Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Bookstores

The Aldredge Book Store — 2909 Maple Avenue

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

abs_sign-letters_paula-bosse

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

dallas-music-center_0527471947 ad

dallas-music-center_0124481948 ad

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

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

dick-bosse_aldredge-book-store
Dick Bosse

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Aldredge Book Store — 1968

ABS_charlie-drum_dick-bosse_andy-hanson_degolyer-library_SMUCharlie Drum and Dick Bosse… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today my father, Dick Bosse, would have been 84 years old. A very nice person at the DeGolyer Library at SMU (who knew my father) sent me this photo a couple of days ago. It’s from the DeGolyer’s Andy Hanson collection (Hanson was a long-time photographer for the Dallas Times Herald). Taken in the original location of The Aldredge Book Store at 2800 McKinney Avenue, the photo shows bookseller Charles Sartor Drum at the left, and my father — the then-manager of the store — at the right. My father looks really young here! Dig that cool shirt — worn with a paisley belt buckle and western-cut slacks. Hey, man, it was 1968.

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Sources & Notes

Photo is from the Collection of Photographs by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. (Thank you, friendly DeGolyerite — I now have a 50-year-old photograph of my father I’d never seen before!)

I’ve written several posts about The Aldredge Book Store, the store my father worked at fresh out of college and after eventually owned. The ABS-related Flashback Dallas posts can be found here.

More on the career of photographer Andy Hanson can be found here and here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mimi Payne Aldredge McKnight

ABS_mimi_bookcaseMimi, with books… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Mimi Aldredge McKnight (née Mildred Payne) died this week. She was an important person in the story of my family — she and her then-husband, Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. owned The Aldredge Book Store on McKinney Avenue, where my parents met and worked for many years and which, for my brother and me, became pretty much a second home. When Sawnie died, Mimi continued to run the store and kept my father, Dick Bosse, on as manager. My father ended up owning the store, and when he died, he had worked at The Aldredge Book Store for almost 45 years. Even when Mimi’s involvement with the store was minimal, she still kept in touch, and she and my father were always on very friendly terms.

I knew Mimi mostly when I was a child, and my memories of her are happy ones. I remember her laugh and her voice most of all. She always seemed like a lovely, friendly woman, and my parents were both very fond of her.

The photo below is how I remember her — talking animatedly on the phone (she and my mother, Margaret, were champion telephone talkers, and I remember them both working at that desk, and talking and talking and talking on that phone).

mimi_phone_texas-parade_feb-1961

I ran into Mimi a few times as an adult. We’d usually just exchange quick pleasantries and ask how various family members were — but I always hoped I’d have the chance to sit down and have a long conversation with her someday. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but I’m so happy that my brother, Erik, and I have reconnected with her children, Amy and Trip Aldredge, and that we’re all friends. The four of us share nostalgic childhood memories of each other’s parents and of that old creaking house on McKinney — a house so crammed with books that the medical section had to be shelved in the bathroom. I can’t imagine a better childhood that one spent growing up in a bookstore.

Goodbye, Mimi — I’m so glad you were a part of my family’s life.

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In one of those wonderful unexpected discoveries I’ve made while looking for something completely unrelated, I stumbled across this photo of little Mildred Payne as a baby and was happier about it than I might have expected. (Click photo to see a larger image.)

1929_mimi_dmn_061429
1929

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized Mimi had been a real-life, honest-to-god debutante (probably the only debutante I’ve ever met) and that her mother was a member of Dallas’ famed Volk retail family. She grew up in a very nice house, built by her father, Robert I. Payne, in the Perry Heights area of Oak Lawn. If you’re famiiar with Oak Lawn, you’ve probably seen the plantation-like house at 4524 Rawlins (at Hawthorne), designed by architect Ralph Bryan in 1936. (See the house today on Google Street View, here.)

Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. (son of a Dallas mayor) opened The Aldredge Book Store in 1947 at 2800 McKinney Avenue (at Worthington) in an old house built in the 1880s or 1890s (this was several years before Sawnie and Mimi married). The picture below is from around 1960. This was before my time, but I seem to remember it looking less overgrown and less … shabby! It was much larger than it appears in this photo. Below the photo, the store’s early logo. (I’m not sure when the house was torn down — maybe in the ’80s? The lot was vacant for quite some time, as I reall. The block is painfully unrecognizable today. Today it looks like this.)

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-19611960-ish

ABS_logo_1947

A few years ago, when my brother and I were closing the store, I came across a guestbook from the first year of business and was happy to see that on Dec. 15, 1947, a 19-year-old Mimi Payne visited the store with her mother, Mrs. R. I. Payne. Little did she know that seven years later she’d be married to the proprietor of the store and — for a while — living in that house, battling for personal space amongst all those damn books!

aldredge-book-store-guestbook_1215471947

sawnie_mimi_desk_1961Sawnie and Mimi, 1961

The photo below is one I really love — it was taken in 1958 at the Sale Street Fair, an annual antique street market which ran at the same time as the Neiman-Marcus Fortnight (in 1958 Neiman’s was celebrating Britain). This shows Mimi manning the bookstore booth. My mother told me that she and Mimi (and probably everyone else there) passed the time sitting on the curb, sipping cocktails supplied by friendly neighborhood antique dealers. Sounds great!

ABS_mimi_sale-street-fair_1958Sale Street Fair, Mimi and a browsing London bobby, 1958

ABS_sale-street-fair_1958
Oct., 1958

In 1975, another chapter of Mimi’s life opened when she married esteemed SMU law professor Joe McKnight, to whom she had been married for 40 years at the time of his death in 2015. One interesting highlight was that Joe and Mimi — through their friendship with international bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, etc.) — were featured as characters in his Sunday Philosophy Club/Isabel Dalhousie series. He talked about putting them in one of his novels in a 2006 interview:

Isabel’s mother was American, and she has a cousin of her mother in Dallas, [who is based on] a real person… I was a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University and I’ve got very good friends there, a wonderful couple called Joe and Mimi McKnight, who I’ve made the cousin of Isabel in this book. I have Joe and Mimi coming to Edinburgh, and Mimi plays a large part in the story. So, I’m writing a real person into the story, which is great fun.

A woman who spent a number of years in the early part of her life selling books certainly deserved to be transformed into an entertaining character in a bestselling book in the later part of her life!

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Sources & Notes

Photos and clippings from the Aldredge Book Store archives and the Aldredge family, unless otherwise noted.

A couple of the photos above come from a profile of The Aldredge Book Store in a magazine called Texas Parade (Feb. 1961): “100,000 Books … Old and New” by Joe Swan. See the full article and photos in a PDF, here.

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-1961_spread_sm

Mimi McKnight died April 3, 2017; her obituary is here.

D Magazine wrote about Joe and Mimi McKnight and their connection to Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith in the June 2007 article “Muse, Thy Name is McKnight,” here. The photo below (by Elizabeth Lavin) is from that article.

mcknights_joe-and-mimi_d-mag_june-2007
2007 (D Magazine)

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

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mimi_wedding_announcement_101054_det
1954

Most photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Everette Lee DeGolyer, Bibliophile

degolyer_rare-books_texas-week-mag_082446-photoMr. De with his books (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of Dallas’ great bibliophiles and book collectors was Everette Lee DeGolyer, petroleum geologist, Texas oil superstar, and namesake of SMU’s DeGolyer Library. He was also a notable book collector and a favored customer of many Texas rare books dealers. This article appeared in 1946, when there were very few antiquarian bookstores in Dallas. The Aldredge Book Store opened on McKinney Avenue in 1947, and Mr. DeGolyer was a steady customer until his death in 1956. (Click article for larger image.)

degolyer_rare-books_texas-week-mag_082446_text
Texas Week magazine, Aug. 24, 1946

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Below, the library at the newly-built DeGolyer Estate at White Rock Lake, shelves waiting to be filled.

degolyer-estate-library_portal

The fabulous DeGolyer Estate is now part of the Dallas Arboretum.

degolyer-house_arboretumPhoto: Dallas Arboretum

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Sources & Notes

Article from Texas Week magazine; accessible through UNT’s Portal to Texas History, here.

Photo of DeGolyer’s home library (not to be confused with the DeGolyer Library at SMU), is from the Dallas Municipal Archives collection, also found on the Portal to Texas History site, here. More photos of the estate from this collection are here.

The Handbook of Texas entry for Everette DeGolyer is here.

That term “Texiana” used by the unnamed author of the article to describe books of Texas subject matter or interest? For anyone uncertain about whether to use that or “Texana,” use “Texana.” Always! (It rhymes with “Hannah.”)

Most images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cold Smut: Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” Banned in Dallas — 1961

cartoon_topic-of-cancer_dmn_083061_small

by Paula Bosse

Today is my late father’s birthday. He was a Dallas bookseller, and when searching on his name in the Dallas Morning News archives, I found this pithy letter to the editor he had written in the summer of 1961 (click for larger image; transcribed below).

tropic-of-cancer_prb_dmn_082461
Aug. 24, 1961

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It is refreshing that there is such a dearth of crime that the Dallas police department has to amuse itself by resorting to comstockery. The cops have been busy poking through the girlie mags at downtown newsstands, which is pleasant work. Now they have taken to harassing bookstores. If they get away with their ban of poor old Henry Miller’s tedious classic, it will only whet their appetite for more meddling.

I resent a group who seldom, if ever, has entered a bookstore or voluntarily read a book dictating what can or cannot be read. Literary criticism should be left to Lon Tinkle: he gives us freedom of choice. To have a bunch of policemen drooling over juicier passages and then whooping pietistic nonsense is frightening. Dallas is sophisticated and progressive?

Dick Bosse

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After I looked up the word “Comstockery,” I was spurred to find out what he was writing about.

Henry Miller’s “tedious classic,” Tropic of Cancer, was originally published in Paris in 1934. It was considered too vulgar to be published in the United States. In fact, it was considered “obscene” by the U.S. Customs Department, and its very presence in one’s suitcase after returning home from a holiday in France was illegal. The only booksellers in the U.S. that sold the book did so at the risk of being jailed. That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of piracy, bootlegging, and hush-hush selling of this much talked-about book going on, because there was — especially in New York.

In 1961, the book was finally published in the U.S. by Grove Press, and it was an immediate hit. (Grove priced it at an unbelievably steep $7.50, the equivalent today to about $60.00! The typical new hardcover fiction title in 1961 was around $3.95.) Unsurprisingly, the book was immediately banned in Boston, because Boston’s “thing” was banning stuff. But then … it was unexpectedly banned in Dallas, even though it was the #1 bestseller at the respected McMurray’s Bookshop downtown.

Dallas Police Department officials had decided the book violated a new Texas “anti-smut” law, and, on August 15th, policemen visited all the large bookstores in the city and informed them that if any copies of the book continued to be offered for sale, criminal charges would most likely be brought against the booksellers and the stores. (The state law called for fines up to $1,000 and one year in county jail for selling lewd and obscene material.) Dallas joined Boston as the only major American city banning the book. And then the whole thing became a cause célèbre — a “Dallas-Boston axis”!

tropic_long-beach-independent_081861The Long Beach (California) Independent, Aug. 18 1961

The move was roundly deplored by most of the Dallas public. The “Letters to the Editor” section of the historically very conservative Dallas Morning News contained many, many letters to the editor from outraged Dallasites, speaking out against the police department’s action. Sure, there were a few who were happy that objectionable material was being removed from Dallas bookstores, but they seemed to be in the minority. Even those who vehemently disliked the book were steadfastly opposed to its being banned, including the editors of The News.

As with many other non-issues like this that tend to cause near-obsession by the media, this story would not go away. The summer of ’61 was, for Dallas, the Summer of Smut. Best headline throughout all of this? One which appeared on a Morning News editorial: “COLD SMUT.”

Booksellers pulled the book, but, as the editorial says above, there were almost certainly sales continuing to interested clientele. Also, it should be noted that only Dallas was banning the book at this point (by 1962 other cities around the country had become embroiled in threatened legal action, resulting in books being pulled from shelves). You couldn’t buy the book in Dallas, but you could buy it in Fort Worth.

tropic-of-cancer_elston-brooks_FWST_082261
Elston Brooks, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 22, 1961

One assumes bookstores in Cowtown were cashing in on Tropic of Cancer sales — Barber’s Book Store must have been doing land-office mail order business.

tropic-of-cancer_FWST_110861_ad
FWST, Nov. 8, 1961

I thought this was a silly flare-up that lasted only a few weeks, but letters to the editor continued to show, at least through the winter of 1963, that it was still impossible to find the book in a Dallas bookstore. It probably wasn’t until 1964, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the book was not obscene, that Dallas booksellers were finally free to openly sell a book which was published in 1934. No one seemed to care much when the X-rated film version (starring Texan Rip Torn) played at the Granada in 1970.

movie_dmn_090970
Sept., 1970

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Sources & Notes

Cartoon by Herc Ficklen, from Aug. 30, 1961.

More on Tropic of Cancer at Wikipedia, here. This article contains my favorite line of any I read from the people who really, REALLY hated the book. It came from a Pennsylvania judge:

“[It is] not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity.”

Tons of articles on this appeared in The Dallas Morning News.in just ONE WEEK. Here are just a few (seriously, it’s the tip of the iceberg):

  • “Sales Banned: Police Label Book Obscene” by James Ewell (DMN, Aug. 16, 1961)
  • “Stores Stop Selling Book Called Obscene” by James Ewell (DMN, Aug. 17, 1961)
  • “Censorship of ‘Tropic’ Looses Opinion Barrage” by Scott Buchanan (Aug. 17, 1961)
  • “What Is Obscenity?” — editorial (DMN, Aug. 19, 1961)
  • “Book Fight Takes On Circus Air” (DMN, Aug. 19, 1961)
  • “Citizens Group Lauds Police Move On Book; Some Less Costly Smut Considered Main Problem” by Frank Hildebrand (Aug. 20, 1961)
  • “Cold Smut” — editorial (DMN, Aug. 20, 1961)
  • “Wade Orders Study On Smut Literature” by Carlos Conde (DMN, Aug. 21, 1961)
  • “Police Lectured On Book Action” by Jimmy Thornton (DMN, Aug. 22, 1961)
  • “Primer for Censors: A Few Basic Ideas”  by Lon Tinkle, Book Critic of The News (DMN, Sept. 3, 1961)

Every time I came across the word “smut” mentioned in connection with this topic — and it was mentioned a LOT — I couldn’t help but think of Vera Carp and the other Smut Snatchers of the New Order from Greater Tuna.

If it looks too dang small to read, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“A Haven From the Usual Turmoil of Holiday Shopping”

ABS_xmas_haven_nd“A superlative selection…”

by Paula Bosse

Remember the quiet joy of shopping in bookstores? Remember bookstores? In celebration of the completion of this year’s Christmas shopping, I give you two ads from The Aldredge Book Store, where there’s “plenty of parking  space […] and a pleasant Christmas spirit.”

ABS_xmas_19631963

No one is in a hurry. And we all try to see that you still have your Christmas spirit when you leave.

I practically grew up in this store, and I miss it.

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Sources & Notes

Both ads from the early 1960s. They appeared in the Sunday book sections of The Dallas Morning News and The Dallas Times Herald. (Remember when we had two newspapers? Remember when we had Sunday book sections?)

Previous posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Six Flags’ Historical Press Bookshop — 1965

six-flags-bookshop

by Paula Bosse

Six Flags Over Texas had a bookstore: the Historical Press Bookshop, located in the “Confederate Section.” Who knew? I was surprised when I ran across this postcard, but I figured it was a place to buy gum, film (remember film?), giant combs emblazoned with the Six Flags logo, and this very postcard. But no. It was a bookstore that sold rare Texana, including historic books, prints, and documents. At Six Flags. …Over Texas. …Land of Pink Things and Log Rides.

The description from the back of the postcard:

six-flags-bookshop_back

The store was ostensibly owned by Six Flags developer Angus Wynne, Jr., but the contents were owned by Ted W. Mayborn, wealthy petroleum trade journal publisher, writer, and Texas history aficionado. In a playful bow to having an antiquarian bookstore inside a theme park (!), he hired female family members to dress up in cowgirl outfits and brandish six-shooters in a bid to “protect” the (probably very expensive) merchandise.

I’m not really sure how this worked — or why anyone would think this was a good idea. Would one find oneself enjoying a day at Six Flags only to stumble across this unexpected cache of rare books and feel compelled to pick up a leather-bound first edition or a fragile broadside? Or would one go to Six Flags expressly to visit the bookstore and browse the stock — despite the fact that it was in an amusement park? Would one have one’s purchase shipped, or would one lug it around the park, through Casa Magnetica, past Skull Island, and into the Spelunker’s Cave?

There has to be a story behind this unusual business endeavor. Did Ted save Angus from choking one time? Did he win the franchise in a poker game?

I’m not sure how long the Historical Press Bookshop lasted. My guess? Longer than it should have.

Weirder than discovering that a bookshop was once part of the Six Flags experience was learning that Mr. Mayborn owned a real bookshop called the Red Barn Bookstore and that my father worked for him for a few months, a time my mother described as being brief but stressful. I think I can understand why.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Used Books and Guns” — 1967

used-books-and-guns_SASEKJust your typical Texas bookshop….

by Paula Bosse

In honor of my father’s birthday, I give you this great illustration by M. Sasek from his book This Is Texas, an amusing children’s book featuring a tour around Texas. The above is one of the offerings from San Antonio, and it’s accompanied by the following caption:

“San Antonio bookstore. There is all you need if you want to start a long literary argument — or to end one quickly.”

(I don’t know what bookshop this was, but it was real. If anyone knows its identity, please let me know!)

As this book was in my house growing up, I’m sure my father — a bookseller with a great sense of humor and an enthusiasm for firearms — must have seen this and laughed — and seriously considered whether the used books-and-guns combo-shop was feasible.

UPDATE: Thanks to my old friend Rodney H., I now have this photo to post here. I don’t know the source of this photo or where it was taken, but it certainly looks like Sasek’s illustration! (See them side by side, here.) Thanks, Rod!

used-books-guns

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Miroslav Sasek (1916-1980) was a Czech author and illustrator best known for his fantastic “This Is…” series of books, many of which have been reprinted. More on Sasek here and here.

A previous post I wrote about my father, Dick Bosse, owner of The Aldredge Book Store, is here.

Yes, there WAS a similar bookstore envisioned in a “King of the Hill” episode; read about it here.

I love this book, and even though it was reprinted in 2006, I think it is out-of-print again. There are several for sale here (I’d avoid the copies listed as “fair” or “good.” And make sure you get a dust jacket!)

Click picture for larger image.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Back When Bookstore Fixtures Were a Thing of Beauty! — 1940s

baptist-book-storeErvay & Pacific — “Book Corner” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In July of 1941 the Baptist Building opened at Ervay and Pacific. Part of the ground floor (“the Book Corner”) was occupied by the Baptist Book Store, which sold mostly religious material, but which also stocked dictionaries (“and other items of similar nature”) and children’s books (“We have books for every type and age of juvenile from the Picture Books of Children from three to five to the vigorous youth wanting stories of the romantic west”). The ad below appeared in a booklet put together to welcome newcomers to the city, about 1946:

baptist-book-store_ca1946(click for larger image of bookstore interior)
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Having grown up in a family-run bookstore (and having worked in various other bookstores for a large chunk of my life), I’m always fascinated by old photos of bookstore interiors, and this one is just great. (Click the image above to see the photo of the store much larger.) I’m particularly fascinated by the fixtures encircling the pillars — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the problem handled in such a sophisticated way. And is that recessed lighting shining down on the slatwalls? This is a really wonderful-looking bookstore. The only thing that looks out of place is what appears to be an old-fashioned chunky cash register, center left. Everything else in this photo makes the bookseller in me practically giddy with nostalgia.

baptist-book-store_dmn_092847-det

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Ad is from a publication called “So This is Dallas” published by “The Welcome Wagon.” It is undated but is probably from immediately after the war. This slim booklet was printed for several years in slightly different editions for people who were considering a move to Dallas or for people who had just moved here. These booklets are wonderful snapshots of the time, with everything the prospective Dallasite would need: facts, photos, and ads.

Bottom image is a detail from a 1947 ad.

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I am fascinated by photographs of vintage bookstore interiors — especially Dallas bookstore interiors, of which there are precious few to be found. I would love to see any photos of Dallas bookstores before, say, 1970. If you have any, please send them my way! My contact info is in the “About/Contact” tab at the top of the page. Thanks!

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cokesbury Book Store — 1959

cokesbury_dallas_1959

“For a summer of pleasure, grab a good book.”

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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