Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Advertisements

Eula Wolcott’s Baker Hotel Book Shop & Rental Library, 1926-1942

baker-hotel-book-shop_1934Eula Wolcott: bookseller, librarian (Publishers Weekly, 1934)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, Dick Bosse, owner of the Aldredge Book Store. I always try to post something bookstore-related on his birthday. This year: Miss Eula Wolcott’s Baker Hotel Book Shop & Rental Library, located inside the Baker Hotel.

Eula Wolcott (1881-1962) was born in Waxahachie and had moved to Dallas by 1910. She appears to have had theatrical ambitions and studied voice and expression (she was billed as an “Experienced Concert Reader and Story Teller”). She opened a little book store and library in the early 1920s — the Booklovers Shop and Library was first on West Jefferson and later on Swiss Avenue. In 1926, she opened a similar shop inside the glamorous Baker Hotel, an enterprise she ran successfully until at least 1942 when another owner took over (she also apparently had a book shop inside the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells). In 1931 she opened the rather confusingly-named “Baker Hotel Book Shop and Rental Library” in Highland Park — in the new “Spanish Village” (the original name for Highland Park Village). Below is a very enthusiastic profile from Publishers Weekly (click to see a larger image).

baker-hotel-book-shop_publishers-weekly_032434_eula-wolcott_textPublishers Weekly, March 24, 1934

I wish the photo at the top had been better, because I’d love to get a good look at the decor. And Eula. I managed to find a photo of her.

wolcott-eula_ancestryEula Wolcott, via Ancestry.com

Here are a few ads:

booklovers_0420241924

baker-hotel_book-shop_DMN_oct-24-1926Two shops, one owner — 1926

baker-hotel_book-shop_1009271927

baker-hotel-book-shop_19371937

baker-hotel_book-shop_DMN_oct-25-19401940

She was active as a bookseller for many years and was also a familiar voice to radio listeners who tuned in to hear her book reviews on WFAA. 

One interesting piece of trivia about Eula’s hotel bookshop, shared with me by a former bookstore client of mine: the Baker Hotel Book Shop was the very first American bookstore that British author H. G. Wells ever visited. A lecture tour brought him to Dallas in 1940 — like many of the celebs of the day, he stayed at the Baker. I’m sure Eula was very happy to have Mr. Wells, a literary powerhouse, in her shop. Let’s hope he exhibited proper bookstore etiquette and purchased something!

baker-hotel_mural-room_dallas-directory_1942Baker Hotel, circa 1940

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo and article from the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, March 24, 1934.

Read more Flashback Dallas articles on the Dallas bookstore scene here.

baker-hotel-book-shop_1934_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

3635 Beverly Drive, The Residence of Architect Anton F. Korn — 1926

international-casement_ad_anton-korn_1926-detAnton Korn’s Highland Park home, 1926

by Paula Bosse

The image above appeared in a 1926 ad in The House Beautiful. The ad was for metal casement windows with leaded glass, manufactured by International Casement Co. Such a beautiful house! The only clue as to where this house might have been located is in information in the inset which reads, “Res. Dallas, Texas — Anton F. Korn, Architect.” Korn was a well-known architect in Dallas, and I had seen several mentions of him on Douglas Newby’s Architecturally Significant Homes site — I went there, looked up Anton Korn (1886-1942), and found this page, which shows several of the houses he designed. I scrolled down until I found one that looked like the house in the photo. I think it is the home Korn designed at 3635 Beverly Drive in Highland Park (southwest corner of Beverly and Drexel). The image on Google Maps (here) has trees obscuring the chimney, but it looks like the same house. According to Newby, the house was designed in 1924. And according to the city directory, Korn apparently designed the house for himself, and he lived there for several years. Newby notes that the oak timbers were re-planed from the grand Oriental Hotel (southeast corner of Commerce and Akard).

Here’s the ad that photo came from:

international-casement_ad_anton-korn_1926

I love this house! Let’s hope it continues to stand another (almost) 100 years!

***

Sources & Notes

Ad currently for sale on eBay.

international-casement_ad_anton-korn_1926-det_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Valentine’s Day Wishes from Dallas Railway — 1949

valentiines-day_dallas-railway_dallas-mag_feb-1949

by Paula Bosse

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dallas:

You ride with us the long year through,

You smile through rain or shine,

That is why we’re picking you

To be our Valentine!

Love and kisses, Dallas Railway & Terminal Company

***

Sources & Notes

Ad is from the February 1949 issue of Dallas magazine.

valentiines-day_dallas-railway_dallas-mag_feb-1949_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“No Mice, No Flies, No Caffeine, No Cocaine” — 1911

ad_dr-pepper_dmn_031911“Come and see.”

by Paula Bosse

Dallas did not become the official home of Dr Pepper until the summer of 1923, when Dallas banker S. W. Sibley acquired the bankrupt Circle-A Corporation (a Waco manufacturer of soft drinks, including Dr Pepper) for $264,500 — this bought him formulas, trademarks, and the company’s three plants (in Waco, St. Louis, and Dallas). The headquarters was promptly moved to Dallas. 

But 12 years earlier, the ad above — from the March 19, 1911 edition of The Dallas Morning News — caught my eye. Here’s the text: 

DRINK DR. PEPPER
FREE FROM CAFFEINE AND COCAINE
BUMBLEBEES, FLIES, MICE, etc.

See Waco Times-Herald, March 17, for Report of Governance Trial of Caffeine Beverages, now going on at Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Home of Dr. Pepper is the Most Sanitary Factory in America. We Invite Inspection by City, State or National Inspectors, or the General Public.

No Mice — No Flies — No Caffeine — No Cocaine.

Come and see.

DR. PEPPER CO.
Waco, U.S.A.

Yes, at the time U.S. food manufacturers — in response to the Pure Food and Drug Act — went out of their way to tout their products as being “pure” and their super-sanitary factories as being so sparklingly clean you could eat off the floor without fear of contamination… but having the words “no mice, no flies” in an advertisement seems to be going an extra mile that didn’t need to be taken. This ad was in response to a newsworthy trial which had just begun in Chattanooga in which the United States was suing the Coca Cola company for what they felt was deceptive labeling and its use of possibly “injurious” amounts of caffeine, etc. (Coke won.) The trial was something of a sensation, and I’m sure DP was all about nipping any collateral damage in the bud before anyone started wondering about their product, “the pure food beverage”:

dr-pepper_dmn_070911_adDallas Morning News, July 9, 1911

dr-pepper_FWST_032611_adFort Worth Star-Telegram, March 26, 1911

“Free from Caffeine and Cocaine — and always has been.” (No mention of always having been free of vermin and insects….)

dr-pepper_el-paso-herald_063011_adEl Paso Herald, June 30, 1911

dr-pepper_new-logo_logos-dot-world-dot-net1911, new logo

No bumblebees here, bud. Nothing to see. Move along.

***

Sources & Notes

Sources of ads noted above.

Dr Pepper logo (which was used from 1911 to 1934) found here.

Read about the trial — which was officially “The United States vs. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca Cola” — in a Time magazine article here

More Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas’ favorite fizzy hometown concoction can be found here.

ad_dr-pepper_dmn_031911_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Entertainment Awards — 1961

dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_cover_SMUAnd the winner is…

by Paula Bosse

Here’s an interesting piece of Dallas entertainment history: a program for the 1961 Dallas Entertainment Awards, held in the Century Room, the swanky nightclub in the Adolphus Hotel. The awards were nicknamed “the Billy award,” or “the Billys.” Dresscode: “semi-formal.” Here are a few highlights.

*

BEST RADIO PERSONALITY

Nominees are: Nick Ramsey (KVIL), Ted Cassidy (“Profile of an Orchestra,” WFAA), Meg Healy (KIXL), Hugh Lampman (“Music ’til Dawn,” KRLD — the previous year’s winner), Irving Harrigan & Tom Murphy (“Murphy and Harrigan Show,” KLIF), Jim Lowe (WRR), and Chem Terry (KRLD). 

So – Ted Cassidy? Yes, that is the same Ted Cassidy who later played “Lurch” on TV in The Addams Family (he also played “Thing”). He worked for WFAA radio for a few years and is a trivia answer in JFK-related quizzes regarding Dallas media coverage of the assassination.

cassidy-ted_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

BEST MALE VOCALIST

Nominees are: Mark Carroll, Marty Ross, Earl Humphreys (the previous year’s winner), Skip Fletcher, Charlie Applewhite, Ron Shipman, and Trini Lopez.

Skip Fletcher? Yes, a member of those Fletchers. When he wasn’t frying up corny dogs he did a little singing, and even released at least one 45.

fletcher-skip_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

R. J. O’DONNELL MEMORIAL AWARD FOR SHOWMAN OF THE YEAR

Nominees are: Tom Hughes, Paul Baker, Raiberto Comini, Lanham Deal, Norma Young, Pearl Chappell, and Lawrence Kelly. (The previous year’s winner was Charles R. Meeker Jr.) A few names there which should be familiar to aficionados of Dallas live theater.

hughes-tom_paul-baker_raiberto-comini_lanham-deal_norma-young_charles-meeker_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

Producers of the event were Breck Wall and Joe Peterson, creators of the naughty “Bottoms Up” revue, which is probably still running somewhere. Some biographical information on the pair (click for larger image):

wall-breck_joe-peterson_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

Master of Ceremonies was Tony Zoppi, who wrote a column about the local nightclub scene for The Dallas Morning News. Whenever I read his old columns, I think that he must have had the BEST job in town — writing about the Dallas nightlife scene when it was at its sophisticated and sometimes seedy Mad Men-era apex.

zoppi-tony_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

And — a bit of a change of pace — a little bio of real estate titan Leo Corrigan, who owned the Adolphus, where the show was being held — he was, unsurprisingly, receiving an “Appreciation Award.”

corrigan-leo_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

*

And a couple of drawings of Dallas entertainment notables: Pappy Dolson, owner of Pappy’s Showland and legendary agent of strippers, and Joe Reichman, the leader of the Century Room orchestra who was billed as “the Pagliacci of the piano.”

pappy_pappys_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU

reichman-joe_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU

*

A few interesting ads include a little “howdy” from Jack Ruby (who was well known to several of the people mentioned above, some of whom testified to the Warren Commission about their relationships with him). 

ruby-jack_new-carousel_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU

An ad for Villa Fontana, a gay club, formerly known as Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (The Bull on the Roof), then managed by Bob Strange. Gay clubs were illegal at the time, so you didn’t see a lot of ads for them. (I wrote an article for Central Track about some of the gay clubs in Dallas in the early ’70s — with photos — here.)

villa-fontana_gay-cllub_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU

And, the 24-hour greasy spoon known to generations of Dallasites, Oak Lawn’s Lucas B & B.

lucas-b-and-b_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_bw

Here’s the photo enlarged. Unless something earth-shattering has happened that I don’t know about, that great sign is still standing on Oak Lawn near Lemmon, long after the restaurant closed.

lucas-b-and-b_dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_SMU_det

*

See the rest of the 44-page program — lots more photos, lots more nominees — in a PDF from the DeGolyer Library at SMU, here.

***

Sources & Notes

All images are from “Dallas Entertainment Awards — 1961,” from the Diane Wisdom Papers, Archives of Women of the Southwest, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries; more information and a link to the fully-scanned program is here.

dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_cover_SMU_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bob Lilly, Chap Stick User — 1968

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_2

by Paula Bosse

Must’ve been the Moistutane®.

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_1_ebay

***

Sources & Notes

Ads found on eBay.

cowboys_bob-lilly_chapstick_1968-ad_2_det

*

Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Pleasant Grove Business Ads: 1959-1969 (Pt. 2)

spruce-high-school_1965-yrbk_jerrys-food-mart_lake-june-rdJerry’s Food Mart, 6416 Lake June Rd., 1964-ish

by Paula Bosse

This final installment of 1960s ads for Pleasant Grove businesses has even more more ads from the yearbooks of H. Grady Spruce High School and W. W. Samuell High School (a link to the previous posts is at the bottom of this page). (Click ads to see larger images.)

BAXLEY CLEANERS, 8117 Scyene — Murrill L. Baxley owner. This very cute little building still stands!

samuell-high-school_1960-yrbk_baxley-cleaners1960

PLEASANT GROVE CLEANERS, 8011 Lake June Road.

samuell-high-school_1960-yrbk_pleasant-grove-cleaners1960

THOMAS COIN-OPERATED SPEED QUEEN LAUNDRY, 11001 Seagoville Road. (Laundromats once offered the use of hair dryers?)

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_thomas-laundromat1966

CAMPUS BARBER SHOP, 9614 Old Seagoville Road. (1966: owner Ike Robertson pictured with Jack Kelley and “Red.” 1968: owner Keith Gibson.)

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_campus-barber-shop1966

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_campus-barber-shop1968

NATALIE SCHOOL OF DANCE, 231 Pleasant Grove Center — Natalie Skelton owner. 

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_natalie-school-of-dance1966

SOUTHEAST YMCA, 2818 Prichard Lane. Still standing but now a church, I believe.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_ymca1964

PLEASANT OAKS BAPTIST CHURCH, 412 North Masters Drive. Still standing in what looks to be a remodeled building. 

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_pleasant-oaks-baptist-church1967

MACON-HOLCOMB FUNERAL HOME, 8142 Lake June Road. Still standing (as a different funeral home).

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_macon-holcomb-funeral-home1959

DUDLEY M. HUGHES FUNERAL HOME, 2615 S. Buckner Blvd. Still standing (as a different funeral home).

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_dudley-m-hughes-funeral-home1967

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_dudley-m-hughes-funeral-home1968

GROVE STATE BANK, 1520 S. Buckner Blvd. I’m kind of shocked to see that this once-cool mid-century building is actually still standing — as a Bank of America branch. Its exterior has been smoothed of most of its character, but the original building is still there.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_grove-state-bank1964

TRINITY SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION, 1838 S. Buckner Blvd. I think this original building is also still standing — now as a Chase Bank branch. 

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_trinity-savings-and-loan1966

JERRY’S FOOD MART, 6416 Lake June Road and 10420 Second Ave. in Rylie — Jerry Smith owner.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_jerrys1964

JERRY’S FOOD MART, 1328 Jim Miller Road.

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_jerrys-food-mart1966

BEST FOR LESS FOOD MART, 1042 Second Ave. — E.R. Smith owner. “Where Ma saves Pa’s money.”

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_best-for-less-food-mart1966

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_best-for-less1968

BARNARD’S DRIVE-IN GROCERY, 136 N. Masters — O. L. (Leon) Barnard and Thelma Barnard owners. I love this couple!

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_barnards1968

N. D. WHITTLE & SON POULTRY FARM, 2660 Dowdy Ferry Road. I’m happy to see this is an ongoing (and expanded) business!

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_whittle-and-son-poultry-farm1967

***

Sources & Notes

All ads are from the high school yearbooks of H. Grady Spruce and W. W. Samuell.

Other Pleasant Grove posts from Flashback Dallas can be found here.

spruce-high-school_1965-yrbk_jerrys-food-mart_sm

*

Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Pleasant Grove Business Ads: 1959-1969 (Pt. 1)

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_pauls-florist_photo
South Buckner Blvd. doesn’t really look like this anymore…

by Paula Bosse

I love the ads in high school yearbooks, so here are a bunch of Pleasant Grove-area business ads from the pages of the Spruce and Samuell annuals. Click to see larger images. First up, all sorts of automotive-related establishments.

GROVE AUTO SUPPLY, 7930 Lake June Rd.

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_grove-auto-supply1968

KARSMITH, 7512 Second Ave. & Elam Rd., and 1952 S. Buckner Blvd. — Charles Smith and Wesley T. Smith, owners. “If you can’t stop, wave.”

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_karsmith1967

spruce-high-school_1969-yrbk_karsmith1969

STOVALL’S CYCLE SHOP, 8152 Second Ave.

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_stovalls-cycle-shop1967

HOLLEMAN ENCO SERVICE STATION, 300 S. St. Augustine.

spruce-high-school_1965-yrbk_holleman-enco1965

BARRETT MOTORS, 1514 S. Buckner — Big Billy Barrett, owner.

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_barrett-motor-co1959

HONDA SALES, 405 S. Buckner — Jack Poe, owner.

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_honda1968

TUCKER & SONS SHELL SERVICE STATION, 9606 Second Ave. “S&H Green Stamps… Hot coffee….”

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_tucker-and-sons-shell-station1967

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_tucker-and-sons-shell-station1968

*

Next, various retail shops.

PAUL’S FLORIST & GREENHOUSE, 2017 S. Buckner — later at 8121 Bruton Rd. — Tommy Ochoa and Jean Ochoa, owners. If it’s a business in a little house-like building with metal or cloth awnings, I’m a fan.

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_pauls-florist1959

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_pauls-florist1967

spruce-high-school_1969-yrbk_pauls-florist1969

SKILLERN’S DRUG STORE, 1437 S. Buckner (Store No. 31).

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_skillerns_photo

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_skillerns_full1968

TURNER’S MENS & BOYS CLOTHING, 1317 S. Buckner.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_turners1964

McKEE JEWELERS, 259 Pleasant Grove Shopping Center. This couple had yearbook ads every year — and they always looked pretty much the same. Which I’m fine with.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_mckee-jewelers1964

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_mckee-jewelers1966

VAN VOAST SPORTING GOODS, 8208 Scyene Rd.

samuell-high-school_1960-yrbk_van-voast1960

RYLIE DRUG, Barker’s Shopping Center.

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_rylie-drug1966

BRAGG GUN SHOP, 1344 S. Buckner — D. E. Bragg, owner.

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_bragg-gun-shop1968

BUCK’S TV & RECORD SHOP, 1311 S. Buckner and 10910 Garland Rd. (and later 1927 S. Buckner) — Jimmy Huett, owner.

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_bucks-tv-and-record-shop1959

*

And the always-popular “miscellaneous.”

BUCKNER BOWLING CENTER, 400 S. Buckner.

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_buckner-bowling-ctr1966

WEST-CRAFT, 1926 S. St. Augustine.

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_west-craft1964

ECONOMY MANUFACTURING CO., 5641 Military Parkway.

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_economy-manufacturing-co1966

THE SUBURBAN TRIBUNE, 8114 Lake June Rd. I will always love line drawings of the mid-century Dallas skyline.

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_suburban-tribune_dallas-skyline1966

*

Part 2 coming soon….

***

Sources & Notes

All ads are from the yearbooks of H. Grady Spruce High School and W. W. Samuell High School.

Other Flashback Dallas posts heavy on the Pleasant Grove can be found here.

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_pauls-florist_photo_sm

*

Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Pleasant Grove Eat Spots, including El Charo and the Vel-Mar — 1950s & 1960s

vel-mar_samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_detVel-Mar, 8516 Lake June Rd., 1959

by Paula Bosse

Here are a whole bunch of ads for Pleasant Grove dining establishments, most with photos, thanks to the intrepid advertising staff of the yearbooks of H. Grady Spruce High School and W. W. Samuell High School. (Most ads are larger when clicked.)

You gotta start with Dairy Queen. I’m not sure how many DQs were in the Pleasant Grove area, but here are a couple.

Benson Dairy Queen, 1238 S. Buckner Blvd.

samuell-high-school_1958-yrbk_benson-dairy-queen1958

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_dairy-queen1966

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_dairy-queen_buckner-and-lake-june_full1967

*

Wicker’s Dairy Queen, 7636 South Loop 12.

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_wickers-dairy-queen_full1967

*

Gene’s Hitching Post, 223 Pleasant Grove Center. “Good barbecue is no accident.”

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_genes-hitching-post-bbq1964

*

Piedmont Drive-In & Steak House, 6855 Scyene Rd.

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_piedmont-drive-in1959

*

Underwood’s Bar-B-Q, 7828 Lake June Rd. Odell Chism, manager.

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_underwoods-bbq1967

*

A & W, 623 S. Buckner.

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_a-and-w1967

*

Apache Drive-In, 316 South St. Augustine. “Around the Bend to the Apache Den.” (The Spruce High School mascot was the Apache.)

spruce-high-school_1967-yrbk_apache-drive-in1967

spruce-high-school_1968-yrbk_apache-drive-in1968

*

El Charo, 263 Pleasant Grove Shopping Center. The owner of this Mexican restaurant in the first ad (from 1958) is Mona Parish, whose husband Carl “Jake” Parish had died the previous year. From 1959, the owner was Marion Martinez, whose son, Mariano, went on to great acclaim with his own restaurant where he invented the frozen margarita (based on his father’s margarita recipe). The younger Martinez almost certainly worked at this Pleasant Grove restaurant.

samuell-high-school_1958-yrbk_el-charo1958

el-charo_samuell-high-school-yrbk_19591959

samuell-high-school_1962-yrbk_el-charo1962

spruce-high-school_1964-yrbk_el-charo_pleasant-grove1964

el-charo_plano-star-courier_nov-1962Plano Star-Courier, Nov. 1, 1962

*

I have to admit, I’d never heard of the Vel-Mar drive-in, located at 8516 Lake June Rd., but I understand it was something of a Pleasant Grove fixture during the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and into the ’80s. According to a newspaper article which chronicled the history of the Vel-Mar and its then-recent sale by Robert Schweder to James and Sharon Harris (“Drive-In Shrine Alive and Well” by Steve Blow, Dallas Morning News, June 15, 1980), the small chain of root-beer-stand drive-ins was founded by three couples — including a Velma and a Marie (the third, Thelma, wasn’t lucky enough to get her name into the business name). Eventually, the Pleasant Grove location was the last remaining Vel-Mar.

Vel-Mar tidbits:

  • It always closed for the winter, from October to March.
  • Other than its root beer, it was known for its “Dixie Burger” which was a loose-meat sandwich.
  • It was a Pleasant Grove high school hangout, and it had special drinks for students of Spruce and Samuell: a blue and red drink was called “The Sprucette” (also “Spruce Juice”), and a blue drink was called “The Spartini” (for the Samuell Spartans). 

samuell-high-school_1957-yrbk_vel-mar1957

samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_vel-mar1959

samuell-high-school_1960-yrbk_vel-mar1960

spruce-high-school_1966-yrbk_vel-mar_drive-in1966

***

Sources & Notes

All ads from the yearbooks of H. Grady Spruce High School and W. W. Samuell High School (unless otherwise noted).

More on Pleasant Grove can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Life in The Grove: Pleasant Grove — 1954-1956,” with material gleaned from Pleasant Grove High School yearbooks.

vel-mar_samuell-high-school_1959-yrbk_det_sm

*

Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Snider Plaza & The Varsity Theater — 1920s

varsity-theater_1929_galloway_1600The Varsity Theater, Snider Plaza, 1929

by Paula Bosse

Snider Plaza, the University Park shopping center near the SMU campus, was formally opened on June 2, 1927 when its centerpiece fountain was switched on as a crowd of thousands watched. The buildings weren’t completed yet, but it was a sure sign to everyone that a large project was underway in an area of town which was not yet fully developed.

It was announced in December, 1926 that a 30-acre tract at the northwest corner of Hillcrest and Daniel had been purchased by Wichita Falls businessman Charles W. Snider (he had recently funded Snider Hall, the women’s dormitory at SMU) and University Park mayor J. Fred Smith from Miss Fannie B. Daniel, whose family had owned the land since 1851. The purchase price was $82,500 (which would be the equivalent of about $1.25 million in today’s money) (…let that sink in for a moment…). Snider Plaza, along with SMU, was both the heart of University Park and an impetus for real estate development around it.

Here’s an ad from October, 1927 from the University Park Development Co. (click to see larger images) — lots were going for $1,890 ($30.000 today):

university-park-develpment-co_ad_100927_a

university-park-develpment-co_ad_100927_bOct., 1929 — Hurry!

*

Below are a couple of VERY early photos of Snider Plaza.

First off, the fountain. It was illuminated at night with rotating colored lights. The view is to the northwest.

snider-plaza-fountain_1927_galloway_dpl_1200

And that was about it. A fountain, paved streets and sidewalks, and lots of streetlights. In the photo below you can see the fountain in the distance. And the office of Ralph Porter, the man who was the driving force behind Snider Plaza (see his photo in the ad above). There is still a Ralph Porter Co. real estate business — and, appropriately, it’s still located in Snider Plaza.

snider-plaza_galloway_dpl_1200

*

The Varsity Theater wasn’t built until 1929, even though a movie theater was always in the plans. I’m not sure what happened, but in 1928 it was announced that a new theater was going to be built as part of a 7-story building. The theater and retail shops were to occupy the first floor, offices would occupy the second floor, and furnished apartments would fill the top five floors (there would also be a parking garage in the basement). That’s all so weird to imagine. First off, apartments?! Secondly, that would have been the tallest building in the Park Cities! Buildings weren’t that tall in most of “suburban” Dallas in the 1920s. Also, the architecture is pretty bland, and very unlike the rest of the shopping area.

snider-plaza_varsity-apartments_1928Architect’s conception, 1928

The stripped-down plans ended up doing away with the basement and everything but the ground floor for the theater and retail shops. And I’m so glad! I love the photo at the top, from 1929. What a beautiful, beautiful building! The architect of the building was Wyatt C. Hedrick of Fort Worth. The buildings of Snider Plaza were meant to be of uniform design. Like this. (If only they all still looked like that!) (Another photo I posted recently showing that uniform style is here.)

The Varsity opened on Oct. 3, 1929 with “In Old Arizona” (the first talkie to be filmed outdoors). It became the Fine Arts in January, 1957. A reader, Malcom Thomson — who was a very youthful theater manager during the early days of the FIne Arts (I think he was an SMU student at the time) — sent me the great photo below from February, 1960.

fine-arts-theater_snider-plaza_malcolm-thomson_feb-3-1960Feb. 3, 1960 (courtesy Malcolm Thomson)

At some point — it’s so incredibly hard to believe that it seems like an urban legend — the Fine Arts Theater became an “adult” theater. Yes, Virginia, X-rated movies were screened regularly in the Park Cities. Oh dear.

*

The theater is long-gone, as is almost all of Snider Plaza’s original “look.” But it’s still a cool, quirky place, and it’s always interesting to explore (never quite as interesting as M. E. Moses was to me as a child, but so few places are). And as long as Kuby’s is still around to fulfill my Reuben and warm-potato-salad needs, I’m pretty happy.

*

A couple of quirky tidbits about the very early years:

  • SMU students were responsible in large part for operating the theater, because, of course, it offered them the opportunity to “obtain practical experience in show business.”
  • Also, the streets of the plaza were cleaned by “an automatic street-washing machine.” I’m not sure what that would have entailed, but I would guess that SMU students were glad to be let off the street-cleaning life-experience hook on that one.

And, on a personal note, several decades later, my father owned the very short-lived Plaza Book Store, which was located in the retail space just to the right of the theater (where, just a few short years earlier, he had worked as an usher — i.e. “obtained practical experience in show business” — while attending SMU).

***

Sources & Notes

The two photos of Snider Plaza from 1927 and the top photo of the Varsity Theater from 1929 were found in the absolutely fantastic book The Park Cities: A Photohistory by Diane Galloway. The first two are from the collection of the Dallas Public Library. Ms. Galloway’s credit for the photo of the theater reads, “Photo by Frank Rogers/Courtesy of Jerrry Washam/Ralph Porter Company.” I believe all three photos are by Frank Rogers.

1960 photo of the Fine Arts Theater is used courtesy of Malcolm J. Thomson (thanks, Malcolm!).

varsity-theater_1929_galloway_sm

*

Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: