Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: HOF

Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960

jack-ruby_WFAA-1960_jones-collection_SMU_det

by Paula Bosse

The WFAA Telefilm Collection — part of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, housed at the Hamon Library at Southern Methodist University — is an incredible assemblage of film footage shot by WFAA cameramen, a significant portion of which was never included in Channel 8’s televised news stories; a lot of it is silent, filmed mostly as B-roll material. It’s a fascinating historical treasure trove of local and national (and international) events filmed between 1960 and 1978. Jeremy Spracklen — the collection’s Moving Image Curator — and his assistant, Scott Martin, regularly post entertaining short clips from this vast resource to social media.

Which brings us to the clip posted yesterday — Dec. 6, 2017 — which featured footage of a 1960 parade held in downtown Dallas at Christmastime, with shots of festively decorated Main Street and Elm Street, including nice views of the old Palace Theater. Watch it here on Vimeo.

The clip was posted last night on the Jones Collection’s Facebook page — before I watched it, I read the comment by Bert Harris: “Did you notice Jack Ruby combing his hair right toward the end of the clip?? Wild!!

What?!

Yes, at the very end of the short clip you see Jack Ruby (!) standing in a crowd of people in front of the W. A. Green department store combing his hair and adjusting his famous fedora. It’s very short, but it’s unmistakably Jack Ruby. You never know who’s going to pop up in these snippets of everyday life in Dallas, captured decades ago by WFAA cameramen! So now SMU has a few frames of what has just become historic film footage — footage which has probably been unseen for 57 years — there’s a good chance this never even aired and was merely B-roll footage. I never imagined it would be an exciting event to watch Jack Ruby comb his hair.

I contacted curator Jeremy Spracklen at SMU, and he was pretty excited about the discovery. He even cut a brand new clip this afternoon, isolating the Ruby footage and slowing it down considerably. It’s COOL. Here it is:

Below are some screen captures. I’ve had to lighten them a bit — click pictures to see larger images. Ruby and a friend are in the center of the first frames, then as the clip ends, he’s in the lower left corner.

(Who is the guy with Ruby, and what is he holding in his hand? UPDATE: My first thought was that it might be Ruby’s roommate George Senator (they became roommates in early 1962), but I didn’t really think he looked like the scarce few photos of him I found, but others in the comments below seem to think it might be him. He’s holding a Minox “spy” camera, which was an expensive tiny camera which had been sold for years in several stores in Dallas (and which was offered in classified ads in The News in 1960 for $75) — by the man’s look of utter fascination with it, it appears that it probably belonged to Ruby. The man can be seen looking through it in the longer clip at the :50 mark.) (See one of the first Minox ads found in a Dallas paper — sold by Linz Jewelers in 1951 — here, and in the year of this footage, in 1960, in a Neiman-Marcus ad, here.)

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Sources & Notes

The clip is compiled from WFAA news footage shot on November 26, 1960; it is from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, held at the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. The original clip (1:22) showing a holiday parade in downtown Dallas can be watched on Vimeo here; the slowed-down clip showing only the Jack Ruby footage can be watched on Vimeo here.

According to coverage of the event in the Dallas Times Herald (“Mile of Dimes Parade Lures Great and Small,” Nov. 27, 1960), the parade was the “Mile of Dimes” parade sponsored by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Salvation Army. It took place on Saturday, Nov. 26, 1960. In addition to the parade, there was a “show” staged on Elm and Ervay which had bands performing on the back of a flatbed truck. Two of the acts performing that day were the Joe Johnson combo and singer Jewel Brown — both of whom were mainstays in Ruby’s clubs: at the time of the parade, Johnson’s band was booked into a long run at the Vegas Club/Club Vegas in Oak Lawn, and Brown was appearing seven nights a week (!) at the Sovereign Club on Commerce Street (which Ruby would later rename “the Carousel Club” around March, 1961). So that explains why he was there, nonchalantly combing his hair on the street as his “employees” perform in front of him.

Footage of the musical performers begins at the 1:00 mark in the longer clip. Houston-born Jewel Brown can be seen at 1:07. She was pretty much a smash in Dallas, getting loads of good press; she later hit it big appearing with Louis Armstrong in Las Vegas — you can watch a fantastic clip of her singing here. Read a March, 1967 interview with her in which she discusses her working relationship with Ruby here.

ruby_band_1.09_jones-collection_SMU

Ruby was standing outside the W. A. Green department store at 1616 Elm Street, which was next door to the Wilson Building; the Palace Theater was directly across the street.

elm-street_1600-block_1961 directory1961 Dallas directory

In addition to the musical performers mentioned above, other celebrities appearing in the parade footage that day were actresses/sexpots Sheree North and Lynne Forrester, who were appearing in Clare Boothe Luce’s play “The Women” at Casa Manana (:34), and orchestra leader Freddy Martin, who was appearing at the Statler’s Empire Room (:45). According to the Times Herald article, one celeb who was also there that day was recent Olympian Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), fresh from his gold-medal performance at the Olympics. Though wearing his U.S. Olympic team jacket, the 18-year-old future-legend somehow went unnoticed in the crowd who were apparently quite wrapped up in the musical offerings that day.

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I’ve mentioned the WFAA Newsfilm Collection several times — it is an amazing collection of WFAA-Channel 8’s archival news footage, out-takes, and B-roll material. Curator Jeremy Spracklen has been uploading bite-size segments to Twitter and Facebook — it’s a lot of cool stuff you’re probably not going to be able to find anywhere else. They’re very entertaining. Follow them on social media!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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The Gill Well

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredThe Highland Park pagoda… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I never heard of the Gill Well growing up — in fact, it wasn’t until around the time I started this blog — about three or four years ago — that I first became aware of it. Though largely forgotten today, the Gill Well used to be a pretty big deal in Dallas: for years, early-20th-century entrepreneurs tried valiantly and persistently to capitalize on the mineral-heavy artesian water from this well — the plan was to use this hot spring water in order to turn Dallas (or at least Oak Lawn) into, well, “the Hot Springs of Texas.” We came so close!

So — Gill Well? Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

In 1902 city alderman and water commissioner C. A. Gill proposed sinking an artesian well near the Turtle Creek pumping station in order to determine if the flow of water in underground springs was sufficient to augment Dallas’ water supply (there was, at the time, another such test well being drilled in West Dallas). The City Council was on board and wanted this test well to be a deep well, “the deepest in the state — in order to settle once and for all the question as to whether or not there lies beneath the earth in this section a body of water, or ‘an underground sea,’ as some call it, of sufficient size to supply the needs of all the people” (Dallas Morning News, Aug. 6, 1902).

Fellow alderman Charles Morgan explained Gill’s proposition to the people of Dallas in a prepared statement to the Morning News:

By sinking artesian wells it is not intended to abandon the plans proposed to secure an adequate storage supply from surface drainage, but that the artesian wells shall augment the supply. We can not get too much water, but if we secure an ample artesian supply our storage basins will be reserve. There will be no conflict. We simply make success double sure. (Alderman Charles Morgan, DMN, Aug. 24, 1902)

The well was sunk in September or October of 1902 near the Turtle Creek pumphouse (which was adjacent to where a later station was built in 1913, the station which has been renovated and is now known as the Sammons Center for the Arts — more on the construction of that 1913 station and a photo of the older pumphouse can be found here); the drilling was slow-going and went on until at least 1904, reaching a depth of more than 2,500 feet. It’s a bit out of my area of expertise, but, basically, good, palatable artesian water from the Paluxy sands — water “free from mineral taint” — was found, but, deeper, a larger reservoir of highly mineralized “Gill water” — from the Glen Rose stratum — was found. That was good news and bad news.

gill-well_dmn_120103Dallas Morning News, Dec. 1, 1903

The “bad news” came from the fact that a part of a pipe casing became lodged in the well, causing an obstruction in the flow of the “good” water from the Paluxy formation. Again, it’s a bit confusing, but the heavy flow of 99-degree-fahrenheit mineral water (which was corrosive to pipes) threatened to contaminate the “good” Paluxy water … as well as the water from the Woodbine formation from which most (all?) of the private wells in Dallas secured their water. (Read detailed geological reports on the well in a PDF containing contemporaneous newspaper reports here — particular notice should be paid to the comprehensive overview of the well and its problems which was prepared for the Dallas Water Commission by Engineer Jay E. Bacon and published in the city’s newspapers on May 10, 1905).

So what the City of Dallas ended up with as a result of this Gill Well was a highly dependable source of hot mineral water. But what to do with it? Monetize it!

As part of the city’s water supply, the mineral water was made available to Dallas citizens free of charge: just show up at one of the handful of pagoda-covered dispensing stations with a jar, a bucket, or a flask, and fill up with as much of the rather unpleasant-smelling (and apparently quite powerful!) purgative as you could cart home with you. (For those who didn’t want to mingle with the hoi polloi, home delivery was available for a small fee.) One such “pagoda” was erected a short distance away, in front of the city hospital (Old Parkland) at Maple and Oak Lawn (the healthful water was also piped directly into the hospital for patient use).

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Brenham Weekly Banner, April 6, 1905

One man, however, began offering the water for sale beyond Dallas, hoping to cash in on the free-flowing tonic (see the mineral-content breakdown here), but the city clamped down on him pretty quickly as he was not an authorized agent. From his 1906 ad, one can see that the reputation of Gill water and its healing and restorative powers was already widely known.

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DMN, Aug. 2, 1906

If the water was not to be sold, what was the City of Dallas going to do with it? It was decided to pipe the the water a short distance from the test well to nearby property adjacent to the land now occupied by Reverchon Park, then lease the access to the water to a capitalist who would build a sanitarium/spa where people could come to “take the waters” — to bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-heavy artesian water with mystical recuperative properties. The sanitarium would make money by charging its patrons for its services, and the city would collect a small annual income based on the number of the sanitarium’s bathing tubs and the amount of water used:

Compensation to the city shall be $10 per tub per year and one-half-cent per gallon for all water used. (DMN, Jan. 4, 1907)

The Gill Well Sanitarium and bath house opened in January, 1907, on Maple Avenue just north of the MKT Railroad (now the Katy Trail). (Most clippings and pictures in this post are larger when clicked.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010407DMN, Jan. 4, 1907

I searched and searched and searched for a picture of the building and, hallelujah, I finally found one, in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, taken by photographer Henry Clogenson. (This is the only picture I’ve been able to find of it, and, I have to say, it’s not at all what I expected the building to look like. It actually looks like something you’d see in a present-day strip mall.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_011307_photoDMN, Jan. 13, 1907

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010607_ad
Advertisement, DMN, Jan. 6, 1907

Business at the new sanitarium was very good, and the public fountains/spigots at both the sanitarium property and a block or so away at the city hospital continued to be popular with residents who needed a boost or a “cure” and stopped by regularly for a sip or a pail of the free mineral water.

gill-well_ad_dallas-police-dept-bk_1910_portal1910 ad

In 1912 a natatorium (an indoor swimming pool) was added and proved even more popular. It was open to men, women, and children; admittance and bathing suit rental was 25¢ (about $6.50 in today’s money). (Contrary to the headline of the ad below, it was not Dallas’ first natatorium — there was one near City Park on South Ervay by at least 1890 — but it was probably the first pool in the city filled with warm mineral water.)

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DMN, April 14, 1912

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DMN, July 7, 1912

gill-well-natatorium_dmn_100612DMN, Oct. 6, 1912

The last paragraph of the ad above mentions a plan to pipe Gill water to a hotel downtown — not only would the Gill Well Sanitarium Company’s services be offered in the heart of the city amidst lavish hotel surroundings (instead of in Oak Lawn, way on the edge of town), but the company would also be able to compete with Dallas’ other (non mineral-water) Turkish baths — then they’d really be rolling in the cash. As far as I can tell, nothing came of the plan, but the men behind it were pretty gung ho, as can be seen in this rather aggressive advertorial from the same year:

ad-sanitorium-baths_blue-bk_1912The Standard Blue Book of Texas, 1912

All seemed to be going well with the sanitarium until the city and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (the MKT, or the Katy) decided to remove the railroad’s grade crossings through the Oak Lawn area (all work which was to be paid for by the railroad). Double tracks were to be added and crossings were either raised or the streets were lowered. The crossings affected were Lemmon, Cedar Springs and Fairmount (where street levels were cut down to go under the tracks) and Hall, Blackburn, and Bowen (where tracks would be elevated). Also affected: Maple Avenue. (Read more about the MKT plan in the Dallas Morning News article from Aug. 23, 1918 — “Dallas Is Eliminating Four Grade Crossings” — here.)

The Maple Avenue-Katy Railroad crossing had long been a dangerous area for wagons, buggies, and, later, automobiles. Not only was it at the top of a very steep hill (see what that general area north of that crossing looked like around 1900 here), but it also had two sharp curves. The decision was made to straighten Maple Avenue between the approach to the railroad crossing and Oak Lawn Avenue at the same time Maple was being lowered and the Katy track was being raised. (Read the announcement of this plan — “Straighten Maple Avenue Is Plan” — from the Nov. 29, 1917 edition of The Dallas Morning News, here.) The only problem — as far as the Gill Well Sanitarium was concerned — was that the straightened road would go directly through the sanitarium property. I don’t know if the long-time owner of the sanitarium, J. G. Mills, knew about this approaching dire situation, but in 1915 — just a few short months after boasting in advertisements that more than 50,000 patients had availed themselves of the sanitarium’s amenities in 1914 — he placed an ad seeking a buyer of the business (although, to be fair, he’d been trying to sell the company for years):

gill-well_dmn_080815_for-saleDMN, Aug. 8, 1915

(In the ad he states that the buyer had an option to purchase the actual well, but the city had never expressed any desire to sell either the well or the full rights to the water.)

The Gill Well Sanitarium Co. appears to have been dissolved in 1916, but there was still hope that a sanitarium/hot springs resort could continue on the property. In 1917, interested parties petitioned the city to change its plans to straighten Maple, arguing that it would destroy any ability to do business on the site, but the city went forward with its plans, and in November, 1919, the City of Dallas purchased the land from the group of partners for $21,500 (about $305,000 in today’s money).

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DMN, Nov. 13, 1919

The monetization of water from Dallas’ fabled Gill Well ended after ten years.

I had never heard of Maple Avenue being straightened. Below is a map of Turtle Creek Park (which became Reverchon Park in 1915), showing Maple’s route, pre-straightening — the main buildings of the sanitarium were in the bulge just west of Maple, between the Katy tracks and the boundary of the park.

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1915 map, via Portal to Texas History

Another view can be seen in a detail from a (fantastic) 1905 map, with the approximate location of the Gill Well Sanitarium circled in white:

maple-ave_1905-map_portal_det_gill-wellWorley’s Map of Greater Dallas, 1905

A year or more ago I saw the photo below on the Big D History Facebook page but had no idea at the time what I was looking at: it apparently shows Maple Avenue in 1918, taken from about Wolf Street (probably more like Kittrell Street), which was then near the city limits, looking north. You can seen the curve Maple makes and the steep hill — that large building at the right must be the sanitarium and/or the later-built natatorium. (The view today can be seen here.)

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So the Gill Well Sanitarium and Bath House was closed, the land was purchased by the City of Dallas, Maple Avenue was straightened, and, in the summer of 1923, the remaining abandoned buildings on the property were demolished. But that didn’t spell the end of the famous Gill Well water.

Highland Park’s “Gill Water” Pagoda

Around 1924, “Gill water” tapped from the Glen Rose Strata was made available to Highland Park, via a small “watering house” and drinking fountain on Lakeside Drive (at Lexington), a location which proved to be quite popular. The mineral water was a byproduct of Highland Park’s “deep well” which was drilled in 1924 to tap the pure artesian springs of the Trinity Sands Strata in order to augment the water supply of the City of Highland Park: in order to get down to the Trinity Sands, one had to pass through the Glen Rose Strata — I guess the HP powers-that-be figured they might as well tap the hot mineral water and offer their citizens access to it by building a small fountain and dispensing station. In 1928, the little “watering station” structure was spiffed up with the addition of a tile roof, attractive walkways, and drainage. The photo seen at the top of this post has frequently been misidentified as the Reverchon Park well, but it is actually the Highland Park “pagoda.” Here it is again:

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredfrom the book Dallas Rediscovered

It can be identified as the Highland Park location because of the photo below from the George W. Cook collection of historic Dallas photos from SMU’s DeGolyer Library — it shows what appears to be a later view of the same pagoda, now slightly overgrown. The steps to the bridge across Exall Lake and the bridge’s railing can be seen at the far right (the bridge led to the Highland Park pumping station, which can be seen on a pre-watering-station 1921 Sanborn map here).

gill-well_highland-park_cook-collection_degolyer_smuGeorge W. Cook Collection, SMU

And, well, there’s the sign that reads “Highland Park Deep Wells — Free to the Pubic” — here’s a close-up:

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(The same sign from the top photo can be seen in a high-contrast close-up here.)

After seeing this photo, I realized that a photo I featured in a post from last year showed the pagoda in what looks like its earliest days, at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue (the bridge can be seen at the left):

hp_lakeside-drive_rppc_ebayeBay

I was unable to find out when this HP pagoda bit the dust, but the location as seen today on Google Street View is here. (It’s pretty strange to think that a steady stream of people from all over Dallas drove to the Park Cities to fill up jugs with free mineral water; my guess is that the wealthy Lakeside Avenue residents weren’t completely enamored of the situation.)

Reverchon Park Pavilion

Even though the Gill Well Sanitarium Co. had dissolved in 1916, and the last traces of its buildings had been torn down in 1923, the famed well’s water didn’t disappear from the immediate Oak Lawn area. In February of 1925, the City of Dallas opened a $5,000 pavilion, “making up for twenty years indifference to what is said to be the finest medicinal water in the South” (DMN, Feb. 11, 1925). This pet project of Mayor Louis Blaylock seems to have continued to be a place for Dallasites to get their mineral water at least through the 1950s, according to online reminiscences. This 1925 “pavilion” is described thusly in the WPA Dallas Guide and History:

The water, which resembles in many respects the mineral waters of European resorts and is used in several county and city institutions, is carried to the surface in pipes and can be drawn from taps arranged around a semicircle of masonry near the entrance to the park. Here cars stop at all hours of the day and people alight to drink the water or to fill bottles and pails.

I have not been able to find a photograph of that post-sanitarium dispensing site. A 1956-ish aerial photo of Reverchon Park can be found here. I don’t see a “semicircle of masonry” in an area I assume would be located near Maple Avenue and the Katy tracks.

According to a comment on the DHS Archives Phorum discussion group, there was also a public spigot nearer to the original well, along Oak Lawn Avenue, across the street from Dal-Hi/P. C. Cobb stadium.

There is surprisingly little accurate information on the Gill Well online. I hope this overview helps correct some of the misinformation out there. If anyone knows of additional photos of the sanitarium and/or natatorium, please send them my way and I’ll add them to this post. If there are any photos of the Reverchon Park pavilion, I’d love to see those as well. There is a 1926 photo of the Highland Park location which shows two women and two girls filling receptacles — I am unable to post that here, but check the Dallas Morning News archives for the short article “Free Mineral Well Waters Popular” (DMN, May 29, 1926).

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Incidentally, even though the wells have been capped, that hot mineral water is still there underground and could be tapped at any time. Dallas could still be the “Hot Springs of Texas”!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from p. 199 of Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald. The photo is incorrectly captioned as showing the location of the “Gill Well Bath House and Natatorium, c. 1904” — it is actually the Highland Park dispensing station at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue in about 1928.

Photo showing Maple Avenue, pre-straightening, is from the Big D History Facebook page; original source of photo is unknown.

Second photo of the Highland Park Gill Well location (with the vegetation looking a bit more overgrown) is from a postcard captioned “Drinking Bogoda [sic], deep mineral well in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas” — it is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this image is here.

Photo showing Lakeside Drive with the pagoda at the left is a real photo postcard captioned “Lake Side Drive in Highland Park” — it was offered last year on eBay.

Sources of all other clippings, ads, and maps as noted.

All images are 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.

 

“Dallas/The Big D” by William E. Bond — ca. 1962

dallas-big-d_william-e-bond_business-week-collection_ca1962Yonder lies Big D… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This print — titled “Dallas/The Big D” by native Texan William E. Bond (1923-2016) — is fantastic. I love everything about it. It was commissioned by Business Week magazine to be used as part of its “Business America” series, an advertising campaign showcasing fifteen American cities captured in woodcuts. Every element of this scene is great, but let’s look at a detail showing just the Dallas skyline, with a hard-to-miss Pegasus. I also see what looks to be the Mercantile Building and the Republic Bank Building in there. And … that sky!

bond_william-e_dallas-big-d_print_business-week_ca-1962_det

william-e-bond_sig

Bond’s homage to Dallas was reproduced in the 1963 book Woodcuts of Fifteen American Cities from the Business Week Collection. Below, text from the book (my assumption is that the first paragraph is the copy that appeared in a print advertisement for Business Week — it appears that the ad campaign used the artists’ works collected in this book to illustrate the ads, with each ad mentioning local companies with large BW subscribership).

Dallas … leapfrogging ahead commercially and culturally. Cotton, cattle, and oil put the Big D on the map. But aircraft, electronics and machinery keep it moving. Companies like Texas Instruments (682 Business Week subscribers), Ling-Temco-Vought (106), Collins Radio (135), Dresser Industries (123). In Dallas, and everywhere in business America, men who manage companies read Business Week. You advertise in Business Week when you want to inform management.

And this was Bond’s bio with a quote from him on “the Big D”:

“Dallas is a great many things. It is a giant of a city in the midst of a giant country – full of life and energy and the will to grow and keep growing. Anyone who knows Dallas feels this spirit. And it is this feeling that I have tried to capture.”

Born in 1923 in Crandall, Texas, Mr. Bond attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles. He has won many gold and silver awards in art director and illustrator shows, including a gold medal in the New York Illustrators Show in 1962. Mr. Bond uses a variety of media, including paper prints, sculpture, and painting. He has been an agency art director most of his career, and is now a free-lance designer.

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Bill Bond was born in Crandall, Texas in 1923, studied art at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, and spent several years as an award-winning commercial artist in Dallas. He worked as an advertising art director for The Dallas Times Herald, the Sam Bloom Agency, and Tracey-Locke; during this time he frequently participated in group art shows around the city. When he retired, he focused his creative talents on sculpture, becoming known for his wildlife pieces and Western bronzes. He died in Kerrville in 2016 at the age of 92.

william-bond_obit-photo

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Sources & Notes

The book that features a reproduction of this print is Woodcuts of Fifteen American Cities from the Business Week Collection (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, Inc., 1963). From the introduction:

One of the principal methods of communication in the 20th century, and one of the biggest businesses, is advertising. Here, too, industry has regularly and effectively used fine art – in the creation of some memorable advertising campaigns.

From 1960 to 1962 Business Week commissioned fourteen prominent woodcut artists to illustrate its “Business America” series. Reproductions of the fifteen woodcut illustrations which were produced appear on the following pages.

Bill Bonds’ obituary is here.

Thanks to Bob Dunn for posting an image of Bond’s print in the Retro Dallas Facebook group. I liked it so much I went out and bought a copy of the (large) book! A few copies are available online here.

Images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“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, and some 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 sometimes 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. The photo at the top shows five of the first detainees, at the Dallas jail.

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, owners of the respected Oriental Art Company since at least 1903.

The first internees arrived in the Dallas area in April, 1942. The group was comprised of 250 women and children (“citizens of the Axis nations”) who had been arrested in Panama. They were interned in Seagoville, displacing the federal women prisoners who had previously been held there — they were transferred to a prison in West Virginia.

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.

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 photo at the top of this post was taken (Mr. Yamamoto is the third from the left in the top photo) — they were part of a sort of prisoner swap.

After his deportation, Mr. Yamamoto complained to the Japanese press about his treatment in Dallas, where he said he was arrested, relieved of his possession, and thrown in jail with “burglars, murderers, deserters and other criminals.” (Click to see larger image.)

yamamoto_santa-cruz-sentinel_021843UPI wire story, Feb. 16, 1943

Will Fritz just about had a seizure when he heard of Yamamoto’s complaints, insisting that he was not mistreated and that he was a dangerous enemy agent: “Any apology that may be due should go to the murderers and burglars instead of Yamamoto. […] He was deported for we have absolute proof he was an agent of the Imperial Japanese Government and that his cotton-buying story was just another Jap blind. I consider him one of the most dangerous of enemy agents” (DMN, Feb. 17, 1943). (This is from the article which described Fritz as “one of Dallas’ most enthusiastic Jap-haters.”)

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 (who came to Dallas in 1900) — 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 the reopening of his business in an ad taken out on Dec. 15, 1941: “Thank You — Dallas friends have been wonderful to us … their expressions of friendship and confidence have made us very happy. The United States Government has licensed us to continue business. Oriental Art Co., 1312 Elm.”

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Dec. 15, 1941

Mr. Muta was spared the “enemy alien” internment camp, but, along with other Asian men and women residing in the United States, he was barred from becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen because of the “Oriental Exclusion Act.” The inability of Mr. Muta to become a U.S. citizen did not dampen his enthusiasm for American democracy: he paid his poll tax every year, even though he was not allowed to vote, and he was a proud member of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce for over 25 years.

The Seagoville Enemy Alien Detention Station was closed in May, 1945, and the site was returned to the Bureau of Prisons.

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Sources & Notes

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

Articles of interest from The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Six Japanese Taken in Custody By Local Police” (DMN, Dec. 8, 1941)
  • “Dallas Japs Questioned” (DMN, Dec. 9, 1941)
  • “Six Suspected Germans Held in Dallas Roundup of Aliens; Total of Jap Prisoners Rises to 10” (DMN, Dec. 9, 1941)
  • “Enemy Aliens In Dallas, 776; Arrested, 30: But All Suspects Are Closely Watched By G-Men and Police” (DMN, Dec. 19, 1941)
  • “FBI Rounds Up 50 Enemy Aliens, Seizes Arms, Cameras, Radios” (with photos of Dallas residents of Japanese, German, and Italian descent as well as seized “contraband”) (DMN, Feb. 25, 1942)
  • “Women Aliens Are Interned At Seagoville; 250, Including Their Children, Arrive Here From Panama” (DMN, April 11, 1942)
  • “Chilly Welcome Given 15 Japs From Coast; O.K. to Come to Dallas, Were Told; Still More On Way, Inform Police (DMN, April 23, 1942)
  • “Japs Leave Dallas” and “Tokyo-Bound Jap Lad Takes Candy Six-Gun as Souvenir” (about the deportation of the Yamamoto family, with photo) (DMN, June 6, 1942)
  • “Fritz Sheds No Tears For Mr. Yamamoto” (DMN, Feb. 17, 1943)
  • “Japanese Woman Revisits Seagoville” by Roy Hamric (profile of Masayo Ogawa) (DMN, Sept. 8, 1970)
  • “American Gulag: When Seagoville Housed the Aliens” by Kent Biffle (DMN, July 23, 1978)

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.

 

How Dallas Used to Get Election Returns

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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Columbus, Ohio, 1884

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

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Atlanta, Georgia, 1896

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

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NYC, 1896

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

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

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Dallas Morning News, April 8, 1891

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

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

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

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DMN, Nov. 6, 1900

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DMN, May 2, 1908

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

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DMN, July 23, 1911

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

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DMN, July 21, 1916

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

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DMN, July 26, 1918

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

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

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

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Sources & Notes

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

election-returns_elm-street_dpl_frank-rogers

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

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DMN, Aug. 27, 1922

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

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

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

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

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

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Under the Paw of the Tiger: Taking the Cocaine, Morphine, and Opium “Cure” — 1890s

ad-dallas-ensor-institute_souv-gd_1894“No cure, no pay…”

by Paula Bosse

In the 1890s, Dallas had a big cocaine problem. And a big morphine problem. And a big opium problem. In fact, the whole country did. Before the over-the-counter dispensing of these drugs was made illegal, they were easily obtained in any drugstore. Cocaine was especially cheap: a nickel or a dime (the equivalent of about two bucks in today’s money) could get you plenty. Things seem to have hit the breaking point in Dallas in 1892, with scads of lurid cautionary tales about crazed and doomed hopheads filling the papers, but the problem had been building for a while.

With this sudden surge in readily available opiates came the surge in institutions attempting to help the addicted kick their habit. Between 1893 and 1895 or 1896, there were three such places one would could go to “take the cure” in Dallas: the Dallas Ensor Institute (which was located at what is now 1213 Elm Street, between Griffin and Field, where Renaissance Tower stands now), the Hagey Infirmary (in what is now the 2100 block of Main, just east of Pearl), and, most famously, the Keeley Institute (which for many years was on Hughes Circle in The Cedars, just south of Belleview, between S. Akard and S. Ervay). The first two  were gone after only a couple of years, but the Dallas branch of the then-famous Keeley Institute lasted in Dallas at a few different locations until at least 1936.

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The text of the 1894 Dallas Ensor Institute ad above:

No Gold – No Mineral
The Dallas Ensor Institute
For the Cure of
Liquor, Morphine, Cocaine
and Tobacco Habits
No. 287 Elm Street,
Opened in the City of Dallas on the 1st day of July, 1893, and has successfully cured Two Hundred and Sixty-Three people all told, who are to-day sober men with the exception of three.
We Guarantee a Cure in every case, to the entire satisfaction of the patient, or it COSTS HIM NOTHING
REMEMBER, NO CURE, NO PAY.
Consultation Free and Correspondence Solicited.
Address Lock Box 367.
C. B. BEARD, Manager
Call and see us

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The more widely known Keeley Institute opened in Dallas around 1895 (click ad for larger image).

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Dallas Morning News, Oct. 31, 1895

The text is worth a read of its own:

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It’s interesting that the Keeley ad and the Ensor ad both admit to being less than perfect in their success rate — to the tune of “three.” I wonder if they were the same three people?

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Even though the addiction rate was getting to be something of an epidemic — especially, it seems, among women — pharmacists were split on whether to appeal to the city council to ban sales of these drugs unless ordered by a doctor. While all of them saw first-hand the hopeless addicts who came in every day proffering scrounged dimes, many were loath to lose the steady business — they were making a pretty good living. According to the article below — which describes what was going on in Dallas at the time, narcotic-wise — it wasn’t until late 1901 that the city council outlawed the sale of narcotics unless accompanied by a prescription; the State of Texas enacted a similar law four years later. Not that that stopped people from continuing to “hit the pipe” (a phrase I was surprised to see was around in 1910), but it probably did save many lives in the days when addiction was not very well understood and was not very effectively treated.

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Sources & Notes

Dallas Ensor Institute ad from the Souvenir Guide of Dallas (Dallas: D. M. Anderson Directory Co., 1894).

Interested in more on a druggy Dallas?

  • See an ad for the Hagey Infirmary in my post “Hagey Infirmary, No Patient Too Frail — 1894,” here.
  • See my post “‘Delusions of Affability’ — Marijuana in 1930s Dallas,” here.
  • And, heck, see my other cocaine-related post, “New Year, New Teeth — 1877” — about a dentist who might have been dipping into his own medicine chest a little too frequently — here.
  • See the Dallas Morning News article “When Dope Sold Like Aspirin,” by Kenneth Foree (DMN, Sept. 5, 1951) for a really interesting look at Dallas during its first wave of drug problems. Imagine, if you will, the sight of a woman so in need of a fix that, despite having vehemently assured the druggist only moments earlier that the “medicine” she was purchasing was not for her, she began to lick the bottle before she even left the store. Cocaine is a hell of a drug….

The song referenced in the Foree article mentioned above is “Take a Whiff on Me,” which Lead Belly — who played around Deep Ellum in the ‘teens and ’20s — recorded in the 1930s. One of the verses of the song sometimes called “Cocaine Habit Blues” has a Dallas shout-out: “Walked up Ellum and I come down Main / Tryin’ to bum a nickle just to buy cocaine / It’s oh, oh, baby take a whiff on me.” Hear his version of the song (and read the lyrics) here (the “Ellum” line is at the 1:29 mark).

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Magnolia Building by Night”

magnolia-bldg-night

by Paula Bosse

Still standing. Still beautiful.

See a similar postcard, with a wider view — and a blobbier Pegasus — here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thomas Marsalis’ Spectacular Oak Cliff Hotel: 1890-1945

oak-cliff_cook-coll_degolyer_smu_front“Visit the Oak Cliff…” (click for much larger image) Photo: SMU

by Paula Bosse

I saw this image yesterday while browsing through the George W. Cook Collection (DeGolyer Library, SMU). It’s from about 1890. It’s great. BUT, the other side of this card is even better:

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I’m not sure how realistic this drawing is, but it’s great! Oak Cliff never looked so … quaint. The best part is the depiction of the little commuter railway that Oak Cliff developer Thomas L. Marsalis built in the 1880s to handle commuter traffic between Oak Cliff and Dallas — a necessity if his development west of the Trinity was to grow. There were two little steam trains which made a complete circle and offered spectacular views of  Dallas as they headed toward the river. Here’s an account of visitors from Kansas City who enjoyed their scenic ride (click to see a larger image):

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Dallas Morning News, Nov. 24, 1890

Marsalis had made his fortune in the grocery business, and much of that fortune was funneled into making his vision a reality: Oak Cliff would become a large, beautiful, prosperous community. He spent huge amounts of money developing the then-separate town of Oak Cliff. A wheeler-dealer and an obsessive whirlwind, money was no object to Marsalis as he charged at full speed to make Oak Cliff a booming North Texas garden spot.

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Thomas L. Marsalis — the “Father of Oak Cliff”

The jewel in T. L.’s O.C. crown was the 100-room resort, the Oak Cliff Hotel (which in its early planning had been called the Park Hotel). Ground was broken on Dec. 21, 1889. Projected to cost $75,000, it is said to have cost over $100,000 when construction was completed, or, over $2.6 million in today’s money.

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DMN, Dec. 22,1889

A thorough description of the spectacular $100,000 showplace can be read in a Dallas Morning News article from May 25, 1890, here. When it opened on July 10, 1890, the News’ coverage of the opening included the following lyrical passage:

When darkness had settled down over the cliff the large hotel showed off to its best advantage, as at a short distance away it looked like some living monster with hundreds of fiery eyes. The lights showing from every window made a startling sight to those who coming upon it had previously seen a dark pile looming up in the night.

oak-cliff-hotel_minutaglio

It was, by all accounts, a popular hotel and social gathering place. But, in November of 1891 — having been open only a little over a year — a notice appeared in the papers that the hotel would be closing for the winter for “renovations.” It never reopened. Marsalis had over-extended himself. His dreams for Oak Cliff began to dim as the stacks of unpaid bills mounted, and he found himself mired in lawsuits for the next several years. He eventually had to admit defeat, and he and his family moved to New York.

Six months after that notice of “renovations” appeared, the huge building was leased to Prof. Thomas Edgerton, who planned to open a “female seminary.”

oak-cliff-college_flickr

The Oak Cliff College For Young Ladies opened  in the fall of 1892. And it was a spectacular-looking schoolhouse.

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The college lasted until the beginning of 1899 when it changed hands and became Eminence College for a brief year and a half.

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Southern Mercury, June 22, 1899

After Eminence College appears to have gone bust, the building was vacant by 1901. There was talk that Oak Cliff should purchase the property and reinstall a school, but, eventually, the building went up for auction in September, 1903.

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DMN, Aug. 26, 1903

The building sold to T. S. Miller, Jr. and L. A. Stemmons for $6,850, a fraction of what Marsalis had spent building it. That’s a pretty steep depreciation.

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DMN, Sept. 2, 1903

But, no fear, Hotel Cliff opened on April 18, 1904. Still looking good.

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DMN, July 11, 1904

Hotel Cliff was in business through about 1915. There were some “lost” years in there when it seemed to be in limbo (during some of this time it was undergoing extensive renovation), but in 1921 it re-opened as the Forest Inn.

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DMN, April 24, 1921

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Bartlett News, July 4, 1924

The Forest Inn had a long run — 24 years. In 1945 the property was sold, and T. L. Marsalis’ spectacular resort hotel was demolished. It was estimated that it would take ten weeks to finish the demo job — Marsalis had spared no expense building his hotel, and it had been built to last.

The destruction is a tough job, Jack Haake, wrecking contractor, said. Despite its age, the building is so well built that much time is being required to take it apart. The lumber is of the best grade and much of it still is in good condition, Haake said. Scores of huge 2×6 planks, thirty-two feet long, were used in the building, and that timber is in excellent condition. (“Historic Oak Cliff Hotel Being Razed For New Structure,” DMN, Sept. 10, 1945)

The land apparently remained vacant until Southwestern Bell Telephone announced plans to build a three-story office building on the property in 1954; the building opened the following year. In 1986, the building was renovated and became the Oak Cliff Municipal Center, which still occupies the site.

Where exactly was that huge, wonderful hotel that Thomas Marsalis built? It was located at what is now the southwest corner of East Jefferson Blvd. and South Crawford Street. A view of that corner today can be seen here. To get an idea  of how much land the hotel/college once occupied, check out the 1905 Sanborn map, here (and this is after 15 years of explosive growth of Oak Cliff, so it obviously originally had much more open land around it); by 1922, encroachment was well underway, and the property was already being chopped into smaller parcels.

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Google Maps

I wonder what Thomas Marsalis would think of Oak Cliff today? And I wonder what Oak Cliff would have become had Marsalis never put his money and energy into its early development?

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There is a lot of misinformation on various online sources about the timeline of this building. As best I can determine, here is the correct chronology:

  • 1889: groundbreaking for hotel, in December
  • 1890-1891: Oak Cliff Hotel
  • 1892-1899: Oak Cliff College For Young Ladies
  • 1899-1901: Eminence College (also for young women)
  • 1902-1903: vacant
  • 1903: building sold at public auction, in September
  • 1904-1914: Hotel Cliff
  • 1914-1915: Oak Cliff College (reorganized, back for one last gasp)
  • 1915-1920: basically empty, with a couple of token tenants
  • 1921-1945: Forest Inn
  • 1945: demolished

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Sources & Notes

First two images show both of sides of an advertising card; “Visit Oak Cliff” is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University — more information is here.

Photo of Thomas Marsalis from Legacies, Fall, 2007.

Colorized image of hotel from the front cover of The Hidden City: Oak Cliff, Texas by Bill Minutaglio and Holly Williams. The sign is hard to read, but this may show the building during the Hotel Cliff days.

The detail of an Oak Cliff College envelope comes from the Flickr page for the Texas Collection, Baylor University, here. (Sure hope Mr. Edgerton was able to get a refund on that printing job — having “Oak Cliff” misspelled on official college correspondence probably caused a grimace or two!)

Large black and white photograph of Oak Cliff College appeared in William L. McDonald’s Dallas Rediscovered; photo from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

Hotel Cliff postcard from the Cook Collection, SMU; information is here.

See the beautiful house Marsalis built for himself (but which he might never actually have lived in) in my post “The Marsalis House: One of Oak Cliff’s ‘Most Conspicuous Architectural Landmarks,'” here.

Thomas L. Marsalis is a fascinating character and an important figure in the development of Oak Cliff, but his post-Dallas life has always been something of a mystery. I never really thought of myself as a “research nerd” until I started this blog, but reading how a few people in an online history group pieced together what did happen to him was surprisingly thrilling. This round-robin investigation began in the online Dallas History Phorum message board, here, and finished as the Legacies article “Where Did Thomas L. Marsalis Go?” by James Barnes and Sharon Marsalis (Fall 2007 issue). If you have some time, I highly recommend reading through the Phorum comments and then reading the article. It’s very satisfying!

All images and clippings larger when clicked. 

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas Fire Stations — 1901

fire-dept_engine-co-3_gaston-and-college_1901Fire horse in Old East Dallas relaxing between calls (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few turn-of-the-century photos of Dallas’ fire stations, from a 1901 photographic annual. These seven firehouses were built between 1882 and 1894. One of these buildings is, miraculously, still standing on McKinney Avenue.

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At the top, Engine Co. No. 3, at Gaston and College Avenues. In service: January, 1892. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location (Gaston and Hall) here. (And since I just used it a few days ago, here’s a 1921 Sanborn map, showing Mill Creek running right through the property.)

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fire-dept_central-station_main-harwood_1901

Above, Central Fire Station, Main and Harwood Streets. In service: October, 1887. Equipment: a double-sixty-gallon Champion Chemical Engine and a City Hook and Ladder Truck. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (the site of the old City Hall/Municipal Building).

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fire-dept_mckinney-leonard_engine-co-1_1901

Engine Co. No. 1, McKinney Avenue and Leonard. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. In service: August, 1894. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here. NOTE: This is the only one of these firehouses still standing. I wrote about it here.

UPDATE: Well, sort of. Thanks to a comment on Facebook, I researched this station a bit more and found that it was rebuilt and modernized at the end of 1909 — using materials from the original building seen above, built on the same plot of land. So instead of being 122 years old, the building on McKinney today is a mere 106 years old.

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fire-dept_commerce-hawkins_engine-co-2_1901

Engine Co. No. 2, Commerce and Hawkins Streets. In service: January, 1882. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see a shot-in-the-dark guess at a present location here.

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fire-dept_ervay-kelly_hose-co-2_1901

Hose Co. No. 2 and Chemical Co. No. 2, Ervay Street and Kelly Avenue. In service: September, 1894. Equipment: a Cooney Hose Carriage and double-sixty-gallon Champion Chemical Engine. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (right behind where the word “Cedars”).

fire-dept_bryan-hawkins_hook-and-ladder-1_1901

Hose Co. No. 1 and Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, Bryan and Hawkins Streets. In service: January, 1893. Equipment: Preston Aerial Truck with 75-foot extension ladder, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the approximate present location here.

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fire-dept_commerce-akard_engine-co-4_1901

Engine Co. No. 4, Commerce and Akard Streets, next door to the City Hall. In service: August, 1894. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 1,100 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (just out of frame at the right was the City Hall; the block is now the site of the Adolphus Hotel).

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city-hall_1901_fire-dept-annual_portal

City Hall, Commerce and Akard Streets, now the location of the Adolphus Hotel. Half of the shorter building to the left housed the police department and Engine Co. No. 4.

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The “Historical” page from the book (click to read).

fire-dept-hist_dallas-fire-dept-annual_1901_portal

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Since there is no sign of the actual equipment in these photos, here’s what horse-drawn steam engines (Ahrens steamers) looked like at this time. (Photo from the Wisconsin Historical Society).

fire-steam-engine_wisconsin-hist-soc

UPDATE: I found this photo on Flickr, showing equipment from those early days being driven through the streets of Dallas during a fire prevention parade.

fire-department_pumper_flickr_coltera

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Sources & Notes

Photos by Clifton Church, from the Dallas Fire Department Annual, 1901, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

A contemporary map of Dallas (ca. 1898) can be viewed on the Portal to Texas History site, here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on historic Dallas firehouses can be found here.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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