Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Sports

New Year’s Day in Dallas: Black-Eyed Peas and the Cotton Bowl Classic — 1960

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by Paula Bosse

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What better time to share this seasonal article from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock:

Next to a helping of black-eyed peas, about the most important thing to Texans on New Year’s Day is a good football bowl game. And to Texans, there is no bowl game more important than the Cotton Bowl contest played each year in Dallas. Many even would rather do without their “black-eyes” than to miss this annual grid classic. 

Texans have long been noted for their bragging and their love of football. In the Cotton Bowl game, they believe they have something which warrants a little boasting. Since 1937 when the classic was inaugurated, they have succeeded in showing the nation that they, too, can stage top grid productions.

There’s more to the Cotton Bowl Festival than a football game, however. The host city of Dallas resembles a three-ring circus during the week preceding the big game. The game is played on New Year’s Day except when that holiday falls on Sunday. In that event, it is played on Monday, January 2.

The list of events for Cotton Bowl Week this year contains something of interest for all visitors. The National Finals Rodeo, the first “world series of rodeo,” will be staged in the new State Fair Livestock Coliseum, December 26-30. The popular Broadway production, “My Fair Lady,” will be presented by the national company of the show in the State Fair Music Hall all during the week.

There will be a fashion show for the ladies and the Texas sportwriters will sponsor the annual Texas Sports Hall of Fame luncheon, honoring great athletes and coaches of the past. There will also be college and high school basketball tournaments, a tennis tournament, and a bowling tournament. 

The big event prior to the game will come on New Year’s Eve with the annual Cotton Bowl Festival parade through downtown Dallas. Bands will play, colorful floats will be displayed and the Cotton Bowl Queen will make an official appearance, along with the many princesses representing each school in the Southwest Conference. 

The Cotton Bowl game was conceived and originally promoted as a private enterprise by J. Curtis Sanford, a Dallas businessman. The first game was played on January 1, 1937, and featured Texas Christian University and Marquette University. TCU, with L. D. Meyer scoring two touchdowns, a field goal and a conversion, defeated Marquette, 16 – 6. 

The classic eventually became a Dallas civic enterprise, produced under the auspices of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. The CBAA later became an agency of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Thus the Southwest Conference sponsors and controls the event, making it unique among all post-season games. The Conference voted in 1942 to send its championship team to the Cotton Bowl game as hosts. The opposition is chosen from the top teams in the nation. 

The Cotton Bowl Stadium has a seating capacity of 75,504 fans. At $5.50 a seat, that represents close to half a million dollars in receipts. Each competing team receives 39 per cent of the gate with seven per cent earmarked to be paid toward retiring the bonded indebtedness on the Cotton Bowl Stadium. The remaining 22 per cent goes to the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. After paying the expenses for the year, the Association gives the remainder of its income to the Southwest Conference. 

Thus each team in the eight-school league realizes a financial assistance from the annual classic. 

A helping of black-eyed peas and a serving of Cotton Bowl football are two items most Southwesterners like on their New Year’s Day menu.

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Sources & Notes

This article is from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock, the quarterly publication of the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation; this magazine is part of the Southwest Collection, Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University — the entire issue has been scanned and may be viewed as a PDF here.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bob Lilly, Chap Stick User — 1968

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by Paula Bosse

Must’ve been the Moistutane®.

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Sources & Notes

Ads found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Soldier Fishing from a Viaduct — 1948

soldier-fishing-viaduct_feb-28-1948_DPLHope this isn’t dinner…

by Paula Bosse

A soldier in uniform, sitting on the concrete railing of a viaduct, casting into the Trinity. 

When I posted this in a Dallas history group several years ago and asked which viaduct is shown, there was no consensus — Houston Street was mentioned most often, but just about all of them got several votes!

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Sources & Notes

I can’t remember where I came across this photo (which is dated Feb. 28, 1948), but it is from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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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.)

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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! 

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906

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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).

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lake-cliff_c1910_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

lake-cliff-bathing_1910s_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

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

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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:

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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”)).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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