Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1930s

Simms Super Service Station, Cedar Springs & Maple — 1930

simms-super-service-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_ca-1930Let us vulcanize your tires!

by Paula Bosse

If you call yourself a “Super Service Station,” you’d better be pretty super. And the one in the photo above is pretty super. It opened in 1930 at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Maple (on the northernmost tip of the land now occupied by the Crescent). 

Construction of the station and attached retail spaces was announced in 1929 by the Dallas-based Simms Oil Company (headquartered in the Magnolia Building, with a refinery on Eagle Ford Road in West Dallas) — it was reported that the impressive building would cost about $40,000 (about $615,000 in today’s money). It would be the 34th Simms service station in the city but it would be the first SUPER service station. Its grand opening at the end of April, 1930 was a big event, broadcast over KRLD radio, with singers, music, and flowers for the ladies. No business was conducted during the grand opening — it was strictly an open house, offering prospective customers the opportunity to walk among the gas pumps and admire what the company called “the last word in service station art.”

simms_cedar-springs-maple_grand-opening_043030_detDetail from grand opening ad, April, 1930

The filling station will be equipped with ten electrically operated gasoline pumps. Every kind of automobile repairs and battery and tire vulcanizing service will be offered. (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 20, 1929)

The building is of terra cotta in modernistic design with the well-known Simms color scheme of blue, white and red used. […] On top of the structure is a beacon bearing the Simms triangle. It will revolve with flood lights playing on it all the while. (DMN, April 27, 1930)

I never think of businesses of that period being open 24 hours a day, but this one was. Super!

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Here are a few zoomed-in close-ups of the top photo, which shows the Cedar Springs side of the building. (Click pictures to see larger images.)

At the left of this detail you can see a glimpse of Maple Avenue, which, at the time, was still lined with large, expensive homes.

simms_det_to-maple

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In the shadows, a man who no doubt has prodigious vulcanizing skills.

simms_det_emp

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In addition to housing a gas station, the building had 6 retail spaces — 3 on Maple and 3 on Cedar Springs. One of the businesses seen here places the date of this photo at 1930, when The Radio Shop was located at 2304 Cedar Springs (the next year it appears to have moved around to the Maple side of the building). Next to it is the Fishburn Oriental Cleaners at 2308 Cedar Springs. (The official address of the Simms station was 2623 Maple, but it was usually just listed as being at the southeast corner of Maple and Cedar Springs — after Simms, the building’s address was 2312 Cedar Springs.)

simms_det_truck_oriental-cleaners_radio-shop

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Here’s a close-up of the company truck and an easy-to-remember number when you needed to call for help with a broken-down vehicle.

simms_det_simms-truck

And here it is in an ad. That motorcycle is cool. For some reason I really want that sidecar to be filled with sloshing gasoline.

simms_ad_082630_detAd detail, Aug. 26, 1930

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And here’s the revolving rooftop beacon. (What looks like a spray of water is just damage to the surface of the photograph.) (…But a fountain on top of a gas station would be pretty amazing.)

simms_det_tower-cu

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You know you’ve got a cool building if you can include an instantly recognizable line drawing of it in your ads.

simms_cedar-springs-maple_060330_detAd detail, June 3, 1930

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I think the company might have disappeared before the 1930s ended. Because this is the only “old” “modern” map I’ve got, here’s where the Simms gas station had been located, courtesy of a 1952 Mapsco.

cedar-springs-maple_1952-mapscoMapsco, 1952

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Here are a couple of later photos of the building, post-Simms. The first one is from a grainy Shook Tires ad from 1938. The color postcard is from the 1960s when it was the C. S. Hamilton Chrysler dealership. The beacon is still there but, surely, it was no longer beaconing (unlike the Republic Bank “rocket” seen in the background, which was beaconing big-time). (See below in the comments for a 1940s photo of the building.)

shook-tires_ad_2312-cedar-springs_051338Shook Tires, 1938

hamilton-car-dealership_cedar-springs-at-maple_ca-1962_ebayC. S. Hamilton Chrysler, ca. 1962

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Sources & Notes

Photo — titled “Simms Oil Station (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” — 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

simms-super-service-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_ca-1930_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Snider Plaza Safeway: Hillcrest & Lovers — 1930s

snider-plaza_safeway_ebay_1Safeway, Hillcrest & Lovers Lane

by Paula Bosse

The Snider Plaza shopping area opened in University Park in June, 1927, and an early grocery tenant was Killingsworth Self-Serving Food Store, which opened in 1930 or ’31. In 1934 the small Killingsworth chain of 12 Dallas stores was purchased by the Safeway/Piggly Wiggly company, and in March, 1935 the remodeled store was opened as a Safeway — it was newer, bigger, better, and more crammed-full of Stokely’s canned foods than any grocery store University Park had ever known. But in August, 1941 — before shoppers had gotten too complacent — it moved around the corner into another Snider Plaza location (3412 Westminster) — this one even newer! Even bigger! Even better! (And only half a mile from another Safeway which was just a hop, skip, and a jump away at 6207 Hillcrest.) (You can’t have too many Safeways.)

I haven’t seen many photos of the original architecture of Snider Plaza shops, so the photo above is pretty cool. (I really like that “Snider Plaza” was stamped on the curb.) I’m going only by the little map below, which appeared in ads when the bigger 1941 store opened, but I assume that the store seen in the photo above was at the corner of Hillcrest and Lovers Lane. 

snider-plaza_safeway_ad_082941_det_mapAug. 1941, Safeway ad detail

And now I have a sudden craving for canned hominy….

snider-plaza_safeway_ebay_2

snider-plaza_safeway_ebay_3

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Sources & Notes

Photos found on eBay in 2020.

UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments below, Dallas historian Teresa Musgrove Judd ended up as the winning eBay bidder of these photographs and plans to donate them to the Dallas Public Library.

snider-plaza_safeway_ebay_1_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

SMU Cartoon Timeline — 1935

smu-timeline_1935-rotundaJust the highlights…

by Paula Bosse

Here’s a handy little chronology of the first 20 years of Southern Methodist University’s history, found on the endpapers of the 1935 SMU yearbook, the Rotunda

Click to explore (“glub”):

smu-timeline_1935-rotunda_crop-1a

smu-timeline_1935-rotunda_crop-1b

smu-timeline_1935-rotunda_crop-2a

smu-timeline_1935-rotunda_crop-2b

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Sources & Notes

Images from the 1935 Rotunda, yearbook of Southern Methodist University.

For more on SMU’s first year, 1915-1916, see these Flashback Dallas posts:

smu-timeline_1935-rotunda_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Holiday Greetings from Jefferson Tower — 1937

xmas_jefferson-tower_oak-cliff_portal_1937_bChristmastime in Oak Cliff…

by Paula Bosse

Jefferson Tower, on West Jefferson Boulevard between S. Bishop and S. Madison, looked pretty great in 1937 all decorated for Christmas. It was (and is) the tallest building on West Jefferson. This must have made quite the statement!

xmas_jefferson-tower_oak-cliff_portal_1937

Here’s a zoomed-in detail (all images are larger when clicked):

xmas_jefferson-tower_oak-cliff_portal_1937_det

And here’s the building a few years later — no Christmas-tree decoration and in the daytime, but still fantastic.

jefferson-tower_mccoy-collaborativevia McCoy Collaborative

And, I mean, look at how commanding this building is, even now:

jefferson-tower_google-maps

I’d like to see a 21st-century return of a Christmas tree to the exterior of this building — it would still be impressive!

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Sources & Notes

Christmas photos of Jefferson Tower are from the Private Collection of Mary Newton Maxwell, via the Portal to Texas History — more info may be found here and here.

Photo of Jefferson Tower in the daylight is from the McCoy Collaborative website — more on their work in rehabilitating this historic building may be found here.

See the building on Google Street View here.

More Christmas posts from Flashback Dallas may be found here.

xmas_jefferson-tower_oak-cliff_portal_1937_b_small

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Take a Greyhound to the Texas Centennial — 1936

tx-centennial_greyhound-ad_hollywood-mag_1936_det“Dallas, please…”

by Paula Bosse

Thanks to the promoters of the Texas Centennial, advertisements placed in national publications in 1936 showed Dallas to be quite the desirable destination. The Centennial — the World’s-Fair-that-wasn’t-quite-a-World’s Fair — made Dallas the place to be in 1936. This ad for Greyhound Lines (a company which, incidentally, is now headquartered in Dallas) need only show a fab deco poster on a wall for people to want to jump on a bus and head to Big D.

The full ad is below. Nary a mention of “Dallas.” (Click to see a larger image.)

tx-centennial_greyhound-ad_hollywood-mag_1936

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Sources & Notes

Ad from Hollywood magazine, May, 1936.

tx-centennial_greyhound-ad_hollywood-mag_1936_det_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

George Dahl’s Proposed Massive “Lone Star” Entrance to Fair Park

tx-centennial_proposed-lone-star_george-dahl_dma-catalog_1972_portalWhat could have been at Fair Park: a really, really big star…

by Paula Bosse

As this year’s State-Fair-of-Texas-that-wasn’t draws to a virtual end, I thought I would post this image I came across a while ago — I’d never seen it before, and it’s something of a mystery. It appeared in a 1972 Dallas Museum of Art exhibition catalog called “1930s Expositions” (link at bottom of post). One of the expositions covered in the catalog was the Texas Centennial Exposition held at Fair Park in 1936. Most of the buildings we see today were built in 1935/1936, and the entire sprawling project was led by visionary chief architect George L. Dahl of Dallas. The description of this image reads:

“The monumental scale of the central area of the Exposition was set by the massive pylons which formed the entrance to the Centennial. How even more heroic would have been George Dahl’s proposed ‘Lone Star’ entrance.”

Whoa! Can you imagine that gigantic star spanning the entrance? A sort of  Colossus of Rhodes for Big D! (Big Tex is as close to a Colossus as we’re going to get.)

I searched and searched but could find nothing more about this incredibly dynamic Dahl vision. The closest I got was not what I was looking for, but it was still pretty interesting.

“Erection of a star-shaped building at a cost of $1,000,000 will be asked of the Legislature… This structure would be administrative headquarters for the central exposition in Dallas.” (Dallas Morning News, Dec. 9, 1934)

My first thought was, “Is that thing a building?” And then I searched on “star-shaped building” and found that there had been an extremely controversial “star-shaped building” built as the “Texas Building” at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Super-wealthy Texan E. H. R. Green was so appalled at the building’s design (by St. Louis-born Texas architect C. H. Page) that he resigned from the state commission in protest, saying this:

“I am not in any way to be identified with the official responsibility of the building that portrays Texas as a freak and that is what that star-shaped building does. No one ever heard of such a type of architecture before. I want a building that will impress those who see it with the idea Texas has some dignity.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 12, 1903)

St. Louis built it anyway. It was kind of freaky — especially with a replica of the State Capitol dome awkwardly plonked down in the middle (gilding the lily, man…) — but it was, apparently, quite popular. See a ground-level photo of the Texas Building here — and here’s a drawing:

tx-bldg_st-louis-worlds-fair_FWST_013104
FWST, Jan. 31, 1904

That was an odd little detour. Anyway….

About that star over the Parry Avenue entrance to Fair Park — I’d love to know more about it. I’d love to see a better image. Anyone know anything? I wonder if Dahl’s plans and drawing for this giant Lone Star might be resting comfortably in the Dallas Historical Society archives?

Here’s the entrance design which was ultimately decided on — the one we still see today at Parry and Exposition. Yeah, there’s a star there, but now that I’ve seen what we could have had, it seems kind of puny. What it lost in overall heft it gained in height, I guess. But just imagine what it COULD have been!

fair-park_entrance_postcard_tx-centennial_1936_ebay_col

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from the 1972 Dallas Museum of Fine Arts catalog for the traveling show “1930s Expositions” (page 16); a scan of the catalog can be found at the Portal to Texas History here, and at the DMA website here.

Color postcard found on eBay.

tx-centennial_proposed-lone-star_george-dahl_dma-catalog_1972_portal_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.

 

Architectural Crossroads: Commerce and Akard

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay

by Paula Bosse

In Dallas’ early days, Commerce Street was once considered so far off the beaten path that major businesses did not build there. By 1925, though, the intersection of Commerce and Akard streets boasted three Dallas showplaces: the Adolphus Hotel (still standing), the Magnolia Building (still standing), and the Baker Hotel (not still standing). (Before that, it was the Adolphus, the Magnolia, and Busch’s other hotel, the swanky Oriental.)

Ever noticed that the corner “turret” of the Adolphus looks like a traditional German beer stein? An ode to the source of namesake Adolphus Busch’s wealth? I certainly hope so!

adolphus_terracotta-detail_western-architect_july-1914

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a pack of postcards, found on eBay.

Detail of the Adolphus is from the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas in ‘The Western Architect,’ 1914: The Adolphus Hotel.”

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mystery Photo: Standpipe Foundation — 1937

stand-pipe-foundation_ebay_july-1937Big D construction crater… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across this photo on eBay a year or more ago, but I’ve never been certain where it was taken. The photograph was processed and developed by Skillern’s in Dallas, but it’s always possible it wasn’t actually taken in Dallas. The back of the photo can be seen below, with the following penciled notation:

“Stand pipe foundation, July ’37”

I can’t make out the writing above and to the right of “foundation.”

stand-pipe-fouindation_reverse_ebay

The only newspaper archive mention of construction of a stand pipe/standpipe in July, 1937 was one described as being in the “2400 block of Alamo, near Cedar Springs” (Dallas Morning News, July 13, 1937). That area has changed a LOT since 1937, with several streets changing names, changing course, being created, etc. — here’s a detail from a 1952 Mapsco to give you an idea of where it was:

alamo-street_2400-block_1952-mapsco2400 block of Alamo (1952 Mapsco, det.)

So, north of downtown Dallas, near-ish to the present location of the American Airlines Center.

But the photo at the top looks like it would be well beyond the downtown area — the 1921 Sanborn map shows a lot of residences in the area (the 1937 city directory shows the 2400 block of Alamo was a mostly Mexican-American residential area with a few light industrial businesses) — the area to the west was less developed, with rail yards and railroad tracks and the Dallas Power & Light building. (The standpipe built in this block of Alamo might have been located in the middle of the block’s south side, where there was a gap in the numbering of occupied lots.)

There were probably other standpipes under construction in the city at the time, but the one on Alamo was the only one I saw mention of in the newspaper in the summer of 1937. Even if the site in the photo above is not this Alamo one, the story of that standpipe had an interesting story which took place in… July, 1937.

On July 12, 1937, Walter Gray, a laborer working on the standpipe, collapsed at the construction site. He was working inside the water tower, at the bottom, and had been overcome by gas fumes. A fellow worker, Bud Young, was at the top of the 80-foot tower and saw Gray collapse. Somehow he got the unconscious Gray up to the top of the standpipe, but he was unable to get him down. He shouted for help and two policemen rushed over. One of them, patrolman T. B. Griffin, fashioned a “bucket” out of a 50-gallon oil drum, climbed to the top of the tower, got Gray and himself in the bucket and had workers lower them precariously to the ground. A doctor administered oxygen at the scene and rushed Gray to Parkland. Walter Gray, whom the doctor described as having been near death, survived. And patrolman Griffin was nominated for a Carnegie Hero Award for his heroism and quick thinking.

I looked up T. B. Griffin (Tracey Boyd Griffin, 1908-1982) to see what else he had done, because that was quite a display of dedication to public service. A few months after this dangerous act, he lowered himself down an elevator shaft in which a man had stepped, not realizing there was no elevator — just open doors and no lightbulb (!). Also, in what seems like a hackneyed, unbelievable plot device that would happen in a Road Runner cartoon, Griffin and a partner snatched a burning fuse from a safe primed with nitro-glycerin just seconds before it was about to blow. Yep. A year after that, in 1939, he and his regular partner J. W. “Joe” Sides were moved to the vice squad as plain-clothes detectives where they busted innumerable gambling rings and bookie parlors (which, lordy, Dallas was overrun with like you wouldn’t believe). I bet ol’ T. B. had some stories to tell.

But back to the standpipe… still not sure where it was. Any ideas?

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

Never heard of a “standpipe”? See photos in the Flashback Dallas post “The Twin Standpipes of Lakewood Heights: 1923-1925.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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