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.)
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.