Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1970s

Christmas at NorthPark — 1970s

xmas_northpark_trees_1971_instagramA familiar scene to Dallas shoppers

by Paula Bosse

NorthPark was the mall of my childhood — in fact, I don’t recall my family going to any other mall. I loved going there at Christmastime — to see the decorations, to watch a puppet show, to slide down those pillars, and, of course, to visit Santa. These photos from the Instagram feed of NorthPark Center are very nostalgic. 

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Above, 1971. How to get to Santa: take a right at the fountain, walk and walk (…and walk) — things start picking up the closer you get to Neiman’s — hang a right at N-M, and there he is!

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Admiring a snowman, ca. 1970.

xmas_northpark_snowman_1970_instagram

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Also admiring a “tree” suspended over one of the iconic NP fountains, ca. 1970.

xmas_northpark_fountain_1968_instagram

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If you’ve been to NorthPark at Christmas you’ve seen the aerial display of Santa and his sleigh being whisked away by flying reindeer. This is NorthPark Center’s caption from Instagram: “Flying high over Neiman Marcus Fountain Court, the vintage Candy Santa and Pecan Reindeer installation has been a special part of NorthPark’s holiday tradition since 1965. The handcrafted display, consisting of real pecans, almonds, red and black licorice, marshmallows, sour cherries, raisins, and other candies, portrays Santa and his reindeer on their way to deliver presents to children all over the world.” Those pecan-studded reindeer really fascinated me as a kid. (The photo below is undated.)

xmas_northpark_santa-and-reindeer_instagram

1970:

xmas_northpark_girl-reindeer_pinterestvia NorthPark’s Pinterest page

1972:

xmas_northpark_santa_sleigh_1972_instagram

They’re still flying high, to the delight of 21st-century children:

xmas_northpark_santa-and-reindeer_color_present_instagram

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And, lastly, what every child saw before and after a holiday visit to NorthPark. When your car pulled into a parking spot you were filled with excited anticipation, and when you left, you were over-stimulated and exhausted. But happy.

xmas_northpark-parking-lot_ca-1974_instagram

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

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Sources & Notes

Unless otherwise noted, all photos from the Instragram feed of @NorthParkCenter

See many, many more Flashback Dallas Christmas posts from years gone by here.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Dallas — 1973

royal-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMURoyal Cafe, 2726 Forest Avenue (now MLK Blvd.)

by Paula Bosse

The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU is the gift that keeps on giving (see their YouTube channel here). In addition to their vast non-Dallas-history holdings, they are the repository of the WFAA news film archives, which is an incredible collection of local news segments from Channel 8. And now they’ve begun digitizing and uploading film from KERA-Channel 13. There are all sorts of clips posted on the YouTube channel so far — I really, really loved the Blackie Sherrod profile — and I’m not even a sports fan! My guess is that a lot of it comes from the legendary local news show Newsroom, including the one I’m writing about here.

This story from 1973 was about a recent increase in crime in the Black neighborhoods of South Dallas and State-Thomas/Hall Street. Crime stories are pretty much the same decade in and decade out, but this piece is great because of the almost 8 full minutes of footage showing parts of town that the media largely ignored (ignores). I haven’t seen most of these areas as they existed when this piece was shot — many of these buildings don’t exist at all anymore. A couple of these places are “famous,” most are not. But this is just great. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for places and addresses seen in the film.)

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I was particularly excited to see the exterior of the Ascot Room, which I wrote about in the Flashback Dallas post “1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975” — it was an important music club, but I had been unable to find any images of its exterior. Until now! Granted, it’s looking a bit long in the tooth in 1973, but this was so cool to see!

ascot-room_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUAscot Room (1710 Hall, at Ross)
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bill-and-bess-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUBill & Bess’ Cafe
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black-gails-domino-parlor_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMULucky Eight Recreation Center (1804 Hall); Black Gail’s Domino Parlor
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man-1_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

blue-lantern-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUBlue Lantern Cafe (1609 Hall)
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congo-club_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUCongo Club (1801 Hall, at Roseland)
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domino-game_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

e-tx-bbq_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUEast Texas Bar-B-Q/East Texan Barbecue (2311 Hall)
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man_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

forest-ave_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU2700 block of Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)
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hall-st_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU1700 block of Hall Street, north from Ross
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houses_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

pussy-cat-lounge_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUPussy Cat Lounge (3410 Forest Ave. — now part of Fair Park)
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men_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU

ross-avenue-motel_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMURoss Avenue Motel (3629 Ross) — see what it looked like new here
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south-blvd_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU2700 block of South Boulevard

Very cool! Thanks, SMU!

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Here are some of the places seen in the film, with addresses (if I could find them), in the order they appear (several places make more than one appearance):

  • Pussy Cat Lounge:  3410 Forest Avenue (now MLK Blvd.)
  • Elite Theater (sign):  2720/2722 Forest Ave. (closed; originally the White Theater, which opened in 1934)
  • Blazer Inn:  2722 Forest (in the old theater)
  • A & H Barber Shop, Recreation, Pool:  2724 Forest
  • Royal Cafe:  2726 Forest
  • Royal Barber Shop:  1813 Hall
  • Soul Shop
  • Hall’s Hotel:  1809 1/2 Hall
  • Corner of Hall & Roseland
  • Busy Bee Cafe:  1612 Hall
  • Red Door
  • Black Gail’s Domino Parlor:  1802 Hall
  • Congo Club:  1801 Hall (at Roseland)
  • Ascot Room:  1710 Hall (at Ross)
  • East Texas Bar-B-Q (listed in directories as East Texan Barbecue):  2311 Hall
  • Mary’s Place
  • Bill & Bess’ Cafe
  • Watson’s Cafeteria:  1715 Hall
  • Jim’s Liquor:  1713 Hall
  • Alvacado Inn:  1726 Hall
  • Stewart Motors:  3509 Ross
  • Vacation Motors:  3623 Ross
  • Ross Avenue Motel:  3629 Ross
  • 1600 block of Hall, looking toward Ross
  • Your Thrift Shop:  1622 Hall (warehouse), 3302 Ross
  • Forest Avenue Store:  2716-A Forest
  • Hooper’s Jeweler:  2720 Forest
  • Front of old Elite Theater, then the Blazer Inn:  2722 Forest
  • 2700 block of South Blvd. shows homes at 2707 South Blvd. and 2711 South Blvd.
  • Liberty Bail Bond Service:  1611 Hall (Theodore Greer, bondsman)
  • Blue Lantern Cafe:  1609 Hall
  • Dallas Police Substation:  Bexar and Municipal streets

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Sources & Notes

All images are screenshots from the YouTube video “KERA Report On Crime In Dallas — June 1973,” from the KERA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

royal-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Gene de Jean Lifts a Curse on Dallas — 1970

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470Curse lifted — all in a day’s work…

by Paula Bosse

On Sept. 4, 1970, at the corner of Commerce and Ervay, a “white-magic warlock” named Gene de Jean conducted a ceremony to lift a heinous curse placed on Dallas in 1963 by a somewhat vague “malevolent black-magic coven” — this curse, which, uncoincidentally, preceded the JFK assassination, had apparently hung over the city for 7 long years. Fortunately, the media had been alerted, and we have film footage of the historic occasion in which a mysterious warlock lifted a nasty curse which no one in Dallas knew had been cast in the first place.

Do-gooding warlock Gene de Jean arrived in a “velvetized Cadillac” (a Cadillac COVERED IN BLACK VELVET!) with a be-robed bell-ringing acolyte, and, with Neiman-Marcus in the background, he uttered a few incantations and proclaimed the curse lifted. He also “blessed” a few random people in the crowd for good measure before walking back to the waiting velvetized warlock-mobile, his job done. In his wake there was much rejoicing and/or confused looks exchanged on Commerce Street. Thank you Mr. de Jean!

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In something of a kill-joy article, the Associated Press revealed that “Gene de Jean” was a warlock stage-name. In non-warlock life he was Gene McIntosh, mild-mannered Houston psychologist. When pressed by the reporter, Gene said that it was “pure coincidence” that the Texas Association of Magicians was wrapping up its 25th annual convention 2 blocks away at the Statler Hilton (which can be seen in the background of the footage). So, yes, Gene McIntosh and Lee Thompson (the bell-ringing “acolyte”) were well-known Houston magicians/illusionists in town for a magicians’ convention. And — why not? — a friendly curse-lifting.

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Here’s the footage — at the 12:19 mark — captured by a WFAA-Channel 8 News cameraman for posterity.

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And a few screenshots of the warlock in action.

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_1

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_2

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_3

gene-de-jean_dallas_090470-shutterstock_ferd-kaufmanAssociated Press photo by Ferd Kaufman

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470_velvetized-caddySeriously — how do you cover a car with velvet?

Voilà! Curse lifted!

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Doing a little research, I have to say, when I came across the photo below, I felt a twinge of betrayal. Or at least disappointment. It shows Gene de Jean on the streets of Milwaukee (Milwaukee?!!) in June, 1970. The guy in the sunglasses is also seen with him in Dallas. The caption of this photo: “A self-described warlock (male witch) in black flowing cape bestowed a blessing right here in Old Milwaukee Tuesday. Gene De Jean blessed the city and a number of passersby at N. 3rd St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. He was in town for a magician’s convention.” Was it all just a schtick, Gene? And I thought we had something special.

gene-de- jean_milwaukee_june-1970via Wisconsin Historical Society

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Sources & Notes

Video and screenshots are from the WFAA NewsFilm Collection, G. William Jones Film Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the footage is from Sept. 4, 1970 and can be found on YouTube here (clip begins as the 12:19 mark).

When I posted a version of this on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, David B. commented with a couple of informative links about Gene McIntosh (who died in 2006): this overview of his career as a magician, and this tale of a stunt he performed while driving from Houston to Dallas in 1959, blindfolded the whole way. RIP, Gene.

gene-de-jean_WFAA_090470 sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Linda Coffee, The Dallas Attorney Who Took Roe v. Wade to the U.S. Supreme Court

coffee-linda_WFAA_SMU_june-1970Linda Coffee, 27 years old, on her way to the Supreme Court to make history

by Paula Bosse

The most important woman in the abortion rights fight is someone you’ve never heard of: LINDA COFFEE, the Dallas attorney who took the local case of Roe v. Wade from Dallas all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in a successful battle to have the ban on abortion in Texas declared unconstitutional. She began the case when she was only 26 years old and less than two years out of UT Law School.

Coffee was the driving force of this landmark legal case from the very beginning but preferred to leave the limelight to her co-counsel, Sarah Weddington, who joined the team a short time after the case was underway. (Weddington, an Austin lawyer, was *also* only in her 20s!)

The image above is a screenshot of a 1970 television interview with Coffee in news footage from the WFAA archive, a treasure trove of historical film clips housed at SMU as part of the Hamon Arts Library’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection (the WFAA archive is viewable on YouTube here, with additions being made all the time).

This rare, recently unearthed Channel 8 interview from June, 1970 has Coffee discussing the ramifications of her first win in the long legal journey which would ultimately end in victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. It is almost certainly her first TV interview. (Read the notes of the YouTube clip for the full description.)

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My mother was involved in all sorts of women’s political groups in Dallas in the 1970s (and beyond). Meetings of various progressive political organizations and committees were often held at the First Unitarian Church on Preston Road in University Park (yes, University Park was an unlikely hotbed of activism!), and my mother knew Linda Coffee through these women’s groups. I had heard Linda’s name over the years but didn’t really know much about her until I came across this short Channel 8 interview. I’ve been working in these archives for SMU and wasn’t able to identify this unidentified woman but felt sure my mother would know who she was. I was talking to my mother on the phone trying to describe her: “I’m not sure who she is. She appears to be a lawyer, but she just looks too young and too… disheveled to be a lawyer. A little scroungy.” “Oh!” my mother said instantly, “Linda Coffee.” And she was right! She hadn’t even seen the footage.

I immediately loved Linda from my introduction to her in this footage. She’s earnest, confident, smart, pixie-ish, and she looks a little like a “real-person” version of Linda Ronstadt. I wonder if she ever imagined she would be responsible for one of the most famous legal cases of the 20th century?

I decided to look into her background in Dallas, and I was pretty surprised to see that she grew up one street over from where I grew up (she lived in the 5700  block of Anita) and went to my East Dallas alma mater, Woodrow Wilson High School (she and musician Steve Miller were there at the same time, Class of 1961 — she was in the band, he was on the football team — wonder if they ever met?).

linda_1961_band-detLinda Coffee, Woodrow band, 1961

miller-steve_WWHS_1961_srSteve Miller, senior photo, 1961

While we’re at it, here a few more photos of Linda Coffee in high school.

coffee_1959_high-school_WWHS-1959-yrbk_p92_sophLinda Coffee, Woodrow sophomore, 1959

coffee_1960_high-school_WWHS-1960-yrbk_p85_jrLinda Coffee, Woodrow junior, 1960

coffee_1960_high-school_latin-club_WWHS-1960-yrbk_jrLinda (dark robe) with the Latin club, attending “Ben Hur” screening downtown, 1960

coffee_1961_high-school_science-club_WWHS-1961-yrbk_srLinda and other officers of the Woodrow Science Club, 1961

coffee_1961_high-school_new-zealand_WWHS-1961-yrbk_p268-det_srLinda pointing to New Zealand, 1961

coffee_1961_high-school_sr-photo-bio_WWHS-1961-yrbk_p57_srLinda Coffee, Woodrow Wilson High School, senior photo, 1961

She apparently excelled at everything and had a wide range of interests.

After graduating from Woodrow, she went to RIce University where she majored in German, then went on to law school at the University of Texas where she passed the Texas bar exam with the second highest score in the class. After becoming a lawyer, she was a law clerk in Dallas for District Judge Sarah T. Hughes (she and another female clerk were profiled in a 1968 Dallas Morning News article which carried the unfortunate headline, “The Law Clerks Are Girls”). It wasn’t long after this that she began working on a case to challenge the constitutionality of a vague Texas law which banned abortions. In January, 1973, Linda Coffee and co-counsel Sarah Weddington won their case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Linda had just turned 30.

linda-coffee_getty-images
Linda Coffee, 1972, via Getty Images

weddington-sarah_1972Sarah Weddington, 1972, via Glamour magazine

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I would highly recommend (and I mean HIGHLY RECOMMEND) the Vanity Fair profile of Linda Coffee written by Joshua Prager titled “Roe v. Wade’s Secret Heroine Tells Her Story.” Reading this when I knew virtually nothing about Linda made me want to know more about her and made me want to share her story with as many people as possible. How is it that this lawyer who has had such a massively important impact on modern life (especially women’s lives) isn’t a household name? Prager’s article tells you why. Joshua Prager has expanded this article to a full book concerning the Roe case which will be published in a couple of weeks: The Family Roe, An American Story. With the current news of the newly implemented controversial legislation by the State of Texas, this book could not possibly be more timely.

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Thank you, Linda. Thank you, Sarah.

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UPDATE, Dec. 16, 2021: Watch the interview with Linda Coffee by The Dallas Morning News, conducted on Dec. 9, 2021 at Linda’s home in Mineola. Read the companion DMN article here (article may require a subscription to view).

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Update, Dec. 17, 2021: Watch another newly unearthed WFAA-Channel 8 clip of Linda Coffee being interviewed during the initial Supreme Court appearance of Roe v. Wade in December, 1971 (begins at the 13:44 mark):


coffee-linda_supreme-court_WFAA_SMU_dec-1971

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a screenshot of a June, 1970 interview of Linda Coffee conducted by Channel 8 reporter Phil Reynolds; this interview can be seen on YouTube here (from the WFAA archive, G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University). Bottom image is from a WFAA clip from December, 1971 here.

All high school-era photos of Linda Coffee are from various editions of The Crusader, the yearbook of Woodrow Wilson High School.

coffee-linda_WFAA_SMU_june-1970_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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