Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Sports

Texas Rasslin’ at the Sportatorium — 1959

sportatorium_wrestling_mclemore_radio-annual-television-yrbk_1959Heroes and villains, hillbillies and rasslers… (1959)

by Paula Bosse

Ed McLemore and the Sportatorium. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. McLemore owned the Sportatorium (at Cadiz and Industrial) and was a successful promoter of both professional wrestling and up-and-coming hillbilly and rock ‘n’ roll musicians. The wrestlers and the musicians all performed centerstage in the Sportatorium ring (on different nights, but I’m sure McLemore must have at least day-dreamed about having some sort of offbeat tag-team bout featuring all of his clients in the ring at the same time). The Sportatorium was very, very popular, with crowds showing up for both wrestling matches and the legendary Big D Jamboree music shows, as well as boxing matches and a variety of other events.

This 1959 ad mentions a few of the musicians McLemore managed at the time, the biggest of whom was Sonny James (read about Sonny James’ years in Dallas in the Flashback Dallas post “Sonny James: The ‘Shindig Heartbreaker'”). Also listed were Johnny Carroll, the Belew Twins, Rozena Eads, Eddy McDuff, and Bill Dane.

The ad appears to be urging people to head to the Sportatorium because it’s got way more going on than boring old television!

“TEXAS RASSLIN”

Have you noticed the swing is to “Texas Rasslin”

No Murders!! No Guns!! No Quizzes!!

We do have heroes and villains in terrific fast action!

New Lighting — New Angles — New Dimensions — First Runs & Reruns

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mclemore_radio-annual-and-television-yrbk_1959_bio1959

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Sources & Notes

Ad and bio of Ed McLemore from the 1959 Radio Annual Television Yearbook.

Check out some vintage wrestling footage from the Sportatorium in 1960 here.

Check out vintage footage of the Big D Jamboree here.

More on the Sportatorium can be found in various Flashback Dallas posts here.

sportatorium_wrestling_mclemore_radio-annual-television-yrbk_1959_det

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Wes Wise, Dallas Texans, WFAA — 1961

wfaa_sports_sponsor-mag_101661_detA future mayor interviewing future Kansas City Chiefs 

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows future Dallas mayor Wes Wise in 1961 (when he was sports director for WFAA-Channel 8) interviewing players of the Dallas Texans. Wes Wise served as Mayor of Dallas for three terms, from 1971 to 1976. The (second iteration of the) Dallas Texans played in the AFL from 1960 to 1962 until owner Lamar Hunt relocated them to Kansas City where they became the Kansas City Chiefs. (Read about the first, sad, Dallas Texans in the post “The 1952 Dallas Texans: Definitely NOT America’s Team.”)

Below is the full ad. (Click for larger image.)

wfaa_sports_sponsor-mag_101661

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Sources & Notes

Ad from Sponsor, “the weekly magazine Radio/TV advertisers use” (Oct. 16, 1961).

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Victor’s Lounge — 1913 Commerce

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Victor’s-sponsored bowling team

by Paula Bosse

My posting has been a bit erratic recently. My brother and I have been clearing out my late aunt’s home. It’s one of those inevitable tasks that no one wants to have to do, but as sad as it’s been, it’s also been comforting to see glimpses of my aunt’s life that I had only vaguely heard about — or had never heard about. Going through her photos, I see what a full life she had, how much she traveled, and that she had decades-old friendships.

One of the places she talked about with great fondness was, of all things, a bar: Victor’s Lounge, which was at 1913 Commerce Street, directly across from the Statler Hilton. The Dallas Morning News described it as “a favorite with the downtown office crowd.” My aunt worked for an insurance company in the Mercantile Building, and nearby Victor’s was the place where she and her co-workers gathered after work (and, I think, for lunch). She even participated in a ladies’ bowling league on a team sponsored by her favorite hang-out. The photo at the top shows the team of fun-looking women (my aunt Bettye Jo is on the far right). She still had the crisply-ironed shirt in her closet! 

victors-bowling-shirt_bosse-photo

Victor’s was opened by Victor Ballas (who later opened the Purple Orchid a block away at 2016 Commerce). Born in New York, Ballas arrived in Dallas as a child, went to Forest Avenue High School, and had several businesses, one liltingly called “Ballas of Dallas.” My aunt said he always looked after his customers, especially the single women when they were being aggressively hit on by male patrons. Ballas died on Christmas Day, 1971 of a heart attack — he was only 53.

Victor’s opened as a cocktail bar in 1957 or 1958 with a regular piano player (for many years it was Tony Rizzo), but ads indicate that it became more of a restaurant than a bar in the 1960s.

victors_april-19591959

The Commerce Street location closed in 1971 — it was replaced at the end of that year by the Wild West Saloon, another cocktail bar (but one which included topless entertainment). 

I heard so much about Victor’s over the years from my aunt that when I recently stumbled across odd shots of the place in random film footage I was pretty excited

I wish we could have gotten a drink there together, Bettye Jo. And maybe hit the lanes at your favorite alley and bowled a few frames.

victors_sfot-parade_1960s_jones-film-collection_SMU

victors 2 dmn film SMU

victors dmn film SMU

victors_1962-map_det1962 (click to see larger image)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo and photo of bowling shirt from the collection of Paula Bosse.

The three color images are screenshots from films in the G. William Jones Film Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. The first is from the WFAA NewsFilm Collection, the second and third from a promotional film for The Dallas Morning News; all are from the 1960s.

Map is a detail from a 1962 map featured in the Flashback Dallas post “Map of Downtown Dallas, For the Curious Conventioneer — 1962.”

victors-bowling-team_bosse-photo_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Legendary Sports Writers of the Fort Worth Press — ca. 1948

sportswriters_blackie-sherrod_dan-jenkins_bud-shrake_etc_fort-worth-press_SMUBlackie and crew…

by Paula Bosse

The legendary sport writers of The Fort Worth Press, circa 1948: (standing, l to r) Jerre Todd, Blackie Sherrod, Dan Jenkins; (sitting) Andy Anderson and Edwin “Bud” Shrake. Missing: Gary Cartwright. 

This is what sports writers should look like!

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Sources & Notes

Photo — titled “[Staff of Fort Worth Press]” — is from the Blackie Sherrod papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info can be found here.

More on Blackie Sherrod, who became the dean of Dallas sportswriters, can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Blackie Sherrod: The Most Plagiarized Man in Texas: 1919-2016.”

Read a great, lengthy piece about these guys and their time as the greatest sportswriting staff in Texas in the article “Mourning Dark: The Fort Worth Press’ Legendary Sportswriters Are a Dying Breed” by Kathy Cruz (Fort Worth Weekly, Jan. 3, 2018).

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Baseball Team — ca. 1910

dallas-baseball_1910_ebay_black-teammateTeam photo, circa 1910… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across this circa-1910 photo on eBay about a year and a half ago. I thought it was unusual because of the presence of an African American man posing with the team. Sports teams weren’t integrated at this time — was he part of the team but not a player? I don’t know what’s written on his shirt, but it doesn’t have “Dallas” on it like the ones the others are wearing. What do you think?

Happy Opening Day!

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay. (I assume it’s Dallas, Texas….)

More Flashback Dallas posts on baseball can be found here.

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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.”

ruby-jack_sportatorium_boxing-match_kxas-collecton_1958_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906

lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_smu

by Paula Bosse

Enjoy these images of Lake Cliff, which, 100 years ago, was “the greatest amusement park in the Southwest.” The slogan “It’s in Dallas” should really have read “It’s in Oak Cliff” — and back then Oak Cliff had everything!

  • Mystic River
  • Shoot-the-Chutes (read this!)
  • Open-Air Circus
  • Roller Coaster
  • Casino
  • Natatorium
  • Carousel
  • Tennis Courts
  • Restaurant
  • Baseball Grounds
  • Skating Rink
  • Trolley Cars
  • Penny Vaudeville
  • Casino Band and Orchestra
  • Circle Swing
  • Japanese Village
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Ferris Wheel

Whew.

Below, some wonderful postcards and photos. (Click to see larger images.)

The first one shows the cafe and the “circle swing” (see a swing in action here).

lake-cliff-cafe_circle-swing_postcard_postmarked-1909_ebay

lake-cliff_c1910_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

lake-cliff-bathing_1910s_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

swim_lake-cliff-pool_ca-1907_flickr_coltera

lake-cliff_flickr_coltera

lake-cliff_postcard

lake-cliff_shoot-the-chutes_1908

skating-rink_lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_1via Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

lake-cliff_sunday-afternoon-concert_1906_portal

lake-cliff_club-house-cafe_postcard_ebay

lake-cliff_postcard_weichsel_ebay

lake-cliff-park_rose-garden

lake-cliff-pavilion_oak-cliff-high-school-yrbk_1925Oak Cliff High School yearbook, 1925

lake-cliff_clogenson_1908_LOCPhoto by Clogenson, ca. 1908, via Library of Congress

lake-cliff_1906_portal_attractions-1

lake-cliff_1906_portal_attractions-2From 1906 promotional brochure, via Portal to Texas History

Jump forward to the 1940s — when it was more of a big pool, without all the flash and filigree:

swim_lake-cliff-pool_1947_flickr_coltera

Take a look at it now in this stunningly beautiful drone video by Matthew Armstrong:

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a postcard in the George W. Cook Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library, here.

Most other uncredited images were found around the internet, several from Coltera’s Flickr stream.

More on Lake Cliff can be found in this article by Rachel Stone from the Oak Cliff Advocate (be sure to click the link to see the full 1906 promotional brochure on “the Southwest’s greatest playground” (it’s “Clean, Cool, Delightful”)).

lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_smu_sm

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Flooded Sportatorium — 1945

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_boys-1_det
Boys gotta do what boys gotta do… (photo: Squire Haskins/UTA Libraries)

by Paula Bosse

Imagine it has flooded around the Sportatorium: what would you expect seven boys and their dog to do? Well, here they are doing about what you’d expect. (The image above is a detail from the photo below, by Squire Haskins — see this photo really big on the UTA website here.)

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_boys-1

Another photo, this one with a Huck-Finn-meets-Iwo-Jima-Memorial vibe (full-size on the UTA site here):

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_boys-2

My closer-up detail (click to see larger image):

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_boys-2_det

Another view (original full-size image here):

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_no-boys

Closer up, with a Grand Prize Beer billboard, cars (on Industrial?), and a sign for the next-door Plantation nightspot:

sportatorium_flood_squire-haskins_UTA_no-boys_det

No wrasslin’ tonight, y’all.

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Sources & Notes

All photos by Squire Haskins, from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections. More info can be found on the first photo here, the second photo here, and the last photo here.

The photos in the UTA collection are undated, but a photograph of these same boys and dog on their raft appeared in The Dallas Morning News on April 5, 1945, along with a whimsical article titled “Pint-Size Warriors Fight Battle of Trinity, Prove Stormiest Rain Cloud Has Silver Lining.” A few pages away there were several aerial photos showing the major flooding which had submerged large portions of the area around the Sportatorium and Corinth Street viaduct.

The Sportatorium was located at 1000 S. Industrial (now Riverfront), at Cadiz (see map here). Maybe a little too close to the Trinity….

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

Dallas Football Through the Decades

football_tom-landry_cowboys_texas-stadium-under-construction_UTA_051671Tom Landry, Texas Stadium, 1971… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few football-centric Dallas images to enjoy on this football-centric day.

Above, Dallas Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry in 1971, surveying with wonderment the then-under-construction Texas Stadium (via UTA Special Collections).

1905: Early days of local football. In 1905 there were hopes of getting up a “heavyweight team.” Prospects were iffy. (All images are larger when clicked.)

football_local-prospects_dmn_090305
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 3, 1905

This was at a time when football injuries — and DEATH — were not uncommon.

football-casualties_dmn_101305
DMN, Oct. 13, 1905

1911: The Dallas High School team at Gaston Park (a popular sporting field which is now the site of the Dallas Music Hall at Fair Park). This photo was taken on December 16, 1911 — that day they defeated Fort Worth High, 15-5.

football_dallas-high-school_gaston-park_1911_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMUGeorge W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

1918: The Love Field eleven was made up of military personnel based at the airfield during World War I. They played other military teams in the area, venturing as far as at least Waco.

football_love-field_camp-team_wwi_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU_1918
George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

1920s: The “State Fair of Texas” stadium predated the Cotton Bowl. This aerial photo shows what was probably the University of Texas vs. Vanderbilt game, which took place on Oct. 13, 1928 during the State Fair of Texas. (Vanderbilt won, 13-12.)

football_state-fair-of-texas-stadium_UT-vs-vanderbilt_1920s
From “Dallas As a City In Which To Live” booklet, SMU

1920s: The SMU Mustangs took on the University of Missouri Tigers at Ownby Stadium.

football_ownby-oval-smu_SMU-vs-missouri-university_1920s
From “Dallas As a City In Which To Live” booklet, SMU

1932: Speaking of the SMU Mustangs, then-local sports superstar (and Olympics medalist) Babe Didrikson — who was proficient in every single sport she tried — was given the opportunity by SMU coach Ray Morrison to give football the old college try: he coached her in passing and receiving and even allowed her to suit up in an official uniform. She tried out her football moves for the pubic during a scrimmage in Ownby Stadium on September 18, 1932.

One of the most interesting features of the program from a football fan’s standpoint was demonstration of several of the Ponies’ famous scoring plays, in fast and slow motion. Babe Didrikson, Dallas’ famous feminine athlete, took part in the slow motion exercises and proved herself somewhat of a polished gridder — adding more fame to her long list of athletic achievements. (DMN, Sept. 18, 1932)

didrikson-babe_football-SMU_boston-globe_092332        didrikson-babe_football-SMU_pottsville-PA-republican-and-herald_092832
Boston Globe, 9/23/32; Pottsville [PA] Republican, 9/28/32

1933: The stadium which would eventually be named the Cotton Bowl looks a little otherworldly in this Lloyd M. Long aerial photo.

cotton-bowl_fair-park-stadium_lloyd-long_foscue-library_SMU_1933
Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, SMU

1940s: Dal-Hi Stadium (later P. C. Cobb Stadium) was the home field for six Dallas high schools.

dal-hi-stadium_cobb-stadium_postcard

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In December, 1949, Dal-Hi served as the practice field for the University of North Carolina team while in Dallas for the January 2, 1950 Cotton Bowl match against Rice University (which Rice won, 27-13). I like this snapshot — downtown looms like a ghost in the background.

dal-hi-stadium_cobb-stadium_uc-practice-for-cotton-bowl_dec-1949via “Dismal Day in Dallas”

1950s: Dallas had a pro team before the Cowboys — the Dallas Texans. Here’s their ticket office, at 1721 McKinney Avenue. (From the article “Gone and Forgotten, The Dallas Texans of 1952” by Thomas H. Smith, from the Spring, 2005 issue of Legacies.)

football_dallas-texans_ticket-office_legacies_spring-2005
via Legacies

1950s/1960s: Dallas high school football coaches who were all connected at one point (either as players or coaches) with Booker T. Washington High School: the legendary Raymond Hollie (head coach at both Booker T. and Roosevelt), Marion “Jap” Jones, and Sam Briscoe.

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John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

1960s: A quaint Dallas Cowboys locker room.

dallas-cowboys-locker-room_pinterest
via Pinterest

1981: In the tradition of other comic-book heroes appearing in Dallas to save whatever needed saving (here and here), Spider-Man and the Hulk stopped by to help with some football-related issue. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders appear to have been involved.

football_cowboys_comic_spider-man_hulk_cheerleaders_1981

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Pickle Brine Ryan” — 1968

baseball_nolan-ryan_pickle-juice_1968_corbisBrining the blisters away….

by Paula Bosse

I give you a 21-year-old Nolan Ryan soaking his pitching finger in pickle juice. As one does.

Years before the future Baseball Hall of Famer made it to DFW, young Nolan was the star pitcher of the New York Mets. He was prone to blisters on the middle finger of his pitching hand, so Mets trainer Gus Mauch put him on a strict pickle juice regimen of soaking the affected finger between innings to toughen the skin and prevent blisters from popping up at inopportune moments. And, of course, this weird pickle juice thing became really big news in May, 1968. Sportswriters jumped all over it, and a few began calling him “Pickle Brine Ryan,” because it sort of rhymes.

The delicatessen where Ryan’s pickle juice of choice was purchased tried to cash in on what they hoped would become a fad by placing jars of the brine in the window with a sign proudly proclaiming that they were the source of the famous “Mets’ Pitching Juice.” According to a UPI story, when another pickle company offered the Mets five gallons of their pickle juice, trainer Mauch responded, “Gosh, you could embalm a whole swimming team with five gallons!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

pickle-brine-ryan_may-1968

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Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS, from May 6, 1968; it appeared in newspapers with the following caption:

While teammates relax before a game, using anything handy for a pillow, New York Mets’ pitcher Nolan Ryan (left) soaks his pitching fingers in pickle juice. That’s right — pickle juice! Ryan says the juice toughens his fingers so that he doesn’t get blisters.

I wonder if he kept it up? By the time he got back home to Texas and signed with the Rangers, I’d love to know that he upped his brine game by using pickled jalapeño juice.

An earlier Nolan Ryan-related Flashback Dallas post — “Nolan Ryan’s Celebratory Pancake Breakfast — 1972” — is here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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