Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Crime/Law Enforcement

Need Bonnie & Clyde and Smoot Schmid Memorabilia?

bonnie-and-clyde_ring_rr-auction_june-2017Nothing says “I love you”…

by Paula Bosse

Thank you, Robin McLauren, for making me aware of the upcoming “Gangsters, Outlaws, & Lawmen” auction presented by RR Auction (the sale is June 24, 2017, with the lots available to be previewed here and bidding to begin next week). Of particular interest to those of us in Dallas are the lots concerning Bonnie & Clyde and the lots concerning Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid (known for, among other things, his involvement in the Bonnie & Clyde case) — these Dallas-specific lots can be viewed separately, here (there are three pages, see the page numbers at the bottom of the page).

There is everything from photos of B&C’s bullet-ridden car, photos of the two West Dallas outlaws lying on morgue slabs, Bonnie’s blood-stained glasses, Schmid’s gun, and even his Shriners fez. Here are a few of the items I found interesting.

The first one is pictured at the top: a 3-headed serpent “promise ring” Clyde made for Bonnie while in prison (information on the lot can be found here). It’s kind of cool. (Most images on this page are larger when clicked.)

Another lot (here) contains four photos: two show the crowds attending Bonnie Parker’s viewing at the McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home on Forest Avenue, taken by Dallas Times Herald photographer Denny Hayes, and two show the gravesites of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

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Another lot (here) has 36 photos concerning Blanche Barrow, wife of Clyde’s brother Buck Barrow. Here she is marcelled and striking a pose.

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By far the best item is the bitter and angry letter of April, 1934 sent by Clyde Barrow to ex-Barrow Gang member Raymond Hamilton who was incarcerated in the Dallas County jail. Clyde dictated the letter to Bonnie, who must have had better penmanship (he signed it). A month later, Bonnie & Clyde were dead. The content of the 4-page letter is fantastic — read it here.

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There are several items that once belonged to Sheriff Richard A. “Smoot” Schmid, including this 14K gold diamond-studded badge presented to “Smoots” Schmid by his detectives in 1933.

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And, his boots, with his “SS” initials on each.

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And just because it’s odd, I have to admit I’m quite taken with this photo tucked into a lot containing several photographs which shows Schmid slapping cuffs on a robot.

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Bidding begins June 15!

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The RR Auction website is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Bonnie and Clyde are here.

Most photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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“Enemy Aliens” and the WWII Internment Camp at Seagoville

japanese_dallas_wwii_corbisDallasites rounded up the day after Pearl Harbor… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I think most of us know about the sad period in American history of Japanese internment camps when, following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States “interned” men, women, and children of Japanese descent (often including whole families, some of whom were born in America or were naturalized American citizens). I’ve always thought of these camps as being in the western part of the country. I had no idea until just a couple of days ago that there were three “enemy alien” internment camps in Texas — and one of them was in Dallas County.

For a full history of the camp in Seagoville — which is a mere 20 miles southeast of Dallas — there are several links at the bottom of this post. But, briefly, the “camp” was originally built as a federal women’s prison in 1938 on 800 acres of farmland. The United States entered World War II as a result of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and, suddenly, authorities began scrambling to round up enemy aliens living in the U.S.: people born in countries we were now at war with — primarily those of Japanese, German, and Italian descent — were rounded up and questioned. Many were arrested. Many were interned in camps where they were basically kept prisoner for the duration of the war. Even though the bulk of the initial internees were, oddly enough, from Latin America (most of them Japanese, most sent from Peru), there were also several who, before the war, had been living in the United States for decades without any problems. (See a dizzying number of links at the bottom of this post for more on the Texas internment camps at Seagoville, Kenedy, and Crystal City.)

Below, the Seagoville camp.

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In December, 1941, authorities in every city in the country were swooping down on foreign nationals (or just people who looked foreign or spoke with an accent), hauling them in for questioning, often arresting them for nothing more than the fact that they had been born in another country. Dallas was certainly no exception. Unsurprisingly, immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dallas’ few Japanese residents were rounded up. All ten of them. (Clippings and photos are larger when clicked.)

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Dallas Morning News, Dec. 8, 1941

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DMN, Dec. 9, 1941

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DMN, Dec. 9, 1941

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DMN, Dec. 19, 1941

Most of Dallas’ Japanese residents worked for the Japan Cotton Company, an important cotton broker which had occupied space in the Dallas Cotton Exchange building since the late 1920s (for a bit of weird trivia, the father of famed gossip columnist Liz Smith was working as a cotton buyer for the company during the war, commuting to work from Fort Worth). If they weren’t working for the Japan Cotton Company, they were probably members of two Japanese families with long ties to Dallas: the Muta and Sekiya families (whose names are misspelled in the caption below), owners of the respected Oriental Art Company since at least 1903.

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German and Italian immigrants were also enemy aliens.

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Below, “contraband” seized from homes of “Axis alien enemies” (read the full story accompanying these photos here).

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Two-way radios and cameras were popular with hobbyists but were big no-nos for those with roots in various mother- and fatherlands.

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DMN, Feb. 25, 1942 (four photos above)

The first internees (from Central and South America) arrived in the Dallas area in April, 1942. (The reporter who wrote the article below used the phrase “concentration camp” which wasn’t often used in describing internment camps.)

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DMN, April 14, 1942

Jewish refugees sometimes found themselves tossed into enemy alien internment camps — simply because they had fled homelands which happened to be “Axis-controlled” countries with which the U.S. was at war (even though is seems highly unlikely that a German Jew would be an ardent Nazi sympathizer, gathering classified information to send the Führer’s way). Yes, Seagoville had detainees from all over the place. It was quite the melting pot. There was even a Bavarian princess in there. I wonder if a single person in that camp, held against his or her will for months and years, posed any actual threat to Allied forces.

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Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, May 28, 1943

Germans and Italians were able to “blend in” to American society, but Asian men and women had a harder time and were more often harassed. The person who seems to have most disliked and distrusted Japanese people was top Dallas police detective Will Fritz — in fact, The Dallas Morning News called Fritz “one of Dallas’ most enthusiastic Jap-haters” (DMN, Feb. 17, 1943). Let’s just say that Capt. Fritz wasn’t going to be sending the wartime Welcome Wagon to any prospective Dallas residents of Japanese descent.

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DMN, April 23, 1942

One Dallasite who was pretty angry and unhappy with the situation was Masao Yamamoto, an executive with the Japan Cotton Company who had lived in Dallas since 1928. He and his wife and two young sons (one of whom was born in Dallas) were living what appears to have been a nice life in the M-Streets when they were “detained.” Ultimately, the Yamamoto family was deported and sent to Tokyo, six months after the photos at the top of this post were taken (Mr. Yamamoto is the third from the left in the top photo) — they were part of a sort of prisoner swap.

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DMN, July 29, 1941

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DMN, June 6, 1942 (article and photo)

When Mr. Yamamoto complained in the Japanese press about his treatment in the Dallas jail, Will Fritz just about had a seizure, insisting that he was a dangerous agent for the Imperial Japanese Government.

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DMN, Feb. 17, 1943

But even in the midst of all this paranoid nastiness, there were occasional heartwarming moments. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Oriental Art Company — the 40-year-old business owned by Hideo Muta — was ordered closed. In a show of support, 200 of his friends, neighbors, and customers signed a petition vouching for his staunch American patriotism (which is plainly evident in his 1951 obituary in which he is described as a “Patriot”). In the ad below, the 73-year-old Muta acknowledged the support of his Dallas friends and announced that “The United States Government has licensed us to continue business.”

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DMN, Dec. 15, 1941

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Photos of the Seagoville camp from the Institute of Texan Cultures (UTSA).

Articles from The Dallas Morning News:

  • From Feb. 25, 1942: “FBI Rounds Up 50 Enemy Aliens, Seizes Arms, Cameras, Radios” (the article that accompanied the “contraband” photos above) can be found in a PDF here.
  • “Japanese Woman Revisits Seagoville” (DMN, Sept. 8, 1970) by Roy Hamric is here.
  • “American Gulag: When Seagoville Housed the Aliens” (DMN, July 23, 1978) by Kent Biffle is here.

I’ve put a few more articles on Dallas’ Japanese, German, and Italian enemy aliens in a PDF, here.

More articles on the Seagoville internment camp:

  • One of the best articles I’ve read on the camp was an interview with two men (Erich Schneider and Alfred Plaschke) who, as American-born children of German parents, were interned at Seagoville and were later deported to Nazi Germany (in a prisoner exchange) where they experienced the terrifying bombing of Dresden. Both families returned to the United States after the war. The article by Mark Smith — “German-Americans Recall Horror of Deportation — Hundreds of Detainees Sent to Nazi Germany in POW Trade” — appeared in the Houston Chronicle on Nov. 11, 1990, and can be read here.
  • “Seagoville Enemy Alien Detention Station” (Texas Historical Commission), here
  • “World War II Internment Camps” (Handbook of Texas), here
  • “Seagoville, South America, and War — A Historic Intersection” by Kathy Lovas (Legacies, Fall, 2000), here
  • “Seagoville Detention Facility” (Densho Encyclopedia), here (and for more on the Japanese American experience overall, see the main page, here)
  • “The Japanese Texans” by John L. Davis (Institute of Texan Cultures), here (opens a PDF)

Thanks to Facebook friend Julia Barton for posting about (and suddenly making me aware of) the Seagoville camp.

All photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

November 22, 1963: Will Fritz and the JFK Investigation

jfk_dpd_post-assassination_ebayThe men of the Homicide & Robbery Bureau at work (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

After the unthinkable had happened on the streets of Dallas — the assassination of a U.S. president — the Homicide and Robbery Bureau of the Dallas Police Department, led by Will Fritz, Captain of Detectives, sprang into action and quickly apprehended Lee Harvey Oswald as a suspect in the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and the whole of the Dallas Police Department worked together, but Fritz was the face of the investigation.

Will Fritz (1895-1984) was born in Dublin, Texas and grew up in New Mexico. He joined the Dallas Police Department in 1921 and remained on the force for 49 years, retiring in 1970 at the age of 74. He was considered one of the top police interrogators in the state and was a dedicated lawman — so dedicated he lived just steps away from police headquarters in the White Plaza Hotel (originally the Hilton Hotel, now the Indigo).

The success rate of Fritz’s detectives was impressive:

The record of Fritz and the Police Department’s Homicide and Robbery Bureau — which he has led since its formation — is a nationally enviable one. Over the past quarter century, he and his aides have solved roughly 98 per cent of the 54 to 98 homicides committed each year. (Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959)

Fritz served for almost half a century with the DPD, involved in all sorts of colorful cases, but he’ll always be most remembered for the events surrounding the JFK assassination. The photo above shows his detectives at work in the Homicide office in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination; the photo below shows him exiting the Texas School Book Depository with DPD detective Elmer Boyd (carrying rifle).

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Below, a few clippings (click to see larger images).

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Above photo and clippings from the Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 24, 1963

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Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959

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Top photo showing a Dallas police officer standing outside the Homicide and Robbery Bureau is from a 2015 eBay listing. The reverse of the photo is stamped “Paris Match/Marie Claire.”

Photo showing Fritz walking down the steps of the Texas School Book Depository, taken on November 22, 1963 by Dallas Times Herald staff photographer William Allen. It is from the Sixth Floor Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection, which is hosted online by the University of North Texas Libraries, via the Portal to Texas History, here (with additional information here).

More about Capt. Will Fritz from the Handbook of Texas History, here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can be found here.

Click on photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Police Department — 1914

dallas-police-dept_opening-of-city-hall_101714_cook-colln_degolyer_smuOn the steps of the Municipal Building (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

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“Officers & Members of Dallas Police Dept. Assembled on Steps of New City Hall, Opening Day, Oct. 17th 1914,” photo by Frank Rogers, from the George Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information here. I have edited the image.

All images very large when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mrs. Hartgraves’ Cafe, and Bonnie & Clyde Earning Paychecks on Swiss Avenue

swiss-circle-front_070516The Swiss Circle building, 2016 (click for larger image) / Photo: Paula Bosse

by Paula Bosse

Bonne and Clyde were famous for being from West Dallas, but each actually spent a good amount of time in East Dallas. Working. Earning an honest living. Bonnie worked as a waitress, and Clyde worked in a mirror and glass company. Both worked in establishments on Swiss Avenue, though probably at different times. They hadn’t met yet, but it’s interesting to know they worked at businesses only a few blocks apart: Hartgraves Cafe was at 3308 Swiss, and United Mirror and Glass was at 2614 Swiss. Both buildings are still standing.

The Hartgraves Cafe (the name of which is always misspelled in historical accounts as Hargrave’s Cafe — even by Bonnie and Clyde enthusiasts) was in a curved building at the corner of Swiss and College (it is now at the corner of Swiss and Hall). 50-something-year-old Mrs. Alcie Hartgraves (her first name usually appeared in directories as “Elsie,” sometimes as “Alice”) opened the restaurant a few months after her husband, Ben, had died in 1923. It lasted until late 1930 or early 1931. (All clippings and photos are larger when clicked.)

1928-directory_hartgraves1928 Dallas directory

1929-directorySwiss Avenue between College Avenue and Floride, 1928 directory

According to Bonnie and Clyde histories, Bonnie worked there as a teenaged waitress with an absent husband, from 1928 to early 1929. According to one woman who worked at the Yates Laundry, just across from the cafe’s back door, Bonnie was a very nice person. Here, in a 1972 oral history, Rose Myers — who worked at the Yates Laundry for 25 years — remembers Bonnie from those days at Mrs. Hartgraves’ cafe:

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From the book Reminiscences

The laundry is long gone, but here’s what the back side of the building Bonnie worked in looks like today.

swiss-circle_back_070516Photo: Paula Bosse

And here’s a Coca-Cola ghost sign, painted on the end of the building that faces Hall.

swiss-circle_coke-ghost-sign_070516Photo: Paula Bosse

The Bonnie Parker connection is about the only reason people know about this odd little building in Old East Dallas. From looking through Dallas street directories, it appears that this building was built in 1915 or 1916 as a retail strip which, until Mrs. Hartgraves left, usually contained three or four businesses. The question is: why was it shaped like that? Many people think it was a streetcar stop, the cars using the circle as a place to turn around, but old maps showing streetcar routes from this period don’t show cars going down this part of Swiss. Below, a detail from a 1919 map, with Swiss and College streets in red. Streetcar tracks on Swiss turn left at Texas and then right on Live Oak, completely bypassing the circle area. (Another handy map of old streetcar routes laid over a present-day Google map can be found here.)

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1919 map detail, via UNT

There’s a great view of the area in the 1921 Sanborn map here (with a different angle here). It may just be that the building was built to take advantage of/conform to the odd jog that Swiss Avenue takes in front of it. Here’s an aerial view from the recent past.

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Bing Maps

Our own teensy and unspectacular Royal Crescent! (You know what they say — “Everything’s bigger in Bath….”)

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But what about Clyde? Clyde worked at a mirror and glass company four-tenths of a mile west. Here’s an ad from 1928 (the same year Bonnie was working at Hartgraves).

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via Bonnie & Clyde’s Hideout

Here, Charles “Chili” Blatney, a former co-worker, remembers working with Clyde at United Glass and Mirror (click to read — still gonna be fuzzy, but click it anyway…):

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Dallas Morning News, March 17, 1970 (partial article)

The building still stands, almost unrecognizable.

So, yeah, East Dallas was the stomping grounds of Bonnie and Clyde, back when they were living paycheck-to-paycheck and before they had begun their short-lived life of crime.

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Photos of the Swiss Circle building taken by me when I stumbled across it yesterday. I knew what it was when I saw it, but I didn’t really know much about it, other than the Bonnie connection. The building is currently vacant, currently for lease, and currently a weird shade of green. It’s a great space and a cool building. The back side is FANTASTIC!

The surname of the property owner (or property manager) is rather unbelievably … Dunaway.

The passage quoting Rose Myers, who worked at the Yates Laundry, is from the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.

A discussion of this building can be found on the Phorum discussion board, here.

Other Flashback Dallas  posts on Bonnie and Clyde can be found here.

Click everything. See bigger images!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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

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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).

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DMN, 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? This one, from a Morning News editorial: COLD SMUT.

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DMN, Aug. 20, 1961

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.

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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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DMN, Sept. 9, 1970

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Cartoon by Dallas Morning News cartoonist 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.”

I have compiled a bunch of articles about the whole Dallas brouhaha over Tropic of Cancer, here. (Included is SMU professor and Dallas Morning News book page editor Lon Tinkle’s essay on censorship.)

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.

Dallas Police Moonlighting as “Bonnie and Clyde” Movie Extras — 1966

bonnie-and-clyde_movie_dallas-police-extras“Action!” (click for BIG image) Photo: Dallas Police Museum

by Paula Bosse

Need to hire a bunch of movie extras who look comfortable toting rifles? When Hollywood came to Dallas and environs in the fall of 1966 to shoot the movie “Bonnie and Clyde,” they found plenty of law enforcement officers happy to don a pair of overalls and add some local color to their production.

I came across this photo on the Dallas Police Department Museum Facebook page. One of the comments under the photo: “I remember when all the overtime slots were allowed (paid by the film company)…. I recognize Chief Curry and the other officers.” Another person commented that an ex-DPD cop told him that he was in the movie, dressed as a farmer, chasing a car across an open field.

Did you  have an uncle Earl who was on the DPD force in 1966? There’s a chance he might be in the movie. Hell, he might be in this photo!

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More on the Dallas Police Department Museum here.

Read the Preston Hollow Advocate article “A Criminal Record: Dallas Police Department Museum,” here.

Click that photo. It’s big. Real big.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Police Blotter — Drunks, Vagrants, Adulterers

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by Paula Bosse

Today, a few snippets from the police and court reports about Dallas people doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. (All clippings are larger when clicked.)

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Drunkenness seems to have been the most common reason for arrest in the 1870s and 1880s (and probably still is today). The city “popped it to” a lot of people back in the 1880s.

drunk_dal-herald_021483Dallas Herald, Feb. 14, 1883

A “crazy boy” from Collin County eluded lawmen by running off into the Cedars (back when the area we still call “The Cedars” was actually full of cedar trees).

cedars_dallas-herald_042178Dallas Herald, April 21, 1878

A 14-year-old vagrant was given the scared-straight treatment. (Click for larger image.)

blotter_dallas-notes_FW-morning-register_021601“Dallas Notes” section in The Fort Worth Register, Feb. 16, 1901

But the real jackpot for the city looks like it might have been in ferreting out adulterers and violators of the Sunday Law (which in the 1880s usually meant selling alcohol on a Sunday, although it was a violation to operate any business or place of amusement on a Sunday).

In the adultery case below — in which the cheating couple was actually living together outside the bounds of legally-sanctioned wedlock — both parties were fined: the woman’s fine was a surprisingly high $100 (in today’s money about $2,500!), but the man’s fine was — let me find a chair — an unbelievably exorbitant $500 (equivalent today to over $12,000!!). And those who pooh-poohed the Sunday Law took an equally incredible hit. Sunday Law scofflaws such as Mr. R. F. Eisenlohr (who ran a respected market and pharmacy) (and who was the father of noted artist E. G. Eisenlohr) were punished with more than slaps on the wrists — in 1880, they were getting “popped” to the tune of five hundred bucks. (These fines seem excessive. Perhaps because they’re cases brought by the state rather than the city or county? I know that at this time the state was hell-bent on enforcing the Sunday Law because, basically, it was being flagrantly disregarded everywhere, so I’m wondering if a fine this steep was meant to send a message to others. But the adultery fine still seems outrageously high.)

courts_dallas-herald_022580Dallas Herald, Feb. 25, 1880

And sometimes crime beat reporters (and enterprising undertakers) have something of a slow day and can just kick back and ponder.

corpse_dal-herald_020982Dallas Herald, Feb. 9, 1882

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Top photo is from Flickr — as I recall, it is not a Texas jail — it might be one in Missouri. As I understand it, the 19th-century Dallas cell most drunks and vagrants would have been thrown into was nowhere near as luxurious as the one seen in this photo. More on that to come.

Interested in what those court fines of yesteryear would be equivalent to in today’s money? Check out the handy-dandy Inflation Calculator, here.

See the previous police blotter round-up — “Police Blotter — 1880s” — here.

All clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Delusions of Affability” — Marijuana in 1930s Dallas

420 Daymarihuana-film_poster“The weed with roots in hell…” (click for larger  image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is April 20, also known as the cannabis-friendly 420 Day.” So why not take a look at the early days of marijuana awareness in Big D?

The “marijuana problem” in Dallas didn’t really start to be reported regularly in the pages of The Dallas Morning News until the 1930s, but there were a few stories that showed up in the early 1920s, such as this one about a raid on an opium-den-style house in Little Mexico in 1921 (click for larger image).

marijuana_dmn_041321DMN, April 13, 1921

Heading into the 1930s, the legality of the possessing and selling marijuana was fairly vague. After reading a bit about what was happening in Dallas in regard to “Mexican cigarettes,” I’m still not sure when the possession and selling of marijuana became illegal. The federal, state, and local laws all seemed to be different, and all were constantly in flux. There might even have been conflicting laws on the city and county books. Like I said, confusing. Nevertheless, here are a couple of interesting tidbits from the opening months of 1931 concerning the first charge in Dallas County against a person selling marijuana and the first conviction in Dallas County for a person selling marijuana. (According to the Inflation Calculator, today’s equivalent to the $25-to-$500 fine of 1931 would be, approximately, a $395-to-$7,900 fine.)

first-charge_marijuana_dmn_012931DMN, Jan. 29, 1931

first-conviction_marijuana_dmn_020631
DMN, Feb. 6, 1931

Still, marijuana was considered only a minor annoyance locally — the Asst. D.A. even went so far as to say that there was “little use of the drug in Dallas.”

marijuana_dmn_030631
DMN, March 6, 1931

Actually, throughout the ’30s, a lot of policemen didn’t even know what marijuana plants looked like — one wonders how much marijuana-related activity was going on all around them in plain view? In these early days, when the police did stumble onto large quantities of “loco weed,” it was sometimes merely by accident while investigating something else — like what happened in this report of what cops found when tracking down counterfeit half-dollar coins (counterfeit 50-cent pieces?!). (My favorite part of this story is at the very end: “One of the Mexicans carried twenty-seven of the coins in one of his shoes.” Wow.)

marijuana_033032_coins
DMN, March 30, 1932

And then, suddenly — around the mid ’30s — marijuana was everywhere. Just in time for the Texas Centennial, when thousands and thousands of potential new customers would be flooding into the city! Enterprising individuals were growing it all over the place — in their yards, in their fields with other crops, and even on a little island called Bois d’Arc Island in the middle of the Trinity River bottoms, a few miles south of Dallas.

marijuana_dmn_080734DMN, Aug. 7, 1934

marijuana_dmn_051036
DMN, May 10, 1936

marijuana_dmn_073038
DMN, July 30, 1938

Even though the purchasing, the selling, the use, and the growing of marijuana was going on all over the city — in white, black, and Hispanic neighborhoods — the main areas of enforcement were, unsurprisingly, in Little Mexico and Deep Ellum.

     marijuana-den_dmn_062536
DMN, June 25, 1936

“Rough cut.”

rough-cut_dmn_062238
DMN, June 22, 1938

Here’s an interesting story on how the federal government was attempting to deal with the marijuana problem — by taxing it so highly that it would discourage those participating in the loco weed trade: $100 tax on every ounce! At a time when you could buy a joint for anywhere from a dime to a quarter. Talk about your “sin tax”!

tax_marijuana_dmn_102637DMN, Oct. 26, 1937

Marijuana/marihuana was generally demonized as a highly addictive drug which caused psychosis and led, inevitably, to all sorts of heinous acts and/or lewd behavior. …Or death. A lot of helpful, cautionary exploitation movies began to appear, such as Marihuana from 1936 (which, incidentally, had an Oak Cliff child actor — Gloria Brown — in the cast).

marihuana-film_dmn_080136
DMN, Aug. 1, 1936

marihuana-film_dmn_080536
DMN, Aug. 5, 1936

marihuana-film_dmn_061639DMN, June 16, 1939 (back by popular demand!)

(The full Marihuana film can be viewed free here, although it’s surprisingly dull.)

Even though most marijuana warnings were dire and filled with exclamation marks, I kind of like this more subdued one: “Smoking of the weed gives the subject delusions of riches, success and affability.”

delusions-of-affability_dmn_122136DMN, Dec. 21, 1936

And there you have it, a little slice of unexpected Dallas historical trivia.

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Related Flashback Dallas post: “3800 Main: Fritos Central — 1947,” here

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bonnie Parker: “Buried In an Ice-Blue Negligee” — 1934

bonnie-parker_mortician-account_cook-colln_degolyer(George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

This amazing (and amazingly gruesome) first-hand account of an unnamed McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home undertaker details the incredible amount of work required to prepare the bullet-ridden body of celebrity outlaw Bonnie Parker for burial. This odd little historical document comes from the absolutely fantastic George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection housed in SMU’s DeGolyer Library. The four-page handwritten document can be viewed in its entirety on SMU’s Central University Libraries’ website here. Below is the full account, transcribed by SMU, with a few corrections/additions made by me.

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Tear this up please? Tear this up please?

Heres [sic] first hand on Bonnie & Clyde as we had Bonnie. She was about the size of Rose Grace, weighing a 100 pounds. (a thousand pounds of dynamite though) She was very pretty of course her skin was somewhat tan. Her nails were beautiful. Likewise her toe nails. Her toes looked like fingers. The cuticles pushed back, the nails filed to a point, and a deep coral shade polish on them, the most beautiful toes I ever saw, just perfect. Her permanent just a month old we had it waved. Her face, right side was blown off. We fixed this and you could hardly tell it. Just one bullet went through her brain, however and number grazed her head as there were 3 big holes in her scalp, but not through skull. Her left eye terribly black, however I used eye shadow on other eye to match, so that was covered up. Now, her body was just mutilated and torn to pieces from shots. Her right hand nearly blown off (known as her trigger hand) her body besides being full of bullet holes was full of buckshot, pellets all over her

[Page 2] body. We received body ten minutes of nine. Joe and I sewed on her until three that afternoon. At that time they say 25,000 people were lined up outside. It took 2 hours picking dirt, rocks etc. from her hair then to wash it and have waved. A tattoo on right leg two hearts one read Roy, the other Bonnie. Roy you know was her Husband (Roy Thornton now in Pen) All fluid the undertaker in Arcadia La. used leaked out she was torn up so she was a a [sic] mass of blood, caked & dried. Several hours in bathing her. Had to scrape some of it off, and used gold dust to remove most of it. Had skin slip that night account Fluid leaking from it, began to smell the next morning, turning dark, smelling worse. The last day was rotten so to speak The odor was awful. Her Mother thought [sic] sat in room alone with her head over casket. How she stood it Lord knows. The other children couldn’t. Mother fainted 2:30 that night I asked if she wouldn’t like to go home, she went. By then the entire house smelt. We had to keep her so Sister Billy that was in jail in Ft Worth could get out & come to Funeral. She was buried in an all steel metal casket. Paper said $1000.00 wrong about $600 maybe less. Paper said $1000.00 vault Wrong there was no vault Page 2

[Page 3] Buried in an ice Blue Neglegee [sic] (is this spelled right) She was dressed in expensive clothes when killed. About 40,000 people came to view her. Paper said $1,500.00 damages done to Funeral Home. Wrong about the extent of $2.50. They did not tear windows etc as stated. The woman next door though turned Hose on Them to keep her flowers from being walked on. We had 38 officers stationed (3 shifts) all over house and front & back yard keeping crowd in order and all of us as well. 4 operators on the 4 phones. They rang every minute for two days & nights. More people came to see Bonnie then [sic] to see Clyde. Our new Porch Furniture was damaged. We had a Rubber mat about ½ inch in thickness all over Funeral House. Officers

[Page 4] stationed to keep people on it so as not to wear rug out (Big movie Star) my picture was shown in Movies. The paper stretched their stories. She was not to become a Mother as stated. She was diseased slightly though as stated. Now you have it first hand as I worked on her. Joes [sic] & My work was praised very highly in every other line in papers. And if I do say it, It was good. And she looked swell no trace of disfigures showing. The crowd did not steal anything to take home. All paper talk. Example crowd lined up as Far as Fair Park, now judge how it looked. They brought their Lunches. Such Fools.

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Below, two photographs of the McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home, located at 1921 Forest Avenue in South Dallas, besieged by curious spectators.

mckamy-campbell

mckamy-campbell_dallas-municipal-archives

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I’m unsure who the “Rose Grace” was who was mentioned on the first page.

The “gold dust” mentioned in the account as being used to remove caked blood from Bonnie’s body was actually Gold Dust Washing Powder or Gold Dust Scouring Soap, a popular, commercially-available “all-purpose cleaning agents” — Wikipedia article is here.

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Top image of the handwritten account on Adolphus Hotel stationery is from the aforementioned George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, viewable here.

First photo of the McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home is reproduced all over the internet; the second photo is from the files of the Dallas Police Dept., Dallas Municipal Archives, via the University of Texas’ Portal to Texas History database, here.

Even though the identity of the person who wrote this account is not known, he (…it was probably a man) mentions that he was seen in newsreel footage of the funeral of Bonnie Parker. My wild guess is that he can be seen in this clip from a longer newsreel on the funerals and burials of Bonnie and Clyde at the 2:34 mark. I could never find who his co-worker “Joe” was.

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Is this our man laying flowers on Bonnies casket?

bonnie-burial_newsreel-screengrab

If you really want to see the state of the bodies of Bonnie (and Clyde) — before and after their time with their undertakers — they’re easy to find via your favorite search engine.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Bonnie & Clyde here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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