Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Holidays/Celebrations

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.)

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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.

 

Lighting Menorahs — 1954

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by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo of Gilla Silverman and her mother, Devora Halaban Silverman, wife of Rabbi Hillel Silverman, lighting menorahs during Hanukkah, 1954.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas Jewish Post, Dec. 23, 1954. The entire 52-page issue of this special “Chanukah Issue” has been scanned and may be viewed at UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here. (Click “zoom” to enlarge the pages, click arrows at right and left to move through the issue.)

Rabbi Hillel Silverman arrived in Dallas as the new rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in 1954 and was a popular and influential member of Dallas’ Jewish community for the decade or so he served here. He may be best known beyond Dallas as “Jack Ruby’s rabbi.”

Read about a 2009 return to the city by Rabbi Silverman in the Texas Jewish Post article by Dave Sorter, “A Golden Opportunity to Reunite” (Oct. 8, 2009), here.

The Texas Jewish Post article introducing Rabbi Silverman to its readership — “Dr. H. E. Silverman Appointed to Head Israel Pulpit” (July 8, 1954) — can found here.

An article focusing on the Ruby family and Dallas (Rabbi Silverman is interviewed) can be found in “Remembering JFK” by Steve North (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, via the Texas Jewish Post, Nov. 21, 2013), here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thanksgiving in Dallas — 1883

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by Paula Bosse

Below, a recap of Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, 1883. “Family dinings and wineings were the order of the day.” And more food. And lots more convivial tippling. And young people escaping from the family for buggy rides out to Eagle Ford with friends. …Not so different from today. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sources & Notes

Newspaper article from the Dallas Weekly Herald, Dec. 6, 1883.

Vintage postcard from the blog 19th-Century Wellington.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Thanksgiving can be found here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

EASILY DUPLICATE THIS “frosty-Pepper” PUMPKIN!

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

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

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

Drink Dr. Pepper
GOOD FOR LIFE!

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

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Sources & Notes

Ad found on Flickr, here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More Halloween posts from Flashback Dallas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

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by Paula Bosse

Sure hope Mom can handle all that gluten!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Sources & Notes

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

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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.

xmas_neiman-marcus_ebay-envelope

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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.

 

Albert Einstein “Threw the Switch” in New Jersey to Open the Pan-American Exposition in Dallas — 1937

pan-american-expo_einstein_061237Einstein at the switch, June 12, 1937…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Who knew? Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous physicist, helped open the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition. The exposition was held at Fair Park for 20 weeks, from June 12, 1937 to October 31, 1937, as a follow-up of sorts to the Texas Centennial (the city had built all those new buildings — might as well get their money’s worth!). I’m not quite sure how Einstein got roped into this, but looking at the photo above, he seemed pretty happy about what was, basically, a long-distance ribbon-cutting. Via telegraph.

The plan was for Professor Einstein to officially open the Pan-American Exposition by “throwing the switch” which would turn on massive displays of lights around Fair Park. He would do this from Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived, by closing a telegraph circuit which would put the whole thing in motion. Newspaper reports varied on where exactly Herr Einstein was tapping his telegraph key — it was either the study in his home, in his office, in a Princeton University administration building, or in the Princeton offices of Western Union (the latter of which was mentioned in only one report I found, but it seems most likely).

Einstein was a bona fide celebrity, and this was national news — newspapers around the country ran stories about it, and the ceremony was carried live on coast-to-coast radio. Almost every report suggested that Einstein’s pressing of the key in New Jersey would be the trigger that lit up the park in Texas, 1,500 miles away — which was partly correct. According to The Dallas Morning News:

Lights on the grounds will be turned on officially at 8:40 p.m. when Dr. Albert Einstein, exponent of the theory of relativity, presses a key in his Princeton home to fire an army field gun. With the detonation of the shell, switches will be thrown to release the flood of colored lights throughout the grounds. (DMN, June 10, 1937)

So on June 12, 1937 he pressed a telegraph key somewhere in Princeton, NJ, an alert was instantly wired to Dallas, an army field gun (in some reports a “cannon”) was fired, and that blast was the cue for electricians positioned around the park to throw switches to illuminate the spectacular displays of colored lights.

The Western Union tie-in gimmick was a success. Newspaper reports might have been a little purple in their descriptions, but from all accounts, those lights going on all at once was a pretty spectacular sight.

Dr. Albert Einstein, celebrated scientist, threw a switch that flashed a million lights over the 187-acre exposition park. The flash came at 8:40 o’clock and instantly the huge park became a city of a million wonders. Flags from a thousand staffs proclaimed their nationality [and] bands played the national airs of the nations of the Western Hemisphere as lusty cheers roared with thunderous approval. The Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition was formally opened. It is on its way. (Abilene (TX) Reporter News, June 13, 1937)

The Dallas News describes the crowd as stunned into silence:

The waiting participants in the ceremonies at Dallas heard the results [of Einstein’s telegraph signal] when a cannon boomed. Electricians at switches around the grounds swung the blades into their niches and the flood of light awoke the colors of the rainbow to dance over the 187-acre park. Its breath taken by the spectacle, the crowd stood silent for a moment, and then broke into a cheer. (“Pan-American Fair Gets Off to Gay Start” by Robert Lunsford, DMN, June 13, 1937)

Many of the lighting designs and displays had been used the previous year during the Centennial, but, as with much of the attractions and appointments throughout the park, they were improved and spectacularized for the Pan-American Expo. And people loved what they saw.

Despite the multi-million dollar structures, air conditioning demos, works of art and other newfangled additions to the space, when people left the Centennial Exposition one thing was on everyone’s tongues, according to historical pollsters: the lights.

Positioned behind the Hall of State were 24 searchlights scaffolding into a crowned fan shape. “They all moved and were different colors,” says [Jim] Parsons [co-author of the book Fair Park Deco]. “It sounds gaudy, but people loved it.” The lights, he goes on to tell, were visible up to 20 miles away.

Considering most of the people who were visiting the fairgrounds were coming from rural farming communities with no electricity, the inspiring nature of those far-reaching beams makes a lot of sense. (Dallas Observer, Nov. 7, 2012)

Thanks for doing your part for Dallas history, Prof. Einstein!

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Below, photos from the Texas Centennial, 1936. The multicolored lights could be seen from miles away — here’s what they looked like from downtown and from White Rock Lake.

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(All pictures and clippings are larger when clicked.)

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Denison Press, June 9, 1937

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einstein_pan-am-expo_waxahachie-daily-light_061137
Waxahachie Daily Light, June 11, 1937

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Denison Press, June 14, 1937

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einstein_pan-am-expo_medford-oregon-mail-tribune_062337
Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune, June 23, 1937

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Vernon Daily Record, June 24, 1937

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1937

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the old Corbis site.

Black-and-white photos from the Centennial seen from Fair Park and White Rock Lake are from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library; the photo of the lights seen from downtown Dallas (titled “New skyline at night from Dallas, Texas”) is from the GE Photo Collection, Museum of Innovation and Science (more info on that photo is here).

Sources of other images and clippings cited, if known.

More on the Pan-American Exposition from Wikipedia, here, and from the fantastic Watermelon Kid site of all-things-Fair-Park, here.

Click pictures and clippings for larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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