Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Non-Celebs

The Henry Russells Take Possession of Their Rolls Royce Silver Wraith — 1948

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The car, the couple, the driver … Preston Hollow, 1948

by Paula Bosse

People seem to expect stories about painfully wealthy Texans to have larger-than-life outrageous elements. The April 5, 1948 issue of Life magazine devoted several pages to the Southwest’s “New Crop of Super Rich.” The photo showing Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell at their Preston Hollow home appeared with the following caption:

New Rolls-Royce (price $19,500) was bought by Colonel Henry Russell of Dallas as a birthday present for his wife. She liked it because “it goes with my blue hat.” The Russells claim they are just “camping out” in their house, plan to turn it over to the servants and build a bigger one for themselves as soon as they get around to it.

One can only hope this was just gross exaggeration. Or a misinterpreted joke. Or just amusing fiction. Because if not … yikes. 

russell_rolls-royce_1948

Henry and Alla Russell had not been in Dallas very long when they took possession of their fabulous Rolls Royce — a Silver Wraith. When production of this model was announced in 1946, it was described as “the world’s most expensive automobile.” The Russell’s purchase made local news, with this blurb appearing in The Dallas Morning News on Feb. 12, 1948:

Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell, 4606 Park Lane, have taken delivery on their new Rolls-Royce. Known as the Silver Wraith model, the silver and blue car features a bar, vanity and other luxuries. The price? $19,274. Dealers S. H. Lynch & Co. said the car was the first Rolls-Royce sold in the Southwest.

That postwar price would be the equivalent in today’s money of about $200,000. In a 1956 Dallas Morning News article, Frank X. Tolbert wrote that Col. Russell “is still driving his ’48 model, and it’s the only one we ever see around town although there may be one or two more” (DMN, “Rolls-Royce Hard To Find in State,” Nov. 15, 1956).

There had been Rolls Royces in Dallas before 1948, but according to S. H. Lynch — the Dallas dealer of imported British vehicles including Jaguars, Bentleys, MGs, Morris Minors, and James motorcycles (as well as other high-ticket British items such as English china) — he had sold only five or six of the prestigious automobiles while he had the dealership, and that only that first one bought by the Russells had stayed in Dallas.

rolls-royce_s-h-lynch_020148
S. H. Lynch & Co. ad, Feb. 1, 1948 (click for larger image)

rolls-royce_s-h-lynch_030748
March, 1948

In 1948, S. H. Lynch (located at 2106 Pacific, at Olive) was one of only three Rolls dealerships in the county, the others being in New York and Los Angeles. In postwar Britain, American dollars were in such demand that a Rolls spokesman said that at least 75% of his company’s production was earmarked for the U.S. — American orders would take priority over their U.K. counterparts.

s-h-lynch_postcard

Even though a Roller’s always going to wow the hoi polloi, it wasn’t always easy to find a trained mechanic, as Roy Lee discovered:

rolls-royce_abilene-reporter-news_072046
Abilene, TX Reporter News, July 20, 1946

We all have our bad days, I suppose.

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Sources & Notes

The two photos of the Russells are from the Life magazine article “Southwest Has a New Crop of Super Rich” (the top photo was not published).

Col. Russell, an Army veteran of both world wars, appears to have been retired by the time he got to Dallas. The only clue to the source of what must have been fabulous wealth was the final line in the obituary of Mrs. Russell, which noted that he was the son (or possibly the grandson) of the founder of the Russwin Lock Co. Mrs. Russell died in a massive fire which destroyed the large Park Lane house in January, 1976; the colonel died about 15 years earlier, in New York.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Elm & Akard, Photographer J. C. Deane, and The Crash at Crush

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUYessirree! Elm & Akard, 1936/1937… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of the best collections of historical Dallas photos — and certainly one of the easiest to access online — can be found in SMU’s DeGolyer Library. I can’t say enough good things about the astounding quality of their vast collection or the willingness to make large scans of their photos available online, free to share, without watermarks (higher resolution images are available for a fee, for publication, etc.). I love you, DeGolyer Library (and all the people and entities behind your impressive digitization process)!

When going through recently uploaded photos, I came across three showing the same intersection in three different decades: the southeast corner of Elm and Akard streets (now the 1500 block). The building appears to be the same in each of the photos, and that is interesting in itself — but I was excited to find a connection in one of them to one of my favorite weird Texas historical events.

And that is the photo below. It’s a cool photo — there’s some sort of parade underway, but it’s weird to say I didn’t even really notice that right away — there’s so much else to look at. This is Elm street looking toward the east (or, I guess, the southeast). The photographer is just west of Akard Street. At the bottom left of the photo is the United States Coffee & Tea Co. (which I wrote about here); in the background at the right is the Praetorian Building on Main; and just left of center is the Wilson Building addition under construction (which dates this photo to 1911). But the building that interested me the most is the one at the bottom right, the one at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard. I noticed “Deane’s Photo Studio” on the exterior of the upper part of the building. I recognized the name, having seen it on various Dallas portraits over the years, but now I realize there were two photographers named Deane in Dallas in the first half of the 20th century: Granville M. Deane (who had a longer career here) and his brother, Jervis C. Deane — J. C. Deane was the photographer who occupied the upper-floor studio at 334 Elm (later 1502 Elm) between 1906 and 1911. His studio was above T. J. Britton’s drugstore.

elm-east-from-akard_deane-photography_ca1912_degolyer_SMUElm Street, looking east from Akard, 1911  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

J. C. Deane (born in Virginia in 1860) worked as an award-winning photographer around Texas, based for much of his career in Waco. He was in Dallas only a decade or so, leaving around 1911, after a divorce, noting in ads that he had to sell his business as he was “sick in sanitarium.” After leaving Dallas he bounced around Texas, working as a studio photographer in cities such as Waco and San Antonio. I have been unable to find any information on his death.

The reason that J. C. Deane holds a place in the annals of weird Texas history? He was one of the photographers commissioned to photograph the supremely bizarre publicity stunt now known as The Crash at Crush, wherein a crowd upwards of 30,000 people gathered in the middle of nowhere, near the tiny town of West, Texas, in September, 1896, to watch the planned head-on collision of two locomotives (read more about this here). Long story short: things did not go as planned, and several people were injured (a couple were killed) when locomotive shrapnel shot into the crowd — one of those badly injured was J. C. Deane who was on a special platform with other photographers. For the sake of the squeamish, I will refrain from the details, but Deane lost his right eye and was apparently known affectionately thereafter as “One Eye Deane.” (For those of you not squeamish, I invite you to read all the gory details, related by Deane’s wife, in an interview with The Dallas Morning News which appeared on October 1, 1896, here.) The photos below are generally credited to Deane, back when he was just good ol’ happy-go-lucky “Two-Eye Jervis.” (All these photos are larger when clicked.)

deane_crash-at-crush_1_austin-american-statesman_091662Before…

deane_crash-at-crush_2_austin-american-statesman_091662During…

deane_crash-at-crush_3_austin-american-statesman_091662And after…

I’ve been fascinated by the Crash at Crush ever since I heard about it several years ago, and now I know there’s a Dallas connection — and there’s even a photo of the building where he worked.

Back to Elm Street.

The photo at the top…. Here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up:

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUSoutheast corner of Elm & Akard, 1937/1937  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

What the heck kind of craziness is this?! I mean I LOVE it, but… it’s very… unusual. I would absolutely never have guessed that this building had been in downtown Dallas. And it appears to be the same building seen in the 1911 photo, just with a very fashion-forward new face. Those little hexagonal windows! Along with that fabulous B & G Hosiery sign, there was a nice little bit of art deco oddness sitting there at the corner of Elm and Akard. The Kirby Building, seen at the far right, seems like a creaky older statesman compared to this overly enthusiastic teenager. The businesses seen here — Ellan’s hat shop, B & G Hosiery, and Berwald’s — were at this corner together only in 1936 and 1937. I could find nothing about this very modern facelift — if anyone knows who the architect is behind this, please let me know! (See a postcard which features a tiny bit of this fabulous building here — if the colors are correct, the building was green and white.)

In November, 1941, Elm Street’s Theater Row welcomed a new occupant, the Telenews theater, which showed only newsreels and short documentaries. By that time the A. Harris Co. had purchased the building at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard and expanded into its upper floors. Telenews opened at the end of 1941 and Linen Palace was gone from this Elm Street location by 1943, dating this photo to 1941 or 1942.

theater-row_by-george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUElm Street, 1941/1942  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

All of these are such great photos. Thanks for making them available to us, SMU!

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Sources & Notes

The three Dallas photos are from the George A. McAfee collection of photographs at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University — some of the photos in this large and wonderful collection were taken by McAfee, some were merely photos he had personally collected. The top photo (taken by McAfee) is listed on the SMU database with the title “[Looking Southeast, Corner of Elm and Akard, Kirby Building at Right]” — more info on this photo is here. The second photo, “[Looking East on Elm West of Akard / Praetorian Building (Main at Stone) Upper Right Center]” is not attributed to a specific photographer; this photo is listed twice in the SMU database, here and here. The third photo, “[Looking East on Elm from Akard on “Theatre Row” (Including on North Side on Elm from Left to Right — Telenews, Capitol, Rialto, Palace, Tower, Melba and Majestic],” appears to have been taken by McAfee, and it, too, appears twice in the online digital database, here and here.

The three photos from the “Crash at Crush” event are attributed to Jervis C. Deane, and were taken on September 15, 1896 along the MKT railroad line between West and Waco; the images seen above appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 16, 1962. More on the Crash at Crush from Wikipedia, here — there is a photo there of the historical marker and, sadly, Jervis Deane’s name is misspelled. Sorry, Jervis!

Read the Dallas Morning News story of the train collision aftermath in the exciting article lumberingly titled “CRUSH COLLISION: The Force of the Blow and Damage Done. Boilers Exploded with Terrific Force, Scattering Fragments of the Wreckage Over a Large Area. The Showers of Missiles Fell on the Photographer’s Platform Almost as Thick as Hail – Description of the Scene,” here.

The southeast corner of Elm and Akard is currently home to a 7-Eleven topped by an exceedingly unattractive parking garage — see the corner on Google Street View here.

There is a handy Flashback Dallas post which has TONS of photos of Akard Street, several of which have this building in it: check out the post “Akard Street Looking South, 1887-2015,” here.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Aldredge Book Store — 1968

ABS_charlie-drum_dick-bosse_andy-hanson_degolyer-library_SMUCharlie Drum and Dick Bosse… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today my father, Dick Bosse, would have been 84 years old. A very nice person at the DeGolyer Library at SMU (who knew my father) sent me this photo a couple of days ago. It’s from the DeGolyer’s Andy Hanson collection (Hanson was a long-time photographer for the Dallas Times Herald). Taken in the original location of The Aldredge Book Store at 2800 McKinney Avenue, the photo shows bookseller Charles Sartor Drum at the left, and my father — the then-manager of the store — at the right. My father looks really young here! Dig that cool shirt — worn with a paisley belt buckle and western-cut slacks. Hey, man, it was 1968.

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Sources & Notes

Photo is from the Collection of Photographs by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. (Thank you, friendly DeGolyerite — I now have a 50-year-old photograph of my father I’d never seen before!)

I’ve written several posts about The Aldredge Book Store, the store my father worked at fresh out of college and after eventually owned. The ABS-related Flashback Dallas posts can be found here.

More on the career of photographer Andy Hanson can be found here and here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Jefferson Dagnal’s Saloon, Deep Ellum — 1906

fritts-and-dagnal_brent-burton
“Fritts & Dagnal,” Deep Ellum saloon… (photo: Brent Burton)

by Paula Bosse

Reader Brent Burton commented on one of my tweets on Twitter to say that he had an old photo showing his great-great-grandfather standing in a saloon he had owned in Dallas around the turn-of-the-century and wanted to know how he might access old Dallas directories in order to try to determine where the bar had been. I told him that online scans of city directories are available for free from the Dallas Public Library and the Portal to Texas History (more on this is in my post How to Access Historical Dallas City Directories Online”). I also offered to see what I could find out.

The photo is the one above (click it to see a larger image). All he knew was that it was taken in a bar owned by his great-great-grandfather Jefferson Davis Dagnall (whose last name is most often spelled “Dagnal” in various documents such as census records, directories, and his death certificate, so I will refer to him with this spelling) and that the photo was taken in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I figured it would be pretty easy to find the info because his name was so uncommon, but that was complicated by the fact that his name was spelled and misspelled many different ways — I think I came across five or six permutations. It took a long time to figure out where that photo was most likely taken — mainly by going through census records and looking at all the city directories — year by year — to pin down where he was working each year. And he got around — he lived at a new address almost every year, and changed jobs almost as frequently.

Jefferson Davis Dagnal was born in 1861, probably in Fort Bend, Texas. His father, a South Carolina native, appears to have died fighting in the Civil War; Jeff (…I call him Jeff…) was 3 years old when his father died. By 1880 he was a teenager, working on a Dallas-area farm. In 1883, Jeff was working as a blacksmith. According to city directories, he held the following jobs: store clerk, laborer, streetcar driver, house-mover, electrician, and bartender.

1905 was the year he seems to have settled into bartending, a job he held in various establishments in Deep Ellum for a decade, until his death in 1915. He appears to have owned (or co-owned) only one of these bars: Fritts & Dagnal. It seems the venture with partner E. G. Fritts was short-lived: its only listing is in the 1906 directory — by 1907 Jeff had moved on, tending bar elsewhere.

1906-directory_dagnal_saloon_fritts-and-dagnal_673-elm

The saloon was listed in the 1906 city directory as being at 673 Elm — that address was changed in 1911 and became 2603 ½ Elm. This was in Deep Ellum, at the northeast corner of Elm and Good (possibly on the second floor). Below is a 1905 Sanborn map showing the location (the full map is here).

673-elm_fritts-and-dagnal_sanborn_sheet-42_1905_det
1905 Sanborn map, detail

The lot that building stood on at Elm and what is now Good-Latimer is empty, but a current-ish look at the location, from Google Street View, can be seen here (I am attempting to post a view from 2015, before all the construction work was going on near the Elm and Good-Latimer intersection — but just move up or down Elm a bit on Google and you’ll see construction images take over).

Below, a couple of ads from around the time Jeff Dagnal and E. G. Fritts decided to start up their short-lived saloon at 673 Elm: the first ad shows that it was not unusual in 1905 for large livestock to be kept in Deep Ellum (where they might even have been “rustled”), and the second ad shows that both the upstairs and downstairs spaces of the building at 673 Elm were available to rent:

1905_673-elm_strayed_dmn_051305Dallas Morning News, May 13, 1905

1906_673-elm_for-rent_dmn_050606DMN, May 6, 1906

(According to the Inflation Calculator, those 1906 rents of $20 and $40 would be about $550 and $1,100 in today’s money.)

Jefferson Davis Dagnal died in Dallas on Feb. 25, 1915. His death certificate — with information provided by his daughter, Cora — listed his occupation as “blacksmith,” even though he had been a bartender (and, briefly, a saloon owner) for at least the last ten years of his life.

1915_dagnal_death_dmn_022615
DMN, Feb. 26, 1915

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One interesting thing about Mr. Dagnal, was his relationship with his wife Alice, the mother of his second child, Clarence, who was born in 1893. Alice and Jeff appear to have hit a rough patch in their marriage pretty early on. In the 1900 census, they were living in different cities, and each claimed to be widowed. I don’t know if they ever officially divorced (or even if they officially married), but I suppose it was easier in that era to claim a spouse had died rather than admit the shame of divorce or abandonment. By 1903 both were living in Dallas — at the same address. But by 1904 they were living apart, and Alice was, again, claiming to be a widow — even though an alive-and-kicking Jeff was listed in the directory right under her name!

1904-directory_dagnal_alice-and-jeff1904 Dallas directory

I have come across this phenomenon so frequently that I now question every “widow” or “widowed” claim I come across. Information from the U. S. Census (where people give false ages and incorrect marital status ALL THE TIME) should be taken with a grain of salt!

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Sources & Notes

Photo of Jefferson Dagnal’s saloon was shared with me by Dagnal’s great-great-grandson, Brent Burton and is used here with his permission. Jeff is probably in the photo — in 1906 he would have been 45 years old. Thank you for the great photo, Brent!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Eccentric Medford Compound On the Old Eagle Ford Road: 1945-1950

medford_trinity-cafe_west-dallas_FB_dallas-historyYou need it, he’s got it… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, 409-413 Singleton Blvd. in West Dallas, not long after the name of the street had been changed from Eagle Ford Road. The name-change happened in 1942 because of “unfavorable incidents in the past which had been associated with Eagle Ford Road” (The Dallas Morning News, April 26, 1942) — “Singleton” was Vernon Singleton, a former Oak Cliff County Commissioner. Today, this area is part of the super-hipstery Trinity Groves neighborhood; the block seen in the photo is now mostly occupied by a parking lot and looks like this.

Back then, “Eagle Ford Road” would have conjured up all sorts of unsavory images of bad behavior and illegal activities, and, even now, one tends to think immediately of the area’s most notorious exports: Bonnie and Clyde. Immediately after World War II, the population of West Dallas (an area which would not become part of the City of Dallas until its annexation in December, 1952) was about 12,000, and its residents were generally poor and living in substandard housing with inadequate water and drainage and little in the way of sanitary facilities.

The “complex” above — which consisted of, basically, the Trinity Cafe, a grocery/drug/dry-goods store, and a residence — was perhaps a bit more colorful than most of the businesses that lined Eagle Road/Singleton Blvd. in post-war West Dallas. The property was owned by Richard Elbert Medford (1864-1950), who, as one of the signs says, was also known as “The Rev. R. E. Medford, Preacher” (although I’m not sure if he was an actual ordained minister or just a self-styled preacher). In 1944 or 1945 — after several years of selling mattresses — Medford took over the collection of rickety buildings seen in the photo above, and began to sell a wide-ranging collection of unrelated stuff and painted a lot of signs. He remained in business there until his death in 1950 at the age of 86 (the cause of death was “senile exhaustion” which I gather means “died of old age”).

The signage in the photo is … well … it’s fantastic. It’s verging on Outsider Art. Medford offered everything, including (but not limited to):

  • Real estate
  • Beer
  • Notary Public services (deeds, mortgages, birth certificates…)
  • Keys
  • Appliance repair
  • Lawn mowers
  • Oil
  • Fish bait (minnows, crawfish, worms, and “flys”)

He also offered religious advice (“Repent & Be Babtised By Emmersion For Your Sins You Will Be Saved”).

Mr. Medford’s personal life was not a happy one, and perhaps the unrelenting family dramas caused him to become more and more eccentric as the years went by. Many of his children found themselves caught up in the crime and violence West Dallas had become known for.

  • One teenage son was shot and wounded during an attempted robbery in 1930, two months before one of his daughters married at the age of 13.
  • Another son, who was 11 years old, was killed when he attempted to intervene in a fight between his sister and her husband and was fatally kicked in the abdomen by his brother-in-law.
  • Another son was a habitual criminal who committed an eye-popping range of crimes and was in and out of city, county, state, and federal correctional facilities throughout his life. (This son, Homer, was also married for a short time to the ex-wife of Clyde Barrow’s brother L. C. Barrow, but that marriage hit the skids when she shot Homer, sending him to the hospital with critical —  but not fatal — wounds.)
  • And in 1951, after Rev. Medford’s death, the son who had been shot in 1930 while attempting to break into a store in Irving, shot and killed his wife and young son before killing himself.

So, yeah, Rev. Medford’s life was a rough one, and there were definitely some dark days in hardscrabble West Dallas. I’d like to think his store, plastered with its kooky signs, offered him some respite from the incessant melodramas percolating all around him.

medford_trinity-cafe_west-dallas_1940sSingleton Blvd., late 1940s, not yet part of Dallas

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The location of the Medford house/cafe/store, seen on a 1952 Mapsco (click for larger image).

medford_1952-mapsco1952 Mapsco

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Sources & Notes

I came across the photo years ago on the Dallas History Facebook group. There was no source, but there appears to be a copy of this photograph in the Jim Doster Collection at the Dallas Pubic Library titled “Meford [sic] Trinity Cafe on Singleton Blvd.,” incorrectly dated as 1930 (call number PA97-7/147). I’m sure a higher resolution image of this would offer up quite a few amusing details and discoveries.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Ray Hubbard Estate, Lakewood

ad-evervess_mrs-ray-hubbard_1948_detA country estate in the heart of Lakewood, 1948… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Lakewood has a lot of beautiful homes — large and small — but the (very large) Raymond E. Hubbard estate at the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Brendenwood Drive is quite the show-stopper. Built in 1934, the two-and-a-half-acre property is about a mile from White Rock Lake and was known for years for its spectacular landscaping and gardens, much of which was the personal handiwork of owner Ray Hubbard (1893-1970). Hubbard amassed his wealth as an independent oilman during the boom years, but he was known in his later life for his lengthy tenure as president of the Dallas Park Board.

From a 1938 Dallas Morning News article:

Mr. Hubbard is that phenomenon known as a natural tiller of the soil. In the short space of two years he has taken a barren hill and transformed it into a blaze of beauty in the form of a rock garden he designed himself. In the symphony of color, he has even had the subtlety to plant a few onions because there is a blue-green cast to the leaves of the onion that is found in no other plant. Carnations, pansies and pinks mingle in profusion as well as a thousand other oddities you have never seen the likes of  before. (“Edens in Preview,” DMN, April 10, 1938)

In 1948, his wife, Janet Hubbard, was seen in an ad for Evervess Sparkling Water, with photos of both Mrs. Hubbard and a view of the impressive “backyard” of their Lakewood home. (Click ad to see larger image.)

ad-evervess_mrs-ray-hubbard_1948Saturday Evening Post, 1948

I came across this ad a few years ago but had no idea where the house was located or who Ray Hubbard was, other than the probable namesake of the lake which bears his name (the Rockwall-Forney reservoir was named Lake Ray Hubbard in January, 1967, in honor of Hubbard’s devotion to civic affairs and his decades-long service to Dallas parks). I was surprised to learn that this was the somewhat mysterious and foreboding-looking house I’d passed years ago, looking run-down and deserted, surrounded by overgrown shrubs and bushes. The 2012 Google Street View looked like this:

hubbard-house_google-street-view_oct-2012Google Street View, Oct. 2017

Back then the overgrown approach to the house looked like this, and was probably something of a thorn in the side of the Lakewood Boulevard residents.

Since Google Street View was so out-of-date, I decided to drive by the house today to see what it looked like in 2018. It’s beautiful!

hubbard-house_lakewood-blvd_031519_PBphoto: Paula Bosse

The reason for the transformation? The property was bought and restored by Hunter Hunt (grandson of one-time richest man in the world — and White Rock Lake resident — H. L. Hunt) and his wife, Stephanie Hunt. And they did a wonderful job! If I had some, I’d raise a toast to the couple with an ice-cold glass of Evervess Sparkling Water!

ray-hubbard-estate_google-earth_2017
Google Earth, 2017

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hubbard_ray-e-hubbard_find-a-grave

Even though I now know who Ray Hubbard was, I’ll probably still find myself unintentionally (and, okay, sometimes intentionally) calling the lake named after him “Lake Ray Wylie Hubbard” (another former Dallas resident of note, but we’ll leave that for another time…).

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Sources & Notes

Ad found on eBay. This image is from an item offered several years ago, but as luck would have it, another seller has it for sale right now, here. Perhaps if you’re friends with Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, this would make a nice stocking stuffer. (This Evervess advertisement seems to have been part of a 1948 ad campaign featuring society women, their homes, and their favorite sparkling water: another ad, featuring Mrs. Homer Lange and her Chicago home, can be seen here.)

Photo of Ray E. Hubbard is from Find-a-Grave; read a biographical sketch about Mr. Hubbard’s life on the site, here. Not included in this information was that during Hubbard’s 27 years heading the Park Board (1943-1970), the Dallas park system expanded from 4,400 acres to more than 15,000 acres, and the number of parks increased from 54 to 150.

Read about Stephanie and Hunter Hunt and their Hunt Institute at SMU, here.

If anyone knows the original architect of the Hubbard house, please let me know!

For more on Lakewood Boulevard, I really enjoyed the 1992 Lakewood Advocate article “Lakewood Boulevard’s First Resident Looks Back On the Area’s Development; Mrs. Barnett’s Late Husband, Marshall, Built the First House on Lakewood Boulevard in the 1920s,” here.

See a 1932 view of the 7100 block of Lakewood Blvd. (with White Rock Lake at the end of the street), here; this photo was taken two years before the construction of the Hubbards’ house, which would  be built three blocks to the west (Dines and Kraft photo from the Flashback Dallas post “‘Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas,'” here).

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lighting Menorahs — 1954

hanukkah_texas-jewish-post-122354

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo of Gilla Silverman and her mother, Devora Halaban Silverman, wife of Rabbi Hillel Silverman, lighting menorahs during Hanukkah, 1954.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas Jewish Post, Dec. 23, 1954. The entire 52-page issue of this special “Chanukah Issue” has been scanned and may be viewed at UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here. (Click “zoom” to enlarge the pages, click arrows at right and left to move through the issue.)

Rabbi Hillel Silverman arrived in Dallas as the new rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in 1954 and was a popular and influential member of Dallas’ Jewish community for the decade or so he served here. He may be best known beyond Dallas as “Jack Ruby’s rabbi.”

Read about a 2009 return to the city by Rabbi Silverman in the Texas Jewish Post article by Dave Sorter, “A Golden Opportunity to Reunite” (Oct. 8, 2009), here.

The Texas Jewish Post article introducing Rabbi Silverman to its readership — “Dr. H. E. Silverman Appointed to Head Israel Pulpit” (July 8, 1954) — can found here.

An article focusing on the Ruby family and Dallas (Rabbi Silverman is interviewed) can be found in “Remembering JFK” by Steve North (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, via the Texas Jewish Post, Nov. 21, 2013), here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Sometimes I Run”: Dallas Noir — 1973

5-sometimes-I-run_stanley-maupin_hoseStanley Maupin at work…

by Paula Bosse

Several years ago, Robert Wilonsky wrote a Dallas Observer article about the short documentary “Sometimes I Run” — I watched it immediately afterward, and it’s stuck with me ever since. The 22-minute film, shot in 1973 by SMU film student Blaine Dunlap (who also made the fun 1970 Sunset High School film I wrote about earlier this year) shows Dallas Public Works Dept. street flusher Stanley Maupin at his job sweeping the downtown sidewalks late at night, accompanied by a soundtrack of jazz music and Maupin’s philosophical musings. It’s cool, gritty, seedy, nostalgic, and somehow life-affirming, all at the same time. Also, Dallas always looks best at night — the wet streets add a definite noir-ness to the overnight municipal goings-on which were happening when most Dallasites were home in bed. (See the bottom of this post for various sites on which you can watch the film in its entirety.)

It took the opening moments of this film to remind me that, yes, I DO remember (if vaguely) seeing that revolving beam of light shot from the “rocket” on top of the Republic Bank Building. You can see it at about :35. Also included in the film are Franklin’s, the Greyhound Bus station, the Capri movie theater, a late-night-diner, the Mayfair department store, the Municipal Building, Sanger-Harris, and much more. And while Maupin’s philosophical pronouncements might be a bit heavy-handed at times, I have to admit that I could listen to him talk for hours, if only to hear his accent, a Dallas-area trapping of the past that one doesn’t come across nearly often enough these days.

Here are a few screen captures.

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3-greyhound_stometimes-when-i-run

6-keep-dallas-clean_sometimes-when-i-run

7-diner_sometimes-when-i-run

8-diner-2_sometimes-when-i-run

9-mayfair_sometimes-when-i-run

10-city-hall_sometimes-when-i-run

11-repub-bank-bldg

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Sources & Notes

The 44-year-old award-winning student film, “Sometimes I Run,” directed by Blaine Dunlap, can be seen in its entirety in several places online: on Vimeo (good sound and video), on YouTube (via South Carolina Arts Commission), and at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (from the collection of the Dallas Municipal Archives). Sound by Ron Judkins, music by Ken Watson.

More on filmmaker Blaine Dunlap can be found in “Spotlight on Dallas Filmmakers: Blaine Dunlap” by Laura Treat, here.

I have tried to find some history on Stanley Maupin, but I didn’t come up with much. He lived in Irving as a boy, but as a teenager, he attended North Dallas High School and, later, McMurry College in Abilene.

maupin-stanley_NDHS_1953
North Dallas High School yearbook, 1953

maupin-stanley_mcmurry-college_1956_freshman_portalMcMurry College yearbook, 1956

Born in 1935, he appears to have died in 1985, perhaps in a shocking way (which I have been unable to verify) — see comments from his grandchildren in the YouTube video here.

Some background on the film can be found in an article by Don Clinchy, here.

Read a 1986 interview with Blaine Dunlap (by Bo Emerson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 24, 1986) here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Historic Neon: The Super-Cool Sigel’s Sign

sigels-neon-sign_greenville-ave_072717One of Dallas’ favorite neon signs… (photo: Paula Bosse)

by Paula Bosse

I stopped by Sigel’s liquor store the other day (as one does…) and saw this legendary Sigel’s sign, recently installed in its new home in the parking lot of the Sigel’s store on Greenville Avenue, between Lovers Lane and Southwestern Boulevard, across from the Old Town Shopping Center. I love this neon sign. (See a very large image of it here.)

The sign’s design can be traced back to Dallas artist Marvin M. Sigel (whose great-uncle Harry Sigel founded the business in 1905) — this Fabulous Fifties design was created around 1953 specifically for the then-new store at 5636 Lemmon Avenue (at Inwood). When that store closed in 2009, the sign was refurbished and moved up to the company’s Addison location until that store fell victim to the company’s bankruptcy and was closed. Here’s a video of the fabulous sign when it was in Addison, with close-ups of its flashing neon and dancing bubbles:


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Marvin Meyer Sigel was born in Poland in 1932 and settled in Dallas in 1937 with his immigrant parents, both of whom had been doctors in Poland (his mother a dentist, his father an M.D.), although only his father continued to practice medicine in the United States. He lived in the vibrant Jewish enclave of South Dallas and went to Forest Avenue High School where he seems to have been a popular kid, interested in art, drumming, and ROTC. Below, a photo from the 1949 yearbook with the caption “Marvin ‘Hot Drums’ Sigel plays with the Swing Band.”

sigel-marvin_forest-avenue-high-school_drums_1949

His Forest Avenue High School senior photo, from 1949:

sigel-marvin_forest-avenue-high-school_1949

And his 1953 senior photo from the University of Texas:

sigel-marvin_university-of-tx_1953_senior

After studying art at both SMU (under Ed Bearden and DeForrest Judd) and the University of Texas and receiving his B.F.A. from UT in 1953, Sigel served a stint in the Eighth Army in Korea. Back in Dallas, he was remarkably active in the local art community — for decades — as both a fine artist and as an art instructor. He also worked for a while at Peter Wolf Associates, in advertising (on projects for companies like Braniff), and he even did a lot of the tedious paste-up work for Sigel’s ads (back when every picture of a bottle of wine or spirits had to be cut out individually and pasted into one of those huge ads!). But his passion was art, and at the same time he had those regular-paycheck gigs, he also managed to maintain a furious pace of painting new pieces to exhibit at a dizzying number of art shows. Below is an example of one of his watercolors, from 1957 (which was recently offered at auction by David Dike Fine Art). The title? “Cocktail Abstraction” — appropriate subject matter for a member of the Sigel family!

sigel-marvin_cocktail-abstraction_1957_david-dike-fine-art_jan-2016
“Cocktail Abstraction” by Marvin Sigel (1957)

When the Sigel’s Liquor store No. 7 opened at Lemmon & Inwood, it was suggested by family members that, hey, we have an artist in the family, let’s get Marvin to design a sign for us. According to Marvin, his cousin Sidney Sigel, who ran the company, probably just wanted a “rectangular sign with block letters,” but other family members wanted something newer and more exciting — something modern that would jump out of a sea of boring rectangular signs with block letters and draw attention. And it certainly did just that. If, as reports have it, that dazzling neon sign was designed in 1953, Marvin Sigel was only 21 years old!

When news broke 56 years later, in 2009, that the Lemmon & Inwood store was closing, there was a concerned uproar from the public about what would happen to the sign. Mr. Sigel was a bit taken aback by how much the people of Dallas had grown to love that sign and considered it a city landmark. Marvin Sigel, then 77 years old, said in a 2009 Dallas Morning News interview, “It was clever, but I figured it would be replaced by something more clever in a half-dozen years.”

The sign was built by the venerable Dallas firm of J. F. Zimmerman & Sons (est. 1901) who for generations had installed decorative neon elements all around town and had built innumerable lighted signs for companies big and small — their work could be seen on the Mercantile Building’s wonderful tower, on the exterior of the downtown Titche’s store on Main Street, and in the instantly recognizable signs for places as varied as the Cotton Bowl, Big Town, and, presumably, various other Sigel’s stores around the city.

The sign which was moved from Store No. 7 at Lemmon & Inwood to Addison had on its pole a small plaque (seen here) which said:

This Non-Conforming Sign designed by Marvin Sigel was built in the early 1950s. It was moved from Dallas, TX at Lemmon Ave. & Inwood. After being granted a variance it was refurbished to Code and installed here in June of 2009. Sign refurbished and installed by Starlite Sign of Denton, TX.

Interestingly, the plaque on the new location of the sign has a slightly different text:

sigels-sign-plaque_greenville-ave_072717

It appears that this is a different Sigel’s sign. In 1965, there were two Sigel’s stores on Lovers Lane: Store No. 8 was along the Miracle Mile on West Lovers Lane, near what is now the Dallas North Tollway, and Store No. 12 was on East Lovers Lane at Greenville (then near Louanns nightclub).

sigels-stores_1965-dallas-directory
1965 Dallas directory

In an April 22, 2009 Dallas Morning News article by Jeffrey Weiss (“The Story Behind That Sigel’s Sign”), is this quote from Mr. Sigel’s son, David S. Z. Sigel, about the original sign at Lemmon & Inwood, with mention of another similar sign: “He created the designs for this sign, as well as a similar but smaller sign which stood outside the Lovers Lane store (where Central Market now stands) for many years.” Here’s a map from a November, 1964 grand opening ad for the new store at 5744 E. Lovers Lane:

lovers-lane_new-store_110664
Detail from a grand opening ad, Nov. 6, 1964

So is the sign currently standing in the parking lot of the Sigel’s Fine Wines & Great Spirits at 5757 Greenville Avenue the sign which originally stood only a short four-tenths of a mile away? I hope so! And if it is, welcome back to the neighborhood, cool sign!

Whichever sign this is, it is one of the greatest neon designs Dallas has ever had, and I’m so happy it’s survived for over a half-century, through phenomenal city growth, physical displacement, and even company bankruptcy.

Thanks, Marvin, for designing this wonderful sign! And thanks, Starlite Sign of Denton, for the beautiful refurbishing!

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Sources & Notes
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Top photo and photo of blue plaque taken by me on July 27, 2017 at the Sigel’s store at 5757 Greenville Avenue.

YouTube video by Andrew F. Wood, shot in Addison in 2013.

Sources for other images as noted.

The Zimmerman & Sons nameplate can be seen on the original Lemmon & Inwood sign here (click to enlarge), posted on Flickr by Tim Anderson (a detail of his photo can be seen below) (there is another Zimmerman nameplate posted in the comments on that Flickr page); what appears to be a Zimmerman plate is on the side of the sign at the Greenville Avenue location facing the store’s entrance, not on the side seen in my photo at the top.

zimmerman-nameplate_sigels-sign_lemmon-inwood_flickr-det

Please check out the Dallas Morning News article in the DMN archives titled “Sigel’s Sign Designer Surprised by Its Fame — Project for Family’s Liquor Store Wasn’t a Hit with Boss, He Recalls” by Jeffrey Weiss (April 28, 2009) in which Marvin Sigel discusses his famous sign.

Also, check out these related (online) DMN articles:

  • “Sigel’s Beverages, A 111-Year-Old Dallas Chain, Filed for Bankruptcy; Wants to Close 5 Stores” by Maria Halkias (Oct. 21, 2016), here
  • “Sigel’s Iconic Neon Sign Returning to Dallas After Years Wasting Away in Addison” by Robert Wilonsky (March 27, 2017), here

If anyone can verify that this sign is, in fact, the sign from Store No. 12 (Lovers & Greenville), please let me know!

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Cowtown Extra: Fort Worth Zookeeper Ham Hittson and His Forest Park Friends

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937_UTAZookeeper Hittson and tiny friend… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today, Fort Worth. I was looking for photos of the old Forest Park in Oak Cliff (which was renamed Marsalis Park in 1925) and came across photos of the Forest Park Zoo. A search on the internet showed me that there was also a Forest Park Zoo in Fort Worth. I’ve never actually been a big fan of zoos, but I saw the photo above and was won over by its sheer cuteness. So let’s just take a little trip westward and enjoy some photos of cute animals, most of which feature zookeeper Henry Hamilton (“Ham”) Hittson.

Ham Hittson (1912-1966) began working as a zookeeper at the Forest Park zoo in the early 1930s — if his obituary is correct, he became the zoo’s director in 1933 — at the age of only 21! During World War II he served for two years in the Coast Guard, assigned to work with sentry and attack dogs and with patrol horses. After the war he returned to the zoo (he was the director of the zoo for 21 years) and eventually became the director of the Fort Worth Park Department. His 1966 obituary (he was only 54 when he died) noted that he was instrumental in forming the Fort Worth Zoological Association. And, well, these photos are very sweet.

(All photos are from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Click pictures to see larger images; click the link below each photo for more information.)

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The photo at the top is my favorite — it shows Hittson with a tiny fawn born the previous day. The photo above and the one below were taken on June 29, 1937.

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937-b_UTAMore info here

Below, Hittson with a new baby lion cub named Will (June 29, 1939).

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_lion-cub_062939_UTAMore info here

Actor Jimmy Stewart stopped by the zoo on May 22, 1953 to check out the zoo’s new rhinoceros, Marilyn Monroe. F. Kirk Johnson, zoological board president, is at the left and Hittson, then park department director, is at the right.

FW-zoo_jimmy-stewart_052253_UTAMore info here

Back to Ham’s zookeeper days: in the photo below (taken on August 2, 1940), he’s standing with one of the zoo’s top attractions, an elephant named Queen Tut. He’s bidding her farewell as he is about to leave for New York where he will pick up a baby elephant to be her companion. (Hittson and the zoo’s veterinarian brought the one-year old elephant back with them in a trailer — they must have attracted a lot of stunned looks along the highway as they drove back from New York.)

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_elephant_080240_UTAMore info here

The arrival of this new elephant was big news — there were almost daily updates in the pages of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In order to buy the elephant, the zoo had had to take out a loan from the bank, and in what was both a speedy way to pay off the debt and a clever way to garner publicity, there followed a successful drive to raise money to pay off the “mortgage” — countless school children happily did their parts by contributing pennies, nickels, and dimes in the fundraising effort and then flocked to the zoo to see the newest member of the zoo family and welcome her to Fort Worth.

And here’s Queen Tut with her new little pal, Penny, on September 10, 1940.

FW-zoo_queen-tut-and-penny_091040_UTAMore info here

Awww.

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Sources & Notes

There are tons of photos of the Forest Park Zoo in the UTA Libraries Special Collections, here (20 pages’ worth!).

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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