Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Literary Dallas

Eula Wolcott’s Baker Hotel Book Shop & Rental Library, 1926-1942

baker-hotel-book-shop_1934Eula Wolcott: bookseller, librarian (Publishers Weekly, 1934)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, Dick Bosse, owner of the Aldredge Book Store. I always try to post something bookstore-related on his birthday. This year: Miss Eula Wolcott’s Baker Hotel Book Shop & Rental Library, located inside the Baker Hotel.

Eula Wolcott (1881-1962) was born in Waxahachie and had moved to Dallas by 1910. She appears to have had theatrical ambitions and studied voice and expression (she was billed as an “Experienced Concert Reader and Story Teller”). She opened a little book store and library in the early 1920s — the Booklovers Shop and Library was first on West Jefferson and later on Swiss Avenue. In 1926, she opened a similar shop inside the glamorous Baker Hotel, an enterprise she ran successfully until at least 1942 when another owner took over (she also apparently had a book shop inside the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells). In 1931 she opened the rather confusingly-named “Baker Hotel Book Shop and Rental Library” in Highland Park — in the new “Spanish Village” (the original name for Highland Park Village). Below is a very enthusiastic profile from Publishers Weekly (click to see a larger image).

baker-hotel-book-shop_publishers-weekly_032434_eula-wolcott_textPublishers Weekly, March 24, 1934

I wish the photo at the top had been better, because I’d love to get a good look at the decor. And Eula. I managed to find a photo of her.

wolcott-eula_ancestryEula Wolcott, via Ancestry.com

Here are a few ads:


baker-hotel_book-shop_DMN_oct-24-1926Two shops, one owner — 1926




She was active as a bookseller for many years and was also a familiar voice to radio listeners who tuned in to hear her book reviews on WFAA. 

One interesting piece of trivia about Eula’s hotel bookshop, shared with me by a former bookstore client of mine: the Baker Hotel Book Shop was the very first American bookstore that British author H. G. Wells ever visited. A lecture tour brought him to Dallas in 1940 — like many of the celebs of the day, he stayed at the Baker. I’m sure Eula was very happy to have Mr. Wells, a literary powerhouse, in her shop. Let’s hope he exhibited proper bookstore etiquette and purchased something!

baker-hotel_mural-room_dallas-directory_1942Baker Hotel, circa 1940


Sources & Notes

Top photo and article from the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, March 24, 1934.

Read more Flashback Dallas articles on the Dallas bookstore scene here.



Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas History, New Books — 2021


by Paula Bosse

There are a few more gift-buying days left until Christmas. Here a few ideas of recently published books about Dallas that might be of interest. These are not paid links — not even a review copy has been received (which I am not averse to, by the way…). I’d prefer if you headed over to your friendly neighborhood independent bookseller, but, yeah, I’m mostly linking to Am*z*n.


Above, Metro Music: Celebrating a Century of the Trinity River Groove by Gene Fowler and William Williams (TCU Press — oversized paperback). This is an exhaustive look at Dallas music, with over 500 photos (!). This is great. Again, over 500 photos! Be still my heart. More info here.



Deadly Dallas: A History of Unfortunate Incidents & Grisly Fatalities by Rusty Williams (History Press — paperback). Among the “unfortunate incidents” Rusty has written about, one is a story I’ve been meaning to write about for YEARS — I may never get to it, so I’m glad someone’s written about it. And doesn’t everyone need a book with the words “grisly fatalities” in the title? They do. More info is here



A Girl Named Carrie: The Visionary Who Created Neiman Marcus and Set the Standard for Fashion by Jerrie Marcus Smith (UNT Press — hardcover). A biography of Carrie Marcus Neiman by her great niece. You can’t get much more “Dallas” than Neiman Marcus — the history of Neiman’s is the history of Dallas, and vice-versa. I’m not completely sure this is out yet, but go ahead and mosey over here to find more info. EDIT: Signed copies are available from the Barry Whistler Gallery in the Design District — their contact info is here



The Family Roe: An American Story by Joshua Prager (W. W. Norton & Co. — hardcover). The definitive book on Roe v. Wade, the case that began in Dallas, with lots on Dallas and lots on Texas. Sadly, this subject is newsworthy again. More info here.



Preston Hollow: A Brief History by Jack Walker Drake (History Press — hardcover and paperback). If you’re interested in Preston Hollow — especially in its houses — you probably need this book, which is packed with photos. The author is, I think, 16. I don’t know what you were doing when you were 16, but you probably weren’t writing a book and doing book-signings! Congrats, Jack! More info here



The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City by Jim Schutze (La Reunion Publishing — hardcover). Long out of print, this important book on the sad and sordid history of racism in Big D has been reprinted by the fine folks at Deep Vellum Books in Deep Ellum. I will not link anywhere but to their own site, here.



Stomp and Shout: The All-Too-Real Story of Kenny and the Kasuals and the Garage Band Revolution of the Sixties by Kenny Daniels and Richard Parker (Oomph Media — Revised Edition — paperback). And, lastly, a book that isn’t new, but I became aware of it only fairly recently. Along with classic country music, my favorite type of music is 1960s garage rock, and this is a great look at the North Texas garage scene of the 1960s, written by someone who was there — the recently departed Kenny Daniel of the legendary Dallas band Kenny & The Kasuals. More info is here


Hie thee to a bookstore!




Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Book Scene — 1940s

cokesbury_legaciesBrowsing at Cokesbury’s

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, and as a little tribute to his profession, I usually try to post something bookstore-related on his birthday.

A few weeks ago historian Rusty Williams (check out his books) sent me a great article from 1947 by publisher and bon vivant Bennett Cerf who wrote giddily about the Dallas book scene (and about Dallas in general). It’s a little over-the-top, enthusiasm-wise (Cerf was a master publicist and promoter), but he writes with genuine affection about notable bookstores and book people, including Cokesbury and its legendary manager Bliss Albright, McMurray’s Book Store and its legendary owner Elizabeth Ann McMurray, and big-time book collectors Everette Lee DeGolyer and Stanley Marcus. The article was published in the April 26, 1947 issue of Saturday Review, and it can be read here.

Cokesbury was described as being the largest bookstore in the world at one time. After a sizable expansion, it covered six floors and had 18,000 square feet of room for books. The building, designed by Mark Lemmon, was at 1910 Main Street, at St. Paul, with entrances on both Main and Commerce. (And those rounded bookcases are cool.)




cokesbury_bliss-albright_1953_detManager J. F. “Bliss” Albright, 1953

The other bookstore mentioned in the article is McMurray’s, a bookstore which is generally written about with impassioned reverence and awe — it may well be Dallas’ most highly regarded bookstore ever. Wish I could have seen it. Where Cokesbury was a massively large bookstore carrying a wide variety of new books, McMurray’s was definitely more of a “curated” small shop, which, from what I gather, served almost as much of a place for literary elites to gather for informal salons as it did as a retail bookstore. If you were a writer of any heft visiting Dallas, you made the pilgrimage to Commerce Street to check out McMurray’s.

mcmurray-elizabeth-ann_1951Owner Elizabeth Ann McMurray, 1951

mcmurrays_dobie_et-al_1949Texas literary titans J. Frank Dobie & Tom Lea (in hats), McMurray’s, 1949


Read about the history of both Cokesbury and McMurray’s (and other Dallas bookstores) (except, oddly, the Aldredge Book Store, the store my father was associated with for decades!) in the article “The Personal Touch: Bookselling in Dallas, 1920-1955” by David Farmer, which appeared in the Fall 1993 issue of Legacies. There are some great photos.

Another informative article (with even more great photos!) is “Cokesbury Book Store: The Premiere Book Store in the Southwest” by Jane Lenz Elder, which appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Legacies.


Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the Jane Lenz Elder Legacies article.

The Cokesbury postcards were found randomly on the internet.

The photos are from David Farmer’s book Stanley Marcus: A Life with Books (TCU Press).

Thanks again to Rusty Williams for sharing the Bennett Cerf article. Rusty’s newest book, Deadly Dallas: A History of Unfortunate Incidents and Grisly Fatalities, will be published in June, 2021.

More on Dallas bookstores can be found in a bunch of Flashback Dallas posts here.



Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Bookstores — 1974

abs_cedar springs_1974Aldredge Book Store, 2506 Cedar Springs

by Paula Bosse

Today is my father’s birthday. Dick Bosse. I always try to post something bookstore-related on May 22 in his honor.

In the early 1970s, the Aldredge Book Store moved from its original location in an old house on McKinney Avenue (2800 McKinney) to a strip of shops on Cedar Springs (2506 Cedar Springs at Fairmount). Later (early ’80s?) it moved to its final location at 2909 Maple Avenue. My father worked there his entire adult life, starting as a bookseller during his SMU days and ending up as the owner of the store which he ran until his death in 2000.

When the store was on Cedar Springs, he was the manager. It was a weird, long, thin store with lots of rooms opening off a hallway painted bright yellow (my retinas!). The most impressive room was the one at the back, where all the expensive books were. A huge window looked out onto a hidden, sunken courtyard. The photo at the top shows one of the walls of bookcases. The photo below shows my father in 1974 in a staged pose looking uncharacteristically serious in that same room — straight ahead of him was the very pretty courtyard (I wonder if it’s still there?).


I spent so much time there that I can still remember where everything was. This was back when that used to be a cool, funky neighborhood. The Quadrangle was nearby, but I always got lost in what felt like a torturous maze of shops. I preferred the Sample House, where I spent as much time as I could. (That store — in a creaky old — house was one of my favorite childhood haunts. Again, I remember where absolutely everything was.)

I stumbled across an ad from 1946 with a photo of the Cedar Springs building in it — at the time it was being “completely reconditioned and restyled” — I’m surprised to learn that that building is so old (see it today on Google Street View here). (I’m not sure what’s going on with that address in the ad, but this building is definitely in the 2500 block of Cedar Springs.)

ABS_aldredge_cedar-springs-fairmount_033146March, 1946


The reason I know the picture of my father is from 1974 is because it appeared in a Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine article about Dallas bookstores, published in December, 1974 — the lengthy article was titled “Books, Bookstores, Book Lovers” by Colleen O’Connor, with photos by Jack Caspary. It profiled several of the city’s major booksellers of the day, including Henry Taylor of Preston Books (soon to become Taylor Books/Taylor’s), Ken Gjemre of Half-Price Books (which was then an empire of only four stores), Pat Miers of The Bookseller, Bill Gilliland of Doubleday (late of McMurray’s), and Larry Snyder of Cokesbury. When the article came out, Dallas was “fifth in the country for per capita [book] sales.” So many bookstores!

The author misidentified Sawnie Aldredge, the original owner of the Aldredge Book Store, as “Sonny” and somehow managed to pull some quotes from my father which make him sound like a pretentious snob (which he definitely was NOT), but it’s a great look at a time when Dallas had tons of bookstores — even though my father might not have been overly impressed with some of them when he said, “Unfortunately, the majority of bookstores today are ‘schlock shops’ that sell Snoopy dolls and Rod McKuen” (now that sounds like him!).

I’ve scanned the entire article which you can read here.



Sources & Notes

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


Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Aldredge Book Store — 2909 Maple Avenue

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).


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


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.


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.)

Texas Week magazine, Aug. 24, 1946


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


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

degolyer-house_arboretumPhoto: Dallas Arboretum


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.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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


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).

Aug. 24, 1961


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


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.

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.

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.

Sept., 1970


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!


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.”


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


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


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


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).


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)

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.



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.


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!


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)




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.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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