Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Humor

The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_detFrom the personal collection of Mike McKool Jr., used with permission

by Paula Bosse

Ann Richards and Betty McKool were close friends in Dallas in the 1960s, sharing an offbeat sense of humor and a dedication to Democratic-party politics. They were founders of the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club which was widely known for its revue of political humor and song parodies called “Political Paranoia” which Ann and Betty both performed in, wowing audiences with their larger-than-life charisma.

In the late ’60s, Ann and Betty — who loved dressing in ridiculous costumes and cracking each other up — began to issue satirical Christmas cards which featured photographs of themselves in outrageous situations accompanied by pithy captions and greetings, usually referencing a political hot-topic of the past year. The cards were sent out unsigned, and, as Ann Richards wrote in her autobiography Straight from Heart, not everyone knew who had sent them.

We mailed these to a lot of people, maybe a hundred, and we didn’t sign them. And we had such a good time thinking about people getting this weird card and trying to figure out who it could possibly be from, thinking maybe it was their wives’ relatives. Oh, we laughed about that. And we kept thinking of some guy opening it and drawling, “Mildred come here, look at this card we got in the mail.” No more than half our friends recognized us, maybe not that many.

Ann and Betty enjoyed doing the first card so much that they did it every year — it became something of an institution, and people on the Christmas card list waited expectantly each Christmas to get the latest crazy card. It was definitely a high point of the holiday season and the most anticipated Christmas card of the year. I certainly remember hearing about them throughout my childhood, as my parents were lucky enough to be on The List.

**

In her autobiography, Ann wrote that “our Christmas photo album lasted nine years” which is incorrect. After I wrote the post “‘Political Paranoia’ and the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, feat. Future Governor Ann Richards,” (which contains the newly unearthed film of “Political Paranoia II” from 1964 in which both Ann and Betty have standout performances), I received an email from Vicki Byers who is the Executive Assistant to Mike McKool Jr. (Betty’s son). That email contained scans of 12 of the Christmas cards from Mr. McKool’s personal collection! Wow! And he has allowed me to share these cards which have attained something of an almost mythic status — followers and fans of Gov. Richards have read about them, but not a lot of them have actually ever seen them. So thank you, Vicki, and thank you, Mike, for allowing access to this little treasure trove!

**

I’m not sure on the exact chronology of these cards. In her book, Ann writes about the “Temperance” card as being the first one that she and Betty did, but Mr. McKool has that card as being from 1976. It’s parodying a 1964 quote from Barry Goldwater, so it seems more likely to have been issued in the ’60s than in the ’70s — possibly in 1968. The cards were issued as late as 1983, and at some point the cards became posters. Ann moved from Dallas to Austin in 1969 or 1970, so she and Betty would have had to meet up during the year to plan and pose for their annual Christmas card, and from all accounts, the two women truly enjoyed creating the irreverent cards as much as people enjoyed receiving them. Here they are (all images are larger when clicked).

*

1969: “Merry Christmas… From the Silent Majority”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1969

*

1970: “Wishing You Season’s Greetings from the Valley Forge Chapter of Women’s Liberation and a Gay Holiday… From the Boys in the Band”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1970

*

1971: “Hark!… It’s a Girl!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1971

*

1972: “Adoremus (Let Us Adore Him)… Four More Years”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1972

*

1973: “Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear… — You’re getting the same thing for Christmas that you’ve been getting all year!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973

*

1974: “And it came to pass… — Wisepersons????”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1974

*

1976 [?]: “From Our House To Your House — A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… Extremism in the pursuit of a Merry Christmas is no sin.” (In her autobiography, Ann describes this “Temperance” card as being the first one she and Betty made — it’s possible this might be from 1968.)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1976

*

1977: ‘Twas the night before Christmas…When what to my wondering eyes should appear but… Bella Abzug!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1977

*

1978: “Good grief! …WHO CAN WE TURN TO FOR HELP?”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1978

*

1979: “The honour of your presence is requested for Christmas Luncheon at The Governor’s Mansion”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1979

*

1980: “The White House Cookbook — Nancy Reagan’s All American Turkey”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1980

*

1981 [No image available, but in a mention in the Austin American-Statesman, Ann and Betty are described as being “dressed as old hoboes, looking aghast” in a “poster-sized card,” commenting on the theory of trickle-down economics]: “Behold, I Bring You Tidings of Great Joy… In other words, the rich get richer and we get trickled down on!”

*

1982: “The good new is We Won! — The bad news is… You got to dance with them that brung ya!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1982

*

1983: “Dear Ronnie: I would have put the gender gap in your stocking but it was too big. Love, Mrs. Claus” (issued as a poster; from the collection of Frances Murrah, Betty’s sister)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1983_nutcrackers_frances-murrah-collection_poster

*

There was also a card about which Ann wrote this: “Another year we donned cowboy hats and glittering western wear, and sent ‘Greetings from the Rhinestone Cow Chips.'” The Glen Campbell song “Rhinestone Cowboy” came out in 1975. The photo below appeared in Jan Reid’s book Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, and I suspect it might have been sent out as the 1975 card.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_nd_ca-1975

*

And one other card was described by Ann in her book: “One of my favorites was when we hung a bunch of stuffed deer heads, like you see on the wall of a lodge, and cut holes where we could stick our heads through and put on these antlers. And the message was, ‘If you think I’m gonna pull that damned old sleigh one more year….'” (Could this perhaps have been issued in 1976?)

*

So that’s at least 16 Christmas cards (a few were posters) sent out by Ann Richards and Betty McKool. And people are still talking about them! (I would love to be able to add other Ann-and-Betty cards to this post — if you have scans of any of the missing cards/posters, or any additional information, please let me know!)

**

Dorothy Ann Willis Richards was born in McLennan County in 1933 and grew up in Waco. Here is a lovely photo of her from 1950, from the “Favorites” section of the Waco High School yearbook. She was in the class play and was a debate champion. She lived in Dallas for several years where she was very active in Democratic politics as an activist and volunteer; after moving to Austin she entered politics as an elected official and ultimately became Governor of Texas in 1991. She died in 2006.

richards-ann_waco-high-school_1950_favoritesAnn, Waco High School, 1950

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-3
Ann as LBJ, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Raney McKool was born in Dallas in 1929. She attended Crozier Tech High School (below is a class photo from the 1946 yearbook) where she was a cheerleader. She married Mike McKool when she was only 16, and the two were extremely well known in political circles. Mike McKool, an attorney, served as a State Senator in Austin and was a Democratic Party leader in Dallas. Betty died in 2018 (read her obituary here). There is a fantastic interview with her from a 1971 “Legislative Wives” series in the Austin American-Statesman here.

mckool-betty-raney_crozier-tech_1946Betty, Crozier Tech, 1946

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-2
Betty as Nelson Rockefeller, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

*

On behalf of Ann Richards and Betty McKool, I wish you all a (bemused and slightly aghast) very Merry Christmas!

***

Sources & Notes

Thanks to Mike McKool Jr. and Vicki Byers for sending me the color images; these Christmas cards are from Mr. McKool’s personal collection, and I am grateful for his permission to share them here.

Also, many thanks to the family of Betty’s sister Frances Murrah, who allowed me to share the “Nutcracker” poster from 1983; Frances worked with Senator Lloyd Bentsen in Washington, DC for several years.

Quoted passages are from Chapter 7 of the book Straight from the Heart, My Life in Politics & Other Places by Ann Richards (Simon & Schuster, 1989). You can read these pages on Google Books here.

Screenshots are from the 1964 film “Political Paranoia II” from the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University; this film may be viewed on YouTube in its entirety here.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_det_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Political Paranoia” and the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, feat. Future Governor Ann Richards

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_cast

by Paula Bosse

Ann Richards drove my carpool. She and my mother swapped out driving kids to the First Unitarian Church Cooperative Preschool on Preston and Normandy in University Park. I’m not sure anyone in either family was an actual member of the church, but that preschool was one of the only co-ops in Dallas (it might have been the first), and it was a magnet for the more progressive parents in the city. The Unitarian Church was also a major gathering place in the 1960s and 1970s for those involved in women’s issues, liberal activism, and Democratic politics, including my mother and the future governor of Texas, Ann Richards. I remember hearing about Ann (she was always referred to as just “Ann”) throughout my entire childhood. My parents weren’t close friends with the slightly older Richardses, but my mother was a keen admirer of Ann and my father described her as “the funniest woman I’ve ever known.” I remember their home on Lovers Lane which always seemed to be crammed full of kids.

When Ann Richards lived in Dallas she was a self-described “housewife,” who, when she wasn’t busy raising her four children, was volunteering for Democratic candidates and causes. She was an active member of the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, a group which, in 1963, gained instant attention for the fundraiser show they wrote and performed called “Political Paranoia,” a satirical revue of politics, complete with sharp satire, broad comedy, song parodies, and ridiculous wigs and costumes. The show was such a huge success that follow-up standing-room-only shows were performed in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1968. The shows were written and directed by Carolyn Choate, Ruthe Winegarten, and Ann Richards, and the cast consisted of the members of the NDDW. Ann’s portrayal of LBJ seems to have made lasting impressions on those who saw it.

I have recently begun working on a project for the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive at SMU, and a reel of 16mm black-and-white film — with sound! — was discovered in the vault recently with no identifying information. Nothing. Nobody knows where it came from or how it ended up at SMU. But there it was: a lightly edited filmed document of the second installment of “Political Paranoia,” presented by the North Dallas Democratic Women in the auditorium of Hillcrest High School on May 16, 1964. I was sure Ann Richards would be in there somewhere — and she was! I was pretty excited by this “discovery” because this show has become something of a legendary touchstone in local Democratic politics. As far as I know, there is no other film footage of any of these shows. Not only that, this may well be the earliest footage of Ann Richards, the woman who would go on to become the governor of Texas (1991-1995) and one of the most celebrated women in politics and Texas culture. This is an amazing heretofore unknown historical document.

The show is full of smart sarcasm and “hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show” enthusiasm. The humor is more amusing than cutting, and these Democratic women were certainly not afraid of making fun of members of their own party. A lot of the hot topics of the day addressed in this show are lost to the mists of time, but that doesn’t take away from its entertainment value. This was a time when women had very little voice, impact, or power in politics, and the women here have firmly taken control of the reins and perform with an exuberance that crackles. 

The 34-minute film — complete with odd jumps and abrupt cuts — has been uploaded by SMU in its entirety here:

*

Here are a bunch of screenshots. I don’t know who all of the performers are — I would love feedback and corrections from the public. At the bottom is a list of names of women who were involved with the NDDW, but as they were invariably identified as “Mrs. Husband’s Name,” I have no idea what most of their first names are! I am especially interested in identifying Ruthe Winegarten, one of the prime movers behind these shows (and also a Texas and women’s historian of note).

First, 30-year-old Ann Richards (or as she was identified in newspaper accounts, “Mrs. David Richards”) appearing as Gordon McLendon, Dallas media magnate, owner of KLIF, and one-time wannabe politician — “The Old Scotchman.” That voice is unmistakable.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_mclendon_ann-richards-1

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_mclendon_ann-richards-2

And here she is as LBJ:

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-1

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-2

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-3

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-4

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-5

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-6

Carolyn Choate, one of the writers and directors of “Political Paranoia,” wrote the music and performed many of the song parodies (she was also a contributor to the annual Dallas Press Club Gridiron Show).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_carolyn-choate-1

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_carolyn-choate-2

I was really interested to see Betty McKool, Ann’s longtime friend with whom she issued a famous series of annual jokey Christmas cards (which I wrote about in the post “The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool”) — and here she is as Nelson Rockefeller at the 1964 Republican National Convention in what I thought was a really great, incredibly confident performance.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-1

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-2

I’m not sure who the blonde with the glasses and ruffled shirt is, but she gives a spirited performance as Barry Goldwater at the Republican Convention. (Mrs. Ray Pearce portrayed Goldwater in the first “Political Paranoia,” so perhaps this is her revisiting the role.)

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_convention

My preschool teacher (and, I believe, the founder of the Unitarian co-op school), Millie Seltzer, is seen below as Lady Bird Johnson. (There’s also a photo of her and Ann as Lady Bird and Lyndon from 1965’s “Political Paranoia III,” which is posted on the blog of Millie’s daughter’s here.)

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lady-bird

Speaking of Lady Bird, here’s Lyndon and Ralph Yarborough (I’m not sure who these women are, but “Lyndon” might be Mary Vogel).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_ralph-lyndon

Possibly Mary Vogel again as “Mrs. GOP.”

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_mrs-gop

An unknown performer singing about John Connally.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_family-connally

More unknown performers in “I Dreamed I Dedicated a Federal Center in 1994….”

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_fed-ctr

…dedicated by Republican congressman Bruce Alger.

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_fed-ctr-2

Again, possibly Betty McKool in the straw hat in the center (with someone else playing her husband, Mike McKool).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_unity

The cast, with leggy Joyce Schiff at the microphone (and Ann Richards behind her to the left, holding the cowboy hat).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_cast

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_sign-flag

*

“Political Paranoia II”
May 16, 1964
Hillcrest High School auditorium

“Poop and patter from the Pedernales to the Potomac…”
“The most talked-about show from Euless to Balch Springs…”

$1.50 for Democrats
$7.67 for independents
$25.00 for Republicans

**

Below is a list of women who were members of the North Dallas Democratic Women who were known to have participated in the 1963 and/or 1964 productions of “Political Paranoia,” either on stage or behind the scenes. If you recognize any of these women in the SMU film footage, please make note of a time-marker and let me know where you see them and I will update the info.

Written and directed by:
Mrs. Alvin Winegarten (RUTHE WINEGARTEN)
Mrs. David Richards (ANN RICHARDS)
Mrs. Jim Choate (CAROLYN CHOATE)

Mrs. Mike McKool (BETTY McKOOL)
Mrs. Holbrook Seltzer (MILLIE SELTZER)
Mrs. Harry Weisbrod (BEA WEISBROD)
Mrs. Herbert Schiff Jr. (JOYCE SCHIFF)
Mrs. Philip Vogel (MARY VOGEL)
Mrs. Frederick Sparks (MERLENE SPARKS)
Mrs. Sam Whitten (VIRGINIA WHITTEN)
Mrs. Harry Hoffman
Mrs. Thomas L. Ford
Mrs. Harold Polunsky
Mrs. Kenneth Parker
Mrs. Charles Webster
Mrs. J. T. Mullenix
Mrs. Forrest West
Mrs. C. A. Hurst
Mrs. Jack Cohan
Mrs. Donald Fielding
Mrs. Don Kise
Mrs. Stanley Kaufman
Mrs. Richard Sandow
Mrs. Irwin Kaim
Mrs. James Taylor
Mrs. Ray Pearce
Mrs. Daniel Rosenthal
Mrs. Oscar M. Wilson Jr.
Mrs. Earl Granberry
Mrs. Jerome Meltzer 

***

Sources & Notes

Screenshots are from “Political Paranoia II,” a filmed chronicle of the 1964 political revue written and performed by the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club at Hillcrest High School on May 16, 1964; the origins of the film are unknown, but this copy is held by the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University. All thanks to Jeremy Spracklen and Scott Martin of the Jones Archive. The direct YouTube link is here.

Thanks also to Margaret Werry and Jean Ball for their help in identifying participants and for taking the time to share their memories of Dallas’ political past.

A good account of Ann Richards’ time in Dallas can be found in her autobiography, Straight from the Heart, My Life in Politics & Other Places (Simon & Schuster, 1989).

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_cast_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

freshie_dmn_111546
Geez, Picasso, get a grip… “YUM!”

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

freshie_dmn_122845
Dec. 28, 1945

freshie_dmn_060748
June 7, 1948

freshie_dmn_113049
Nov. 30, 1949

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Greetings From Dallas, Texas” — 1955

greetings-from-dallas-texasDallas? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Um….

Somehow Anna Belle and her family found the Cotton Bowl.

greetings-from-dallas-texas_back

***

Postcard from eBay.

**

UPDATE: A person commenting on Facebook says that he thinks this shows “Cedar Mountain, near where Joe Pool Lake was built” — an area which actually is within the Dallas city limits. I’m not familiar with that area. Does this postcard show this view? Read about the Cedar Mountain Preserve here; and about Joe Pool Lake here. Check out a map that shows the City of Dallas boundary, here.

Read about Cedar Mountain (“…that wooded white rock ridge that runs from Eagle Ford to Cedar Hill…”) in the Dallas Morning News article “Bear Slapped Him But He Survived” by Kenneth Foree (Sept. 1, 1948).

Apologies, Cedar Mountain and Rembrant (sic) Post Card Company, if I have made unfounded sarcastic comments.

**

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I have to admit, nothing I’ve posted before has stirred up quite so much controversy. This post has been shared quite a bit, and I’ve dipped into Facebook pages where members are discussing this idyllic photo. Half swear up and down there’s no way this could be anywhere near Dallas, and the other half are pretty certain it’s in the Cedar Hill area.

The  more I look into it, the  more it seems possible that this IS in the Cedar Hill area (aka “The Hill Country of the Metroplex”). The highest point in North Texas is just a stone’s throw from Dallas. According to the Wikipedia entry, it “stands at an elevation of about 800 feet (240 m) above sea level — the highest point in a straight line from the Red River at the Texas-Oklahoma border to the Gulf Coast.”

The Old Penn Farmstead was a working family farm/ranch from the 1850s until the 1970s (remaining in the Penn family the entire time). Photos show that the fence construction on the Penn property is the same as that seen behind the horsies in the postcard. The photo may have been taken on Penn land or other land in the same area. There were several large-ish farms and ranches nearby, several of which had horses. There were even a couple of “retreats” operating in the area in the late-1940s and ’50s (notably, the 520-acre retreat sponsored by the Dallas Baptist Association).

Even though it’s possible this was just some sort of stock Western-looking photo used by the postcard company, I’m leaning toward it showing the unexpected beauty around what is now the Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Cedar Mountain Preserve, Dogwood Canyon Audobon Center, Joe Pool Lake, Mountain Creek Lake, etc.

Watch a short Texas Parks & Wildlife video about Cedar Hill State Park here; the Penn Farmstead is located here and is seen in the video.

Here’s a 1985 article about the 11,000 nearby acres which would soon be inundated in the construction of Joe Pool Lake. (Click article to see larger image.)

joe-pool-lake_FWST_050685a

joe-pool-lake_FWST_050685b
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 6, 1985

**

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE OF THE UPDATE: It appears that the Rembrant Post Card people will tell you whatever you want to believe! The same image has been found without “Dallas” but with “Colorado” on it (see link in comments section). Horrors! So, anyway. After all that, my original sarcastic tone stands. Always trust your inner cynic! At least I learned about Cedar Hill!

UPDATE, ETC.: And now this saga has been taken on by intrepid Dallas Morning News reporter Charlie Scudder! Read his coverage, here.

UPDATES, INCORPORATED: And, somehow, this story ended up in the pages of the actual paper edition of The Dallas Morning News. Lordy.

DMN_080316
DMN, Aug. 3, 2016

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

University Park’s Belligerent Duck, Enemy of Mailmen — 1946

duck-mailman_texas-week-mag-082446
“Neither snow nor rain nor duck…”

by Paula Bosse

The past few weeks have been hot and exasperating, so here’s a nice little human-interest story about a duck attacking a mailman. Whilst on his appointed rounds through University Park, United States postal carrier L. F. Wilson was attacked and bitten by a confrontational duck which regularly hung out on the porch of a Turtle Creek-adjacent University Boulevard home. According to another mailman (who had also been attacked), the hostile waterfowl probably chose this house to zealously patrol because the lady of the house fed the duck and “the duck likes the lady.”

 On August 13, 1946, a reporter at The Dallas Morning News who had heard about this “belligerent duck” decided to accompany Wilson to see the dangerous guard-duck in person. Not only did the duck bite Wilson for a second time, he also chased the reporter out of the yard. The second mailman said that he, too, had been chased by the duck and told the reporter that the duck would even charge at the owner of the house and force him back inside if he dared venture onto his own porch to read his newspaper. That was one angry, territorial duck.

It must have been a slow news day, because the following day this story — and a photograph — appeared on the FRONT PAGE of The Dallas Morning News. Not only that, but the photo and story were picked up by newspapers across the U.S. and Canada. North Americans love good duck reportage.

duck-mailman_FWST_081546
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 15, 1946

The residents of the house at 3806 University were not identified, but they were Lucy Clemmons Davis and J. Oscar Davis. I present this photo of Mrs. Davis only because she looks exactly like a kind-hearted person who would feed and befriend ducks.

duck-mailman_lucy-clemmons-davis_1950s

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo from Texas Week magazine (Aug. 24, 1946), via the Portal to Texas History, here.

Read the original Dallas Morning News story in the DMN archives: “Duck With Dander Up Interferes With Mails” (DMN, Aug. 14, 1946).

The house on University Blvd. is across the creek from Goar Park and the University Park Fire Department, and across University Blvd. from Williams Park. It you’d like an aerial view of the duck’s old stomping paddling grounds (and the site of one-too-many duck attacks), take a look here (the view is to the west).

Because it’s one of those totally random things people feel they should bring to one’s attention simply because it’s totally random, I feel I should mention that the photo of the duck attack was taken the same day that British author H. G. Wells was drawing his last breath (his obit received only one-fourth the amount of space in the Morning News as the UP/USPS duck situation). H. G. Wells was in Dallas at least once — he gave a lecture at SMU on Nov. 1, 1940.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Brimstone Baths, Lake of Fire: Welcome to Summer

summer_knott-cartoon_dmn-071722NOT from a Chamber of Commerce brochure…

by Paula Bosse

Summer in Dallas is HELL ON EARTH. Welcome, newcomers!

***

Cartoon by Dallas Morning News staff cartoonist John Knott — it appeared in the July 17, 1922 edition of the DMN.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Last Time I Saw Texas” — 1953/58

neiman-marcus_texas-mapThat “X” is in the wrong spot, y’all…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Before I begin, I offer apologies in advance to Oscar Hammerstein II (original lyricist of “The Last Time I Saw Paris”), NeimanMarcus (with or without the hyphen), haters of Texas stereotypes, and, especially, Fort Worth.

In a Dallas item connected with “Independence Day” in only the most tangential way possible, I thought I’d share a little cabaret song I stumbled across today whilst rummaging through the internet. It’s a humorously re-written version of the Academy Award-winning hit song “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” (…um, the one in FRANCE….), written in 1940 by Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) and Jerome Kern (music).

Partial lyrics were reported by Earl Wilson in his syndicated gossip/entertainment column, “Broadway Last Night,” twice — first in 1953, after he’d seen Juliana Larson sing it at the Sherry Netherland Hotel, then later, in 1958, after he’d heard Connie Moore sing it at the St. Regis Maisonette. Both women had Texas ties (Constance Moore actually grew up in Dallas), so I’m sure both enjoyed singing the ditty (in what one hopes was in an ever-so-amusing sophisticated style, à la Noël Coward).

At the Neiman-Marcus store
They sell the usual furs
And the cutest children’s Cadillacs
And yachts marked “His” and “Hers.”

The last time I saw Texas
And the oil was in her hills,
The kiddies bought their lunch at school
With hundred-dollar bills.

The last time I saw Texas,
All Dallas was so gay,
We’d burned Fort Worth to the ground
On Independence Day.

Happy Independence Day, Fort Worth!

***

Listen to Noël Coward sing “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (before FW was being burned to the ground), here.

Juliana Larson (aka Juliana Bernhardt) was a former John Powers model who married wealthy Houston oilman Walter Bedford Sharp, Jr. (whose father was a business partner with Howard Hughes’ father). She started in light opera in Texas and moved on to New York nightclubs. She seems to be known mostly as the wife of a Texas oilman and a permanent fixture on Best Dressed lists. She horrified everyone when she showed up to a Metropolitan Opera opening night wearing trousers — see her delighting in the publicity she received from that, in Life magazine (Nov. 24, 1952), here.

Constance Moore was born in Iowa but grew up and began her career in Dallas. More about her here and here; glamour photos here.

The “Texas” lyrics were reported by Earl Wilson to have been written by David Roger (for Juliana Larson, in 1953) and by Earl Brent (for Connie Moore, in 1958). The partial lyrics Wilson quoted in 1953 and 1958 were the same. …So there you go. (I changed the order of one line, because it seems that Wilson got the lines of the first verse in the wrong order.)

I’m not sure where I found that Neiman’s map, but it’s cool. (Why IS the “X “is the hinterlands, anyway?)

Enjoy your 4th of July weekend! And don’t burn anything down!

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Used Books and Guns” — 1967

used-books-and-guns_SASEKJust your typical Texas bookshop….

by Paula Bosse

In honor of my father’s birthday, I give you this great illustration by M. Sasek from his book This Is Texas, an amusing children’s book featuring a tour around Texas. The above is one of the offerings from San Antonio, and it’s accompanied by the following caption:

“San Antonio bookstore. There is all you need if you want to start a long literary argument — or to end one quickly.”

(I don’t know what bookshop this was, but it was real. If anyone knows its identity, please let me know!)

As this book was in my house growing up, I’m sure my father — a bookseller with a great sense of humor and an enthusiasm for firearms — must have seen this and laughed — and seriously considered whether the used books-and-guns combo-shop was feasible.

UPDATE: Thanks to my old friend Rodney H., I now have this photo to post here. I don’t know the source of this photo or where it was taken, but it certainly looks like Sasek’s illustration! (See them side by side, here.) Thanks, Rod!

used-books-guns

***

Miroslav Sasek (1916-1980) was a Czech author and illustrator best known for his fantastic “This Is…” series of books, many of which have been reprinted. More on Sasek here and here.

A previous post I wrote about my father, Dick Bosse, owner of The Aldredge Book Store, is here.

Yes, there WAS a similar bookstore envisioned in a “King of the Hill” episode; read about it here.

I love this book, and even though it was reprinted in 2006, I think it is out-of-print again. There are several for sale here (I’d avoid the copies listed as “fair” or “good.” And make sure you get a dust jacket!)

Click picture for larger image.

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Happy 1st Day of April!

tx-jackrabbitPerspective’s a bit off — those cattle would have been MUCH larger

by Paula Bosse

Everything’s bigger in Texas — including our jackrabbits, which are justifiably legendary. Below, a photo of a (concerned-looking) child posed atop one of the more docile breeds. We’re just not growing them that big anymore. Shame.

jackrabbitSomewhere in Dallas….

***

Top image found here (where other historical images of cowboys riding giant jackrabbits can be seen).

Bottom photo (possibly a postcard) was on eBay a while back. Location was identified as Dallas.

For a previous Flashback Dallas post celebrating the 1st Day of April, see “U.S. Revenue Cutter ‘Carrie Nation’ Successfully Navigates the Trinity In Valiant Effort to Keep Dallas Dry! — 1931” here.

Click for larger images!

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940

male-car-hops_AP_1940“At your service, ma’am” (click for larger image) AP Photo

by Paula Bosse

In 1940, Dallas was in a tizzy about the sudden fad of scantily-clad “girl carhops.” This scourge had made its way to Dallas from Houston (brought to Oak Cliff by the enterprising husband and wife team behind Sivils Drive-In), and in April of 1940, it was a newspaper story with, as it were … legs. For a good month or two, stories of sexy carhops were everywhere.

The girls started wearing uniforms with very short skirts — or midriff-baring costumes with cellophane hula skirts. Some of the women reported an increase in tips of $25 or more a week — a ton of money for the time.

The public’s reaction ranged from amusement to outrage. There were reports of community matrons who reported the “indecent” attire to the police department and demanded action. Other women were annoyed by the objectification of young womanhood. Lawmakers in Austin discussed whether the practice of waitresses exposing so much extra skin posed a health risk to consumers.

But it wasn’t until a woman from Oak Cliff piped up that something actually happened. She complained that she didn’t want to look at girls’ legs when she stopped in at her local drive-in — she wanted to look at men’s legs. Drive-in owners thought that was a GREAT idea, and the idea of the scantily-clad male carhop was born.

carhops_FWST_042840Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Apr. 28, 1940 

One might think that the woman behind this “equal ogling” campaign was sort of proto-feminist, until you get to the part where she said that the whole girl carhop thing was “wrong socially and economically and should not be tolerated” (DMN, Apr. 27, 1940) — not because of the skin flashed, but because men needed jobs, not girls. And that also raised hackles. Two married women who had been carhops wrote to the Dallas News to speak up for these girls and women who were “at least coming nearer to making a living wage than at any other time of their existence. […] The girl carhops are either supporting their family or sharing the expenses. […] Why all the storm about a leg? It is nothing more than you see at a movie and a vaudeville” (DMN, May 5, 1940).

The photo at the top ran in newspapers around the country with the headline: “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand.”

First large roadside stand Friday to bow to the demand of Dallas women and feature husky young male carhops in shorts was the Log Lodge Tavern at Lemmon and Midway where four six-footers found jobs. Above, in blue shorts, white sweatshirt and cowboy boots, Joe Wilcox serves Pauline Taylor who smiles her approval of the idea. Bound for another car is James Smith, at right.

April, 1940 must have been a slow news month, because this story really got around (click to see a larger image).

sexy-carhops_corsicana-daily-sun_042740Corsicana Daily Sun, April 27, 1940

One intrepid reporter even tracked down a Texas Ranger (!) to ask his opinion, to which the Ranger replied, “…letting those roadside glamor boys wear boots is nothing more than a slam at the state. People think of booted Texans as men, not as fancy-panted carhops.” The whole article, below, is pretty amusing.

sexy-carhops_anniston-AL-star_042840Anniston (AL) Star, April 28, 1940

There were other male carhops around town, some not quite so hunky. This guy — game as he was — really needed to reconsider his outfit.

carhops_xenia-ohio-daily-gazette_050340Xenia (Ohio) Daily Gazette, May 3, 1940

But back to the female carhops and their siren-like hold over their male customers. This was, by far, the best story to hit the wires:

sexy-carhops_waxahachie-daily-light_071640
Waxahachie Daily Light,  July 16, 1940

***

Sources & Notes

Top image from the Associated Press, 1940. 

The Log Lodge Tavern was located at 7334 Lemmon Avenue, which was across from Love Field and adjacent to the Log Lodge Tourist Court. It was located approximately where the red circle is below, on a page from the 1952 Mapsco (click for larger image).

lemmon-ave_mapsco-1952

Check out these related articles from The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Skimpiest Costumes Bring Biggest Wages” (DMN, April 24, 1940)
  • “Women To Fight Girl Carhops; Slogan: Let Us See Men’s Legs” (DMN, April 26, 1940)
  • “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand” (DMN, April 27, 1940)
  • “Word For Carhops Grass Skirts And All” (letter to the editor) (DMN, May 5, 1940)
  • “Went Crazy Over Car Hops, Wife Says of Fugitive” (DMN, July 16, 1940)

UPDATE: This has been a weirdly popular post — it’s gotten a few thousand hits and even resulted in a short radio interview on Dallas’ public radio station, KERA. I don’t really add anything new to this story, but if you’d like to listen to the interview conducted by Justin Martin, it is here.

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: