Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Modern Ads

McKinney & Haskell, Circle “T” Frozen Foods, and VWs in Dallas

mckinney-and-haskell_NDHS_ebayFender-bender in front of NDHS… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Odd stuff shows up on eBay. This photo shows a damaged Circle T Brand frozen-food Volkswagen delivery van at the intersection of McKinney Avenue and North Haskell (with North Dallas High School making a partial cameo in the background). The view today? See it here.

Circle T was one of the many brainchilds of the Southland Corp.’s Thompson family: it manufactured and distributed frozen foods (initially meats and Mexican food) which were sold in the company’s 7-Eleven stores. The company began in 1954 and was located just a couple of blocks from this photo, at Haskell and Central. (In 1954 they announced one of their first specialty products: frozen queso. I’ve never even considered that frozen queso would exist, but 60-some-odd years ago it was flying off shelves at the neighborhood 7-Eleven.)

The Southland Corp. sold off Circle T in 1966.

Below, an ad for Circle T’s frozen steaks, from 1954 (click ad to see larger image).

cicle-t_FWST_062054June, 1954

circle-t-logo_1954

And because I’m nothing if not pedantic, here’s an ad for VW trucks and vans, from 1961 (which appears to be the date on the van’s license plate in the photo):

volkswagen_ad_fen-1961Feb., 1961

And speaking of Volkswagens, the first Dallas car dealer to import Volkswagens appears to be Clarence Talley — the first ads are from 1954. While I was searching for the link to the eBay listing of the above photo (which I could not find…), I serendipitously stumbled across this 1950s photo of Clarence Talley on N. Pearl, with appearances by the Medical Arts Building and the Republic Bank Building. Thank you, eBay.

talley-volkswagen_ebay

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Sources & Notes

Photos from eBay: could not find the link to the first one, but the second one sold a couple of months ago, and the archived listing is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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Main Street Looking East — 1920s

main-street_east_ca-1925_erik-swansonEast from the 1200 block of Main (photo courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

This great photo (sent in by reader Erik Swanson) shows Main Street around 1925. The white building seen in the lower right is Hurst Bros., a men’s clothing shop, which was at the southeast corner of Main and Field (1300-1304 Main). It was a little confusing to me at first because it looks like there is a street behind it (to the south), which would have been Commerce, but then the Magnolia Building and the Adolphus would all be out of place. But what appears to be a street was just a wide alleyway/passage (seen on the 1921 Sanborn map here — Main east of Akard can be seen on the Sanborn map here).

The very tall building is the Magnolia, at Commerce and Akard (it opened in 1922 — Pegasus wasn’t added until 1934); to the right, across Akard, is the Adolphus Hotel and the Adolphus Annex. The tall building to the left of the Magnolia is the Southwestern Life Building (southeast corner Main and Akard, demolished in 1972, now a small open plaza area). The 4-story building at the southwest corner of Main and Akard is the Andrews Building. The white building in the center is Hurst Bros. (southeast corner Main and Field), and across Main can be seen the sign for the men’s clothing shop Benson-Semans.

Hurst Bros. was gone by 1929 when it became Hoover-Lehman, another clothing store, and Benson-Semans appears to have vacated that space around 1926, helping to date the photo between 1922 and 1926.

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The Hurst brothers, Melvin K. Hurst and Edgar S. Hurst (along with their father, Alfred K. Hurst) began their men’s clothing business around 1912 and moved into the building seen in this photo in 1915 (it was renovated by prominent Dallas architect H. A. Overbeck, whose still-standing courts building and jail was built at about the same time). The business was dissolved in 1929, and its stock, fixtures, and lease were acquired by a longtime employee who, with a partner, remodeled the store and reopened it as the Hoover-Lehman Co. (A present-day Google Street View of this southeast corner of Main and Field can be seen here.)

main-street_east_ca-1925_hurst-bros-det_erik-swansonDetail from top photo, ca. 1925 (click for larger image)

hurst-bros_dmn_112214_adAd from Nov., 1914

hurst-bros_1920sLate 1920s

hurst-bros_hoover-lehman_091329Sept., 1929

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Sources & Notes

Top photo sent in by Erik Swanson, used by permission. The photo may have been taken by his grandfather, F. V. Swanson, an optometrist (see the post “Thompson & Swanson: ‘The Oldest Exclusive Optical House in Dallas,” here). Thanks for the great photo, Erik!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thompson & Swanson: “The Oldest Exclusive Optical House In Dallas”

thompson-swanson_1914-ad_erik-swansonDon’t blink… (1914 ad, courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

Dr. Alfred F. Thompson (1862-1942) and Dr. Frank V. Swanson (1885-1949) opened their “manufacturing opticians” practice, Thompson & Swanson, in 1911. In addition to examining and treating patients, they also ground lenses and manufactured their own glasses, something which I gather was somewhat unusual in 1911 for such a small practice.

They first set up shop on Elm Street, and their ads — generally eyeball-themed — were always attention-grabbers: not only did they stare at you from newspaper pages, they also seemed to follow you around the room.

thompson-swanson_1911-ad1911 ad

They soon moved to the Sumpter Building, in late 1912 (ad at top), directly across from the brand new Praetorian Building. By February of 1916 they’d hit the big-time and were actually in the Praetorian Building, Dallas’ tallest building and its most impressive address. Not only were they in the building, they were at street-level, which guaranteed that practically everyone who spent time downtown was familiar with Thompson & Swanson, if only because they passed the Praetorian Building. The ad below, featuring the building, is fantastic, in a weird-fraternal-order kind of way. (The ad at the top is also kind of weird — you can practically hear the spooky theremin.) (Click ads to see larger images.)

thompson-swanson_1923-ad_erik-swanson1923 ad (courtesy Erik Swanson)

Thompson & Swanson’s business history:

thompson-and-swanson_erik-swanson(courtesy Erik Swanson)

Similar ad, but aimed at the Texas Centennial visitor. “Good glasses if you need them, good advice if you don’t.”

thompson-swanson_june-1936June, 1936

The successful partnership of Thompson and Swanson lasted into the early 1940s. After Dr. Thompson’s death in 1942, Dr. Swanson continued at the same address as “Swanson & Son,” a practice with his son, Dr. F. V. Swanson, Jr.

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Sources & Notes

The top ad, the ad with the Praetorian Building, and the “85 Years’ Experience in Optometry” ads were very kindly sent to me by Erik Swanson (grandson of Dr. Swanson); they are used with permission. I love old ads, especially ones that feature Dallas buildings. Regarding the location of his grandfather’s business in the Praetorian Building, Erik wrote: “Little did he know there would one day be a giant eyeball at the location where he had his optician shop.” Ha! Now when I see that giant eyeball I’ll think of Thompson & Swanson (and hear that spooky theremin).

I was doubly happy to exchange emails with Erik because I’ve been a fan of his Western Swing bands for many years. His current band is Shoot Low Sheriff (listen to them here), but I first became a fan when I heard his former band, Cowboys & Indians. Thanks for the ads, Erik!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Orphaned Factoids: Year-End Grab Bag, 2017

wigtons-sandwich-shop_flickr_colteraWith a name like “Wigton’s…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Time for another year-end collection of miscellaneous bits and pieces that don’t really belong anywhere, so I’m compiling them here in a weird collection of stuff. Enjoy! (Most clippings and photos are larger when clicked.)

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Above, Wigton’s Sandwich Shop, owned by Charles J. Wigton. It looks like it was located near the dreaded East Grand-Gaston-Garland Road intersection. I found one listing in the 1932 city directory for this little “soft drink stand” which also served as the residence of Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Wigton. (Found on Flickr.)

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colors_ad_dallas-herald_112580Dallas Herald, 1880

You know, you just don’t see colors like “scared mouse,” “subdued moonshine,” and “sunset in Egypt” anymore. Pity. (Ad for A. A. Pearson’s millinery house.)

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dancing_dallas-herald_1859Dallas Herald, 1859

“All those who are indebted to me for dancing lessons, MUST POSITIVELY SETTLE UP. I mean what I say.” Do not mess with dancemaster Howard. (I’m actually a little shocked someone was offering dancing lessons in Dallas, which, in 1859, was podunker than podunk.)

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ad-debonair-danceland_ca19691969 Dallas directory

This is the only photo I’ve been able to find of Debonair Danceland (what a great, great name for a club). Depending on whether you were a regular, the adjectives generally used to describe the legendary dancehall are either “notorious” or “beloved.” It opened in 1967 and closed in 1995. As Bill Minutaglio wrote in The Dallas Morning News, it was “one of Dallas’ last rough-hewn links to the brawny honky-tonk highway” (DMN, July 25, 1995). It certainly had a colorful life. For starters there was a “suspicious” double bombing that ripped the place apart in 1968 (I don’t know if the photo in the ad above shows the place pre- or post-blast). There was a lot of … um … “activity” that went on at Debonair Danceland over the years which kept police-beat reporters busy. It was also apparently quite popular with bored housewives who tippled away their afternoons. (See a not-very-clear-but-at-least-larger grainy image of the photo in the ad here.)

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ad-home-killed-beef_hillcrest-yrbk_19401940 Hillcrest High School yearbook

“Home-killed beef” is the best-killed beef.

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weiland-funeral_1930-directory1930 Dallas directory

weiland_19291929

weiland_lady-embalmer_19411941

The Chas. F. Weiland Undertaking Co. was one of the city’s top funeral homes. They really promoted the fact that they had a “licensed lady embalmer” — I suppose some people preferred to have their mothers and other dearly beloveds tended to by a woman.

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headcheese-poisoning_galveston-news_011994Galveston News, 1894

Beware the head cheese. …Always.

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vegetarian_dallas-herald_050274Dallas Herald, 1874

Maybe even go cold turkey and completely ditch the head cheese for a diet consisting solely of “a salad of herbs.”

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paper_houston-telegraph_121056Houston Telegraph, 1856

“The Dallas Herald is out of paper. It comes to us this week printed on wrapping paper. It is rather hard to read….”

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police_dallas-herald_dallas-herald_050980Dallas Herald, 1880

I’m sure there is an interesting and most likely embarrassing story behind the implementation of this new police regulation.

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kites-at-night_dallas-herald_072577Dallas Herald, 1877

This sounds wonderful.

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ad-robertson-horseshoer_1900-directory1900 Dallas directory

Go to the M. O. Robertson, the expert horseshoer who will not fail to give satisfaction. Because all those others? They’re gonna fail. Not “if” but “when.”

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ad-boedecker-bros_oysters-ice-cream_city-directory_18901890 Dallas directory

The sensation generated by seeing an ad with the words “oyster” and “ice cream” next to each other — cheek-by-jowl, as it were — is not a pleasant one.

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ad-hawaiian-music_bryan-street-high-school_1927-yrbk1927

Who knew? Ukulele-mania was alive and well in Big D in the ’20s.

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sanger-bros_first-fashion-illus-in-ads-1881_centennial-ad-det_19721972 ad (detail)

A little tidbit on the history of commercial fashion illustration in Dallas, from a Sanger’s ad celebrating the company’s Centennial.

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ad-sangers_high-schools_dmn_1008481948

Another Sanger’s ad. This one with a, let’s say “more populist” example of the store’s fashion-illustration chops.

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cat-wanted_dallas-herald_112387Dallas Herald, 1887

“WANTED—A good gentle well disposed cat to use in taking pictures. Apply to J. H. Webster, High Priced Photographer, 803 Elm or 804 Main streets.”

Okay, I’m a sucker. I love cats, and I love self-proclaimed “high-priced photographers.” Ergo, I must love this ad. I do. Seems like a good time to share a couple of 19th-century photographs of cats. 

cat_jones-coll_degolyer1860s, via SMU

cat_baby_degolyer1890s, via SMU

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Sources & Notes

Dallas Herald clippings are from the Texas Digital Newspaper collection provided by UNT to the Portal to Texas History; you can peruse many scanned issues of The Dallas Herald (not to be confused with the later Dallas Times Herald) here.

“Cat Posed with Mexican Serape” is a cased ambrotype from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more details on this photo can be found here. The article “Everyone Loves the Cat!” can be read on the SMU CUL blog “Off the Shelf,” here.

“Baby Seated with Cat” is also from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU; more info on the photo is here.

Want more? See other “Orphaned Factoid” lists here.

Most images are larger when clicked. Click away!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From El Chico and the Cuellar Family: Feliz Navidad!

xmas_el-chico_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU

by Paula Bosse

…y Prospero Año Nuevo!

xmas_el-chico_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU_2

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Sources & Notes

Images from a matchbook cover in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more on the item can be found on the SMU site here.

A couple of super-folksy El Chico commercials can be watched here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Highland Park Village From Above

h-p-village_HPHS_1966_ad-detPlenty of parking, above & below ground… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This bird’s-eye view of Highland Park Village is from an ad placed in the Highland Park High School yearbook by Flippen-Prather, who really wanted to stress how there was NO PARKING PROBLEM at this convenient “North Dallas” location, above ground and below ground. Don’t worry, Flippen-Prather had you covered.

h-p-village_HPHS_1966_text1966 ad

Fifty years on from this ad, Highland Park Village is physically still recognizable, just expanded. The tenants, however, are now much more chi-chi.

hp-village_google-2017Google, 2017

I’m not sure when the top photo was taken, but it appeared in the 1966 Highland Park High School yearbook. Here are the tenants of Highland Park Village in 1966 (click to see a larger image).

hp-village_1966-directory

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Sources & Notes

Ad for Highland Park Village/Flippen-Prather Stores, Inc. appeared in the 1966 Highland Park High School yearbook.

Color image from Google.

Listing of Highland Park Village businesses is from Polk’s Greater Dallas City Directory, 1966.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Mr. Wiggly Worm Does Much More Than Wiggle”

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_112061-det

by Paula Bosse

My first crush was on Mr. Peppermint, and I really, really, really loved Mr. Wiggly Worm.

This is a rather unfortunate depiction of my childhood TV pal, but how can you not love a smiling wiggly worm with a mailbox?

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_112061_mr-wiggly-worm_det

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_021163_text

WFAA understood the appeal of Mr. W. W. They even built a whole broadcasting-trade-magazine ad around him. (Click to see it larger.)

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_021163Sponsor, Feb. 11, 1963

Here he is again:

mr-peppermint_sponsor-mag_112061
Sponsor, Nov. 20, 1961

Mr. W. W. stayed at home for this one, but here we see Mr. Peppermint out mingling with his adoring public.

mr-peppermint_broadcasting-mag_061063
Broadcasting, June 10, 1963

And, look, “Communications Center” — bet you haven’t heard that in a while!

communications-center_sponsor-mag_112061_det1961

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Sources & Notes

These Mr. Peppermint advertisements were part of a series of WFAA-Channel 8 ads which ran for several years in television trade magazines.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Highland Park High School: Ads from the 1966 Yearbook

ad_HPHS_1966_goffs“Senior Cools” at Goff’s… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday I posted photos from the 1966 Highland Park High School Highlander yearbook — today I’m posting a lot of ads from the same yearbook, many of which include students posing at the businesses. Most of the ads are larger if you click them.

Above, Goff’s. My mother refused to patronize this establishment as the owner once said something disparaging about my shaggy-haired 10-year-old brother (Mr. Goff really didn’t like long hair on boys and men), so I’m one of the few native-born Dallasites who never had a Goff’s hamburger.

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On the other hand, I enjoyed a lot of Ashburn’s Ice Cream as a kid — the locations on Knox and on Skillman. I can’t remember ever getting anything other than Butter Pecan.

ad_HPHS_1966_ashburns-ice-cream

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Whittle Music Company. (I wrote about Whittle’s previously, here.)

ad_HPHS_1966_whittle-music-co

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Hillcrest State Bank, designed by architect George Dahl.

ad_HPHS_1966_hillcrest-state-bank

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M. E. Moses, Snider Plaza. I didn’t grow up in the Park Cities, but my parents both went to SMU and my mother worked in University Park for several years, so I spent a lot of time as a kid wandering around HP Village and Snider Plaza as a kid. And what kid didn’t  love a dime store? I can remember where everything was at that Moses. The memory of that ramp between what I always thought of the “sunny side” of the store and the cave-like dark side of the store is a weird, fond memory. (For some reason I never imagined there was actually a person named “M. E. Moses.”)

ad_HPHS_1966_moses

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Cooter’s Village Camera Shop.

ad_HPHS_1966_cooters

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Cerf’s.

ad_HPHS_1966_cerfs

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Preston State Bank. I know that PSB was very early entering the credit card market — I remember my parents had a Presto-Charge card — but I’d never heard of this “Presteen” checking account geared to teenagers.

ad_HPHS_1966_preston-state-bank

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Mr. Drue’s Beauty Salon — “We Specialize in Teen-Age Hair Styling.”

ad_HPHS_1966_mr-drue

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Dr Pepper.

ad_HPHS_1966_dr-pepper

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Bob Fenn Apparel for Men and Boys.

ad_HPHS_1966_bob-fenn

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Young Ages.

ad_HPHS_1966_young-ages

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Lou Lattimore.

ad_HPHS_1966_lou-lattimore

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Roscoe White’s Corral, Easy Way Grill, and Westerner. (My family’s favorite neighborhood restaurant was the Corral.)

ad_HPHS_1966_corral_easy-way_westerner

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Salih’s in Preston Center.

ad_HPHS_1966_salihs

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W. R. Fine Galleries. (This building is still standing on Cedar Springs.)

ad_HPHS_1966_fine-galleries

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Dick Chaplin’s School of Social Dancing.

ad_HPHS_1966_dick-chaplin-school-dancing

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Spanish Village.

ad_HPHS_1966_spanish-village

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Johnson Brothers Chevrolet. The daughter of one of the brothers was a close friend of my mother’s, and I remember visiting her parents’ house on St. Andrews  several times — that huge yard was pretty magical to me as a little girl.

ad_HPHS_1966_johnson-chevrolet

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Highland Park Cafeteria.

ad_HPHS_1966_highland-park-cafeteria

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Expressway Bowling Lanes.

ad_HPHS_1966_expressway-lanes_bowling

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The Gondolier, 77 Highland Park Village. This photo was split across two pages, but I tried to piece it back together because this is a view you don’t see that often in a photo of Highland Park Village, looking east toward Preston. The space is currently occupied by Mi Cocina — see a similar view today, here.

ad_HPHS_1966-gondolier

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Marlow’s, “The Camera Store in Dallas Since 1915.”

ad_HPHS_1966_marlows-camera-store-northpark

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NorthPark without the Melody Shop is like a day without sunshine.

ad_HPHS_1966_melody-shop

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Speaking of music, here are a couple of ads placed by teen bands, something I’d never seen before — but what better way to market your band than to advertise in a high school yearbook?

After the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, a million garage bands sprang up overnight. “Battle of the Bands” contests were ubiquitous. The two Dallas bands that had ads in the 1966 Highlander played all over town and participated in a few of these contests.

battle-of-the-bands_sept-1965
Sept., 1965

First, the Rogues — described in The Dallas Morning News as “a group of young socially prominent Dallas residents” (DMN, April 1, 1966): Rusty Dealey, Wirt Davis, Mitch Gilbert, Doug Bailey, and Mike Ritchey. “The Tuff Sound for Parties and Dances.”

ad_HPHS_1966_rogues

And the Outcasts (not to be confused with the cult-favorite garage band of the same name from San Antonio): Gary, Donny, David, Jim, and Wally. Dig that groovy background!

ad_HPHS_1966_outcasts

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Sources & Notes

All ads are from the 1966 Highland Park High School Highlander yearbook.

The companion post — “Highland Park High School: Photos from the 1966 Yearbook” — can be found here.

Click ads to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Halloween Party? Don’t Forget the Dr Pepper! — 1947

dr-pepper_halloween_1947_flickr“‘Twill add zest to your buffet foods…”

by Paula Bosse

(While searching for a Halloween advertisement, I unexpectedly came across reports of a federal grand jury case brought against Dallas-based Dr Pepper for violating strict wartime sugar-rationing. Scroll down to read about the legal case.)

Happy Halloween! Might I propose an eye-catching party suggestion? The “Frosty-Pepper Pumpkin”! Hollow out a pumpkin, fill it with cracked ice, and load it up with bottles of Dr Pepper. Voilà!

The text of the ad, from the fall of 1947:

EASILY DUPLICATE THIS “frosty-Pepper” PUMPKIN!

Smart, original; more decorative and eye appealing than a bowl of giant ‘mums. Fashion this “Frosty-Pepper” Pumpkin and serve as photo shows. Pre-chill bottles and bury deep in cracked ice. Dr. Pepper! So keen, so cold, so sparklingly alive! A smart lift for active people. ‘Twill add zest to your buffet foods … add laurels to your “rep” as a clever hostess. Keep plenty in your home refrigerator … for party hospitality … for good cheer and a quick lift, at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock, or anytime you’re hungry, thirsty or tired. 

NOTE: Dr Pepper availability in a few markets has been delayed by continuing shortages. These will be opened by new, franchised Dr. Pepper bottling plants as rapidly as supplies will permit.

HANDY CARRY HOME CARTONS
Carry Dr Pepper home from the stores 
“sixes,” “twelves” and “twenty-fours.”
 
“DARTS FOR DOUGH”
NEW TIME: Thursday Night, ABC Network
9:30 EST, 8:30 CST, 7:30 MST, 6:30 PST

Drink Dr. Pepper
GOOD FOR LIFE!

DRINK A BITE TO EAT at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock

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Sources & Notes

Ad found on Flickr, here.

“Darts for Dough”? I had to look that up. It was a radio game show involving quizzes and dart-throwing, created by Orval Anderson and Bert Mitchell at WFAA radio. It debuted in the summer of 1943 as a strictly local program, but it’s popularity was such that it moved to Hollywood in August, 1944 and — still run by the WFAA creators — it began to be broadcast “coast to coast” for several years, moving to television by 1950. It was originally developed in Dallas as a sponsorship vehicle for Dallas-based Dr Pepper and was frequently advertised as “Darts for Dough — The Dr Pepper Show.”

1947 was a big year for Dr Pepper — that was the year their beautiful (and sorely missed) plant opened at Mockingbird and Greenville.

dr-pepper-plant_pinterest

1947 was also a noteworthy year for the company, because of a large federal grand jury indictment which charged several corporations and individuals — including Dr Pepper and some of its bottlers and employees — with sugar-rationing violations (these “irregularities” appear to have begun in the last months of World War II, when wartime food rationing was still serious business). Black-market sugar! A district representative of Dr Pepper was assessed a small fine, but charges of conspiring to violate sugar-rationing regulations which were brought against the DP parent-company were ultimately dismissed, a ruling which angered Federal Judge Alfred P. Murrah, who seems to have been extremely unhappy about the dismissals, as can be read in his blistering statement below.

dr-pepper_sugar-rationing-case_waco-news-tribune_073047
AP story, via Waco News-Tribune, July 30, 1947

Two of the individuals charged in the case — New Mexico residents — received prison sentences in what was described as “the largest black market sugar operation on record,” involving over a million pounds of sugar.

This “Happy Halloween!” post took a bit of an unexpected dark detour. Let’s cleanse our palate with something happier: another party idea with Dr Pepper and a hollowed-out pumpkin (found on eBay).

halloween_dr-pepper_booklet_ebay

More Halloween posts from Flashback Dallas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Neiman-Marcus Welcomes You to the Fair with Jeweled Mementos and Picasso Paintings — 1948

n-m_picasso_1948_fair_jewelryN-M’s 1948 “mementos of Texas…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

For many who come to Dallas from all across the state to visit the State Fair of Texas, a trip downtown to see the legendary Neiman Marcus department store is a must-see item on the itinerary. This was perhaps more the case years ago when the store was still owned by members of the Marcus family who were eager boosters of the annual event and placed several ads each year which graciously welcomed State Fair visitors to the city. For many years Neiman’s offered “souvenirs” for the tourists, ranging from relatively inexpensive Texas-centric knick-knacks to very expensive Texas-centric knick-knacks.

The 1948 N-M offerings can be seen below in an ad that boasts “A 14K gold welcome to Dallas and the State Fair!” (Click the ad below to see a larger image — to see an image of the ad copy alone, click here.)

ad-neiman-marcus_state-fair_1948_full

Here are the trinkets which no doubt wowed them back home in the nicer neighborhoods of Houston and Midland. (I’ve included ball-park prices in today’s money– according to the whiz-bangy Inflation Calculator — in parentheses.)

  • Texas Seal containing circular knife and file: $55 (about $550 in today’s money)
  • Gold belt buckle, made to order: $325 ($3,300)
  • Hand-tooled belt: $5 ($50)
  • Scarf clip, horse with ruby eyes and ruby studded collar: $500 ($5,100)
  • Hand-carved scarf pin, gold steer head with ruby eyes: $500 ($5,100)
  • Pocket key chain with Texas charm: $45 ($450)
  • Texas chain and Texas seal cuff links: $80 ($800)

For the cheap monogrammed hats, giant sunglasses, and salt water taffy, you’d have to head to Fair Park.

Another attraction at Neiman’s during the 1948 State Fair of Texas was an art exhibit: the first showing in Texas of original works by Pablo Picasso. The exclusive show was specifically scheduled to coincide with the State Fair and was prominently displayed on the 4th Floor of the store, in the Decorative Galleries. Twelve canvases — some never before seen in the United States — were “secured directly from Picasso’s studio at Antibes in Southern France,” via Samuel M. Kootz, Picasso’s rep in the U.S. Think about that for a second: in 1948 Pablo Picasso was the world’s most famous living artist, and there was an exhibit of his recent works — some never before seen in the United States — in a department store. In Texas. That was, as they say, a pretty good “get” for the soon-to-be President of the company, Stanley Marcus.

The Picasso exhibit was an early example of Neiman-Marcus’ dedication to bringing international arts and culture to Dallas — an idea which later manifested itself in the store’s Fortnight celebrations (which also ran to coincide with the State Fair in order to maximize publicity, foot traffic, and sales).

Stanley Marcus was an experienced buyer of art, and his relationship with Mr. Kootz was obviously warm — how else might one explain the inclusion of redrawn Picasso paintings (all of which appeared in the N-M show) in a store advertisement? Pretty ballsy. (Click ad below to see a larger image — the text alone can be seen larger here.)

picasso_n-m_1948

For those who might be interested, these are the first Picasso paintings ever publicly shown in Texas:

  • “Seated Woman” (1929)
  • “Sailor” (1943)
  • “Still Life with Mirror” (1943)
  • “Head” (1944)
  • “Still Life with Skull and Pitcher” (1945)
  • “Cock and Knife” (1947)
  • “Woman” (1947)
  • “Still Life with Coffee Pot” (1947)
  • “Owl and Arrow” (1947)
  • “Concierge’s Daughter with Doll” (1947)
  • “Blue Owl” (1947)
  • “The Glass” (1947)

Another art-world highlight in Dallas during the 1948 State Fair of Texas was the showing of Salvador Dali’s painting “Spain” at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (from the collection of Edward James, loaned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York). A Dallas Morning News headline — “Fair Interest to Divide Over Picasso and Dali” — seemed to imply that culturally-inclined Dallasites and/or fair-goers would have to choose one over the other in the battle of which famous Spanish artist-celebrity was most worthy of their attention: “Team Pablo” vs. “Team Salvador.” In regard to Dallas and its (somewhat late-blooming) openness to modern art, the first sentence of the article is interesting:

The simultaneous presence in Dallas during the period of the State Fair of Texas of original works by two of the world’s best-known living artists underscores heavily the swift progress toward cultural maturity in local thinking and planning. (Rual Askew, DMN, Oct. 3, 1948)

“Cultural maturity” and planning — both were in evidence in Dallas in the fall of 1948.

Thousands of Texans had their very first in-the-flesh glimpse of a Picasso canvas or a Dali painting in Dallas during the 1948 State Fair of Texas — either at a tony department store that sold $500 gold-and-ruby scarf pin “souvenirs,” or amongst the hot-dog-eating and roller-coaster-riding hoi polloi in Fair Park. That’s a pretty good reach for fine art.

It’s not all about the automobile shows!

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Ads from October, 1948.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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