Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1970s

DFW Airport, Phase I — 1973

dfw-airport_construction_gifford-hill-ad_1973_ebay_photoAlien landscape, or DFW airport?

by Paula Bosse

A couple of ads letting the nation know that construction of the new Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was progressing and would soon be the biggest, bestest… um, BIGGEST airport ever! “Phase I” was completed by the end of 1973, and DFW opened for business in January, 1974.

The first ad, from Gifford-Hill (click to see larger image — transcription below):

dfw-airport_construction_gifford-hill-ad_1973_ebay

Here’s how we helped convert 18,000 acres into the world’s largest airport. 

With the completion of Phase I, the new Dallas/Ft. Worth Regional Airport is already universally lauded as the biggest, best equipped, most efficient jet port in the world. 

An estimated 42,000 persons will pass through this ultra modern facility every day. Not to mention several thousand employees. 

And by 1985, the passenger flow is expected to increase to over 100,000 daily. 

Of course a project of this magnitude didn’t just happen. It took years of planning and hard work by a number of different agencies and companies. In many different fields. 

For example, Gifford-Hill’s major contribution to this mammoth installation was raw materials. 

Over the past two years, our Basic Industries Group has supplied over 4 million tons of aggregates, 500,000 barrels of cement and 125,000 cubic yards of ready-mix concrete for the construction of runways, taxiways and aprons. 

And our Manufacturing and Services Group has supplied over 422,334 linear feet of sewer and culvert pipe for underground waste disposal. And 25,000 feet of prestressed concrete pressure pipe for water distribution within and around terminal buildings. 

But we’re not finished yet. Not by a long shot. Because construction is already underway on Phase II. And as the need grows, expansion will continue until the ultimate complex is completed in the year 2001. 

Since our land development division, Gifco Properties, owns over 5,000 acres in the vicinity of the new airport, we’re also involved in the development of new housing projects, commercial installations and industrial complexes in that area.

So, as you taxi down the runways at the new Dallas/Ft. Worth Regional Airport, remember, it’s the biggest and best air terminal in the world. And we helped make it that way. 

Gifford-Hill & Company, Inc. 
Dallas, Texas

dfw-airport_construction_gifford-hill-ad_HPHS-yrbk_19691969, Highland Park High School yearbook

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The second ad, from LTV, touting their automated AIRTRANS all-electric transportation system which carried people and cargo around the airport.

dfw-airport_airtrans_LTV_1973-ad_ebay

The word around the airport is LTV. 

AIRTRANS, designed and built by LTV Aerospace, a subsidiary of The LTV Corporation, helps make the new Dallas/Fort Worth Airport tick. By efficiently moving all the things that need to be moved, to from and around the largest airport in the nation. 

AIRTRANS is the most complete, fully automatic airport transportation system in the world. With 13 miles of door-to-door service to 53 doors – provided by 51 AIRTRANS personnel vehicles. All in a totally controlled environment. 

AIRTRANS is just one of the outstanding products being developed by the subsidiaries of The LTV Corporation. These companies are providing for today’s changing society – LTV Aerospace Corporation, Wilson & Co., Inc. and Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. 

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And because AIRTRANS is getting its day in the sun, here’s a local ad for its troubled “surface” counterpart (I just learned that “SURTRAN” stands for “surface transportation”) — the bus/taxi/limo system designed to get people to the airport from Dallas or Fort Worth. As this ad says, a one-way bus ticket was $2.50 (about $15.00 in today’s money). SURTRAN seems to have been financially troubled from the beginning — SURTRAN service ended at the end of October, 1984.

surtran_sept-1973Sept., 1973

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End of Phase I:

dfw_19731973

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Sources & Notes

Gifford-Hill ad with color photo and LTV ad found on eBay.

dfw-airport_construction_gifford-hill-ad_1973_ebay_photo_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

American Airlines Flies to Groovy Dallas, Y’all

american-airlines_dallas_posterHowdy!

by Paula Bosse

Remember those “Panoramic Texas” license plates from a few years ago? The ones that featured everything Texas had to offer, including the space shuttle? That’s kind of what this American Airlines vintage travel poster reminds me of — if it were designed by someone who had never been to Dallas. You got your cowboy, your horse, your oil derrick, your trapeze artist/ballerina, your circa-1970 Mary Tyler Moore/Mary Richards, your great big cotton boll… and a football player who should probably be wearing different colors. All contained in a psychedelic cowboy boot with a flower for a spur.

Works for me! (I hope those weary travelers weren’t too disappointed when they stepped off the plane.)

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Sources & Notes

Image found on Amazon, here.

american-airlines_dallas_poster_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jerry Bywaters: “City Suburb at Dusk” — 1978

bywaters_city-suburb-at-dusk_1978_amer-art-review_2008Northwest Highway noir…

by Paula Bosse

You’re a Dallasite. You’ll probably immediately recognize the location of this (somewhat uncharacteristic) painting by famed Dallas painter Jerry Bywaters: it’s Northwest Highway, looking west from just past Hillcrest. Its title — “City Suburb at Dusk” — is a bit misleading. It was sort of a suburb (Preston Hollow) back when Jerry was a young man, but by 1978, when this was painted, its “suburb” days were long, long gone.

I love this painting. On the “suburb” side it’s got Kip’s, El Fenix, Centennial Liquor, and the cool curved Preston Tower. On the University Park side it’s got the silhouettes of the omnipresent water tower (once a much more pleasing shape than it is today, back when it was painted in a whimsical red-and-white checkerboard pattern), the spire of the Park Cities Baptist Church, and a Preston Center-adjacent office building. West Northwest Highway never looked so tranquil.

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Sources & Notes

“City Suburb at Dusk” by Jerry Bywaters, 1978 — oil on masonite, 18 x 24, collection of G. Pat Bywaters.

Printed in American Art Review, Vol. XX, No. 1, 2008.

bywaters_city-suburb-at-dusk_1978_amer-art-review_2008_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Aerial View: Movie Row from the Rear

aerial_south-from-pacific_color

by Paula Bosse

This is a cool aerial shot of downtown, looking toward the south, with a nice look at the back side of the waning Movie Row, with the Pacific Avenue rear entrances of the Majestic and Capri theaters visible.  I’m not sure of the date, but the Melba Theater was renamed the Capri on Dec. 25, 1959 and was ultimately demolished in 1980 or 1981, and the Medical Arts Building (seen in the middle at the far right) was demolished in 1977. I’m guessing the ’70s, if only because of the vast expanse of parking lots.

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Sources & Notes

Another instance of muddled/incomplete notes on my end. This is a screenshot from… something. I don’t remember if the image seen here is a photo or is from moving footage shot over Dallas.

majestic from behind aerial screenshot_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Hoppy Holidays from Hop-a-Bus — 1984

xmas_hop-a-bus_DART-archives_1984_portalSeason’s Greetings from Dallas Transit System and friend…

by Paula Bosse

Aww, the Bunny Bus — surely Dallas Transit System’s most whimsical creation. 

The earliest days of the DTS Hop-a-Bus saw a fleet of five, 19-passenger (non-whimsical) mini-buses which shuttled people back and forth across downtown. You could “hop on” and “hop off” for short trips, for a nominal fare (a dime), traveling along Main Street between Houston and Pearl, Monday-Friday, during working hours.

The service was very popular and quickly outgrew the mini-buses — in March, 1976 they went full-size, but ridership of these two large buses was disappointly slow to grow, mainly because people couldn’t tell the difference between the Hop-a-Bus and every other downtown bus. So, in October, 1978, someone, in his or her infinite wisdom, decided to paint the two special buses pink and add a bunny face and aluminum bunny ears (I seem to remember a tail, but I think I’ve added that in my own imagination). Voilà! Instantly recognizable!

At first, a lot of people hated them (describing them as “grotesque”), but pretty soon, downtown denizens fell for their charming appeal, and ridership increased substantially (seriously, you could see those things coming from blocks away!). Tourists loved them: they provided great photo opportunities, and they made getting around an unfamiliar city very easy — when lost, just jump on a pink bus and you’ll probably get to where you need to go.

Photos of the two pink “bunny buses” appeared in newspapers around the country. They even moonlighted at nights and on the weekends when DTS rented them out during off-duty hours — most notably to the pink-loving Mary Kay corporation and to the bunny-loving Dallas Playboy Club (which used the buses to ferry patrons from the Central Expressway club to Dallas Cowboys games).

The iconic (yes, “iconic”!) buses amused and delighted Dallasites until November, 1986. The bunny-bus fleet had increased to five 1966 GMC buses (at one point there had been as many as seven), and even though the fare had increased to 25 cents, they were still very, very popular with the public. But the pink buses were discontinued at the end of 1986 and sold. And, let’s face it, the streets of downtown Dallas have never been quite the same. Imagine if they were still around (and they SHOULD be!) — Instagram would be overrun with millions of bunny bus photos.

Below are a few photos and a video of our decades-gone transit pal, the cute, friendly Bunny Bus. RIP.

hop-a-bus_birnbaum_ad-valorem-infinitum_SMU_screenshotvia Ad Valorem Infinitum (screenshot)

hop-a-bus_curbside-classic-dot-comvia CurbsideClassic.com

hop-a-bus

hop-a-bus_pinterestvia Pinterest

hop-a-bus_clarion-ledger_jackson-miss_020284Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MI, Feb. 2, 1984

hop-a-bus_bring-back-the-bunny_FB-pagevia “Bring Back the Bunny” Facebook page

hop-a-bus_BW

Here’s a great history of the Hop-a-Bus in an article widely syndicated around the country in 1979 — it was written by Claudia Goad, spokesperson for the DTS (click for larger image).

hop-a-bus_wire-story_apr-1979_photo

hop-a-bus_wire-story_apr-1979_storyby DTS’ Claudia Goad, wire story, April 1979

And, finally, a look at a 1976 Channel 8 story on the month-old Hop-a-Bus, before it was transformed into a bunny (from the WFAA News archives at SMU).


via Jones Film Collection, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from the Dallas Transit System (DTS) 1985 calendar — the entire calendar can be found at the Portal to Texas History, here, from the DART Historical Archive.

There is a “Bring Back the Bunny” Facebook page, here.

xmas_hop-a-bus_DART-archives_1984_portal_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Kennedy Memorial and the County Courthouses — Early 1970s

kennedy-memorial_courthouses_postcard

by Paula Bosse

A view of the new John F. Kennedy Memorial, the not-new Old Red Courthouse, and the not-old-but-not-really-new “new” County Courthouse, in a postcard photo by Bob Glander.

The text on the back of the postcard reads:

The old and the  new County Courthouses with the Kennedy Memorial. The new Courthouse was dedicated Feb. 4, 1966 and the Kennedy Memorial June 24, 1970, Dallas, Texas. Photo by Bob Glander.”

See the same view — from Main and Market — today, via Google Street View, here.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard found somewhere online.

Previous Flashback Dallas posts with images to compare imagined and actual views of the “Courthouse Complex”:

kennedy-memorial_courthouses_postcard_sm

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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.”

1948_city-park_aerial_dallas-municipal-archives_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.

Dallas Bookstores — 1974

abs_cedar springs_1974Aldredge Book Store, 2506 Cedar Springs

by Paula Bosse

Today is my father’s birthday. Dick Bosse. I always try to post something bookstore-related on May 22 in his honor.

In the early 1970s, the Aldredge Book Store moved from its original location in an old house on McKinney Avenue (2800 McKinney) to a strip of shops on Cedar Springs (2506 Cedar Springs at Fairmount). Later (early ’80s?) it moved to its final location at 2909 Maple Avenue. My father worked there his entire adult life, starting as a bookseller during his SMU days and ending up as the owner of the store which he ran until his death in 2000.

When the store was on Cedar Springs, he was the manager. It was a weird, long, thin store with lots of rooms opening off a hallway painted bright yellow (my retinas!). The most impressive room was the one at the back, where all the expensive books were. A huge window looked out onto a hidden, sunken courtyard. The photo at the top shows one of the walls of bookcases. The photo below shows my father in 1974 in a staged pose looking uncharacteristically serious in that same room — straight ahead of him was the very pretty courtyard (I wonder if it’s still there?).

abs_dick-bosse_dallas-magazine_dec-1974

I spent so much time there that I can still remember where everything was. This was back when that used to be a cool, funky neighborhood. The Quadrangle was nearby, but I always got lost in what felt like a torturous maze of shops. I preferred the Sample House, where I spent as much time as I could. (That store — in a creaky old — house was one of my favorite childhood haunts. Again, I remember where absolutely everything was.)

I stumbled across an ad from 1946 with a photo of the Cedar Springs building in it — at the time it was being “completely reconditioned and restyled” — I’m surprised to learn that that building is so old (see it today on Google Street View here). (I’m not sure what’s going on with that address in the ad, but this building is definitely in the 2500 block of Cedar Springs.)

ABS_aldredge_cedar-springs-fairmount_033146March, 1946

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The reason I know the picture of my father is from 1974 is because it appeared in a Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine article about Dallas bookstores, published in December, 1974 — the lengthy article was titled “Books, Bookstores, Book Lovers” by Colleen O’Connor, with photos by Jack Caspary. It profiled several of the city’s major booksellers of the day, including Henry Taylor of Preston Books (soon to become Taylor Books/Taylor’s), Ken Gjemre of Half-Price Books (which was then an empire of only four stores), Pat Miers of The Bookseller, Bill Gilliland of Doubleday (late of McMurray’s), and Larry Snyder of Cokesbury. When the article came out, Dallas was “fifth in the country for per capita [book] sales.” So many bookstores!

The author misidentified Sawnie Aldredge, the original owner of the Aldredge Book Store, as “Sonny” and somehow managed to pull some quotes from my father which make him sound like a pretentious snob (which he definitely was NOT), but it’s a great look at a time when Dallas had tons of bookstores — even though my father might not have been overly impressed with some of them when he said, “Unfortunately, the majority of bookstores today are ‘schlock shops’ that sell Snoopy dolls and Rod McKuen” (now that sounds like him!).

I’ve scanned the entire article which you can read here.

dallas-bookstores_dec-1974_cover

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Sources & Notes

More Flashback Dallas posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found 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.

 

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