Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Literary Dallas

The Aldredge Book Store — 2909 Maple Avenue

abs_2909-maple-ave_erik-bosse
The last location of The Aldredge Book Store, next to the Stoneleigh Hotel

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, Dick Bosse. For most of the life of The Aldredge Book Store, he either managed it or, later, owned it. The store’s first location was in an old Victorian house at 2800 McKinney Avenue, at Worthington (a photo showing the house with weirdly overgrown vegetation is here), the second location was at 2506 Cedar Springs, near Fairmount, and the final location was the one seen above, at 2909 Maple Avenue, right next door to the Stoneleigh Hotel. My brother, Erik, took the photo, sometime in the 1980s, I think. The Stoneleigh is the building partially seen at the right. The bookstore occupied the building’s lower floor, and the top floor was occupied by the engineering business of the owner, Ed Wilson.

We closed the store in the early 2000s, a few years after my father’s death. Erik and his friend Pete removed the letters spelling out the store’s name which were bolted to the brick exterior over the entrance. I came across them a few years ago and laid them out in my driveway (in a much jauntier arrangement than was seen on Maple).

abs_sign-letters_paula-bosse

As far as I can gather, the two-story building was built about 1930 and was originally a duplex — a classified ad shows that the lower floor (where the bookstore was) was a 6-room apartment with 3 bedrooms and a tile bath. Sometime in the late ’30s, building owner Glen Shumaker opened up the Dallas Music Center, where students (children and adults) took music lessons; a sort of “music business school” was also offered as part of the curriculum. That business seems to have been around at least into the early 1950s.

dallas-music-center_0527471947 ad

dallas-music-center_0124481948 ad

It was later the home of several businesses, including sales offices and an advertising company, a farming trade magazine, a correspondence school, and the Dallas Diabetes Association. I’m not sure when the bookstore moved in — maybe 1979 or 1980.

Sadly, the building was demolished in the early-to-mid-2000s and is currently a driveway/parking area for the Stoneleigh Hotel. It still surprises me to not see the old building when I drive by.

dick-bosse_aldredge-book-store
Dick Bosse

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Sources & Notes

Photograph of The Aldredge Book Store by Erik Bosse; photo of the ABS letters by Paula Bosse.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Everette Lee DeGolyer, Bibliophile

degolyer_rare-books_texas-week-mag_082446-photoMr. De with his books (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of Dallas’ great bibliophiles and book collectors was Everette Lee DeGolyer, petroleum geologist, Texas oil superstar, and namesake of SMU’s DeGolyer Library. He was also a notable book collector and a favored customer of many Texas rare books dealers. This article appeared in 1946, when there were very few antiquarian bookstores in Dallas. The Aldredge Book Store opened on McKinney Avenue in 1947, and Mr. DeGolyer was a steady customer until his death in 1956. (Click article for larger image.)

degolyer_rare-books_texas-week-mag_082446_text
Texas Week magazine, Aug. 24, 1946

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Below, the library at the newly-built DeGolyer Estate at White Rock Lake, shelves waiting to be filled.

degolyer-estate-library_portal

The fabulous DeGolyer Estate is now part of the Dallas Arboretum.

degolyer-house_arboretumPhoto: Dallas Arboretum

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Sources & Notes

Article from Texas Week magazine; accessible through UNT’s Portal to Texas History, here.

Photo of DeGolyer’s home library (not to be confused with the DeGolyer Library at SMU), is from the Dallas Municipal Archives collection, also found on the Portal to Texas History site, here. More photos of the estate from this collection are here.

The Handbook of Texas entry for Everette DeGolyer is here.

That term “Texiana” used by the unnamed author of the article to describe books of Texas subject matter or interest? For anyone uncertain about whether to use that or “Texana,” use “Texana.” Always! (It rhymes with “Hannah.”)

Most images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cold Smut: Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” Banned in Dallas — 1961

cartoon_topic-of-cancer_dmn_083061_small

by Paula Bosse

Today is my late father’s birthday. He was a Dallas bookseller, and when searching on his name in the Dallas Morning News archives, I found this pithy letter to the editor he had written in the summer of 1961 (click for larger image; transcribed below).

tropic-of-cancer_prb_dmn_082461
Aug. 24, 1961

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It is refreshing that there is such a dearth of crime that the Dallas police department has to amuse itself by resorting to comstockery. The cops have been busy poking through the girlie mags at downtown newsstands, which is pleasant work. Now they have taken to harassing bookstores. If they get away with their ban of poor old Henry Miller’s tedious classic, it will only whet their appetite for more meddling.

I resent a group who seldom, if ever, has entered a bookstore or voluntarily read a book dictating what can or cannot be read. Literary criticism should be left to Lon Tinkle: he gives us freedom of choice. To have a bunch of policemen drooling over juicier passages and then whooping pietistic nonsense is frightening. Dallas is sophisticated and progressive?

Dick Bosse

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After I looked up the word “Comstockery,” I was spurred to find out what he was writing about.

Henry Miller’s “tedious classic,” Tropic of Cancer, was originally published in Paris in 1934. It was considered too vulgar to be published in the United States. In fact, it was considered “obscene” by the U.S. Customs Department, and its very presence in one’s suitcase after returning home from a holiday in France was illegal. The only booksellers in the U.S. that sold the book did so at the risk of being jailed. That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of piracy, bootlegging, and hush-hush selling of this much talked-about book going on, because there was — especially in New York.

In 1961, the book was finally published in the U.S. by Grove Press, and it was an immediate hit. (Grove priced it at an unbelievably steep $7.50, the equivalent today to about $60.00! The typical new hardcover fiction title in 1961 was around $3.95.) Unsurprisingly, the book was immediately banned in Boston, because Boston’s “thing” was banning stuff. But then … it was unexpectedly banned in Dallas, even though it was the #1 bestseller at the respected McMurray’s Bookshop downtown.

Dallas Police Department officials had decided the book violated a new Texas “anti-smut” law, and, on August 15th, policemen visited all the large bookstores in the city and informed them that if any copies of the book continued to be offered for sale, criminal charges would most likely be brought against the booksellers and the stores. (The state law called for fines up to $1,000 and one year in county jail for selling lewd and obscene material.) Dallas joined Boston as the only major American city banning the book. And then the whole thing became a cause célèbre — a “Dallas-Boston axis”!

tropic_long-beach-independent_081861The Long Beach (California) Independent, Aug. 18 1961

The move was roundly deplored by most of the Dallas public. The “Letters to the Editor” section of the historically very conservative Dallas Morning News contained many, many letters to the editor from outraged Dallasites, speaking out against the police department’s action. Sure, there were a few who were happy that objectionable material was being removed from Dallas bookstores, but they seemed to be in the minority. Even those who vehemently disliked the book were steadfastly opposed to its being banned, including the editors of The News.

As with many other non-issues like this that tend to cause near-obsession by the media, this story would not go away. The summer of ’61 was, for Dallas, the Summer of Smut. Best headline throughout all of this? One which appeared on a Morning News editorial: “COLD SMUT.”

Booksellers pulled the book, but, as the editorial says above, there were almost certainly sales continuing to interested clientele. Also, it should be noted that only Dallas was banning the book at this point (by 1962 other cities around the country had become embroiled in threatened legal action, resulting in books being pulled from shelves). You couldn’t buy the book in Dallas, but you could buy it in Fort Worth.

tropic-of-cancer_elston-brooks_FWST_082261
Elston Brooks, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 22, 1961

One assumes bookstores in Cowtown were cashing in on Tropic of Cancer sales — Barber’s Book Store must have been doing land-office mail order business.

tropic-of-cancer_FWST_110861_ad
FWST, Nov. 8, 1961

I thought this was a silly flare-up that lasted only a few weeks, but letters to the editor continued to show, at least through the winter of 1963, that it was still impossible to find the book in a Dallas bookstore. It probably wasn’t until 1964, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the book was not obscene, that Dallas booksellers were finally free to openly sell a book which was published in 1934. No one seemed to care much when the X-rated film version (starring Texan Rip Torn) played at the Granada in 1970.

movie_dmn_090970
Sept., 1970

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Sources & Notes

Cartoon by Herc Ficklen, from Aug. 30, 1961.

More on Tropic of Cancer at Wikipedia, here. This article contains my favorite line of any I read from the people who really, REALLY hated the book. It came from a Pennsylvania judge:

“[It is] not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity.”

Tons of articles on this appeared in The Dallas Morning News.in just ONE WEEK. Here are just a few (seriously, it’s the tip of the iceberg):

  • “Sales Banned: Police Label Book Obscene” by James Ewell (DMN, Aug. 16, 1961)
  • “Stores Stop Selling Book Called Obscene” by James Ewell (DMN, Aug. 17, 1961)
  • “Censorship of ‘Tropic’ Looses Opinion Barrage” by Scott Buchanan (Aug. 17, 1961)
  • “What Is Obscenity?” — editorial (DMN, Aug. 19, 1961)
  • “Book Fight Takes On Circus Air” (DMN, Aug. 19, 1961)
  • “Citizens Group Lauds Police Move On Book; Some Less Costly Smut Considered Main Problem” by Frank Hildebrand (Aug. 20, 1961)
  • “Cold Smut” — editorial (DMN, Aug. 20, 1961)
  • “Wade Orders Study On Smut Literature” by Carlos Conde (DMN, Aug. 21, 1961)
  • “Police Lectured On Book Action” by Jimmy Thornton (DMN, Aug. 22, 1961)
  • “Primer for Censors: A Few Basic Ideas”  by Lon Tinkle, Book Critic of The News (DMN, Sept. 3, 1961)

Every time I came across the word “smut” mentioned in connection with this topic — and it was mentioned a LOT — I couldn’t help but think of Vera Carp and the other Smut Snatchers of the New Order from Greater Tuna.

If it looks too dang small to read, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ramon Adams: Violinist, Candy Manufacturer, Old West Expert

adams-ramon_texas-week-mag_090746_portal-photo_bwRamon F. Adams, 1946

by Paula Bosse

I’ve spent a fair amount of my adult life cataloging Texana books and ending descriptions with the bibliographic citations “Adams, HERD” or “Adams, SIX-GUNS.”* “Adams” was Ramon F. Adams, a respected and prolific writer and bibliographer specializing in the Old West and cowboy life. If you collect books on Texas and The West — or on cowboys and the cattle industry — you have Ramon Adams’ books on your shelves. And he lived in Dallas.

Ramon Adams was born in Moscow, Texas in 1889, near Houston, but left there as a young man to study and teach music. He was a professional violinist who played not only an occasional symphony gig, but after his years of teaching, he made a steady living playing in movie theater orchestras, accompanying silent films. While playing in the orchestra at the Rialto in Fort Worth, he even wore white tie and tails. When the Rialto musicians went on strike in 1923, he and his wife, Allie, moved to Dallas, and he played in the orchestras up and down theater row until the fateful day when he was cranking a stalled Model T Ford in an attempt to start it and broke his wrist. It never healed properly, and his days as a professional violinist came to an abrupt end.

I never knew about his first career as a musician, and I never knew about his second career as a candy merchant! The Candy Years began when he and his wife bought a little candy store on Elm Street between the Melba and the Majestic, and it did such good business that, a few years later, he went into manufacturing and wholesaling candy. The Adams Candy Co. began its successful life in the 1930s, known for its widely available candies such as “Texas Pecandy” and for its “Burnt Offering” (“burnt almonds in chewy caramel and rich chocolate”), which was made specially for Neiman-Marcus.

pecandy_dmn_090940Sept., 1940

The runaway success of his candy business meant that when the Adamses sold the business in the mid-’50s (making, one assumes, a hefty profit) Ramon was able to devote his full attention to researching and writing about cowboy life and culture. He had been writing all along, in his spare time, but only in short bursts, usually at night, at the kitchen table. He had written several very long pieces for The Dallas Morning News in 1927 and 1928, but his first book, Cowboy Lingo, wasn’t published until 1936 — when he was 46 years old. And then the floodgates opened. When he died in 1976, his obituary noted that he had written 24 books — in addition to numerous articles for magazines and journals. He was the expert other experts consulted. And he lived in Dallas. And he made “Pecandy.”

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I love this 1936 caricature of Adams. (He looks an awful lot like Dr. Smith of Lost In Space here….)

adams-ramon_caricature_1936

A pleasant little article on Adams, no doubt written by one of his many  journalist friends, from 1946 (click for larger image):

adams-ramon_texas-week-mag_090746_portalTexas Week magazine, Sept. 7, 1946

And…

ad-adams-candy-co“Get a taste of Texas in your mouth!”

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Sources & Notes

The Handbook of Texas entry on Ramon F. Adams is here.

A more comprehensive Biographical Note is on the page devoted to the Ramon Adams Collection, Texas/Dallas History & Archives, Dallas Public Library, here.

More on Adams from the introduction to the book From the Pecos to the Powder, here (begins at last paragraph on linked page).

* “Adams, HERD” and “Adams, SIX-GUNS” is short-hand used by catalogers of books on Western Americana when noting that the book being cataloged is referenced in Ramon F. Adams’ book The Rampaging Herd: A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on Men and Events in the Cattle Industry (Norman: Univ. Oklahoma, 1959) or his book Six-Guns and Saddle Leather, A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on Western Outlaws and Gunmen (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma, 1954).

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Back When Bookstore Fixtures Were a Thing of Beauty! — 1940s

baptist-book-storeErvay & Pacific — “Book Corner” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In July of 1941 the Baptist Building opened at Ervay and Pacific. Part of the ground floor (“the Book Corner”) was occupied by the Baptist Book Store, which sold mostly religious material, but which also stocked dictionaries (“and other items of similar nature”) and children’s books (“We have books for every type and age of juvenile from the Picture Books of Children from three to five to the vigorous youth wanting stories of the romantic west”). The ad below appeared in a booklet put together to welcome newcomers to the city, about 1946:

baptist-book-store_ca1946(click for larger image of bookstore interior)
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Having grown up in a family-run bookstore (and having worked in various other bookstores for a large chunk of my life), I’m always fascinated by old photos of bookstore interiors, and this one is just great. (Click the image above to see the photo of the store much larger.) I’m particularly fascinated by the fixtures encircling the pillars — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the problem handled in such a sophisticated way. And is that recessed lighting shining down on the slatwalls? This is a really wonderful-looking bookstore. The only thing that looks out of place is what appears to be an old-fashioned chunky cash register, center left. Everything else in this photo makes the bookseller in me practically giddy with nostalgia.

baptist-book-store_dmn_092847-det

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Ad is from a publication called “So This is Dallas” published by “The Welcome Wagon.” It is undated but is probably from immediately after the war. This slim booklet was printed for several years in slightly different editions for people who were considering a move to Dallas or for people who had just moved here. These booklets are wonderful snapshots of the time, with everything the prospective Dallasite would need: facts, photos, and ads.

Bottom image is a detail from a 1947 ad.

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I am fascinated by photographs of vintage bookstore interiors — especially Dallas bookstore interiors, of which there are precious few to be found. I would love to see any photos of Dallas bookstores before, say, 1970. If you have any, please send them my way! My contact info is in the “About/Contact” tab at the top of the page. Thanks!

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mary Sloan’s Stylized Dallas Skyline

mary-sloan_jacket-art_front_1957-smArt by Mary Sloan, 1957 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Dust jacket artwork and design are often taken for granted, which makes no sense because the cover of a book does actually tend to drive book sales. Things have improved in recent years, but in the past, these artists were frequently not credited at all. Here’s an example, though, of jacket art that actually gives full credit to the artist, Mary Sloan. This fantastic stylized depiction of the Dallas skyline positively reeks (in a good way) of mid-century illustration. I don’t think I’ve seen this before, which is a bit of a surprise, because I was a bookseller for many years, specializing in Texana titles. I’m not sure how this one escaped me, but I’m pretty sure I’d remember this cover art.

Mary Sloan was born Mary Key in about 1925 and grew up in Denton. She studied art in Denton and Austin, working under noted Texas artists such as William Lester, Everett Spruce, and Charles Umlauf. She won numerous art competitions and is represented in several Texas museums. She settled with her husband and family in Corpus Christi where she taught art for many years at Del Mar College. In addition to painting and drawing, she was also a proficient mosaic artist and designed glass and stone mosaic murals. I don’t know if she did any other book jacket art — it would be a shame if this is all she did, because I think it’s really great.

mary-sloan_jacket-art_back_1957_smRear panel of dust jacket (click for larger image)

mary-sloan_ad_swhq_1957-det

mary-sloan_swhq_1957_ad-text

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Dust jacket for Big D is for Dallas by James Howard (Austin: self-published, 1957), a collection of biographical profiles of Dallas business luminaries.

Black-and-white image of the cover art and accompanying text are from an ad that appeared in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1957.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Society Ladies and Their Great Big Hats

shakespeare-club_c1895The Dallas Shakespeare Club (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Had The Graduate been set near the beginning of the twentieth century rather than the middle of it, that famous scene out by the pool (er…near the horse trough) might have gone something like this:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir?

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, sir, I am.

Mr. McGuire: …Millinery.

Benjamin: …Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in millinery. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Benjamin: Yes, I will.

Mr. McGuire: Enough said. That’s a deal.

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Photograph of the Dallas Shakespeare Club is from the Dallas Historical Society; it appears in the book Women and the Creation of Urban Life in Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920 by Elizabeth York Enstam (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1998). Enstam’s caption of this photograph identifies two women in the front row, on the right as Sallie Griffis Meyer (1863-1932), future president of the Dallas Art Association, and May Dickson Exall (1859-1936), president of the Dallas Shakespeare Club from 1886 until her death. Ms. Enstam has labeled this photo as “about 1895” — this appears to be incorrect. Other sources cite a year of a photo that sounds like this one, as being from 1911, taken on the steps of the Dallas Country Club. I think that this probably IS 1911, and it appears to have been taken on the steps of the first Dallas Golf and Country Club in Oak Lawn, a few months before the club moved into its current location in Highland Park. I’m going to make a wild guess and say that this photo might have been taken on April 27, 1911 when the club met at the Oak Lawn club to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare (their meeting had been delayed to take place on the day following Shakespeare’s birthday). Below is a photo of the old country club, from The Dallas Morning News (Feb. 20, 1912), printed when it was announced the old club’s very valuable land would be sold.

dcc_oak-lawn_dmn_022012(click for larger image)

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Dialogue (all but one word) from the film version of The Graduate, screenplay by Buck Henry, based on the novel by Charles Webb. “Millinery adaptation” by Paula Bosse, based on the screenplay by Buck Henry which was based on the novel by Charles Webb.

Click photos for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Cokesbury Book Store — 1959

cokesbury_dallas_1959

“For a summer of pleasure, grab a good book.”

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Ladies’ Reading Circle: An Influential Women’s Club Organized by Black Teachers in 1892

ladies-reading-circle_negro-leg-brewer_1935The Ladies (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When one thinks of “ladies’ clubs” of the past, one probably tends to think of groups of largely well-to-do women in fashionable dresses, gloves, and smart hats who gathered for quaint meetings in one another’s homes to discuss vaguely literary or cultural topics, sip tea, chit-chat, and gossip. Often they would plan projects and events which would aid pet community or charitable causes. There were clubs of varying degrees of serious-mindedness, but, for the most part, club meetings were mostly an excuse for women to socialize. 100 years ago, these women rarely worked outside the home, and these groups offered an important social and cultural outlet for well-educated women of means. White women. Women of color were not part of that particular club world. They had to create clubs for themselves. And they did.

In 1892, eight African-American teachers in Dallas organized their own club, the Ladies’ Reading Circle, and while it, too, was an important social outlet for the women, the focus of the group tended to be more serious, with reading lists comprised primarily of political, historical, and critical texts.

The members of the Ladies’ Reading Circle (a group that lasted at least until the 1950s) were, for the most part, middle-class black women who set an agenda for the club of education, self-improvement, and social responsibility. Like most women’s clubs of the time, each meeting of the LRC was held in a different member’s home and usually ended with a “dainty” luncheon and light musical fare, courtesy of the Victrola or player piano; but what set the LRC apart from most of the other women’s clubs of the day was the choice of reading material — from books on world history and international politics, to texts on current affairs and social criticism. (Several surprising examples appear below.)

Not only did the women gather weekly to discuss current and cultural affairs, they also worked to improve their community by tackling important social issues and by inspiring and encouraging young women (and men) who looked to them as civic leaders. Noted black historian J. Mason Brewer dedicated his 1935 book Negro Legislators of Texas to the women of the Ladies’ Reading Circle. The photograph above is from Brewer’s book, as is the following dedication:

lrc_negro-leg-brewer_1935-dedication

Included were the names of the members, several of whom had organized the club in 1892:

lrc_members_brewer

One of the LRC’s concerns was establishing a home which, like the white community’s YWCA, offered housing and career training for young women. The charming frame house the club bought for this purpose in 1938 (and which is described in the Jan. 10, 1952 News article “Ladies Reading Circle Seeks $7,500 for Expanding Home”) still stands at 2616 Hibernia in the State-Thomas area

lrc-home_2616-hibernia_google2616 Hibernia (Google Street view, 2014)

But the group was organized primarily as a “reading circle,” and the minutes of three randomly chosen meetings show the sort of topics they were interested in exploring. The following three articles are from the post-WWI-era, and all appeared in The Dallas Express, a newspaper for the city’s black community.

lrc_dallas-express_040320April 3, 1920

lrc_dallas-express_041020April 10, 1920

lrc_dallas-express_102023October 20, 1923

My favorite juxtaposition of content on the pages of The Dallas Express was the article below which reported on a white politician’s promise that he would fight to keep “illiterate Negro women” from voting — just a column or two away was one of those eye-popping summaries of the latest meeting of the Ladies’ Reading Circle. My guess is that the black educators who comprised the Ladies’ Reading Circle were probably far more knowledgeable about world events than he was.

negro-womans-suffrage_dallas-express_052220May 22, 1920

In reading the limited amount of information I could find on the LRC, I repeatedly came across the name of one of the earliest members, Callie Hicks (she is in the 1935 photo at the top, seated, second from the right). She was a dedicated teacher as well as a respected civic leader who worked for several causes and was an executive of the Dallas branch of the NAACP. A Dallas News article about Miss Hicks appeared in Feb., 1950 when she was named “Woman of the Year” by one of the largest African American women’s organizations in Dallas County (“Honor Caps 40 Years of Helpful Teaching,” DMN, Feb. 10, 1950). Miss Hicks died in May, 1965.

callie-hicks_dmn-021950-photo1950

It’s a shame that the Ladies’ Reading Circle is not better known in Dallas today. I have to admit that I had never heard of the group until I stumbled across that 1935 club photo. Their tireless work to improve the intellectual lives of themselves and others no doubt influenced the generations that followed.

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Sources & Notes

Top photograph, dedication, and member list, from Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants; A History of the Negro in Texas Politics from Reconstruction to Disenfranchisement by J. Mason Brewer (Dallas: Mathis Publishing Co., 1935).

Minutes from the Ladies’ Reading Circle meetings all printed in The Dallas Express.

Relevant material on the LRC and other historic African-American women’s clubs can be read in Women and the Creation of Urban Life, Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920 by Elizabeth York Enstam (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1998), here.

The Handbook of Texas entry for one of the founding members of the Ladies’ Reading Circle, Julia Caldwell Frazier, can be found here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

My Father, Dick Bosse — Dallas Bookman

PRB_nancy-sketch_sm

by Paula Bosse

Dick Bosse was my father. When he died in 2000, he had managed (and later owned) The Aldredge Book Store for almost 45 years. He started working for founder Sawnie R. Aldredge, Jr. fresh off a half-hearted attempt at grad school. I’m sure he had no idea when he started working there (at $1.00 an hour) just how important a role the store would play in his life. My parents met at the store when my mother began working there, and they married a couple of years later. My brother and I spent countless hours there and practically grew up in the store. The Aldredge Book Store was a second home to my family, and looking back on all the time I spent there, all the books I read when I was bored, all the literati of the city I met who eventually popped in and sat around talking with my father over a cup of coffee or a beer, all the store cats I loved who became minor celebrities themselves — when I look back on all that, I realize how lucky my brother and I were to have had such interesting parents who brought us up in such an interesting place.

My father had a reputation as a stellar bookman but was known as much for his wit and humor as he was for his deep and wide-ranging knowledge of books, both rare and “chicken-fried.” He was one of the state’s top Texana experts, and his mailing list contained just about every major Texas author. The Aldredge Book Store was one of the oldest antiquarian bookstores in the Southwest, but my father was a remarkably unstuffy, unassuming, and down-to-earth bookseller.

I’ve been working off-and-on at collecting pithy catalog blurbs my father wrote over the years. The bulk of his sale catalogs were straight listings of antiquarian and out-of-print books, but he became fairly well-known in the Texas book trade for descriptions like these which he would insert throughout for his own amusement. I’ve left out the full bibliographical descriptions, but here are a few of my favorites. I realize some of these are a little esoteric, but this has been a fun project, and it’s nice to remember how funny my father was (bad puns and all). (I only wish I had been able to catalog like this when I worked as a rare books cataloger for an auction house!)

Adams, Ramon F. THE RAMPAGING HERD. The shit-kickers’ John Ciardi.

Brown, John Henry. LIFE & TIMES OF HENRY SMITH, The First American Governor of Texas. A rather nice copy, not one of the bugshit-encrusted remainders.

BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION FOR 1891. A Texas piscatorial incunable.

Carter, Jimmy. KEEPING THE FAITH. Signed by the author, a former president.

Clary, Annie Vaughan. THE PIONEER LIFE. In HERD, but curiously not in SIXGUNS despite feuds, Texas Rangers, and Daddy popping caps on some badasses.

Clay, John. MY LIFE ON THE RANGE. Nice copy of the consensus bovine biggie.

Cravens, John Park. WITH FINGERS CROSSED: The Truth As Told In Texas. Apparently humor.

Devlin, John C. & Grace Naismith. THE WORLD OF ROGER TORY PETERSON, An Authorized Biography. Peterson, a student of blue bird mores, was known to Brandeis ornithologists as the goy of Jay sex.

Dobie, J. Frank. AS THE MOVING FINGER WRIT. Inscribed to “Mr. Moore,” in which 60-word inscription Dobie alludes (a frequent trick to prove he was not your run-of-the-mill shit-kicker) to Maugham and Schiller.

Eickemeyer, Rudolf. LETTERS FROM THE SOUTH WEST. Puny yankee sopping up the sun in El Paso & Santa Fe.

ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA. The twelfth edition (the eleventh edition with the supplements). Best encyclopedia in English executed prior to the American greaseballization.

Faulk, John Henry. FEAR ON TRIAL. HUAC to Hee-Haw.

Fuermann, George. RELUCTANT EMPIRE. Fine copy in dust jacket, signed by author and illustrator and marred only by one of those hideous goddam lick-in bookplates.

Gent, Peter. TEXAS CELEBRITY TURKEY TROT. Too much Peter; not enough Gent.

Hardin, John Wesley. THE LIFE OF JOHN WESLEY HARDIN. Mischievous preacher’s kid.

Hargrove, Lottie H. TEXAS HISTORY IN RHYME. Aarghh!

Hudson, Alfred Edward A’Courte. SELECTED BLOOD STUDIES ON SWINE. “Satisfying your antiquarian porcine hematological requisites since 1947.”

Koehler, Otto A. KU-WINDA (To Hunt). African safari by the Texas Beer Baron; well-illustrated, including some comely bare-breasted Somaliettes holding a “Join The Swing To Pearl” banner.

Long, Mary Cole Farrow. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, From Beaufort, South Carolina, To Galveston Island Republic of Texas — A Biography of Judge James Pope Cole (1814-1866). Probably unknown to Heinlein.

McDonald, William. DALLAS REDISCOVERED: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870-1925. The reissue was in wraps and had a “perfect binding,” one of the more notable oxymorons of our time.

Pellowe, William C. S. (ed.). MICHIGAN METHODIST POETS. Enthusiasts of The Muse will be relieved to know that Michigan sprinklers are as fully gifted as their Texas colleagues.

Riley, B. F. HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS OF TEXAS. Covers blemished, apparently sprinkled by a surly Methodist.

Rozelle, Robet V. (ed.). THE WENDY AND EMERY REVES COLLECTION. The greatest Dallas art coup since SMU acquired the wet-paint Spanish Masters collection of Al Meadows.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. A THOUSAND DAYS, John F. Kennedy in the White House. Most notable fawning since Bambi’s birth.

Slaughter, Bob. FOSSIL REMAINS OF MYTHICAL CREATURES. Profusely illustrated with photos and drawings by the author, apostate bar-fly now a distinguished scientist and sculptor. A grab-ass classic.

White, Owen P. MY TEXAS ‘TIS OF THEE. A nice enough copy except that a cretin at something called “Mary’s Book Nook” was a compulsive rubber-stamper.

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Above, my father, on the right, at the first location of the Aldredge Book Store on McKinney Avenue. The accompanying article by Luise Putcamp, Jr. is here.

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Above is one of my favorite photos of my father, taken in a small used bookstore I had on Lower Greenville Avenue. A newspaper editor thought it would be “cute” to have a photo of father-daughter booksellers. The photographer suggested I hold the newer, cutting-edge art book while my father held the older, obscure British arts journal. Of course, my father would have been more interested in the Allen Jones book, and I would have been more interested in The Yellow Book (a set of which my father gave to me for Christmas one year — and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received).

Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday. 80! I think of him all the time, and I miss him terribly. He was a wonderful guy, and — aside from the modest income — I think he would have said that a lifetime career as a bookseller was a pretty sweet deal.

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Sources & Notes

When my father died in April, 2000, several appreciations of him appeared in print. If you would like to read the appreciations by his friends A. C. Greene (a very sweet tribute) and Lee Milazzo (my personal favorite — very funny), as well as the nice official obituary, they are all transcribed here.

My brother, Erik Bosse, wrote a wonderful piece about our father for a catalog we issued after his death. The warm and amusing essay — as well as some of the crazy business cards my father took great joy in printing up — can be found here.

Sketch at the top was done by Nancy C. Dewell (1969). Slightly larger than a business card, it arrived in the mail one day with a short note that read: “I don’t know your name. I think you are Mr. Aldredge. I would be pleased if you would accept my drawing of you in the bookshop. Sincerely, Nancy C. Dewell.” I can’t imagine a better likeness. I really, really love this.

Photo of me and my father from the Dallas Observer.

Click pictures and article for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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