Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1980s

City Park, From the Air: 1948-1997

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

Below, 1954.

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

1966:

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

1969:

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

1972:

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

1975:

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

Circa 1982:

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

1997:

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

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

city-park_google-maps_aerialGoogle Maps

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1969: “Merry Christmas… From the Silent Majority”

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

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1971: “Hark!… It’s a Girl!”

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

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1974

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1976

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

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

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1979

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1980

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

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1982

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1983_nutcrackers_frances-murrah-collection_poster

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_nd_ca-1975

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_det_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Aldredge Book Store — 2909 Maple Avenue

abs_2909-maple-ave_erik-bosse
The last location of The Aldredge Book Store, next to the Stoneleigh Hotel

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, Dick Bosse. For most of the life of The Aldredge Book Store, he either managed it or, later, owned it. The store’s first location was in an old Victorian house at 2800 McKinney Avenue, at Worthington (a photo showing the house with weirdly overgrown vegetation is here), the second location was at 2506 Cedar Springs, near Fairmount, and the final location was the one seen above, at 2909 Maple Avenue, right next door to the Stoneleigh Hotel. My brother, Erik, took the photo, sometime in the 1980s, I think. The Stoneleigh is the building partially seen at the right. The bookstore occupied the building’s lower floor, and the top floor was occupied by the engineering business of the owner, Ed Wilson.

We closed the store in the early 2000s, a few years after my father’s death. Erik and his friend Pete removed the letters spelling out the store’s name which were bolted to the brick exterior over the entrance. I came across them a few years ago and laid them out in my driveway (in a much jauntier arrangement than was seen on Maple).

abs_sign-letters_paula-bosse

As far as I can gather, the two-story building was built about 1930 and was originally a duplex — a classified ad shows that the lower floor (where the bookstore was) was a 6-room apartment with 3 bedrooms and a tile bath. Sometime in the late ’30s, building owner Glen Shumaker opened up the Dallas Music Center, where students (children and adults) took music lessons; a sort of “music business school” was also offered as part of the curriculum. That business seems to have been around at least into the early 1950s.

dallas-music-center_0527471947 ad

dallas-music-center_0124481948 ad

It was later the home of several businesses, including sales offices and an advertising company, a farming trade magazine, a correspondence school, and the Dallas Diabetes Association. I’m not sure when the bookstore moved in — maybe 1979 or 1980.

Sadly, the building was demolished in the early-to-mid-2000s and is currently a driveway/parking area for the Stoneleigh Hotel. It still surprises me to not see the old building when I drive by.

dick-bosse_aldredge-book-store
Dick Bosse

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Sources & Notes

Photograph of The Aldredge Book Store by Erik Bosse; photo of the ABS letters by Paula Bosse.

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

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Stoneleigh Pharmacy / Stoneleigh P

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_ebay_2The pharmacy’s soda fountain… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m pretty sure I was in the old Stoneleigh Pharmacy before it became the Stoneleigh P, but if so, I have no memory of it other than sitting at the fountain. I might have had a grilled cheese sandwich and a milkshake. I’ve definitely been in the “P” post-1980 — in fact, my father’s bookstore used to be across the street from it, and it was definitely a mainstay for great hamburgers.

Despite the location being so familiar, I didn’t know about the history of the old Stoneleigh Pharmacy, so when I came across the (slightly blurry) photo above and the one immediately below, I thought I should look into what was happening at 2926 Maple Avenue before the arrival of the Stoneleigh P.

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_ebay_1

The Stoneleigh Pharmacy was the anchor of a small strip of shops which were built in 1923 at Maple and Wolf, directly across from the brand-new Stoneleigh Court, which, though now a hotel, began life as a very fashionable apartment-hotel (an apartment house with hotel amenities). There were concerns about a shopping strip in what was then a residential area, and the city tried to stop the construction. (Most images are larger when clicked.)

maple-and-wolf_dmn_022523_constructionDallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1923

But the city lost and the building was completed.

maple-and-wolf_dmn_070823_for-lease
DMN, July 8, 1923

I looked everywhere to find a period photo, and this is the best I could do — it appeared in a special section of The Dallas Morning News which coincided with the opening week of the Stoneleigh Court.

stoneleigh-drug-store_stoneleigh-court-adv-supp_101423_croppedDMN, Oct. 14, 1923

Here’s a drawing:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_adv-supp-det
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

The interior of what was originally called the Stoneleigh Drug Store, at 2926 Maple Avenue:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_det_drawing
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

And a description of what sounds like a showplace of a drugstore, including Circassian-walnut fixtures inlaid with ebony:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_pharmacy-det
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

stoneleigh-pharmacy-label_jim-wheat

Its neighbors, in 1927:

stoneleigh-pharmacy_1927-directoryMaple Ave., 1927 Dallas directory

The drug store was owned by a company presided over by Royal A. Ferris, Jr., whose banker father had, until 1913, owned what many considered to be the most beautiful house in Dallas — Ivy Hall (which was situated at Maple and Wolf, diagonally across from the pharmacy, and which would become the site of the Maple Terrace Apartments in 1924).

The drug store changed hands several times, until 1931 when pharmacist Henry C. Burroughs acquired it — and he was there for the long-haul, owning it until 1970. (H. C. Burroughs is also notable for having served on the very first Dallas City Council, having been elected in 1931 when the city of Dallas adopted the city council-city manager form of government.)

burroughs-h-c_1950sHenry C. Burroughs, 1950s

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_matchbook_ebay_a        stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_matchbook_ebay_b

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In 1973, the pharmacy stopped being a pharmacy when it was purchased by a group of investors including Tom Garrison, who renovated the old drugstore into a neighborhood bar/pub, while still retaining a drugstore “theme” and naming the new endeavor the Stoneleigh P. It was an immediate hit with the intellectual/artistic crowd, attracting denizens of the (then-funky) McKinney Avenue and Oak Lawn neighborhoods, Stoneleigh Hotel guests, Maple Terrace residents, and staffers from nearby KERA.

1973_stoneleigh-p_texas-monthly_july-1973Texas Monthly, July, 1973

It was “happening” but not obnoxious — although the Lou Lattimore ad below — featuring a “glitter jeans” “knockoutfit” (yes, “knockoutfit”) which “can make you outsparkle the gang at the Stoneleigh P” — might have one thinking otherwise. (It was the ’70s, man.)

stoneleigh-p_lou-lattimore-ad_jan-1974
Lou Lattimore ad, January, 1974

Everything seemed to be going along swimmingly when, in the early hours of January 26, 1980 a huge fire engulfed the group of buildings on the southeast corner of Maple and Wolf — according to newspaper reports, at least 15 “major pieces of equipment” and 75 firefighters responded to the multi-alarm fire. The 57-year-old building burned to the ground. Watch the WBAP-Ch. 5 News report here (with additional footage here).

A few screenshots from the above-linked news report:

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal_intersection

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal_sign

Garrison rebuilt, and the new Stoneleigh P opened in the summer of 1981. It still stands and is something of a Dallas institution. It’s now an unbelievable 46 years old. Here’s how it celebrated its 18th anniversary:

stoneleigh-p_ad_1991
1991 ad

I’m certainly glad it’s still around. I’ve got some great memories of the Stoneleigh P (except, maybe, for that one New Year’s Eve in the ’80s…).

stoneleigh-p_aug-2015_bosse-photo

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Sources & Notes

Top two photos found on eBay. They appear to have been taken by the Liquid Carbonic Corporation, manufacturers of soda fountains — read all about the company here.

Stoneleigh Pharmacy label (with red letters) is from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives site. (J. T. Covington was associated with the pharmacy from about 1925 to 1927.)

Videotape screenshots are from the WBAP-Ch. 5 News report on the 1980 fire; footage is from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, UNT Libraries Special Collections, Portal to Texas History.

Photo showing the interior of the Stoneleigh P was taken in 2015 by Paula Bosse.

An entertaining interview with Stoneleigh P owner Tom Garrison can be found in the 2017 D Magazine article “History of Dallas Food: Tom Garrison’s Stoneleigh P” by Nancy Nichols, here.

Stoneleigh P website is here.

stoneleigh-p-fire_sign_012680_ch-5-news_portal

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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.

 

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.)

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

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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.

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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.

David Bates — “Corny Dog” (1986)

bates-david_corny-dog_litho_tyler-museum-of-art_1986“Corny Dog” by David Bates, 1986

by Paula Bosse

First day, y’all. Here’s how David Bates, one of my favorite contemporary Texas artists, sees it. Click it to see that corny dog real big.

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Sources & Notes

“Corny Dog” by David Bates (lithograph, 1986), shown at the Tyler Museum of Art this summer in the show “David Bates: Selected Works From Texas Collections.” More on that exhibition is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Willie’s Picnic Or Bust

willie-nelson-picnic_1980_austin-american-statesman“All’s we need is a ride, man…”  (photo: Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is July 4th, 2018 — the 45th anniversary of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The photo above — taken by Austin photographer Stanley Farrar — ran in The Austin American-Statesman in 1980 and shows hitchhikers (including a bare-chested Jerry Rundell and his go-with-the-flow cat “Precious”) thumbing it on Highway 71, hoping for a ride to that year’s picnic at Willie’s Pedernales Country Club, near Austin.

Take a look at the full illustrated program for the second Picnic, which was held at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, July 4-6, 1974, in a PDF, here. The huge line-up included Dallas natives Michael Murphey, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard (all three of whom attended Adamson High School in Oak Cliff), and singer-turned-DJ-turned-singer, Johnny Dallas (aka Groovey Joe Poovey). To make this a somewhat Dallas-y, I’ve pulled out a few of the local ads (click ’em to see larger images).

willie-nelson-program_cover-1974

willie-nelson-program_1974_kzewKZEW — from the Zoo’s “Progressive Country” years?

willie-nelson-program_1974_wbapWBAP — how much Ray Wylie Hubbard was WBAP playing?

Speaking of Ray Wylie Hubbard:

willie-nelson-program_1974_ray-wylie-hubbard_mother-bluesMother Blues had a one-buck cover charge, and Gertie’s was rocking until 5 a.m.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lyons-pubLyon’s Pub, 5535 Yale Street.

willie-nelson-program_1974_fannie-annsFannie Ann’s, 4714 Greenville Avenue, the lower part of Upper Greenville.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lone-star-opryhouseThe Lone Star Opry House, 1011 S. Industrial, at Cadiz (formerly the Aragon Ballroom). Willie appeared during its first week in business.

willie-nelson-program_iconoclastThe Iconoclast, Dallas’ underground newspaper, which began as Stoney Burns’ Dallas Notes.

willie-nelson-program_1974_ethylsEthyl’s (“Only Bluegrass Club in Dallas”), 3605 McKinney Avenue.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Austin American-Statesman (July 4, 1980); photo taken by photographer Stanley Farrar. See many more photos of Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics in an American-Statesman slideshow, here.

I wonder if Willie’s picnics have their own Wikipedia page? Of COURSE they do! Have at it.

I’ve written about it before, but, hey, it’s the 4th of July, so here’s Willie’s very … um, unusual ode to Dallas:

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Happy 4th!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The G. B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State

hall-of-state_dealey-library_entrance_042517A quiet place to read or study… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I spent time this week walking around the G. B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State in Fair Park. It is part of the Dallas Historical Society, and it is a quiet, high-ceilinged, airy-but-cozy Western-themed oasis filled with lots of warm wood and featuring two large murals by legendary El Paso artist Tom Lea. If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to go take a look.

What we now call the Hall of State was the architectural jewel in the crown of the Art Deco splendor created throughout Fair Park for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936. The room now housing the Dealey Library was originally the West Texas Room — one of four geographically-specific rooms in the Hall of State. The two Tom Lea murals (one depicting a cowboy, the other, pioneers) are on opposite walls (walls finished with an adobe-like plaster, decorated with famous Texas brands, in relief). One wall is covered with cowhide. There are painted ceramic tiles set into both the walls and the floor (the ones on the floor decorated with images of cactus are great!). There is a wood sculpture of a cowboy, carved by Dallas artist Dorothy Austin, who was only 25 years old when the Centennial opened. And … well — like everything in the Hall of State — everywhere you look you see incredible attention to detail. Every fixture, grating, knob … everything is absolutely wonderful.

In 1989, after a two-and-a-half-year renovation, the West Texas Room became the home of the G. B. Dealey Library (named in honor of the former publisher of The Dallas Morning News). The project was headed by architect Downing Thomas who took great care in choosing the Arts and Crafts-style furniture (the chairs, tables, and bookcases were handmade by Thomas Moser in Portland, Maine, the chairs emblazoned with bronze Texas stars and upholstered in tanned leather), reading lamps with mica shades (made by Boyd Lighting of San Francisco), and a woven rug by Sally Vowell of Fort Worth (I don’t recall seeing a rug, but there’s a lot to take in and I might have missed it). I really love this room.

When the library opened in November, 1989, the first guest through the doors was Tom Lea who had been shocked to learn that his then-53-year-old murals were still in place. And they’re still there, 81 years after Lea created them. And you should go see them.

The library and reading room is open Tuesday-Sunday, same hours as the Hall of State. If you are interested in researching materials from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society, you are encouraged to contact the staff in advance of your visit and make an appointment; though the room is open to the public, research hours are limited. More about this and the hours of operation can be found here.

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Below, one of the Tom Lea Murals can be (partially) seen above the cowhide wall-covering and above Dorothy Austin’s cowboy sculpture. (Click photo to see a larger image.) That light fixture is fantastic! (See the full Tom Lea mural here.)

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_inside-entrance

Here’s the view from the back corner looking toward the entrance, over which can be seen Lea’s second mural.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_toward-entrance

In the photo at the very top, you can see the floor, which is studded with all sorts of cactus-themed tiles. Here are examples of four of them.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_floor

My absolute favorite of the cactus tiles is this one, in a very Japanese-like rendering.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_cactus-tile

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That’s what the room looks like today. Here are a few photos of the West Texas Room under construction in 1936 (photos from the Dallas Historical Society’s Centennial Visual Collection). The first one shows Dorothy Austin standing below the Tom Lea mural, about where her cowboy statue would be placed. Those ceilings are pretty high.

tom-lea_dorothy-austin_west-tx-room_DHS

And here’s the statue. (See Austin’s statue close up, here, in a 2014 photo by Carol M. Highsmith, from the Library of Congress.)

dorothy-austin_cowboy-sculpture_west-tx-room_DHS

And here is a look into the room from the entrance, showing a construction crew at work.

west-tx-room-construction_hall-of-state_DHS

Below are 28-year-old Tom Lea’s thoughts on being informed of his important commission, from the El Paso Herald Post, March 24, 1936.  (Click to see larger image.)

tom-lea_west-tx-room-murals_el-paso-herald-post_032436

It seems strange that Lea was only in the preliminary-drawing stage of the murals’ creation in March — the Centennial was scheduled to open in June, less than three months away. (It’s worth noting that even though the Centennial — which ran for almost six months — opened in June, the Hall of State did not open to the public until September, three months behind schedule and the only Exposition building that did not meet its deadline. It was finally dedicated on September 5, 1936, the 100th anniversary of Sam Houston’s election as the first President of Texas.)

Below, a photo of Mr. Lea at the 1989 opening of the Dealey Library, with his 1936 mural behind him.

tom-lea_west-texas-room_1989_tom-lea-institute
via Tom Lea Institute

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To read more details on the 1989 opening of the G. B. Library and the renovation of the West Texas Room, please check out these articles from The Dallas Morning News archives:

  • “A Rare Blend — Art Deco, Western and Shaker Unite for a Modern Adaptation at the Hall of State” by Mariana Greene (DMN, Nov. 12, 1989)
  • “G. B. Dealey Library Dedicated at Fair Park — Center Will House Texas Documents” by Todd Coplivetz (DMN, Nov. 13, 1989)
  • “How the West was East at the Hall of State Redo”  by Alan Peppard (DMN, Nov. 14, 1989)
  • “An Old Friend Triumphs Anew: The Hall of State Redo Affirms the Power of Great Architecture” by David Dillon (DMN, Nov. 14, 1989)
  • “Reviving a Cultural Paean to Dallas — Fair Park Changes Designed to Restore Centennial’s Glory” by David Dillon (DMN, April 9, 1986) (this article concerns Fair Park as a whole)

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Sources & Notes

Photos of the Dealey Library and Hall of State door (below) are by me.

Photos of the West Texas Room from 1936 are from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society. You can search through low-res thumbnails of some of the images from their very large collection here.

As mentioned above, if you plan a trip to the Dealey Library in order to inspect or research items from the DHS collection, these materials must be requested in advance and an appointment must be scheduled (info here).

More on Tom Lea (1907-2001) can be found at the Tom Lea Institute website, here (with specific information on the Hall of State murals here); a profusely illustrated blog post with an emphasis on his time as a WWII artist-correspondent can be found here.

Obituary for Dorothy Austin Webberley (1911-2001) can be found on the Dallas Morning News site, here; family obituary is here.

Detailed info on the architecture and design of the Hall of State can be found in a Dallas Historical Society PDF, here. The Wikipedia entry is here (someone please correct the erroneous info that the Dealey Library is in the “East” Texas room!), and the always informative Watermelon Kid site has information on the East Texas and West Texas rooms here.

A series of photos of Fair Park, taken in 2014 by Carol M. Highsmith, can be found at the Library of Congress website, here. Her photo of the Hall of State is below.

hall-of-state_library-of-congress_carol-m-highsmith_2014

And, lastly,  a photo I took showing one of my favorite elements of a building packed with aesthetically pleasing details (seriously, everywhere you look): one of the doors of the main entrance to the Hall of State, designed by Houston architect Donald Barthelme, honoring Texas industry (ranching, timber, oil, agriculture, etc.). That sawmill blade gets me every time. And the aerial perspective of oil coming up through a derrick (middle right) is pretty cool, too. (Click to see a larger, more exciting image!)

hall-of-state-doors_042517_bosse

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Remember the Alamo! — In Plano, Behind the Target

alamo-plano_dmn_051284-photoNever forget… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is Texas Independence Day. This time last year after posting a photo of the Alamo somewhere, I was informed that there was, in fact, an Alamo replica right here in DFW. I knew about the one(s) in Fair Park, but Plano? Yep, near 75 and Parker Road, at the corner of Lexington and Premier, just west of the highway. See a southward-looking aerial view on Google here; below is the same view, from Bing.

alamo-plano_birdseye-bingBing Maps

Here it is at street level:

alamo-plano_bingBing Streetside

So, um, why is that there?

Not being up on my Plano history, and never having been aware of this, it took me a long time to find anything about it. Which is pretty surprising, because you’d think there would be all SORTS of articles about a very large replica of one of the most famous structures in the world (yes, I’m going to say “in the world”), standing right here in the Metroplex. And it’s been standing here for at least 35 years! I managed to find a couple of ads and an article about the building — it had started out as an arcade called the Alamo Fun Center and later became part of a car dealership — but I could  never find out who built it or why. I thought I’d come back to it in a year — so I could post it on Texas Independence Day — and see if I could find more, looking with fresh eyes. So I tackled it again today, and, glory be, I’ve just discovered that Rick Saigling wrote a piece for Plano Magazine last November titled “Remember the Alamo Fun Center” which answered all of my questions (and had photos of the building when it was new).

The Plano Alamo was built in 1982 by brothers-in-law Nathan White and Gene Cason and other investors as a “fun center” to house a Texas-themed arcade featuring video games, miniature golf, etc. While popular with Plano kids, the Alamo Fun Center was not a successful venture, and it shut its ornately carved doors after only a relatively short time in business. There you have it. Thank you, Rick. I now have closure.

The earliest (only?) mention I found of the “Fun Center” was the ad below, which appeared in The Wylie News a short time before its grand opening in the summer of 1982. The ad seems to indicate that the name of this “western theme park” is Lone Star Recreation Park and Alamo Fun Center (click to see a larger image).

alamo-fun-center_wylie-news_072982
The Wylie News, July 29, 1982

A few months after the Alamo Fun Center opened, Larry Lange Cadillac moved to its new location on the adjacent property. I’m not sure exactly when it closed, but the Plano Alamo was taken by the advancing forces of Larry Lange Cadillac in 1983 or 1984. For whatever reason, the building remained (what Texan is going to demolish the Alamo?) and was incorporated into the Larry Lange business plan.

alamo-plano_dmn_062683-larry-lange-ad-det
June, 1983

In May, 1984, the ad below announced the grand opening of the Larry Lange Adventure Center — the Alamo had been emptied of its batting cages and pizza ovens and had been transformed into an “Indoor Van Showroom Which is ‘As Large as Texas’!” (That doesn’t seem to have lasted very long.)

alamo-plano_dmn_051284-ad
May, 1984

Two years later, in 1986 — the year of the Texas Sesquicentennial — The Plano Star Courier checked in with the then-current occupants of the hometown Alamo, Premier Auto Leasing, to see what it was like working in the Alamo. In Plano. An employee made the impossible-to-believe statement that very few people ever actually commented on the fact that they were leasing their vehicle from a company that occupied a building shaped like the Alamo.

alamo-plano_plano-star-courier_072286
Plano Star Courier, July 22, 1986

In 1999, Diane Jennings of The Dallas Morning News wrote a story on “mock Alamos” around the state. She checked in on the Plano location, then owned by Crest Cadillac, and found it was being used as a warehouse. The general manager, Michael Coston, was not a fan of the building for several reasons, not least of which was the replica’s design.

As a native Texan and history buff, he worries that the inaccurate construction may “deface the fame of the how-many-ever we say gave their lives there.” He is particularly irritated by the parapet, the rounded hump over the door, which most people associate with the Alamo facade, but which was actually added by the U.S. Army decades after the battle. (DMN, Feb. 28, 1999)

Today Crest Cadillac appears to have forsaken Plano for Frisco, but the property is still in the Crest auto family — it’s now occupied by Crest Volvo. But what of The Alamo? It’s now the home of Crest Collision, a body shop.

So there you  have it, the story of Plano’s Alamo.

Instead of rushing out to get a Mirabeau B. Lamar tattoo to show my Texan-ness in these waning hours of Texas Independence Day, I’ve decided instead to post a few photos of the real Alamo, which, strangely enough, was also a neighbor to a car dealership, the Clifton George Ford Motor Co. Remember the Model-T!

alamo_clifton-george-ford_san-antoniovia Texas Transportation Museum

alamo_clilfton-george-ford_e-o-goldbeck_ransom-center_ca-1918via Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas

alamo_herpel-gillespie-ford
via Texas Transportation Museum

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Sources & Notes

Top ad from May, 1984.

Second-from-last photo by an unidentified photographer, circa 1918, from the  E. O. (Eugene Omar) Goldbeck Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin; more information and a larger image may be found here.

Rick Saigling’s Plano Magazine article “Remember the Alamo Fun Center” (November 21, 2016) is here. It includes several photos of the Alamo Fun Center in 1982/83 and interviews with a former owner and employee. See a (large!) close-up of the unexpectedly ornate stone façade of the Plano Alamo here. (If you’re interested in Plano history, Rick’s also written a nice nostalgic piece, “I Remember When Plano Was a Sleepy Town,” here.)

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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