Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: JFK

Autos, Autos Everywhere, and Not a Place to Park — 1971

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Earle Cabell Federal Bldg. / Wayne Hsieh, Flickr

by Paula Bosse

The other day I was looking for some information on the 1971 opening of the new 16-story Federal Center at 1100 Commerce Street (the name was changed to the Earle Cabell Federal Building in late 1973 to honor the former Dallas mayor and U.S. congressman). I came across the Dallas Morning News article “Center Augments Parking Woes” by Earl Golz (DMN, Jan. 12, 1971) which had a couple of surprising tidbits. The new federal building — which was expected to be occupied by more than 5,000 workers — had a grand total of 59 underground parking spaces. …Fifty-nine. FIVE-NINE. Let that sink in. This was a brand-new building. It’s not like they squeezed those pitifully few parking spaces under an existing building. This was in the plans. That’s a lot of car-pooling.

Three years earlier, in 1968, One Main Place opened at 1201 Main — it was more than twice as big as the Federal Building. When it opened, it was noted that there were 800 underground spaces (with a planned-but-never-realized massive underground parking garage for 4,000 cars, to go along with the never-realized Two Main Place and Three Main Place complex). But, somehow, by 1971, One Main Place’s parking had decreased to a mere 400 spaces, all of which were completely filled daily. I have images of panicky office workers constantly circling blocks in search of a place to park. Stories were rampant that parking-lot attendants were reserving weekly and monthly spaces in pay lots for exorbitant under-the-table cash transactions. 

How did this happen? Who would design such large modern buildings with such woefully inadequate parking? Were “interested parties” strong-arming architects or city planners to skimp on the parking? Is there such a thing as a big “parking-lot lobby”? (What am I saying? I’m sure there is.) Ever wonder why Dallas kept tearing buildings down in the early ’70s and replacing them with pay parking lots? I’m sure there were many reasons, but I saw more than one newspaper mention that parking lots (not garages, mind you — just lots) could be more profitable than aging buildings. It’s always seemed odd to me that there were (are) so many surface parking lots downtown, rather than multi-story garages. Imagine how much more money parking lot operators would be making with garages. Not that multi-story garages are in any way more desirable, aesthetically, but why didn’t land developers build garages which could accommodate so many more paying customers than these puny little lots? Some lot operators insisted that it benefitted everyone to have these lots — insisting that the buildings which once stood on the land were old and ugly eyesores which needed to be torn down, and that these lots were basically just placeholders until a fat-cat developer forked over multi-millions to build something tall and beautiful on it.

Was the lack of underground spaces in these two new buildings intentional? This would have been a weird way to force people to use public transportation. It might even have been a bit of strain on public transportation — the Dallas Transit System was already losing the fight against car-culture and downtown workers who lived in suburbia.

In the early ’70s, Dallas and Fort Worth were both experiencing a severe lack of downtown parking. In 1970 there had been a major excavation to build underground parking below the Old Red Courthouse — it was probably helpful, but it was just a band-aid on a much bigger problem.

A few of the proposals to deal with these parking woes:

  • Dissuade people from bringing their cars downtown by significantly raising fees for parking lots and parking meters and to cut the time limit for parking (quickly approved by the City Council)
  • Build satellite lots outside the Central Business District where people could park and then bus into town (“Park and Ride” stations began, shakily, in 1973)
  • Imagine the use of “people-movers” in varying degrees of sci-fi futurism

As far as “people-movers,” there were several automated transportation systems on drawing boards around the country at the time, a couple of which were being developed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There was the electrically powered monorail-like AirTrans — a joint project of Vought Aeronautics of Dallas and Varo Inc. of Garland — and there was the similar but less well-known Sky-Kar of Fort Worth. AirTrans was very successful and was first adopted by DFW Airport, but Sky-Kar seems to have fizzled out after the death of the company’s president in the early ’70s. 

One of Sky-Kar’s salesmen was Paul Groody (he can be seen being interviewed in one of the kars in a WFAA clip from October 1970 here, with additional kar-footage here). Groody (who, in this interview, is a couple of months from full Asimov muttonchops) gained some national notoriety as the funeral director who had been given the task of driving from Fort Worth to Dallas to pick up the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and “prepare” him for burial — because there were no pallbearers, he had to scrounge for volunteers among the reporters covering the interment. Because I may have no other opportunity to post this, below is the cute and compact Sky-Kar Transivator prototype from 1970. …Sky-Kar, we hardly knew ye.

sky-kar_wfaa_SMU_oct-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

Below, Paul Groody, Sky-Kar rep (1970), and Paul Groody, funeral director for Lee Harvey Oswald’s burial (1963) (he is seen partially obscured, all the way at the back right, wearing glasses).

sky-kar_paul-groody_wfaa_SMU_oct-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Equal time: see the Vought/Varo AirTrans prototype running on its test track in Garland in December 1970 here, along with interviews from company reps here.

airtrans-prototype_garland_wfaa_SMU_dec-1970WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU

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So, anyway. Forget the flying cars. I’m waiting for my monorail. And it’s probably still best to leave your automobile at home if you’re heading downtown.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo, “Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse” (2019) by Wayne Hsieh — found on Flickr, here. (I have cropped it.)

Screenshots from Channel 8 news film posted on YouTube, from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Entertainment Awards — 1961

dallas-entertainment-awards_1961_cover_SMUAnd the winner is…

by Paula Bosse

Here’s an interesting piece of Dallas entertainment history: a program for the 1961 Dallas Entertainment Awards, held in the Century Room, the swanky nightclub in the Adolphus Hotel. The awards were nicknamed “the Billy award,” or “the Billys.” Dresscode: “semi-formal.” Here are a few highlights.

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BEST RADIO PERSONALITY

Nominees are: Nick Ramsey (KVIL), Ted Cassidy (“Profile of an Orchestra,” WFAA), Meg Healy (KIXL), Hugh Lampman (“Music ’til Dawn,” KRLD — the previous year’s winner), Irving Harrigan & Tom Murphy (“Murphy and Harrigan Show,” KLIF), Jim Lowe (WRR), and Chem Terry (KRLD). 

So – Ted Cassidy? Yes, that is the same Ted Cassidy who later played “Lurch” on TV in The Addams Family (he also played “Thing”). He worked for WFAA radio for a few years and is a trivia answer in JFK-related quizzes regarding Dallas media coverage of the assassination.

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BEST MALE VOCALIST

Nominees are: Mark Carroll, Marty Ross, Earl Humphreys (the previous year’s winner), Skip Fletcher, Charlie Applewhite, Ron Shipman, and Trini Lopez.

Skip Fletcher? Yes, a member of those Fletchers. When he wasn’t frying up corny dogs he did a little singing, and even released at least one 45.

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R. J. O’DONNELL MEMORIAL AWARD FOR SHOWMAN OF THE YEAR

Nominees are: Tom Hughes, Paul Baker, Raiberto Comini, Lanham Deal, Norma Young, Pearl Chappell, and Lawrence Kelly. (The previous year’s winner was Charles R. Meeker Jr.) A few names there which should be familiar to aficionados of Dallas live theater.

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Producers of the event were Breck Wall and Joe Peterson, creators of the naughty “Bottoms Up” revue, which is probably still running somewhere. Some biographical information on the pair (click for larger image):

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Master of Ceremonies was Tony Zoppi, who wrote a column about the local nightclub scene for The Dallas Morning News. Whenever I read his old columns, I think that he must have had the BEST job in town — writing about the Dallas nightlife scene when it was at its sophisticated and sometimes seedy Mad Men-era apex.

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And — a bit of a change of pace — a little bio of real estate titan Leo Corrigan, who owned the Adolphus, where the show was being held — he was, unsurprisingly, receiving an “Appreciation Award.”

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And a couple of drawings of Dallas entertainment notables: Pappy Dolson, owner of Pappy’s Showland and legendary agent of strippers, and Joe Reichman, the leader of the Century Room orchestra who was billed as “the Pagliacci of the piano.”

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A few interesting ads include a little “howdy” from Jack Ruby (who was well known to several of the people mentioned above, some of whom testified to the Warren Commission about their relationships with him). 

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An ad for Villa Fontana, a gay club, formerly known as Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (The Bull on the Roof), then managed by Bob Strange. Gay clubs were illegal at the time, so you didn’t see a lot of ads for them. (I wrote an article for Central Track about some of the gay clubs in Dallas in the early ’70s — with photos — here.)

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And, the 24-hour greasy spoon known to generations of Dallasites, Oak Lawn’s Lucas B & B.

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Here’s the photo enlarged. Unless something earth-shattering has happened that I don’t know about, that great sign is still standing on Oak Lawn near Lemmon, long after the restaurant closed.

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See the rest of the 44-page program — lots more photos, lots more nominees — in a PDF from the DeGolyer Library at SMU, here.

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Sources & Notes

All images are from “Dallas Entertainment Awards — 1961,” from the Diane Wisdom Papers, Archives of Women of the Southwest, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries; more information and a link to the fully-scanned program is here.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Kennedy Memorial and the County Courthouses — Early 1970s

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by Paula Bosse

A view of the new John F. Kennedy Memorial, the not-new Old Red Courthouse, and the not-old-but-not-really-new “new” County Courthouse, in a postcard photo by Bob Glander.

The text on the back of the postcard reads:

The old and the  new County Courthouses with the Kennedy Memorial. The new Courthouse was dedicated Feb. 4, 1966 and the Kennedy Memorial June 24, 1970, Dallas, Texas. Photo by Bob Glander.”

See the same view — from Main and Market — today, via Google Street View, here.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard found somewhere online.

Previous Flashback Dallas posts with images to compare imagined and actual views of the “Courthouse Complex”:

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jack Ruby, Boxing Fan — 1958

ruby-jack_sportatorium_boxing-match_kxas-collecton_1958Jack at the fights?

by Paula Bosse

Flashback Dallas reader Steve Roe wrote to say that he thought he had spotted Jack Ruby in old TV news footage of a local boxing match. Above is a screenshot showing a person who looks a lot like Jack Ruby (who was an enthusiastic boxing fan), in attendance at an April 28,1958 night of boxing at the Sportatorium — the top match that night was between Paul Jorgensen of Port Arthur, Texas and Russ Tague of Davenport, Iowa (Jorgensen won in a 10th-round TKO).

ruby-jack_sportatorium_boxing-match_ad_042958April 28, 1958

Is that Jack Ruby, who would have just turned 47?

Watch the full (silent) clip here (the Ruby — or “Ruby” — appearance happens at about the 1:00 mark).

The script for this sports story which was read on the WBAP-Channel 5 newscast of April 29, 1958 is here (click the typed pages to see larger images).

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Sources & Notes

Screenshot is from Channel 5 news footage; the clip is part of the KXAS-NBC 5 Collection at UNT’s Portal to Texas History; the film clip is here.

Thank you to Steve Roe who contacted me with his find. Thanks, Steve!

Another discovery of Jack Ruby popping up on local news footage as an anonymous face in the crowd can be read about in the Flashback Dallas post “Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960.”

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The JFK Assassination and Television Firsts — 1963

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Ruby shooting Oswald on live TV

by Paula Bosse

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was not only one of the most sobering moments in American history, it was also a turning point for broadcast journalism, particularly in the way television covers breaking news.

The Kennedy assassination and the later captured-live-on-television shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby put broadcast journalists to the test as never before. News coverage was a solid days-long block — with NBC devoting almost 72 straight hours to the assassination and its aftermath. The immediacy of live television and the ability to learn of breaking-at-this-minute news was something that had never been experienced by Americans before — and something which pushed radio and television news reporting to new heights. It was reported that CBS alone used 80 newsmen to cover the story. The Nielsen ratings estimated that an unbelievable 93% of American households with televisions were tuned in to watch live coverage of the President’s funeral procession.

Perhaps the grisliest “first” of this new era of TV news was that millions of Americans watched a murder happen live as they watched from their living rooms: when Jack Ruby lunged from the phalanx of reporters gathered in the parking lot beneath the Municipal Building to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald as he was walking to an armored vehicle to be transported to the county jail, millions witnessed the shooting as it happened, stunned. NBC was the lone network to have broadcast live coverage of this unforgettable moment of 20th-century American history. The other networks followed soon after with recorded footage, but NBC got the scoop.

ad-jfk-assassination-NBC_broadcasting-mag_120263NBC ad in Broadcasting magazine, Dec. 2, 1963

Broadcasting — an industry trade magazine — devoted an entire 25-page “Special Report” on how television had covered — and shaped — JFK’s presidency and his assassination. Below is the article which specifically focused on the wall-to-wall broadcast news coverage, post-Nov. 22.

OSWALD SHOOTING A FIRST IN TELEVISION HISTORY

For the first time in the history of television, a real-life homicide was carried nationally on live TV when millions of NBC-TV viewers saw the Nov. 24 fatal shooting in Dallas of the man accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy two days earlier.

Less than a minute after the shooting occurred, CBS-TV telecast the episode on tape, which was made as the homicide took place. Network executives in New York viewed the tape and officially directed that it be placed on network immediately.

The setting for the live NBC-TV coverage of the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin who died a short time later, was this: Oswald, flanked by detectives, stepped onto a garage ramp in the basement of the Dallas city jail and was taken toward an armored truck that was to take him to the county jail. Suddenly, out of the lower right corner of the TV screen, came the back of a man. A shot rang out and Oswald gasped as he started to fall, clutching his side.

UNBELIEVABLE

NBC News correspondent Tom Pettit, at the scene, exclaimed in disbelief: “He’s been shot! He’s been shot! Lee Oswald has been shot!”

The TV screen showed shock on the faces of police officers as they swarmed over the back of the assailant, Jack Ruby, a Dallas night club operator. The coverage showed Ruby hustled away by policemen and Oswald being sped to the Parkland Hospital in Dallas, the same hospital to which President Kennedy had been taken.

CBS-TV’s coverage of the sudden shooting, relayed a minute after the episode, was reported by Robert Huffaker, staff newsman of KRLD-TV Dallas, the network affiliate. Mr. Huffaker cried: “He’s been shot! Oswald’s been shot!”

ABC-TV did not have live cameras at the scene, having moved them to the Dallas county jail in preparation for Oswald’s planned arrival there. But ABC newsman Jack Lord reported the news flash of the Oswald shooting. The episode also was recorded by film cameras and was telecast subsequently on the network.

JAPAN’S KILLING

Broadcasters were certain the episode marked the first time in 15 years of global television that a homicide was telecast as it happened. It was recalled that in October 1960 Inejiro Asanuma, a Japanese political leader, was knifed on a public stage in Tokyo. Tape recordings of this incident were played back on Japanese TV stations 10 minutes later.

The capturing by TV of the Oswald homicide was one indication of the extensive, though quick, preparations by the networks for coverage of the disaster. Networks had made arrangements for quick switching to Dallas, as well as other focal points of the developing story, and were able to pick up the homicide episode once they had been alerted that Oswald was being ushered out to the garage ramp. (Broadcasting magazine, Dec 2, 1963)


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Broadcasting, Dec. 2, 1963 (click to see larger image)

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NBC was the only network to carry Ruby’s shooting of Oswald on live TV. The footage — as it was aired — can be watched in the video below (the Dallas footage begins at about the 5:00 mark).


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KRLD, the local CBS affiliate, captured the shooting live, but it was not broadcast live. Here is the KRLD footage, helmed by Bob Huffaker (the shooting takes place near the 13:00 mark).


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In 2007, Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, Wes Wise, and George Phenix — reporters for CBS-affiliate KRLD-TV news — recalled the blur of days on the beat following the assassination in their book When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963. Watch a panel discussion on those days, below, recorded at the Sixth Floor Museum in 2008. (I found Wise’s recollections, beginning at the 39:00 mark to be most interesting.) (RIP, Bob Huffaker, who died June 25, 2018.)

when-the-news-went-live_cover

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ABC came in late, with reports from affiliate WFAA-Ch. 8 (about the 7:20 mark), but their coverage was certainly no less exciting — in fact, this might be my favorite reporting by local broadcast journalists that day.


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Another “first” in these days immediately following that awful day in Dallas was the very first showing of 8mm home-movie footage showing the assassination of the president. The film was shot by Dallasite Marie Muchmore, who reportedly sold the footage — sight unseen (it hadn’t even been developed) — to UPI for $1,000 (roughly about $8,000 in today’s money); the film was then shown on WNEW-TV in New York on Nov. 26. (The short footage, restored in recent years, can be watched on the Associated Press Archive site, here.)

ad-jfk-assassination-film_UPI_broadcasting-mag_120263
Broadcasting, Dec. 2, 1963

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Sources & Notes

A “Special Report” on the broadcast coverage of the Kennedy assassination and the shooting of Oswald by Ruby appeared in the Dec. 2, 1963 trade magazine Broadcasting; the issue may be read in its entirety here (pp. 36-61); the photo at the top of this post (showing Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald) is from that issue.

More Flashback Dallas posts on the Kennedy assassination can be found here.

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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.

Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960

jack-ruby_WFAA-1960_jones-collection_SMU_det

by Paula Bosse

The WFAA Telefilm Collection — part of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, housed at the Hamon Library at Southern Methodist University — is an incredible assemblage of film footage shot by WFAA cameramen, a significant portion of which was never included in Channel 8’s televised news stories; a lot of it is silent, filmed mostly as B-roll material. It’s a fascinating historical treasure trove of local and national (and international) events filmed between 1960 and 1978. Jeremy Spracklen — the collection’s Moving Image Curator — and his assistant, Scott Martin, regularly post entertaining short clips from this vast resource to social media.

Which brings us to the clip posted yesterday — Dec. 6, 2017 — which featured footage of a 1960 parade held in downtown Dallas at Christmastime, with shots of festively decorated Main Street and Elm Street, including nice views of the old Palace Theater. Watch it here on Vimeo.

The clip was posted last night on the Jones Collection’s Facebook page — before I watched it, I read the comment by Bert Harris: “Did you notice Jack Ruby combing his hair right toward the end of the clip?? Wild!!

What?!

Yes, at the very end of the short clip you see Jack Ruby (!) standing in a crowd of people in front of the W. A. Green department store combing his hair and adjusting his famous fedora. It’s very short, but it’s unmistakably Jack Ruby. You never know who’s going to pop up in these snippets of everyday life in Dallas, captured decades ago by WFAA cameramen! So now SMU has a few frames of what has just become historic film footage — footage which has probably been unseen for 57 years — there’s a good chance this never even aired and was merely B-roll footage. I never imagined it would be an exciting event to watch Jack Ruby comb his hair.

I contacted curator Jeremy Spracklen at SMU, and he was pretty excited about the discovery. He even cut a brand new clip this afternoon, isolating the Ruby footage and slowing it down considerably. It’s COOL. Here it is:

Below are some screen captures. I’ve had to lighten them a bit — click pictures to see larger images. Ruby and a friend are in the center of the first frames, then as the clip ends, he’s in the lower left corner.

Who is the guy with Ruby, and what is he holding in his hand? UPDATE: My first thought was that it might be Ruby’s roommate George Senator (from all accounts a good-natured guy who was perpetually out of work and out of cash — Ruby often helped him out, including inviting him to stay for a while at his apartment in early 1962). I didn’t really think he looked like the scarce few photos of him I’d found, but others in the comments below seem to think it might be him. He’s holding a Minox “spy” camera, which was an expensive tiny camera which had been sold for years in several stores in Dallas (and which was offered used in classified ads in The News in 1960 for $75 — about $125 today). By the man’s look of utter fascination with it, it appears that it probably belonged to Ruby. The man can be seen looking through it in the longer clip at the :50 mark. (See one of the first Minox ads found in a Dallas paper — sold by Linz Jewelers in 1951 — here, and in the year of this footage, in 1960, in a Neiman-Marcus ad, here, priced at $139.50, about $1,200 today.)

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Sources & Notes

The clip is compiled from WFAA news footage shot on November 26, 1960; it is from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, held at the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. The original clip (1:22) showing a holiday parade in downtown Dallas can be watched on Vimeo here; the slowed-down clip showing only the Jack Ruby footage can be watched on Vimeo here.

According to coverage of the event in the Dallas Times Herald (“Mile of Dimes Parade Lures Great and Small,” Nov. 27, 1960), the parade was the “Mile of Dimes” parade sponsored by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Salvation Army. It took place on Saturday, Nov. 26, 1960. In addition to the parade, there was a “show” staged on Elm and Ervay which had bands performing on the back of a flatbed truck. Two of the acts performing that day were the Joe Johnson combo and singer Jewel Brown — both of whom were mainstays in Ruby’s clubs: at the time of the parade, Johnson’s band was booked into a long run at the Vegas Club/Club Vegas in Oak Lawn, and Brown was appearing seven nights a week (!) at the Sovereign Club on Commerce Street (which Ruby would later rename “the Carousel Club” around March, 1961). So that explains why he was there, nonchalantly combing his hair on the street as his “employees” perform in front of him.

Footage of the musical performers begins at the 1:00 mark in the longer clip. Houston-born Jewel Brown can be seen at 1:07. She was pretty much a smash in Dallas, getting loads of good press; she later hit it big appearing with Louis Armstrong in Las Vegas — you can watch a fantastic clip of her singing here. Read a March, 1967 interview with her in which she discusses her working relationship with Ruby here.

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Ruby was standing outside the W. A. Green department store at 1616 Elm Street, which was next door to the Wilson Building; the Palace Theater was directly across the street.

elm-street_1600-block_1961 directory1961 Dallas directory

In addition to the musical performers mentioned above, other celebrities appearing in the parade footage that day were actresses/sexpots Sheree North and Lynne Forrester, who were appearing in Clare Boothe Luce’s play “The Women” at Casa Manana (:34), and orchestra leader Freddy Martin, who was appearing at the Statler’s Empire Room (:45). According to the Times Herald article, one celeb who was also there that day was recent Olympian Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), fresh from his gold-medal performance at the Olympics. Though wearing his U.S. Olympic team jacket, the 18-year-old future-legend somehow went unnoticed in the crowd who were apparently quite wrapped up in the musical offerings that day.

Here is a photo of George Senator, possibly the man standing next to Ruby. This photo was taken on Nov. 24, 1963 at the Dallas Police Station; it is from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, UTA — more info is here (I have cropped and flipped this detail). Another photo of Senator from the same night can be seen on the Portal to Texas History, here.

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And these two Associated Press photos were taken on March 9, 1964, showing Senator at the Jack Ruby trial.

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I’ve mentioned the WFAA Newsfilm Collection several times — it is an amazing collection of WFAA-Channel 8’s archival news footage, out-takes, and B-roll material. Curator Jeremy Spracklen has been uploading bite-size segments to Twitter and Facebook — it’s a lot of cool stuff you’re probably not going to be able to find anywhere else. They’re very entertaining. Follow them on social media!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Aerial View of the JFK Memorial — 1970

jfk-memorial_postcard_portalThe JFK memorial, newly dedicated… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Kennedy Memorial — designed by architect Philip Johnson at the behest of Stanley Marcus — was dedicated on June 24, 1970. This postcard view is one I’ve never seen before. The caption from the back of the card:

jfk-memorial_postcard_portal_caption

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Sources & Notes

Postcard “Aerial of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial, Dallas, Texas” from the Texas History Collection provided by Dallas Heritage Village to the Portal to Texas History; more here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975

rose-ballroom_aug-1942_cook-collection_degolyer_smuThe Rose Ballroom, 1942 (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above was taken at the Rose Ballroom at 1710 Hall Street (a few steps off Ross Avenue) in August, 1942. 1710 Hall was the home to a string of very popular black nightclubs: the Rose Ballroom (1942-1943), the Rose Room (1943-1951), the Empire Room (1951-1969) (not to be confused with the nightclub of the same name in the Statler Hilton), and the Ascot Room (1969-1975). There seems to have been some overlap of owners and/or managers and/or booking agents, but they all appear to have been very popular “joints” (as described by Freddie King’s daughter), where both big-name touring musicians as well as popular local acts played. Icons T-Bone Walker and Ray Charles were regulars (there are stories of Ray Charles sleeping on the Empire Room’s stage during the time he was living in Dallas in the ’50s). Everybody seems to have played there. Below, a quote from Wanda King, talking about her father, blues legend Freddie King — from the book Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by Alan Govenar (all clippings and photos are larger when clicked):

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Some of the acts scheduled to appear in early 1946 at the Rose Room were Erskine Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Johnson, and Andy Kirk. …Wow.

In the days of segregation, when Dallas police threatened to shut the club down if the owner allowed white patrons to mix with black patrons, the club scheduled “white only” nights where Caucasian audiences could see their favorite non-Caucasian performers. (Before these special club nights, which seem to have started in 1945, a revue would be taken “on the road” — over to the Majestic Theatre on Elm Street — to perform live onstage.)

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1945

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1946

The photo up there at the top showed the audience — here’s the stage (1946 photo of the E F Band by Marion Butts, from the Marion Butts Collection, Dallas Pubic Library):

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And here’s what the stage looked like when the club became the Empire Room (onstage is Joe Johnson in a 1954 photo by R. C. Hickman, taken from a great article about Hickman in Texas Highways, here):

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One thing that probably helped set the Rose Room/Empire Room apart from a lot of the other clubs in town at this time was the man who booked the shows — and who booked acts all over the area: John Henry Branch. The guy knew everyone. Here he is in an ad from 1947:

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Aside from booking acts and musicians for black clubs, he also booked acts for white clubs — including Jack Ruby’s Carousel and Vegas clubs. In fact, Branch chatted with Ruby at the Empire Room the night before Ruby shot Oswald — Ruby had come in to check on a piano player Branch was booking for a gig at the Vegas Club in Oak Lawn. Branch supplied testimony to the Warren Report, and while it’s not all that riveting (because there wasn’t that much to tell), it’s still interesting to hear how Branch describes his own club and Ruby’s personality (“You can’t never tell about him — he’s a weird person.”) — you can read his testimony here.

I have to admit, I’d never heard of the Rose Room or the Empire Room before I saw the photo at the top of this post. I really missed out. So much fantastic music! And I missed it. It’s just another reminder that Dallas has an incredible music history.

rose-room_texas-blues_govenar-brakefieldfrom the Texas African American Photography Archive

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1700 block of Hall Street, 1944-45 city directory

What’s at 1710 Hall these days? A vacant lot — soon to be developed, no doubt. Ross Avenue ain’t what it used to be….

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UPDATE: After many fruitless attempts to find a photo of the exterior of this building, I stumbled across it in a 1973 filmed report from KERA, recently uploaded by the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU. Below is a screenshot showing the Ascot Room a couple of years before it finally closed, looking a little worse for wear. The 8-minute film (which you can watch here) shows tons of locations in the Black neighborhoods of South Dallas (along Forest Avenue/MLK Blvd.) and “North Dallas” (along Hall Street) — the Ascot Room can be seen briefly at the 1:46 mark. (More on this film can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Black Dallas — 1973.”)

ascot-room_june-1973_kera-collection_jones-collection_SMUAscot Room, 1973 (screenshot, Jones Collection, SMU)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here. Someone has written this on the photo: “Aug. 42, Dallas, Rose Room” — in August, 1942 the club was known as the Rose Ballroom; it changed its name to the Rose Room in early 1943.

1973 screenshot is from a 1973 film (my guess is that it was broadcast on Channel 13’s “Newsroom”) from the KERA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

Wanda King quote is from the book Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by Alan Govenar (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2008).

Rose Room ad featuring John Henry Branch is from the 1947-48 Dallas Negro City Directory (with thanks to Pat Lawrence!).

More about the hopping Hall Street area can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Life on Hall Street — 1947,” here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

November 22, 1963: Will Fritz and the JFK Investigation

jfk_dpd_post-assassination_ebayThe men of the Homicide & Robbery Bureau at work (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

After the unthinkable had happened on the streets of Dallas — the assassination of a U.S. president — the Homicide and Robbery Bureau of the Dallas Police Department, led by Will Fritz, Captain of Detectives, sprang into action and quickly apprehended Lee Harvey Oswald as a suspect in the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and the whole of the Dallas Police Department worked together, but Fritz was the face of the investigation.

Will Fritz (1895-1984) was born in Dublin, Texas and grew up in New Mexico. He joined the Dallas Police Department in 1921 and remained on the force for 49 years, retiring in 1970 at the age of 74. He was considered one of the top police interrogators in the state and was a dedicated lawman — so dedicated he lived just steps away from police headquarters in the White Plaza Hotel (originally the Hilton Hotel, now the Indigo).

The success rate of Fritz’s detectives was impressive:

The record of Fritz and the Police Department’s Homicide and Robbery Bureau — which he has led since its formation — is a nationally enviable one. Over the past quarter century, he and his aides have solved roughly 98 per cent of the 54 to 98 homicides committed each year. (Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959)

Fritz served for almost half a century with the DPD, involved in all sorts of colorful cases, but he’ll always be most remembered for the events surrounding the JFK assassination. The photo above shows his detectives at work in the Homicide office in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination; the photo below shows him exiting the Texas School Book Depository with DPD detective Elmer Boyd (carrying rifle).

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Above photo and clippings from the Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 24, 1963

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing a Dallas police officer standing outside the Homicide and Robbery Bureau is from a 2015 eBay listing. The reverse of the photo is stamped “Paris Match/Marie Claire.”

Photo showing Fritz walking down the steps of the Texas School Book Depository, taken on November 22, 1963 by Dallas Times Herald staff photographer William Allen. It is from the Sixth Floor Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection, which is hosted online by the University of North Texas Libraries, via the Portal to Texas History, here (with additional information here).

More about Capt. Will Fritz from the Handbook of Texas History, here.

A really interesting profile of Fritz can be found in the 1959 Dallas Morning News article “Captain Fritz: Stays With the Case” by Don Freeman (DMN, March 1, 1959).

Other Flashback Dallas posts related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can be found here.

Click on photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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