Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Celebs

“Dallas In the French Parliament” — 1876-77

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by Paula Bosse

Today is Bastille Day — seems right to post something about the “French Colonists” of La Réunion. One of the leaders of the French and Swiss immigrants who settled briefly — and ultimately unsuccessfully — on the western banks of the Trinity in the mid-1850s was François Jean Cantegral, “President” of the colony and one of the Directors of the Franco-American Company. Cantegral arrived in Texas about 1855 with hopes of establishing a successful utopian community, but the land, the climate, and the lack of experienced farmers in the group led to its fairly quick demise. Some of the European colonists settled permanently in the young town of Dallas, some scattered to other parts of the United States, and several — including Monsieur Cantegral — returned to their homelands.

Cantegral returned to Paris where, according to an 1876 article in the Dallas Herald, in a mission to participate in the reform and political liberation of France, he served three terms as an “alderman of Paris” and was elected to the French Chamber of Deputies, serving in the French Parliament. In 1877, Cantegral — who apparently had warm feelings toward Dallas and its citizens — sent to the city an early edition of a newly issued map of Paris. On its presentation before the mayor and the city council, it was noted that, in following in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen LaSalle and Lafayette, the members of the French Colony at Réunion “joined hands in efforts to plant the seed of French civilization, French chivalry and French hospitality, alongside and in conjunction with their American brethren in the wilds of Texas” (quoted in The Dallas Daily Herald, March 21, 1877 — see full article below).

It was noted that while living in the colony, Cantegral’s son, Simon Charles Cantegral, was born on March 2, 1856 — Texas Independence Day. He seemed quite proud of that. The map was presented in the names of Cantegral père and Cantegral fils. I wonder if that Paris map given to the City of Dallas in March, 1877 is still somewhere in the city archives?

Merci, François. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, from those of us back here in the wilds of Texas!

(Click articles to see larger images.)

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Dallas Herald, May 5, 1876

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Dallas Herald, March 21, 1877

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Top image from The Dallas Morning News, April 26, 1903.

The two articles are from the Texas Digital Newspaper collection of the University of North Texas, via their Portal to Texas History. The collection contains thousands of issues of the Dallas Herald (not to be confused with the 20th-century Dallas Times Herald); it’s hard to stop reading them because they are so unbelievably fascinating — set aside a few hours and browse the Herald collection (1855-1887) here.

Yes, Cantegral Street was named after Mssr. Cantegral. The May 5, 1876 article above makes mention of the street:

Three years ago a beautiful street in Dallas, that running east of Floyd street Church and west of the Baptist College, was named in his honor and will remain a perpetual memorial of him in this town.

More on the La Reunion colony can be found in other Flashback Dallas posts here.

Click articles to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Meet Me in Dallas, On June the 23rd…”

jeannie-c-riley_flickrJeannie C. Riley

by Paula Bosse

Until last week, I don’t think I’d ever heard the 1969 song “The Back Side of Dallas,” sung by Jeannie C. Riley, who had had the blockbuster hit “Harper Valley PTA” the previous year. How have I never heard this? I was going to post it last week until I realized that it would be better to wait until today, because of this line from the song: “Meet me in Dallas on June the 23rd, his letter read.” And here we are, June 23rd.

The song, written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice was released in October, 1969. It wasn’t the huge, crossover, multi-award-winning monster hit that “Harper Valley PTA” was, but it did earn Jeannie another Grammy nomination (she lost to Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” — if you’re going to lose, that’s a pretty great performance to lose to!).

Like “Harper Valley PTA,” it was one of several songs of the era which brought country music into the somewhat seedy realm of 1960s American culture. “The Back Side of Dallas” is about a small-town girl who finds herself a lonesome “working girl” in Dallas, chain-smoking king-size cigarettes, drinking in dingy bars, and popping pills. This ain’t no Kitty Wells song, y’all. (I’d love to hear Miranda Lambert — who also has an incredible country voice — cover this.)

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Jeannie C. Riley — born in Anson, Texas in 1945 — was one of the first certifiable sex symbols in country music, always gorgeous, outfitted in miniskirts and go-go boots, with sky-high hair teased to a fare-thee-well. AND she had an absolutely fantastic voice. Below is video of a 24-year-old Jeannie C. Riley singing “Back Side of Dallas” on Del Reeves’ Country Carnival in 1969 (Del Reeves had some great songs in the ’60s, but his TV persona was a little too Dean Martin-wannabe for my taste … and … oh dear … that set!):

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I prefer the studio version, below. I’ve listened to this song dozens of times now, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet!

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And here’s Jeannie singing it in 2011, still sounding great! (Her thick Texas accent is the absolute best, and her laugh is fantastic.) She talks about the song a bit at the beginning with Jerry Foster, one of the writers of the song — the song itself starts at about the 3:10 mark.

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And, to round out this “June the 23rd” post, a few photos of Jeannie C. — surely one of the most photogenic faces and bad-ass vocalists in the history of country music. As my father used to say, “hot damn.”

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Most, if not all, photos of JCR from Pinterest.

Record label image found here.

A biography of Jeannie C. Riley is here.

“Harper Valley PTA” — you know you want to hear it. This is a great live version she did on, I think, the Wilburn Brothers Show, with Harold Morrison on dobro.

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Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 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.

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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.

Country Music — Every Saturday Night on Channel 11

country-music_saturday-night_channel-11_ktvt_1969The warm-up for wrestling…

by Paula Bosse

I have a surprisingly deep knowledge of classic country music. And it can all be traced back to sitting with my father every Saturday night as he watched the jam-packed lineup of country music TV shows on KTVT-Channel 11.

Followed by wrestling.

Which I also have a surprisingly deep knowledge of. If only by osmosis.

Thank you, Channel 11, for providing this bonding time with my father, which I didn’t really appreciate as a child, but I do now.

(And, yes, I’m happy that my antiquarian bookseller father and Comparative Literature-degree-holding mother often took our family to the Sportatorium to see both country music package shows and wrestling matches. You can’t say our family wasn’t well-rounded.)

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1969 ad from an odd little local publication (which probably used to belong to my father) called Country and Western — The Sound That Goes Around the World, published in DFW by PegAnn Production.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Neiman-Marcus Corporate Flag, Designed by Emilio Pucci — 1966

neiman-marcus-corporate-flag_emilio-pucci_1966_dallas-public-library“Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross…”

by Paula Bosse

While looking through the Neiman Marcus Collection at the downtown Dallas Public Library, I stumbled across this perhaps long-forgotten part of Neiman-Marcus history: the “corporate flag” designed by Italian fashion legend Emilio Pucci. The image was featured on a Neiman’s postcard; the text on the back of the card reads:

Flying high over the fashion land of Neiman-Marcus: our new corporate flag, the Lone-Star-and-Stripes. Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross.

Betsy Ross and Emilio Pucci mentioned in the same breath! An 18th-century American seamstress who became a patriotic icon, and an Italian fashion designer whose vividly colorful, boldly patterned designs came to symbolize the youth and energy of the 1960s… talk about your strange bedfellows!

The only thing I could find about this unusually colorful flag was a brief mention in a Dallas Morning News fashion article about Neiman’s 28th Neiman-Marcus Exposition Award in early February of 1966. Gay Simpson wrote in The News that the luncheon centerpieces “carried the colors of the new Neiman-Marcus house flag. The flag, designed by Emilio Pucci, Italian couturier, has the colors of a Texas sunset dramatized with the Lone Star and stripes” (DMN, Feb. 9, 1966).

Stanley Marcus wrote in his 1974 memoir Minding the Store that his business relationship with Pucci (“the most copied designer of our time, aside from Chanel”) began in Italy in 1948 when Marcus met with the struggling young designer and placed an order for several of his scarves. Though Neiman-Marcus had not yet expanded beyond their single department store in Dallas, the store’s reputation and influence were certainly known in fashionable circles around the world, and this N-M “stamp of approval” must have been immensely important to Pucci, whose name was not yet known. This friendship and business relationship blossomed into a mutually beneficial and very profitable partnership, and it seems perfectly reasonable that Pucci would design a flag for his friend and early supporter, Stanley Marcus. (Read more of Marcus’ thoughts on Pucci here.)

There you have it. Who knew?

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As a postscript, any Dallas blog worth its salt cannot let a mention of Emilio Pucci go by without noting his main connection to the city: Pucci will forever be remembered as the man who brought outrageously colorful and super groovy mod designs to the stewardess uniforms of Dallas-based Braniff International Airways (designs so retinally exciting that they make that little Neiman’s flag look a little dowdy in comparison!).

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The image of the corporate flag is from a Neiman’s postcard, which can be found in the extensive (!) Neiman Marcus Collection of the Dallas Public Library (the back of the card can be seen here); it is used with permission. Thanks to the incredibly helpful staff of the Dallas History & Archives division of the downtown Dallas Public Library. (Much thanks, particularly, to Digital Archivist Misty Maberry!)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell, Tiny Tim — In Dallas (…Separately), 1969

jimi_wfaa_hamon_smu-1The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Love Field, 4/20/69 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

My Tiny Tim post from a few days ago has been surprisingly popular — who knew Tiny Tim was still so admired! I tracked down the original source of one of the clips I’d used — which I had stumbled across on YouTube — and found that the clip comes from a longer video of footage from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, housed at the Hamon Arts Library at SMU. Jeremy Spracklen — the Moving Image Curator — compiled the short video (see below) and posted it a couple of months ago on the Hamon Library blog. The Tiny Tim footage is great, but there’s also Glen Campbell (in a very short discussion on the importance of Tommy Smothers to his career), and… oh my god, footage of Jimi Hendrix, standing on the tarmac of Love Field with bandmates Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding on April 20, 1969, giving a great, relaxed interview to a very lucky Channel 8 reporter.

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Jimi Hendrix appeared at least 4 times in Dallas:

  • Feb. 16, 1968: Fair Park Music Hall
  • Aug. 3, 1968: Moody Coliseum, SMU
  • April 20, 1969: Memorial Auditorium (where he was headed after the Ch. 8 interview)
  • June 5, 1970: Memorial Auditorium

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Dallas Morning News, Jan.. 21, 1968

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DMN, Feb. 25, 1968 (click to see larger image)

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DMN, July 28, 1968

Two surprising errors (grammatical and factual) appear in a Neiman-Marcus tie-in ad (of sorts) which states that Jimi would be at Memorial Auditorium, rather than Moody Coliseum. Despite the error, it’s cool that Neiman’s was expanding its cultural horizons to include someone like Jimi Hendrix in one of its ads (which was featuring teen fashions, but still). N-M has always had its finger on the pulse of current fashions — and Jimi Hendrix was certainly fashionable.

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DMN, July 31, 1968 (ad detail)

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DMN, April 20, 1969

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Jimi & Noel Redding, WFAA-Ch. 8, April 20, 1969 (screenshots)

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June 5, 1970 — poster via

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Glen Campbell was in town for several days in June, 1969. He arrived at Love Field on June 15 and was met by a “high-spirited throng” of teenage admirers. He was here to promote the release of the movie True Grit (in which he appeared with John Wayne), as well as to perform at Memorial Auditorium on June 19, 1969.

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DMN, June 17, 1969 (click to see larger image)

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DMN, June 19, 1969

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WFAA-Ch. 8 interview, June 16, 1969 (screenshot)

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And Tiny Tim was in Dallas on June 17, 1969 to appear at a book-signing at the downtown Sanger-Harris department store.

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DMN, June 17, 1969

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WFAA-Ch. 8 interview (screenshot)

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Video is from the WFAA Newsfilm  Collection, held at the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. (I have captured the color images from that video.) The video appeared in a post on the Hamon Library blog (its homepage is here); that post can be found here. Any requests to license these clips (or any of the other thousands at SMU!) should be directed to curator Jeremy Spracklen.

All photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Tiny Tim Mobbed at the Melody Shop — 1969

tiny-tim_northpark_012469_photoDallas teens loved Tiny Tim! (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Tiny Tim — one of the most … unusual performers of the 1960s — was a hit with teenagers when he made his first appearance in Dallas at the Melody Shop in NorthPark mall on January 23, 1969. What had been expected to be a nice little autograph party turned into something altogether unexpected.

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Dallas Morning News, Jan. 23, 1969

Tiny Tim (…”Tiny”? “Tim”? “Mr. Tim?”…) had the unlikeliest of hits during the hippie-era: “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a lilting little ukulele-accompanied song which had originally been a hit in 1929. Tiny Tim’s first few appearances on U.S. television must have caused a lot of heads to be scratched and/or jaws to be dropped. He was just kind of … weird. But gentle, and he seemed to be a genuinely nice fellow who just happened to have a penchant for songs from the megaphone-era of popular music. If you’ve never seen Tiny Tim — or if you just haven’t seen this performance in a long time — this clip from the Tonight show (1968?) is … well … it’s great.

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So anyway, Tiny was booked to do a little autograph party at the Melody Shop in NorthPark mall. I’m not sure what sort of crowd they thought they’d get, but it’s safe to say they did not expect 5,000 teenagers. The news report the next day was peppered with words like “pandemonium,” “swarm,” “mob scene,” and “human wall.” Who knew a 36-year-old man who strummed a ukulele and sang songs from the Victrola-age in a nasal falsetto would whip up that much enthusiasm amongst Texas teenagers? (Click article below to see a larger image.)

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DMN, Jan. 24, 1969

Below, an interview with “the sweet-voiced boy wonder” conducted at the Hilton Inn that evening is very entertaining. (I’m not sure who “YouthBeat Editor” Marge Pettyjohn was, but the articles of hers that I’ve read are really good.)

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DMN, Jan. 25, 1969

Tiny was back in Dallas a few months later, this time to do a book-signing at Sanger-Harris. (Yes! He wrote a book!)

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DMN, June 17, 1969

No riot was reported this visit, but he did give a little interview and impromptu performance to Channel 8 while he was in town (and am I the only person who sees shades of Jeffrey Tambor here?):

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Also in 1969, he took time out to pose with KLIF on-air talent Paxton Mills, Dave Ambrose, Deano Day, Hal Martin, Sande Stevens (not sure if she worked for KLIF), and Jim Taber, seen below.

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And, why not, here’s an early publicity photo of Herbert Khaury, the man who would one day become famous as the singer Bing Crosby once described as having (I paraphrase) a vibrato big enough to throw a Labrador through.

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Top photo accompanied the Dallas Morning News article “5,000 Kids Mob Tiny Tim” (Jan. 24, 1969).

The Chanel 8 video has been clipped from a longer video which also features Glen Campbell and Jimi Hendrix (!) — the footage is from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection held by the Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University, and it was originally posted here; the three color photos of Tiny Tim are screenshots I captured from the video.

KLIF promotional material found on eBay several months ago. The back of the card lists the KLIF’s top 40 of the week, here.

Glamour shot found on the internet.

Tiny Tim Wikipedia entry is here.

One would be remiss in not mentioning Tiny Tim’s other ties to Dallas, namely his association with Bucks Burnett’s Edstock and Burnett’s tiny Tiny Tim museum from the 1990s. I’d link to articles in the Dallas Observer, but every time I go to the DO site my computer freezes. I encourage you to seek out these articles yourself.

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Albert Einstein “Threw the Switch” in New Jersey to Open the Pan-American Exposition in Dallas — 1937

pan-american-expo_einstein_061237Einstein at the switch, June 12, 1937…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Who knew? Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous physicist, helped open the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition. The exposition was held at Fair Park for 20 weeks, from June 12, 1937 to October 31, 1937, as a follow-up of sorts to the Texas Centennial (the city had built all those new buildings — might as well get their money’s worth!). I’m not quite sure how Einstein got roped into this, but looking at the photo above, he seemed pretty happy about what was, basically, a long-distance ribbon-cutting. Via telegraph.

The plan was for Professor Einstein to officially open the Pan-American Exposition by “throwing the switch” which would turn on massive displays of lights around Fair Park. He would do this from Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived, by closing a telegraph circuit which would put the whole thing in motion. Newspaper reports varied on where exactly Herr Einstein was tapping his telegraph key — it was either the study in his home, in his office, in a Princeton University administration building, or in the Princeton offices of Western Union (the latter of which was mentioned in only one report I found, but it seems most likely).

Einstein was a bona fide celebrity, and this was national news — newspapers around the country ran stories about it, and the ceremony was carried live on coast-to-coast radio. Almost every report suggested that Einstein’s pressing of the key in New Jersey would be the trigger that lit up the park in Texas, 1,500 miles away — which was partly correct. According to The Dallas Morning News:

Lights on the grounds will be turned on officially at 8:40 p.m. when Dr. Albert Einstein, exponent of the theory of relativity, presses a key in his Princeton home to fire an army field gun. With the detonation of the shell, switches will be thrown to release the flood of colored lights throughout the grounds. (DMN, June 10, 1937)

So he pressed a telegraph key somewhere in Princeton, NJ, an alert was instantly wired to Dallas, an army field gun (in some reports a “cannon”) was fired, and that blast was the cue for electricians positioned around the park to throw switches to illuminate the spectacular colored lights displays.

The Western Union-tie-in gimmick was a success. Newspaper reports might have been a little purple in their descriptions, but from all accounts, those lights going on all at once were pretty spectacular.

Dr. Albert Einstein, celebrated scientist, threw a switch that flashed a million lights over the 187-acre exposition park. The flash came at 8:40 o’clock and instantly the huge park became a city of a million wonders. Flags from a thousand staffs proclaimed their nationality [and] bands played the national airs of the nations of the Western Hemisphere as lusty cheers roared with thunderous approval. The Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition was formally opened. It is on its way. (Abilene (TX) Reporter News, June 13, 1937)

The Dallas News describes the crowd as stunned into silence:

The waiting participants in the ceremonies at Dallas heard the results [of Einstein’s telegraph signal] when a cannon boomed. Electricians at switches around the grounds swung the blades into their niches and the flood of light awoke the colors of the rainbow to dance over the 187-acre park. Its breath taken by the spectacle, the crowd stood silent for a moment, and then broke into a cheer. (Dallas Morning News, June 13, 1937)

Many of the lighting designs and displays had been used the previous year during the Centennial, but, as with much of the attractions and appointments throughout the park, they were improved and spectacularized for the Pan-American Expo. And people loved what they saw.

Despite the multi-million dollar structures, air conditioning demos, works of art and other newfangled additions to the space, when people left the Centennial Exposition one thing was on everyone’s tongues, according to historical pollsters: the lights.

Positioned behind the Hall of State were 24 searchlights scaffolding into a crowned fan shape. “They all moved and were different colors,” says [Jim] Parsons [co-author of the book Fair Park Deco]. “It sounds gaudy, but people loved it.” The lights, he goes on to tell, were visible up to 20 miles away.

Considering most of the people who were visiting the fairgrounds were coming from rural farming communities with no electricity, the inspiring nature of those far-reaching beams makes a lot of sense. (Dallas Observer, Nov. 7, 2012)

Thanks for doing your part for Dallas history, Prof. Einstein!

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Below, photos from the Texas Centennial, 1936. The lights could be seen from miles away — the lights over White Rock Lake show what they looked like from a distance.

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(All pictures and clippings are larger when clicked.)

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Denison Press, June 9, 1937

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Waxahachie Daily Light, June 11, 1937

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Denison Press, June 14, 1937

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Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune, June 23, 1937

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Vernon Daily Record, June 24, 1937

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DMN, June 12, 1937

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Top photo from the old Corbis site.

Black-and-white photos from the Centennial are from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Sources of other images and clippings cited, if known.

More on the Pan-American Exposition from Wikipedia, here, and from the fantastic Watermelon Kid site of all-things-Fair-Park, here.

Click pictures and clippings for larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

November 22, 1963: Will Fritz and the JFK Investigation

jfk_dpd_post-assassination_ebayThe men of the Homicide & Robbery Bureau at work (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

After the unthinkable had happened on the streets of Dallas — the assassination of a U.S. president — the Homicide and Robbery Bureau of the Dallas Police Department, led by Will Fritz, Captain of Detectives, sprang into action and quickly apprehended Lee Harvey Oswald as a suspect in the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and the whole of the Dallas Police Department worked together, but Fritz was the face of the investigation.

Will Fritz (1895-1984) was born in Dublin, Texas and grew up in New Mexico. He joined the Dallas Police Department in 1921 and remained on the force for 49 years, retiring in 1970 at the age of 74. He was considered one of the top police interrogators in the state and was a dedicated lawman — so dedicated he lived just steps away from police headquarters in the White Plaza Hotel (originally the Hilton Hotel, now the Indigo).

The success rate of Fritz’s detectives was impressive:

The record of Fritz and the Police Department’s Homicide and Robbery Bureau — which he has led since its formation — is a nationally enviable one. Over the past quarter century, he and his aides have solved roughly 98 per cent of the 54 to 98 homicides committed each year. (Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959)

Fritz served for almost half a century with the DPD, involved in all sorts of colorful cases, but he’ll always be most remembered for the events surrounding the JFK assassination. The photo above shows his detectives at work in the Homicide office in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination; the photo below shows him exiting the Texas School Book Depository with DPD detective Elmer Boyd (carrying rifle).

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Below, a few clippings (click to see larger images).

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Above photo and clippings from the Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 24, 1963

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Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959

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Top photo showing a Dallas police officer standing outside the Homicide and Robbery Bureau is from a 2015 eBay listing. The reverse of the photo is stamped “Paris Match/Marie Claire.”

Photo showing Fritz walking down the steps of the Texas School Book Depository, taken on November 22, 1963 by Dallas Times Herald staff photographer William Allen. It is from the Sixth Floor Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection, which is hosted online by the University of North Texas Libraries, via the Portal to Texas History, here (with additional information here).

More about Capt. Will Fritz from the Handbook of Texas History, here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can be found here.

Click on photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Holy Blues: Blind Willie Johnson and Arizona Dranes — 1920s

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by Paula Bosse

Today a little Sunday-go-to-meetin’ music, courtesy of two powerful singers who recorded at about the same time — late 1920s — and who both spent time in Dallas. Blind Willie Johnson was from Marlin, Texas, but he recorded much of his music in Dallas and regularly played street corners in Deep Ellum. Arizona Dranes, also a native Texan, lived in Dallas for several years and was, like Johnson, blind. Listening to both of them, you can hear their influence in the gospel and blues music that came after them. Read about the short life and career of Blind Willie Johnson here. Read about the life and career of Arizona Dranes from Michael Corcoran, here and here. And listen to their music below. It’s fantastic. (All of the tracks by Johnson were recorded in Dallas.)

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Blind Willie Johnson, 1927-ish?

That guitar!

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Here he is with his wife singing behind him.

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Johnson’s song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was included on the Voyager Gold Record, a collection of music chosen to represent Earth’s culture and diversity, carried into space aboard the Voyager.

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arizona-dranes_1953_corcoran
Arizona Dranes in 1953

That voice!

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The song below starts off deceptively “plinky” but picks up considerably when Arizona starts to sing.

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Want to know more about Arizona Dranes? Michael Corcoran can tell you what you need to know.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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