Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: City Government

Proposals From the Bartholomew Master Plan For Dallas — 1940s

municipal-center_erwin-earl-schmidt-rendering_bartholomew-plan-1946Behold… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few proposals from the Dallas master plan for post-war development and planning, commissioned by the city from the St. Louis firm of Harland Bartholomew and Associates (in association with Hare & Hare Landscape Architects). The scanned reports which made up this plan — submitted between 1943 and 1946 — can be found on the Portal to Texas History site, here, courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives. If you’re interested in urban planning and maps, these reports are fascinating.

The image above (from 1946, rendered by architect Erwin Earl Schmidt) shows a proposed municipal center on the familiar “South Akard Street Site.” The plan is below. (All images are larger when clicked.)

municipal-center_bartholomew-plan-1946

The previous year, the site for this proposed municipal center was north of Pacific:

municipal-center-plan_bartholomew-plan-1945

And Schmidt’s rendering for that compound is just as interesting:

municipal-center_erwin-earl-schmidt-rendering_bartholomew-plan-1945

Also discussed in the plan was what to do with Fair Park. Here’s a 1945 redevelopment proposal:

fair-park-redevelopment_bartholomew-plan-1945

And here’s the 1946 re-jiggering (the Cotton Bowl’s getting a lot of action):

fair-park_preliminary-plan_bartholomew-1946

And, lastly, a 1946 plan for expansion of the “Hall Street Park for Negroes.” I’m not sure that any of this ever happened. The last mention I see of this park was in 1945 (the first mention I found of the park in the Dallas Morning News archives was 1922, and it had clearly been around for a while before that — perhaps it was absorbed into the existing Griggs Park? “Central Boulevard” would soon be built and renamed Central Expressway, the highway that sliced through the thriving black neighborhood centered around Hall Street.

hall-street-park_bartholomew-plan-1946

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Sources & Notes

The 1945 plates can be found in the original publication here; the 1946 plates here.

All illustrations are from the Bartholomew master plan proposal; these reports are from the collection of the Dallas Municipal Archives, accessible on UNT’s Portal to Texas History, here.

Additional images from the plan can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “‘Your Dallas of Tomorrow’ — 1943,'” here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Your Dallas of Tomorrow” — 1943

downtown_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_1943_portalMain Street, 1943… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Harland Bartholomew, a St. Louis urban planner and civil engineer, was asked by the City of Dallas in 1943 to prepare a master plan for Dallas which would address the needs of the city’s post-war growth and livability. As then-mayor Woodall Rodgers said, “We need another Kessler Plan and have waited long enough to start. We want to be ready to put Dallas ahead when the war is over and we will have great opportunities to put a master plan in effect” (Dallas Morning News, April 1, 1943).

Read Bartholomew’s incredibly thorough 51-page report titled “Your Dallas of Tomorrow” here. It has been scanned in its entirety and is presented (courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives) on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site. In addition to the report, there are drawings, graphs, maps, and the wonderful photo seen above showing an already-vibrant metropolis, with its newest addition to the skyline, the Mercantile Bank Building. Below are a few other things from Bartholomew’s master plan I found interesting. (All images are larger when clicked.)

your-dallas-of-tomorrow_1943_portal_cover

This map showing the growth of the city, from 1855 to 1943, is really interesting. Check out the “disannexed” areas. (I think that area east of the Park Cities was disannexed because landowners — which included W. W. Caruth — argued that it was undeveloped farmland and shouldn’t be subjected to city taxation. …I think.)

growth-of-dallas-to-1943_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_portal

A somewhat recognizable skyline.

skyline_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_1943_portal

Levee District.

levee-development_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_portal

The old Union Depot at the edge of Deep Ellum, demolished in 1935.

union-depot_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_1943_portal

There is much more in this interesting report, including quite a bit of good historical information on the development and growth of Dallas.

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Source & Notes

All images from “Your Dallas of Tomorrow, A Master Plan for Dallas, Texas,” prepared by Harland Bartholomew and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri in September, 1943. Booklet from the Dallas Municipal Archives, accessible on the Portal to Texas History, here.

The report above was the first one issued — and it was the most glitzy. The ones that followed were more down-to-business. Some of the plans were implemented, some were not. See all of the reports of the master plan prepared by Bartholomew and Associates — issued between 1943 and 1946 — here. If you like maps, this link has your name all over it!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

How Dallas Used to Get Election Returns

election-returns_1928_frank-rogers_dplA Dallas crowd waits for returns in 1928 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I think there’s some sort of political thing going on? Like most every other human being in the United States (…and beyond), I’m pretty sick of hearing about politics and politicians. Like nauseous sick. So why not write about elections! Below are some fun facts about how Dallasites used to get their election returns — share them with your fellow voters while standing in line at the polling station. They will think you are either very interesting or very annoying.

Forget the issues and the personalities, let’s look at election results: how were they passed along to the public in the days before radio and television? Other than newspapers (the primary source of all things informational), there was a time when results were “bulletined” by throwing images onto stretched canvases or even onto the sides of  buildings by a powerful stereopticon or “magic lantern.” These results were continuously updated as manual counts in local races were tabulated; farther-flung races were updated via tallies received by telegraph or telephone. Crowds gathered in front of buildings — usually newspaper offices — to watch the returns. Some accounts have this form of information dissemination beginning in the 1860s (see an illustration from 1872 here), with the practice becoming more widespread by the 1880s and more technologically advanced by the 1890s.

Below, an illustration showing jubilant crowds watching congressional returns in Columbus, Ohio in 1884.

ohio_election-results_1884
Columbus, Ohio, 1884

Things had been refined by 1896, as this illustration from the Atlanta Constitution shows. The caption: “Flashing out the returns in front of the Constitution office. Thousands of people gathered in front of the Constitution Building last night and watched the returns come in.” In the rain! That’s dedication.

atlanta-1896_twitter
Atlanta, Georgia, 1896

Also in 1896 — things got crazy in New York, with a ridiculously large “screen” hung from a very tall building.

projections_electrical-engineer_mag_111196_photo
NYC, 1896

magic-lantern_nyc_films-and-american-presidency
from “Film and the American Presidency”

The first mention I found in The Dallas Morning News about projecting election results before a large crowd was in 1891. Not only did the newspaper have a large bulletin board (maybe like a large chalk board?), they also used the stereopticon. (The full article about the results of the 1891 election can be read here.) (All pictures and clippings are larger when clicked.)

1891_election-returns_dmn_040891
Dallas Morning News, April 8, 1891

The magic lantern was called back into service the next year (read an entertaining DMN article about an 1892 election here in which the crowd huddled in front of the screen watching the returns despite rain and open saloons) — in fact, this “electric bulletin board” was so popular it was used for at least 40 more years.

In 1896, interest was really intense — an unbelievable 94% of Dallas’ registered voters had turned out to cast ballots. (It took four days to tally the votes!) A huge crowd gathered around the News building at Commerce and Lamar to watch the bulletins which were “flashed by means of a powerful stereopticon on a large canvas screen stretched across the street” (“Republicans Doubled Votes in ’96” by Sam Acheson, DMN, Jan. 1, 1968).

By 1900 this stereopticon thing was getting to be standard operating procedure.

1900_election-result_dmn_110600
DMN, Nov. 6, 1900

1908_election-result_dmn_050208
DMN, May 2, 1908

By 1911, “25,000 or 30,000 persons” were showing up to watch the returns.

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DMN, July 23, 1911

I guess people used to just phone the papers after elections to ask about the results. The News would rather you didn’t, thanks.

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DMN, July 21, 1916

1918 was an interesting year for a few reasons: (1) WWI was underway, (2) the polls opened — for some reason — at 9:27 AM and closed at 8:27 PM (?), and … (3) it was the first election in Dallas in which women were allowed to vote. There was suddenly a huge number of registered voters to have to deal with. Newspaper reports showed registration of women outnumbering men in several precincts. The large number of new voters meant that votes began to be counted “one hour after the polls are opened and will continue until the work is concluded” (DMN, July 19, 1918). Which seems odd. Also, women were encouraged to vote early in the day so as to avoid long lines and men were instructed to watch their behavior if there were women present.

1918_election-result_dmn_072618
DMN, July 26, 1918

It’s surprising that the use of projectors to display election returns was used as late as 1930, well after the advent of radio. Apparently the Texas Election Bureau and Press Association had rules forbidding radio stations from announcing election results over the air until they had been printed in the newspaper — they were, however, allowed to give “relative standings” to their audiences at fifteen-minute intervals (DMN, July 27, 1930).

Seems like the newspapers held all the power (probably not a huge problem for radio stations since most of them were owned by the newspapers, and, of course, no problem at all for the papers who printed oodles of “extra” editions). By 1930, though, crowds had gotten so large downtown that they were diverting people to Fair Park where they could sit and enjoy the cool breezes as they listened to see if their candidates had won or lost. (“Sitting” seems to be the operative word here.) But soon radio would wrest the “instant news bulletin” power away from the newspapers, and these quaint magic lantern watching-parties would be unnecessary. Eventually people wouldn’t know they’d ever even existed.

Fast-forward to today. I can’t even imagine trekking downtown to watch election results come in at a snail’s pace, magic lantern or not. It’s the 21st century, man, and I’ll be plopped in front of my TV, channel-hopping, stress-eating and stress-drinking, and wondering what friendly country I might consider “visiting” for a while.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo shows crowds of Dallasites watching election returns. This Frank Rogers photo — a Dallas Public Library photo reproduced in A. C. Greene’s book Dallas, The Deciding Years — shows a crowd (which seems to be devoid of women) watching the 1928 presidential election returns on Elm Street. Another Rogers photo from the DPL, undated, probably taken 5 or 6 years earlier:

election-returns_elm-street_dpl_frank-rogers

It’s convenient that he was able to include his studio in the background! The photograph is undated, but Frank Rogers and the Adam Schaaf Piano Store shared a building — at 1303 Elm — between 1922 and 1923. The building to the right is the Dallas Times Herald Building, and it would make sense that the crowd was looking toward the other side of the street. In fact, this may have been the night that the KKK famously marched through downtown, past the large crowds gathered in front of both the Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Morning News offices, to celebrate that their candidates had won … and won big.

klan-march_dmn_082722
DMN, Aug. 27, 1922

The illustration showing Ohio returns in Columbus being projected on the night of Oct. 14, 1884 is from Frank Leslie’s Weekly (this illustration was featured in the book Politicking and Emergent Media: U.S. Presidential Elections of the 1890s by Charles Musser).

The 1896 illustration is from the Atlanta Constitution, found on Twitter.

The 1896 photograph of the World Building in New York is from the trade journal The Electrical Engineer, Nov. 11, 1896. The paragraph below it is from the book Film and the American Presidency by Jeff Menne and Christian B. Long.

Further reading from the archives of The Dallas Morning News (regarding the July 26, 1930 election):

  • “News and Journal To Give Two Election Count Parties” (DMN, July 25, 1930) — an announcement to voters where they could get the “flashed” returns of the next day’s voting (in front of the News building “as usual,” and at Fair Park “where results will also be thrown on a screen at the moving picture booth near the grand stand”
  • “Fates of Favorites Watched on News and Journal Screens” (DMN, July 27, 1930) — two photos showing crowds at Commerce and Lamar and at Fair Park watching the returns

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Fair Park Bond Issue — 1934

centennial-bond-issue_front-cover_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU_sm“Forward 1936…”  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

With all the heated discussion currently going on about what the city is going to do with Fair Park, I thought this little pamphlet from 1934 seemed timely. Published by the “Centennial Fair Park Bond Committee” (comprised of all the Dallas movers and shakers one would expect), the get-out-the-vote brochure was issued to explain the $3,000,000 (about $54,000,000 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation) bond issue, the approval of which was essential in order to clinch the honor of hosting the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936. The entire pamphlet — part of the George W. Cook Collection in the DeGolyer Library — may be read on SMU’s website, here.

centennial-bond-issue_back-cover_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU

A couple of excerpts:

centennial-bond-issue

centennial-bond-issue_2

centennial-bond-issue_3

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The issue passed, overwhelmingly, by a 5-1 margin. It’s interesting to note that the voting restrictions on this referendum were … pretty restrictive. Not only was payment of a poll tax required to vote (…one had to pay for the “privilege” of voting…), but one also had to be a property owner — and that property owner was not allowed to vote until a “rendition” was signed downtown in the tax assessor’s office. Many property owners who had signed the necessary paperwork were still unable to vote as they had not paid (or could not afford) the poll tax. It’s pretty obvious here that a substantial number of lower income residents (i.e. non-property owners or property owners unable to afford the poll tax) — including many who lived in the area immediately surrounding Fair Park — were legally prohibited from casting a vote.

6,550 ballots were cast (5462-1088), which represented “little more than one-third of the 18,000 supposed qualified to decide this important issue” (Dallas  Morning News, Nov. 1, 1934). It was declared to be “the largest majority ever cast for a bond issue in [the] history of Dallas” (DMN, Oct. 31, 1934).

The passage of the October, 1934 bond issue assured that Dallas would host the Texas Centennial Exposition, a statewide celebration which proved to be a huge success and was a tremendous economic boon to the city.

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Sources & Notes

The pamphlet “Texas and Dallas … Forward 1936: Why We Should Vote For Centennial Fair Park Bonds, Tuesday, October 30, 1934” is part of the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; the entire pamphlet is contained in a PDF which may be read and/or downloaded here.

More on this vote can be found in these two Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “OK on Bonds For Huge Fair Up to Voters” (DMN, Oct. 30, 1934) — published on voting day, this article includes the particulars of the voting restrictions
  • “Five-to-One Majority Scored As City Favors Centennial Bonds to Assure Huge Fair” (DMN, Oct. 31, 1934) — the results

Payment of a poll tax was still required to vote in Texas elections until 1966, when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled such taxes were unconstitutional. More about that from the Dallas Public Library, here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

So You’re Considering a Move To Dallas … What’s That Tax Situation Like? — 1943

taxation_so-this-is-dallas_ca-1943_detYou and your gardener will *love* Dallas! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s 1943. You’re  considering relocating your business and your family to Dallas. You’ll probably be owning a mansion like the one pictured above. Should you and your large bank account settle in Dallas? I mean, is it really the best place … tax-wise?

Below is a page from a pamphlet called So This Is Dallas, a publication which was intended to sway decisions such as this. It was issued for several years by a group called “The Welcome Wagon,” and this edition came out sometime during World War II. Here’s what Big D had to offer in those days. (Click to see much larger image.)

taxation_so-this-is-dallas_ca-1943

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Taxation…

Dallas offers a favorable tax situation that can be found in but few communities. There is no State income tax in Texas and no general sales tax.

Corporations operating in the State are subject to three forms of taxation. If they are foreign corporations, they must qualify legally in the State and pay a permit fee, an annual franchise tax and ad valorem taxes. If they are domestic corporations, they pay a fee to secure a Texas charter, an annual franchise tax and ad valoreum [sic?] taxes.

Texas laws do not discriminate against foreign corporations. The permit fee for a foreign corporation and the charter fee of a Texas corporation are arrived at in the same way, the proportionate amount of capital used in Texas by the foreign corporation and the capital stock of the domestic corporation. Franchise taxes for both foreign and domestic corporations are also assessed on the same basis.

Ad Valorem Taxes

All corporations, whether domestic or foreign, and all others owning property within the State of Texas, must render their property as of January 1 each year for city, State and county taxes. The property is rendered at its inventory value. The basis of assessment varies in different counties.

Current ad valorem taxes in Dallas are: City of Dallas, $2.45 per $100 valuation, basis of assessment 53 per cent of value; Dallas County, 74 cents per $100 valuation, basis of assessment 50 per cent of value; State, 69 cents per $100 valuation, basis of assessment 50 per cent of value.

Dallas has the lowest tax rate of any large city in the Southwest. Each city has a different basis of assessment. Reducing their rates to a basis of assessment on 100 per cent of value, net tax rates for the four leading cities in Texas are:

Dallas ….. $20.56 net per $1,000
Houston ….. $22.03 net per $1,000
San Antonio ….. $26.89 net per $1,000
Fort Worth ….. $29.25 net per $1,000

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I don’t know what ANY of that means, but it looks like Dallas wins. Welcome to your new mansion!

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Page from So This Is Dallas, published around 1943 by The Welcome Wagon; courtesy of the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook page.

If you recognize any of these homes, let me know and I’ll add the info here. I’m seeing what looks like Lakewood and Swiss Avenue, and maybe Highland Park and Oak Cliff.

Click pictures for larger images.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Home Sweet Home at Commerce & Harwood

municipal-bldg_houses_jeppson_flickr“Main Street Garden?” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Quaint homes, mere steps from City Hall. Not sure of the exact date of this photo, but these homes and this service station were at the above location in 1920. Wonder when those homeowners finally decided to sell? Talk about your primo real estate!

Below is a similar photo, but this one shows more of Commerce looking east — I don’t come across a lot of photos of this era showing downtown past what was unofficially thought of as its eastern boundary.

municipal-bldg_cook-coll_degolyer_SMU

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Photo from Noah Jeppson’s Flickr page, here.

Second photo, titled “Dallas City Hall,” is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found here.

More on the building of the City Hall/Municipal Building in the post “The Elegant Municipal Building — 1914,” here.

Click picture for larger image.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“A City Built On the Solid Rock of Service” — 1927

ad-dallas-chamber-of-commerce_tx-almanac_1927-det“Opportunity!” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Below, a 1927 Dallas Chamber of Commerce ad with some interesting statistics.

ad-dallas-chamber-of-commerce_tx-almanac_1927

OPPORTUNITY

The CITY OF PROGRESS invites YOU to share in its PROSPERITY.

DALLAS–in 1900 a town of forty-thousand; in 1927 a city of a quarter million; forty-second in population; third as an agricultural implement distributing point; fifth as a dry goods market; fifteenth as a general jobbing center–the first city of the Southwest, in the fastest growing section of the United States.

Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are invited to investigate Dallas–a city built on the solid rock of service.

Pretty impressive. And the illustration of a dynamic city on the other side of that viaduct is all but throbbing with energy

The illustration from a 1929 Chamber of Commerce ad is even less modest: it shows Dallas as the center of the universe, center stage on Planet Earth, lit up by the sun and the giant Klieg lights of space.

ad-dallas-chamber-of-commerce_tx-almanac_1929-det

I kind of think Dallas has pretty much always seen itself like this.

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Ads from the 1927 and 1929 editions of The Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Trinity Heights: The Tallent Furniture Studio and The Sunshine Home

tallents-furniture-store_oak-cliff_tichnorVermont & South Ewing… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The postcard image above shows a bird’s eye view of a few blocks in the Trinity Heights neighborhood of Oak Cliff, from the late 1940s. As I looked at it, I wondered a) what does this intersection look like now, b) what is that unlabeled building that looks like a jail behind the furniture store, and c) what was Tallent’s Furniture Studio?

Tallent’s Furniture Studio, owned by Raymond E. Tallent, was located at 815 Vermont Avenue.

tallent_dmn_010350-obit-photo

tallents-ad_dmn_081256-det1956

Not only did it house a furniture store, but it also served as an office for Tallent’s real estate business. According to Tallent’s obituary, he came to Dallas in 1920 and started his real estate business five years later. Starting out, he’d’ve been happy to trade you property for diamonds. “What have you?”

tallent_dmn_042928-real-estate-adApril, 1928

The first mention I found for the furniture store is this Christmas ad from 1947.

tallents_ad_121147Dec., 1947

Tallent died in January of 1950 at the age of 53. Both of his businesses continued after his death, and the furniture store was still going in the late 1960s.

So, nothing out of the ordinary — just a small business, like thousands of other small Dallas businesses. Probably the most interesting thing about Tallent was that he had the good taste to have that great promotional postcard made. That strange little building behind the store was a lot more interesting.

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What was that building? The first time it popped up on a Sanborn map was 1922: it was identified as a “County Detention Home” (click for larger image).

detention-home_sanborn_19221922 Sanborn map detail — see full page here

Despite its name, the “detention home” was not a correctional facility for juvenile delinquents, but it was a home for dependent children who had been made wards of Dallas County because of neglect or abandonment or because parents had died or were simply unable to care for them. This detention home was built in 1917 at 1545 South Ewing (“south of Oak Cliff”). During its construction in 1917, its roof collapsed, killing one of the workers.

detention-home-collapse_dmn-041317Dallas Morning News, Apr. 13, 1917

The home was almost immediately overcrowded, and its superintendents were constantly scrambling for an increase in funding. Children, ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers, lived there as long as they needed — some for a few months, some for several years. They attended nearby schools, and even though they were wards of the court and were living in an institution, the people who ran the place tried to make it as home-like as possible. In January, 1934, the name of the county facility was changed to the much more cheerful “Sunshine Home.”

In 1950, the Sunshine Home received $165,000 in bond money for improvements and expansion, adding modern structures to the large campus but still retaining the original two-story red brick building built in 1917.

In 1975, the Dallas County Sunshine Home and the Girls’ Day Center merged, and the former Sunshine Home was renamed Cliff House.

In 2014, the 28,000-square-foot property on just under five acres was put up for sale, and in early 2015 plans for a charter elementary school were approved.

Below, a Google Earth image of the same view as the postcard featuring Tallent’s Furniture Studio, captured before the old Sunshine Home buildings had been demolished (click for larger image).

tallent_birdseye-google-earthGoogle Earth

The view is remarkably similar to the one taken more than 65 years earlier. A little bleaker these days, perhaps, but certainly still recognizable.

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Sources & Notes

Top postcard is from the Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection; it is viewable here.

Information on the plans for the KIPP Truth Academy submitted to the City of Dallas (with interesting illustrations/maps on pages 10 and 11) can be found in a PDF, here.

A recent Google Street View of this block of Vermont Avenue can be seen here. The Tallent furniture store occupied the building to the left of the Vermont Grocery.

The heart-tugging article “For All Loving Care Bestowed, Sunshine Home, Space Small, Needs Much to Cheer Children” (DMN, July 24, 1941) — written by popular Dallas Morning News columnist Paul Crume — describes daily life in the Sunshine Home and can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives.

A then-and-now comparison (click for larger image):

tallent_then-now

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“The Walls Are Rising” (1967): Watch It Online!

mercury-dealership-6110-lemmon_wallsDallasites love their cars…. (photo from “The Walls Are Rising”/AIA Dallas)

by Paula Bosse

Late last year I stumbled across mention of a 1967 film about Dallas called “The Walls Are Rising.” It was made by the American Institute of Architects, Dallas Chapter, and was sponsored by the Greater Dallas Planning Council as a sort of warning to the people of Dallas about the dangers of auto-centric sprawl and uncontrolled urban planning. I searched and searched for the whereabouts of the film, but it seemed to have disappeared without a trace. I contacted AIA Dallas, and after much searching, they found the film, still on an old reel. They digitized the film and screened it before a large and enthusiastic crowd in January, and after viewing the film and listening to a panel discussion, audience members launched into a lively and concerned discussion about the state of Dallas today. It turns out that most of the topics of grave concern in 1967 continue to be topics of grave concern today, almost 50 years later.

AIA Dallas has uploaded the 27-minute film to Vimeo, and it is now available for all to watch online. Made to emphasize the dangers of out-of-control urban blight brought on by an over-reliance on automobiles, a lack of green spaces, and depressing expanses of visual clutter, the film is a sardonic look at a claustrophobically “modern” Dallas. It’s a hip documentary — absolutely a product of its era — made by a filmmaker with avant-garde tendencies; imagine what an industrial film would have been like had it been made by “with-it” ad men who were given free-rein to get their message across (and who may have indulged in illicit substances during the editing phase). Not as weird as the film itself (though still plenty weird) are some of the proposals from architects and planners on ways to improve the city’s “livability.”

Best of all, though, are all the photos of the city. It’s great being able to hit “pause” and take a look at each and every 1967 photo of Dallas, from a jam-packed downtown, to a cluttered Oak Lawn, to a serene Turtle Creek.

Thanks again to AIA Dallas for finding the film and uploading this weird little slice of Dallas history!

The Walls are Rising from AIA Dallas on Vimeo.

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A few screengrabs (click for larger images):

oak-lawn_jays_esquire_walls

lee-optical_walls

sterling_walls-are-rising_1967

night_parking

state-fair-2_walls

turtle_turtle-creek_walls

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Sources & Notes

The video can be found on Vimeo here.

All photos by Ronald Perryman, from his film “The Walls Are Rising” (1967), “produced by Greater Dallas Planning Council in collaboration with Dallas Chapter of American Institute of Architects.”

The AIA Dallas website is here.

Robert Wilonsky’s Dallas Morning News blog post (May 21, 2015) on the uploading of this film is here.

My previous posts on “The Walls Are Rising” can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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