Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Food

Halloween Party? Don’t Forget the Dr Pepper! — 1947

dr-pepper_halloween_1947_flickr“‘Twill add zest to your buffet foods…”

by Paula Bosse

(While searching for a Halloween advertisement, I unexpectedly came across reports of a federal grand jury case brought against Dallas-based Dr Pepper for violating strict wartime sugar-rationing. Scroll down to read about the legal case.)

Happy Halloween! Might I propose an eye-catching party suggestion? The “Frosty-Pepper Pumpkin”! Hollow out a pumpkin, fill it with cracked ice, and load it up with bottles of Dr Pepper. Voilà!

The text of the ad, from the fall of 1947:


Smart, original; more decorative and eye appealing than a bowl of giant ‘mums. Fashion this “Frosty-Pepper” Pumpkin and serve as photo shows. Pre-chill bottles and bury deep in cracked ice. Dr. Pepper! So keen, so cold, so sparklingly alive! A smart lift for active people. ‘Twill add zest to your buffet foods … add laurels to your “rep” as a clever hostess. Keep plenty in your home refrigerator … for party hospitality … for good cheer and a quick lift, at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock, or anytime you’re hungry, thirsty or tired. 

NOTE: Dr Pepper availability in a few markets has been delayed by continuing shortages. These will be opened by new, franchised Dr. Pepper bottling plants as rapidly as supplies will permit.

Carry Dr Pepper home from the stores 
“sixes,” “twelves” and “twenty-fours.”
NEW TIME: Thursday Night, ABC Network
9:30 EST, 8:30 CST, 7:30 MST, 6:30 PST

Drink Dr. Pepper

DRINK A BITE TO EAT at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock


Sources & Notes

Ad found on Flickr, here.

“Darts for Dough”? I had to look that up. It was a radio game show involving quizzes and dart-throwing, created by Orval Anderson and Bert Mitchell at WFAA radio. It debuted in the summer of 1943 as a strictly local program, but it’s popularity was such that it moved to Hollywood in August, 1944 and — still run by the WFAA creators — it began to be broadcast “coast to coast” for several years, moving to television by 1950. It was originally developed in Dallas as a sponsorship vehicle for Dallas-based Dr Pepper and was frequently advertised as “Darts for Dough — The Dr Pepper Show.”

1947 was a big year for Dr Pepper — that was the year their beautiful (and sorely missed) plant opened at Mockingbird and Greenville.


1947 was also a noteworthy year for the company, because of a large federal grand jury indictment which charged several corporations and individuals — including Dr Pepper and some of its bottlers and employees — with sugar-rationing violations (these “irregularities” appear to have begun in the last months of World War II, when wartime food rationing was still serious business). Black-market sugar! A district representative of Dr Pepper was assessed a small fine, but charges of conspiring to violate sugar-rationing regulations which were brought against the DP parent-company were ultimately dismissed, a ruling which angered Federal Judge Alfred P. Murrah, who seems to have been extremely unhappy about the dismissals, as can be read in his blistering statement below.

AP story, via Waco News-Tribune, July 30, 1947

Two of the individuals charged in the case — New Mexico residents — received prison sentences in what was described as “the largest black market sugar operation on record,” involving over a million pounds of sugar.

This “Happy Halloween!” post took a bit of an unexpected dark detour. Let’s cleanse our palate with something happier: another party idea with Dr Pepper and a hollowed-out pumpkin (found on eBay).


More Halloween posts from Flashback Dallas can be found here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Film Footage: “The State Fair of Texas in the 1960s”

sfot_1960s_jones-collection_smu_men-in-suits_ice-creamEveryone likes ice cream…. (G. William Jones Collection, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

Thanks to Twitter, I discovered this cool video of film clips of the State Fair of Texas, shot throughout the 1960s, courtesy of SMU’s WFAA Newsfilm Collection/G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, put together by Moving Image Curator Jeremy Spracklen. There are 15 or so clips, some in black and white, some in color, some silent, some with sound. This compilation runs about 24 minutes. Watch it. You’ll enjoy it — especially the montage of fair food at the end! (Make sure you watch in fullscreen.)


Here are a few screengrabs I took, to give you an idea of the content (images are much cleaner in the video!).

Getting ready for the fair.


Fair Park entrance.


Crowd, baby, binoculars.


Neuhoff hot dog stand.


The monorail (with a cameo by Big Tex).


I don’ t know who this guy is, but he’s in several shots and I love him! Here he is losing out to the woman who correctly guessed his weight.


Kids eating … Pink Things! “Made famous at Six Flags.”


Aqua Net and Moët. (I have to say, I’ve never seen champagne at the fair, but perhaps those are circles I don’t travel in.)


Everyone needs a corny dog fix.




Have a groovy time at this year’s State Fair of Texas!



Sources & Notes

Film clips from Southern Methodist University’s WFAA Newsfilm Collection/G. William Jones Film and Video Collection; the video has been edited by SMU’s Moving Image Curator, Jeremy Spracklen. The direct link to the video on Vimeo is here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Happy Mother’s Day from Mrs. Baird’s Bread — 1949


by Paula Bosse

Sure hope Mom can handle all that gluten!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Sources & Notes

Newspaper ad from 1949. The “Freshie” ad campaign — featuring a Mrs.-Baird’s-Bread-obsessed kid — ran in Texas newspapers from about 1945 to 1953. More of the ads can be seen in the post “The ‘Freshie’ Ads for *-@!!@!* Delicious Mrs. Baird’s Bread — 1945-1953,” here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The “Freshie” Ads for *-@!!@!* Delicious Mrs. Baird’s Bread — 1945-1953

Geez, Picasso, get a grip… “YUM!”

by Paula Bosse

There’s nothing like cartoon swearing. The reader is likely to translate those random symbols into words that are probably a lot filthier than was intended by the cartoonist. …Probably.

Here are a few examples of this, found, surprisingly, in cartoon ads for wholesome Mrs. Baird’s Bread. This ad campaign — which, as far as I can tell, lasted from 1945 to 1953 — consisted of a one-panel comic called “Freshie,” illustrated for most of its lifespan by Harry Walsh. There were close to a hundred of these panels produced. (That’s a lot of bread-based humor some poor advertising copywriter had to come up with.) They were often placed directly on the comics page, alongside Pogo, Li’l Abner, and Rex Morgan M.D. “Freshie” was the name of the child with the unwavering/disturbing obsession with Mrs. Baird’s Bread. (UPDATE: I now see that the “Freshie” cartoon ad concept was used all across the country, for various brands of bread. Oh, Freshie, your love for Mrs. Baird’s bread was just for show, wasn’t it?)

Not all of them had cursing — in fact I think it might be just these four. Still, it’s a little unexpected. What would Mrs. Baird think? (Click to see larger images.)

Dec. 28, 1945

June 7, 1948

Nov. 30, 1949


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Fletcher’s State Fair Drive-In — 1960-1963

fletchers-state-fair-drive-in_DHSFood-on-a-stick, open all nite (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The legendary Fletcher’s Corny Dog once had its own drive-in! You didn’t have to wait until the State Fair of Texas rolled around to get your favorite “food on a stick” fix — you just needed to head to 3610 Samuell Boulevard, across from the Tenison Golf Course.

Sadly, there was a lot of drive-in and tavern competition along Samuell back then (Keller’s was practically next door!), and the State Fair Drive-In seems to have lasted only a little over three years, from the spring of 1960 to the fall of 1963.

I’d love to see this around NOW! Come on, Fletcher’s family: bring this back!


fletchers_dmn_051560May , 1960

fletchers_dmn_062960June, 1960

Oct., 1963


Sources & Notes

Top photo from the Dallas Historical Society.

An article on Neil Fletcher’s new restaurant and a photo of the interior can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News: “State Fair Drive’In Fixtures Designed, Installed by Bab’s” (DMN, June 12, 1960).

After the Fletcher’s Drive-In closed, it was replaced by a Red Coleman liquor store, and was most recently a club, El Palmeras. Google Street View shows the shabby neighborhood these days, here.

3610-samuall_googleGoogle Maps

An entertaining interview with the late Neil Fletcher appeared in the Oct. 1982 issue of D Magazine, here.

A Travel Channel video focuses on the famed corny dog, here.

A previous Flashback Dallas post about that same stretch of Samuell Blvd. — “Red’s Turnpike Open-Air Dance: An East Pike/Samuell Blvd. Joint — 1946” — is here.

UPDATE: I’ve received many comments that Fletcher’s had several short-lived drive-thru restaurants which started popping up in the mid-’80s. More on the franchise plans can be read in the article “Fletcher and Firm Very Much Alive” by Donna Steph Hansard (DMN, Aug. 5, 1984).


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


“The Pause That Refreshes at The Texas Centennial” — 1936

tx-centennial_coke-ad_pinterestBelly on up to the Coke cooler, pardner… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

What do Stetson-wearing Texans enjoy drinking more than sarsaparilla? Coca-Cola, of course!

This ad led me to discover that the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Dallas set up a working mini bottling plant in Fair Park during the Texas Centennial, costing a cool $60,000 and taking up 4,100 square feet of the Varied Industries Building. 100 bottles a minute were produced, destined for thirsty customers who bought the five-cent drinks there at the plant or at concession stands around the park. A photo accompanying a Dallas Morning News blurb about the mini bottling plant — which will be marked by a thirty-foot electric tower brought from the Century of Progress…” (DMN, Feb. 6, 1936), looked like the stunning Century of Progress photo seen here.


Ad found on Pinterest.

The “Varied Industries Building” apparently burned down in 1942 and was replaced in 1947 by the Automobile Building.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


School Lunches of Yesteryear

lunch-ladies_frontier-top-tier_dplMorning prep work: the calm before the storm (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Dallas lunch ladies shelling what looks like black-eyed peas for an unidentified school’s midday meal. I can’t say I’ve ever imagined lunchroom employees ever doing something like this. In the 1920s and ’30s, schools used fresh foods when they could, but they were definitely using a lot of canned fruits and vegetables, too. All this effort — and all these women — for peas.

In a quick search for what school lunch menus were like in the late ’20s and early ’30s, here were a few delicacies that would never be found in a school cafeteria these days:

  • Roast veal
  • Sardine sandwiches
  • Creamed onions
  • “Italian hash”
  • Banana and peanut salad
  • Salmon loaf
  • Tongue salad
  • Stuffed dates
  • Prune whip/prune salad/prune pudding



Sources & Notes

Photo from the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Sivils Drive-In, An Oak Cliff Institution: 1940-1967

sivils_tichnorOak Cliff’s landmark hangout (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When J. D. Sivils (1907-1986) and his wife, Louise (1918-2006), brought their “Sivils” restaurant to Dallas in June 1940, their Houston drive-in of the same name had already been featured as a Life magazine cover story, garnering the kind of incredible national publicity that any business owner would have killed for! And all because of their carhops — “comely, uniformed lassies” whom Mrs. Sivils insisted on calling “curb girls” (which might have a slightly different connotation these days…). Life — never a magazine to overlook pretty young girls in sexy outfits — not only devoted a pictorial to the “curb girls,” they also put one of them (Josephine Powell of Houston) on the cover, wearing the Sivils’ uniform of (very, very short!) majorette’s outfit, plumed hat, and boots.

sivils_houston_life-mag_022640Feb. 26, 1940

louise-sivils_life-magazine_1940Louise Sivils and a prospective “curb girl” (Life)

Four months after the blitz of national attention the drive-in received from the Life story, Sivils came to Dallas. The drive-in was located in Oak Cliff at the intersection of West Davis and Fort Worth Avenue on “three acres of paved parking space.”


The day the drive-in opened, a photo of the not-yet-legendary Sivils appeared in The Dallas Morning News (see “Sivils to Open Dallas Place Thursday,” DMN, June 27, 1940). Other than this, there is surprisingly little in the pages of The News about this drive-in’s opening — surprising because it became such a huge part of the lives of Oak Cliff’s teens in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. It’s one of those places that seems to have reached almost mythic proportions on the nostalgia scale.

Sivils didn’t quietly sneak into town, though. Take a look at this very large, very expensive newspaper ad, which ran the day before West Dallas’ soon-to-be favorite hang-out opened. (Click for larger image.)

sivils_dmn_062640_lgJune 26, 1940


Nationally Famous for Food and LIFE

Texas’ largest drive-in
Opens tomorrow

(Thursday 3:00 PM)

You’ve heard about “Sivils”! You’ve read about “Sivils” in LIFE Magazine and you’ve seen a beautiful “Sivils Girl” on the cover of LIFE Magazine! But now Dallas has a “Sivils” all its own! Come out tomorrow. See Texas’ largest drive-in. Enjoy “Sivils” famous food and ice cold beer or soft drinks. “Sivils” special ice vault assures the coldest drinks in town!

75 Beautiful “LIFE Cover Girls” to Serve You

All Kinds of Ice Cold Beer and Soft Drinks
Juicy Jumbo Hamburgers

Fried Chicken
Tenderloin Trout Sandwiches
K.C. Steaks
Pit Barbecue
All Kinds of Salads and Cold Plates
Delicious Sandwiches
Complete Fountain Service

Sivils – “Where All Dallas Meets”
At intersection West Davis and Fort Worth Ave.
Three Acres of Paved Parking Space


100-150 “curb girls” were employed by Sivils at any given time in those early days, and it was open 24 hours a day. The place was hopping. Sounds fantastic. Wish I’d seen it.

sivils_matchbook_coltera-flickrvia Flickr


Below, a scanned menu (click to see larger images):



sivils-menu_1940s_ebay_avia eBay


Sources & Notes

Top postcard from the Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection on Flickr, here.

Read the 4-page Life article (and see several photos of the Houston “curb girls”) here (use the magnifying glass icon at the top left to increase the size of the page).

Interesting quote from that article:“They work in 7½-hour shifts, six days a week, for which they get no pay but average $5 a day in tips.” Doesn’t sound legal…. (The Inflation Calculator tells us that $5 in 1940 money is equivalent to just over $83 in today’s money.)

Sivils closed in 1967, possibly because Mr. and Mrs. Sivils wanted to retire, but it seems more likely that Oak Cliff’s being a dry area of Dallas since the 1950s was killing its business. Check out the News article “Big Head Expected as Oak Cliff Beer Issue Foams” by Kent Biffle (DMN, Aug. 17, 1966) which appeared just months before another election in which the “drys” outvoted the “wets.” (More on Oak Cliff’s crazy wet-dry issues, here.)

J. D. Sivils was interviewed in a short documentary about Dallas carhops, filmed in the early 1970s. In it, he talks about the early days of Sivils and — best of all — there is film footage galore of the drive-in from his collection. Watch it in my previous post — “‘Carhops’ — A Short Documentary, ca. 1974” — here. (Below a screenshot of Sivils from the film.)


Read the article “Carhops, Curb Service, and the Pig Sandwich” by Michael Karl Witzel (Texas Highways, Oct. 2006) in a PDF, here (increase size of article with controls at top of page).

Another Flashback Dallas post on drive-in culture — “Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940” — is here.


Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Carhops” — A Short Documentary, ca. 1974

carhops_titleSchlitz on its way…

by Paula Bosse

The carhop is an oddly American invention — and it began here in Dallas in the 1920s, with boys and young men serving customers in cars at J. G. Kirby’s Pig Stand drive-in restaurants. In 1940, Sivils hit Dallas, but this time with young women as servers — young women in skimpy outfits. There was no looking back — from then on, pretty girls showing a lot of leg and hoping for big tips carried trays of food, soft drinks, and beer to cars full of waiting customers.

One of the few remaining “old school” drive-ins is Keller’s, on Northwest Highway, still doing good business today. Around 1974 or 1975, SMU film teacher Pat Korman made a short documentary about Dallas carhops past and present (perhaps as the result of reading a Dallas Morning News article by Rena Pederson — reproduced below). He interviewed B. J. Kirby (owner of Kirby’s steakhouse on Lower Greenville and son of Jesse Kirby, founder of the Pig Stand pig-sandwich empire), J. D. Sivils (owner of Sivils drive-ins, who, along with his wife, was an important figure in the evolution of curb-side dining), and Jack Keller (owner of Keller’s Hamburgers). The three businessmen reminisce about the early days of drive-in restaurants in Dallas as a lot of cool historical film footage unspools and photographs from the ’20s to the ’50s are flashed on the screen. Also interviewed are four women carhops who were working at Keller’s at the time, talking about their jobs.

It’s cool. Big cotton-candy hair, accents you wish were still around, and cans and cases of Schlitz, Schlitz, Schlitz.

The 14-minute film is in two parts on YouTube. Here is the first part:

And here is the second part:

Below, screenshots of the interviewees (click pictures for larger images).


shirley-carhopsShirley (as of Jan. 2015, she’s been a fixture at Keller’s for 50 years!)



kirby_carhopsB. J. Kirby

sivils-carhopsJ. D. Sivils

keller-carhopsJack Keller

kellers-menu-board_carhopsNo. 5 — 80¢


Sources & Notes

“Carhops” — filmed sometime in the early ’70s — was directed by Patrick Korman, shot by Ron Judkins, and produced by Don Pasquella. It premiered at Jesuit High School in April, 1976. The film is on YouTube in two parts, here and here. (By the way, if you look at the YouTube comments under part two, you’ll see a comment from Sandy herself. She’s still looking good in the avatar photo.) (The music at the beginning and end of the film is great! I’m pretty sure it’s the legendary steel guitarist Ralph Mooney and the equally legendary guitarist James Burton; I love those guys! Listen to the album they did together, here.)

Rena Pederson is thanked in the credits. She wrote an article in The Dallas Morning News called “Carhops Fading, Those Were the Days” (Aug. 25, 1974) in which she interviewed many of the same people seen in the film.

The Keller’s Northwest Highway location celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Shirley — one of the carhops featured in the film — has worked there since it opened in 1965. As of Jan. 2015, she was still there! Go by and see her! Check out a Lakewood Advocate story on Shirley, here.

Also, take a look at a Dallas Morning News article on Keller’s 50th anniversary, here — scroll down to the slideshow to check out some great photos from its early days.

Read about sexy male carhops who plied their trade in skimpy outfits — a short-lived fad in Dallas inspired by the success of drive-ins like Sivils — in my previous post “Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940,” here.

All pictures larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Nolan Ryan’s Celebratory Pancake Breakfast — 1972

nolan-ryan© Bettmann/CORBIS

by Paula Bosse

In 1972, future baseball hall-of-famer and Texas Rangers legend Nolan Ryan (then a California Angel) was photographed in Dallas as he sat mesmerized by a platter of 302 silver-dollar pancakes and an iced-tea-sized pitcher of syrup. The celebratory breakfast was served to him at the Sheraton Dallas the morning after he became only the sixth pitcher in major league history to strike out more than 300 batters in a season. (His opponents the previous night — September 25, 1972 — had been the Rangers, the team he would one day play for and preside over as president and CEO.)

The UPI Telephoto wire photo ran on Sept. 27, 1972 above the following caption:

302 PANCAKES — Ever wonder what 302 strikeouts in a season will get you? If you’re a batter, you may lose your job, but if you’re a pitcher like Nolan Ryan, left, of the California Angels, [you] will at least get 302 silver dollar pancakes. This was the breakfast that awaited Ryan Tuesday after his 3-hit, 12-strikeout win over the Texas Rangers Monday. The executive chef at the Sheraton Dallas [Isaac Pina] produced the breakfast for the Alvin native, a former New York Met, who is the sixth pitcher in major league history to strike out more than 300 batters in one season.

Twelve strike-outs!

ryan_FWST_092672Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 26, 1972

Judging by the expression on his face at the next day’s breakfast table, it’s pretty obvious the 25-year old Nolan Ryan enjoyed his triumph.


Sources & Notes

Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS. The photo is also seen on this page, from The Guardian, which shows a collection of really great historic baseball photos — a bit of a surprise, coming from a British newspaper!

The photo was published in newspapers around the country; the quoted wire copy appeared in the Sept. 27, 1972 edition of The Waxahachie Daily Light.

To read a passage from the book Nolan Ryan’s Pitcher’s Bible in which he writes about the importance of his high-carb breakfasts (Day One: Pancakes…), see here.

The Wikipedia entry on Nolan Ryan is here; his stats are here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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