Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Bookstores

“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.”


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.


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.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Six Flags’ Historical Press Bookshop — 1965


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:


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.


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!



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.


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)

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.



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.


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!


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Cokesbury Book Store — 1959


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


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

My Father, Dick Bosse — Dallas Bookman


by Paula Bosse

Dick Bosse was my father. When he died in 2000, he had managed (and later owned) The Aldredge Book Store for almost 45 years. He started working for founder Sawnie R. Aldredge, Jr. fresh off a half-hearted attempt at grad school. I’m sure he had no idea when he started working there (at $1.00 an hour) just how important a role the store would play in his life. My parents met at the store when my mother began working there, and they married a couple of years later. My brother and I spent countless hours there and practically grew up in the store. The Aldredge Book Store was a second home to my family, and looking back on all the time I spent there, all the books I read when I was bored, all the literati of the city I met who eventually popped in and sat around talking with my father over a cup of coffee or a beer, all the store cats I loved who became minor celebrities themselves — when I look back on all that, I realize how lucky my brother and I were to have had such interesting parents who brought us up in such an interesting place.

My father had a reputation as a stellar bookman but was known as much for his wit and humor as he was for his deep and wide-ranging knowledge of books, both rare and “chicken-fried.” He was one of the state’s top Texana experts, and his mailing list contained just about every major Texas author. The Aldredge Book Store was one of the oldest antiquarian bookstores in the Southwest, but my father was a remarkably unstuffy, unassuming, and down-to-earth bookseller.

I’ve been working off-and-on at collecting pithy catalog blurbs my father wrote over the years. The bulk of his sale catalogs were straight listings of antiquarian and out-of-print books, but he became fairly well-known in the Texas book trade for descriptions like these which he would insert throughout for his own amusement. I’ve left out the full bibliographical descriptions, but here are a few of my favorites. I realize some of these are a little esoteric, but this has been a fun project, and it’s nice to remember how funny my father was (bad puns and all). (I only wish I had been able to catalog like this when I worked as a rare books cataloger for an auction house!)

Adams, Ramon F. THE RAMPAGING HERD. The shit-kickers’ John Ciardi.

Brown, John Henry. LIFE & TIMES OF HENRY SMITH, The First American Governor of Texas. A rather nice copy, not one of the bugshit-encrusted remainders.


Carter, Jimmy. KEEPING THE FAITH. Signed by the author, a former president.

Clary, Annie Vaughan. THE PIONEER LIFE. In HERD, but curiously not in SIXGUNS despite feuds, Texas Rangers, and Daddy popping caps on some badasses.

Clay, John. MY LIFE ON THE RANGE. Nice copy of the consensus bovine biggie.

Cravens, John Park. WITH FINGERS CROSSED: The Truth As Told In Texas. Apparently humor.

Devlin, John C. & Grace Naismith. THE WORLD OF ROGER TORY PETERSON, An Authorized Biography. Peterson, a student of blue bird mores, was known to Brandeis ornithologists as the goy of Jay sex.

Dobie, J. Frank. AS THE MOVING FINGER WRIT. Inscribed to “Mr. Moore,” in which 60-word inscription Dobie alludes (a frequent trick to prove he was not your run-of-the-mill shit-kicker) to Maugham and Schiller.

Eickemeyer, Rudolf. LETTERS FROM THE SOUTH WEST. Puny yankee sopping up the sun in El Paso & Santa Fe.

ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA. The twelfth edition (the eleventh edition with the supplements). Best encyclopedia in English executed prior to the American greaseballization.

Faulk, John Henry. FEAR ON TRIAL. HUAC to Hee-Haw.

Fuermann, George. RELUCTANT EMPIRE. Fine copy in dust jacket, signed by author and illustrator and marred only by one of those hideous goddam lick-in bookplates.

Gent, Peter. TEXAS CELEBRITY TURKEY TROT. Too much Peter; not enough Gent.

Hardin, John Wesley. THE LIFE OF JOHN WESLEY HARDIN. Mischievous preacher’s kid.

Hargrove, Lottie H. TEXAS HISTORY IN RHYME. Aarghh!

Hudson, Alfred Edward A’Courte. SELECTED BLOOD STUDIES ON SWINE. “Satisfying your antiquarian porcine hematological requisites since 1947.”

Koehler, Otto A. KU-WINDA (To Hunt). African safari by the Texas Beer Baron; well-illustrated, including some comely bare-breasted Somaliettes holding a “Join The Swing To Pearl” banner.

Long, Mary Cole Farrow. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, From Beaufort, South Carolina, To Galveston Island Republic of Texas — A Biography of Judge James Pope Cole (1814-1866). Probably unknown to Heinlein.

McDonald, William. DALLAS REDISCOVERED: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870-1925. The reissue was in wraps and had a “perfect binding,” one of the more notable oxymorons of our time.

Pellowe, William C. S. (ed.). MICHIGAN METHODIST POETS. Enthusiasts of The Muse will be relieved to know that Michigan sprinklers are as fully gifted as their Texas colleagues.

Riley, B. F. HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS OF TEXAS. Covers blemished, apparently sprinkled by a surly Methodist.

Rozelle, Robet V. (ed.). THE WENDY AND EMERY REVES COLLECTION. The greatest Dallas art coup since SMU acquired the wet-paint Spanish Masters collection of Al Meadows.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. A THOUSAND DAYS, John F. Kennedy in the White House. Most notable fawning since Bambi’s birth.

Slaughter, Bob. FOSSIL REMAINS OF MYTHICAL CREATURES. Profusely illustrated with photos and drawings by the author, apostate bar-fly now a distinguished scientist and sculptor. A grab-ass classic.

White, Owen P. MY TEXAS ‘TIS OF THEE. A nice enough copy except that a cretin at something called “Mary’s Book Nook” was a compulsive rubber-stamper.



Above, my father, on the right, at the first location of the Aldredge Book Store on McKinney Avenue. The accompanying article by Luise Putcamp, Jr. is here.



Above is one of my favorite photos of my father, taken in a small used bookstore I had on Lower Greenville Avenue. A newspaper editor thought it would be “cute” to have a photo of father-daughter booksellers. The photographer suggested I hold the newer, cutting-edge art book while my father held the older, obscure British arts journal. Of course, my father would have been more interested in the Allen Jones book, and I would have been more interested in The Yellow Book (a set of which my father gave to me for Christmas one year — and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received).

Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday. 80! I think of him all the time, and I miss him terribly. He was a wonderful guy, and — aside from the modest income — I think he would have said that a lifetime career as a bookseller was a pretty sweet deal.


Sources & Notes

When my father died in April, 2000, several appreciations of him appeared in print. If you would like to read the appreciations by his friends A. C. Greene (a very sweet tribute) and Lee Milazzo (my personal favorite — very funny), as well as the nice official obituary, they are all transcribed here

My brother, Erik Bosse, wrote a wonderful piece about our father for a catalog we issued after his death. The warm and amusing essay — as well as some of the crazy business cards my father took great joy in printing up — can be found here

Sketch at the top was done by Nancy C. Dewell (1969). Slightly larger than a business card, it arrived in the mail one day with a short note that read: “I don’t know your name. I think you are Mr. Aldredge. I would be pleased if you would accept my drawing of you in the bookshop. Sincerely, Nancy C. Dewell.” I can’t imagine a better likeness. I really, really love this.

Photo of me and my father from the Dallas Observer.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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