The Texas Bookbindery, Arcadia Park

by Paula Bosse

texas-bookbindery_oak-cliff_tichnorThe Texas Bookbindery, be-shrubbed and gleaming in Oak Cliff’s Arcadia Park

by Paula Bosse

Old postcards, such as the one above, are perfect little fictional jewels. One knows instinctively when looking at them that they show a highly idealized version of reality. I almost didn’t want to find out too much about the Texas Bookbindery, because I love this image so much, and I was pretty sure that if the simple-but-charming building still stood, it wouldn’t really look like a happy little place atop a slight hill, with lovely landscaping, where butterflies flitted among the flowers and bluebirds sang in the nearby trees.

I didn’t find out much about the Texas Bookbindery, except that it seems to have been in business from at least the late 1940s until the late ’60s or early ’70s. It was managed by a man named T. Bernard White, seen below in a photograph featured in a Dallas Morning News article about the horrible things people do to library books (the Dallas Public Library sent the bindery what sounds like an unending stream of not-quite-destroyed books that were still repairable).

tx-bookbindery_dmn_122948DMN, Dec. 29, 1948

Apparently bookbinderies keep a pretty low profile, because the only other mention I found in the newspaper was in 1962 when a large number of the 37 employees (“mostly women”) were overcome by fumes from poorly-vented gas heaters in the “one-story sheetmetal plant” (yes, a large sheetmetal structure extends behind the deceptively cheery street view). That story listed the address: 714 N. Justin, in the Arcadia Park area of Oak Cliff. I was almost afraid to plug that address into Google. As well I should have been. Here’s what that sweet little building looks like now (but …the shrubs! …the flowers! …the BLUEBIRDS!!):

tx-bookbindery-nowToday, via Google Street View

Poor little bookbindery.

UPDATE: A month after I wrote this post in November, 2014 the Google car drove down N. Justin and snapped a new Google Street View of the poor little bindery — it looked even sadder: it had a big hole in its roof. In March of 2017, that hole-in-the-roof image from December, 2014 has yet to be updated. See it here.

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Postcard from the fantastic Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection on Flickr, here.

Photograph of Mr. T. Bernard White of the Texas Bookbindery, manning the bindery’s sewing machine, from The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29, 1948.

Click top pictures for larger image.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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