Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: KLIF

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

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Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

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Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

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And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-6

Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

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Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

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And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

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This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

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magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tiny Tim Mobbed at the Melody Shop — 1969

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Dallas teens loved Tiny Tim… (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Tiny Tim — one of the most … unusual performers of the 1960s — was a hit with teenagers when he made his first appearance in Dallas at the Melody Shop in NorthPark mall on January 23, 1969. What had been expected to be a nice little autograph party which might attract a small number of fans and curiosity-seekers turned into something altogether unexpected.

tiny-tim_melody-shop_1969

Tiny Tim (…”Tiny”? “Tim”? “Mr. Tim?”…) had the unlikeliest of hits during the hippie-era: “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a lilting little ukulele-accompanied song which had originally been a hit in 1929. Tiny Tim’s first few appearances on U.S. television must have caused a lot of heads to be scratched and/or jaws to be dropped. He was just kind of … weird. But gentle, and he seemed to be a genuinely nice fellow who just happened to have a penchant for songs from the megaphone-era of popular music. If you’ve never seen Tiny Tim — or if you just haven’t seen this performance in a long time — this clip from the Tonight show (1968?) is … well … it’s great.

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So anyway, Tiny was booked to do a little autograph party at the Melody Shop in NorthPark mall. I’m not sure what sort of crowd they thought they’d get, but it’s safe to say they did not expect 5,000 teenagers. The news report the next day was peppered with words like “pandemonium,” “swarm,” “mob scene,” and “human wall.” Who knew a 36-year-old man who strummed a ukulele and sang songs from the Victrola-age in a nasal falsetto would whip up that much enthusiasm amongst Texas teenagers?

My favorite description of the “riot” was this one:

Inside, a disheveled Tiny Tim was crouched on the floor behind a row of electric organs….. “Pretend he’s not in the store,” directed a manager. Tiny Tim, his shirttail out and his orange, green and brown tie twisted to the side, huddled alone on the floor. (“5,000 Kids Mob Tiny Tim,” Dallas Morning News, Jan. 24, 1969)

The story was even picked up by wire services. (Click article below to see a larger image.)

tiny-tim_amarillo-globe-times_012469
Amarillo Globe Times, Jan. 24, 1969

Tiny was back in Dallas a few months later, this time to do a book-signing at Sanger-Harris. (Yes! He wrote a book!)

tiny-tim_dmn_061769_book-signing
DMN, June 17, 1969

No riot was reported this visit, but he did give a little interview and impromptu performance to Channel 8 while he was in town (and am I the only person who sees shades of Jeffrey Tambor here?):

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tiny_ch-8_3  tiny_ch8_2  tiny-ch-8_1

Also in 1969, he took time out to pose with KLIF on-air talent Paxton Mills, Dave Ambrose, Deano Day, Hal Martin, Sande Stevens (not sure if she worked for KLIF), and Jim Taber, seen below.

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And, why not, here’s an early publicity photo of Herbert Khaury, the man who would one day become famous as the singer Bing Crosby once described as having (I paraphrase) a vibrato big enough to throw a Labrador through.

tiny-tim_headshot

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Sources & Notes

The Chanel 8 video has been clipped from a longer video which also features Glen Campbell and Jimi Hendrix (!) — the footage is from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection held by the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University, and it was originally posted here; the three color photos of Tiny Tim are screenshots I captured from the video.

KLIF promotional material found on eBay several months ago. The back of the card lists the KLIF’s top 40 of the week, here.

Glamour shot found on the internet.

Tiny Tim Wikipedia entry is here.

One would be remiss in not mentioning Tiny Tim’s other ties to Dallas, namely his association with Bucks Burnett’s Edstock and Burnett’s tiny Tiny Tim museum from the 1990s. I’d link to articles in the Dallas Observer, but every time I go to the DO site my computer freezes. I encourage you to seek out these articles yourself.

More on Tiny’s January, 1969 visit to Dallas can be found in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “5,000 Kids Mob Tiny Tim” by Jean Kelly, with photo (DMN, Jan. 24, 1969)
  • “Magical Mystery Tour: On Meeting Tiny Tim” by Marge Pettyjohn, “YouthBeat” editor, with photo (DMN, Jan. 25, 1969)

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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