Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

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!

***

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.

little-house_waterwoks_greenville-ave_bosse_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Have You Emailed Me Recently?

nancy_anxiety-x-4

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.

*

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

*

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.

worth-street_postcard_weichsel_ebay

worth-street_corner_postcard_weichsel_ebay

**

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!

***

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.

worth-street_461_rppc_1908_ebay_sm

*

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:

*

***

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”)).

lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_smu_sm

*

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.”

*

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:

*

dixieland-gardner_matchbook_ebay

***

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

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Downtown’s Giant Neon Dr Pepper Sign

hotel-jefferson_neon-dr-pepper_cook_degolyer_SMU_ca1945

by Paula Bosse

Thirsty? Read about the cool, giant neon sign that once sat atop the Jefferson Hotel, in the 2015 Flashback Dallas post “Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign.”

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Urban Landscape with Biplane

magnolia-building_airplane_postcard_ebay
Scraping the sky… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When the Magnolia Petroleum Building was built in 1924, it was Dallas’ tallest building. It was so tall, in fact, that it appears to be encroaching into biplane-airspace in this romanticized postcard. If you squint, it looks as if the Dallas citizenry is fleeing from an air-attack as a plane buzzes the Magnolia Building. …Perhaps a Texan King Kong is swatting at it from the other side.

***

Sources & Notes

Postcard from eBay. The view is to the northeast, from Commerce and Akard, with the Adolphus Hotel partially visible on the far left and the old Oriental Hotel partially visible on the far right.

See a fantastic photo of these buildings from around the same time in the Flashback Dallas post “The Adolphus, The Oriental, The Magnolia.”

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: When the Sweat Hit the Fan — 1951

summer_telephone-operators_1951

by Paula Bosse

Imagine working in an un-air-conditioned building when it had been over 100 degrees outside for a couple of weeks straight. You and your coworkers would be mighty peeved. And possibly unconscious. Southwestern Bell’s idea to combat this sweltering problem was to use electric fans and buckets of ice in hopes that their employees didn’t faint on the job. Read how Dallas telephone operators reacted to this “solution” in the Flashback Dallas post “Telephone Operators Sweating at the Switchboard — 1951.”

Keep cool, y’all!

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Rip Torn and Ann Wedgeworth’s Dallas Wedding — 1955

1948_torn-rip_taylor-high-school_1948-yrbk_senior-photo
E. R. “Rip” Torn, the pride of Taylor High School

by Paula Bosse

One of my favorite actors — Rip Torn — has died. My favorite performance of his was as Larry Sanders’ producer, Artie, on The Larry Sanders Show. He was PERFECT in that role. And I loved a little-seen movie he did in the ’70s called Payday in which he played a hard-living country-music singer (watch the trailer here; the full movie is currently on YouTube). But, really, I liked him in everything I saw him in.

A couple of years ago I wrote about Dallas-reared actress Ann Wedgeworth and was surprised to discover that she had been married to fellow Texan Rip Torn (born Elmore Rual Torn) and their wedding had been in Dallas. They had probably met in Austin in 1952 or 1953 when both were members of the University of Texas Curtain Club acting group. They were married in downtown Dallas on Saturday, January 15, 1955 at First Methodist Church on Ross and Harwood, with Rev. Calvin W. Froehner officiating. The 20-year-old bride wore rose-hued lace and satin; the 23-year-old groom probably wore a military uniform as he was then serving in the U.S. Army Military Police.

torn-rip_ann-wedgeworth_wedding_austin-american_012555
Austin American, Jan. 25, 1955

torn-rip_ann-wedgeworth_wedding_taylor-daily-press_012355
Taylor (TX) Daily Press, Jan. 23, 1955

methodist_first-methodist-church_ebay

Ann and Rip (who was called “Skip” as a child, which is nowhere near as good as “Rip”) moved to New York later in 1955 when Rip’s army hitch was finished, and both began working in New York theater fairly soon after their arrival. They had a daughter Danae and were married until their divorce in 1961.

Below are a few photos of Rip Torn from high school and college yearbooks. (Most images are larger when clicked.)

1946_torn-rip_longview-high-school_1946-yrbk_sophomore-photo
1946, Longview (TX) High School, sophomore

1947_torn-rip_longview-high-school_1947-yrbk_junior-photo
1947, Longview High School, junior

1947_torn-rip_longview-high-school_1947-chemistry-club-president
1947, Longview High School, Chemistry Club president

1947_torn-rip_longview-high-school_1947-school-paper-sports-editor
1947, Longview High School, sports editor of the school paper

1947_torn-rip_longview-high-school_1947-yrbk_junior-class-treasurer
1947, Longview High School, Junior Class treasurer

1948_torn-rip_taylor-high-school_1948-yrbk_senior-photo
1948, Taylor (TX) High School, senior

1948_torn-rip_taylor-high-school_1948-yrbk_annual-business-mgr
1948, Taylor High School, yearbook staff, business manager

1950_rip-torn_tx-a-and-m_soph_class-officer
1950, Texas A & M, Sophomore Class parliamentarian

1951_torn-rip_radio-guild_UT_1951-yrbk
1951, University of Texas, junior, Radio Guild

1952_torn-rip_UT_yrbk_1952_sigma-chi
1952, University of Texas, senior, Sigma Chi fraternity

rip-torn_glamor-shot
Hollywood glamour shot

RIP, Rip (1931-2019).

***

Sources & Notes

Rip Torn had a famous first-cousin, Sissy Spacek — Rip’s mother and Sissy’s father were brother and sister. I checked the Quitman High School yearbook (Sissy’s alma mater) and found her mod and groovy 1968 senior photos. Here’s one, showing her as a class favorite, voted “Cutest Couple” with Jerry Blalock. (And, yes, that really is her.)

spacek-sissy_quitman-high-school_senior-photo_1968_cutest-couple

And, since I’m on a roll, here’s a photo of Rip Torn’s mother, Thelma Spacek, when she was a student at Southwestern College (Georgetown, TX) in 1927. Rip had that same profile.

torn-rip_mother_thelma-spacek_southwestern-univ_georgetown_1927

*

1948_torn-rip_taylor-high-school_1948-yrbk_senior-photo_sm
RIP

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: