Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1970s

Dallas History on the BBC

big-tex_bbc_radio-4_julia-barton_photo
“Howdy, chaps!”

by Paula Bosse

A few years ago, when writing about one of the many attempts in the never-ending saga of trying to make the Trinity River a navigable waterway, I stumbled across the 99% Invisible podcast website where I discovered Julia Barton and her long audio piece on the very same topic. I was surprised — and excited — to find someone with a similar background to mine tackling Dallas’ history and looking at it from a thoroughly 21st-century perspective. I felt she and I had been separated at birth, and I enthusiastically contacted her via Twitter. Since then we’ve met a couple of times, chatted back and forth online, and, this year, she asked if I would help with research for a radio piece about Dallas she was preparing for BBC Radio. Of course I would!

Julia Barton is a radio and podcast editor and has worked extensively in public radio; she is currently working on Malcolm Gladwell’s hugely successful Revisionist History podcast. She also presents stories, some of which are about Dallas, a city she seems to have a lingering fascination with, even though she hasn’t lived here in decades. Though born in Minnesota, Julia spent most of her childhood in Dallas, growing up in the Little Forest Hills area, attending Alex Sanger Elementary, Gaston Middle School, and Skyline High School (Class of ’87) where she appears to have been an overachieving student journalist. She lives in New York City now, where she puts those journalism tools to good use.

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Julia Barton, 1987 Skyline High School yearbook

The first tidbit I heard about Julia’s story for the BBC involved another former Dallas resident, Dennis Rodman (of basketball and North Korea diplomacy fame), who grew up in both South Dallas and South Oak Cliff and attended Sunset High School for a couple of years before transferring to South Oak Cliff High School, where he graduated in 1979.

rodman-dennis_south-oak-cliff-high-school_senior-photo_1979

Senior photo, South Oak Cliff High School, 1979

I’m not sure about the chronology of the piecing-together of the various aspects of Dallas history which comprise the finished half-hour BBC program, but an important kernel was Rodman’s childhood memory of hiking for miles with friends through underground sewage tunnels to Fair Park in order to get into the State Fair of Texas without the burden of paying — they just popped up a manhole cover when they’d reached their destination and … voilà! — they were inside Fair Park. He wrote about this in his autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be, and you can read this passage here (if bad language offends you, buckle up). I really love Rodman’s story about these tunnels — so much so that after Julia shared it with me, it got to the point where I was asking everyone I ran into if they’d ever heard about what I assumed was an apocryphal story. But the tunnel-to-Fair-Park-legend was true. And that weird kernel snowballed into a half-hour personal narrative about Dallas, race, inequality, education, school desegregation, and, yes, Big Tex. History isn’t always pretty, but let’s hope we can learn from past mistakes.

Listen to Julia Barton’s “Big Tex,” here.

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Sources & Notes

“Big Tex” was presented by Julia Barton for the UK’s BBC Radio 4. It features Julia’s classmates Sam Franklin (Class of ’86) and Nikki Benson (Class of ’87), her former teacher at Skyline Leonard Davis (an all-around great guy and fellow Dallas Historical Society volunteer — hi, Leonard!), as well as former teenage tunneller Melvin Qualls, local historian Donald Payton, and sixth graders from Julia’s alma mater, Alex Sanger Elementary School. It is a Falling Tree production, produced by Hannah Dean and Alan Hall. The link to the audio — and background on the production — is here. (Top photo is from the BBC page.)

Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer wrote a great piece on this radio program (“Before Desegregation, Black Kids Had a Secret Tunnel Into the State Fair. Truth!”) — read it here (it includes a few production photos taken as Julia researched the story in Dallas).

Julia Barton’s website is here; a collection of her stories for Public Radio International (PRI) is here.

Two of Julia’s Dallas narratives:

  • “Port of Dallas” — history of the attempt to navigate (and monetize) the Trinity River: as an audio-only podcast, and as a video presentation done as a TEDx Talk at SMU
  • “The Failed Socialist Utopian Dream That Helped Dallas Become a Major City” — a look at the La Réunion community of the 1850s, from the PRI “World in Words” podcast (starts at about the 5:30 mark)

Thanks for asking me to help with research, Julia — I particularly enjoyed fact-checking the question “was-Mussolini-*really*-invited-to-the-Texas-Centennial?” (He was!)

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Casa View Elementary/Casa View Park — 1954-1974

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_1954_dallas-municipal-archives_portalCasa View Elementary and next-door park, 1954 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I wrote about Casa Linda Park not long ago, so today … Casa View Park (and its neighbor, Casa View Elementary School).

After World War II, there was a severe housing shortage in Dallas, and developers began looking to areas which offered new land to build on and were ripe for annexation. One such area — east of White Rock Lake and beyond the city limits — was eyed as a prime site for a new residential neighborhood: it didn’t take long for the area now known as Casa View to pop up.

One of Casa View’s neighborhoods was Casa View Heights (which, roughly, is bounded by Garland Road, Centerville Road, Shiloh Road, and … maybe Barnes Bridge? — see ad below) — it was a development spearheaded by Carl Brown, whose nearby Casa Linda development had been a big hit. The land this addition was built on was annexed by the City of Dallas in 1949. In mid-1950, it was announced that “ten acres of pasture land north of Centerville Road in the Casa View area” had been purchased by the Dallas School Board, a tract which “some day may be the site of a school […] though the school building program has no project scheduled for the area” (“Sizable Land Plots,” Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1950).

About half that parcel of land became Casa View Park sometime in 1950; the other half became the campus of Casa View Elementary School. The school (designed by premier Dallas architect Mark Lemmon) began construction in 1952 and was ready for use by the opening of the new school year in 1953 (enrollment on the first day was an impressive 870 students).

Below are four aerial photos showing the Casa View park and school, taken over a 20-year period by Squire Haskins. (All images are larger when clicked.)

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At the top: a photo from 1954, with the year-old Casa View Elementary School on the left (in its original square shape, with an unusual-for-the-time open courtyard in the center); the fairly bleak-looking, treeless Casa View Park is on the right. The view is to the west, with Farola at the top, Monterrey on the left, and Itasca at the bottom and right.

Below, from January, 1966 — a view toward the south:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_jan-1966_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

November, 1969 — looking west:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_nov-1969_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

August, 1974 —  looking east:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_aug-1974_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

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Below, with annexation under their belt (and assurance of city services, schools, etc.) developers’ ads like this one began appearing in local newspapers, hoping to entice prospective homeowners to the brand new “Casa View Heights” addition. (The description of these modest homes as “luxury” was a bit of a stretch….) 

casa-view-heights_103049_adOctober, 1949

Here are a couple of interesting pages from the 1952 Dallas Mapsco. Take a look at all that empty white space just waiting to be gobbled up by an ever-sprawling Big D. (The location of the park and school is marked in the second image.)

casa-view_mapsco-1952a


casa-view_mapsco-1952b_marked

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Sources & Notes

The aerial photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and are included in the collection “Dallas Parks Aerial Photographs” provided to UNT’s Portal to Texas History site; all photos above can be found here.

The location of the school and park can be seen here. A present-day aerial view from Google is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The State Fair of Texas Over the Decades

state-fair-of-tx_midway_kodachrome_1961_ebaySFOT midway, 1961… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The history of the State Fair of Texas is also the history of Dallas — if you live in Dallas, you know a lot about the fair, if only by osmosis. Here are a few images from the decades since the fair began in 1886.

Below, from 1889, a sedate advertisement for the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition (from The Immigrant’s Guide to Texas, 1889). (All images are larger when clicked.)

state-fair_imm-gd_1889

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A great-looking poster from 1890, colorful and exciting:

sfot_poster_1890

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A midway in its infancy, in the aughts. (I wrote about the “The Chute” water ride, here.)

shoot-the-chute_postcard_ca-1906

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Here’s a group photo showing the food vendors at the 1910 fair. No corny dogs in 1910, but plenty of candy, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream, and, sure, why not, cigars and tobacco.

state-fair-concessionaires_1910_cook-colln_degolyervia George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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In the 1920s, Fair Park looked a lot smaller:

fair-park_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1920s
via George A. McAfee Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

Here’s a handy 1922 map of the grounds, from the fine folks at Caterpillar (don’t miss those tractors!) — you can see where the people in the photo above are walking.

state-fair-map_caterpillar_ad_1922

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If it’s 1936, it’s gotta be the Texas Centennial — and here’s an exhibit I’d never heard of: Jerusalem, The Holy City. This was one of many exhibits at the Texas Centennial previously seen at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, where it apparently had attracted more than one million visitors. In the weeks leading up to the Centennial’s opening, it was described thusly: “The Holy City will contain a collection of religious artworks and other material. The entrance will represent the Damascus gate of Jerusalem. No admission will be charged but donations will be asked visitors” (Dallas Morning News, May 17, 1936).

tx-centennial_jerusalem-the-holy-city_postcard

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The State Fair of Texas was not held during much of World War II, but it was back in 1946, with Tommy Dorsey, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Jackie Gleason.

state-fair_sept-1946_ad-cow
Sept., 1946

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Neiman-Marcus was at-the-ready in 1950 with suggestions on stylish footwear for ladies wanting to trudge around the Fair Park midway in heels.

For the Million-Dollar Midway — For taking in this famous “main drag” of the State Fair — get into our famous-maker midway heel shoes. Most everybody — after walking a block or two in them — says they’re worth a million! Have all the comfort of low heels, plus the high-heel’s way of making your ankles look prettier.

sfot-neiman-marcus_ad_101650October, 1950

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The 1960s were certainly colorful, and this is a great color photo from 1961 (currently available on eBay as a 35mm Kodachrome slide) — it’s the photo at the top of this post, but in order to cut down on unnecessary scrolling, I’ll slide it in again right here:

state-fair-of-tx_midway_kodachrome_1961_ebay

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The 1970s was a weird decade, and what better way to start off a weird decade than with 80-something-year-old oil tycoon (and eccentric Dallas resident) H. L. Hunt handing out cosmetics at a booth at the State Fair? Hunt — whom Frank X. Tolbert described as “probably the world’s only billionaire health freak” — manufactured a line of cosmetics and other products containing aloe vera, the wonder elixir. Imagine seeing the world’s richest man handing out plastic goodie-bags to awe-struck passersby. Like I said, weird.

h-l-hunt_state-fair_1971

hunt_state-fair_pomona-progress-bulletin_CA_111471Pomona (CA) Progress-Bulletin, Nov. 14, 1971 (click to read)

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And, finally, the 1980s. A century after the State Fair of Texas began, the X-Men came to Big D to do whatever it is they do — and The Dallas Times Herald got a cool little advertising supplement out of it. (If this appeals to you, check out when Captain Marvel came to Dallas in 1944, here, and when Spider-Man came to Dallas in 1983, here.)

sfot_xmen_comic-book_1983

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Sources & Notes

Sources (if known) are noted.

All images are larger when clicked.

I wrote a similar State-Fair-of-Texas-through-the-ages post a few years ago: “So Sorry, Bill, But Albert Is Taking Me to the State Fair of Texas,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Casa Linda Park — 1947-1977

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_072047_dallas-municipal-archives_portalThe idyllic Casa Linda countryside, 1947…

by Paula Bosse

Here are several aerial photographs, taken over a 30-year span, showing Casa Linda Park, located east of White Rock Lake — most (if not all) were taken by noted Dallas photographer Squire Haskins. When the little 6.3-acre park opened in 1947, it was described by The Dallas Morning News as “rustic and picturesque” (DMN, Aug. 19, 1947), a description which could be used for the whole Casa Linda area which was being developed at the time by Carl Brown.

The land for Casa Linda Park was purchased by the City of Dallas in March, 1947, and it is bounded by Old Gate Lane on the southwest, the curving San Saba Drive on the north, and what used to be the Santa Fe Railway railroad tracks on the southeast, between White Rock Lake and Buckner Blvd. I’m not exactly sure where Little Forest Hills ends and Casa Linda begins, but both neighborhoods could claim this cute little park as their own, I suppose.

These aerial photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, via the Portal to Texas History (links can be found at the bottom of this post). All photos are larger when clicked. See your house?

At the top, the earliest photo of the park in this collection, taken in July, 1947 by Squire Haskins.

Below, the second Haskins photo, from 1954:

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_1954_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

Below, another Haskins photo, from January, 1966:

casa-linda-park_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_jan-1966_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

Another Haskins photo, from July, 1970:

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_july-1970_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

And lastly, a photo by an unidentified photographer, from July, 1977 — 30 years to the month after the photo at the top was taken:

casa-linda-park_aerial_july-1977_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

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An aerial Google view of the park today can be seen here.

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Sources & Notes

These photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and are included in the collection “Dallas Parks Aerial Photographs” provided to UNT’s Portal to Texas History site; all photos above can be found here.

See aerials of nearby Casa View Park — taken by Squire Haskins between 1954 and 1974 — in the Flashback Dallas post “Casa View Elementary/Casa View Park — 1954-1974,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Main & Ervay, Pedestrians — 1970

DTC_pedestrians-2_main-ervay_1970_SMU

by Paula Bosse

The other day SMU released fantastic 35mm color film footage captured from a camera mounted atop a car cruising downtown streets in 1970. Today they released a little more, this time a short clip showing pedestrians walking across the intersection of Main and Ervay (be sure to watch this silent footage in full-screen mode).


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The Skillern’s drug store in this footage was at 1700 Main, on the southeast corner of Main and Ervay, in the Mercantile Bank Building complex; the building across Main on the northeast corner was Dreyfuss & Son Men’s Clothing, and the large building in the distance (at St. Paul) is the Titche’s department store. The end of the clip has shots of the (surprisingly red) (and no longer standing) Jefferson Hotel; sharing the frame is the fountain in Ferris Plaza (Union Station would be to the left of the camera operator, across Houston Street). This footage was shot for Dallas Theater Center productions, which I hope to write about soon.

Cool footage, SMU. Keep it coming!

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Here are a few screenshots. There were a lot of vivid colors being worn by downtown workers and shoppers in 1970. I’m so accustomed to seeing black-and-white images of Dallas, that all this color is a little startling!

DTC_pedestrians-1_main-ervay_1970_SMU


DTC_pedestrians-4_main-ervay_1970_SMU


DTC_pedestrians-3_main-ervay_1970_SMU


DTC_pedestrians-5_main-ervay_1970_SMU

Below, a brief glimpse of the H. L. Green store, in the Wilson Building on the northwest corner of Main and Ervay. (And evidence that, yes, men also shop on their lunch hour.)

DTC_pedestrians-6_main-ervay_1970_SMU_sm


DTC_jefferson-hotel_1970_SMU

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Sources & Notes

These screenshots are from 35mm color film footage owned by the Dallas Theater Center, held at Southern Methodist University (the direct link to the YouTube video is here). Again, thanks to SMU curator Jeremy Spracklen.

See more of this fantastic color footage of downtown in the Flashback Dallas post “A Drive Through Downtown — 1970.”

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Drive Through Downtown — 1970

DTC_main-harwood_SMUDowntown Dallas, in living color… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The curators of the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at SMU have released a short film from the Dallas Theater Center Collection. This wonderful 35mm color footage shows downtown Dallas in about March of 1970 (the four movies shown on the marquees of the Majestic, the Capri, the Tower, and the Palace were all playing that month). The camera has been mounted on top of an (off-duty) emergency vehicle, and it’s a leisurely (silent) drive around downtown — it’s kind of thrilling when the slo-mo kicks in. A few screen captures are below, but you really must watch the film — and be sure to expand it to a full-screen view. (There is more to come from this source, and I will write about this Dallas Theater Center project when SMU unveils further footage.)

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A few screenshots (apologies for the graininess — the video is much crisper):

1. Main and Harwood, heading east (seen at the top of this post) — the White Plaza hotel (now the Indigo) is on the left, the Municipal Building is on the right. Same view today is here. [EDIT: the Google Street View links appear to work only on a desktop computer. When I try clicking the links on my phone I get views which show only the general vicinity. So … argh.]

2. Elm Street, heading west (below) — the Majestic Theatre is at the right (now playing: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here with Robert Redford). Same view today is here. (All images are larger when clicked.)

DTC_elm_majestic_SMU

3. Elm Street — the Capri (showing the X-rated Italian film The Libertine) and the Tower (showing Jenny, with Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda). Same view today is here.

DTC_elm-capri-tower_SMU

4. Elm and St. Paul. Same view today is here.

DTC_elm-st-paul_SMU

5. Elm Street, just past Ervay — the Palace (showing The Only Game in Town with “Liz” Taylor and Warren Beatty). Same view today is here.

DTC_elm-palace_SMU

6. Main Street, heading east toward Griffin — One Main Place on the left, a blobby Pegasus straight ahead. Same view today is here.

DTC_one-main-place_main-and-griffin_SMU

7. Main Street, a little further east — that fantastic old building with the T & P ghost sign and home of the wonderfully seedy-looking Dallas Liquor Store (1112 Main) is now the pretty little Belo Garden. Same view today is here.

DTC_one-main-place_1100 block-main_SMU

8. Main, approaching Akard. (The Eatwell Cafe was at 1404 Main.) Same view today is here.

DTC_1400-block-main_SMU

9. Main and St. Paul — Titche’s department store on the left, Margie’s Dress Shop and Cokesbury Books (great sign!) on the right. Same view today is here. (Big change!)

DTC_main-st-paul_SMU

10. Main and Harwood, turning right onto Harwood. Same view today is here.

DTC_main-harwood_turn_SMU

11. South Harwood and Jackson, heading south — First Presbyterian Church is straight ahead. Same view today is here.

DTC_harwood_SMU

12. South Akard heading north — Dallas Convention Center is on the left. Same view today is here.


DTC_convention-center_s-akard_SMU

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Sources & Notes

Screenshots from the video “DTC Downtown Dallas” on YouTube, here; from the Dallas Theater Center Collection, held at Southern Methodist University. Many thanks, as always, to curator Jeremy Spracklen.

More 35mm color footage from this Dallas Theater Center project will be released in the near future. Keep up to date on these films as well as other fantastic archival DFW footage held by SMU by following @SMUJonesFilm on Twitter or SMUJonesFilm on Facebook.

UPDATE: Watch a short clip from the DTC Collection showing a colorful parade of pedestrians at Main and Ervay, as well as a nice shot of the old Jefferson Hotel — all captured on 35mm color film in 1970 — here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

1971 Yellow Pages Cover: SMU Gets the Karl Hoefle Treatment

hoefle_yellow-pages_1971_smuUniversity Park gets Hoefle-ized… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Karl Hoefle’s wonderfully detailed (and painstakingly rendered) Yellow Pages illustrations were pretty much loved by everyone who saw them. As a kid, I loved searching for the hidden jokes — the dinosaurs, the cowboys, the rocket ships. I’ll try to write something in-depth about Karl someday. But, in the meantime, here is one of his covers from 1971, showing the SMU campus, Hillcrest, Snider Plaza, that water tower on Northwest Highway, and, heck, even an observatory. And possibly an elephant (although it might just be an elephant-ish-looking mustang…). (Click the image!)

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Flooding Along Gaston

flood_flooding_gaston-avenue_ebayI do believe some of these vehicles have drifted out of their lanes…

by Paula Bosse

It’s been a rainy, flood-y day — why not post a picture of part of Big D underwater? The photo above appeared on eBay several months ago, minimally described as capturing a scene of a flooded Gaston Avenue in Old East Dallas (Peak’s Suburban Addition). I took a virtual drive down Gaston via Google Street View to see if I could find the exact location of the photo, and it looks like it was taken in the 4600 block of Gaston at Annex (Gaston, between Carroll and Fitzhugh). The two houses on the left in the photo above are still standing, the house on the right has been replaced by an apartment building. Below is a Google view from 2014. (The most recent Google Street View capture is here.)

gaston-annex_google-feb-2014Google Street View, Feb., 2014

Stay dry!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from eBay.

Color image from Google Street View.

A 1961 Clarence Talley ad featuring the same (or very similar) dropside VW pickup is here. Speaking of Volkswagens and flooding, might as well watch a 1967 TV commercial showing that, yes, a VW Beetle does float, here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Santos Rodriguez: The March of Justice — 1973

santos-rodriguez_march_contact-sheet-12_andy-hanson_degolyer_SMUThe March of Justice, July 28, 1973… (photo: Andy Hanson / SMU)

by Paula Bosse

In the wee hours of the morning of Saturday, July 24, 1973, 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez — who was handcuffed in the front seat of a police car — was shot in the head by a Dallas police officer attempting to coerce a confession in a deadly game of Russian roulette. Santos died instantly, as his 13-year-old brother — also handcuffed — watched in horror from the back seat. The shooting (which I wrote about here) set off an explosion of outrage in Dallas, with the bitterest and angriest coming from the Mexican American community.

Four days after Santos was killed, a “March of Justice for Santos Rodriguez” was scheduled to be held in downtown Dallas, beginning at the Kennedy Memorial and ending at City Hall (the old Municipal Building, at Main and Harwood). The event was to be a peaceful march to show the solidarity of the Hispanic community and to protest what many felt was racial prejudice within the Dallas Police Department.

The march down Main Street to City Hall was earnest, and the speeches at City Hall by Dallas activists and concerned civic leaders were impassioned calls to action. After the speeches, many of the marchers headed back to the Kennedy Memorial. About halfway back, they encountered another group of marchers.

At some point, various groups described as “outside agitators” arrived. While the first crowd was listening to speeches at City Hall, a second (and perhaps later even a third) group of protestors assembled and began their own march to City Hall. These new arrivals (many said to be from Fort Worth and Waco) appear to have been the spark that set off what has been described as a “riot,” which erupted back at City Hall, with protesters attacking the police (who had been ordered to refrain from retaliation), breaking windows, and looting several downtown businesses. The image most emblematic of the day was a burning police motorcycle lying in the street just outside City Hall.

…[A]ll was havoc. A motorcycle was burning, a news vehicle was smashed, several officers injured and the sound of shattering glass filled the street… [T]he stench of burning rubber filled the air.” (“Police Taunted By Crowd” by Mitch Lobrovich, Dallas Morning News, July 29, 1973)

Luckily, there were few injuries, and the crowd dispersed after less than an hour.

A couple of days after the protest, the Rodriguez family issued this statement:

The Rodriguez family would only ask that when the people of Dallas hear the name Santos Rodriguez they think not of the unwanted violence that became associated with his name Saturday; but they think of the real Santos Rodriguez, a gentle and well-liked 12-year-old boy who had his life tragically taken from him.

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Below (and above), photos taken that day by Dallas Times Herald photographer Andy Hanson which were recently unearthed by curator Anne Peterson, from the collection of his photographs at SMU’s DeGolyer Library:

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The only footage I’ve found of the actual march is this video, uploaded recently to YouTube by Mountain View College. It was apparently shot by a Dallas police officer. There is no sound. This is great. Thank you, Mountain View, for preserving this important historical moment.


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Sources & Notes

Photos taken by Andy Hanson on July 28, 1973; from the Collection of Photographs by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. See the rest of the photos from this day, here. (Note: this does not appear to be the entirety of Hanson’s photos taken that day.) Read about the full Andy Hanson Collection at SMU, here

Read “Honoring Santos Rodriguez” by Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs at the DeGolyer Library (and the person who unearthed these Andy Hanson photos), here.

The YouTube video is titled “Santo Rodriguez 1973 News Footage,” with the description “Rare news footage taken during the 1973 protests in downtown Dallas following the tragic shooting death of 12 year old Santos Rodriguez by a Dallas Police officer. No audio.” I’d like to know more about the story behind this footage.

The coverage of the march(es) and ensuing riot is confusing. A couple of months after the march, Jose Antonio Gonzales wrote a fascinating and (seemingly) comprehensive report for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram on how the events developed and unfolded, with an almost moment-by-moment timeline and insight into the individuals involved. Read his fantastic job of reporting in the (awkwardly-titled) article “Chicano Leadership Unity Faulted in Study of Boy’s Death” (FWST, Sept. 16, 1973): part one is here; part two is here.

My previous post on Santos Rodriguez — “Santos Rodriguez, 1960-1973” — is here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Santos Rodriguez, 1960-1973

david-and-santos-rodriguez_austin-american-statesmanDavid and Santos Rodriguez (via Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the 45th anniversary of the tragic shooting of Santos Rodriguez, the 12-year-old boy who was shot in the head by a policeman as he and his 13-year-old brother David sat handcuffed in a police car. It shocked the city of Dallas in 1973, and it is still shocking today.

Santos and David had been awakened and rousted out of bed by Officers Darrell L. Cain and his partner Roy R. Arnold who were investigating a late-night burglary at a nearby gas station where money had been stolen from a cigarette machine — the boys matched a witness’ vague description. The boys said they had nothing to do with the burglary but were taken from their home as their foster-grandfather (an elderly man who spoke no English) watched, helpless, as they were handcuffed and placed in a squad car.

The boys were driven back to the scene of the burglary — a Fina station at Cedar Springs and Bookhout. Santos was in the front passenger seat, and Cain sat behind him in the backseat, next to David. Cain insisted the two boys were guilty and, in an attempt to coerce a confession, held his .357 magnum revolver to Santos’ head. He clicked the gun, as if playing Russian Roulette, telling Santos that the next time he might not be so lucky. The boys continued to insist they were innocent. And then, suddenly, Cain’s gun went off. Santos died instantly. Stunned, Cain said that it had been an accident. He and Arnold got out of the car, leaving 13-year-old David, still handcuffed, in the backseat of the police car — for anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour — alone with his brother’s bloody body. (It was determined through fingerprint evidence that Santos and David did not break into the gas station that night.)

More in-depth articles about this horrible case can be found elsewhere, but, briefly, Cain (who had previously been involved in the fatal shooting of a teenaged African American young man named Michael Moorhead) was charged with committing “murder with malice” and was found guilty. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison but ended up serving only two and a half years in Huntsville.

The killing of Santos Rodriguez sparked outrage from all corners of the city, but particularly in the Mexican American community. All sorts of people — from ordinary citizens to militant Brown Berets — organized and protested, persistently demanding civil rights, social justice, and police reform. If anything positive resulted from this tragic event, perhaps it was a newly energized Hispanic community.

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I am ashamed to say that I was not aware of what had happened to Santos Rodriguez until I began to write about Dallas history a few years ago. This was an important turning-point in the history of Dallas — for many reasons (namely the Chicano movement, race relations, the fight for social justice, and an examination of Dallas Police Department procedure). Over the past week I’ve read a lot of the local coverage of the events of this case, and I’ve watched a lot of interviews of people who were involved, but perhaps the most immediate way I’ve experienced the events and emotions swirling about this case has been to watch television news footage shot as the story was unfolding. Thanks to the incredibly rich collection of TV news footage in the possession of the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at SMU, I’ve been able to do that.

Below is footage shot by KDFW Channel 4, which has, most likely, not been seen for 45 years. Some of it appeared in news reports and some is just background B-roll footage shot to be edited into news pieces which would eventually air on the nightly news. The finished stories that aired do not (as far as I know) survive, but we have this footage. It’s choppy and chaotic and darts from one thing to the next, which is how a red-hot news story develops. Of particular interest is the short interview with 13-year-old David at 9:16 and the violent aftermath of what began as a peaceful march through downtown at 19:54.

A more comprehensive collection of the events — from just hours after the shooting, to the conviction of Darrell Cain — can be found in this lengthy compilation of WFAA Channel 8 news footage. Heads up to anyone considering a 50th anniversary documentary on Santos Rodriguez — this and the Channel 4 footage are essential sources.

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santos-rodriguez-cropped_smuSantos Rodriguez (Nov. 7, 1960 – July 24, 1973)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is a family photo, from the Austin American-Statesman article “Is It Time For Dallas To Honor Santos Rodriguez?” by Gissela Santacruz, here.

My sincerest thanks to Jeremy Spracklen at SMU for alerting me to these two collections of important historical news footage from KDFW-TV/Ch. 4 and WFAA-TV/Ch. 8, both of which are held by the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University. (All screenshots from these two videos.)

An excerpt from the 1982 KERA-produced documentary “Pride and Anger: A Mexican American Perspective of Dallas and Fort Worth” (the Santos Rodriguez case is discussed) is on YouTube here.

“Civil Rights in Black & Brown” is a fantastic oral history project by TCU. I watched several of the interviews focusing on Santos Rodriguez, but I was particularly taken with the oral history of Frances Rizo — her 2015 interview is in two parts, here and here.

More on the events surrounding the killing of Santos Rodriguez can be found at the Handbook of Texas History site, here.

My continuation of this story can be found at the Flashback Dallas post “Santos Rodriguez: The March of Justice” — 1973,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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