Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Humor

Neiman’s Will Welcome You With Open Arms When Your Gusher Finally Comes In

neiman-marcus_cartoon_1956New Yorker cartoon by Mischa Richter, 1956

by Paula Bosse

I came across this cartoon in — of all things — a historical journal, without a source. Google informs me that this was a cartoon by Mischa Richter, and that it appeared in the Oct. 27, 1956 issue of the New Yorker, one month before the release of the heavily-promoted epic movie “Giant.” You know Jett Rink was no stranger to N-M after his gusher came in.

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Cartoon from the TSHA journal Texas Historian, Nov. 1978, used as an illustration in the article “Neiman-Marcus: A Dream of Elegance” by Margaret Lucas.

Details on the New Yorker cartoon by Mischa Richter (and the possibility that the original artwork may be available for purchase from Condé Nast, if you are so inclined) can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Texas Dashboard Organizer

tx-dashboard_diffee_new-yorker_2006 New Yorker cartoon by DIFFEE, 2006

by Paula Bosse

Not really retro and not specifically Dallas-related, but … close enough.

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Cartoon by Matthew Diffee (a Texan, who grew up in the Dallas area); appeared in the Nov. 13, 2006 issue of The New Yorker. Suitable for framing? Why, yes, it is. Condé Nast would love to set you up with one of your own, here.

And, WOW, check out Diffee’s homage to Big Tex — it’s GREAT! — and it’s here! Click through all four parts! #WWBTD

His “Twelve Best Toons” selection is pretty good, too, here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Elm Street Cave — 1967

elm-st-cracks_flickr_red-oak-kid_smThe Elm St. Cave – tourist attraction… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In the wee hours of the morning of  Jan. 11, 1967, a giant hole opened up on the south side of Elm Street — 200 yards long, 20 feet wide, and 15 feet deep — running roughly the entire length of the block between Griffin and Field. It was assumed that there was some connection between the cave-in and the adjacent construction of One Main Place. During the ensuing investigation into a cause, the consultations with geologists, the lawsuits, the repairs, the back-filling, etc., this very busy stretch of Elm was closed for an incredible seven months (!). Most of that time it was a gaping hole.

The hole was a major headache to city leaders and to downtown developers (…and to motorists), but it became an ongoing joke to everybody else. The “Elm Street Cave” and “Elm Street Cavern” were referenced everywhere for most of 1967. San Francisco had “The Summer of Love” that year, Dallas had “The Elm Street Cave-In.” It was the butt of endless jokes in local, out-of-town, and even out-of-state newspapers. A band sprang up calling themselves The Elm Street Cave-Ins.

cave-ins-band_dmn_062867June 28, 1967

A group of local lawyers known as The Skid Row Bar Association proclaimed to the press that it was “the last remaining scenic wonder in Dallas.” Curious tourists were drawn to the hole like camera-laden moths to a flame. “Talk about your ‘Deep Elm’!” became a punchline much bandied about by people who didn’t understand that something like that is moderately amusing once or twice, but that it tends to lose its sharpness after it’s repeated ten or fifteen times. And, bizarrely, it even found its way into an oddly defensive Sears ad (click to see a larger image).

ad_sears_dmn_070667-det_sm1967 Sears ad, detail

The hole was eventually filled in, and, in August — after months of jokes and inconvenience — the street was finally re-opened. Life returned to a pre-cave-in normalcy. The reason for the collapse was determined to be shifting rock formations below street level. One report said that workmen had “uncovered a huge crevice in the limestone beneath the street measuring 30 feet deep. They filled the crevice with concrete and tied together the broken sections of rock.” I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel about a giant building sitting on shifting shale-covered limestone,* but apparently everything’s been fine ever since, and everyone — the engineers, the geologists, the One Main Place developers and tenants — lived happily ever after.

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Sources & Notes

Associated Press photo of the lovely Judy Thedford and her fashionably large hair posing rather incongruously beside a car bumper appeared in newspapers across the country on Feb. 12, 1967. This scan is from the Red Oak Kid’s Flickr page, here.

The weird “Let’s quit apologizing! Dallas is worth seeing!” ad comes from a larger Sears advertisement that appeared in July, 1967.

Related Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Strip of Elm Collapses; Experts Remain Baffled” by Carolyn Barta (DMN, Jan. 12, 1967)
  • “Cracks on Elm Street Not Funny to City Hall” by Kent Biffle (DMN, Feb. 12, 1967)

*For people who (unlike myself) know something about geology, an article written in 1965 about the special problems regarding the One Main Place excavation and construction (“How to Support Skyscrapers” by Martin Casey — DMN, Nov. 28, 1965) might be interesting. There is much mention of Austin Chalk Limestone and Eagle Ford Shale which made the One Main Place project quite troublesome to engineers. 

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Go Away! Can’t You See I’m Listening to WFAA?” — 1947

wfaa-ad_dmn_090147

by Paula Bosse

Priorities.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

“Jim Nasium” Can Teach You a Thing Or Two About Baseball Heckling — 1908

baseball-hecklers_dmn_050308Cartoon by “Jim Nasium” — 1908 (click for larger image, you sap-head)

by Paula Bosse

If you were a die-hard baseball fan in 1908, you were no doubt familiar with many of the jeers featured in the cartoon above by one Mr. “Jim Nasium,” a sportswriter and cartoonist who was given almost half a page of primo newsprint each Sunday in many newspapers around the country. Feel free to incorporate some of these exhortations into your next enthusiastic visit to the ballpark. ANY ballpark. Those kids can take it….

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Below, a few images of the Dallas baseball scene from around the time that Mr. Nasium’s column on “roasting appeared in the pages of The Dallas Morning News. (As always, click for large images.)

dallas-giants_cook-colln_degolyer_smu
The Dallas Giants, 1908

Above, the 1908 Dallas Giants team. Bottom row–Slattery, Fletcher, Kerns, Tullos, Maloney. Middle row–Maag, Hole, Moore, Whittaker, Cooper, Loudell. Top row–Burnett, Peters, Hay, Storch, Miller.

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baseball_gaston-park_dmn_050508

Here’s where they played that week, Gaston Park. Mayor Hay threw out the first ball. Below, where the cat-calls would come from. “What’re you tryin’ to bunt for, you sap-head!”

baseball_gaston-park_grandstand_dmn_050508DMN, May 5, 1908

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baseball-ad_dmn_050608DMN, May 6, 1908

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The cartoons of “Jim Nasium” appeared in The Dallas Morning News alongside his weekly column, “Conversations With an Old Sport,” a humorous syndicated series by Edgar F. Wolfe, who would later go on to edit Sporting Life. Here is an excerpt from that week’s column about the bad sportsmanlike conduct of jeering spectators in grandstands, complete with wonderful slang you’ve probably never encountered before (click to read):

jim-nasium_dmn_050308-excerptDMN, May 3, 1908

This full “Conversations With an Old Sport” column can be read in a PDF here. (You’re going to have to click that “plus” symbol at the top many, many times in order to magnify the text enough to read it!)

Photo of the Dallas Giants from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; it can be accessed here. It appeared in the pages of The Dallas Morning News on May 6, 1908, crediting photo to Clogenson.

A few more (grainy) photos of Gaston Park — site of the first Texas-OU game held in Dallas in 1912 — can be seen in another Flashback Dallas post, here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Captain Marvel Fights the Mole Men in Dallas! — 1944

captain-marvel-fights-mole-men-dallas_1944sm

by Paula Bosse

In 1944 Captain Marvel came to Dallas. He had brushes with the SMU marching band, Love Field, Mayor Woodall Rodgers, Fair Park, the Cotton Bowl, a sunken Adolphus, Ted Dealey, and a bunch of “expert lariat throwers.” And he saved us from the Mole Men (and their “mole-kids”). People, you have NO idea…. A few of the highlights below (click for larger images). (To go directly to the entire scanned comic book, click here.)

1capt-marvel_intro

2capt-marvel_smu_love-field

3capt-marvel_dth-dmn

4capt-marvel_cotton-bowl

5capt-marvel_globa-lowmi

6capt-marvel_panic

7capt-marvel_magnolia-adolphus

8capt-marvel_expert-cowboys

9capt-marvel_finale

Holy Moley! That was close! Thank you, Captain Marvel! SHAZAM!

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To read the entire adventure “Deep in the Heart of Dallas” — in fact, to read the entire comic book (which also includes a trip to Greenpoint, Brooklyn…), check out the whole thing here. Enjoy! (And sorry about the spoilers!)

Some panels are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Keep Oak Cliff Kinky — 1923

thumb-sucking_dmn_111823

by Paula Bosse

I’m not sure what more I can offer, except to say that in today’s money — with inflation taken into account — that little bondage device for a child’s thumb would run you a cool 40 bucks.

I picture Mrs. J. C. Thompson assembling the inventory herself, at the kitchen table in her little frame house on Melba Street in Oak Cliff, the Victrola playing in the other room, having a chirpy one-sided conversation with the imaginary “Dr. Thompson.” I wonder if she sold any?

To quote the Messrs. Python: “Guaranteed to break the ice at parties!”

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Ad from The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 18, 1923. I’m not sure there was a follow-up.

Whither Mrs. J. C. Thompson, West Dallas entrepreneur?

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Texas Fire Extinguisher Co. and Hitler — 1942

tx-fire-extinguisher-coTexas Fire Extinguisher Co., across from Fair Park… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

For a place that sells fire extinguishers and tractor equipment, this is a wonderfully comforting image. Hardly even looks like Dallas. The Texas Fire Extinguisher Company — operated for several decades by the Hancock family — was located at the corner of Parry and Second Avenue, across from Fair Park. While checking to see the exact address of this business (which, by the way, was 929 Second Ave.), I came across a 1942 article mentioning it and Hitler.

According to a Dallas Morning News blurblet, the Hancock company owner had placed a want-ad for a painter and paperhanger and received an odd response on a postcard:

“Gentlemen: I wish to apply for the job as a paperhanger. Am hunting bears at present, but am about out of ammunition. Anyway, I am a better paperhanger than I am a bear hunter. –Adolph Hitler, Berlin, Germany. (P.S. Please rush answer as this job is playing out and may have to move soon.)”

Humor doesn’t always translate successfully across the generations. But, hey, that was weird.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard (cropped) from the Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection on Flickr, here.

Quote from Dallas Morning News article “Reply to Want Ad Indicates Hitler Wants a New Job” (DMN, Nov. 6, 1942).

Click postcard for larger image.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Chas. Ott: One-Stop Shopping for Bicycles and Dynamite

ad-charles-ott-dynamite_smu-19161916 ad

by Paula Bosse

Aside from maybe an ad for a popular off-campus soda shop or one of those bland, dutiful business card ads for an insurance company, I’m not sure that there’s necessarily a specific type of advertisement I expect to see in the pages of a college yearbook. But if I were quizzed on types of ads I wouldn’t expect to see in the pages of a college yearbook, it would probably include an ad for dynamite and ammo. But in 1916, SMU’s inaugural yearbook committee was proudly testing the limits of advertising propriety!

Charles Ott was kind of a big deal in the world of, first, gunsmithing, and second, locksmithing. Born in Germany, he came to Dallas in 1873 and opened a gun shop on Elm Street in 1876. According to The Encyclopedia of Texas, at the time of his death (c. 1921?), he was “the oldest gunsmith in the State of Texas.” That’s an impressive accomplishment. As seen from the ad above, a successful businessman not only knows his craft, but he knows how to diversify. (A nice bio of Mr. Ott can be found here.) Below, a photo of the interior of his shop, sometime in the early 20th century:

chas-ott_interior_cook-coll_degolyer_smu

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If you’re in business selling ammunition and gunpowder and fireworks and dynamite, you probably need to secure them in a place safe from the reach of the fires that seemed to hit Dallas constantly in the 19th century. ‘Cause if you don’t, you run the risk of something like this happening (north side of Elm, between Griffin and Akard):

ott-fire_dmn_052696Dallas Morning News, May 26, 1896

My favorite part of the story, though, was this on-the-spot artist’s depiction of the “conflagration.” You can practically feel the smoke burning your eyes.

ott-fire_pic_dmn_052696

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Sources & Notes

Top ad from, yes, the 1915-16 SMU Rotunda.

Bio of Charles Ott linked above from Davis & Grobe’s Encyclopedia of Texas (Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, 1922). If you sped-read past it above, you can find it here.

Excerpt and drawing of the explosive Elm St. fire from The Dallas Morning News, May 26, 1896.

Photo of the interior of the Ott store from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Libraries, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“If You Don’t Come to Dallas, the Laugh Will Be On You!”

dallas_postcard_hee-haw

by Paula Bosse

“Hee! Haw! Hee! Haw!” Sa-LUTE!

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Click to get the donkey bigger, y’all.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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