Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Fashion

The Zodiac Room

zodiac-room_ebay_menu_cover

by Paula Bosse

The tastefully swanky Zodiac Room opened at the downtown Neiman-Marcus store on April 27, 1953. (Interestingly, there was an earlier — and presumably unrelated — Zodiac Room, in the Jefferson Hotel, from at least 1950 to 1952.)

The Zodiac, a fashionable restaurant and tearoom featuring select foods, will open Monday on the sixth floor of Neiman-Marcus Company’s downtown store. Designed by Eleanor LeMaire of New York, the restaurant’s décor will suggest the roof of the world with signs of the Zodiac represented in both the main dining area and the terrace. (The Dallas Morning News, April 26, 1953)

Stanley Marcus wanted a restaurant in the store in which customers could take a break from shopping by having lunch or afternoon tea on-site, without having to leave the premises. Customers could continue to “shop” while dining as models walked around modeling fashions from the store’s inventory.

“[W]e installed a large restaurant, the Zodiac Room, to attract more people to the downtown area and as a service to those customers from out of town who were spending the day in the store.” (Stanley Marcus, in his book Minding the Store)

Below are a few ads from the Zodiac’s first week (click to see larger images).

zodiac_opening-ad_042653
April 26, 1953

COME AND SEE DALLAS’ NEW AND DISTINCTIVE RESTAURANT — THE ZODIAC.

Just completed on our new sixth floor, the Zodiac Restaurant is another step in our downtown expansion program to bring to Dallas the most luxurious and elegant store in America.

The star studded atmosphere of the Zodiac will give you an out of this world feeling. The walls are a wonderful cerulean blue, the carpet’s deep enough for snowshoes and an Italian tile pool sprouts water lilies for the occasion. Informal modeling every day at luncheon.

Plan to have lunch with us this week and bring your guests. We think you’ll be enchanted with the atmosphere as well as the excellent cuisine. Luncheon 11:00 to 2:30, tea 2:30 to 5:00, dinner Thursday night 5:00 to 8:00. NEIMAN-MARCUS

zodiac_opening-today-ad_042753
April 27, 1953

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April 28, 1953 (N-M ad, detail)

You could even get a Zodiac-inspired hair-do, the Zodiac Cut: “Sophisticated, spherical — without a hint of a part.”

zodiac-cut_nm-ad_042953April 29, 1953

Other than the fact that this elegant dining space was part of the world-famous Neiman-Marcus department store, its main draw was its food. According to Stanley Marcus, in his book Minding the Store, the Zodiac struggled for the first year or two and didn’t find its footing until he hired the now-legendary Helen Corbitt as the restaurant’s director. He wrote the following in a guest column in The Dallas Morning News in 1979:

“A landmark in the culinary history of Dallas was the arrival of Helen Corbitt, who made a monumental contribution to improvement of food and service standards in the community. The Neiman-Marcus Zodiac Room became famous under her direction.” (Stanley Marcus, DMN, April 12, 1979)

Below is an example of the fare favored by the Ladies Who Lunch (and the occasional Men Who Lunch), seen in a menu from 1956. (The most expensive item on the menu was the Roast Prime Rib of Beef, which came with a Baked Idaho Potato, a salad from the “Salad Wagon,” and a choice of coffee, milk, or “exquisite tea” — the price was $2.25, which in today’s money was a shockingly affordable $21.00.)

zodiac-1956-menu_inside_ebay

A dessert menu (a bit hard to read, I’m afraid) is below:

zodiac-menu-2_ebay_dessert-menu

There was also a children’s menu, which was so charmingly designed by Neiman’s gift-wrap designer, Alma Shon, that I don’t blame a customer for having spirited away a copy of the menu as a holiday-time souvenir of what was no doubt a very special occasion (the date penciled at the top is Dec. 23, 1966). (More information about Ms. Shon is in the “Sources & Notes” section at the bottom of this post.) Below, the front and back of the children’s menu, illustrated with the signs of the zodiac:

zodiac-room_childrens-menu_instagram_front

zodiac-room_childrens-menu_instagram_back

Inside, meal options for well-appointed kiddies and a “Zodiac game” to keep them occupied.

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zodiac-room_childrens-menu_instagram_zodiac-game

A few years later, this Stanley Marcus-penned letter appeared as a 1976 N-M ad — it was a personal reply to a nine-year-old Zodiac patron who had apparently written to Neiman’s inquiring about the children’s menu, which she was distressed to see had disappeared on her last visit:

zodiac-room_051776_ad-det_childrens-menu
May 17, 1976

zodiac-room_postcard_flickr

Lastly, a memory of the downtown Zodiac, from the Department Store Museum website:

The downtown Dallas store was in its entirety a magic store. Every step and turn off the escalators to the top floor was amazing. The Zodiac room with its floor-to-ceiling diaphanous curtains that filtered the bright Texas sky made for a dreamlike atmosphere along with the slender long-legged models in evening gowns and furs and the Andre Previn-inspired piano player. The popovers with strawberry and cinnamon butter weren’t bad either. Thank you, Dallas and Neiman-Marcus, for such a rich time in my life.

And it’s still going strong.

zodiac_matchbox_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMU

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Sources & Notes

Top image and other (non-children’s) menu images from eBay.

The four images of the Zodiac Room children’s menu are the reason I decided to do this post. My whimsy-threshold is pretty low, but I love the utterly charming drawings which grace the front and back covers. I saw them posted on the Instagram account @reflectionofaman (a cool account — here, for the desktop site — which features the photographs of Stanley Marcus, curated by his granddaughter, photographer Allison V. Smith); it had been shared there by Babs Bern (@mullett7665.manor). The menu’s artist — Alma Shon — was identified by her daughter Kate Heyhoe (@StarkRavingCat) in the comments. According to a 1953 Dallas Morning News profile, Shon was born in California in the early 1920s to Korean refugees who had fled Korea in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. She grew up in Los Angeles but made her way to Dallas by at least 1948; she began working for Neiman Marcus in 1948 or 1949. She was in charge of Neiman’s giftwrap design, but also designed other merchandising elements — she was with the store for several decades. More on Ms. Shon (including a photo of her from the ’50s) can be found in a post by her daughter Kate, here.

Color postcard of the Zodiac Room was found on Flickr, here. I used this same card in a previous Flashback Dallas post, “Luncheon at The Zodiac Room, Darling.”

Image of the  blue matchbox at the bottom is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries; more info is here.

More on Helen Corbitt can be found in articles in Texas Monthly and in Legacies; a couple of her recipes — including her famous Poppy-Seed Dressing — can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Titche-Goettinger, Fashions for the Chic Dallas Woman — 1940s

titches_newton-elkin-shoes_1944_my-vintage-vogue

by Paula Bosse

Just a few 1940s ads for fashions available at Titche-Goettinger, one of many of Dallas’ nicer department stores which made the city a fashion meccas for the chic Texas woman.

Above, a 1944 ad featuring the latest in shoes from Newton Elkin (“two new shoe shades: Tanbark — Cedar Green”): “the sling-back pump with perforated Cleopatra vamp” and “Vicki in brown lizard” (which I sincerely hope someone uses as a song title).

Below, a newspaper ad from 1945 featuring other Newton Elkin shoes, these dressier, with fancy paillettes (sparkly decorations). Perfect to wear with the matching black silk turban. (Click to see a larger image.)

titche-goettinger_nov-19451945

A “Nardis of Dallas” wool suit from 1945, “tomorrow and terrifically smart… in cocoa, rust, black, moss green, and grey.”

titches_nardis-of-dallas_suit_1945_my-vintage-vogue1945

Another “Nardis of Dallas” suit from 1945, this one in “superlative” gabardine: “a suit you’ll wear from swivel chair to swizzle stick… platinum, aqua, lime, red, brown.” Sold separately: a matching hat and slacks (!). “Men prefer it.”

titches_nardis-of-dallas_1945_my-vintage-vogue1945

Speaking of hats: “Sally Victor creates the ‘Big and Little Filly’ for Titche-Goettinger.” …There’s a lot going on up there. (1947)

titche-goettinger_1947_ebay_hats1947

The still-standing Titche’s building at Main and St. Paul was designed by George Dahl in 1929 and was expanded in the 1950s. The women buying these clothes in the 1940s would have shopped at the smaller — though still elegant — store, which looked like this:

titches_unvisited-dallas_jeppsonNoah Jeppson/Unvisited Dallas

When shopping was more sophisticated.

titches-logo_1945

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Sources & Notes

All color ads from the FABULOUS website My Vintage Vogue, here, here, and here.

Sally Victor ad found on eBay, here.

This doesn’t really fit into the 1940s, but I’ve had this 1955 ad for the Titche’s Shoe Clinic kicking around for a few years — this seems like a good place to slip it in. Platforms removed! Open toes closed! Closed toes opened! Pop down to the basement for all your shoe repair and restyling needs.

ad-titches_shoe-clinic_19551955

Check out other Flashback Dallas posts on Titche’s, here.

Flashback Dallas posts on Nardis of Dallas can be found here and here.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Neiman-Marcus Welcomes You to the Fair with Jeweled Mementos and Picasso Paintings — 1948

n-m_picasso_1948_fair_jewelryN-M’s 1948 “mementos of Texas…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

For many who come to Dallas from all across the state to visit the State Fair of Texas, a trip downtown to see the legendary Neiman Marcus department store is a must-see item on the itinerary. This was perhaps more the case years ago when the store was still owned by members of the Marcus family who were eager boosters of the annual event and placed several ads each year which graciously welcomed State Fair visitors to the city. For many years Neiman’s offered “souvenirs” for the tourists, ranging from relatively inexpensive Texas-centric knick-knacks to very expensive Texas-centric knick-knacks.

The 1948 N-M offerings can be seen below in an ad that boasts “A 14K gold welcome to Dallas and the State Fair!” (Click the ad below to see a larger image — to see an image of the ad copy alone, click here.)

ad-neiman-marcus_state-fair_1948_full

Here are the trinkets which no doubt wowed them back home in the nicer neighborhoods of Houston and Midland. (I’ve included ball-park prices in today’s money– according to the whiz-bangy Inflation Calculator — in parentheses.)

  • Texas Seal containing circular knife and file: $55 (about $550 in today’s money)
  • Gold belt buckle, made to order: $325 ($3,300)
  • Hand-tooled belt: $5 ($50)
  • Scarf clip, horse with ruby eyes and ruby studded collar: $500 ($5,100)
  • Hand-carved scarf pin, gold steer head with ruby eyes: $500 ($5,100)
  • Pocket key chain with Texas charm: $45 ($450)
  • Texas chain and Texas seal cuff links: $80 ($800)

For the cheap monogrammed hats, giant sunglasses, and salt water taffy, you’d have to head to Fair Park.

Another attraction at Neiman’s during the 1948 State Fair of Texas was an art exhibit: the first showing in Texas of original works by Pablo Picasso. The exclusive show was specifically scheduled to coincide with the State Fair and was prominently displayed on the 4th Floor of the store, in the Decorative Galleries. Twelve canvases — some never before seen in the United States — were “secured directly from Picasso’s studio at Antibes in Southern France,” via Samuel M. Kootz, Picasso’s rep in the U.S. Think about that for a second: in 1948 Pablo Picasso was the world’s most famous living artist, and there was an exhibit of his recent works — some never before seen in the United States — in a department store. In Texas. That was, as they say, a pretty good “get” for the soon-to-be President of the company, Stanley Marcus.

The Picasso exhibit was an early example of Neiman-Marcus’ dedication to bringing international arts and culture to Dallas — an idea which later manifested itself in the store’s Fortnight celebrations (which also ran to coincide with the State Fair in order to maximize publicity, foot traffic, and sales).

Stanley Marcus was an experienced buyer of art, and his relationship with Mr. Kootz was obviously warm — how else might one explain the inclusion of redrawn Picasso paintings (all of which appeared in the N-M show) in a store advertisement? Pretty ballsy. (Click ad below to see a larger image — the text alone can be seen larger here.)

picasso_n-m_1948

For those who might be interested, these are the first Picasso paintings ever publicly shown in Texas:

  • “Seated Woman” (1929)
  • “Sailor” (1943)
  • “Still Life with Mirror” (1943)
  • “Head” (1944)
  • “Still Life with Skull and Pitcher” (1945)
  • “Cock and Knife” (1947)
  • “Woman” (1947)
  • “Still Life with Coffee Pot” (1947)
  • “Owl and Arrow” (1947)
  • “Concierge’s Daughter with Doll” (1947)
  • “Blue Owl” (1947)
  • “The Glass” (1947)

Another art-world highlight in Dallas during the 1948 State Fair of Texas was the showing of Salvador Dali’s painting “Spain” at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (from the collection of Edward James, loaned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York). A Dallas Morning News headline — “Fair Interest to Divide Over Picasso and Dali” — seemed to imply that culturally-inclined Dallasites and/or fair-goers would have to choose one over the other in the battle of which famous Spanish artist-celebrity was most worthy of their attention: “Team Pablo” vs. “Team Salvador.” In regard to Dallas and its (somewhat late-blooming) openness to modern art, the first sentence of the article is interesting:

The simultaneous presence in Dallas during the period of the State Fair of Texas of original works by two of the world’s best-known living artists underscores heavily the swift progress toward cultural maturity in local thinking and planning. (Rual Askew, DMN, Oct. 3, 1948)

“Cultural maturity” and planning — both were in evidence in Dallas in the fall of 1948.

Thousands of Texans had their very first in-the-flesh glimpse of a Picasso canvas or a Dali painting in Dallas during the 1948 State Fair of Texas — either at a tony department store that sold $500 gold-and-ruby scarf pin “souvenirs,” or amongst the hot-dog-eating and roller-coaster-riding hoi polloi in Fair Park. That’s a pretty good reach for fine art.

It’s not all about the automobile shows!

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Sources & Notes

Ads from October, 1948.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Square Dancing Craze in Big D — Late 1940s

calamity-jane_premiere_-sam-bass_majestic-theatre_july-1949Hoedown at the Majestic, 1949…

by Paula Bosse

The photo above appeared in a show-biz trade publication showing part of the festivities which swirled around the world premiere of the movie “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Howard Duff at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949. Several of the film’s stars made personal appearances and were made honorary deputies by Sheriff Bill Decker, sworn in by Judge Lew Sterrett (yes, Lily Munster was an honorary Dallas deputy sheriff!). There was a parade, a live show performed by the actors on the Majestic’s stage before the movie, a block party, and square dancing in Elm Street, with music provided by the Big D Jamboree band.

In 1949, as unlikely as it seems, square dancing was a HUGE fad which swept the country (or at least the Southwest). The peak years of the retro craze were probably 1948 to 1950, and its impact was pretty big locally, not only on the dance floor, but also in the fashion pages. When you see every major Dallas department store — even Neiman’s — selling calico and gingham square dance fashions … well, it’s big.

Not only were there lessons available everywhere, but there were clubs and weekly events all over town — every Wednesday in the summer of 1949, there was a big outdoor square dance held at the Fair Park Midway, with music courtesy of local celeb Jim Boyd.

I’m not sure when it stopped (…I’m assuming it has…), but for decades, a lot of us participated in square dancing as part of gym class in elementary school. This interesting throw-back take on physical fitness seems to have begun around 1950 or ’51. Not everyone was thrilled about this odd-but-charming grade-school rite of passage — some ultra-conservative communities complained, but the wholesome and old-timey dancing won out and became a standard part of Texas schools’ physical education curriculum.  Forget young people’s cotillions — most Texas children had their first experience dancing with a partner to the strain of a cowboy fiddle and a voice telling us to “allemande left” and “do-si-do.” And I’m sure we’re all better for it.

Here are a bunch of ads and things (click pictures to see larger images):

square-dance_la-reunion-place_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archivesSquare dance at La Reunion Place (Dallas Municipal Archives)

square-dance_jan-1946_highland-park
1946

square-dance_may-1947_a-harris
1947

square-dance_aug-1948_titches
1948

square-dance_jan-1948_sanger-bros1948

square-dance_oct-1948_neiman-marcus
1948

square-dance_april-1948_a-harris
1948

square-dance_oct-1948
1948

square-dance_dec-1950_e-m-kahn
1949

square-dance_june-1949_w-a-green
1949

square-dance_may-1949_fair-park-midway
1949

square-dance_nov-1949_a-harris
1949

square-dance_march-1949_whittles
1949

square-dance_oct-1949_a-harris
1949

square-dancing_promenaders_smu_1951-yrbk1951

Above, a photo of the Promenaders, a group of SMU students whose purpose is described in the 1951 yearbook as being “to promote the appreciation of square and folk dancing on this campus.” (Think you recognize any of those faces? See who’s in the photo here.)

dallas_ringandbrewer_1956
1956

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Sources & Notes

Premiere of “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” was held at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949, and it seems to have been a pretty big deal. There was newsreel footage filmed that night — wonder if it’s floating around anywhere?

square-dance_calamity-jane_majestic_june-1949

Photo of the square dance taken at La Reunion Place is by Squire Haskins and is from the Dallas Municipal Archives; is can be seen on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here.

Photo of the SMU Promenaders square- and folk-dancing group is from the 1951 Rotunda, the yearbook of Southern Methodist University.

Jim Boyd was a country-western singer who appeared in a few Hollywood films and was a Dallas disc jockey for many years. He also appeared around town often as a performer and personality. Dallas filmmaker Hugh V. Jamieson, Jr. and director Milton M. Agins made a short film called “Saturday Night Square Dance” (made in either 1949 or 1950); it features Boyd and his Men of the West band, plus square dance groups Silver Spur Square Set and Thompson Square Dance Club. I can find nothing on the two groups, but it seems likely that this film was made in Dallas. The quality of the film uploaded to YouTube is not very good, but, who knows — you might see your parents or grandparents in there if they were big square dancers! You can watch it here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Neiman-Marcus Corporate Flag, Designed by Emilio Pucci — 1966

neiman-marcus-corporate-flag_emilio-pucci_1966_dallas-public-library“Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross…”

by Paula Bosse

While looking through the Neiman Marcus Collection at the downtown Dallas Public Library, I stumbled across this perhaps long-forgotten part of Neiman-Marcus history: the “corporate flag” designed by Italian fashion legend Emilio Pucci. The image was featured on a Neiman’s postcard; the text on the back of the card reads:

Flying high over the fashion land of Neiman-Marcus: our new corporate flag, the Lone-Star-and-Stripes. Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross.

Betsy Ross and Emilio Pucci mentioned in the same breath! An 18th-century American seamstress who became a patriotic icon, and an Italian fashion designer whose vividly colorful, boldly patterned designs came to symbolize the youth and energy of the 1960s… talk about your strange bedfellows!

The only thing I could find about this unusually colorful flag was a brief mention in a Dallas Morning News fashion article about Neiman’s 28th Neiman-Marcus Exposition Award in early February of 1966. Gay Simpson wrote in The News that the luncheon centerpieces “carried the colors of the new Neiman-Marcus house flag. The flag, designed by Emilio Pucci, Italian couturier, has the colors of a Texas sunset dramatized with the Lone Star and stripes” (DMN, Feb. 9, 1966).

Stanley Marcus wrote in his 1974 memoir Minding the Store that his business relationship with Pucci (“the most copied designer of our time, aside from Chanel”) began in Italy in 1948 when Marcus met with the struggling young designer and placed an order for several of his scarves. Though Neiman-Marcus had not yet expanded beyond their single department store in Dallas, the store’s reputation and influence were certainly known in fashionable circles around the world, and this N-M “stamp of approval” must have been immensely important to Pucci, whose name was not yet known. This friendship and business relationship blossomed into a mutually beneficial and very profitable partnership, and it seems perfectly reasonable that Pucci would design a flag for his friend and early supporter, Stanley Marcus. (Read more of Marcus’ thoughts on Pucci here.)

There you have it. Who knew?

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As a postscript, any Dallas blog worth its salt cannot let a mention of Emilio Pucci go by without noting his main connection to the city: Pucci will forever be remembered as the man who brought outrageously colorful and super groovy mod designs to the stewardess uniforms of Dallas-based Braniff International Airways (designs so retinally exciting that they make that little Neiman’s flag look a little dowdy in comparison!).

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Sources & Notes

The image of the corporate flag is from a Neiman’s postcard, which can be found in the extensive (!) Neiman Marcus Collection of the Dallas Public Library (the back of the card can be seen here); it is used with permission. Thanks to the incredibly helpful staff of the Dallas History & Archives division of the downtown Dallas Public Library. (Much thanks, particularly, to Digital Archivist Misty Maberry!)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Neiman-Marcus Shoe Salon — 1965

n-m_shoe-salon_1965_nyt-magazine_dec-2016Behold, the shoe salon… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Look at this.

LOOK. AT. THIS.

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Sources & Notes

1965 photo by Ezra Stoller. It appeared in the December 1, 2016 New York Times magazine as part of a slideshow, here; it was a companion to a short article about Stanley Marcus by James McAuley, here.

I never thought of myself as a fan of lime green upholstery until I saw that salon furniture. The wallpaper is a bit … busy (in a tasteful, sophisticated way…), but that furniture is, as they say, to die for. (And the door that disappears into the wall is a nice touch.)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thanksgiving, 1891: The First Turkey-Day Football Game in Dallas

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by Paula Bosse

Thanksgiving is a holiday known for eating until you’re full as a tick and football — the highlight for many is the traditional Dallas Cowboys game. But when was the very first Thanksgiving Day football game played in Dallas? 125 years ago — in 1891. It was played on November 26, 1891 in Oak Cliff (…which wasn’t strictly part of Dallas at the time, but… yeah, 1891). The game was between teams from Dallas and Fort Worth, teams which had been organized only a few months previously. The sport of “rugby football” had been gaining popularity around the United States, particularly as a college sport. One of the biggest games of the young sport was the university game played on Thanksgiving Day. In 1891, the Yale-Princeton Thanksgiving game was played in New York before thousands and thousands of spectators. Yale won that year, 19-0 (see the exciting illustration below in which helmets for players are non-existent, but a man who appears to be the referee is wearing a stylish bowler hat). (Click for larger image.)

thanksgiving__football_yale-princeton_1891_lost-century

This Ivy League game was almost more of a society event than a sporting event. To get a feel for the atmosphere of these university games, read this really great contemporary article — “The Man of Fashion, We Observe Thanksgiving Day with Great Eclat” by Albert Edward Tyrrell — on the fashions and behavior of these generally well-heeled crowds (it also contains an interesting look at how Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1891, by the swells as well as the non-swells). My favorite piece of minutiae was that young ladies were not above sneaking flasks of liquor into games, hidden in their fashionable hand-warmers. I give you “the loaded muff”:

football_thanksgiving_loaded-muff_dmn112291

But I digress. However much those early Texas football enthusiasts might have hoped for similar large, flask-sipping crowds, the first Thanksgiving football game held in Dallas (and possibly in Texas) attracted a smaller crowd of hundreds rather than thousands (including “about 100 ladies”). Though the crowd was miniscule compared to the one up in New York that day, it did not lack in boisterousness and excited appreciation.

thanksgiving_football_dmn_112591_ad
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 25, 1891

Dallas and Fort Worth had met twice before their matchup in Oak Cliff — both times with Dallas emerging victorious, and … not to be too anti-climactic, but the big inaugural Thanksgiving Day game on November 26, 1891 resulted in another Dallas win (24-11). (This shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing as the overwhelming majority of the players on the Dallas team of 15 grew up playing rugby in rugby-playing countries: 7 were British and 5 were Canadian —  only 3 were native-born Americans. Still. Whatever it takes.) (The dullish play-by-play of the game can be read  below.)

So what else was going on in Dallas in the Thanksgiving season of 1891? Here are a few morsels.

Men might have contemplated getting a new $12.50 suit from M. Benedikt & Co. (a suit which would cost about $335.00 today) — especially after seeing this eye-catching Uncle-Sam-riding-a-(scrawny)-turkey ad. (Click pictures to see larger images.)

ad-thanksgiving_benedikt_dmn_112191
DMN, Nov. 21, 1891

Ladies were kept up-to-date on the millinery, dress, and hairstyle fashions of the season by reading newspaper articles such as “What Is Really Worn, The Fashions That Find Favor at Thanksgiving” (which can be read here).

thanksgiving_milinery_dmn_112291
DMN, Nov. 22, 1891

And stores that sold cookware, bakeware, and china took out ads to inform Dallasites that they really needed some new items in order to properly prepare for the big day — one’s guests shouldn’t be forced to be served a feast from tacky serving dishes or eat from chipped plates.

ad-thanksgiving_dmn_112591
DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

If one wasn’t spending Thanksgiving Day attending one of the city’s many church services, feeding the children at the Buckner Orphans Home, feeding one’s guests and one’s family, visiting friends, or trekking over to Oak Cliff to see that football game, he or she might have considered attending a matinee at the Dallas Opera House — Maude Granger (“The Peerless Emotional Actress”) was back in town and raring to emote.

thanksgiving_theater_dmn_112491
DMN, Nov. 24, 1891

Almost everyone had the day off from work, but, oddly enough, most postal workers had to work at least part of the day. Neither rain nor sleet nor tender turkey breasts and cranberry sauce stayed those couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, I guess.

thanksgiving_post-office_dmn_112591
DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

At least no one was dreading/eagerly anticipating Black Friday back in ’91.

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Back to football. First, a friendly D-FW practice run before the Big Game.

thanksgiving_football_dmn_111491
DMN, Nov. 14, 1891

The pre-game article.

thanksgiving_football_dmn_112591
DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

The post-game article.

thanksgiving_football_dallas-fw_dmn_112791_highlights
DMN, Nov. 27, 1891

And an article from a proud Canadian newspaper, boasting of the number of Queen Victoria’s faithful subjects playing for the Dallas team.

thanksgiving__football_manitoba-free-press_121191
The Manitoba Free Press, Dec. 11, 1891

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Sources & Notes

Thanksgiving card found on Pinterest.

Illustration of the 1891 Yale-Princeton game is from the Lost Century of Sports website, here. (I’m not really a sports fan, but if I were, this website of 19th-century sports might be one of my favorites!)

For more on how Thanksgiving finally came to be celebrated in Texas in 1874 (it took a long time for the Southern states to agree to celebrate what many thought was a “Yankee abolitionist holiday”), see my post “Encouraging Dallasites to Observe Thanksgiving — 1874,” here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Most pictures and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

An Afternoon Outing with SMU Frat Boys & Their Dates — 1917

smu_omega-phi_dallas-hall_1917_degolyerCampus couples, 1917 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across three wonderful World War One-era photos in the SMU archives while I was looking for something else. You know how you can become enthralled by the charm of old photos and sit for long stretches of time staring at every little detail and wondering about the lives of the unidentified people who populate them? That happened to me with these. There is one particular young woman who stands out more than anyone else. Not only is she the best-dressed person in the photos, she also seems calm, collected, and serene. She looks friendly. She was probably very pleasant to have around.

These three photographs show a group of ten young couples and a pair of chaperones spending a beautiful sunny day together, with the highlight of the day being a trip to Highland Park’s Exall Lake. The men are SMU students, identified only as members of the Omega Phi fraternity. The women are identified merely as “dates,” but I’m sure that some of them were also SMU students. The photograph above shows the crowd gathered on campus in front of Dallas Hall. The woman in white looks like she’s on a pedestal, glowing in a spotlight. Below, a closer look at her stylish outfit (as well as a look at the young be-medaled WWI soldier next to her).

smu_omega-phi_dallas-hall_1917_degolyer-det1

And, below, a similar detail, but this one showing the daintily crossed ankles of another pretty girl, seated beside a sour-looking companion.

smu_omega-phi_dallas-hall_1917_degolyer-det2

And here’s the gang on the idyllic banks of Exall Lake. Diane Galloway included this photograph in her book The Park Cities, A Photohistory with this caption:

At one time a bridge crossed Exall Lake near the Cary house, shown in the distance. The photographer was standing on the bridge to capture this picture of well-dressed SMU students going boating on the lake. A trip to Lakeside Drive was one of the few off-campus excursions permitted in 1917.

I love this photo. If I didn’t know what the Turtle Creek area looked like, I’d be hard-pressed to identify this as Dallas!

smu_omega-phi_exall-lake_1917_degolyer

Here’s a close-up of the beatific, smiling woman in white. I like the kid lurking in the background.

smu_omega-phi_exall-lake_1917_degolyer-det1

And the boat.

smu_omega-phi_exall-lake_1917_degolyer-det2

And the sour-looking guy again, looking even more annoyed than before.

smu_omega-phi_exall-lake_1917_degolyer-det3

And here’s the crowd sitting on the steps of the frat house (which was located at Haynie and Hillcrest). The personnel has changed a little bit (they gained a woman and lost a man), but (almost) everyone seems pretty happy.

smu_omega-phi_porch_1917_degolyer

And, below, my very favorite detail from these three photos.

smu_omega-phi_porch_1917_degolyer-det1

After a bit of sleuthing, I found a picture of the house at the time these photos were taken. It was actually a residence which was, I think, being rented out to the small group of Omega Phis. They had a proper fraternity house built several years later.

omega-phi-house_rotunda_1917

The top photo had “1917” written on the back, so I checked SMU’s Rotunda yearbooks from around that time. Here’s a look at the men who were members of Omega Phi in 1918. Several of these faces match the ones in the photos of the afternoon outing.

omega-phi_rotunda-1918

And, below, a photo collage from the Omega Phi page of the 1917 Rotunda. Several of the women look familiar. I see the Woman in White in at least one of these snapshots.

omega-phi_photos_rotunda_1917

And here she is, close up. I hope she was as happy, intelligent, and confident in her real life as she appears to be in these photos.

smu_omega-phi_porch_1917_degolyer-det2

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Sources & Notes

The three photos of the afternoon outing all come from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University:

  • “Omega Phi Fraternity members and their dates in front of Dallas Hall” is here.
  • “Omega Phi Fraternity member outing to Exall Lake” is here.
  • “Omega Phi Fraternity members and their dates on porch” is here.

The quote from Diane Galloway comes from her FANTASTIC book, The Park Cities, A Photohistory (Dallas: Diane Galloway, 1989), p. 24.

The ersatz Omega Phi fraternity house was located at 115 Haynie Avenue, just west of Atkins (now Hillcrest). (The photo of the exterior of the house is from the 1917 SMU Rotunda yearbook.)

omega-phi_map_19191919 map (detail), Portal to Texas History

I have absolutely no idea how college fraternities work, but it seems that when they formed on the SMU campus in 1915, the Omega Phi group was not actually affiliated with a national fraternity. They “petitioned” to be chartered by national groups, but they finally stopped trying after 11 years of, I guess, being repeatedly turned down — in 1926 they declared themselves to be an “independent society.” But one year later, they were granted a charter by the national Kappa Sigma fraternity. In the Dallas Morning News article announcing the news, this sentence was included: “The local chapter will be known as Delta Pi chapter.” I have no idea what any of that means, but if you’re really into these things, read the DMN article “Kappa Sigmas Grant Charter” (Sept. 26, 1927), here.

As for the identities of the women in the photos, it’s a mystery. I would assume, though, that at least some of them were the women mentioned in this little article about a cozy winter get-together at the Haynie Ave. house:

omega-phi_smu-campus_011917DMN, Jan. 19, 1917

If you’re not familiar with beautiful Exall Lake, you can watch a short, minute-long video of the lake’s history, produced to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Highland Park, here.

For other posts featuring photos I’ve zoomed in on to reveal interesting little vignettes, click here.

UPDATE: I stumbled across another photo of this group, from Diane Galloway’s book The Park Cities, A Photohistory:

smu_group-date_park-cities-photohistory_galloway

Most pictures much larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cadillac + Neiman-Marcus = “Practical” — 1956

ad-cadillac_neiman-marcus_1956Gowns and storefront by N-M, bumpers by Cadillac

by Paula Bosse

One need not be “prominent” to own a Cadillac or to shop at Neiman’s (… but it certainly helps).

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Thanks to reader Kevin Smith for sending this to me!

Click ad to read text and to see those N-M gowns practically life-size.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Neiman-Marcus / France-Texas / A-Z — 1957

n-m_french_ad_cover-smMais oui!

by Paula Bosse

Bastille Day again already? It seems to come earlier every year. Last year I wrote about the 1957 Neiman-Marcus French Fortnight — the very first fortnight celebration. This year I thought I would present a few of the pages from the lavish advertising supplement Neiman’s placed in the October, 1957 issues of American and French Vogue. The mini-catalog was titled “Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Texas, Everything From A to Z.” (Link to the entire ad insert is below.) Here we have “C,” “R,” “V,” and “Z.” Enjoy a flashback to fabulous ’50s fashion photography. And Happy Bastille Day!

n-m_french-ad_cn-m_french_ad_rn-m_french_ad_vn-m_french-ad_zClick to read a list of events and exhibits happening around the store.

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These pages are from a reprint of a 30-plus-page 1957 Neiman-Marcus advertising spread; from the collection of Stanley Marcus’ papers at the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. This is the very epitome of high-fashion advertising of the 1950s, and the sophisticated-but-fun-and-frothy art direction is wonderful. The entire mini-catalog has been scanned by SMU, and it can be viewed in a PDF, here.

My previous post “Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Big D — 1957” — which gives some background on this first N-M fortnight celebration and contains a great photo of the exterior of the downtown store elaborately decorated to resemble the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré — can be found here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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