of Grammys (11 in 1964 and 1965 alone) and was a bona fide star who had incredible crossover appeal for fans of both country music and traditional popular music.

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When he came to Dallas in October, 1969 it was for a 3-week run at the Fairmont Hotel’s swanky Venetian Room, and he apparently packed them in every night. Below is a snippet of an interview with WFAA-Channel 8 News in which Roger answers the burning question of whether he was “serious” when he wrote his hit novelty song “You Can’t Rollerskate In a Buffalo Herd” (listen to the song here). His quipped response (which cracked up the Jerry Gray Orchestra behind him) probably didn’t make it to the local airwaves in 1969:

 

roger-miller_venetian-room_oct-1969_wfaa_jones-film_SMU_a

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(As an interesting sidelight, in an interview with Philip Wuntch of The Dallas Morning News (Oct. 19, 1969), Miller said that he and his wife had been in Texas for a few days prior to his Venetian Room engagement looking at houses in both Dallas (his mother was then residing in Fort Worth) and San Antonio (his wife’s hometown). Nothing apparently came of this, but it certainly would have been nice to have been able to claim Roger Miller as a Dallas resident!)

He was in town a couple of years earlier, in 1967, and sat down for a Channel 8 interview which was a bit more sedate — it took place in the American Airlines “Celebrity Room” at Love Field as he was passing through Dallas on his way to San Antonio with his wife and young son, Dean Miller:

 

roger-miller_venetian-room_march-1967_wfaa_jones-film_SMU

On this trip, newspapers reported that he was shuttled about in private Lear Jets and Rolls Royces — a big change from his early days when he picked cotton, hitchhiked, slept in cars, and stole milk off front porches.

Roger Miller died in 1992 at the age of 56 from complications of lung cancer.

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Below are a few ads from Roger Miller’s DFW appearances. He played large venues like the Big D Jamboree in Dallas and Panther Hall and Northside Coliseum in Fort Worth, but he also played a lot of little clubs as he worked his way up to becoming a major recording artist and television personality.

miller-roger_FWST_041259_rosas-western-clubRosa’s Western Club, Fort Worth with Donny Young (aka Johnny Paycheck), April 12, 1959

miller-roger_060863_hi-ho-western-club_grand-prairieHi-Ho Western Club, Grand Prairie, TX, June 8, 1963

miller-roger_FWST_081364_panther-hallPanther Hall, Aug. 13, 1964

miller-roger_101669_fairmont-hotelVenetian Room, Dallas, Oct. 16, 1969

miller-roger_101769_fairmont-hotel_smash-recordsSmash Records ad, Oct. 17, 1969

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Sources & Notes

Film footage of Roger Miller in Dallas (on YouTube here and here) is from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

The official Roger Miller website is here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dallas Day” at the State Fair of Texas

state-fair_dallas-day_100956
Hey, Big D — don’t forget “Dallas Day”!

by Paula Bosse

“Dallas Day” used to be an important day at the State Fair of Texas. Like really important. Like national-holiday-important. Below is a typical mayoral proclamation announcing the sweeping closures of public and private businesses and institutions on “Dallas Day,” from 1899 (click to see a larger image; transcription follows):

1899_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101099Dallas Morning News, Oct. 10, 1899

THE GREAT TEXAS STATE FAIR

PROCLAMATION

Wednesday, Oct. 11, is hereby declared to be, and is to be, a full, free and public holiday within the corporate limits of our good city of Dallas, on account of Dallas Day at the Great Texas State Fair.

All business, public and private, the postoffice, the courts, the banks, and public schools, will close from Tuesday evening, Oct. 10, until Thursday morning, Oct. 12, to the end that all may turn out and have one full day’s benefit of this great educational institution.

Every employer in Dallas is charged to be loyal to this, our proclamation, for his own good, for the good of those he employs, for the good of their wives and families and of their sweethearts.

No loyal concern in Dallas will fail to observe this, our annual holiday, or fail to render to their employes every facility for observing it.

Every citizen of Dallas having in his possession a complimentary ticket to the Fair is hereby requested to keep his ticket in his pocket and to pay his way at the gate. Children in arms will be admitted to the Fair free. School children, accompanied by their teachers, at half price.

Done at Dallas this 9th day of October, 1899.

Signed:
John H. Traylor, Mayor

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For decades, it was expected that most Dallas businesses and government offices would close on “Dallas Day.” The central business district must have been a ghost town. Woe be to anyone needing a new frock, a replacement gasket, a bank draft, or even a postage stamp on “Dallas Day.” The city had bigger fish they wanted its citizens to fry.

1906_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101806Oct. 18, 1906

Here’s an early “Dallas Day” ad from 1889 with pointing fingers:

1889_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101489Oct. 14, 1889

The State Fair of Texas was (and continues to be) so filled with other ubiquitous “days” (such as old favorites “Hard Money Day” and “Chrysanthemum Day,” as seen in the ad below from 1895) that if Dallas weren’t Dallas, “Dallas Day” might run the risk of getting lost in the jam-packed fair schedule.

1895_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_102495Oct. 24, 1895

There were, of course, “Dallas Day” parades:

parade_state-fair_dallas-day_come-to-dallas_degolyer_SMU_ca1905ca. 1905, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

“Dallas Day” may still be a thing, for all I know (I guess I think of “Dallas Day” as the day Dallas’ elementary school kids get off to go to the fair, a tradition I hope never dies), but it had lost a lot of steam after those early days. Some businesses continued to close or shorten their hours to let employees enjoy the fair, but the era of a city shutting down so that everyone could flock to the State Fair began to fade after those early decades of the 20th century. But imagine how exciting that must have been, with all of Dallas descending on Fair Park en masse.

state-fair_dallas-day_101056Oct. 10, 1956

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

State Fair of Texas, Miscellaneous Tidbits from Its History

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by Paula Bosse

The State Fair of Texas is, once again, in full swing. Here are a few random SFOT images and ads from the past.

First up, an ad for the very first state fair in Dallas, in 1886. Almost unbelievably, this “Dallas State Fair” (held on 80 acres of land now known as Fair Park) was one of two competing state fairs held in the city that year — the other one was the “Texas State Fair,” which was held about three miles northeast of the courthouse on a 100-acre site roughly about where Cole Park is near present-day North Dallas High School. The two state fairs ran concurrently, and both were smash hits. The “Dallas State Fair and Exposition” eventually became the State Fair of Texas in 1904. Below are the ads for those competing two fairs. (Click to see a larger image.)

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The East Dallas fair, Dallas Herald, Oct. 9, 1886

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The North Dallas fair, Dallas Herald, Oct. 20, 1886

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One of the original buildings built for the 1886 Dallas State Fair was the massive Exposition Building, designed by architect James Flanders. On a site devoted to the career of Flanders, the architect recalled this project many years later: “The progress of the work on the structure was watched by most people with a degree of curiosity far more intense than is excited by the loftiest skyscraper in these days when people have no time to wonder. Such an apparition on the bald prairie attracted crowds of the curious from far and near on Sundays.”

state-fair_exposition-bldg_ca-1890s

Above, the huge Exposition Hall, enlarged from its initial design, which, in 1886 was reported to contain 92,000 square feet of unrivaled exhibition space. Unfortunately, the wooden buildings seen above burned to the ground in the early hours of July 20, 1902. The blaze was so intense that “the whole of the city was lit up with the brilliancy of the sunrise” and that “flames rose to such great height that they were seen as far west as Fort Worth, where it was thought the whole city of Dallas was burning” (Dallas Morning News, July 21, 1902). More on this building can be found on the Watermelon Kid site, here.

Below, the Exposition Building can be seen from the fairgrounds racetrack in a photo published in 1900 in an issue of The Bohemian magazine (via the Fort Worth Public Library).

fairgrounds_racetrack_bohemian_1900_fwpl

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A moment from the opening day parade festivities of the 1903 fair is captured in the photo below, with the following caption from the 1941-42 edition of the Texas Almanac: “Gov. S. W. T. Lanham (in rear seat of pioneer horseless carriage) in opening day parade for 1903 State Fair of Texas formed on Main Street. Fair President C. A. Keating was seated beside him, and Secretary John G. Hunter of Board of Trade is seen standing beside the gasoline buggy.”

state-fair_opening-day_1903_tx-almanac_1941-42_portal
Main Street, looking west, via Portal to Texas History

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Here is a 1911 view of the state fair midway taken by John R. Minor, Jr. in a real-photo postcard. (More on Mr. Minor is here; more images of the Shoot the Chutes water ride can be found here.)

state-fair_street-scene_john-minor_1911_cook-colln_degolyer
via George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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From the 1920s, an ad for Clayco Red Ball gasoline (“It’s RED in color”). I’m always a sucker for ads containing photos or drawings of Dallas landmarks, and here we see the entrance to Fair Park. (Why was the gas red? Why not? It was the brainchild of Dallas advertising man Wilson W. Crook, Sr. who needed a way to make this Oklahoma gas different. He remembered that during his WWI days in France that higher quality airplane fuel was colored red to distinguish it from regular gasoline. When the gas was introduced to Dallas in August, 1924, he devised a promotion that gave away 5 gallons of this gas to every red-headed person who showed up at participating service stations.)

ad-red-ball-gas_state-fair_dmn_101224-det

ad-red-ball-gas_state-fair_dmn_101224Clayco Red Ball ad, Oct. 1924

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If we’re talking about the State Fair of Texas and we’ve come to the 1930s, there’s a pretty good chance there’s going to be a photo from the Texas Centennial. And, looky here: a nice shot of concessionaires waiting for thirsty patrons at the Centennial Exposition in 1936. A couple of nickels could get you a Coke and a phone call.

sfot_concessionaires_coke_unt_portal_1936via Portal to Texas History

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During World War II the State Fair was on hiatus. Here’s an ad from the 1941-42 Texas Almanac pre-closure, with a nice pencil sketch of the Esplanade and Hall of State:

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And a 1946 magazine cover story on the imminent reopening of the fair:

state-fair_texas-week-mag_100446_portal_cover
via Portal to Texas History

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In 1956 Big Tex warned/assured you that the Esplanade lights would “knock your eyes out.”

state-fair_big-tex-ad_092456

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Speaking of Big Tex and lights knocking your eyes out, in the 1960s Big Tex was memorialized on the side of a downtown building, like a giant bow-legged Lite-Brite.

sfot_big-tex_illuminated_1960s

Back at Fair Park, Huey P. Nash was supplying fair throngs with barbecue from his Little Bob’s Bar-B-Q stand. In 1964, Nash was the first African-American vendor to be granted a food concession at the State Fair. Little Bob’s (which I believe is still in business) was, at the time of this 1967 ad, located in South Dallas at 4203 S. Oakland (now Malcom X), at the corner of Pine. (Ad is from the 1967 Souvenir Program of the 74th Annual Session of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas; more photos from this publication can be seen here.)

sfot_little-bobs-bbq_baptist-convention-program_1967_photo

sfot_little-bobs-bbq_baptist-convention-program_oct-1967

The 1960s also gave us the Swiss Skyride, which replaced the Monorail (which, when it was introduced in 1956, was the first commercially operated monorail in the United States). The Swiss Skyride was erected in Fair Park in August, 1964, and the 6-minute ride debuted a few months later at the 1964 State Fair of Texas.

state-fair_swiss-sky-ride_tinkle-key-to-dallas_1965_replaced-monorail_
via Lon Tinkle’s children’s book Key to Dallas (1965)

sfot_swiss-skyride_FWST_101864

sfot_swiss-skyride_FWST_100964

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Operation AstroBowl — 1964

bowling_american-airlines_encylopedia-britannica-yrbk_jan-1964

by Paula Bosse

I’ve been sidelined for the past few months as I’ve dealt with family eldercare issues, but I hope to resume regular posting soon. In the meantime, on the occasion of my being translated into Portuguese (!), I’m linking to the 2016 Flashback Dallas post “Bowling in the Sky — 1964” which details an airborne publicity stunt involving a tricked-out American Airlines freighter and professional bowlers Dick Weber and Sylvia Wene.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

My Dream House at the Greenville Avenue Reservoir

little-house_waterwoks_greenville-ave_bosseAll it needs is a little paint, a few flowers, maybe some curtains…

by Paula Bosse

I have  been fascinated by this little house-like structure which sits just north of the intersection of Mockingbird and Greenville my entire life. I grew up just a few blocks away, and I’ve passed this little house thousands of times. And every time I pass it, I look at it longingly, even though it’s certainly in a worse-for-wear condition. It was once (and may well STILL be) part of Dallas Water Utilities, housing machinery or equipment. 

A large underground reservoir was built on 16 acres at this location in 1929 on what was then generally touted as the city’s highest point of elevation — height equal to the 20th story of downtown’s Magnolia Building, according to newspaper reports at the time. The city’s plan was that the ground above this large “suburban” outpost of the Dallas water department would eventually become a park, but, sadly, those plans never materialized.

Below are a couple of images of the little building, from a 1950s-era silent short film on the City of Dallas Department of Waterworks, from the collection of the Dallas Municipal Archives (which you can watch on the Texas Archive of the Moving Image site here) (see pertinent footage at about the 6-minute mark).

The first screen-capture shows Greenville Avenue, looking north. If the camera panned to the left, you’d see the old Dr Pepper plant.

dallas-water_little-house_greenville-ave_north_tami-film_6.22

And here’s the little house from the front:

dallas-water_little-house_greenville-ave_tami-film

And here it is today, as seen in a moody April, 2019 Google Street View capture:

waterworks_greenville-ave_google_april-2019Google Street View, 2019

I can’t believe I’ve never actually bothered to look for this, but check out this aerial view showing the water department property, looking to the east, with Greenville Avenue running horizontally at the bottom and Mockingbird Lane at the right, via Google Maps:

dallas-water-utilities_greenville-and-mockingbird_google-aerialGoogle Maps

If anyone knows what’s inside the charming little house, I’d love to know. I’d also love to see other photos of it through the years, inside and out.

I still kind of want to live there. But I’d really do something about that poor metal awning over the door (come on, DWU!). Plant a few flowers. And maybe hang some cheerful curtains.

So. Much. Potential!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo taken by me in 2011.

All thanks to John Botefuhr for posting the link to the Department of Waterworks film on the Lakewood 1925-1985 Facebook group. The film is from the Dallas Municipal Archives and is posted on the website of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI), here

stand-pipes_lakewood_department of waterworks _TAMI

The silent film is just over 10 minutes long and has a lot of interesting footage of what the Dept. of Waterworks was doing around the city at the time. There are a lot of familiar (and unfamiliar) landmarks sprinkled throughout. If someone you know was a waterworks employee, you might see a familiar face.

Even though it appears to have been abandoned, I’m glad “my” little house still stands — it makes me happy every time I pass by.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Have You Emailed Me Recently?

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by Paula Bosse

Oh no! I just discovered that my Flashback Dallas emails have not been auto-forwarding to my main email account!! There are MONTHS of emails I never received. I will start going back through the eye-wateringly large number of what I’m sure are very nice emails which are sitting unopened in their dark little Gmail dungeon. If you have written to me in the past I-don’t-know-how-many-months (!!) and have wondered why I never deigned to respond, now you know why. I apologize for this oversight. And, yes, like Nancy, there is anxiety-perspiration shooting off my fevered brow with great force. Argh.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Worth Street, A Century Ago

worth-street_461_rppc_1908_ebay“A hearty welcome awaits…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above is a photograph of the new home of traveling salesman Everett F. Bray (1873-1915) and his wife Erminia Connor Bray (1874-1962); they had moved to Dallas in 1907 with their young children Everita and Melville. The picture-postcard is dated Aug. 28, 1908 and was sent to a friend with Erminia’s message:

Dearie, I hope it won’t be very long before I can have the pleasure of entertaining you in my Dallas home. […] A hearty welcome awaits you at 461 Worth St. Dallas any old time.

worth-street_461_rppc_1908_ebay_msg

The 1905 Sanborn map of this Old East Dallas neighborhood (which, more specifically, is in OED’s Peak’s Suburban Addition) can be found here (461 is an empty lot, near the upper right corner). After the city-wide address-change of 1911, the 400 block of Worth became the 4400 block. As is the case with many of the houses in this neighborhood, Erminia’s house still stands. …But with a whole lot more vegetation.

worth-street_google-street-view_20162016 Google Street View

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Worth Street — which stretches through Junius Heights, Munger Place, and Peak’s Suburban Addition — may be a bit funkier these days, but there are still many beautiful homes lining the street. Below are a couple of postcards from a century ago, well before the “funky” era.

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After I posted the top image on Instagram, a person (whose handle is @uneik_image_inc) made this interesting comment:

We have painted quite a few houses on Worth Street! Interesting fact: lots of these homes are built on Bois D’Arc tree stumps for foundation piers and a solid 85% are still standing and being lived in!

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Sources & Notes

All postcards are from eBay.

The Brays had moved from their Worth Street home by 1915 when 41-year-old Everett Bray was killed in an automobile accident. Erminia — known as “Minnie” — lived almost 50 years longer than her husband, dying in Duncanville in 1962 at the age of 88.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906

lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_smu

by Paula Bosse

Enjoy these images of Lake Cliff, which, 100 years ago, was “the greatest amusement park in the Southwest.” The slogan “It’s in Dallas” should really have read “It’s in Oak Cliff” — and back then Oak Cliff had everything!

  • Mystic River
  • Shoot-the-Chutes (read this!)
  • Open-Air Circus
  • Roller Coaster
  • Casino
  • Natatorium
  • Carousel
  • Tennis Courts
  • Restaurant
  • Baseball Grounds
  • Skating Rink
  • Trolley Cars
  • Penny Vaudeville
  • Casino Band and Orchestra
  • Circle Swing (see it here)
  • Japanese Village
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Ferris Wheel

Whew.

Below, some wonderful postcards and photos. (Click to see larger images.)

lake-cliff_c1910_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

lake-cliff-bathing_1910s_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

swim_lake-cliff-pool_ca-1907_flickr_coltera

lake-cliff_flickr_coltera

lake-cliff_postcard

lake-cliff_shoot-the-chutes_1908

skating-rink_lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_1via Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

lake-cliff_sunday-afternoon-concert_1906_portal

lake-cliff-park_rose-garden

lake-cliff-pavilion_oak-cliff-high-school-yrbk_1925Oak Cliff High School yearbook, 1925

lake-cliff_clogenson_1908_LOCPhoto by Clogenson, ca. 1908, via Library of Congress

lake-cliff_1906_portal_attractions-1

lake-cliff_1906_portal_attractions-2From 1906 promotional brochure, via Portal to Texas History

Jump forward to the 1940s — when it was more of a big pool, without all the flash and filigree:

swim_lake-cliff-pool_1947_flickr_coltera

Take a look at it now in this stunningly beautiful drone video by Matthew Armstrong:

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a postcard in the George W. Cook Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library, here.

Most other uncredited images were found around the internet, several from Coltera’s Flickr stream.

More on Lake Cliff can be found in this article by Rachel Stone from the Oak Cliff Advocate (be sure to click the link to see the full 1906 promotional brochure on “the Southwest’s greatest playground” (it’s “Clean, Cool, Delightful”)).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: 1907’s Gleaming New Power Plant

power-station_1907

by Paula Bosse

Dallas’ new power station arrived in 1907, one year before the disastrous flood of 1908 — the catastrophic flood would almost certainly have had longer-lasting consequences had this new plant not been filled with brand-new machinery, which enabled the city to rebound remarkably quickly.

And, yes, the designers of the American Airlines Center (which today sits on approximately the same site) took design cues from the old power plant. Read more (and see some cool photos — and a link to the most exhaustive turbine-y article possible, published in 1907) at the Flashback Dallas post from 2015, “A New Power Turbine Station for Big D — 1907.”

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dallas, Texas Blues” (via St. Louis) — 1958

dixieland-from-st-louis_cover

by Paula Bosse

Just stumbled across this slow, low-down-and-dirty Dixieland-influenced instrumental track called “Dallas, Texas Blues.” It comes from the 1958 album Dixieland from St. Louis by Sammy Gardner and His Mound City Six. I can’t find any information on this song or what it has to do with Big D, but it’s good. Take a listen:

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Sources & Notes

More info on the track — and a 99-cent download — can be found here.

Read the liner notes by Nat Hentoff on the back of the original LP here.

dixieland-from-st-louis_cover_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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