Flashback : Dallas

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Category: Jewish Dallas

Temple Emanu-El, At the “Northern Limits of Dallas” — 1957

temple-emanu-el_life-mag_1957-aerial_crop
Temple Emanu-El, 1957… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the new, not-yet-landscaped Temple Emanu-El in 1957, at the northeast corner of Hillcrest and Northwest Highway; this aerial view is looking north from Northwest Highway. (The view today, via Google Earth, is here.)

In 1952 Temple Emanu-El’s congregation purchased eighteen rolling acres of Caruth farmland from Earle Clark Caruth, at what was then described as “the northern limits of Dallas.” This was after a lengthy period of consideration by leaders of the congregation over whether they should accept the gift of developer and artist Sylvan T. Baer of eleven “wooded and rolling” acres in Oak Lawn along Turtle Creek which he had offered as the site of a new temple. Even though Baer’s attractive site was more centrally located than their long-time South Dallas location (a definite bonus, as the congregation wished to move closer to the North Dallas area where most of their members now lived), the Turtle Creek site was ultimately deemed to be too small, too far from the North Dallas area they preferred, and too restrictive as far as the ability to finance construction. (Though rejected as a religious site, Baer’s very pretty land eventually became the home of the Dallas Theater Center.)

Temple Emanu-El — home to the largest reform Jewish congregation in the South — hired Dallas architects Howard R. Meyer and Max M. Sandfield to design their new home (with William W. Wurster of the University of California serving as consultant); the project was announced in 1954, and dedication ceremonies of the finished building(s) took place in February, 1957, probably around the time the photos below and above were taken.

temple-emanu-el_life-mag_1957

temple-emanu-el_life-mag_1957_b

temple-emanu-el_020257
Feb. 2, 1957

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Below, the first Temple Emanu-El, built in 1876 at Commerce and Field, designed by architect Carl G. DeGrote. It was dedicated May 28, 1876 (read the extensive coverage of the ceremonies as printed in the Dallas Herald here — click “zoom” to read). After a move to their next location, the old temple became the University of Dallas Medical Department in 1900; it was demolished around 1906.

temple-emanue-el_first-synogogue
Temple Emanu-El, first location

temple-emanu-el_univ-dallas-med-dept_dhs-via-nih
Later, as a medical school (DHS photo via NIH)

The second site was at the corner of S. Ervay and St. Louis, in The Cedars, built around 1898, designed by architects J. Reilly Gordon, H. A. Overbeck, and Roy Overbeck. Following another move in the ‘teens, the building was converted into a Unitarian Church; it was demolished in 1961 to make room for R. L. Thornton Freeway.

temple-emanu-el_second-location

The congregation moved into its third location about 1917: a new Hubbell & Greene-designed building at South Boulevard and S. Harwood, where they remained until the move to the new Hillcrest location. This building was demolished in 1972.

temple-emanu-el_third-location_south-blvd-harwood

The congregation officially moved to their fourth (and current) location, in North Dallas, at the beginning of 1957, led by Rabbi Levi A. Olan.

temple-emanu-el_tx-jewish-post_093054_drawing_sm

temple-emanu-el_tx-jewish-post_093054_announcement
Texas Jewish Post, Sept. 30, 1954 (click to read)

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Sources & Notes

First three photos by Life magazine photographer Joe Scherschel, © Time Inc. More than 100 photos from this assignment can be found here and here. Supposedly there was a cover-story on the new building, but all I’ve found is this one-page photo-with-caption from the Feb. 25, 1957 issue. If anyone has info on a lengthier Life story, please let me know.

Drawing and article announcing the new Temple Emanu-El are from the Texas Jewish Post (Sept. 30, 1954), here. (UNT’s Portal to Texas History has fully-scanned issues of the DFW-centric Texas Jewish Post — 1950-2011 — accessible here. All issues are searchable, and all have articles, photos, and ads — it is a fantastic resource.)

Read a description of the just-completed first Dallas synagogue from the Dallas Herald (May 28, 1876), here (column 4); read the surprisingly lengthy coverage of the official opening ceremonies, which includes a history of the events which led to the building’s construction, in the May 30, 1876 Herald, here (columns 1-4). (To read the articles, click the “zoom” tab above the scanned page.)

Read the Temple Emanu-El entry in the Handbook of Texas here.

The history page of the Temple Emanu–El website is here.

Head to the Dallas Morning News archives to read about the art and architecture of Temple Emanu-El in the article “A Temple of Art, Architecture — The Forms Merge In Well-Designed Emanu-El” by architecture critic David Dillon (DMN, Dec. 24, 1984).

A comprehensive history of Temple Emanu-El and Jewish life in Dallas (well-illustrated with photographs) can be found in the book A Light in the Prairie, Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, 1872-1997 by Gerry Cristol (Fort Worth: TCU Press, 1998).

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Elks Lodge, Pocahontas & Park

elks-lodge_postcard1817 Pocahontas Street, 1914 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The postcard image above shows the lovely Dallas Elks Lodge No. 71 which once stood at 1817 Pocahontas, at the northwest corner of Pocahontas Street and Park Avenue in the Cedars area, just south of downtown — it had a spectacular view of City Park, which it faced.  Designed by architect H. A. Overbeck (the man behind the still-standing Dallas County Jail and Criminal Courts Building and the long-gone St. Paul’s Sanitarium), the lodge was built in 1914; the land and the construction of the lodge cost $45,000. Surprisingly, this lodge served the Elks for only six years — they returned downtown, where they took over and renovated the old YWCA building on Commerce Street.

The building on Pocahontas became another clubhouse when it was purchased in 1920 by a group of Jewish businessmen who opened the exclusive Progress Club/Parkview Club (read about the building’s acquisition in a May 14, 1920 article in The Jewish Monitor, here); in 1922 the 65 members of the Parkview Club presented the clubhouse to the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA). In 1927, use of the building had expanded, and it became the Dallas Jewish Community Center and the headquarters of the Jewish Welfare Federation — in fact, this was the home for these organizations for more than thirty years, until 1958 when the move was made to the new Julius Schepps Community Center in North Dallas. The building ultimately fell victim to the construction of R. L. Thornton Freeway and was demolished in the early 1960s.

But back to the Elks. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was a social club/fraternal order founded in New York in 1868. Dallas Lodge No. 71 was chartered on January 28, 1888 — it was the first Elks Lodge in Texas and one of the oldest clubs in Dallas. And, after 130 years, it’s still around, now located in Lake Highlands. There aren’t a lot of things that have lasted that long in this city!

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Below, the Overbeck rendering of the Elks’ new home (click for larger image)

elks_dmn_120213_new-lodgeDallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 1913

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A week before its official dedication on Sept. 7, 1914:

elks-lodge_dmn_083014DMN, Aug. 30, 1914

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Colorized and made into an attractive postcard:

elks-club_new_postcard

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In the 1930s, when it was the Jewish Community Center:

jewish-community-center_1817-pocahontas_1930s

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Where it was:

elks-lodge_ca-1912-map_portal1912-ish map detail

Also, see it on the 1921 Sanborn map (as “B.P.O.E. Home”) here.

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The announcement of plans for the construction of the Pocahontas Street lodge:

elks_dmn_112313_new-lodgeDMN, Nov. 23, 1913

And its dedication, on Sept. 7, 1914:

elks_dmn_090814_new-homeDMN, Sept. 8, 1914

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Sources & Notes

Source of postcards unknown. Other images and clippings as noted.

The 1888 report of the first meeting of the Dallas Elks Lodge No. 71 can be read in the Dallas Morning News article “Order of Elks in Dallas; A Lodge Instituted Here Yesterday” (DMN, Jan. 29, 1888), here.

A history of the various Elks’ locations in Dallas between the 1880s and the 1920s can be found in the article “Elks Plan To Have Modern Club Home” (DMN, July 30, 1922), here.

elks_dmn_012903DMN, Jan. 29, 1903

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lighting Menorahs — 1954

hanukkah_texas-jewish-post-122354

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.

Historic Neon: The Super-Cool Sigel’s Sign

sigels-neon-sign_greenville-ave_072717One of Dallas’ favorite neon signs… (photo: Paula Bosse)

by Paula Bosse

I stopped by Sigel’s liquor store the other day (as one does…) and saw this legendary Sigel’s sign, recently installed in its new home in the parking lot of the Sigel’s store on Greenville Avenue, between Lovers Lane and Southwestern Boulevard, across from the Old Town Shopping Center. I love this neon sign. (See a very large image of it here.)

The sign’s design can be traced back to Dallas artist Marvin M. Sigel (whose great-uncle Harry Sigel founded the business in 1905) — this Fabulous Fifties design was created around 1953 specifically for the then-new store at 5636 Lemmon Avenue (at Inwood). When that store closed in 2009, the sign was refurbished and moved up to the company’s Addison location until that store fell victim to the company’s bankruptcy and was closed. Here’s a video of the fabulous sign when it was in Addison, with close-ups of its flashing neon and dancing bubbles:


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Marvin Meyer Sigel was born in Poland in 1932 and settled in Dallas in 1937 with his immigrant parents, both of whom had been doctors in Poland (his mother a dentist, his father an M.D.), although only his father continued to practice medicine in the United States. He lived in the vibrant Jewish enclave of South Dallas and went to Forest Avenue High School where he seems to have been a popular kid, interested in art, drumming, and ROTC. Below, a photo from the 1949 yearbook with the caption “Marvin ‘Hot Drums’ Sigel plays with the Swing Band.”

sigel-marvin_forest-avenue-high-school_drums_1949

His Forest Avenue High School senior photo, from 1949:

sigel-marvin_forest-avenue-high-school_1949

And his 1953 senior photo from the University of Texas:

sigel-marvin_university-of-tx_1953_senior

After studying art at both SMU (under Ed Bearden and DeForrest Judd) and the University of Texas and receiving his B.F.A. from UT in 1953, Sigel served a stint in the Eighth Army in Korea. Back in Dallas, he was remarkably active in the local art community — for decades — as both a fine artist and as an art instructor. He also worked for a while at Peter Wolf Associates, in advertising (on projects for companies like Braniff), and he even did a lot of the tedious paste-up work for Sigel’s ads (back when every picture of a bottle of wine or spirits had to be cut out individually and pasted into one of those huge ads!). But his passion was art, and at the same time he had those regular-paycheck gigs, he also managed to maintain a furious pace of painting new pieces to exhibit at a dizzying number of art shows. Below is an example of one of his watercolors, from 1957 (which was recently offered at auction by David Dike Fine Art). The title? “Cocktail Abstraction” — appropriate subject matter for a member of the Sigel family!

sigel-marvin_cocktail-abstraction_1957_david-dike-fine-art_jan-2016
“Cocktail Abstraction” by Marvin Sigel (1957)

When the Sigel’s Liquor store No. 7 opened at Lemmon & Inwood, it was suggested by family members that, hey, we have an artist in the family, let’s get Marvin to design a sign for us. According to Marvin, his cousin Sidney Sigel, who ran the company, probably just wanted a “rectangular sign with block letters,” but other family members wanted something newer and more exciting — something modern that would jump out of a sea of boring rectangular signs with block letters and draw attention. And it certainly did just that. If, as reports have it, that dazzling neon sign was designed in 1953, Marvin Sigel was only 21 years old!

When news broke 56 years later, in 2009, that the Lemmon & Inwood store was closing, there was a concerned uproar from the public about what would happen to the sign. Mr. Sigel was a bit taken aback by how much the people of Dallas had grown to love that sign and considered it a city landmark. Marvin Sigel, then 77 years old, said in a 2009 Dallas Morning News interview, “It was clever, but I figured it would be replaced by something more clever in a half-dozen years.”

The sign was built by the venerable Dallas firm of J. F. Zimmerman & Sons (est. 1901) who for generations had installed decorative neon elements all around town and had built innumerable lighted signs for companies big and small — their work could be seen on the Mercantile Building’s wonderful tower, on the exterior of the downtown Titche’s store on Main Street, and in the instantly recognizable signs for places as varied as the Cotton Bowl, Big Town, and, presumably, various other Sigel’s stores around the city.

The sign which was moved from Store No. 7 at Lemmon & Inwood to Addison had on its pole a small plaque (seen here) which said:

This Non-Conforming Sign designed by Marvin Sigel was built in the early 1950s. It was moved from Dallas, TX at Lemmon Ave. & Inwood. After being granted a variance it was refurbished to Code and installed here in June of 2009. Sign refurbished and installed by Starlite Sign of Denton, TX.

Interestingly, the plaque on the new location of the sign has a slightly different text:

sigels-sign-plaque_greenville-ave_072717

It appears that this is a different Sigel’s sign. In 1965, there were two Sigel’s stores on Lovers Lane: Store No. 8 was along the Miracle Mile on West Lovers Lane, near what is now the Dallas North Tollway, and Store No. 12 was on East Lovers Lane at Greenville (then near Louanns nightclub).

sigels-stores_1965-dallas-directory
1965 Dallas directory

In an April 22, 2009 Dallas Morning News article by Jeffrey Weiss (“The Story Behind That Sigel’s Sign”), is this quote from Mr. Sigel’s son, David S. Z. Sigel, about the original sign at Lemmon & Inwood, with mention of another similar sign: “He created the designs for this sign, as well as a similar but smaller sign which stood outside the Lovers Lane store (where Central Market now stands) for many years.” Here’s a map from a November, 1964 grand opening ad for the new store at 5744 E. Lovers Lane:

lovers-lane_new-store_110664
Detail from a grand opening ad, Nov. 6, 1964

So is the sign currently standing in the parking lot of the Sigel’s Fine Wines & Great Spirits at 5757 Greenville Avenue the sign which originally stood only a short four-tenths of a mile away? I hope so! And if it is, welcome back to the neighborhood, cool sign!

Whichever sign this is, it is one of the greatest neon designs Dallas has ever had, and I’m so happy it’s survived for over a half-century, through phenomenal city growth, physical displacement, and even company bankruptcy.

Thanks, Marvin, for designing this wonderful sign! And thanks, Starlite Sign of Denton, for the beautiful refurbishing!

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Sources & Notes
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Top photo and photo of blue plaque taken by me on July 27, 2017 at the Sigel’s store at 5757 Greenville Avenue.

YouTube video by Andrew F. Wood, shot in Addison in 2013.

Sources for other images as noted.

The Zimmerman & Sons nameplate can be seen on the original Lemmon & Inwood sign here (click to enlarge), posted on Flickr by Tim Anderson (a detail of his photo can be seen below) (there is another Zimmerman nameplate posted in the comments on that Flickr page); what appears to be a Zimmerman plate is on the side of the sign at the Greenville Avenue location facing the store’s entrance, not on the side seen in my photo at the top.

zimmerman-nameplate_sigels-sign_lemmon-inwood_flickr-det

Please check out the Dallas Morning News article in the DMN archives titled “Sigel’s Sign Designer Surprised by Its Fame — Project for Family’s Liquor Store Wasn’t a Hit with Boss, He Recalls” by Jeffrey Weiss (April 28, 2009) in which Marvin Sigel discusses his famous sign.

Also, check out these related (online) DMN articles:

  • “Sigel’s Beverages, A 111-Year-Old Dallas Chain, Filed for Bankruptcy; Wants to Close 5 Stores” by Maria Halkias (Oct. 21, 2016), here
  • “Sigel’s Iconic Neon Sign Returning to Dallas After Years Wasting Away in Addison” by Robert Wilonsky (March 27, 2017), here

If anyone can verify that this sign is, in fact, the sign from Store No. 12 (Lovers & Greenville), please let me know!

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Roth’s, Fort Worth Avenue

roths_cook-collection_smuSign me up, Mr. Roth… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When I see a building like this, I always hope I can find a photo of it somewhere, but all I’ve been able to come up with is this energetic rendering from a 1940s matchbook cover. Roth’s (which was advertised variously as Roth’s Cafe, Roth’s Restaurant, and Roth’s Drive-In) was in Oak Cliff, on Fort Worth Avenue. It opened in about 1940 or ’41 and operated a surprisingly long time — until about 1967. When Roth’s opened, its address was 2701 Fort Worth Avenue, but around 1952 or ’53 the address became 2601. (I think the numbering might have changed rather than the business moving to a new location a block down the street.)

During World War II, Mustang Village — a large housing development originally built for wartime workers (and, later, for returning veterans) — sprang up across Fort Worth Avenue from the restaurant. It was intended to be temporary housing only, but because Dallas suffered such a severe post-war housing shortage, Mustang Village (as well as its sister Oak Cliff “villages” La Reunion and Texan Courts) ended up being occupied into the ’50s. Suddenly there were a lot more people in that part of town, living, working, and, presumably, visiting restaurants.

As the 1960s dawned, Mustang Village was just a memory, and Roth’s new across-the-street neighbor was the enormous, brand new, headline-grabbing Bronco Bowl, which opened to much fanfare in September, 1961. I don’t know whether such close proximity to that huge self-contained entertainment complex hurt or helped Roth’s business, but it certainly must have increased traffic along Fort Worth Avenue.

Roth’s continued operations until it closed in 1967, perhaps not so coincidentally the same year that Oak Cliff’s beloved Sivils closed. Ernest Roth, like J. D. Sivils, most likely threw in the towel when a series of “wet” vs. “dry” votes in Oak Cliff continued to go against frustrated restaurant owners who insisted that their inability to sell beer and wine not only damaged their own businesses but also adversely affected the Oak Cliff economy. The last straw for Sivils and Roth may have been the unsuccessful petition drive in 1966/1967 to force a “beer election” — read about it here in a Morning News article from Aug. 17, 1966).

As far as that super-cool building seen at the top — I don’t know how long it remained standing, but when Roth’s closed, a mobile home dealer set up shop at 2601 Fort Worth Avenue, and mobile homes need a lot of parking space….

The building on the matchbook cover above is, unfortunately, long gone (as is the much-missed Bronco Bowl); the area today is occupied by asphalt, bland strip malls, and soulless corporate “architecture” (see what 2701 Fort Worth Avenue looks like today, here).

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The man behind Roth’s was Ernest W. Roth, a Hungarian immigrant who had worked for many years as maître-d’ at the Adolphus Hotel’s tony Century Room. He decided to go out on his own, and around 1940 he and his business partner Joseph Weintraub (who was also his brother-in-law) opened the Oak Cliff restaurant which boasted two dining rooms (with a seating capacity of 350, suitable for parties and banquets), fine steaks, and a live band and dancing on the weekends. Ernest’s wife Martha and their son Milton were also part of the family business. When the restaurant opened, there wasn’t much more out there on the “Fort Worth cut-off,” but the place must have been doing something right, because Roth’s lasted for at least 27 years — an eternity in the restaurant business. It seems to have remained a popular Oak Cliff dining destination until it closed around 1967.

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The real story, though, is the Roth family, especially Ernest’s mother, Johanna Roth, and even more especially, his older sister, Bertha Weintraub.

Johanna Rose Roth was born in 1863 in Budapest, where her father served as a member of the King’s Guard for Emperor Franz Josef. She and her husband and young children came to the United States about 1906 and, by 1913, eventually made their way to San Antonio. In the ’40s and ’50s she traveled by airplane back and forth between San Antonio and Dallas, visiting her five children and their families — she was known to the airlines as one of their most frequent customers (and one of their oldest). She died in Dallas in 1956 at the age of 92.

Johanna’s daughter Bertha Roth Weintraub had a very interesting life. She, too was born in Hungary — in 1890. After her husband Joe’s death in the mid ’40s, a regular at her brother’s restaurant, Abe Weinstein — big-time entertainment promoter and burlesque club empresario — offered Bertha a job as cashier at the Colony Club, his “classy” burlesque nightclub located across from the Adolphus. She accepted and, amazingly, worked there for 28 years, retiring only when the club closed in 1972 — when she was 82 years old! It sounds like she led a full life, which took her from Budapest to New York to San Francisco to San Antonio to Austin and to Dallas; she bluffed her way into a job as a dress designer, ran a boarding house in a house once owned by former Texas governor James Hogg, hobnobbed with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liberace, was a friend of Candy Barr, and, as a child, was consoled by the queen of Hungary. She died in Dallas in 1997, a week and a half before her 107th birthday. (The story Larry Powell wrote about her in The Dallas Morning News — “Aunt Bertha’s Book Filled With 97 Years of Memories” (DMN, Nov. 17, 1987) — is very entertaining and well worth tracking down in the News archives.)

weintraub-bertha-roth_texas-jewish-post_021590
Bertha Roth Weintraub

I feel certain that the extended Roth family found themselves entertained by quite a few unexpected stories around holiday dinner tables!

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Sources & Notes

Matchbook cover (top image) is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

Photo of Bertha Weintraub is from The Texas Jewish Post (Feb. 15, 1990), via the Portal to Texas History, here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Stage Door Restaurant: Elm Street’s “Home of Lox and Bagels” — 1965-1968

stage-door_youtube_1966A Reuben sandwich sings to me, like a siren to a sailor… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Why does Dallas have so few delis? Here’s one that seemed to be pretty popular in the 1960s: the Stage Door Restaurant and Delicatessen (and bakery), located at 1707 Elm, between the Palace Theater and the Dallas Athletic Club. It opened in June, 1965 and lasted until the end of 1968 (when it was replaced by a restaurant called King Beef). I doubt there was any connection with the famous Stage Deli in New York, but manager Milton Stackel certainly had kosher cred of his own, having worked for twenty years at Grossinger’s, the legendary Jewish resort in the Catskill Mountains. I’m not sure how he found himself operating an eatery in downtown Dallas, Texas, but I’m glad he was here.

To any Milton Stackel-like entrepreneurs out there reading this:

DALLAS NEEDS DELIS!!


Authentic Jewish delicatessens!

Please!

The apparently quite popular eatery was located at/near the old five-point Elm-Ervay-Live Oak intersection (seen here a dozen years earlier — the Stage Door would later be between Lee Optical and Haverty’s). There were two dining areas, one of which was The Playbill Dining Room which served an “international-type cuisine in a Gay Nineties atmosphere.” There was also a thriving take-out deli and the nearby bakery. And now? Come on, Dallas restaurateurs! Get to work!

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stage-door-bakery_dmn_060465
June, 1965

stage-door-restaurant_texas-jewish-post_122365_portal
Texas Jewish Post, Dec. 23, 1965

This ad shows the bakery entrance next door.

stage-door-bakery_dmn_112465
Nov., 1965

stage-door_dmn_112564

stage-door-restaurant_texas-jewish-post_122365_portal-det
Texas Jewish Post ad detail, Dec. 23, 1965

stage-door_1707-elm_1952-mapsco
1952 Mapsco

stage-door_1966-directory
1966 Dallas directory

1700-block-elm_1966-directory
Elm Street, 1966 Dallas directory

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a screengrab from a YouTube video, here, containing footage shot downtown by Lawrence W. Haas on Memorial Day, 1966.

Read more about the opening of the new business (and see a photo of the interior) in the Dallas Morning News article “Stage Door Restaurant Makes Debut in Dallas” (DMN, June 3, 1965).

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Beautiful South Ervay Street — ca. 1910

ervay_coltera_flickrStreet life in South Dallas (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today, a few hand-colored postcards from around 1910 showing the lovely houses that used to line Ervay Street in South Dallas. Hard as it is to believe today, the stretch of South Ervay from just outside the central business district down to its end at Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.), was once a very nice area where many of the city’s most fashionable and well-to-do Jewish families (and, later, African-American families) lived. The intervening century has not been kind to South Dallas. I’m not sure of the location in the postcard above, but it certainly looks like a very pleasant neighborhood — one that no longer exists in this mostly blighted area.

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Below, S. Ervay looking south. The rounded top of Temple Emanu-El can be seen at the left. The light-colored building in the next block was the Columbian Club. The hotel most recently known as the Ambassador (which is still standing) in set back on a curve of the street and is hidden by the Columbian Club. The red building is the Hughes candy plant (also still standing). A Google Street View of this area today can be seen here.

ervay-street_ebay

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Below, we see a view still looking south, but now much farther down Ervay, almost to Forest Avenue (now MLK). The church on the left is the James Flanders-designed Ervay Street Methodist Episcopal Church (South), built in 1908 at the corner of corner of Ervay and South Boulevard — it’s interesting that a Methodist church was located in the center of Dallas’ largest Jewish residential neighborhood. (More on the church from a Dallas Morning News article from July 1, 1908, here. See this area on a 1922 Sanborn map here.)

ervay-residence_coltera

Not seen in the view above is one house worth mentioning. The house — just out of frame at the left, with the steps leading up to it, was the home of Simon Linz, of Linz Jewelers fame. Here is what the Linz house looked like in 1908:

linz-house_dmn_010108Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1908

Remarkably, this house is still standing. It is currently a funeral home at 2830 S. Ervay. The present-day image below, showing the pretty house and the neatly landscaped yard, is a little deceptive; see what the Google Street View looks like just south — where the Flanders church once stood — here. (If you’re up to it, reverse the Google view and move back toward town.)

linz-house_2830-828-s-ervay_google
Google Street View

Hold on, little house!

This was once such a beautiful part of Dallas….

ervay_postcard_clogenson_postmark-1908

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Below, a detail of a 1919 map showing S. Ervay down to Forest. The purple star shows the location of Temple Emanu-El and the Columbian Club. The green star shows the location of the Linz house and the Ervay St. Methodist Episcopal church. (Click for larger image.)

e-ervay_map_1918_portal
1919 map via Portal to Texas History

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First and third postcards are from Flickr: here and here. Others found on eBay.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Mail Wagon

mail-wagon_dallas-jewish-historical-societyPhoto: Dallas Jewish Historical Society

by Paula Bosse

My mailman-hating duck post of yesterday reminded me of this photo I’ve had tucked away in a digital file for months but have never used because I have no information about it. It shows several people — possibly a family? — gathered in and around a U.S. Mail wagon — “Collector No. 20.” The horse team is probably close by. As this photograph was found on the Dallas Jewish Historical Society website, one must presume that the people seen here are Jewish. Why they’re posing with an unhitched mail wagon is unknown, but it’s a cool photo.

I read a bit about these wagons, which were used to collect mail from boxes around the area and from train depots. The larger ones had a driver for the team of horses, a collector, and two clerks in the back who sorted mail as they headed back to the main post office. (Click for larger image.)

mail-wagon_dmn_100296Dallas Morning News, Oct. 2, 1896

Rural mail delivery began in Dallas in 1901, and wagons like this were eventually used to reach far-flung areas beyond the city. Some of them were set up to be mini mobile post offices, out of which the mail carrier could sell things like stamps and money orders while they were on their appointed rounds of delivering and collecting mail (these mobile post offices actually caused several rural post offices to close).

mail-wagon_FWST_032301
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 23, 1901

There were two main problems with these horse-drawn wagons which showed up time and time again in newspaper reports:

  1. They were constantly involved in collisions, mostly with electric streetcars slamming into them. I’m not sure why this happened so much — perhaps the trolleys were too fast and too quiet — but it was a constant problem.
  2. Also, these wagons, stuffed with letters and packages (and whatever goodies might have been contained therein), were often hijacked at gunpoint or stolen when left unattended. Kind of a holdover from frontier days of holding up stagecoaches.

The life of a turn-of-the-century mailman was fraught with danger.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the Dallas Jewish Historical Society; I’d love to know some — any! — information about who these people were and why they were posing with a mail wagon.

Read the 1925 memories of mail carrier James H. Jackson, who began his career with the Dallas post office in 1884, in the Dallas Morning News article “Dallas Postoffice Grew As City Grew” by W. S. Adair (DMN, Feb. 1, 1925).

Another Dallas-mailman-related story I found interesting can be found in my post “Jim Conner, Not-So-Mild-Mannered RFD Mail Carrier,” here.

Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Moskovitz Cafe

moskovitz-cafe_winegarten-schechterA stool is waiting for you… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Moskovitz Cafe was located at 2216 Elm Street, between S. Pearl and what is now Cesar Chavez Blvd., in an area of predominantly Jewish businesses. The restaurant served “Kosher and American cooking” and was owned and run by Lui Moskovitz, a Romanian immigrant, and his Polish-born wife, Eva. Eva, recently widowed, had arrived in Dallas in about 1928 with her three children and seems to have married Lui that same year. They had run another restaurant before the Moskovitz Cafe: the New York Kosher Dining Room on Commerce had been located across from the Adolphus Hotel for several years before it moved to 2011 Main, around the corner from City Hall. After that closed, they ran the Moskovitz Cafe between about 1937 and about 1944.

In 1945 there was no Lui or Eva Moskovitz in the Dallas directory. There was, however, an Eva Haberman — it appears that the Moskovitzes had split, Lui had left town, and Lui’s ex-wife had taken back the name of her late first husband. At this time she must have been about 60 years old, but she worked for the next few years as a department store seamstress and lived with one or more of her three sons from her marriage to Nathan Haberman. She died in April, 1961. Not only is there no trace of Lui after his time in Dallas, there is also no trace of 2216 Elm.

moskovitz_dmn_0101361936 ad

moskovitz-cafe_elm-st_1943-directory
Elm St. businesses, 1943 Dallas directory (click for larger image)

moskovitz_map
Location of Moskovitz Cafe (det. of a 1919 map)

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Sources & Notes

Photo appeared in the book Deep in the Heart: The Lives & Legends of Texas Jews, A Photographic History by Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990); from the collection of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society.

I’m not sure who the people in the photo are. When the Moskovitz Cafe opened, Lui would have been in his mid-40s and Eva would have been in her early 50s. UPDATE: Per the comment below (from Eva’s grandson), the woman in the white apron is the proprietress, Eva Moskovitz, and the man at the cash register is her son, Jack Haberman.

More information about Mrs. Eva Haberman can be found in her obituary, published in The News on April 19, 1961.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Blue House on Browder

blue-house_homewardboundinc_2000
The Rosenfield house, in about 2000 (photo courtesy Homeward Bound, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

Perhaps you’ve been following the recent brouhaha over the plans to demolish one of the last remaining 19th-century residences in the Cedars area, south of downtown — Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News has been covering the story here and here and here. The house is in terrible disrepair, but it has the beautiful details of the period, and it’s obvious that it was once a lovely house in a well-to-do neighborhood. Preservation Dallas posted this in-better-days photo on their Facebook page:

browder-house_preservation-dallas-FB-page

I thought I’d see what I could find about the history of the house — mainly I wanted to see if I could find who built it and when.

The house currently has the address 1423 Griffin, but before highways were built and streets were moved around, its address was 1015 Browder. Dallas changed almost every address in 1911, so I checked Jim Wheat’s very helpful scan of that year’s directory which tells us both the new and the old addresses of houses and businesses and also shows what cross-streets those addresses are between.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 directory, Browder Street

The original address of the Blue House was 285 Browder Street, between Corsicana and St. Louis. In 1911, P. F. Erb was living there.

Next, I checked the Sanborn maps. The earliest Sanborn map I could find which actually showed this part of Browder was the one from 1892. Here’s a detail showing the two-story frame house on the northwest corer of Browder and St. Louis, with Browder running horizontally along the top. The address is 285 Browder. (The house next to it is 169 St. Louis — more on that house later.)

sanborn_1892_285-browder_nw-corner-st-louis_sanborn-1892_sheet-21

When you look at the full-page map this detail comes from (here), you’ll see larger numbers in the middle of the blocks. The block I’m interested in is block 84. Then I hopped over to the Murphy & Bolanz block book to see what I could find there. (I haven’t actually used this block book much, mostly because my old computer would not work with the plug-in required to view the pages, and it takes a while to figure out what you’re looking at.) When I clicked on “Block 84” in the index, I found this (click for larger image):

murphy-bolanz_block-13_block-84

Here’s the detail of the pertinent block:

murphy-bolanz_det

The names and other assorted scrawls indicate title change (I think). This page was very helpful, because it told me that this block was originally part of Browder/Browder’s Addition, and it was originally classified as Block 13. The lot in question is Lot 5 (and probably Lot 6, because Erb’s name shows up under both. So now I had terms to search on.

And then it was just a tedious slog through the Dallas Herald archives (not to be confused with the Dallas Times Herald archives), the Dallas Morning News archives, and old city directories. Here’s what I found.

First mention of this particular parcel of land was in The Galveston News on March 24, 1883. P. S. Browder, a Browder family executor, transferred a lot of property — including the two lots I was interested in — to Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Godbold as part of a quitclaim deed (I’m probably not using the correct terminology here…). For one dollar.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_QUIT-CLAIMGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few inches of print over, the record shows that Godbold immediately sold Lots 5 and 6 to Dallas real estate czar Charles Bolanz (misspelled below). For $1,000.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_to-bolanzGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few months later, in July, it was reported that Bolanz had sold the adjoining two lots to T. S. Holden, a young man who worked as a salesman for a wholesale grocery firm but seemed to be engaged in land speculation on the side. (It’s a little odd that Bolanz sold it so quickly for a $200 loss, but I’m sure there was probably more to the story.)

1883-july_browder_galveston-news_070283_HOLDENGalveston News, July 2, 1883

At some point, these two lots were sold to Max Rosenfield, another young man who was buying up land in the hopes that its value would increase. From Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald:

“The year 1884 also saw the opening of a new housing subdivision by two Jewish real estate speculators, Gerson Meyer and Max Rosenfield. Their development, bounded by Akard, Corsicana, Browder, and St. Louis streets, was sold primarily to Jewish families who had begun to arrive as early as 1872 as part of the ‘Corsicana crowd’ — the terminal merchants who followed the construction of the H&TC.”

[I couldn’t find anything else about this block being a “sub-division,” but there definitely was a “Rosenfield & Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas as early as 1886 — see the bottom of this post for more information on Gerson Meyer and the Murphy & Bolanz map of their East Dallas addition.]

In the 1886 city directory, Max Rosenfield is listed as residing at 1118 Browder, which may well have been an address that lasted for a very, very short time — Browder is a very short street, and I wonder if Rosenfield was renumbering addresses in his new development. It does appear to be Lot 5 of the block he and Meyer were developing, though. (Henrietta Rosenfield, widow of Jonas Rosenfield, was Max’s mother, and she lived with or near Max for several years.)

1886_rosenfield_1886-directory_1118-browder1886 Dallas directory

In early 1887, a For Sale ad appeared in the Herald — real estate agents Ducker  & Dudleigh were offering what appears to be Lots 5 and 6. By this time, houses had been built on both lots. (The  numbers 101 and 102 are confusing here, but the property being offered is the lot at the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis and the lot adjoining it.) The price for the two-story house on Lot 5 was $6,250, which the Inflation Calculator adjusts to being about $166,000 in today’s money, taking into account inflation (but not taking into account Dallas’ outrageous real estate prices!).

1887_browder_dmn_050887-FOR-SALEDMN, May 8, 1887 (click for larger image)

It doesn’t look like either property sold, because a few months later, the 1888 directory showed Max still living in the Lot 5 house facing Browder and mother Henrietta living in the Lot 6 house at 169 St. Louis.

1888_rosenfield_1888-directory1888 Dallas directory

Rosenfield placed a For Rent ad in the paper in Feb. of 1889, offering his corner house on Browder.

1889_rosenfield_dmn_021389DMN, Feb. 13, 1889

This appears to have been when businessman Milton Dargan moved in. He is listed as moving into the house at about this time in the addenda section of late changes for the 1889 directory (directories were usually compiled in the year before they were actually published).

1889_dargan_1889-addenda-listing1889 Dallas directory

In that same directory, Rosenfield had moved in with his mother in the adjoining property.

1889_rosenfield_1889-directory1889 Dallas directory

At some point Dargan bought the corner house. Henrietta continued to live in the St. Louis-facing house until about 1892, when she moved in with Max at his new home on Akard.

And, finally, the “285” address shows up in a directory, in 1891.

1891_dargan_1891-directory1891 Dallas directory

Paul F. Erb bought the Browder house from Dargan in 1896 (he also bought the adjoining Lot 6 house facing St. Louis in 1910).

1897_erb_1897-directory1897 Dallas directory

And we’re back to Paul Erb, seen in the 1911 directory listing old and new addresses at 1015/285 Browder.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 Dallas directory

Yay!

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That was a long way to go to establish a chain of ownership. (I’m sure it would have been faster and easier to have consulted city records.)

So. Without access to building permits, it looks as if Max Rosenfield (who, by the way, was the father of John Rosenfield — born Max John Rosenfield, Jr. — legendary arts critic for The Dallas Morning News) was the person who built the 130-year-old house now going through the process of probably being torn down soon. It appears to have been built in 1884 or 1885. In a 1935 Dallas Morning News article celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield, the house is mentioned: “…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…” (see the article “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary,” DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Below is a photo of Max Rosenfield and his new bride, Jenny, probably taken the same year the house was built, 1885-ish, when Max was 26 years old.

rosenfields_ca-1885_ancestry

Thank you for building such a pretty  house, Mr. Rosenfield. Maybe some magnanimous person with deep pockets can have it moved to a new location and restore it to its former loveliness.

rosenfield-max_1935Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield, on their 50th anniversary

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Here’s a detail of an 1893 map of the area, with the house in question marked.

browder-house_1893-map

And here’s the lonely little house in its present hemmed-in location.

browder-house_bingBing Maps

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Sources & Notes

Top photo, taken around 2000, from Homeward Bound, Inc., used with permission. Homeward Bound, Inc. took over the house in 1986 (and owned it until October, 2015) for use as Trinity Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment center. The organization tried hard to save the house, but, according to Homeward Bound, Inc. Executive Director Douglas Denton, when they approached Dallas’ Landmark Commission in the 1990s, “they were not interested in the building.” Thanks to Mr. Denton for allowing me to use this photo, which shows the beauty of the old house better than any other photo of it that I’ve seen. He points to the photo below as an example of what this Cedars neighborhood once looked like. The caption for the photo in McDonald’s Dallas Rediscovered (p. 125): “Looking north toward downtown along Browder Street near the corner of Cadiz, 1895. These homes, built in the early 1890s, began to be razed in the late 1930s and early 1940s for parking space in the expanding business district.” (Photo: Dallas Public Libary)

browder-near-cadiz_ca1895

This would have been about two blocks from the Rosenfield house. Imagine what that neighborhood once looked like!

Watch a news report on the outcry over the possible demolition of this house on the WFAA website, here.

The Dallas Morning News article on the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield in which it is mentioned that Max built the house (“…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…”) is “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary” (DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Photo of the Rosenfields as a newly married couple found on Ancestry.com.

50th anniversary photo of Mr. and Mrs. Rosenfield is from the book John Rosenfield’s Dallas by Ronald L. Davis (Dallas: Three Forks Press, 2002).

All other sources as cited.

Max J. Rosenfield died in 1935 at the age of 76. His very interesting obituary (probably written by his son, John Rosenfield, amusements editor of The Dallas Morning News), can be found in the Dec. 2, 1935 edition of The News: “M. J. Rosenfield, Business Leader Many Years, Dies.”

It’s worth trying to figure out how to use the Murphy & Bolanz block books, courtesy of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library. Background on these very useful books can be found here.

If I’ve made any mistakes or have drawn any incorrect assumptions, please let me know!

browder-house_then-now

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UPDATE: Max Rosenfield developed a real estate partnership with Gerson Meyer, both of whom worked for Sanger Bros. department store. They bought and sold real estate (often to fellow Sanger’s employees), apparently as a lucrative side-business (Rosenfield even conducted his real estate transactions from his Sanger Bros. office). They apparently had acquired enough land by 1886 to have their own “addition” — “Rosenfield and Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas. The earliest mention I found of it was this ad from May, 1886.

rosenfield-and-meyer-addition_dmn_052786DMN, May 27, 1886

Their addition was in East Dallas. Below, the map from the Murphy & Bolanz block book (click for larger image):

rosenfield-and-meyers-addition_murphy-bolanz

Gerson Meyer (a Jewish German immigrant, just a couple of years older than Rosenfield), moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1897 and continued working for several years in men’s clothing.

If something looks too small, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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