Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

White Rock Train Station (And a Helicopter Ride)

white-rock-station_portalWaiting on the Texas Chief…

by Paula Bosse

I was so happy to get word from UNT media librarian and film/video archivist Laura Treat this morning that she had come across film footage of White Rock Station, the first suburban train depot built in the Southwest by the Santa Fe Railway (in 1955). The footage is from the “Spotlight on North Texas” collection, a collaborative project between the University of North Texas Libraries and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) to preserve North Texas film history. This footage is from home movies donated by Mr. Peter Pauls Stewart.

The 4-minute clip starts off with footage shot from a helicopter, showing brand new highways cutting through wide open land, followed by scenes of cute children and their cute dog, and then, beginning at the 3:00 mark, chilly-looking scenes of White Rock Station (which was located at about Jupiter and Kingsley on the edge of Garland, and which, today, looks disappointingly different) and a group of mostly men, some with cameras who appear to be train enthusiasts, waiting for the arrival of the Texas Chief. Doesn’t really look like Texas, does it? Below are some screenshots — watch the full clip on the Texas to Portal History site, here.

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Above, two men set up a camera on a tripod as Mr. Stewart — the man who donated the footage — smiles at the camera and waits for the much-anticipated arrival of the train (which, be warned, is never actually seen in this film!).

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Below a couple of aerial shots of the North Texas countryside.

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UPDATE: In the comments below, Danny Linn writes about the aerial footage seen in the first minute or two of the clip: “… at the very beginning [of the clip is] a clear view of the old Highland Park Airport off Coit Road just north of Forest Lane. This portion of the clip also shows a fairly new Central Expressway near the future crossroad of LBJ Freeway.” Thank you, Danny! I assumed part of what we saw was in the LBJ-area, but wasn’t sure — another view of that area can be seen in a fairly startling photo of Preston and Valley View in 1958, here.

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Sources & Notes

The main page of this clip (titled “The Peter Pauls Stewart Films, No. 5 — Helicopter and Railroad Rides”) can be found here, on the Portal to Texas History website; it is from the Spotlight on North Texas collection, UNT Media Library, University of North Texas. (Click picture to watch clip in a new window.)

I have to admit that I had never heard of White Rock Station until I wrote about it in 2015, a post which has been surprisingly popular. The post — “White Rock Station” — can be found here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

Thank you, Laura!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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“Mr. Wiggly Worm Does Much More Than Wiggle”

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by Paula Bosse

My first crush was on Mr. Peppermint, and I really, really, really loved Mr. Wiggly Worm.

This is a rather unfortunate depiction of my childhood TV pal, but how can you not love a smiling wiggly worm with a mailbox?

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WFAA understood the appeal of Mr. W. W. They even built a whole broadcasting-trade-magazine ad around him. (Click to see it larger.)

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_021163Sponsor, Feb. 11, 1963

Here he is again:

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Sponsor, Nov. 20, 1961

Mr. W. W. stayed at home for this one, but here we see Mr. Peppermint out mingling with his adoring public.

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Broadcasting, June 10, 1963

And, look, “Communications Center” — bet you haven’t heard that in a while!

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Sources & Notes

These Mr. Peppermint advertisements were part of a series of WFAA-Channel 8 ads which ran for several years in television trade magazines.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Bird’s-Eye View to the North

downtown_fairchild-aerial-survey_lgAs the crow flies… (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This is a great view, produced by the Fairchild Aerial Survey Co., taken sometime between 1925 (when the Ferris Plaza waiting station was built) and 1934 (when the land between the Trinity and the courthouse began to be cleared to begin construction of the “million-dollar project” which would eventually be known as Dealey Plaza and the Triple Underpass).

UPDATE: Brian Gunn posted this fantastic now-and-then overlay on the Dallas History Guild Facebook page. I love this. Thank you, Brian!

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These images are huge. Click ’em!

UPDATE #2: Such participation from Flashback Dallas readers! Eric Hanson has now animated Brian Gunn’s overlay. Watch Dallas shoot up! Thank you, Eric! (Click GIF to see it slightly larger.)

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960

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by Paula Bosse

The WFAA Telefilm Collection — part of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, housed at the Hamon Library at Southern Methodist University — is an incredible assemblage of film footage shot by WFAA cameramen, a significant portion of which was never included in Channel 8’s televised news stories; a lot of it is silent, filmed mostly as B-roll material. It’s a fascinating historical treasure trove of local and national (and international) events filmed between 1960 and 1978. Jeremy Spracklen — the collection’s Moving Image Curator — and his assistant, Scott Martin, regularly post entertaining short clips from this vast resource to social media.

Which brings us to the clip posted yesterday — Dec. 6, 2017 — which featured footage of a 1960 parade held in downtown Dallas at Christmastime, with shots of festively decorated Main Street and Elm Street, including nice views of the old Palace Theater. Watch it here on Vimeo.

The clip was posted last night on the Jones Collection’s Facebook page — before I watched it, I read the comment by Bert Harris: “Did you notice Jack Ruby combing his hair right toward the end of the clip?? Wild!!

What?!

Yes, at the very end of the short clip you see Jack Ruby (!) standing in a crowd of people in front of the W. A. Green department store combing his hair and adjusting his famous fedora. It’s very short, but it’s unmistakably Jack Ruby. You never know who’s going to pop up in these snippets of everyday life in Dallas, captured decades ago by WFAA cameramen! So now SMU has a few frames of what has just become historic film footage — footage which has probably been unseen for 57 years — there’s a good chance this never even aired and was merely B-roll footage. I never imagined it would be an exciting event to watch Jack Ruby comb his hair.

I contacted curator Jeremy Spracklen at SMU, and he was pretty excited about the discovery. He even cut a brand new clip this afternoon, isolating the Ruby footage and slowing it down considerably. It’s COOL. Here it is:

Below are some screen captures. I’ve had to lighten them a bit — click pictures to see larger images. Ruby and a friend are in the center of the first frames, then as the clip ends, he’s in the lower left corner.

(Who is the guy with Ruby, and what is he holding in his hand? UPDATE: My first thought was that it might be Ruby’s roommate George Senator (they became roommates in early 1962), but I didn’t really think he looked like the scarce few photos of him I found, but others in the comments below seem to think it might be him. He’s holding a Minox “spy” camera, which was an expensive tiny camera which had been sold for years in several stores in Dallas (and which was offered in classified ads in The News in 1960 for $75) — by the man’s look of utter fascination with it, it appears that it probably belonged to Ruby. The man can be seen looking through it in the longer clip at the :50 mark.) (See one of the first Minox ads found in a Dallas paper — sold by Linz Jewelers in 1951 — here, and in the year of this footage, in 1960, in a Neiman-Marcus ad, here.)

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Sources & Notes

The clip is compiled from WFAA news footage shot on November 26, 1960; it is from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, held at the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. The original clip (1:22) showing a holiday parade in downtown Dallas can be watched on Vimeo here; the slowed-down clip showing only the Jack Ruby footage can be watched on Vimeo here.

According to coverage of the event in the Dallas Times Herald (“Mile of Dimes Parade Lures Great and Small,” Nov. 27, 1960), the parade was the “Mile of Dimes” parade sponsored by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Salvation Army. It took place on Saturday, Nov. 26, 1960. In addition to the parade, there was a “show” staged on Elm and Ervay which had bands performing on the back of a flatbed truck. Two of the acts performing that day were the Joe Johnson combo and singer Jewel Brown — both of whom were mainstays in Ruby’s clubs: at the time of the parade, Johnson’s band was booked into a long run at the Vegas Club/Club Vegas in Oak Lawn, and Brown was appearing seven nights a week (!) at the Sovereign Club on Commerce Street (which Ruby would later rename “the Carousel Club” around March, 1961). So that explains why he was there, nonchalantly combing his hair on the street as his “employees” perform in front of him.

Footage of the musical performers begins at the 1:00 mark in the longer clip. Houston-born Jewel Brown can be seen at 1:07. She was pretty much a smash in Dallas, getting loads of good press; she later hit it big appearing with Louis Armstrong in Las Vegas — you can watch a fantastic clip of her singing here. Read a March, 1967 interview with her in which she discusses her working relationship with Ruby here.

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Ruby was standing outside the W. A. Green department store at 1616 Elm Street, which was next door to the Wilson Building; the Palace Theater was directly across the street.

elm-street_1600-block_1961 directory1961 Dallas directory

In addition to the musical performers mentioned above, other celebrities appearing in the parade footage that day were actresses/sexpots Sheree North and Lynne Forrester, who were appearing in Clare Boothe Luce’s play “The Women” at Casa Manana (:34), and orchestra leader Freddy Martin, who was appearing at the Statler’s Empire Room (:45). According to the Times Herald article, one celeb who was also there that day was recent Olympian Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), fresh from his gold-medal performance at the Olympics. Though wearing his U.S. Olympic team jacket, the 18-year-old future-legend somehow went unnoticed in the crowd who were apparently quite wrapped up in the musical offerings that day.

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I’ve mentioned the WFAA Newsfilm Collection several times — it is an amazing collection of WFAA-Channel 8’s archival news footage, out-takes, and B-roll material. Curator Jeremy Spracklen has been uploading bite-size segments to Twitter and Facebook — it’s a lot of cool stuff you’re probably not going to be able to find anywhere else. They’re very entertaining. Follow them on social media!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

George Dahl’s Downtown Public Library Is Now the Home of The Dallas Morning News

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by Paula Bosse

Today is the official beginning of the next step in the history of the George Dahl-designed building at Commerce and Harwood which once housed the Dallas Public Library: after years of abandonment and deterioration, it is now the miraculously preserved and spiffed-up home of The Dallas Morning News! Read Robert Wilonsky’s valentine to the beautiful building — along with photos old and new — on the News site, here.

And while we’re at it, let’s look back to the beginnings of the building as the wonderfully modern Dallas Public Library in one of my very first Flashback Dallas posts, “George Dahl’s Sleek Downtown Library — 1955,” here.

Thank you, DMN, for saving and resuscitating this landmark Dallas building!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ann Wedgeworth: 1934-2017

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by Paula Bosse

The actress Ann Wedgeworth has died. If you don’t know her by her name, you probably know her by her face, or, even more likely, by her voice. I’m always impressed when actors are able to retain their natural accents without having to homogenize them to meet Hollywood standards, and Wedgeworth’s Texas accent was pretty thick. I would bet hard cash she reminds you of someone you know or someone in your own family.

Even though she had worked as an actor since she was a teenager — in school productions, small regional theaters, off-Broadway, Broadway, TV, soap operas, and movies — it was probably her short-lived role as Lana on Three’s Company which brought her to the attention of the widest audience.

Elizabeth Ann Wedgeworth was born in 1934 in Taylor County and spent her early years in Snyder and Perryton, Texas, where her father had been the superintendent of schools (her mother died when she was 2); she arrived in Dallas around 1946 when she was about 12 years old. Her father worked in conjunction with SMU and the Veteran’s Administration for a time before becoming a longtime employee of the City of Dallas; her stepmother was a student counselor at Highland Park Junior High School.

She attended high school in Highland Park, graduating from HPHS in 1950 (the same year as her school friend, Jayne Mansfield). She began her acting career when she was a teenager, racking up quite a lot of experience in Dallas theater productions and in a Colorado stock company. She focused on acting during college, which included both SMU and the University of Texas — she probably met her future husband Rip Torn in Austin, where he was a fellow actor who had been active in the UT theater program (and who was, incidentally, the cousin of future actress Sissy Spacek). The couple was married in Dallas in 1955, at the First Methodist Church. They lived in Killeen briefly until Torn’s military stint at Ford Hood was up, then they headed to New York City, where the couple began to find acting work fairly quickly. The two had one daughter and divorced in 1961; she remarried and had another daughter. (More about Ann Wedgeworth can be read in the Wikipedia entry here.)

Ann worked a lot, and, as I said, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen her in something. Though known mostly for her work in TV and movies, she won a Tony Award in 1978 for her role in Neil Simon’s Broadway play Chapter Two. Her breathlessly exuberant (and charmingly ditzy) acceptance speech is amusing (I am such a sucker for that accent!):


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Ann Wedgeworth died on November 16, 2017; she was 83 years old.

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wedgeworth-ann_HPHS_sophomore-1948Highland Park High School sophomore, 1948

wedgeworth-ann_HPHS_junior_1949HPHS junior, 1949

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HPHS senior, 1950

wedgeworth-ann_smu_freshman_1951SMU freshman, 1951

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SMU sophomore, 1952

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Appearing on national radio with Hume Cronyn, 1952

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wedgeworth-torn_longview-news-journal_020655_caption1955 announcement of her marriage to Rip Torn

wedgeworth-ann_scarecrow_1973Publicity photo for the 1973 movie “Scarecrow”

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photo via Lipstick Alley

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Sources & Notes

Ann Wedgeworth’s obituary in The Washington Post can be found here.

School photos are from Highland Park High School and Southern Methodist University yearbooks.

The photo of 18-year-old Ann with Hume Cronyn appeared in the SMU Campus newspaper on March 5, 1952. (I believe Ann came in second in the competition.)

The wedding announcement of Ann and Rip Torn appeared in the Longview Daily News  on Feb. 6, 1955. (Rip Torn was born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr. — as a kid he was actually known as “Skip” Torn. …Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it….)

Most photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: Rousing Tales of “Fast Trains” — 1887

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by Paula Bosse

I wrote about the “Dallas News Special” a couple of years ago, and the newspaper accounts of this special express train hired by The Dallas Morning News to get its papers to far-flung subscribers by daybreak have really stuck with me. The lengthy “ride-along” articles (most likely written by a twenty-something G. B. Dealey) are so wonderfully poetic (and so charmingly grandiose) that one longs for the days when this sort of thing was commonplace in the ink-stained columns of one’s daily newspaper.

The post, “The Dallas News Special: Fast Train to Denison — 1887,” can be read here. I highly recommend reading the full articles linked at the end of the post.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“New Terminal Passenger Station” — 1916

union-station-postcard_1916Union Station, open for business… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love this postcard view of Dallas’ own Union Station, brand new in 1916. Minus the horses, it looks very much like this today.

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Sources & Notes

This postcard is currently available on eBay, here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Baker Hotel

baker-hotel_postcardLooking east on Commerce from Akard… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a postcard view of the stately Baker Hotel, located catty-corner from the Adolphus, at the southeast corner of Commerce and Akard. The parking garage at the right looks like it might be the swanky Nichols Bros. Garage (yes, swanky — see the 1945 ad here). Built in 1925, demolished in 1980. R.I.P.

UPDATE: Check out the great (and sad…) photos by Frank Booth showing the Baker’s implosion in 1980, here. (Thank you, “NotBob”!)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

 

Thanksgiving in Dallas — 1883

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by Paula Bosse

Below, a recap of Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, 1883. “Family dinings and wineings were the order of the day.” And more food. And lots more convivial tippling. And young people escaping from the family for buggy rides out to Eagle Ford with friends. …Not so different from today. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sources & Notes

Newspaper article from the Dallas Weekly Herald, Dec. 6, 1883.

Vintage postcard from the blog 19th-Century Wellington.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Thanksgiving can be found here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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