Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1920s

Municipal Building, Bird’s-Eye View

municipal-bldg_hilton-hotel_ebayDallas’ beautiful City Hall

by Paula Bosse

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have the time or energy to write a proper historical post again. I’m still dealing with a lengthy illness of a family member, a situation which has all but taken over my life. Someday I’ll get back to researching and writing. But for now, here’s a really cool photo I came across on eBay a year ago — I’ve never seen this view of the Municipal Building. Or the Hilton. I like this photo so much I’m posting it even though it has a dreaded watermark.

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay. 

To flesh this out a bit, check out these related Flashback Dallas posts:

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas’ Aerial Police Reserve — 1921

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_aerial-police-reserve_lineup

by Paula Bosse

On September 5, 1921 — Labor Day — Dallas inaugurated its Aerial Police Reserve, comprised of 15 auxiliary policemen-pilots who patrolled from the skies, led by Chief W. C. Rice. Newspaper stories said that it was only the second city in the United States (after New York City) to have a force of “fly cops.” (Oklahoma was probably a little miffed at this braggadocio, since they had at least a dozen such “air police” squads around the state.) 

aerial-police_dmn_090421Dallas Morning News, Sept. 4, 1921

Mayor Sawnie Aldredge was a passenger in one of the “aeroplanes” which flew him around the city on that Labor Day 100 years ago, giving the relatively new mayor a birds-eye view of Dallas. Other planes performed a display of the type of aerial crime-fighting they would now be able to assist the terrestrial police with, using the wireless police communication system devised by Henry Garrett (read how that led to the origin of radio station WRR here). This was a huge step for the Dallas Police Department.

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_detMayor Sawnie Aldredge, in mayoral goggles

Read the coverage of the day’s events in the article below (click to see a larger image).

aldredge-sawnie_aerial-age-weekly_103121_pageAerial Age Weekly, Oct. 31, 1921

Another photo of Mayor Aldredge (sadly, sans goggles) seated in his chauffeured airship at the Labor Day air-cop exhibition at the Oak Cliff Aviation Field.

aldredge-sawnie_police-auxiliary_dmn_090721_photoDMN, Sept. 7, 1921

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Sources & Notes

Photos and articles from Aerial Age Weekly (Oct. 31, 1921), and from The Dallas Morning News.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Snider Plaza & The Varsity Theater — 1920s

varsity-theater_1929_galloway_1600The Varsity Theater, Snider Plaza, 1929

by Paula Bosse

Snider Plaza, the University Park shopping center near the SMU campus, was formally opened on June 2, 1927 when its centerpiece fountain was switched on as a crowd of thousands watched. The buildings weren’t completed yet, but it was a sure sign to everyone that a large project was underway in an area of town which was not yet fully developed.

It was announced in December, 1926 that a 30-acre tract at the northwest corner of Hillcrest and Daniel had been purchased by Wichita Falls businessman Charles W. Snider (he had recently funded Snider Hall, the women’s dormitory at SMU) and University Park mayor J. Fred Smith from Miss Fannie B. Daniel, whose family had owned the land since 1851. The purchase price was $82,500 (which would be the equivalent of about $1.25 million in today’s money) (…let that sink in for a moment…). Snider Plaza, along with SMU, was both the heart of University Park and an impetus for real estate development around it.

Here’s an ad from October, 1927 from the University Park Development Co. (click to see larger images) — lots were going for $1,890 ($30.000 today):

university-park-develpment-co_ad_100927_a

university-park-develpment-co_ad_100927_bOct., 1929 — Hurry!

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Below are a couple of VERY early photos of Snider Plaza.

First off, the fountain. It was illuminated at night with rotating colored lights. The view is to the northwest.

snider-plaza-fountain_1927_galloway_dpl_1200

And that was about it. A fountain, paved streets and sidewalks, and lots of streetlights. In the photo below you can see the fountain in the distance. And the office of Ralph Porter, the man who was the driving force behind Snider Plaza (see his photo in the ad above). There is still a Ralph Porter Co. real estate business — and, appropriately, it’s still located in Snider Plaza.

snider-plaza_galloway_dpl_1200

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The Varsity Theater wasn’t built until 1929, even though a movie theater was always in the plans. I’m not sure what happened, but in 1928 it was announced that a new theater was going to be built as part of a 7-story building. The theater and retail shops were to occupy the first floor, offices would occupy the second floor, and furnished apartments would fill the top five floors (there would also be a parking garage in the basement). That’s all so weird to imagine. First off, apartments?! Secondly, that would have been the tallest building in the Park Cities! Buildings weren’t that tall in most of “suburban” Dallas in the 1920s. Also, the architecture is pretty bland, and very unlike the rest of the shopping area.

snider-plaza_varsity-apartments_1928Architect’s conception, 1928

The stripped-down plans ended up doing away with the basement and everything but the ground floor for the theater and retail shops. And I’m so glad! I love the photo at the top, from 1929. What a beautiful, beautiful building! The architect of the building was Wyatt C. Hedrick of Fort Worth. The buildings of Snider Plaza were meant to be of uniform design. Like this. (If only they all still looked like that!) (Another photo I posted recently showing that uniform style is here.)

The Varsity opened on Oct. 3, 1929 with “In Old Arizona” (the first talkie to be filmed outdoors). It became the Fine Arts in January, 1957. A reader, Malcom Thomson — who was a very youthful theater manager during the early days of the FIne Arts (I think he was an SMU student at the time) — sent me the great photo below from February, 1960.

fine-arts-theater_snider-plaza_malcolm-thomson_feb-3-1960Feb. 3, 1960 (courtesy Malcolm Thomson)

At some point — it’s so incredibly hard to believe that it seems like an urban legend — the Fine Arts Theater became an “adult” theater. Yes, Virginia, X-rated movies were screened regularly in the Park Cities. Oh dear.

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The theater is long-gone, as is almost all of Snider Plaza’s original “look.” But it’s still a cool, quirky place, and it’s always interesting to explore (never quite as interesting as M. E. Moses was to me as a child, but so few places are). And as long as Kuby’s is still around to fulfill my Reuben and warm-potato-salad needs, I’m pretty happy.

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A couple of quirky tidbits about the very early years:

  • SMU students were responsible in large part for operating the theater, because, of course, it offered them the opportunity to “obtain practical experience in show business.”
  • Also, the streets of the plaza were cleaned by “an automatic street-washing machine.” I’m not sure what that would have entailed, but I would guess that SMU students were glad to be let off the street-cleaning life-experience hook on that one.

And, on a personal note, several decades later, my father owned the very short-lived Plaza Book Store, which was located in the retail space just to the right of the theater (where, just a few short years earlier, he had worked as an usher — i.e. “obtained practical experience in show business” — while attending SMU).

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Sources & Notes

The two photos of Snider Plaza from 1927 and the top photo of the Varsity Theater from 1929 were found in the absolutely fantastic book The Park Cities: A Photohistory by Diane Galloway. The first two are from the collection of the Dallas Public Library. Ms. Galloway’s credit for the photo of the theater reads, “Photo by Frank Rogers/Courtesy of Jerrry Washam/Ralph Porter Company.” I believe all three photos are by Frank Rogers.

1960 photo of the Fine Arts Theater is used courtesy of Malcolm J. Thomson (thanks, Malcolm!).

varsity-theater_1929_galloway_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Majestic Theatre’s Centenary

majestic-theatre_tsha_1920sThe Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm Street

by Paula Bosse

The Majestic Theatre opened on Elm Street 100 years ago this week. We’re lucky to still have such a beautiful building, one which we came close to losing in the late ’60s/early ’70s when so many other “old” buildings were being demolished in downtown Dallas.

The Majestic opened at 1925 Elm on April 11, 1921. The promotional blitz was pretty intense: for months the local papers were full of every little tidbit about the building and the grand opening. A pilot was even hired to drop leaflets and float balloons over 25 North Texas towns in order to reach those farther afield who might be outside the Big City theater loop. 

There was a lot of bragging that the showplace theater cost over $2 million, a huge amount of money at the time. That would be about $30 million in today’s money, and there is no way that beautiful, beautiful theater and its luxurious decor could be built today for a mere $30 million.

Like I said, we’re lucky to have it. Happy 100th, Majestic!

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Here it is under construction in 1920:

majestic_under-constructioin_100120_cinema-treasuresvia Cinema Treasures

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Just read this (click to see a larger image):

majestic-theatre_dmn_040321_grand-openingDallas Morning News, April 3, 1921

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At night, just down from the Melba (originally the Hope):

majestic-theatre_night_cinema-treasuresvia Cinema Treasures

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And it still looks beautiful in the 21st century:

majestic-theatre_LOC_carol-highsmith_20142014, photo by Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress

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majestic-theatre_2009_wikipedia2009, via Wikipedia

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theater_majestic_052522_where-its-cool“Where it’s really cool” (1922)

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Sources & Notes

More about the history of the Majestic Theatre can be found at Cinema Treasures.

The official theater website is here — check out the upcoming shows!

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Art Landry Is At The Palace — 1927

palace-theatre_u-s-coffee_frank-rogers_1927_DPLMarquees, schmarquees… (Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Great photo of the Palace Theatre on Elm and Ervay in November or December of 1927 (“My Best Girl” starring Mary Pickford opened at the end of November and ran for a week or two into the middle of December). The movie seems like a bit of an afterthought, though — I mean… ART LANDRY IS IN TOWN, and his giant 78 disc replica promotional sign is crowding out others on the marquee. The touring jazz-band leader (who insisted he did NOT play jazz music — “I became a bandmaster when jazz was jax. In those days noise was the objective. […] The day of jazz is gone….” ) was nestled here in Big D for the holiday season and was apparently well-received. (See another photo of the Palace from about this same time here.)

palace_art-landry_111327Nov. 13, 1927

palace_pickford_my-bes-girl_112727Nov. 27, 1927

You know how when you get a new car you suddenly start seeing that same model everywhere? I’m like that with the U.S. Coffee & Tea Co. — seen right next door to the theater. (See it here, peeping around the Wilson Building in a squattier incarnation.)

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Sources & Notes

Photo titled “[Palace Theatre, Art Landry exclusive Victor Artist]” — by Frank Rogers — is from the Ted C. Steinberg Collection, Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library, call number PA2018-03-14 (the library has the date this photo was taken as Dec. 27, 1927, but “My Best Girl” was long-gone by then — it was probably taken on Nov. 27, the day after “My Best Girl” opened).

Quote from Art Landry about not being a jazz-band leader is from an interview with him in The Dallas Morning News (“Jazz Is Thing of the Past Says Palace’s New ‘Jazz Band’ Leader Who Specializes in Modern Music” — DMN, Nov. 12, 1927). I can’t find any other instances of early jazz music referred to as “jax” music. Can anyone point me to another reference?

palace-theatre_u-s-coffee_frank-rogers_1927_DPL_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ursuline Academy — 1921

ursuline_1921-yrbk_1-year-highVelma Rich and her classmates…

by Paula Bosse

I never tire of looking through old high school yearbooks. Here are some photographs from the 1921 edition of The Ursulina, the yearbook of the Ursuline Academy, the all-girls school located in the block bounded by Live Oak, Haskell, Bryan, and St. Joseph in Old East Dallas.

Above, the “I Year High,” which I gather would be the equivalent of the freshman class.  (I am transfixed by the girl in the center of the front row — I think she is Velma Rich — I bet she was a handful.) (Caption for this photo listing the girls can be seen here.)

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Below, the East View of the Academy. The caption reads: “A Famous Battlefield (the study hall) and the Porch of Dreams, where school girls congregate to discuss the latest bulletin board news while enjoying some toothsome dainty.” (All photos larger when clicked.)

ursuline_1921-yrbk_east-view

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The auditorium. “And this is where we treat our friends to music, play and dance.”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_auditorium

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The chapel. “‘Tis just the place to go for help when things are ‘up and down.'”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_chapel

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The dining hall. “You may live without learning/You may live without books/But show me the man/Who can live without cooks.”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_dining-hall

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The hall and stairways. “If these old stairs had power of speech, what girlish secrets they could tell!”

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The music room. “A spot where many young ladies are kept very busy, ‘Untwisting all the chains that tie the hidden soul of harmony.'”

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The recreation room. “Just the spot where, nine months out of the year, you can always find ‘Jest and youthful jollity/Quips and cranks and wanton wiles/Nods and becks and wreathed smiles.'”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_recreation-room

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The campus. “What you and me/Were wont to ‘saw and see.'”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_campus_b

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The campus. “This is a gay spot at all times. It is kept alive in summer by games of roller skating, croquet and tennis; in winter, by ‘hikes,’ basket ball, races and, on rare occasions, old fashioned snowballing.”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_campus

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The grotto. “Somehow, all life seems much more sweet/When I take my old brown beads and kneel at Mary’s feet.”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_grotto

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The pecan grove. “Where nuts grow, and school girls go to while away the time.”

ursuline_1921-yrbk_pecan-grove

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“II Year High” (sophomore class).

ursuline_1921-yrbk_2-year-high

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“III Year High” (junior class).

ursuline_1921-yrbk_3-year-high

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The provincialate and novitiate. “Sweet secluded retreat where young Ursuline teachers are trained in the spirit of the Order to continue the work begun by St. Angela de Merici over three hundred years ago.” (Another, slightly more gothic image is here.)

ursuline_1921-yrbk_ext

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And because I love her attitude, another look at 15-year-old Velma Rich.

rich-velma_ursuline_1921-yrbk

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Sources & Notes

All photos from the 1921 edition of The Ursulina, the yearbook of the Ursuline Academy. Many (if not all) of the photos are by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Ursuline can be found below:

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Luby’s, In Dallas Since 1929

lubys_main-st_1954_det

Luby’s No. 2, Main Street, 1954 (photo detail)

by Paula Bosse

The liquidation of Luby’s restaurants was announced this week. There are a lot of people (Texans in particular) who are going to take this news hard.

I spotted the Luby’s seen in the picture above in a photo I found on eBay a few years ago (see the full photo here). I was surprised to learn that the first Luby’s in Dallas opened in 1929. (I think it was the first Luby’s in Texas — there might have been a tangentially-related “Luby’s”-branded restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but let’s just say that the Luby’s at 205 Browder Street in downtown Dallas was the first one in Texas. It was opened by Earl E. Luby on January 8, 1929.

lubys_010829_ad

Jan. 8, 1929

The second location (the one seen in the photo above) opened at 1006 Main Street (at Poydras) two years later, on May 19, 1931.

lubys_051931_no-2

May 19, 1931

Earl Luby was the first cousin of Harry M. Luby, the man who is generally considered to have opened the forerunner of what we now know as Luby’s. In September, 1911, Harry opened a cafeteria in Springfield, Missouri called New England Dairy Lunch — there were several other restaurants around the U.S. with the same name, so I’m not sure if he bought it as a franchise, but whatever the case, that cafeteria was the start of a tray-toting empire.

luby_springfield-MO-news-leader_sept-1911

Springfield News-Leader, Sept. 20 & 21, 1911

He opened other New England cafeterias in Missouri and, with cousin Earl, in Oklahoma. (There was one in Dallas in 1919, located at 1409 Elm, which appears to be connected to the Luby family.)

new-england-cafeteria_041619

Apr. 16, 1919

In 1929 Earl branched off, moved to Texas, opened his own cafeterias (mostly in Dallas), and made a fortune. (There were Luby’s cafeterias run by other members of the Luby family, most notably Harry’s son, Robert Luby, who was active in South Texas a few decades later. I don’t know whether these were two completely different business entities, but Earl was king of the very lucrative Dallas market.)

Here’s an ad from 1953 with Luby’s locations at that time (along with a Miss Inez shout-out). (Click to see a larger image.)

lubys_062153_ad-det_maps

And from the same ad, a photo of cousins Earl and Harry enjoying a convivial cup of coffee.

lubys_062153_ad-det_photo

June, 1953 ad (details)

And, below, a 1960 ad for the new Luby’s at the Preston Forest Shopping Center (that sign is fantastic!).

preston-forest_lubys_090760_sign

Sept., 1960

It’s a shame to say goodbye to such a long-lived Dallas institution. RIP, Luby’s. And thanks, Earl (1897-1990).

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Sources & Notes

1954 photo of Main Street is a detail of a larger photo found in the Flashback Dallas post “Streetcar #728, Main Street — 1954.”

Luby’s website is here (hurry!).

More on the history of Luby’s (with some incorrect information and nary a mention of Earl!) can be found on Wikipedia and The Handbook of Texas.

lubys_main-st_1954_det_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lone Wolf Gonzaullas: Texas Ranger, Dallas Resident

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-aWhere the bullet grazed him… (1970)

by Paula Bosse

I had never seen footage of legendary Texas Ranger Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas (1891-1977) until now. There is a short clip of him recounting a run-in with a man who shot him in WFAA-Channel 8 footage from March, 1970 (filmed at the Southwest Historical Wax Museum in Fair Park). Gonzaullas was a long-time resident of Dallas, from 1923 until his death in 1977, living for much of that time in Lakewood, in the 6900 block of Westlake.

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Here are a couple of screenshots from the news footage. In the first he is seen standing in front of his wax figure.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-b

And in the second, he’s joking with WFAA-Channel 8 News reporter Phil Reynolds, who seems a little star-struck.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-c

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Below are a few random Lone Wolf-related photos and articles. (There are tons of histories of Gonzaullas and the Texas Rangers out there — please hunt them down for specifics on his long and respected career in law enforcement. These are just a few things that I found interesting, some of which are of no historical importance!)

The earliest newspaper mention of Gonzaullas I could find was about his participation in an El Paso-to-Phoenix automobile road race in 1919. Biographers have noted that the colorful Gonzaullas sometimes embellished the truth, especially about his early days, and it’s interesting to note that in coverage of this race, Gonzaullas was described as being a “noted European racing driver” who had previously won 32 first-place finishes and 92 second-place finishes (!). The car he had entered in the race was a Locomobile, which he was reported to have driven to El Paso from Atlantic City. He was also identified as being “a Cuban […] who first won his spurs on the Havana track” (his birthplace is usually said to be Spain, where he was born to naturalized American citizens who were visiting that country at the time). He told the papers he had been left with temporary blindness and a permanently injured left arm in a previous auto accident — and another injury was about to come: he didn’t finish the El Paso-to-Phoenix race because his car suffered two debilitating mishaps, including one in which he was thrown from the car “and a blood vessel in his stomach was broken.” He was also said to be accompanied by “Mrs. Gonzaullas,” despite the fact that he did not marry Laura Scherer until April, 1920.

gonzaullas_road-race_el-paso-times_101619_cubanEl Paso Times, Oct. 16, 1919 (click for larger image)

In December, 1919, Los Angeles newspapers reported that Mr. Gonzaullas, “who has gold mining interests in Mexico,” was in town, visiting from Havana. Accompanying him was “Mrs. Gonzaullas,” who was indulging in a shopping excursion. They were staying at the Hotel Stowell.

gonzaullas_los-angeles-evening-express_120319_cuba_mrs-gonzaullasLos Angeles Evening Express, Dec. 3, 1919

While at the Stowell (and about to return to Texas), Gonzaullas put a for-sale classified in the Los Angeles paper, saying that he “must sell within next 24 hours my beautiful combination 2 or 4 passenger Locomobile Roadster Special.” The Cuban’s racing days would seem to be ending.

gonzaullas_locomobile_los-angeles-evening-express_050820Los Angeles Evening Express, May 8, 1920

Less than two weeks later — and a month after finally marrying Laura in California — the newly wed Gonzaullas was back in El Paso, looking for a “lost or strayed” pet monkey. It appears the monkey was found (…or replaced…), but in September the Gonzaullases were selling their little “Java monkey,” along with its cage and traveling case. M. T. became “Lone Wolf” after he joined the Texas Rangers in 1920. Perhaps a monkey was not considered an appropriate pet for a lawman. (This is my favorite weird and obscure “Lone Wolf” tidbit.)

gonzaullas_el-paso-herald_1920-ads_monkey

Gonzaullas was in and out of the Rangers throughout his career. In 1923, he moved to Dallas where he was stationed as a permanent prohibition agent (he busted a lot of booze-loving Dallasites).

gonzaullas_dmn_022523Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1923

In 1929, Gonzaullas was a sergeant in the Texas Rangers, and the photo below captured the first time that the men of Company B had all been together at the same time in the same place — in Fort Worth. The caption for this photo: “Texas’ Guardians, United After 10 Years. Capt. Tom R. Hickman, Gainesville, brought Ranger Company B together Friday for the first time in more than 10 years. Here they are just before visiting the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. Left to right, W. H. Kirby, Abilene; H. B. Purvis, Lufkin; Captain Hickman; Sergt. M. T. Gonzaullas, Dallas; Dott E. Smith, Abilene; and James P. Huddleston, Dallas.” (Fort Worth Record-Telegram, March 16, 1929) (Read the full story, “Ranger Company B Rides In to Stock Show” here.)

company-b_fw-record-telegram_031629Company B in Fort Worth, FW Record-Telegram, Mar. 16, 1929

In 1933, the Texas Rangers were dissolved, later to re-emerge as part of the newly formed Department of Public Safety in 1935. Gonzaullas served for several years as the head of the DPS’s Bureau of Intelligence in Austin, a Texas version of the FBI. In 1940, he stepped down from that position to rejoin the Rangers. He took over command of his old Company B, which was stationed in Fair Park, and remained in that position for 11 years until his retirement.

gonzaullas_austin-statesman_021440_company-b_photoAustin Statesman, Feb. 14, 1940

gonzaullas_austin-american_021540_company-bAustin American, Feb. 15, 1940

In 1942, at the age of 50, Gonzaullas filled out a registration card during World War II, as all men were required to do. (A distinguishing physical characteristic of a “bullet hole thru left elbow” was noted.) 

gonzaullas_ww2-registration-card-1942

Below, a photo from 1944 showing mounted Texas Rangers of Company B in Marshall, Texas: (left to right) Tulley E. Seay, C. G. (Kelly) Rush, Stewart Stanley, Dick Oldham, Capt. M. T. Gonzaullas, R. A. (Bob) Crowder, Ernest Daniel, Joe N. Thompson, Robert L. Badgett, and Norman K. Dixon.

gonzaullas_texas-rangers_company-Bvia findagrave.com (same photo without text is at Portal to Texas History)

Capt. Manuel Trazazas Gonzaullas retired in July, 1951 and traveled between Dallas and Hollywood where he worked as a consultant on Western TV shows and films. He died in Dallas on Feb. 13, 1977 at the age of 85.

gonzaullas_manuel-t-lone-wolf

gonzaullas_find-a-gravevia findagrave.com

gonzaullas_getty-images_july-1951via Getty Images

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Sources & Notes

The first three images are screenshots of WFAA-Channel 8 news film shot in March, 1970, from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the footage can be viewed on YouTube here

A brief biography of M. T. Gonzaullas can be found at the Handbook of Texas, here.

There were several comprehensive and entertaining articles and interviews which appeared around the country about Gonezaullas’ career when he retired. If you have access to newspaper archives, I would recommend the article “The ‘Lone Wolf’ Lays Down His Guns” by Don Hinga which appeared in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 22, 1951.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-a_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Interurban Miscellany

interurban_dallas_photo_ebay_redWooden, red… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Just a few miscellaneous photos from the days of the Interurban, the electric railway which ran through Dallas from 1908 to 1948.

The photograph above has the following written on the back: “The Texas Electric has a whole flock of fast interurbans. Most are steel and painted blue. This older wooden car is red and was used on the Dallas-Denison run. Dallas, Tex.”

Below, “Evolution of Transportation,” a postcard featuring “Miniature Interurban Exhibit, Showing a Model Suburban Home and the Splendid Service Between Dallas, Fort Worth and Cleburne.”

interurban_evolution-of-transportation_postcard_ca-1916_ebayvia eBay

An Interurban mishap:

interurban_mishap_ebayvia eBay

A couple of pleasant waiting-shelters, circa 1925:

interurban-stop_neighbors-pamphlet_portal_1925via Portal to Texas History

interurban-shelter_neighbors_1925via Portal to Texas History

Another stop, with a sign (“ALL INTERURBAN CARS STOP ON SIGNAL”):

interurban-stop_flickr-lynneslensvia Lynne’s Lens Flickr photostream

And the Interurban Terminal, downtown, ca. 1925 (located at 1500 Jackson St. at Browder, still standing, converted to residences):

interurban-terminal_1925_neighbors-pamphlet_portalvia Portal to Texas History

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Sources & Notes

Top photo found on eBay. “Robert M. Hanft, Brainerd, Minn.” is printed on the back. Hanft (1914-2004) was a rail enthusiast and photographer — his obituary is here.

The Texas Interurban route connected with Dallas in 1908 and continued for 40 years until being discontinued in 1948. More at the Handbook of Texas here, and at Wikipedia here; a look at the stops can be seen in an illustration here.

Check out these two Interurban pamphlets with lots of great photographs, scanned in their entirety by UNT’s Portal to Texas History:

  • Making Neighbors of the People of Dallas and Kaufman Counties, and the Towns of Terrell, Forney, Mesquite and Dallas (20 pages, Texas Interurban Railway) — read it here.
  • Making Neighbors of the People of Dallas and Denton Counties, and the Towns of Denton, Garza, Lewisville, Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Dallas (24 pages, Texas Interurban Railway) — read it here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on the Interurban can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

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Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

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Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

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And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

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Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

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Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

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And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

KLIF_color

This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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