Flashback : Dallas

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SMU’s First Year: The Dinkey, Campus Hijinx, and the Basket Ball — 1915-16


by Paula Bosse

As a companion to my previous post on the first year of classes at SMU, here are a few more photos from the yearbook, these documenting the less studious side of campus life.

The most interesting thing about these photos, for me, is the SMU trolley, nick-named “The Dinkey” (or “The Dinky”). When SMU opened in 1915, it was waaaaaaaaaay outside the city limits, and the rail line extended only as far north as Knox. In order to get to and from downtown (and points beyond), one had to board the Dinkey near Hillcrest and McFarlin and ride to Knox, then change to an official city streetcar and head into civilization.

This reminiscence appeared in a 1984 issue of Park Cities People:

The first time Manning saw the campus was from the wooden seat of the Dinkey, an electric streetcar built for SMU in 1915.

“I told Dad Johnson, the conductor, as I boarded in Highland Park, I wanted to get off at SMU,” Manning said. “He said, ‘That’s as far as it goes.'”

“‘When we got there, I said, ‘Where’s the campus?’ He said, ‘There’s only two buildings. Dallas Hall is the one with the columns.'”

Manning couldn’t see the building from the Dinkey for the four-foot-tall Johnson grass and had to follow a travel-worn path to Dallas Hall.

2dinkey-hpcentennial“The Dinkey ran from Dallas Hall to Knox Street on tracks in the middle of Hillcrest. This photo taken at McFarlin.”

3smu-rotunda-1916_dinkey-stopThe “depot” where the Dinkey picked up and dropped off SMU students, faculty, and visitors.

4smu-rotunda-1916_dinkeyThe Dinkey, garnished with co-eds.


6smu-rotunda-1916_cosmopolitan-univ“Cosmopolitan University” horsepower.


8smu-rotunda-1916_footballBad season?

The inaugural football season started tentatively. The 1915 schedule:

  • Oct. 9th: SMU vs. TCU at Fort Worth
  • Oct. 14th: SMU vs. Hendrick College at Dallas
  • Oct. 27th: SMU vs. Austin College at Dallas Fair
  • Nov. 4th: SMU vs. Dallas University
  • Nov. 12th: SMU vs. Daniel Baker at Brownwood
  • Nov. 19th: SMU vs. Southwestern University at Dallas
  • Nov. 25th: SMU vs. Trinity University at Waxahachie

9smu-rotunda-1916_basketballThe men’s “Basket Ball” team.

10smu-rotunda-1916_girls-basketballThe girl’s “Basket Ball” team.



All images (except the second) from the 1915-1916 edition of SMU’s “Rotunda” yearbook.

Photo (and caption) of the “Dinkey” trolley at Hillcrest and McFarlin from Highland Park Centennial Celebration site, here.

Quote about traveling to the campus from Park Cities People (March 15, 1984).

“Dallas Hall and the Hilltop” by Tom Peeler, an entertaining  1998 D Magazine article on the first days of SMU, is here.

My previous post containing more photos from this first yearbook, is here.

Several photos larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

SMU, “The School of the Future” — 1915-16

1smu-rotunda-frontis_1916-lgProposed buildings — upper half of the campus

by Paula Bosse

In 1916, the SMU campus consisted of Dallas Hall and four dormitories — five lonely buildings set in a vast empty expanse of some 600-plus acres (a good chunk of which would be sold during the hard times of the Great Depression). There are as many jokes throughout the first yearbook about this prairie outpost’s resemblance to a “farm” as there are about the university’s ongoing construction — there are numerous photos of high-spirited students standing on or next to piles of bricks and constantly churning cement mixers. Even though there were fewer than two dozen members of the senior class, the entire student body of that first year numbered an impressive 701. This first year was, of course, a milestone in the history of SMU, but it was also a significant step forward in the history of Dallas.

2smu-rotunda-1916-aDallas Hall — Administration Building

3smu-rotunda-1916-bMen’s Building

4smu-rotunda-1916-b1Science Hall

5smu-rotunda-1916-cRankin Hall — Men’s Dormitory

6smu-rotunda-1916-c1Women’s Building

8smu-rotunda-1916-dallas-hall-entranceEntrance Dallas Hall

9smu-rotunda-1916-dallas-hall-porticoPortico Dallas Hall

10smu-rotunda-1916_bishop-blvd-fr-admin-bldgBishop Boulevard from Administration Building

11smu-rotunda-1916_viewNewest view in town

12smu-rotunda-1916_freshman-class1915-16 Freshman Class

13smu-rotunda-1916_hyerSMU President Robert Stewart Hyer


smu-rotunda-1916_smu-farm_verseDallas Hall, bales of hay, and stilted-yet-charming student versification




Dallas, Texas

For Men and Women
School of Liberal Arts
School of Theology
School of Fine Arts

Student Body:
The first year closes with a matriculation of 701, exclusive of the Summer School, which may bring the total enrollment to more than 1000. This is a record without parallel.

The campus is located north of the city, and four miles from the center of business activity. It is situated on an eminence above the level of many of the city’s highest buildings. In addition to the many natural trees, there have been several hundred trees and shrubs transplanted, making it a park of unusual beauty.

Dallas Hall, the gift of the citizens of Dallas, and costing $300,000.00, is acknowledged to be one of the best school buildings in the South. It is fireproof throughout and so arranged that it will accommodate the maximum number of students. Four dormitories with accommodations for about 300 students have already been built. They are all equipped with modern conveniences for comfort and study.

All the buildings are provided with electric lights, natural gas, artesian water, and steam heat. No effort has been spared to provide the best in every department.



All images from the “Rotunda” yearbook, issued by Southern Methodist University in 1916.

A very good, brief history of SMU’s beginnings is “From High on the Hilltop…” by Marshall Terry, and it can be read in its entirety here (PDF).

More photos from this yearbook in a later post, “SMU’s First Year: The Dinkey, Campus Hijinx, and The Basket Ball,” here.

Most pictures larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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