Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1960s

Live Oak, From Elm and Ervay

downtown-dallas_mayflower_med-arts_southland-life_lee-optical_ebayLive Oak, looking northeast…

by Paula Bosse

Downtown, at the 3-point intersection of Elm, Ervay, and Live Oak (see a map from 1952 here). This photo shows Live Oak, with a view to the northeast. There are a lot of landmarks: the Mayflower Coffee Shop, the Medical Arts Building, the Southland Life Building, the Sheraton Dallas hotel, the Mexico City Cafe, an entrance to an underground public restroom (the tower-like thingy directly under the Lee Optical sign), and the Dallas Athletic Club. Out of frame to the right is the large flashing Coca-Cola sign (which comes with a handy weather forecast). I’ve gotten this intersection from almost every angle. See other photos of this crossroads here and here.

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Sources & Notes

This photo is currently available on eBay (the seller is in France — wonder how this photo ended up in Antibes?).

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

City Park, From the Air: 1948-1997

1948_city-park_aerial_dallas-municipal-archives_portalCity Park, 1948 (Dallas Municipal Archives)

by Paula Bosse

These eight aerial photos of City Park/Old City Park in The Cedars, just south of downtown, show the encroachment of an ever-increasing acreage of asphalt onto what was once the city’s most beautiful park. (All photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and all are larger when clicked.) The one thing present in all photos is the late Ambassador Hotel (RIP).

Above, in 1948, before the cement mixers arrived (photo by Barnes Aerial Surveys).

Below, 1954.

1954_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portal
Squire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1954

1966:

1966_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1966

1969:

1969_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1969

1972:

1972_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_1972_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1972

1975:

1975_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_1975_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1975

Circa 1982:

1982-ca_city-park_aerial_dallas-municipal-archives_portalDallas Municipal Archives, ca. 1982

1997:

1997_city-park_aerial_reginald-d-loftin_dallas-municipal-archives_portalReginald D. Loftin, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1997

Today-ish (or at least before the Ambassador burned down in May, 2019):

city-park_google-maps_aerialGoogle Maps

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Sources & Notes

All photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives Collection, via the Portal to Texas History; they can all be found here.

Read about the history of the Ambassador Hotel in the Flashback Dallas post “The Majestic Hotel/The Park Hotel/The Ambassador Hotel: R.I.P — 1904-2019.”

A few old postcards of City Park in its heyday can be found in the post “Iola Bridge.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Smith College Book Sale — 1962

smith-college-book-sale_may-1-2-1962_WFAA_smuSmith College Club book sale, Highland Park Village…

by Paula Bosse

As the children of a bookseller, my brother and I spent our childhoods surrounded by books — at home, in the Aldredge Book Store, at book shows, and at book sales. The two big annual book sales I remember were the Smith College Book Sale (the really big one) and the Brandeis Book Sale, both being fundraisers for the respective colleges.

The Smith College Club of Dallas put on their book sales. The club was organized by alumnae in 1949 in the home of Mrs. Joseph L. Higginbotham (Elizabeth Higginbotham, Class of ’32), and the first informal sale was conducted on her back porch in Highland Park. Proceeds from the book sales funded Smith College scholarships for Dallas girls.

I was excited to see (silent) film footage of an early Smith College sale, footage which showed up in SMU’s endlessly interesting WFAA-Channel 8 newsfilm collection. I remember much larger sales from the ’70s and ’80s, so this one from 1962 seems very quaint. This 9th annual sale was held on May 1-2, 1962 in an empty storefront at 84 Highland Park Village. Volunteers were wearing “candy striper” uniforms, and shoppers filled up Neiman-Marcus shopping bags.

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Stanley Marcus, always a supporter of book-related events in Dallas (and the father of two Smith grads), even had the event incorporated into a Neiman-Marcus ad that year (their Preston Road location was an official drop-off spot for book donations, and after the store moved from Preston Road to NorthPark, the empty building was given over to the Smith women a few times to use as the site of several of their book sales).

smith-college-book-sale_neiman-marcus-ad_042062
Neiman-Marcus ad, April 20, 1962 (click for larger image)

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a screenshot from the YouTube clip (here), from the WFAA NewsFilm Collection, G. William Jones Film Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Rev. W. W. Stogner: The Courthouse Preacher

stogner_WBAP_03311959_portalRev. Stogner, 1959

by Paula Bosse

The Reverend Mr. W. W. Stogner (1873-1966) was something of a permanent fixture around the Dallas County Courthouse for a good 30 years. He was known as “the marrying preacher” who was Johnny-on-the-spot to marry any couple who had just obtained a marriage license and was in need of a man of the cloth. According to his own  estimation, he had married some 20,000 couples (!) — including my parents.

William Washington Stogner was born in Mississippi in 1873 and arrived in Dallas in 1907. Although he had preached since he was a teenager, he wasn’t ordained until he was 38 years old. He worked as a minister in Collin County and in Oklahoma for several years before returning to Dallas in 1926. From various newspaper reports, he appears to have set up shop as a marriage-focused pastor around 1935, roaming the hallways of the courthouse looking for newly licensed couples. (Detractors occasionally referred to him as the “Marryin’ Sam” of the Dallas County Courthouse, in a reference to the opportunistic character in the L’il Abner comic strip.)

In a 1960 Frank X. Tolbert profile in The Dallas Morning News, Rev. Stogner’s average workday went something like this:

He arrives at the Records Building each morning around 8 a.m. carrying a shopping bag in which are a Bible and much other reading matter. He often stations himself near the elevators leading to the County Clerk’s office, a good place to spot happy couples equipped with a marriage license but in need of a preacher. (Tolbert’s Texas, DMN, May 12, 1960)

In that article, the 88-year-old retired Baptist minister estimated he had, thus far, married 18,000 couples. Some he had encouraged to wait, not feeling they were ready, but most of them he joined together in holy matrimony. He said he married people in empty rooms of the courthouse — or even in hallways. He also married couples in his home in Oak Cliff (my parents were married in his home, having contacted him from information on a business card given to them by the good reverend after they had received their wedding license at the courthouse).

As he spent so much time at the courthouse, it’s no surprise that he conducted several  marriages right across the street in the jail. Like the comedy-of-errors wedding described in the story below (click for larger image):

stogner_dayton-oh-daily-news_wire-story_070558AP wire story, Dayton (OH) Daily News, July 5, 1958

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The Rev. Mr. Stogner can be seen in a WBAP-Ch. 5 news clip from March 31, 1959 testifying in the court of Justice of the Peace W. E. Richburg in the trial concerning the falsification of documents in the marriage of an 18-year-old man to a 12-year-old girl (watch the silent clip here). Rev. Stogner looks a bit shell-shocked and testified that he thought the affidavit asserting the girl was 14 (and of legal age, with permission of a parent) was valid. It was not, and the marriage  was annulled. (The news script about this case can be read here.) You can’t win ’em all. 

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Rev. Stogner died in 1966, two days short of his 93rd birthday. Think about that for a second: he was born in Reconstruction Mississippi and died a year before “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” It’s pretty amazing to realize that my parents were married by a man who could remember being alive in the 1870s! 

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a screen shot from the WBAP-Ch. 5 new clip “Court of Inquiry” from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, UNT Libraries Special Collections, via the Portal to Texas History.

There is no film of the story about Rev. Stogner’s 90th birthday celebration at the Dallas County Courthouse, but the Feb. 12, 1963 script can be read at the Portal to Texas History here

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Highland Park’s Azaleas

azaleas_turtle-creek_spring_swb-phone-book_1968_ebaySpringtime in Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

I just realized I haven’t seen the azaleas this year. I don’t really hear about people doing it anymore, but when I was a kid, my mother always made a point every Spring to drive us around Highland Park, Exall Lake, and Turtle Creek to see the beautiful azaleas, which were in bloom everywhere you looked.

Local lore has it that the first big splash azaleas made in Dallas were in the early 1930s when Joe Lambert, Jr. (of the still-going-strong, 100-plus-year-old legendary Lambert’s Landscape Co.) imported 100 or more plants from Shreveport to Dallas — to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Lechner in the 6900 block of Lakewood Boulevard. Azaleas apparently don’t grow well in Dallas soil unless you know what you’re doing, and Lambert knew what he was doing, because his azaleas thrived in Lakewood, and they were a huge hit with people who would drive from miles away to look at the exotic blooms.

That success led to numerous calls from residents of Highland Park, which, in turn, led to lots and lots of landscaping work for the Lambert family — so much so that they moved their business from Shreveport to Dallas.

Of particular note was the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Penn at the corner of Preston and Armstrong where azalea bushes were planted terrace-like to prevent soil erosion on the part of their property which sloped down to the banks of Turtle Creek. One newspaper report said there were more than 500 azalea bushes on the Penn estate. It caused a sensation — the plants began to pop up all around Turtle Creek, and people flocked to Highland Park to see them.

In a 1971 newspaper article it was estimated there were 50,000 azaleas in Dallas parks. I have no idea what the number is these days, but for two weeks every year, it is an absolute pleasure to drive around Highland Park and Oak Lawn — and every other part of town where azaleas bloom — and to enjoy Dallas’ brief, very pretty springtime.

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A Channel 5 news story from 1979 (which you can watch here) says that azaleas was first brought to Dallas by the La Reunion settlers, which would have been in the 1850s. The earliest mention I could find was in an 1886 ad in The Dallas Morning News — there were several other ads before the turn of the century offering the exotic “imported” plants for sale.

azaleas_dmn_031386
March, 1886

In the 1950s there was an explosion of interest in people heading to Lakeside Drive every spring in order to commune with nature and gaze lovingly at the profusion of azaleas. I mean, lordy, read this breathless ode to the azalea in this detail of a Neiman-Marcus ad. (These little essays by “Wales” appeared regularly in N-M ads — I always suspected they were written by Stanley Marcus,  but “Wales” was apparently Warren Leslie, a Neiman’s executive and spokesperson who later wrote the controversial book Dallas Public and Private.) (Click for larger image.)

azaleas_032753_neiman-ad-det
March, 1953

And here’s evidence of the bumper-to-bumper traffic along Lakeside Drive and the mass of humanity armed with cameras converging on the banks of Turtle Creek in (silent) footage from Channel 8, shot on April 10, 1960 (it seems almost criminal, though, that the film is in black and white!) — the pertinent clip begins at the :43 mark. (From the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Library, SMU.)


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Here’s a Lambert’s ad, from 1963:

azaleas_041763_lamberts-ad
April, 1963

Another WFAA clip, this one from 1972, which shows azaleas in COLOR — not in Highland Park, but in downtown Dallas during the 3rd annual Azalea Festival:


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Here’s a postcard view:

turtle-creek_azaleas_ebay

And here’s a photo I took a couple of years ago of my favorite searingly hot-pink variety (seen here before the peak of the blooming period — note the still bloomless bush to the right):

azaleas_turtle-creek_2018_paula-bosse

Sorry I missed you, azaleas. Next year, for sure.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the cover of Southwestern Bell’s 1968 Dallas phone book.

Bottom photo by Paula Bosse, taken March 29, 2018.

azaleas_turtle-creek_spring_swb-phone-book_1968_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Orphaned Factoids: Year-End Grab Bag, 2019

cyclone-twister_tornado_cigars_1928_ebay“Looks crooked but smokes straight…”

by Paula Bosse

As another year crawls to an end, it’s time to collect the odd bits and pieces that have  piled up over the past few months which struck me as interesting or funny or… whatever. I had nowhere else to put them, so they’re going here! (Most images are larger when clicked.)

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First up, the ad above for the “Cyclone Twister” 5-cent cigar, distributed by Dallas wholesaler Martin L. Richards in 1928. Note the shape of the cigar. “Looks crooked but smokes straight.” Probably looked a little strange when smoked. I guess it might help break the ice at parties. Found on eBay.

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Here’s a nice little crest for SMU I’ve never seen — I’m not sure how long this lasted. From the 1916 Rotunda yearbook.

smu_crest_1916-rotunda

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M. Benedikt & Co. was the “Headquarters for Hard-to-fit-men” — in other words, they specialized in “Right-Shape clothing for Odd-Shape Men.” Here are a couple of examples of what they might consider “odd-shape men” in an ad from 1899.

benedikt-clothiers_odd-shape-men_dallas-fire-dept-souvenir_1899_degolyer-lib_SMU

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This is an interesting selection of ads from a 1968 edition of the Yellow Pages: Dewey Groom’s Longhorn Ballroom, Louanns, El Zarape Ballroom, the It’ll Do Club, the Bamboo Room at the Tower Hotel Courts, the Chalet Club, and the Tamlo Show Lounge (a couple of these show up in the…um… informative story “The Meanest Bars in Dallas” (D Magazine, July, 1975).

clubs_yellow-pages_1968_ebay

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I’ve been working in the G. William Jones Film and Video Archives at SMU for the past few months, and this was something I came across while viewing a 1960 WFAA-Channel 8 News clip which made me really excited (it’s an awful screenshot, but, what the heck): while covering a car wreck at Corinth and Industrial, the Ch. 8 camera panned across the scene, and in the background, just left of center, was a very tall sign for the Longhorn Ranch, which I’d never seen before. Before it was the Longhorn Ranch it was Bob Wills’ Ranch House, and after it was the Longhorn Ranch it was the Longhorn Ballroom (more history of the legendary honky-tonk is in a Texas Monthly article here). So, anyway, it’s a fuzzy screenshot, but I think it’s cool. (The footage is from June, 1960 but the clip hasn’t yet been uploaded online.)

longhorn-ranch_wfaa-june-1960_jones-film_SMU

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Speaking of WFAA footage in the Jones Film collection, there was some sort of story about comely young women in skimpy outfits handing out samples of some sort of food to passing pedestrians on Commerce Street (the one-minute clip is here). In addition to seeing sights associated with downtown streets in 1962 (including businesses such as Sigel’s and the Horseshoe Bar, as well as a large sign advertising the Theatre Lounge), I was really happy to see a few Braniff Airways posters in a window — I love those late-’50s/early-’60s Braniff travel posters! So here’s another screenshot and, below that, the Texas-kitsch poster I was so happy to see in color.

braniff-poser_oil-well_jones-film_SMU_041262

braniff-poser_oil-well_ebayBraniff Airways, Inc., Copyright 1926 2019

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I don’t have an image for it, but I was amused to learn that in 1969 the powers-that-be at the Texas Turnpike Authority nixed the suggestion that the Dallas North Tollway be renamed in honor of president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had recently died — the idea was turned down because 1) new signage would have been very expensive, and 2) officials were afraid that “irreverent motorists” would inevitably refer to the toll road as the “Ike Pike” (I know I would have!).

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Not Dallas, but there’s always time for a little love for Fort Worth: here’s a nice ad from 1955 for a 22-year-old Fort Worth DJ named Willie Nelson, back when he was gigging out on the Jacksboro Highway with his band the Dumplin’ Eaters.

nelson-wilie_FWST_090955Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 9, 1955

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Apparently there was a time when ladies were uncomfortable patronizing an establishment in which m*n served them ice cream, so this ad from 1899 made sure to note that “lady clerks” were in attendance. (See the back side of the Willett & Haney Confectioners parlor a couple of years before this ad, when the “cool and cozy parlor” was located on Main Street — it’s at the far left in this circa-1895 photo detail from this post.) The parlor was owned by John B. Willett and John S. Haney, and in addition to ice cream and candy, their specialty was oysters, and I can only hope that there was some experimenting with new food combos involving mollusks, ice cream sodas, and crushed fruit.

willett-and-haney_ice-cream-parlor_dallas-fire-dept-souvenir_1899_degolyer-lib_SMU

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This is an odd little tidbit from The Dallas Morning News about a couple of cadets from Camp Dick (at Fair Park) and what happened to them when they attended a lecture on “social diseases.” (The jokes write themselves….) Who knew singing and whistling were so therapeutic”

camp-dick_dmn_081718DMN, Aug. 17, 1918

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The caption for this photo (which appeared in the article “Going Downtown to Shop” by Jackie McElhaney, from the Spring, 2009 issue of Legacies): “In 1946, Sanger’s introduced a portable drapery shop. Two seamstresses sewed draperies in this truck while parked in the customer’s driveway.” Now that’s service!

sangers_drapes_legacies_2009

sangers_logo_1947_forward-with-tx
“Forward with Texas,” 1947 ad detail

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Two more. This first was a real-photo postcard I found on eBay. It shows the Pink Elephant cafe on Hwy. 80 in Forney (not Dallas, but pretty close!). I love the idea of Forney having a place called the Pink Elephant — it was quite popular and was in business from at least the 1930s to the 1950s. The card below was postmarked in 1936.

pink-elephant-bbq_forney_ebay_mailed-1936

This photo of the interior is from the Spellman Museum of Forney Museum Facebook page.

pink-elephant-bbq_forney_FB_spellman-museum-forney-history

I wondered if the place was still around (sadly, it is not), and in looking for info about it found this interesting article from 1934 about outlaw Raymond Hamilton, the escaped killer who grew up in Dallas (…there’s the Dallas connection!) and was notorious for having been a member of Bonnie and Clyde’s “Barrow Gang.” (Click to read.)

pink-elephant-bbq_forney_austin-american_102234Austin American, Oct. 22, 1934

pink-elephant_forney_matchbook_pinterest

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And, lastly, a photo of a young woman which appeared in a German-language magazine, captioned simply “Eine Texas Schönheit (A Texas Beauty).” Is the hair wearing the hat, or is the hat wearing the hair?

texas-beauty_1902

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Previous installments of Flashback Dallas “Orphaned Factoids” can be found here.

Until next year!

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_detFrom the personal collection of Mike McKool Jr., used with permission

by Paula Bosse

Ann Richards and Betty McKool were close friends in Dallas in the 1960s, sharing an offbeat sense of humor and a dedication to Democratic-party politics. They were founders of the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club which was widely known for its revue of political humor and song parodies called “Political Paranoia” which Ann and Betty both performed in, wowing audiences with their larger-than-life charisma.

In the late ’60s, Ann and Betty — who loved dressing in ridiculous costumes and cracking each other up — began to issue satirical Christmas cards which featured photographs of themselves in outrageous situations accompanied by pithy captions and greetings, usually referencing a political hot-topic of the past year. The cards were sent out unsigned, and, as Ann Richards wrote in her autobiography Straight from Heart, not everyone knew who had sent them.

We mailed these to a lot of people, maybe a hundred, and we didn’t sign them. And we had such a good time thinking about people getting this weird card and trying to figure out who it could possibly be from, thinking maybe it was their wives’ relatives. Oh, we laughed about that. And we kept thinking of some guy opening it and drawling, “Mildred come here, look at this card we got in the mail.” No more than half our friends recognized us, maybe not that many.

Ann and Betty enjoyed doing the first card so much that they did it every year — it became something of an institution, and people on the Christmas card list waited expectantly each Christmas to get the latest crazy card. It was definitely a high point of the holiday season and the most anticipated Christmas card of the year. I certainly remember hearing about them throughout my childhood, as my parents were lucky enough to be on The List.

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In her autobiography, Ann wrote that “our Christmas photo album lasted nine years” which is incorrect. After I wrote the post “‘Political Paranoia’ and the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, feat. Future Governor Ann Richards,” (which contains the newly unearthed film of “Political Paranoia II” from 1964 in which both Ann and Betty have standout performances), I received an email from Vicki Byers who is the Executive Assistant to Mike McKool Jr. (Betty’s son). That email contained scans of 12 of the Christmas cards from Mr. McKool’s personal collection! Wow! And he has allowed me to share these cards which have attained something of an almost mythic status — followers and fans of Gov. Richards have read about them, but not a lot of them have actually ever seen them. So thank you, Vicki, and thank you, Mike, for allowing access to this little treasure trove!

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I’m not sure on the exact chronology of these cards. In her book, Ann writes about the “Temperance” card as being the first one that she and Betty did, but Mr. McKool has that card as being from 1976. It’s parodying a 1964 quote from Barry Goldwater, so it seems more likely to have been issued in the ’60s than in the ’70s — possibly in 1968. The cards were issued as late as 1983, and at some point the cards became posters. Ann moved from Dallas to Austin in 1969 or 1970, so she and Betty would have had to meet up during the year to plan and pose for their annual Christmas card, and from all accounts, the two women truly enjoyed creating the irreverent cards as much as people enjoyed receiving them. Here they are (all images are larger when clicked).

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1969: “Merry Christmas… From the Silent Majority”

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1970: “Wishing You Season’s Greetings from the Valley Forge Chapter of Women’s Liberation and a Gay Holiday… From the Boys in the Band”

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1971: “Hark!… It’s a Girl!”

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1972: “Adoremus (Let Us Adore Him)… Four More Years”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1972

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1973: “Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear… — You’re getting the same thing for Christmas that you’ve been getting all year!”

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1974: “And it came to pass… — Wisepersons????”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1974

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1976 [?]: “From Our House To Your House — A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… Extremism in the pursuit of a Merry Christmas is no sin.” (In her autobiography, Ann describes this “Temperance” card as being the first one she and Betty made — it’s possible this might be from 1968.)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1976

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1977: ‘Twas the night before Christmas…When what to my wondering eyes should appear but… Bella Abzug!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1977

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1978: “Good grief! …WHO CAN WE TURN TO FOR HELP?”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1978

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1979: “The honour of your presence is requested for Christmas Luncheon at The Governor’s Mansion”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1979

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1980: “The White House Cookbook — Nancy Reagan’s All American Turkey”

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1981 [No image available, but in a mention in the Austin American-Statesman, Ann and Betty are described as being “dressed as old hoboes, looking aghast” in a “poster-sized card,” commenting on the theory of trickle-down economics]: “Behold, I Bring You Tidings of Great Joy… In other words, the rich get richer and we get trickled down on!”

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1982: “The good new is We Won! — The bad news is… You got to dance with them that brung ya!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1982

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1983: “Dear Ronnie: I would have put the gender gap in your stocking but it was too big. Love, Mrs. Claus” (issued as a poster; from the collection of Frances Murrah, Betty’s sister)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1983_nutcrackers_frances-murrah-collection_poster

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There was also a card about which Ann wrote this: “Another year we donned cowboy hats and glittering western wear, and sent ‘Greetings from the Rhinestone Cow Chips.'” The Glen Campbell song “Rhinestone Cowboy” came out in 1975. The photo below appeared in Jan Reid’s book Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, and I suspect it might have been sent out as the 1975 card.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_nd_ca-1975

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And one other card was described by Ann in her book: “One of my favorites was when we hung a bunch of stuffed deer heads, like you see on the wall of a lodge, and cut holes where we could stick our heads through and put on these antlers. And the message was, ‘If you think I’m gonna pull that damned old sleigh one more year….'” (Could this perhaps have been issued in 1976?)

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So that’s at least 16 Christmas cards (a few were posters) sent out by Ann Richards and Betty McKool. And people are still talking about them! (I would love to be able to add other Ann-and-Betty cards to this post — if you have scans of any of the missing cards/posters, or any additional information, please let me know!)

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Dorothy Ann Willis Richards was born in McLennan County in 1933 and grew up in Waco. Here is a lovely photo of her from 1950, from the “Favorites” section of the Waco High School yearbook. She was in the class play and was a debate champion. She lived in Dallas for several years where she was very active in Democratic politics as an activist and volunteer; after moving to Austin she entered politics as an elected official and ultimately became Governor of Texas in 1991. She died in 2006.

richards-ann_waco-high-school_1950_favoritesAnn, Waco High School, 1950

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-3
Ann as LBJ, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Raney McKool was born in Dallas in 1929. She attended Crozier Tech High School (below is a class photo from the 1946 yearbook) where she was a cheerleader. She married Mike McKool when she was only 16, and the two were extremely well known in political circles. Mike McKool, an attorney, served as a State Senator in Austin and was a Democratic Party leader in Dallas. Betty died in 2018 (read her obituary here). There is a fantastic interview with her from a 1971 “Legislative Wives” series in the Austin American-Statesman here.

mckool-betty-raney_crozier-tech_1946Betty, Crozier Tech, 1946

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-2
Betty as Nelson Rockefeller, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

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On behalf of Ann Richards and Betty McKool, I wish you all a (bemused and slightly aghast) very Merry Christmas!

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Sources & Notes

Thanks to Mike McKool Jr. and Vicki Byers for sending me the color images; these Christmas cards are from Mr. McKool’s personal collection, and I am grateful for his permission to share them here.

Also, many thanks to the family of Betty’s sister Frances Murrah, who allowed me to share the “Nutcracker” poster from 1983; Frances worked with Senator Lloyd Bentsen in Washington, DC for several years.

Quoted passages are from Chapter 7 of the book Straight from the Heart, My Life in Politics & Other Places by Ann Richards (Simon & Schuster, 1989). You can read these pages on Google Books here.

Screenshots are from the 1964 film “Political Paranoia II” from the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University; this film may be viewed on YouTube in its entirety here.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_det_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Murphy House — Maple Avenue

murphy-house_ca-1910_dallas-rediscovered-DHS154 Maple Avenue (2516 Maple Avenue), circa 1910

by Paula Bosse

I posted a screenshot of a “mystery house” (here) to see if anyone could figure out where it was — and a few people identified it! The screenshot was from a June, 1960 WFAA Channel 8 news piece on an embezzlement case against the owner of the insurance business that was then occupying the old house — it was the home of the State National Life Insurance Company at 2516 Maple Avenue. And I don’t know what happened with its “remodeling” along the way, but… yikes. Someone did an unbelievably bad job!

According to a 1947 Dallas Morning News article (see “Sources & Notes” at bottom of page), the house was built in 1897. The address then was 154 Maple Avenue, back when Maple Avenue was lined with very nice homes, occupied by well-to-do families who would later move to Highland Park. You can see the house at the corner of Maple and Mahon (which for a while was called Martin) on the 1899 Sanborn map here, the 1905 map here, and the 1921 map here

I’m not sure who built it, but in 1901 it was occupied by banker Roderick Oliver who sold it to Capt. John P. Murphy in 1906 for $18,000 — or $500,000 in today’s money. Murphy was the legendary pioneer real estate man of Dallas. He started his real estate company in 1874 and was joined by partner Charles F. Bolanz in 1884 — Murphy & Bolanz was the premier real estate company in the city for decades. 

murphy-house_dmn_051806Dallas Morning News, May 18, 1906

The house stayed in the Murphy family for many years. In 1947 the house was elaborately restored by three women (two of whom were Murphy’s daughters) who opened it as The Laurels, an elegant location for weddings and receptions. The house had been slated for sale and demolition, but the women thought that the old house would serve brides well, as “the highlight of any young girl’s life is her marriage, and few places in Dallas offer a suitable environment for such an occasion,” said one of the women (DMN, Oct. 5, 1947). The Laurels appears to have been in business only through the end of 1948 — about a year; a classified ad shows that it had become a boarding house “for young working people” soon after.

It seems to have been sold in the 1950s when it became home to various businesses. After the embezzlement interlude, it was, among other things, a theme club called The Haunted House in the 1960s, community radio station KCHU in the ’70s, and an antique shop in the ’80s.

Below is how it looked in June of 1960 as it was passing into receivership. A news story described it thusly: “…a big house that is a study in contradictions. Outside, flat green paint peels and cracks, gentility sliding headlong toward an ‘arty’ disrespectability” (“Old House on Maple Services Insurance Empire,” Dallas Morning News, June 9, 1960). It looked pretty sad.

mystery-house-1960G. William Jones Collection, WFAA Newsfilm collection, SMU

It was spiffed up a bit in the early ’80s for the antique shop, Booth Galleries, but it still looked weird, like someone had sheared off the sides of the house, removing any and all character.

murphy-house_2515-maple_historic-dallas-mag_fall-1980_portal_photo1980, Historic Dallas, via Portal to Texas History

Then — saints preserve us! — the gods smiled down and Claire Heymann bought the decrepit old house (which was waiting for its all-but-inevitable date with the wrecking ball) and worked absolute miracles to transform the house into the stunningly beautiful Hotel St. Germain, located across from the Crescent. This is one instance where a restoration/renovation actually improves on the original! I’ve loved this redone building — Dallas’ first bed and breakfast inn — since it first appeared in 1991. Long may it stand. Thank you, Claire!

hotel-st-germain_google_20172018, Google Street View

hotel-st-germain_google-street-view_20192019, Google Street View

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing the home of John P. Murphy, circa 1910, is from Dallas Rediscovered by William McDonald, with photo credited to the Dallas Historical Society.

The Dallas Morning News article “Early Dallas Home Restored for Weddings” (DMN, Oct. 5, 1947) states that the house was built in 1897. “The Laurels” was opened by Murphy’s daughters Mrs. Louise Boyce Sanford and Mrs. Eugene P. Locke in partnership with Mrs. Dorothy Doran Walker.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mystery House

mystery-house-1960

by Paula Bosse

I’m doing some work on the G. William Jones Collection’s WFAA-Ch. 8 News archive at SMU. Yesterday this image of an old house popped up in a news story, and I had to look it up, because I thought I should know what it was — or at least where it was. Turns out I was pretty familiar with the building, but I would not have guessed it from this screenshot. Click to see a larger image.

I’ve never done a quiz before, but why not? Sadly there are no prizes, it’s just for fun.

Can anyone identify this building?

Clue #1: The image above shows it in 1960.

Clue #2: It is still standing.

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Sources & Info

Screenshot from the WFAA Newsfilm collection in the G. William Jones archive at SMU’s Hamon Library. Old WFAA clips are being uploaded constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY!) on the Jones Film YouTube channel here. (The clip including this image has not been uploaded yet.)

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Political Paranoia” and the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, feat. Future Governor Ann Richards

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_cast

by Paula Bosse

Ann Richards drove my carpool. She and my mother swapped out driving kids to the First Unitarian Church Cooperative Preschool on Preston and Normandy in University Park. I’m not sure anyone in either family was an actual member of the church, but that preschool was one of the only co-ops in Dallas (it might have been the first), and it was a magnet for the more progressive parents in the city. The Unitarian Church was also a major gathering place in the 1960s and 1970s for those involved in women’s issues, liberal activism, and Democratic politics, including my mother and the future governor of Texas, Ann Richards. I remember hearing about Ann (she was always referred to as just “Ann”) throughout my entire childhood. My parents weren’t close friends with the slightly older Richardses, but my mother was a keen admirer of Ann and my father described her as “the funniest woman I’ve ever known.” I remember their home on Lovers Lane which always seemed to be crammed full of kids.

When Ann Richards lived in Dallas she was a self-described “housewife,” who, when she wasn’t busy raising her four children, was volunteering for Democratic candidates and causes. She was an active member of the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, a group which, in 1963, gained instant attention for the fundraiser show they wrote and performed called “Political Paranoia,” a satirical revue of politics, complete with sharp satire, broad comedy, song parodies, and ridiculous wigs and costumes. The show was such a huge success that follow-up standing-room-only shows were performed in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1968. The shows were written and directed by Carolyn Choate, Ruthe Winegarten, and Ann Richards, and the cast consisted of the members of the NDDW. Ann’s portrayal of LBJ seems to have made lasting impressions on those who saw it.

I have recently begun working on a project for the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive at SMU, and a reel of 16mm black-and-white film — with sound! — was discovered in the vault recently with no identifying information. Nothing. Nobody knows where it came from or how it ended up at SMU. But there it was: a lightly edited filmed document of the second installment of “Political Paranoia,” presented by the North Dallas Democratic Women in the auditorium of Hillcrest High School on May 16, 1964. I was sure Ann Richards would be in there somewhere — and she was! I was pretty excited by this “discovery” because this show has become something of a legendary touchstone in local Democratic politics. As far as I know, there is no other film footage of any of these shows. Not only that, this may well be the earliest footage of Ann Richards, the woman who would go on to become the governor of Texas (1991-1995) and one of the most celebrated women in politics and Texas culture. This is an amazing heretofore unknown historical document.

The show is full of smart sarcasm and “hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show” enthusiasm. The humor is more amusing than cutting, and these Democratic women were certainly not afraid of making fun of members of their own party. A lot of the hot topics of the day addressed in this show are lost to the mists of time, but that doesn’t take away from its entertainment value. This was a time when women had very little voice, impact, or power in politics, and the women here have firmly taken control of the reins and perform with an exuberance that crackles. 

The 34-minute film — complete with odd jumps and abrupt cuts — has been uploaded by SMU in its entirety here:

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Here are a bunch of screenshots. I don’t know who all of the performers are — I would love feedback and corrections from the public. At the bottom is a list of names of women who were involved with the NDDW, but as they were invariably identified as “Mrs. Husband’s Name,” I have no idea what most of their first names are! I am especially interested in identifying Ruthe Winegarten, one of the prime movers behind these shows (and also a Texas and women’s historian of note).

First, 30-year-old Ann Richards (or as she was identified in newspaper accounts, “Mrs. David Richards”) appearing as Gordon McLendon, Dallas media magnate, owner of KLIF, and one-time wannabe politician — “The Old Scotchman.” That voice is unmistakable.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_mclendon_ann-richards-1

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And here she is as LBJ:

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political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-6

Carolyn Choate, one of the writers and directors of “Political Paranoia,” wrote the music and performed many of the song parodies (she was also a contributor to the annual Dallas Press Club Gridiron Show).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_carolyn-choate-1

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I was really interested to see Betty McKool, Ann’s longtime friend with whom she issued a famous series of annual jokey Christmas cards (which I wrote about in the post “The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool”) — and here she is as Nelson Rockefeller at the 1964 Republican National Convention in what I thought was a really great, incredibly confident performance.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-1

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-2

I’m not sure who the blonde with the glasses and ruffled shirt is, but she gives a spirited performance as Barry Goldwater at the Republican Convention. (Mrs. Ray Pearce portrayed Goldwater in the first “Political Paranoia,” so perhaps this is her revisiting the role.)

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_convention

My preschool teacher (and, I believe, the founder of the Unitarian co-op school), Millie Seltzer, is seen below as Lady Bird Johnson. (There’s also a photo of her and Ann as Lady Bird and Lyndon from 1965’s “Political Paranoia III,” which is posted on the blog of Millie’s daughter’s here.)

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lady-bird

Speaking of Lady Bird, here’s Lyndon and Ralph Yarborough (I’m not sure who these women are, but “Lyndon” might be Mary Vogel).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_ralph-lyndon

Possibly Mary Vogel again as “Mrs. GOP.”

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_mrs-gop

An unknown performer singing about John Connally.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_family-connally

More unknown performers in “I Dreamed I Dedicated a Federal Center in 1994….”

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_fed-ctr

…dedicated by Republican congressman Bruce Alger.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_fed-ctr-2

Again, possibly Betty McKool in the straw hat in the center (with someone else playing her husband, Mike McKool).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_unity

The cast, with leggy Joyce Schiff at the microphone (and Ann Richards behind her to the left, holding the cowboy hat).

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“Political Paranoia II”
May 16, 1964
Hillcrest High School auditorium

“Poop and patter from the Pedernales to the Potomac…”
“The most talked-about show from Euless to Balch Springs…”

$1.50 for Democrats
$7.67 for independents
$25.00 for Republicans

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Below is a list of women who were members of the North Dallas Democratic Women who were known to have participated in the 1963 and/or 1964 productions of “Political Paranoia,” either on stage or behind the scenes. If you recognize any of these women in the SMU film footage, please make note of a time-marker and let me know where you see them and I will update the info.

Written and directed by:
Mrs. Alvin Winegarten (RUTHE WINEGARTEN)
Mrs. David Richards (ANN RICHARDS)
Mrs. Jim Choate (CAROLYN CHOATE)

Mrs. Mike McKool (BETTY McKOOL)
Mrs. Holbrook Seltzer (MILLIE SELTZER)
Mrs. Harry Weisbrod (BEA WEISBROD)
Mrs. Herbert Schiff Jr. (JOYCE SCHIFF)
Mrs. Philip Vogel (MARY VOGEL)
Mrs. Frederick Sparks (MERLENE SPARKS)
Mrs. Sam Whitten (VIRGINIA WHITTEN)
Mrs. Harry Hoffman
Mrs. Thomas L. Ford
Mrs. Harold Polunsky
Mrs. Kenneth Parker
Mrs. Charles Webster
Mrs. J. T. Mullenix
Mrs. Forrest West
Mrs. C. A. Hurst
Mrs. Jack Cohan
Mrs. Donald Fielding
Mrs. Don Kise
Mrs. Stanley Kaufman
Mrs. Richard Sandow
Mrs. Irwin Kaim
Mrs. James Taylor
Mrs. Ray Pearce
Mrs. Daniel Rosenthal
Mrs. Oscar M. Wilson Jr.
Mrs. Earl Granberry
Mrs. Jerome Meltzer 

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Sources & Notes

Screenshots are from “Political Paranoia II,” a filmed chronicle of the 1964 political revue written and performed by the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club at Hillcrest High School on May 16, 1964; the origins of the film are unknown, but this copy is held by the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University. All thanks to Jeremy Spracklen and Scott Martin of the Jones Archive. The direct YouTube link is here.

Thanks also to Margaret Werry and Jean Ball for their help in identifying participants and for taking the time to share their memories of Dallas’ political past.

A good account of Ann Richards’ time in Dallas can be found in her autobiography, Straight from the Heart, My Life in Politics & Other Places (Simon & Schuster, 1989).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_cast_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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