Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: African-American Dallas

When SMU Theology Students Were Sprayed with Insecticide at a University Park Lunch-Counter Sit-In — 1961

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_1Bright’s Drug Store, 6327 Hillcrest, University Park

by Paula Bosse

This week the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at SMU posted another fantastic clip from their WFAA News archive on their YouTube channel. This one shows an incident I had heard about since I was a child. It shows a peaceful “sit-in” demonstration at the University Pharmacy at the southwest corner of Hillcrest and McFarlin, across from the SMU campus. The sit-in was organized by theology students at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology to protest the owner’s refusal to serve Black customers at his lunch counter. The student demonstration was conducted by a group of silent students — it was a peaceful protest without violence. Until, that is, the owner, pharmacist C. R. Bright, called in a fumigator to set off a cloud of insecticide inside the pharmacy in an extreme attempt to run off the protestors. The students did not leave until Bright closed the drug store. Many of the students then picketed in front of the business as anti-protestor demonstrators showed up to heckle and jeer, some waving little Confederate flags handed out by Bright. My mother, who lived nearby at the time and had recently graduated from SMU (but was not a theology student) was there, and she says she can still feel the burn of that pesticide in her throat and says that no one present that day could believe a person would do what Bright did. (And she’s in it! She’s seen sitting at the counter, engulfed by a cloud of insecticide.)

Here is the silent clip from January 9, 1961 (the direct link on YouTube is here):


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I took the photo below at an exhibit at the downtown Dallas Public Library in 2017. It shows the students outside the pharmacy as a crowd jeers at them.

university-drug-store_strike_DPL-exhibit_apr-2017via Dallas Public Library

In 1961, there were only 4 or 5 Black students attending SMU. Black students were allowed to attend only the theology and law schools — there were no Black undergraduates until 1962, when Paula Elaine Jones became the first African American full-time undergraduate student at SMU.

In 1961, African Americans were routinely refused service at white-owned establishments in Dallas (as they were in the rest of the Jim Crow South). The sit-in at the University Pharmacy was the result of a Black theology student being refused service at Bright’s lunch counter. There had been a small demonstration at the drug store a couple of nights before the one seen in the film above — it ended when Bright closed early. 

The sit-in that grabbed the headlines began around 10:00 on the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, 1961, when 60-75 SMU students, including Black theology students Earl Allen and Darnell Thomas, entered the drug store and sat silently at the counter and in booths. Allen and Darnell were refused service. In protest, the large group of students refused to leave. After about an hour, Bright was quoted by a WBAP news reporter as saying, “This is a good time to kill some cockroaches…” and called an exterminator service. When the exterminators arrived, they turned on fumigating machines inside the business, filling the place with clouds of kerosene-based insecticide which covered the students, the lunch counters, the dishes, the food, and the store’s merchandise. (Bright was a pharmacist, who was no doubt aware of potential physical harm this would cause.)

The students sat there, breathing through handkerchiefs and holding their ground, silent. A University Park policeman, Lt. John Ryan was there, but the police were not actively involved (although Ryan did have a handy gas mask). After half an hour, the students left when Bright closed the store. Bright re-opened an hour or two later (the lunch counter remained closed). Students silently picketed as hecklers jeered.

The SMU student newspaper — The SMU Campus — covered the sit-in. The article contained an unsurprising, unapologetic quote from the 75-year-old C. R. Bright: 

Bright steadfastly refuses to integrate his lunch counter. Says the drug store owner, “We are not serving them now and we’ll never serve them.” He continues to explain that it “is against my principle” and “I know it would wreck my business.” (The SMU Campus, Feb. 1, 1961)

Bright retired soon after and sold the business to an up-and-coming young whippersnapper named Harold Simmons, who went on to build a multi-multi-multi-million-dollar empire from that first business investment.

university-drug-store_smu-archivesvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

university-pharmacy_smu-rotunda_1965via 1965 SMU Rotunda

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university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_2

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_3

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_4_c-r-bright

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_5_c-r-bright

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_6

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_7

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_8

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_9

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_10

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_11_UP-policeman

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UPDATE, BURY THE LEDE DEPT: Thanks to comments by two readers, I have learned that Christopher R. Bright was the father of former Dallas Cowboys owner H. R. “Bum” Bright. Oh dear.

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Sources & Notes

All screenshots are from WFAA news footage from the WFAA News Film Collection, G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the clip has been posted to the SMU Jones Film channel on YouTube here.

Read coverage of the sit-in (as well as a critical editorial which called the protest “immoral”) in the Feb. 1, 1961 edition of The SMU Campus, the student newspaper — it can be accessed on the SMU Libraries website here, or it can be read in a PDF I’ve made, here

Read a lively account of the sit-in in a WBAP-Channel 5 news script here (via the Portal to Texas History).

For those with access to the Dallas Morning News archives, the incident is covered in an article by Jim Lehrer: “Protesting Students Sit In, Walk Picket Line at Store” (DMN, Jan. 10, 1961). 

Another great clip showing a historical lunch-counter protest in Dallas (the city’s first, I believe) in April of 1960 is also available on the SMU Jones Film YouTube channel — it can be viewed here. Here is a description of what’s happening in the footage: “Rev. Ashton Jones, a white minister from Los Angeles, and Rev. T. D. R. V. Thompson, Black pastor of the New Jerusalem Institutional Missionary Baptist Church, 2100 Second Avenue, together visit segregated lunch counters in downtown Dallas department stores; the peaceful sit-in protests take place at the counters of the Kress Department Store, the H. L. Green Department Store, and the Tea Room of Sanger Bros. department store. This was the first publicized demonstration against Dallas’ segregated eating establishments, and several members of the media — both white and African American — are covering the historic event (Silent).”

Lastly, in a related Flashback Dallas post, there was a previous University Pharmacy which was located, at separate times, on the northwest and southwest corners of Hillcrest and McFarlin — the owner of the very first University Pharmacy built the Couch Building, which can be seen in the background of the top photo of this post. That earlier post, “University Park’s “Couch Building” Goes Up In Flames (1929-2016),” can be found here. A pertinent 1965 photo from that post which shows Simmons’ University Pharmacy, the Couch Building, and the Toddle House (which was also the site of a 1961 sit-in by SMU students) can be seen here.

university-pharmacy-protest_WFAA_jan-1961_1_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Dallas — 1973

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool! Thanks, SMU!

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

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

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Sources & Notes

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

royal-cafe_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMU_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Miscellaneous Dallas #2

rainbow-restaurant_tichnor-bros-collection_boston-public-libraryOpen 24 hours, plenty of free parking…

by Paula Bosse

And now, a bunch of homeless, random images (all are larger when clicked).

Above, the 24-hour Rainbow Restaurant, 1627 N. Industrial at Irving Blvd. Below, its menu.

rainbow-restaurant_ad_dec-19511951

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Thomas Confectionery, 1100 Elm Street. “Largest Confectionery In the State.” Popular date spot with the pre-flapper generation.

thomas-confectionary_postcard_1911_sam-rayburn-house-museum-via-portal1911 (via Portal to Texas History)

thomas-confectionery_0915121912. Dallas Morning News want-ad

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Fair Park Church of God in Christ, 1036 S. Carroll Ave.

fair-park-church-of-god-in-christ_1974_USC-libraries 1974 (via USC Libraries)

And it’s still standing! (I love that the curb tiles are still there.)

fair-park-church-of-god-in-christ_google-street-view-20172017 (via Google Street View)

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The Knox Street Business District, pre-Central Expressway. …Way pre.

knox-street-business-district_1932-smu-rotunda1932 (via SMU Rotunda)

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A. Harris & Co. — Texas Centennial Commemorative Paper (gift wrap?).

tx-centennial_a-harris_gift-paper_elm-fork-echoes_april-1986_portal-tx-hist1936 (via Portal to Texas History)

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The Lakewood Country Club (see it before the landscaping in this photo from this post).

lakewood-country-club_postcard_ebay(via eBay)

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The McFarland Drug Co., 598 Elm, at Hawkins, in Deep Ellum (later became 2424 Elm).

mcfarland-drug-co_hints-to-housekeepers_degolyer_SMU_19051905 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

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The Lyric Theatre, 364 Elm, near Stone (later 1602 Elm).

lyric-theater_degolyer-lib_SMU_dallas-theaters_nd1907-ish (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

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Dudley M. Hughes Funeral Home, 400 E. Jefferson Blvd, Oak Cliff.

dudley-hughes-funeral-home_tichnor-bros_boston-public-library(via Tichnor Bros. Collection, Boston Public Library)

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“A Drive in White Rock Valley.” Before the lake.

white-rock-valley_postcard_1912_ebay(via eBay)

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Sources & Notes

Rainbow Restaurant postcard is from the Tichnor Bros. Postcard Collection, Boston Public Library.

See the first installment of “Miscellaneous Dallas” here.

rainbow-restaurant_tichnor-bros-collection_boston-public-library_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ross Graves’ Cafe: 1800 Jackson — 1947

graves-cafe_marion-butts_dpl_1947_cashierGraves Cafe… (photo by Marion Butts/Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Ross Graves (1903-1973) seems to have been something of a successful bon vivant who dipped his toe into a variety of businesses catering to Dallas’ African-American community: he was the proprietor of, variously (and often simultaneously), a night club, a liquor store, a gas station, a barber shop, and, most successfully, a restaurant, which was in business for almost 20 years (sometimes referred to as Ross Cafe or Graves Place). Below is a photo from 1947 showing the Ross Graves Cafe at 1800 Jackson Street (at Prather) in downtown Dallas (we see the south side of Jackson, with the view to the west).

graves-cafe_1800-jackson_negro-directory_1947

This photo accompanied an ad with the following text:

graves-cafe_negro-directory_1947-48-text

He opened the cafe around 1937 and kept it going until 1955 when he “retired” (he also dipped his toe into hosting dice games at the cafe and was busted in 1954 on gaming charges — he was given a 2-year probated sentence the next year). (Also, the building was part of a large donation to the city in 1955 — more about that below.)

The photo at the top shows, I’m guessing, Mr. Graves standing at the cafe’s cash register with an employee in 1947. He’s also seen in the photo below.

graves-cafe_marion-butts_dpl_1947(photo by Marion Butts/Dallas Public Library)

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I was originally intrigued by the photo of the exterior of the cafe — I couldn’t picture where it had been. But in trying to find out more about the building, I learned about the life of Ross Graves and came across some interesting little tidbits which paint a a picture of a fun-loving man with an active social life, lots of friends, and a healthy bank account. Below are a few clippings from the Pittsburgh Courier, a newspaper published in Pennsylvania which served as something of a national newspaper for Black America, with political, sports, and entertainment news from around the country. There was always news from Dallas in it — in fact, they had a local office here (3306 Roseland). There was even a Dallas-based society/gossip columnist named Mrs. O. J. Cansler (whose column had the rather unfortunate name of “Kolumn Komments”). She was quite frothy and wrote with the breathless excitement one expects in a society columnist. (I highly encourage anyone with a subscription to Newspapers.com to check out her “kolumn” — it’s a breath of fresh air to read about Dallas’ Black community presented in such a lively and fun manner (or in ANY manner, really — you weren’t going to find any of what she was writing about in the Dallas Morning News or the Dallas Times Herald). Especially interesting are mentions of long-forgotten clubs and nightspots where bands and performers from Dallas’ vibrant musical scene played. Here are a few appearances of Ross (and his wife, Ruby) from the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier.

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1939_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_111139_kolumn-komments_o-j-cansler
Pittsburgh Courier, Nov. 13, 1939

Graves was 36 years old at the time.

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1942_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_080842_toppin-the-town_columnPittsburgh Courier, Aug. 8, 1942

The Regal Ballroom (listed as the Regal Nite Club in city directories) was at 3216 Thomas, at Hall. It didn’t last very long, but while it did, it was, apparently, “swellegant”! Here’s a mention of it as the location of a swing band contest in 1940 (won by Don Percell):

graves_regal-club_pittsburgh-courier_060840Pittsburgh Courier, June 8, 1940

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1942_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_101742_kolumn-komments_mrs-o-j-canslerPittsburgh Courier, Oct. 17, 1942

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Graves’ second wife, Ruby Graves, was known for her “smart toggery.”

1944_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_101444_ruby-gravesPittsburgh Courier, Oct. 14, 1944

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Ross and Ruby were quite the hosts:

1945_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_040745_kolumn-komments_mrs-o-j-canslerPittsburgh Courier, Apr. 7, 1945

I love this. This is the sort of thing you would never have read in the Morning News or the Times Herald. I want to know more about Claudia’s — “that night spot just out of the city limits that has everybody talking.”

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graves-cafe_ad_pittsburgh-courier-051245Pittsburgh Courier, May 12, 1945

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1946_graves_pittsburgh-PA-courier_062246_kolumn-komments_mrs-o-j-cansler
Pittsburgh Courier, June 22, 1946

Just popping up to NYC in their new Fleetwood to take in a boxing match. As one does.

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Ross and Ruby eventually ended up living in a house on “swellegant” South Boulevard (2500 South Blvd.). At least one of their daughters was an Idlewild debutante, who made her debut in 1967 (read about the world of Black debutantes in 1937 Dallas here). Milam County native Ross Graves died on Dec. 4, 1973 at the age of 70. He had lived in Dallas for 50 years. And I bet he had a good time.

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The location of Ross Graves’ Cafe was at 1800 Jackson Street, between Ervay and St. Paul, in a weird stretch of Jackson where two blocks were connected without a  break, in a row of buildings without an intersecting street. (The buildings are long gone, but the location can be seen on Google Maps here.) An interesting detail about these two blocks — the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Jackson Street — is that this property was owned by Dr. John W. Anderson, a prominent Black physician. After his death, his widow, Pearl C. Anderson, deeded the land to the Dallas Community Chest, the proceeds of which would be used to help needy Dallasites. (The donation was conservatively estimated at $200,000 at the time — about $2 million in today’s money). She donated the property in 1955, the same year Graves retired.

graves-cafe_dallas-directory-1947Jackson Street, 1947 Dallas city directory

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Sources & Notes

Photos of the interior of Ross Graves’ Cafe are from the Marion Butts Collection, Dallas Public Library. Call Number for the top photo is PA2005-4/380.1; Call Number for the second is PA2005-4/380.2 (both are incorrectly identified as being in Deep Ellum).

The photo of the exterior of the cafe is from the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948 (many thanks to Pat Lawrence).

graves-cafe_marion-butts_dpl_1947_cashier_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff’s Star Theatre — 1945-1959

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPLShow Hill, with the Star Theatre at right

by Paula Bosse

This is one of those photographs I could stare at all day long. It shows a shopping area in East Oak Cliff at the intersection of E. Eighth Street and N. Moore Street — this part of Oak Cliff was originally settled as a freedman’s town, and this photo shows an area between the Tenth Street Historic District and The Bottoms (or The Bottom) neighborhood (see a great map, here).

When these buildings were built in 1945 by I. B. Clark, it was an exclusively African-American part of Dallas. The anchor of this strip (which occupied what was described as both the 300 block of N. Moore and the 1400 block of E. Eighth) was the Star Theatre, which was, according to Mr. Clark, the only movie house for black customers in Oak Cliff.

star-theatre_boxoffice_042845
Boxoffice, April 28, 1945

star-theatre_oak-cliff_negro-directory-1947-48_adDallas Negro Directory, 1947-48

I. B. Clark was a white businessman who lived on a ranch in Cedar Hill; he had owned the Southern Fireworks Company before the war and had frequently battled with Dallas lawmakers about the constitutionality of banning the selling and shooting of fireworks within the city limits.

In the undated photo above, businesses in the retail strip are the Top-O-Hill Food Mart, the Ebony Cafe (Pit Bar-B-Q), the Easy-Wash laundromat, the second location of the Cochran Street Record Shop, the Star Theatre, and hotel apartments.

This hub of businesses was popular with neighborhood residents, who referred to this area as “Show Hill” (for the picture show). I stumbled across a really wonderful 2018 oral history of Margaret Benson, who, in 1944, moved with her family to Dallas and attended N. W. Harllee Elementary School and both Lincoln High School and Madison High School. She describes these shops and says that whenever black entertainers such as Dinah Washington or Sister Rosetta Tharpe came to town, they frequently stayed in the apartments above these businesses, as hotel accommodations for African Americans were few and far between. (I loved the entire recording of Mrs. Benson reminiscing about living for most of her life in this area of Oak Cliff — the part where she specifically talks about “Show Hill” is at the 8:25 mark in the recording at the link above.)

According to Dallas movie theater historian Troy Sherrod, the Star closed in 1959. Over time the area eventually declined and the remaining businesses closed. The strip, which was looking pretty down-at-its-heels in the 1990s, was demolished around 2000. The photo below shows the once-vibrant strip in its later days. (Three more photos, from 1999, can be found here — the addition of more apartments (the “Ebony Hotel Annex”) can be seen in the third one.)

star-theatre_mark-doty_lost-dallas
via Lost Dallas by Mark Doty

Here is what “Show Hill” vacant lot looks like today on Google Street View:

star-theatre_google-street-view-nov-2019Google Street View, 2019

star-theatre_bing-mapsBing Maps

star-theatre_cinematreasures_advia Cinema Treasures

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing the Star Theatre is from the excellent book by D. Troy Sherrod, Historic Dallas Theatres (Arcadia Publishing, 2014); the photo is from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

Second photo showing the dilapidated buildings is from another excellent book, Lost Dallas by Mark Doty (Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

The ad for the Star Theatre appeared in the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948 (many thanks to Pat Lawrence). The address for the theater was listed in various places as both 300 N. Moore and as 1401 E. Eighth.

If you have access to the archives of the Dallas Morning News, I encourage you to read “Inner-City Secret — The Bottoms Residents Say They Are Forgotten” by Bill Minutaglio (DMN, Aug. 28, 1994).

Also worth a read is Texas Tribune article “Dallas Neighborhood Established by Freed Slaves Fights to Keep Its History Alive” by Miguel Perez of KERA News.

More on the Tenth Street Historic District can be found on the City of Dallas website here.

Check out photos of a pop-up market on Show Hill in 2014 here.

Also, of related interest is the Flashback Dallas post “Movie Houses Serving Black Dallas — 1919-1922.”

Thank you to reader Jerry Richburg for contacting me with a question about this old strip shopping area — he remembered attending church services in one of the buildings and asked if I knew more about what had been there and if I might have a photo. Thanks, Jerry! You led me down the path to discovering a little pocket of Dallas history I was completely unaware of!

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPL_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Baseball Team — ca. 1910

dallas-baseball_1910_ebay_black-teammateTeam photo, circa 1910… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across this circa-1910 photo on eBay about a year and a half ago. I thought it was unusual because of the presence of an African American man posing with the team. Sports teams weren’t integrated at this time — was he part of the team but not a player? I don’t know what’s written on his shirt, but it doesn’t have “Dallas” on it like the ones the others are wearing. What do you think?

Happy Opening Day!

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay. (I assume it’s Dallas, Texas….)

More Flashback Dallas posts on baseball can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

African-American Businesses and Notable Dallasites — 1930

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det“Madame Pratt” in her music studio

by Paula Bosse

I’ve recently posted lots of photos of black schools and black churches which appeared in the Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc., an absolutely fantastic historical document (which is scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History site here) — now I thought I’d post some of the businesses and people featured in the directory.

First is the woman seen above, Ella Rice Pratt (1893-1966) who was known professionally as “Madame Pratt” and seems to have taught an extremely wide range of musical instruments. According to this 1930 ad, she was “The only woman of her race in Texas who performs successfully upon two instruments at the same time.”  (Most images are larger when clicked.)

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

Her 1966 obituaries (one of which is here ) list a string of accomplishments, including having studied music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, toured as a concert pianist, trained a 30-piece touring orchestra, and opened what was described as “the first music studio in Dallas where Negro musicians could receive training on all instruments” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 3, 1966). Not only was she a notable Dallasite, so were members of her family: her father, Charles A. Rice was a principal at Booker T. Washington High School (and is the namesake of Charles Rice Elementary School), her mother, Sally Rice, was the first supervisor of Griggs Park, and her husband, T. W. Pratt was a long-time principal in Dallas schools (at the time of this directory he was the principal of the Pacific Avenue School (he might be seen in this photo which also appeared in the 1930 Negro Directory). The Pratts lived at 3612 Thomas Ave., near Washington, where Madame Pratt also had her studio. (Her headstone in Lincoln Memorial Park has musical notes engraved on it.)

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Speaking of music, R. T. Ashford was a prominent businessman (he was one of the founders of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce) who owned R. T. Ashford’s Music Shop, a popular record store at 408 N. Central (at Swiss), just north of Deep Ellum. Before this 1930 directory was issued, Ashford had called his shop “Black Swan Music”(I’m not sure whether this was an “homage” to the Black Swan record label or some sort of partnership). Ashford’s store was apparently very popular and Ashford himself seems to have been taken seriously by record labels whenever he would recommend local talent (he appears to have figured prominently in Blind Lemon Jefferson’s recording career). Ashford moved from Central Avenue to Hall Street in 1931, but he was a Deep Ellum music and business fixture for many, many years. I think the location of Ashford’s record shop (if not the actual store) can be seen in this photo from 1919 (on the street-level floor of the Thorburn Broom & Brush building). (Fun fact, perhaps only to me: Ashford’s Music Shop was next door to a business proprietor named “Simpson.”)

ashfords-music-shop_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

ashford_dallas-express_122223Dallas Express, Dec. 1922

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Another entrepreneur was Thad Self, whose main business seems to have been a grocery/general merchandise store on Routh Street south of Colby. He also owned a transfer company, a hotel/boarding house, a barber shop, a cafe, and at least one other general store. Most of his companies were located in buildings on the neighboring lots at 2113 Routh and 2115 Routh, one or both of which he appears to have purchased in 1913 for $100 (about $2,600 in today’s prices). He built a large three-story building on Routh in 1913 (which, according to this 1921 Sanborn map) was built over the Dallas Branch of the Trinity which snaked through downtown and the State-Thomas area — that  basement was probably pretty damp.

thad-else_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

thad-else_dallas-express_120619_HOTELDallas Express, Dec. 6, 1919

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Speaking of hotels, one of the most prominent hotels in the era when blacks were not allowed to stay in “white” hotels by law was the Powell Hotel at 3115 State Street (between Ellis and Hugo), owned by D. H. Powell and his wife Susie. In May, 1929 Powell was issued a permit to tear down a frame house at 3115 State, and he built his 40-room hotel on the property soon after. The Powell Hotel was where almost every notable African-American visitor to the city stayed. By the late 1940s, Powell had built something of a hotel empire in Dallas with several locations. (I will have to write more about him in a future post!) I like this very early ad, from the 1930 directory, describing it as the “Powel Hotel & Pleasure Dome.” The photo shows a pleasant-looking place, but you and I and Kubla Khan and Coleridge would probably agree it’s no Xanadu.

powell-hotel_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

powell-hotel_legacies_spring-2007Dallas Public Library, via Legacies, Spring, 2007

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Speaking of “resting places”… another essential element in any community is the funeral home. One of Dallas’ most prominent undertaking firms for black Dallas was the E. J. Crawford Funeral Home at 804 Good (now N. Good-Latimer, between Live Oak and Bryan), founded by Mr. Crawford in 1909. “The last word in funeralizing.”

crawford-funeral-home_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

crawford_e-j_dallas-express_020422Dallas Express, Feb. 4, 1922

Another prominent funeral home/ambulance service was Black & Clark, founded originally around 1914 by S. C. Black; in 1927 he was joined by his nephew C. J. Clark. For years they were located in Oak Cliff, at 1109 E. Tenth St., west of what is now South R. L. Thornton, near Cliff Avenue. This funeral home is still in business, and there was recently a profile of the Dallas institution on Channel 5 News (watch it here).

black-and-clark-undertakers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

black-and-clark_archives_1802-n-washington1802 N. Washington (woozy screenshot of photo in Ch. 5 news story)

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This is Genevieve T. Starks, a woman with a lot of extra-curricular activities! I love this photo.

genevieve-starks_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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The G Clef Club was organized around 1921 by Lincolnia Hayes Morgan, music supervisor for Dallas’ (black) public schools. A blurb about the group appeared in The Crisis, the official publication of the N.A.A.C.P.: “The objects of the club are to assist worthy music students and to raise the music standard of the community” (June, 1921).

g-clef-club_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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A popular singing group was the Belt Sacred Quartette (comprised of J. J. Mollis, J. Poindexter, F. W. Grant, and N. Tisdale) — listen to their recording of “I Have Another Building” below.

belt-sacred-quartette_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

belt-sacred-quartette_blackwell-OK-journal-tribune_072332Blackwell (OK) Journal-Tribune, July 23, 1932

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The Davis Bible Singers (C. Davis, I. H. Burrell, R. Smith, and O. B. Walker) seem to have been pretty popular, having appeared on KRLD, WFAA, and WRR radio. They even recorded for Columbia Records (listen to their great recording of “Daniel Saw the Stone” below).

davis-bible-singers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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One of the most important doctors in Dallas in the 1920s and ’30s was Dr. Lee Gresham (L. G.) Pinkston (1883-1961), who opened the Pinkston Clinic at 3305 Thomas Avenue, between Hall and Central, in 1928 or 1929 (it made its first appearance in the 1929 city directory). In 1954, Pinkston — physician, surgeon, and civic leader — was one of the first five black doctors allowed to practice in a “white” Dallas hospital (St. Paul’s Hospital) — before that, the only hospital in Dallas where black doctors could practice was the Pinkston Clinic, which had 15 beds (32 beds were allotted for black patients at St. Paul’s in 1954). (See a photo of the five doctors here, Dr. Pinkston is seated.) A new West Dallas school — Pinkston High School — was named in Dr. Pinkston’s honor and opened in 1964, three years after his death. 

pinkston-clinic_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

pinkston-clinic_DHSDallas Historical Society

Below, a portrait of Dr. Pinkston with the artist, Calvin Littlejohn (whom I’d known only as a photographer previously), destined to hang in the new school.

pinkston-l-g_portrait_calvin-littlejohn_pittsburgh-PA-courier_112864Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, Nov. 28, 1964

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Sources & Notes

All 1930 images are from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here.

See the two other Flashback Dallas posts which also use this wonderful directory as a source:

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Churches in Dallas — 1930

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday I posted several photos of schools for Dallas’ African American community from a 1930 “Negro Directory” — today it’s churches. Of these, only two survive, and only one continues as a church. (All images are larger when clicked.)

Above, my favorite building of these churches, a small one serving as the home of Randolph Free Will Baptist Church, Flora and Watkins streets (3113 Flora — the location can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map).

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Below, Boll Street C.M.E. Church (Christian Methodist Episcopal), corner of Boll and Juliette (2631 Juliette), near Booker T. Washington High School. It can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map as “Morning Chapel C.M.E. Church” (this area was obliterated when Woodall Rogers was built).

boll-street-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal


boll-st-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU (info at bottom of post)

boll-street-church_patton-coll_DHSvia John L. Patton Collection, Dallas Historical Society

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Church of God in Christ, Thomas and Ellis streets (3028 Thomas Avenue).

church-of-god_rev-paige_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Greater Macedonia Baptist Church, corner of Good and Bryan (902 Good Street). This building later became home to Good Street Baptist Church.

greater-macedonia-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

greater-macedonia-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Metropolitan Tabernacle (Baptist), Thomas and Boll streets (this was apparently never built — a Metropolitan Tabernacle was listed in 1930 at 2202 Thomas, but it was not this building.)

metropolitan-tabernacle_baptist_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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New Hope Baptist Church, southwest corner of San Jacinto and Bogle (sometimes spelled “Bogel”) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

new-hope-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

new-hope-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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New Salem Baptist Church/Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 S. Preston Street (see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

new-salem-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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New Zion Primitive Baptist Church, 2215 Wheeler (address is incorrect in caption; the street name “Wheeler” soon changed to “Lowery”).

new-zion-primitive-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, 5006 McKinney Avenue, between what is now Monticello and McCommas. (This is not to be confused with the church of the same name designed by James Flanders which was located at McKinney and Pearl.)

trinity-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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And, lastly, the two buildings which are still standing. First, St. James A.M.E. Church (African Methodist Episcopal), Good and Florence streets (620 Good Street, now 624 N. Good-Latimer Expressway). Designed by noted black architect William Sidney Pittman (who was also the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington), the building is currently home to several non-profit groups. Read the history of the building in the landmark nomination form here, and see what it looks like now — with its historical marker in front of it — on Google Street View here.

st-james-ame-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-james-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, DeGolyer Library, SMU

st-james_a-m-e_church_dallas-express_101819Dallas Morning News, Oct. 18, 1919

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And, finally, the only one of these churches still standing, and still functioning as a church, St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Paul United Methodist Church), corner of Burford and Juliette streets (1820 Burford, now 1816 Routh Street), also designed by architect William Sidney Pittman. See it on a 1921 Sanborn map here as “Juliette M.E. Church” (it wasn’t completed until 1922 and seems to have been given a place-holder name). Read about its history here, and see it today on Google Street View here.

st-paul-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-paul-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Photos from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here (the full list of churches begins on p. 10).

The five “ca. 1932” photos are from a scrapbook/photo album of amateur photos called “Graphic History of Negro Dallas” which was compiled by the Priscilla Art Club in 1932; the scrapbook is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; links to the individual photos are in the photo captions.

Of related interest: “Twelve Prominent Black Baptist Churches — 1967.”

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Black Schools in Dallas — 1930

booker-t-washington-high-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

by Paula Bosse

Let’s take a look at six schools for African American children in segregated Dallas in 1930. Three of the schools are still standing.

Above, the only high school for black students in 1930 was Booker T. Washington High School. Its address in 1930 was 1801 Burford Street (Burford and Flora). The school still stands and is now the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in a much-renovated and expanded building. See what it looks like now on Google Street View here. (A 1921 Sanborn map showing the neighborhood and school — and street names no longer in use — can be seen here.) (More Flashback Dallas posts about or related to Booker T. Washington can be found here.)

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Below, the N. W. Harllee School (still standing) in Oak Cliff at 1216 E. 8th, at Denley. (The name of the school was misspelled in the caption.) See it today on Google Street View here, and on the same site (then at 8th and Miller, when different buildings housed the 9th Ward Public School) on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

harllee-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The Phillis Wheatley School is also still standing, in South Dallas at Metropolitan and Meyers. See it on Google Street View here, and on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

wheatley-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The B. F. Darrell School was at 3212 Cochran, at Hall. See the still-empty lot on Google Street View here, and the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here when the site was occupied by Dallas’ first high school for black students, known as the “Colored High School”; when Booker T. Washington opened in the 1920s, this building was renamed B. F. Darrell and became an elementary school; according to Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald, the building was built in 1895 and was demolished in 1973.

darrel-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The Pacific Avenue School at 1221 Fletcher, near East Grand in the Fair Park area, was about to be left behind when students moved to the Julia C. Frazier School on Spring Ave. the next year. The site is now occupied by the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center and can be seen on Google Street View here. See the buildings on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

pacific-ave-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

pacific-ave-school_1910_education-in-dallas
Pacific Avenue School, ca. 1910

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And, lastly, the J. P. Starks School, at 1600 S. Preston, at Gano, near Old City Park. There’s nothing there now, but its general location is on Google Street View here. The school can be seen on a 1921 Sanborn map here when it was the Fred Douglass School (the school’s name was changed after the death of principal J. P. Starks — in 1930 there was another Fred Douglass school in West Dallas at Williams and Pine streets — in fact, I think there have been several schools in Dallas named after Frederick Douglass). 

starks-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Other schools for black children in Dallas in 1930 (excluding kindergartens) were the following:

  • Beeman School (2518 Detonte)
  • Fred Douglass School (1401 Williams)
  • Eagle Ford School
  • Elm Thicket School
  • Fair Grounds School (4508 Collins Ave.)
  • Fair Grounds School Annex (Carter, near Spring Ave.)
  • Julia C. Frazier School (Spring Ave. and Carter)
  • Lincoln Manor (Rowan Ave. and Dyson)
  • Wesley School (5123 Keating Ave.)
  • York School (3rd Ave. and Carrie)

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Sources & Notes

Photos from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here (the full list of schools, kindergartens, colleges, trade schools, etc. begins on p. 29). I will be posting more from this directory soon.

Photo of the exterior of the Pacific Avenue School is from Education in Dallas, 1874-1966, Ninety-two Years of History by Walter J. E. Schiebel.

booker-t-washington-high-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_crop_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmastime at Booker T. Washington High School — 1950s

booker-t-wash_xmas-decDecking the halls…

by Paula Bosse

Most of us have fond memories of holiday-themed activities in school — here are a few photos from the Christmas season at Booker T. Washington High School in the early ’50s.

Above, girls hang decorations on the office door.

Below, the Library Club poses for a photo at a Christmas party (all photos are larger when clicked).

booker-t-wash_xmas-party_1952via John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

And the bottom two photos show members of the Booker T. Washington chapter of the American Junior Red Cross standing with the articles they’ve made and/or collected for distribution to various hospitals and institutions — a couple of girls can be seen crocheting and knitting items which will be added to the collection of things destined for grateful recipients.

booker-t-wash_xmas-red-crossvia John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

And below, Mrs. Catherine Robinson, the organization’s sponsor, stands with students and their gift-wrapped presents which are ready to be delivered to places such as the Hutchins Home for Convalescent Patients, Woodlawn and Parkland Hospitals, orphanages, boarding homes for juvenile wards of the state, and even to the leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana (a hospital which treated leprosy patients — a 1953 newspaper article reported that most of the then-current 400 patients were from Texas).

booker-t-wash_xmas-red-cross2via John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

Organized in 1917, the American Junior Red Cross had Dallas chapters in most — if not all — schools by 1918, including Booker T. Washington. By 1949 Dallas County had Jr. Red Cross chapters in 183 schools, with more than 78,000 students taking part; they made and/or collected 30,000 items that year which were distributed to active servicemen, to hospitalized veterans and children, to the needy, and to the aged. There were regular collection drives for reading material (elementary kids donated a LOT of comic books!), and there were regular visits to hospitals, etc., to entertain and perform (“except in times of polio epidemics”). Students also wrote letters to military personnel and to children in other countries and were trained in safety and first-aid procedures..

american-junior-red-cross_poster_1952_vintageposterworksvia Vintage Poster Works

Because of the efforts of Junior Red Cross members like these from Booker T. Washington High School, many who were convalescing, lonely, or in need were assured a happier Christmas than they might otherwise have had.

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Sources & Notes

All photos of Booker T. Washington High School students are from the John Leslie Patton Papers collection of the Dallas Historical Society. (More on Patton, the legendary principal of Booker T. Washington for 30 years can be found at the Handbook of Texas site here.)

More on the American Junior Red Cross can be found in these articles:

booker-t-wash_xmas-dec_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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