Flashback : Dallas

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Category: Christmas

Merry Christmas from Dallas Artist Bud Biggs

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The bright lights of Christmas in downtown Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

An evening in downtown Dallas at Christmastime — alive with traffic and lights and energy — by Dallas artist Bud Biggs.

The painting appeared on the cover of the Christmas, 1959 issue of The Shamrock, a magazine published by the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation. The magazine’s description:

On the sidewalks, shoppers dart to and fro. On the street, autos dash by, leaving streaks of light in their haste. Gay lights and laughing Santas swing gayly overhead, festooning the area in a holiday glow. Above all this man-made madness, stars twinkle in contrast, reflecting a serenity reminiscent of a night nineteen hundred years ago. This is what The Shamrock staff sees in this vivid water color of Downtown Dallas at Christmastime by Artist Bud Biggs.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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Sources & Notes

This work by artist Bud Biggs appeared on the cover of the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock; this magazine is part of the Southwest Collection, Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University — the entire issue has been scanned and may be viewed as a PDF here.

My guess is that the title of the original painting is “Main Street, Christmas Night” and that it was one of the 12 paintings produced by Biggs in the mid 1950s as cover art for Dallas Magazine, a Dallas Chamber of Commerce publication. These paintings of Dallas scenes appeared as cover art for the monthly issues of 1956, in honor of the city’s centennial. The series won the “Best Covers of 1956” award from the American Association of Commerce Publications, and in 1958 all 12 of the original watercolors were purchased by Southwest Airmotive Company to be displayed in their new Love Field terminal. The 12 covers featured Biggs’ depictions of the following Dallas scenes and landmarks:

  • “Aerial View of Downtown Dallas”
  • “Ervay Street”
  • “Ground-breaking, Dallas University”
  • “Midway, State Fair of Texas”
  • “Trinity Industrial District”
  • “Central Expressway”
  • “Commerce Street”
  • “City Auditorium”
  • “Looking Up Pacific”
  • “Main Street, Christmas Night”
  • “SMU Legal Center”
  • “The Katy Round House”

More on this series of paintings can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Art & Artists: Biggs Series Bought by Firm” by Rual Askew, Feb. 20, 1958.

Dallas native Bancroft Putnam “Bud” Biggs (1906-1985) attended Forest Ave. High School, SMU, and the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. He was primarily a commercial artist, working first for Dallas artist Guy Cahoon before opening his own advertising studio. He produced fine art as well, specializing in watercolors, and was a respected art instructor.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmas Window Shopping — 1950

xmas-shoppers_121650_hayes-collection_DPLHappy Santa fans…

by Paula Bosse

Here are a couple enjoying a Christmas display. Haven’t finished your shopping? There’s still time!

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Sources & Notes

Taken on Dec. 16, 1950, this photo is from the Hayes Collection, Dallas Public Library Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library (“[Christmas storefront shoppers],” PA76-1/43.3).

More Flashback Dallas posts on Christmas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas Along the Esplanade

xmas_esplanade_dusk_pegasus_121918_paula-bosseA festive Pegasus…

by Paula Bosse

The holiday lights and “dancing waters” of the Esplanade in Fair Park are always worth a visit. I took these photos the other day after doing some volunteer research at the Dallas Historical Society, based in the beautiful Hall of State. I’m particularly fond of dusk, but nighttime is the really the time to see the lights and fountains at their best.

Above, the Pegasus pylon, by French artist Pierre Bourdelle, one of the many artists who worked on the Centennial Exposition in 1936, the year the Esplanade and many of the buildings in Fair Park were built. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

Below, a look toward the Hall of State from the end of the Esplanade.

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One of the six sculptures along the Esplanade, this one represents Texas, by artist Lawrence Tenney Stevens:

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The Automobile Building with the statue representing France, by French sculptor Raoul Josset:

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A closer look, after the sun has gone down, showing the impressive lighting design:

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Impressive even from the side:

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“Texas” again, lit up and in silhouette:

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The illuminated “dancing waters”:

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Another view toward the Hall of State:

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The jewel of Fair Park, the Hall of State:

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Below are two images of the Esplanade from 1936, when all of this was brand new:

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Sources & Notes

All photos by Paula Bosse.

More information on the statues along the Esplanade can be found at the French Sculpture Census page highlighting “Fair Park, 1936” here, and “The Six Ladies of Fair Park” page from the Texas Escapes site, here.

A very large aerial photo of Fair Park from 1936 can be seen here. Zoom in on the Esplanade.

More Flashback Dallas posts about Christmas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From El Chico and the Cuellar Family: Feliz Navidad!

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by Paula Bosse

…y Prospero Año Nuevo!

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Sources & Notes

Images from a matchbook cover in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more on the item can be found on the SMU site here.

A couple of super-folksy El Chico commercials can be watched here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Texas Instruments Semiconductor Crystal Christmas Tree

xmas-tree_texas-instruments-records_degolyer-lib_smu_ca-1959-smThe semiconductor tree… (click to see a larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here’s something you don’t see every day: a Christmas tree made from models of semiconductor crystals. I can’t even begin to understand this, so I’ll hand it over to the “explanation” seen on the card in the photo and pretend to nod knowingly. (Click picture to see larger image; transcription is below.)

xmas-tree_texas-instruments-records_degolyer-lib_smu_ca-1959_descr

SEMICONDUCTOR CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS TREE

In a 12-step cycle, the crystalline atoms light in sequence, illustrating the many planes in which they are oriented in a semiconductor crystal.

This demonstrator applies to Germanium, Silicon – both of which TI uses in its semiconductor products – Diamond, and compound semiconductors such as Indium Antimonide, Gallium Arsenide, Silicon Carbide and Zinc Sulfide.

The central yellow and blue round atoms form a “unit cell,” or basic crystalline building block.

The white round and blue conical atoms represent alloying elements producing semiconductor action and occurring only once in a thousand crystal segments this size.

Green and red atoms would be of different elements in the case of a compound crystal, or the same element in the case of a simple crystal.

MAGNIFICATION – 500 MILLION TIMES LIFE SIZE

Model manufactured by: The Thermoelectric Materials Group, Central Research Laboratory

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED

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So … yeah. Merry Christmas from the fine folks at TI’s Thermoelectric Materials Group!

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Sources & Notes

This circa-1959 photo — titled “Semiconductor Christmas Tree” — is from the RG-06 Semiconductor Group, Texas Instruments records, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found on the SMU site, here.

Speaking of germanium (…there’s a phrase I’ve never used before…), SMU also has another TI photo showing a close-up of “a germanium crystal being pulled (grown) out of a crucible of molten germanium material” here. In fact, SMU’s DeGolyer Library has a whole slew of material in their Texas Instruments records — browse through the collection here.

Semiconductors, single-crystal germanium, silicon, and transistors … the world owes Dallas’ Texas Instruments a huge “thank you” for their cannot-be-overstated contribution to the development of the technology that, dare I say, changed life on earth.

texas-instruments_AP_051054AP wire story, May 10, 1954 (click for larger image)

One of the inventors of “single-crystal germanium” was Dr. Gordon K. Teal (1907-2003), a Dallas native whom Texas Instruments snapped up from his previous employer, Bell Laboratories. Read more about Dr. Teal’s remarkable career in an Engineering and Technology History Wiki, here, and in a portrait (literal and figurative) from Baylor University (his alma mater), here.

More about the importance and applications of “single-crystal germanium” in the new Transistor Age can be found in an interview with Dr. Teal in the Dallas Morning News article “Mighty Transistor: Dr. Gordon Teal ‘Grows’ A Gadget” by Robert Miller (DMN, Feb. 8, 1953).

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Holiday Greetings!

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by Paula Bosse

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and Season’s Greetings! I hope this holiday season is a happy and safe one for us all.

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“Noel” card appears to have been a Neiman-Marcus Christmas card; the flap of the envelope is below. Both images are from eBay.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Over-the-Top University Park Christmas Display Featuring Big Tex and a Six Flags Spee-lunker

xmas-wayne-smith_university-park_2015_big-tex_speelunkerBig Tex on the roof, a “Spee” to the right (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

You may have heard about Wayne Smith’s annual spectacular Christmas display in the 3600 block of Southwestern in University Park — the one with a cast of thousands, including a previous head of Big Tex, what seems like hundreds of illuminated Santas, Dracula, Moe Howard, and a former denizen of Six Flags Over Texas’ “Cave”/Spee-lunker ride. Before I get back to the “Spees” (the name the creatures have been given by their surprisingly enthusiastic fan-following), here’s a wider shot of a photo I took during last year’s holiday season. (Click it!)

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(And this gives you only an inkling of what’s actually there. I LOVED it! I waited until after Christmas — in fact, after New Year’s — to wander around — I can only imagine how backed up with looky-loos the street gets closer to Christmas.)

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Back to the Spees. The Cave water ride debuted in 1964 and was an immediate hit. When it opened, there were 28 of these creatures who, according to the original marketing, “came from innerspace.”

They are 30 inches high and they play harps, do the Twist, play cards, hammer cave crystals into rock candy and engage in a shell game — turtle racing.

This ride was always one of my favorites (probably because it provided a brief, cool respite from the glaring sun and the blasting heat that plagued my annual summer visits to Six Flags).

The Spee-lunkers left Six Flags a long time ago, so it’s nice to see that one of them is still entertaining local crowds, right next to another beloved DFW icon, Big Tex … along with a phalanx of festive Santas!

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Lest you think the publicity mill wasn’t working all angles of this new attraction, we see below that one of the Spees got a visit from, of all people, TV-darling Donna Douglas who played Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.

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photo and article, Hood County News Tablet, June 4, 1964

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August, 1964

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Grand Prairie Daily News, May 25, 1977

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Sources & Notes

Photo of Wayne Smith’s Christmas display taken by me on January 2, 2016. The house is in the 3600 block of Southwestern, between Baltimore and Thackery. Since the display is probably visible from space, there’s no way you can miss it.

Postcards found on eBay and Google.

Every year TV crews descend on Smith’s house to do a story. Watch one from this year — from CW33 News — here.

For those who might like more info on the Spee-lunker attraction/ride (which, by the way, is classified as a “dark ride” in amusement park lingo) at Six Flags Over Texas, here’s a bunch of links:

  • Weird video and music (and history!) by a superfan, here
  • Article by the same guy who put the above video together, here
  • Spee-lunker vignettes described here
  • Google images aplenty, here

More on the new ride can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives in the article “$300,000 Hole: Six Flags To Open Cave Ride” (DMN, May 24, 1964) — accompanying the article is an amusing photo captioned “Gail Powers yelps in mock fear as lobster seizes her hand.”

A shout-out to Wendy Cook who, when I posted the top picture to the Flashback Dallas Instagram feed in January, pointed out to me that the Spee-lunker was even in there. She recognized him right away, but with so much visual overload, I hadn’t even noticed him! Thanks, Wendy!

See stuff bigger — when in doubt, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmas Toy Sale at Sanger’s! — 1955

xmas_sangers_dmn_122255aBargains ahead: Santa’s clearing the shelves…

by Paula Bosse

Look at all the toys that were on sale in the final days before Christmas — “at all three [Sanger’s] stores: downtown, Highland Park and Preston Road.” Need a “Ricky, Jr. doll”? A kiddie Geiger counter? A two-foot-tall Donald Duck toy dressed as Davy Crockett? Look no further — Sanger’s has it. (Click ad to see a larger image and take a walk down Childhood Toy Memory Lane.)

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Merry Christmas from the Priscilla Art Club — 1968

xmas_priscilla-art-club_123168_uta“Say ‘fondue’!” … (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

These women look like they’ve stepped out of a catalog — perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, perfectly posed. They are members of the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African-American women’s club in Dallas. The club was formed in 1911, and I think it may still be active — the most recent news I could find of the club was from 2012, when the “centennial legacy quilt,” made by members to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary, was displayed at the African American Museum. Below, a little history of the club from the press release announcing the exhibit in February, 2012.

THE PRISCILLA ART CLUB CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

In honor of Black History Month, the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African American women’s organization in Dallas County, will host a display of its centennial legacy quilt made by its members […] at the African American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas Fair Park.

“The idea of a custom designed legacy quilt started out as a novel idea from our Systems Committee in recognition of our 100th anniversary. The twenty-two club members quickly became engaged in seeing it to fruition and we are happy to honor the beauty, the inspiration and the legacy of our Club” said Shirley Porter Ware, Club President.

The Priscilla Art Club, organized in 1911 as a club for young matrons, was organized under the encouragement and direction of Mrs. Mattie Mansfield Chalmers. The organization’s purposes were to establish and maintain the aesthetic, promote congenial companionship and foster all social and community interests that pertain to the general uplift. The Club was named for Priscilla, a New Testament woman of extraordinary culture and the wife of Aquila, a Jewish tentmaker.

Since its auspicious beginning, the Club has invited into its membership many of Dallas’ most distinguished homemakers. These members have exhibited an interest or are talented in arts and crafts.

Besides being homemakers and mothers, the members have been and some still are principals, school administrators, teachers, business owners, social workers, church leaders and servant volunteers in the local community.

Throughout the century of service and sisterhood, recorded in The Priscilla’s prolific history include mention of service rendered in support of the World War I efforts by rolling bandages that were sent overseas to the field hospitals in France. For several years, the Priscillas decorated the shotgun house, located in Old City Park, in observance of the holiday season. In more recent years, the members have decorated t-shirts and jackets made from sweat shirts to give to men and women in local assisted living facilities. Club members have made crocheted skull caps in a variety of vivid colors and patterns and donated to cancer patients actively engaged in treatment regimens.

Regardless of change, the Priscilla Art Club’s concern for its artistic endeavors and for civic and social uplift will continue with deepening interest and commitment as the tradition of the founders’ legacy is carried forward.

I hope the club is still around. This year marks its 105th anniversary.

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Sources & Notes

Photo was taken on December 31, 1968; from the Culmer Family Papers, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, accessible here.

The 2012 press release was posted on the Facebook page of the Dallas Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists, here.

More on the history of the club can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Reception to Honor Art Club’s 65th Year” by Julia Scott Reed (DMN, April 2, 1976).

The most in-depth history of the club that I could find online can be found in the guide to the Culmer Family Papers at UTA, here (scroll down to the paragraph that begins “The Priscilla Art Club was one of the most prestigious, if not elitist clubs for African American women in Dallas….”

Photo and newspaper article are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Eisenlohr Family and Dallas’ First Christmas Tree — 1874

eisenlohr_1885_ebayThe Eisenlohr Market Drug Store, 1885 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

According to the memories of Dallas artist E. G. Eisenlohr (1872-1961), his German-born parents brought the first decorated Christmas tree to Dallas in 1874 (or, according to a version of the story published a few years later, 1876). There had been Christmas trees in Dallas before this, but the Eisenlohrs’ tree may have been the first tree — or one of the first — to be brought inside and decorated with tinsel and ornaments.

According to E. G. Eisenlohr’s Christmas memories which appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 1, 1935:

The candles, holders and tinsel for that first Christmas tree in the village of Dallas in 1874 was ordered from the East. For days my mother baked cookies in the shapes of stars, ships, [and] boots [using] hand-carved molds, some more than 100 years old, that illustrated folk tales…. For days before Christmas Eve the children had been locked out of the room where Kris Kringle was decorating the tree and permitted to enter only after our parents played their Christmas concert and appeared at the window in answer to the cheers from the crowd in the streets. There may have been other trees in the village before we had ours but I have not heard of any and many persons said ours was the first here. I believe we had the first tinsel and glass decorations, for many persons told me later that their parents had told them of the decorated trees back in their old homes before they came to Texas.

eisenlohr-store_degolyer-lib_SMUThe store, ca. 1875-1880 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

But what kind of tree was it? According to Kenneth Foree’s 1946 News article about the Eisenlohr tree, it was “a beautiful cedar tree (cut from an Akard and Young thicket by moonlight when the children were asleep” (DMN, Dec. 24, 1946).

Eisenlohr’s father, Rudolph F. Eisenlohr, owned the Market Drug Store (seen above), which was at the southwest corner of Main and Field (the current view of that corner can be seen here, via Google Street View, and the 1885 Sanborn map of that block can be found here.) The family lived upstairs. Imagine that first decorated tree — actually inside someone’s home! — lit with candles in one of those upper windows, attracting a crowd of people below who had never before seen such a sight in the little village of Dallas.

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The Dallas Herald, Feb. 18, 1877

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Dallas city directory, 1878

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Sources & Notes

More on this tree can be found in these three Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Christmas of ’74 Featured by First Yule Tree in City — Intended for Eisenlohr Children, but Served for All of Youngsters ” (DMN, Oct. 1, 1935)
  • “Happy Citizens of the Little Town of Dallas Saw Their First Glass and Tinsel Ornaments in 1876 on a Tree Which Glittered Through the Eisenlohrs’ Window Upstairs Over Their Drug Store” (…that is one crazy-long headline…) by Mattie Lou Frye (DMN, Dec. 18, 1932)
  • “First Tree” (crazy-short headline…) by Kenneth Foree (DMN, Dec. 24, 1946)

Photo of the Eisenlohr store found on eBay.

More on artist E. G. Eisenlohr here and here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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