Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1920s

North Dallas High School, Year One — 1922-1923

ndhs_1923-yrbkNDHS, in the beginning… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

North Dallas High School — one of Dallas’ oldest still-operating high schools — opened in 1922 on N. Haskell, between McKinney and Cole. Here are a few photos from the very first NDHS yearbook.

The faculty:

ndhs_faculty_1923-yrbk

The auditorium:

ndhs_auditorium_1923-yrbk

The library:

ndhs_library_1923-yrbk

The lunch room:

ndhs_lunchroom_1923-yrbk

The swimming pool (!):

ndhs_pool_1923-yrbk

Another photo of the pool, showing a girls’ class:

ndhs_pool_class_1923-yrbk

The 20th Century Literary Society club:

ndhs_20th-century-lit-soc_1923-yrbk

The football team:

ndhs_football_1923-yrbk

The “three-minute daily drill”:

ndhs_drill_1923-yrbk

The physical training department’s interpretation of “The Spirit of North Dallas”:

ndhs_physical-training-dept_1923-yrbk

The 1923 Viking cover:

ndhs_1923-yrbk_cover

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Sources & Notes

All photos from the 1923 Viking, the yearbook of North Dallas High School.

Photos and ads from early-’60s NDHS yearbooks can be seen in previous Flashback Dallas posts here and here.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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The Gill Well

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredThe Highland Park pagoda… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I never heard of the Gill Well growing up — in fact, it wasn’t until around the time I started this blog — about three or four years ago — that I first became aware of it. Though largely forgotten today, the Gill Well used to be a pretty big deal in Dallas: for years, early-20th-century entrepreneurs tried valiantly and persistently to capitalize on the mineral-heavy artesian water from this well — the plan was to use this hot spring water in order to turn Dallas (or at least Oak Lawn) into, well, “the Hot Springs of Texas.” We came so close!

So — Gill Well? Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

In 1902 city alderman and water commissioner C. A. Gill proposed sinking an artesian well near the Turtle Creek pumping station in order to determine if the flow of water in underground springs was sufficient to augment Dallas’ water supply (there was, at the time, another such test well being drilled in West Dallas). The City Council was on board and wanted this test well to be a deep well, “the deepest in the state — in order to settle once and for all the question as to whether or not there lies beneath the earth in this section a body of water, or ‘an underground sea,’ as some call it, of sufficient size to supply the needs of all the people” (Dallas Morning News, Aug. 6, 1902).

Fellow alderman Charles Morgan explained Gill’s proposition to the people of Dallas in a prepared statement to the Morning News:

By sinking artesian wells it is not intended to abandon the plans proposed to secure an adequate storage supply from surface drainage, but that the artesian wells shall augment the supply. We can not get too much water, but if we secure an ample artesian supply our storage basins will be reserve. There will be no conflict. We simply make success double sure. (Alderman Charles Morgan, DMN, Aug. 24, 1902)

The well was sunk in September or October of 1902 near the Turtle Creek pumphouse (which was adjacent to where a later station was built in 1913, the station which has been renovated and is now known as the Sammons Center for the Arts — more on the construction of that 1913 station and a photo of the older pumphouse can be found here); the drilling was slow-going and went on until at least 1904, reaching a depth of more than 2,500 feet. It’s a bit out of my area of expertise, but, basically, good, palatable artesian water from the Paluxy sands — water “free from mineral taint” — was found, but, deeper, a larger reservoir of highly mineralized “Gill water” — from the Glen Rose stratum — was found. That was good news and bad news.

gill-well_dmn_120103Dallas Morning News, Dec. 1, 1903

The “bad news” came from the fact that a part of a pipe casing became lodged in the well, causing an obstruction in the flow of the “good” water from the Paluxy formation. Again, it’s a bit confusing, but the heavy flow of 99-degree-fahrenheit mineral water (which was corrosive to pipes) threatened to contaminate the “good” Paluxy water … as well as the water from the Woodbine formation from which most (all?) of the private wells in Dallas secured their water. (Read detailed geological reports on the well in a PDF containing contemporaneous newspaper reports here — particular notice should be paid to the comprehensive overview of the well and its problems which was prepared for the Dallas Water Commission by Engineer Jay E. Bacon and published in the city’s newspapers on May 10, 1905).

So what the City of Dallas ended up with as a result of this Gill Well was a highly dependable source of hot mineral water. But what to do with it? Monetize it!

As part of the city’s water supply, the mineral water was made available to Dallas citizens free of charge: just show up at one of the handful of pagoda-covered dispensing stations with a jar, a bucket, or a flask, and fill up with as much of the rather unpleasant-smelling (and apparently quite powerful!) purgative as you could cart home with you. (For those who didn’t want to mingle with the hoi polloi, home delivery was available for a small fee.) One such “pagoda” was erected a short distance away, in front of the city hospital (Old Parkland) at Maple and Oak Lawn (the healthful water was also piped directly into the hospital for patient use).

gill-well-parkland-pagoda_brenham-weekly-banner_040605
Brenham Weekly Banner, April 6, 1905

One man, however, began offering the water for sale beyond Dallas, hoping to cash in on the free-flowing tonic (see the mineral-content breakdown here), but the city clamped down on him pretty quickly as he was not an authorized agent. From his 1906 ad, one can see that the reputation of Gill water and its healing and restorative powers was already widely known.

gill-well-water_dmn_080206
DMN, Aug. 2, 1906

If the water was not to be sold, what was the City of Dallas going to do with it? It was decided to pipe the the water a short distance from the test well to nearby property adjacent to the land now occupied by Reverchon Park, then lease the access to the water to a capitalist who would build a sanitarium/spa where people could come to “take the waters” — to bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-heavy artesian water with mystical recuperative properties. The sanitarium would make money by charging its patrons for its services, and the city would collect a small annual income based on the number of the sanitarium’s bathing tubs and the amount of water used:

Compensation to the city shall be $10 per tub per year and one-half-cent per gallon for all water used. (DMN, Jan. 4, 1907)

The Gill Well Sanitarium and bath house opened in January, 1907, on Maple Avenue just north of the MKT Railroad (now the Katy Trail). (Most clippings and pictures in this post are larger when clicked.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010407DMN, Jan. 4, 1907

I searched and searched and searched for a picture of the building and, hallelujah, I finally found one, in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, taken by photographer Henry Clogenson. (This is the only picture I’ve been able to find of it, and, I have to say, it’s not at all what I expected the building to look like. It actually looks like something you’d see in a present-day strip mall.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_011307_photoDMN, Jan. 13, 1907

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010607_ad
Advertisement, DMN, Jan. 6, 1907

Business at the new sanitarium was very good, and the public fountains/spigots at both the sanitarium property and a block or so away at the city hospital continued to be popular with residents who needed a boost or a “cure” and stopped by regularly for a sip or a pail of the free mineral water.

gill-well_ad_dallas-police-dept-bk_1910_portal1910 ad

In 1912 a natatorium (an indoor swimming pool) was added and proved even more popular. It was open to men, women, and children; admittance and bathing suit rental was 25¢ (about $6.50 in today’s money). (Contrary to the headline of the ad below, it was not Dallas’ first natatorium — there was one near City Park on South Ervay by at least 1890 — but it was probably the first pool in the city filled with warm mineral water.)

gill-well_natatorium_dmn_041412
DMN, April 14, 1912

gill-well-natatorium_dmn_070712
DMN, July 7, 1912

gill-well-natatorium_dmn_100612DMN, Oct. 6, 1912

The last paragraph of the ad above mentions a plan to pipe Gill water to a hotel downtown — not only would the Gill Well Sanitarium Company’s services be offered in the heart of the city amidst lavish hotel surroundings (instead of in Oak Lawn, way on the edge of town), but the company would also be able to compete with Dallas’ other (non mineral-water) Turkish baths — then they’d really be rolling in the cash. As far as I can tell, nothing came of the plan, but the men behind it were pretty gung ho, as can be seen in this rather aggressive advertorial from the same year:

ad-sanitorium-baths_blue-bk_1912The Standard Blue Book of Texas, 1912

All seemed to be going well with the sanitarium until the city and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (the MKT, or the Katy) decided to remove the railroad’s grade crossings through the Oak Lawn area (all work which was to be paid for by the railroad). Double tracks were to be added and crossings were either raised or the streets were lowered. The crossings affected were Lemmon, Cedar Springs and Fairmount (where street levels were cut down to go under the tracks) and Hall, Blackburn, and Bowen (where tracks would be elevated). Also affected: Maple Avenue. (Read more about the MKT plan in the Dallas Morning News article from Aug. 23, 1918 — “Dallas Is Eliminating Four Grade Crossings” — here.)

The Maple Avenue-Katy Railroad crossing had long been a dangerous area for wagons, buggies, and, later, automobiles. Not only was it at the top of a very steep hill (see what that general area north of that crossing looked like around 1900 here), but it also had two sharp curves. The decision was made to straighten Maple Avenue between the approach to the railroad crossing and Oak Lawn Avenue at the same time Maple was being lowered and the Katy track was being raised. (Read the announcement of this plan — “Straighten Maple Avenue Is Plan” — from the Nov. 29, 1917 edition of The Dallas Morning News, here.) The only problem — as far as the Gill Well Sanitarium was concerned — was that the straightened road would go directly through the sanitarium property. I don’t know if the long-time owner of the sanitarium, J. G. Mills, knew about this approaching dire situation, but in 1915 — just a few short months after boasting in advertisements that more than 50,000 patients had availed themselves of the sanitarium’s amenities in 1914 — he placed an ad seeking a buyer of the business (although, to be fair, he’d been trying to sell the company for years):

gill-well_dmn_080815_for-saleDMN, Aug. 8, 1915

(In the ad he states that the buyer had an option to purchase the actual well, but the city had never expressed any desire to sell either the well or the full rights to the water.)

The Gill Well Sanitarium Co. appears to have been dissolved in 1916, but there was still hope that a sanitarium/hot springs resort could continue on the property. In 1917, interested parties petitioned the city to change its plans to straighten Maple, arguing that it would destroy any ability to do business on the site, but the city went forward with its plans, and in November, 1919, the City of Dallas purchased the land from the group of partners for $21,500 (about $305,000 in today’s money).

gill-well_dmn_111319
DMN, Nov. 13, 1919

The monetization of water from Dallas’ fabled Gill Well ended after ten years.

I had never heard of Maple Avenue being straightened. Below is a map of Turtle Creek Park (which became Reverchon Park in 1915), showing Maple’s route, pre-straightening — the main buildings of the sanitarium were in the bulge just west of Maple, between the Katy tracks and the boundary of the park.

reverchon-park_turtle-creek-park_map_1914-15
1915 map, via Portal to Texas History

Another view can be seen in a detail from a (fantastic) 1905 map, with the approximate location of the Gill Well Sanitarium circled in white:

maple-ave_1905-map_portal_det_gill-wellWorley’s Map of Greater Dallas, 1905

A year or more ago I saw the photo below on the Big D History Facebook page but had no idea at the time what I was looking at: it apparently shows Maple Avenue in 1918, taken from about Wolf Street (probably more like Kittrell Street), which was then near the city limits, looking north. You can seen the curve Maple makes and the steep hill — that large building at the right must be the sanitarium and/or the later-built natatorium. (The view today can be seen here.)

maple-ave_road-construction_from-wolf_1918_big-d-history-FB

So the Gill Well Sanitarium and Bath House was closed, the land was purchased by the City of Dallas, Maple Avenue was straightened, and, in the summer of 1923, the remaining abandoned buildings on the property were demolished. But that didn’t spell the end of the famous Gill Well water.

Highland Park’s “Gill Water” Pagoda

Around 1924, “Gill water” tapped from the Glen Rose Strata was made available to Highland Park, via a small “watering house” and drinking fountain on Lakeside Drive (at Lexington), a location which proved to be quite popular. The mineral water was a byproduct of Highland Park’s “deep well” which was drilled in 1924 to tap the pure artesian springs of the Trinity Sands Strata in order to augment the water supply of the City of Highland Park: in order to get down to the Trinity Sands, one had to pass through the Glen Rose Strata — I guess the HP powers-that-be figured they might as well tap the hot mineral water and offer their citizens access to it by building a small fountain and dispensing station. In 1928, the little “watering station” structure was spiffed up with the addition of a tile roof, attractive walkways, and drainage. The photo seen at the top of this post has frequently been misidentified as the Reverchon Park well, but it is actually the Highland Park “pagoda.” Here it is again:

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredfrom the book Dallas Rediscovered

It can be identified as the Highland Park location because of the photo below from the George W. Cook collection of historic Dallas photos from SMU’s DeGolyer Library — it shows what appears to be a later view of the same pagoda, now slightly overgrown. The steps to the bridge across Exall Lake and the bridge’s railing can be seen at the far right (the bridge led to the Highland Park pumping station, which can be seen on a pre-watering-station 1921 Sanborn map here).

gill-well_highland-park_cook-collection_degolyer_smuGeorge W. Cook Collection, SMU

And, well, there’s the sign that reads “Highland Park Deep Wells — Free to the Pubic” — here’s a close-up:

gill-well_highland-park_cook-collection_degolyer_smu_det

(The same sign from the top photo can be seen in a high-contrast close-up here.)

After seeing this photo, I realized that a photo I featured in a post from last year showed the pagoda in what looks like its earliest days, at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue (the bridge can be seen at the left):

hp_lakeside-drive_rppc_ebayeBay

I was unable to find out when this HP pagoda bit the dust, but the location as seen today on Google Street View is here. (It’s pretty strange to think that a steady stream of people from all over Dallas drove to the Park Cities to fill up jugs with free mineral water; my guess is that the wealthy Lakeside Avenue residents weren’t completely enamored of the situation.)

Reverchon Park Pavilion

Even though the Gill Well Sanitarium Co. had dissolved in 1916, and the last traces of its buildings had been torn down in 1923, the famed well’s water didn’t disappear from the immediate Oak Lawn area. In February of 1925, the City of Dallas opened a $5,000 pavilion, “making up for twenty years indifference to what is said to be the finest medicinal water in the South” (DMN, Feb. 11, 1925). This pet project of Mayor Louis Blaylock seems to have continued to be a place for Dallasites to get their mineral water at least through the 1950s, according to online reminiscences. This 1925 “pavilion” is described thusly in the WPA Dallas Guide and History:

The water, which resembles in many respects the mineral waters of European resorts and is used in several county and city institutions, is carried to the surface in pipes and can be drawn from taps arranged around a semicircle of masonry near the entrance to the park. Here cars stop at all hours of the day and people alight to drink the water or to fill bottles and pails.

I have not been able to find a photograph of that post-sanitarium dispensing site. A 1956-ish aerial photo of Reverchon Park can be found here. I don’t see a “semicircle of masonry” in an area I assume would be located near Maple Avenue and the Katy tracks.

According to a comment on the DHS Archives Phorum discussion group, there was also a public spigot nearer to the original well, along Oak Lawn Avenue, across the street from Dal-Hi/P. C. Cobb stadium.

There is surprisingly little accurate information on the Gill Well online. I hope this overview helps correct some of the misinformation out there. If anyone knows of additional photos of the sanitarium and/or natatorium, please send them my way and I’ll add them to this post. If there are any photos of the Reverchon Park pavilion, I’d love to see those as well. There is a 1926 photo of the Highland Park location which shows two women and two girls filling receptacles — I am unable to post that here, but check the Dallas Morning News archives for the short article “Free Mineral Well Waters Popular” (DMN, May 29, 1926).

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Incidentally, even though the wells have been capped, that hot mineral water is still there underground and could be tapped at any time. Dallas could still be the “Hot Springs of Texas”!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from p. 199 of Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald. The photo is incorrectly captioned as showing the location of the “Gill Well Bath House and Natatorium, c. 1904” — it is actually the Highland Park dispensing station at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue in about 1928.

Photo showing Maple Avenue, pre-straightening, is from the Big D History Facebook page; original source of photo is unknown.

Second photo of the Highland Park Gill Well location (with the vegetation looking a bit more overgrown) is from a postcard captioned “Drinking Bogoda [sic], deep mineral well in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas” — it is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this image is here.

Photo showing Lakeside Drive with the pagoda at the left is a real photo postcard captioned “Lake Side Drive in Highland Park” — it was offered last year on eBay.

Sources of all other clippings, ads, and maps as noted.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Serving the Southwest From Dallas” — 1928

industrial-dallas-inc_nations-business-mag_060528_illusAll roads lead to Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

Industrial Dallas, Inc. was a nonprofit corporation formed by directors of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce to boost national awareness of Dallas’ favorable business climate and its role as a major hub of business and manufacturing in Texas and in the neighboring states Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The idea was to promote Dallas in a series of advertisements placed in national business-oriented magazines; the three-year campaign (1928-1931) had a budget of $500,000 (the equivalent of $7,000,000 in today’s money) and was led by banker and Dallas booster (and future mayor) R. L. Thornton. Despite the fact that this campaign coincided with the first years of the Great Depression, Industrial Dallas, Inc. was considered a success: it attracted hundreds of new companies to Dallas and firmly established the city’s national reputation as an important commercial center and as a dynamic young city offering limitless business opportunities.

industrial-dallas-inc_nations-business_060528

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Not everyone was smitten with these Dallas ads, however. Texans who did business beyond the “acceptable” concentric circles of the Dallas, Inc. map were annoyed, as can be seen in this amusing piece by a writer for the Waco newspaper (click to see larger image).

industrial-dallas-inc_waco-news-tribune_121328
Waco News-Tribune, Dec. 12, 1928

The map:

industrial-dallas-traffic-world_092129_ebay_det

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Sources & Notes

Two Industrial Dallas, Inc. ads appeared it the June 5, 1928 issue of the magazine Nation’s Business (the top illustration is a detail, the second is a full-page advertisement).

The ads were intended to run only three years — until spring of 1931 — but they continued to run until at least the very beginning of 1932. In 1959, Industrial Dallas, Inc. was resurrected for another publicity blitz (led by Dallas Power & Light president C. A. Tatum, Jr.), and ads again appeared in national publications for three years. One of this later series of ads can be seen here.

An interesting little sidebar about this campaign was that it was expressly credited with attracting the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. to build a new “Master Super Service Station” at the northwest corner of Ross and Harwood in 1929 as part of the company’s multi-million-dollar national expansion program. The company purchased what was then the home of the Knights of Columbus, but it had been known since its construction around 1900 as the grand Conway residence, a palatial house designed by architect H. A. Overbeck for prominent lumber dealer J. C. Conway (it was the childhood home of his daughter Gordon Conway, a noted fashion illustrator). It was reported that after the Firestone Co. purchased the property, Harvey Firestone, Jr. had two carved mahogany mantels removed from the house and shipped to the home he was building “in the North.” It’s sad that such a lovely home (seen here) — not even 30 years old! — would be torn down to build a service station. But time and tide wait for no man. Especially in Dallas.

Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

San Antonio Extra: The Texas Transportation Co. and the Pearl Brewery Electric Freight Trolley

texas-transportation-co_cook-coll_degolyer_smu_san-antonioT. T. Co. No. 1, at your service… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I come across a lot of interesting Texas photos that have nothing to do with Dallas, so I think I might, on occasion, post them here, knowing that someone else is also likely to find them interesting. Like the one above.

This photo is from the incredible gift that just keeps giving, the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, held by the DeGolyer Library at SMU. Most of the items in the collection have a Dallas connection, but there are several others of general Texas interest.

When I saw this photo I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like an electric trolley, but I’d never seen a shape like that before. It turns out it was, indeed, an electric freight locomotive. It was one of two locomotives that belonged to the Texas Transportation Co.’s tiny fleet of two — this was engine No. 1. The T.T.C. operated a freight service on their very short 1.3-mile track for 113 years (1887-2000), serving primarily the Pearl and Lone Star breweries of San Antonio, running freight to and from the breweries and the Southern Pacific rail yard. (More at Wikipedia, here.)

Here’s a later photo of the locomotive (October, 1928), now emblazoned with the Pearl Beer logo.

texas-transportation-co_1928_denver-public-library

As hard as it is to believe, this electric freight trolley ran along the streets of San Antonio until the year 2000, when it became a victim of the Pabst Brewing Company’s acquisition and shuttering of the Pearl Brewery. Without the brewery, there was no need for the trolley to continue to run. A month before it stopped running, a man shot video footage of the locomotive(s) trundling through San Antonio. I particularly liked seeing the locos push freight cars as well as pull them (seen at about the 12:50 mark). (Read the notes of the man who shot the video on the YouTube page under “Show More.”)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “T. T. Co. No. 1. Texas Transportation Co.” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist Unviersity; more information about this photo can be found here.

Second photo — titled “Texas Transportation Co. locomotive, engine number 1, engine type Electric” — is from the Otto C. Perry Memorial Collection of Railroad Photographs, Western History Department, Denver Public Library; more information on this photo can be found here.

A great short, illustrated history of the Texas Transportation Co. and the various locomotives that ran on its rails can be found at the Don Ross Group website, here (be sure to read the reminiscences of a man who worked at the Pearl Brewery as a college student in 1960 at the bottom of the page).

I wrote about electric interurban freight-hauling locomotives in the Flashback Dallas post “Interurbans: Freight Movers?”

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Keeping Up With Busy Dallas — 1927

dallas-skyline_drawing_forest-avenue-high-school-yrbk_1927Spot the landmarks (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are two striking graphic depictions of the Dallas skyline, both of which appeared in the 1927 Forest Avenue High School yearbook. The skyline was impressive in 1927, but it would change a lot in the next few years. One important change would come with the addition of what became the unofficial symbol of Dallas: the Magnolia Building was already there in 1927, but Pegasus would not be installed on top of it until 1934.

Below, a drawing that appeared on the last page of the yearbook, showing a locomotive chugging away from the Big City, with the promise/threat “You may leave Dallas, but you’ll come back.”

dallas_you-may-leave_train_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_1927

This is an interesting little tidbit from the same yearbook:

dallas-history_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_1927

26.44 square miles in area?! Smallest of any major Texas city?! 42nd in U.S. population?! How times change. According to recent figures, the City of Dallas stretches across 385 square miles, is the third largest city in Texas, and is the ninth largest city in the United States. And the Magnolia Building — seen in both of the drawings above and once the tallest building in the state — is now dwarfed by taller buildings all around it. Dallas has been busy.

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Sources & Notes

Drawings from the 1927 Forest Avenue High School yearbook, The Forester. (Forest Avenue High School was the original name of James Madison High School. The all-white South Dallas high school became an all-black high school in 1956.)

The artist of the top drawing appears to be someone by the name of “Bond.” The bottom drawing is signed “GWH” — George W. Harwood, Jr. I think Bond might have been a professional artist affiliated with the printing company that printed the yearbooks, but here is the dashing photo of GWH, Class of 1930 (I believe he left Dallas and didn’t come back…).

harwood_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_1930

Click drawings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunset High School — 1929

sunset-high-school_1929_jan-gradsAbove-the-knee hemlines! (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Two photos from Oak Cliff’s Sunset High School in 1929. Above, seniors who were to graduate early in January (those girls are wearing surprisingly short skirts!) and, below, the frumpier but generally pleasant-looking faculty.

sunset-high-school_1929_faculty

And the school itself — Oak Cliff’s second high school (Adamson was the first) — then only four years old.

sunset-high-school_1929_front

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Photos from the 1929 Sunset High School yearbook.

Why, yes, Sunset does have a Wikipedia page, here.

To see what Sunset looks like these days, see it on Google Street View, here.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

At the Palace: The Streets of Sin and The Mikado of Jazz — 1928

palace-theater_052628_univ-of-washington-librariesElm & Ervay, 89 years ago… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photograph above is not the greatest quality, but it’s a photo I’ve never seen before. It shows the Palace Theatre in the 1600 block of Elm Street, just west of Ervay, with the well-known (and very large) Van Winkle’s Book Store in the background. One of the things that makes this photo so interesting is seeing the cumbersome support tower on top of the building holding up the ornate Palace sign. See what a slightly different Palace sign looked like the next year, lit up in neon, here.

The photo above was an amateur snapshot, taken to document the tour of the traveling live stage revue The Mikado of Jazz which played the Palace in late May of 1928. The photo below — which shows the revue’s stage manager and his wife standing on the sidewalk in front of the Palace — was taken at the same time.

palace-theater_052628_univ-of-washington-libraries_sidewalk

Part of a sign visible behind them was probably advertising that the theater was “cooled by refrigerated air.” The ad at the bottom of this post includes this informative little tidbit:

COMFORTABLY COOL — ALWAYS!

Scientifically correct the Palace ventilation system refreshes you with cooled breezes issued from the ceiling. You are not chilled!

What was The Mikado of Jazz? It appears to have been a jazzed-up version of The Mikado — making Gilbert & Sullivan relevant to 1920s’ audiences — like Hamilton for the Jazz Age (“This is said to be the first time that any comic opera has been syncopated and presented with a stage band.”Dallas Morning News blurb, May 20, 1928)

Also on the bill was the “world premiere” (?) of the film The Street of Sin, starring Emil Jannings and Fay Wray, a live stage orchestra, an organ player, and a Felix the Cat cartoon.

mikado-of-jazz_texas-mesquiter_052528
Texas Mesquiter (Mesquite), May 25, 1928

All at the Palace — “Dallas’ Greatest Entertainment!” Enjoyed at a comfortable temperature.

palace_mikado-of-jazz_dmn_052728
May 27, 1928

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Sources & Notes

Photographs (taken in May, 1928) are from the Rene Irene Grage Photograph and Ephemera Collection, 1921-1930s, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections: more information on the first photo (the view of the theater from across the street) is here; more info on the second photo is here.

For other posts that show the Palace in this era, see these posts:

  • “Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926,” here 
  • “Dazzling Neon, Theater Row — 1929,” here

Click photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The White Rock Lake District: “Where Life Is Worth Living!” — 1926

white-rock-lake-district_dmn_050226_detThe idyllic view from an East Dallas villa…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In 1926, East Dallas was in a frenzy of development. There were so many new neighborhoods: Gastonwood, Country Club Estates, West Lake Park, Forest Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Parks Estates, Munger Place Heights, Pasadena, Camp Estates, Hughes Estates, Temple Place.

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The New East Dallas
WHITE ROCK LAKE DISTRICT
Where living is delightful and where life is worth living!

white-rock-lake-district_dmn_050226

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Sources & Notes

Ad from May, 1926. The detail — which shows a heart-stoppingly lovely vision of what might or might not have been a view from a home in the “White Rock Lake District” — is a Dallas I’ve never seen, but it’s one I’ll dream of.

To read a very informative article (or, I think it’s probably more of an “advertorial” written by a real estate company with land holdings in East Dallas), rifle through the Dallas Morning News archives until you find the article/advertisement titled “East Dallas Section Has Fast Growth” (DMN, May 2, 1926). As I said, it’s quite informative — with detailed info on the micro neighborhoods of East Dallas, many of which I’d never heard of.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Traffic at Ross and Pearl — 1920s

ross-and-pearl_galloway_park-citiesLooking northeasterly on Ross from N. Pearl (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows the intersection of Ross and Pearl. The streetcar tracks ran along Pearl. We’re looking northeasterly on Ross. To the left, out of frame, would be the Sacred Heart Cathedral (renamed Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in 1977). The photo comes from Diane Galloway’s wonderful book The Park Cities, A Photohistory. Her caption:

Traffic jams such as this one at Ross and Pearl Streets during the twenties encouraged Dallasites to pack up and move to newer developments away from the city.

With the crowd of people at the left, I think the traffic in this photo might have been caused by church-going motorists. The license plates on the cars seem to match those from 1927 and 1928 (links to license-plate-dating sites at bottom of post).

That impressive house at the top left with the pointed turret? At the time of this photograph, it was the George A. Brewer Undertaking Company. Like the two-blocks-away Belo Mansion, which was converted into the Loudermilk-Sparkman funeral home in 1926 (seen here), this spectacular house was once a private residence. It was built by Charles F. Carter (1848-1912), a wealthy cotton merchant, sometime between 1892 and 1895. It took up a huge lot at what is now the northeast corner of Ross and Crockett (see it at the bottom left of the 1921 Sanborn map, here). Here’s what the house looked like, circa 1895. (All pictures are larger when clicked.)

carter-house_ross-ave_dallas-rediscovered

And, below, you can just see part of the house in a 1910 photo of the new-ish Cathedral at the corner of Ross and Pearl.

 sacred-heart-cathedral_1910_dpl

In 1920 or ’21 the Brewer Undertaking Co. moved into this house at 2303 Ross Avenue and operated as one of the city’s most prominent funeral homes until 1931 when they moved into a new location farther down Ross. When Brewer moved out, the beautiful house was demolished. In its place … a used car lot. Argh. In 1940, Lone Star Olds (later Lone Star Cadillac) moved in, eventually bought up the whole block, and became one of Dallas’ legendary car dealerships. It moved from its Ross Avenue location in 1985.

lone-star-cadillac_ross-ave_squire-haskins_uta

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Also, even though it isn’t really visible in the top photo, across the street from the old Carter house — at 2310 Ross — was Brynce Court, a u-shaped apartment building. I haven’t been able to verify this, but The Dallas Morning News had a blurb about the “First Apartments” in the city which read as follows:

Dallas’ first apartment complex was a two-building development at 2310 Ross Ave. Built in 1919 [note: it appears to have been built in 1912], Brynce Court was the first set of apartments housed in more than one building.” (DMN, Jan. 7, 1984)

I mention this because it’s a cool little factoid, but also because I stumbled across a photo of it in an ad while looking for info on Lone Star Olds-Cadillac. So I have to show it. Surprisingly, this apartment block (which probably looked a lot less charming after fifty years) stood at that location until at least 1964.

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Dallas Morning News, May 15, 1921

brynce-court_dmn_042212
DMN, April 22, 1912

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I always like to look at things in the background of old photos. Here’s an extremely blurry magnified detail from the top photo, showing a two-story building of shops and businesses at Ross and Leonard. Included in these businesses is the Imperial Drug Store — it’s a little hard to make out, but the vertical sign with white letters appears to read “DRUGS” (this building can be seen in the 1921 Sanborn map mentioned above).

ross-pearl_dallas-rediscovered_det

Below, the businesses and residences along Ross Avenue — between  N. Pearl and Leonard — from the 1927 Dallas directory.

ross-avenue_1927-directory

Ross and Pearl these days looks nothing like that top photo. See what the same view looks like today, via Google Street View, here. At least the Cathedral lives on.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from Diane Galloway’s book The Park Cities, A Photohistory (Dallas: privately published, 1989); from the collection of John Stull/R. L. Goodson, Jr., Inc., Consulting Engineers.

Photo of the C. F. Carter House — taken about 1895 —  from William L. McDonald’s Dallas Rediscovered (Dallas: Dallas Historical Society, 1978); from the collection of Mrs. Manning B. Shannon, Jr. (Elizabeth Leachman Shannon).

Photo of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart from the Dallas Public Library, taken in 1910.

(Cropped) photo of Lone Star Cadillac by Squire Haskins from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections; more info is here (click thumbnail on UTA page to see much larger image).

Info on dating Texas license plates can be found here (PDF), here, and here. (If the first link doesn’t open, Google “The History of Texas License Plates.” It’s a report issued by the Texas Department of Transportation. It’s 255 pages long (!) and it’s exhaustive!)

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Holy Blues: Blind Willie Johnson and Arizona Dranes — 1920s

johnson-dranes

by Paula Bosse

Today a little Sunday-go-to-meetin’ music, courtesy of two powerful singers who recorded at about the same time — late 1920s — and who both spent time in Dallas. Blind Willie Johnson was from Marlin, Texas, but he recorded much of his music in Dallas and regularly played street corners in Deep Ellum. Arizona Dranes, also a native Texan, lived in Dallas for several years and was, like Johnson, blind. Listening to both of them, you can hear their influence in the gospel and blues music that came after them. Read about the short life and career of Blind Willie Johnson here. Read about the life and career of Arizona Dranes from Michael Corcoran, here and here. And listen to their music below. It’s fantastic. (All of the tracks by Johnson were recorded in Dallas.)

blind-willie-johnson
Blind Willie Johnson, 1927-ish?

That guitar!

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Here he is with his wife singing behind him.

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Johnson’s song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was included on the Voyager Gold Record, a collection of music chosen to represent Earth’s culture and diversity, carried into space aboard the Voyager.

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arizona-dranes_1953_corcoran
Arizona Dranes in 1953

That voice!

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The song below starts off deceptively “plinky” but picks up considerably when Arizona starts to sing.

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Want to know more about Arizona Dranes? Michael Corcoran can tell you what you need to know.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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