Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Non-Celebs

“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.

2-franklins_sometimes-when-i-run

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!

UPDATE: Marvin Sigel died on Feb. 23, 2019 at the age of 87 (his obituary is on the Dallas Morning News website, here). After I wrote this post, Marvin’s son, David, contacted me to let me know his father had seen this and was delighted to know that people still appreciated his work. This was one of the most popular posts of the year. People absolutely still love your sign, Marvin! RIP.

sigels-sign_rain_bosse_121520photo: Paula Bosse, 2020

sigels-sign_night_bosse_121520photo: Paula Bosse, 2020

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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.

Roth’s, Fort Worth Avenue

roths_cook-collection_smuSign me up, Mr. Roth… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When I see a building like this, I always hope I can find a photo of it somewhere, but all I’ve been able to come up with is this energetic rendering from a 1940s matchbook cover. Roth’s (which was advertised variously as Roth’s Cafe, Roth’s Restaurant, and Roth’s Drive-In) was in Oak Cliff, on Fort Worth Avenue. It opened in about 1940 or ’41 and operated a surprisingly long time — until about 1967. When Roth’s opened, its address was 2701 Fort Worth Avenue, but around 1952 or ’53 the address became 2601. (I think the numbering might have changed rather than the business moving to a new location a block down the street.)

During World War II, Mustang Village — a large housing development originally built for wartime workers (and, later, for returning veterans) — sprang up across Fort Worth Avenue from the restaurant. It was intended to be temporary housing only, but because Dallas suffered such a severe post-war housing shortage, Mustang Village (as well as its sister Oak Cliff “villages” La Reunion and Texan Courts) ended up being occupied into the ’50s. Suddenly there were a lot more people in that part of town, living, working, and, presumably, visiting restaurants.

As the 1960s dawned, Mustang Village was just a memory, and Roth’s new across-the-street neighbor was the enormous, brand new, headline-grabbing Bronco Bowl, which opened to much fanfare in September, 1961. I don’t know whether such close proximity to that huge self-contained entertainment complex hurt or helped Roth’s business, but it certainly must have increased traffic along Fort Worth Avenue.

Roth’s continued operations until it closed in 1967, perhaps not so coincidentally the same year that Oak Cliff’s beloved Sivils closed. Ernest Roth, like J. D. Sivils, most likely threw in the towel when a series of “wet” vs. “dry” votes in Oak Cliff continued to go against frustrated restaurant owners who insisted that their inability to sell beer and wine not only damaged their own businesses but also adversely affected the Oak Cliff economy. The last straw for Sivils and Roth may have been the unsuccessful petition drive in 1966/1967 to force a “beer election” — read about it here in a Morning News article from Aug. 17, 1966).

As far as that super-cool building seen at the top — I don’t know how long it remained standing, but when Roth’s closed, a mobile home dealer set up shop at 2601 Fort Worth Avenue, and mobile homes need a lot of parking space….

The building on the matchbook cover above is, unfortunately, long gone (as is the much-missed Bronco Bowl); the area today is occupied by asphalt, bland strip malls, and soulless corporate “architecture” (see what 2701 Fort Worth Avenue looks like today, here).

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The man behind Roth’s was Ernest W. Roth, a Hungarian immigrant who had worked for many years as maître-d’ at the Adolphus Hotel’s tony Century Room. He decided to go out on his own, and around 1940 he and his business partner Joseph Weintraub (who was also his brother-in-law) opened the Oak Cliff restaurant which boasted two dining rooms (with a seating capacity of 350, suitable for parties and banquets), fine steaks, and a live band and dancing on the weekends. Ernest’s wife Martha and their son Milton were also part of the family business. When the restaurant opened, there wasn’t much more out there on the “Fort Worth cut-off,” but the place must have been doing something right, because Roth’s lasted for at least 27 years — an eternity in the restaurant business. It seems to have remained a popular Oak Cliff dining destination until it closed around 1967.

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The real story, though, is the Roth family, especially Ernest’s mother, Johanna Roth, and even more especially, his older sister, Bertha Weintraub.

Johanna Rose Roth was born in 1863 in Budapest, where her father served as a member of the King’s Guard for Emperor Franz Josef. She and her husband and young children came to the United States about 1906 and, by 1913, eventually made their way to San Antonio. In the ’40s and ’50s she traveled by airplane back and forth between San Antonio and Dallas, visiting her five children and their families — she was known to the airlines as one of their most frequent customers (and one of their oldest). She died in Dallas in 1956 at the age of 92.

Johanna’s daughter Bertha Roth Weintraub had a very interesting life. She, too was born in Hungary — in 1890. After her husband Joe’s death in the mid ’40s, a regular at her brother’s restaurant, Abe Weinstein — big-time entertainment promoter and burlesque club empresario — offered Bertha a job as cashier at the Colony Club, his “classy” burlesque nightclub located across from the Adolphus. She accepted and, amazingly, worked there for 28 years, retiring only when the club closed in 1972 — when she was 82 years old! It sounds like she led a full life, which took her from Budapest to New York to San Francisco to San Antonio to Austin and to Dallas; she bluffed her way into a job as a dress designer, ran a boarding house in a house once owned by former Texas governor James Hogg, hobnobbed with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liberace, was a friend of Candy Barr, and, as a child, was consoled by the queen of Hungary. She died in Dallas in 1997, a week and a half before her 107th birthday. (The story Larry Powell wrote about her in The Dallas Morning News — “Aunt Bertha’s Book Filled With 97 Years of Memories” (DMN, Nov. 17, 1987) — is very entertaining and well worth tracking down in the News archives.)

weintraub-bertha-roth_texas-jewish-post_021590
Bertha Roth Weintraub

I feel certain that the extended Roth family found themselves entertained by quite a few unexpected stories around holiday dinner tables!

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Sources & Notes

Matchbook cover (top image) is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

Photo of Bertha Weintraub is from The Texas Jewish Post (Feb. 15, 1990), via the Portal to Texas History, here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mimi Payne Aldredge McKnight

ABS_mimi_bookcaseMimi, with books… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Mimi Aldredge McKnight (née Mildred Payne) died this week. She was an important person in the story of my family — she and her then-husband, Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. owned The Aldredge Book Store on McKinney Avenue, where my parents met and worked for many years and which, for my brother and me, became pretty much a second home. When Sawnie died, Mimi continued to run the store and kept my father, Dick Bosse, on as manager. My father ended up owning the store, and when he died, he had worked at The Aldredge Book Store for almost 45 years. Even when Mimi’s involvement with the store was minimal, she still kept in touch, and she and my father were always on very friendly terms.

I knew Mimi mostly when I was a child, and my memories of her are happy ones. I remember her laugh and her voice most of all. She always seemed like a lovely, friendly woman, and my parents were both very fond of her.

The photo below is how I remember her — talking animatedly on the phone (she and my mother, Margaret, were champion telephone talkers, and I remember them both working at that desk, and talking and talking and talking on that phone).

mimi_phone_texas-parade_feb-1961

I ran into Mimi a few times as an adult. We’d usually just exchange quick pleasantries and ask how various family members were — but I always hoped I’d have the chance to sit down and have a long conversation with her someday. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but I’m so happy that my brother, Erik, and I have reconnected with her children, Amy and Trip Aldredge, and that we’re all friends. The four of us share nostalgic childhood memories of each other’s parents and of that old creaking house on McKinney — a house so crammed with books that the medical section had to be shelved in the bathroom. I can’t imagine a better childhood that one spent growing up in a bookstore.

Goodbye, Mimi — I’m so glad you were a part of my family’s life.

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In one of those wonderful unexpected discoveries I’ve made while looking for something completely unrelated, I stumbled across this photo of little Mildred Payne as a baby and was happier about it than I might have expected. (Click photo to see a larger image.)

1929_mimi_dmn_061429
1929

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized Mimi had been a real-life, honest-to-god debutante (probably the only debutante I’ve ever met) and that her mother was a member of Dallas’ famed Volk retail family. She grew up in a very nice house, built by her father, Robert I. Payne, in the Perry Heights area of Oak Lawn. If you’re famiiar with Oak Lawn, you’ve probably seen the plantation-like house at 4524 Rawlins (at Hawthorne), designed by architect Ralph Bryan in 1936. (See the house today on Google Street View, here.)

Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. (son of a Dallas mayor) opened The Aldredge Book Store in 1947 at 2800 McKinney Avenue (at Worthington) in an old house built in the 1880s or 1890s (this was several years before Sawnie and Mimi married). The picture below is from around 1960. This was before my time, but I seem to remember it looking less overgrown and less … shabby! It was much larger than it appears in this photo. Below the photo, the store’s early logo. (I’m not sure when the house was torn down — maybe in the ’80s? The lot was vacant for quite some time, as I reall. The block is painfully unrecognizable today. Today it looks like this.)

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-19611960-ish

ABS_logo_1947

A few years ago, when my brother and I were closing the store, I came across a guestbook from the first year of business and was happy to see that on Dec. 15, 1947, a 19-year-old Mimi Payne visited the store with her mother, Mrs. R. I. Payne. Little did she know that seven years later she’d be married to the proprietor of the store and — for a while — living in that house, battling for personal space amongst all those damn books!

aldredge-book-store-guestbook_1215471947

sawnie_mimi_desk_1961Sawnie and Mimi, 1961

The photo below is one I really love — it was taken in 1958 at the Sale Street Fair, an annual antique street market which ran at the same time as the Neiman-Marcus Fortnight (in 1958 Neiman’s was celebrating Britain). This shows Mimi manning the bookstore booth. My mother told me that she and Mimi (and probably everyone else there) passed the time sitting on the curb, sipping cocktails supplied by friendly neighborhood antique dealers. Sounds great!

ABS_mimi_sale-street-fair_1958Sale Street Fair, Mimi and a browsing London bobby, 1958

ABS_sale-street-fair_1958
Oct., 1958

In 1975, another chapter of Mimi’s life opened when she married esteemed SMU law professor Joe McKnight, to whom she had been married for 40 years at the time of his death in 2015. One interesting highlight was that Joe and Mimi — through their friendship with international bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, etc.) — were featured as characters in his Sunday Philosophy Club/Isabel Dalhousie series. He talked about putting them in one of his novels in a 2006 interview:

Isabel’s mother was American, and she has a cousin of her mother in Dallas, [who is based on] a real person… I was a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University and I’ve got very good friends there, a wonderful couple called Joe and Mimi McKnight, who I’ve made the cousin of Isabel in this book. I have Joe and Mimi coming to Edinburgh, and Mimi plays a large part in the story. So, I’m writing a real person into the story, which is great fun.

A woman who spent a number of years in the early part of her life selling books certainly deserved to be transformed into an entertaining character in a bestselling book in the later part of her life!

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Sources & Notes

Photos and clippings from the Aldredge Book Store archives and the Aldredge family, unless otherwise noted.

A couple of the photos above come from a profile of The Aldredge Book Store in a magazine called Texas Parade (Feb. 1961): “100,000 Books … Old and New” by Joe Swan. See the full article and photos in a PDF, here.

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-1961_spread_sm

Mimi McKnight died April 3, 2017; her obituary is here.

D Magazine wrote about Joe and Mimi McKnight and their connection to Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith in the June 2007 article “Muse, Thy Name is McKnight,” here. The photo below (by Elizabeth Lavin) is from that article.

mcknights_joe-and-mimi_d-mag_june-2007
2007 (D Magazine)

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

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mimi_wedding_announcement_101054_det
1954

Most photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Dallas/The Big D” by William E. Bond — ca. 1962

dallas-big-d_william-e-bond_business-week-collection_ca1962Yonder lies Big D… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This print — titled “Dallas/The Big D” by native Texan William E. Bond (1923-2016) — is fantastic. I love everything about it. It was commissioned by Business Week magazine to be used as part of its “Business America” series, an advertising campaign showcasing fifteen American cities captured in woodcuts. Every element of this scene is great, but let’s look at a detail showing just the Dallas skyline, with a hard-to-miss Pegasus. I also see what looks to be the Mercantile Building and the Republic Bank Building in there. And … that sky!

bond_william-e_dallas-big-d_print_business-week_ca-1962_det

william-e-bond_sig

Bond’s homage to Dallas was reproduced in the 1963 book Woodcuts of Fifteen American Cities from the Business Week Collection. Below, text from the book (my assumption is that the first paragraph is the copy that appeared in a print advertisement for Business Week — it appears that the ad campaign used the artists’ works collected in this book to illustrate the ads, with each ad mentioning local companies with large BW subscribership).

Dallas … leapfrogging ahead commercially and culturally. Cotton, cattle, and oil put the Big D on the map. But aircraft, electronics and machinery keep it moving. Companies like Texas Instruments (682 Business Week subscribers), Ling-Temco-Vought (106), Collins Radio (135), Dresser Industries (123). In Dallas, and everywhere in business America, men who manage companies read Business Week. You advertise in Business Week when you want to inform management.

And this was Bond’s bio with a quote from him on “the Big D”:

“Dallas is a great many things. It is a giant of a city in the midst of a giant country – full of life and energy and the will to grow and keep growing. Anyone who knows Dallas feels this spirit. And it is this feeling that I have tried to capture.”

Born in 1923 in Crandall, Texas, Mr. Bond attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles. He has won many gold and silver awards in art director and illustrator shows, including a gold medal in the New York Illustrators Show in 1962. Mr. Bond uses a variety of media, including paper prints, sculpture, and painting. He has been an agency art director most of his career, and is now a free-lance designer.

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Bill Bond was born in Crandall, Texas in 1923, studied art at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, and spent several years as an award-winning commercial artist in Dallas. He worked as an advertising art director for The Dallas Times Herald, the Sam Bloom Agency, and Tracey-Locke; during this time he frequently participated in group art shows around the city. When he retired, he focused his creative talents on sculpture, becoming known for his wildlife pieces and Western bronzes. He died in Kerrville in 2016 at the age of 92.

william-bond_obit-photo

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Sources & Notes

The book that features a reproduction of this print is Woodcuts of Fifteen American Cities from the Business Week Collection (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, Inc., 1963). From the introduction:

One of the principal methods of communication in the 20th century, and one of the biggest businesses, is advertising. Here, too, industry has regularly and effectively used fine art – in the creation of some memorable advertising campaigns.

From 1960 to 1962 Business Week commissioned fourteen prominent woodcut artists to illustrate its “Business America” series. Reproductions of the fifteen woodcut illustrations which were produced appear on the following pages.

Bill Bonds’ obituary is here.

Thanks to Bob Dunn for posting an image of Bond’s print in the Retro Dallas Facebook group. I liked it so much I went out and bought a copy of the (large) book! A few copies are available online here.

Images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“A Woman Knows Real Live News When She Sees It” — 1915

womens-news_dmn_070815_knott-cartoon“Oh goody!” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This editorial cartoonist’s take on what was really important to Dallas women is one that probably caused some Dallasites to chuckle and some to fume. The date of this Dallas Morning News cartoon was July 8, 1915. In 1915 women had no constitutional right to vote in the United States and were barred from voting in local, state, and national elections. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution (which gave women the right to vote) was ratified in Texas in June, 1919.

The woman’s suffrage movement in Dallas had been active since at least the 1890s, but it really began to catch fire in the early ‘teens when the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association (DESA) was formed in 1913. The second president of this organization (who was one of the state’s leading suffragists when this cartoon appeared) was Texas Erwin Armstrong (Mrs. Volney E. Armstrong). (Yes, her first name was “Texas” — her friends called her “Tex.”)

I have to admit, I was not aware of Mrs. Armstrong until today, but she was one of many laudable women who helped forge the way for those of us who followed. I like this quote of hers from 1918, commenting on the support (or lack thereof) of politicians during the slow but sure path to ratification:

“Any Democrat who failed to vote for this measure is a man without a party and soon will be a man without a country.” (DMN, Jan. 12, 1918)

tex-armstrong_dmn_031515_suffrage_photo

tex-armstrong_dmn_031515_suffrage
Dallas Morning News, March 15, 1915 (photo and profile)

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More suffrage news from Dallas (click articles to see larger images).

suffrage_dmn_111115
DMN, Nov. 11, 1915

suffrage_dmn_030818
DMN, March 8, 1918

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Sources & Notes

Dallas Morning News editorial cartoon “A Woman Knows Real Live News When She Sees It” (by staff cartoonist John Knott) appeared in the July 8, 1915 edition of the paper.

For more on the history of Dallas women and women’s causes, check out the book Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920 by Elizabeth York Enstam (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1998); a large portion of the chapter “Suffragists and the City” can be read here.

The history of the women’s suffrage movement in Texas can be found at the Handbook of Texas site, here.

The obituary of Mrs. Texas Erwin Armstrong (1878-1960) can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News: “Campaigner For Women’s Suffrage Dies” (DMN, March 7, 1960).

Click clippings and pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Historic Masonic, Odd Fellows, and City Cemeteries

cemeteries_1920s_photo-e
Tombstone of W. C. C. Akard, 1826-1870… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The other day I posted a photo of the Dallas skyline and pointed out that the land occupied by Memorial Auditorium/Dallas Convention Center was once the site of a cemetery (or, rather, several cemeteries: the old City Cemetery, the Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemeteries, and the Jewish Cemetery.

By the 1920s, the grounds were overgrown and grave markers were in various states of disrepair; there were about 500 graves, but many of the remains of those buried there had been moved (resulting in more than a few somewhat alarming gaping holes!). As the 1920s were winding down, fewer and fewer burials were taking place in these cemeteries, but people were still being interred throughout the 1920s — some of these appear to have been indigents without funds to be buried elsewhere.

The oldest grave markers dated to the 1850s. Many of those buried there were important Dallasites: mayors, politicians, pioneer businessmen, doctors, and judges — many of the markers bore names which are now part of everyday life in Dallas (names such as Harwood, Ervay, Akard, Crowdus, Browder, Marsalis, etc.). Over the years, cemetery land had been encroached upon bit by bit (by the Santa Fe railroad, for one) causing many graves to be unceremoniously destroyed. As the city grew and this land (which was once beyond the city limits) became more and more valuable for developers, many of the graves were moved and the remains relocated to other cemeteries. But many remained, and there was concern that the land was being neglected. For decades, the city of Dallas was petitioned by civic leaders to officially protect, beautify, and maintain this land. It wasn’t really until the construction of the convention center in the 1950s that these plans began to take shape. Remaining graves and markers are now part of the Pioneer Park Cemetery at Pioneer Plaza.

Below is a detail from an 1882 map, showing the original locations of the four cemeteries, just beyond the southern edge of the city limits. The Masonic Cemetery occupied the northern section, and the Odd Fellows Cemetery occupied the southern section. The City Cemetery adjoined both, immediately to the east (just west of Akard). The tiny Jewish Cemetery is seen on the southeastern edge of the City Cemetery (in later years Masonic Street cut through the City Cemetery land, and the Jewish Cemetery was just south of the street and right next to the old Columbian School). (See the changed boundaries of the cemeteries on a 1905 Sanborn map here.)

map_1882_cemeteries
Jones & Murphy’s Map of the City of Dallas, Texas, 1882 (det.)

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The photo at the top of this post shows the grave of W. C. C. Akard (1826-1870). (Incidentally, according to a 1939 Dallas Morning News article, he apparently pronounced his name “Ay-kard” rather than “ACK-erd” as we do today.) The photos below show the run-down Masonic-Odd Fellows cemetery in the 1920s.

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cemeteries_1920s_photo-a

The Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemetery, with the Magnolia Building in the background.

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cemeteries_1920s_photo-b

Cheek-by-jowl with a growing urban Dallas.

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cemeteries_1920s_photo-c

I love this photo, with train cars on the Marilla Street tracks and the Butler Brothers building in the distance, just east of where City Hall now stands.

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cemeteries_1920s_photo-d

Another interesting image, looking to the northwest, with the Santa Fe freight depot (still standing on Young Street near Griffin) at the top right. (The cemetery land was apparently fifteen feet above the surrounding street level.)

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Below are a few extreme close-ups from aerial photographs by Lloyd M. Long (from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Southern Methodist University — links to the original full photos can be found beneath each image). Cemetery markers are visible in these photos taken from the west.

cemeteries_1938_foscue_smu_longAbove, a detail from a 1938 photo.

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cemeteries_1939_foscue_smu_longDetail from a 1939 photo.

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cemeteries_1949_foscue_smu_long
And a detail from a 1949 photo.

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dallas-convention-center_flickr_coltera

And the “after” photo, with much of the old cemetery land used as the site of Memorial Auditorium.

Below, a short history of the cemeteries, which appeared in the July, 1985 issue of Historic Dallas magazine: “Pioneer Cemetery Tells Story of Struggle” by Shirley Caldwell. (Click to read.)


pioneer-cemeteries_historic-dallas_july-1985_portal
via UNT’s Portal to Texas History

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More on this cemetery can be found on Julia D. Quinteros de Hernandez’s timeline, here.

A collection of newspaper stories about the adjacent “Old City Cemetery” (some of which describe shocking disturbances of the land and of graves) can be found on Jim Wheat’s site, here.

More on Dallas’ older cemeteries can be found in Frances James’ article “Cemeteries in Dallas County: Known and Unknown” (Legacies, Fall, 1996), here.

Information about how the city dealt with the plight of the cemeteries amidst the looming possibility of development can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Park Board Protests Motel at Auditorium” by Francis Raffetto (DMN Dec. 18, 1958).

A bird’s-eye view of Pioneer Plaza can be seen on Bing, here (zoom in to see the historic markers in the lower right corner).

All images and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Bull Pen Barbecue/Austin’s Barbecue — 1949-2000

austins-barbecue_postcard_pinterest“As Tender as Ole Austin’s Heart…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of my major failings as a Dallasite is that I don’t know Oak Cliff. Like at all. Every time I go over there, I get lost. I can’t remember my family ever going to Oak Cliff when I was a kid, except to visit the zoo. This explains why I had no idea how important a cultural landmark Austin’s Barbecue was when I posted a bunch of Oak Cliff ads the other day. That post has been shared hundreds and hundreds of times now and, inevitably, the only thing people mention — and rhapsodize about — is Austin’s Barbecue. …I had no idea!

The famed BBQ joint at the northeast corner of Illinois Avenue and Hampton Road opened in 1949 as B & G Barbecue but soon became known as Bull Pen Barbecue, run jointly by owners Bert Bowman and Austin Cook. In 1956 or 1957, another Bull Pen opened in Arlington. After Oak Cliff went dry (a dark day for many Oak Cliffites), Bowman — who firmly believed that BBQ and beer were a match made in heaven — left for Arlington and Cook stayed in Oak Cliff and changed the restaurant’s name to Austin’s Barbecue. (“Bull Pen Barbecue” was still appearing in ads as late as Oct. 1957 — the official name changeover seems to have  happened in 1958.)

The following memory of starting the business was apparently written by Austin Cook in 1990:

Dear Family & Friends,

I will try to tell you a little more about my being in the restaurant business. We borrowed $10,000 and bought out some one and it was B and G Barbecue. You see I always spell out Barbecue because when I went in business they hadn’t started abbreviating it like it is today.

After we had been there awhile we changed the name to The Bull Pen. Our slogan was “Come in and Shoot the Bull with Austin and Bert.” We used that name until they voted beer out of Oak Cliff. That really set us back, but maybe it was the best thing for us. We put another place in Arlington and that place was going pretty good. My partner wanted to get rid of the place in Oak Cliff. I traded him my part of the one in Arlington for his part in the one in Oak Cliff. Everyone said I was crazy.

When we bought that first place it was way out in the country, but they were building a bunch of houses not too far away. There was an airport across the street from the place. They kept talking about building a shopping center where the airport was. I remember the first day we ran a hundred dollars, and I thought we would never make it.

We started making money and we paid that ten thousand dollars back and we drew fifty dollars a week just like I was making in the grocery store. We started out with a barbecue sandwich and a hamburger. Then we started adding different things until we had a menu. We started getting those workers in the houses, and the business took off. We had beer also to go with the barbecue. My mother wasn’t too happy about that, but Dad said if that was the way I wanted to make my living it would be all right. In about a year or two we had a customer make us up a menu and we put in Barbecue plates for one dollar and twenty five cents. When I left they we were getting $4.99 for them. After I left I think they went to over seven dollars.

They always told me that you weren’t a success until you were in debt a hundred thousand dollars, and I went to the bank and borrowed all they would let me have. Then I went to my landlord and sold him the idea that I wanted to improve his property, and he loaned me the balance I needed to remodel, and I built a restaurant that held a hundred and twenty-five. Many times I was almost broke and didn’t know what I was going to do, but something always happened and I came out of it.

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Both the Bull Pen in Arlington and Austin’s in Oak Cliff were successful and long-lived. Austin Cook retired at the end of 1993, and the business was taken over by his stepson, John Zito who had already been working at the restaurant for several years. Austin’s Barbecue closed in July, 2000, and the building was demolished soon after, replaced with an Eckerd drug store (now a CVS). Bert Bowman (born Glynbert Lee Bowman) died in 1989 at the age of 66; Austin O. Cook died at in 2006 at 86. And now I kind of feel like I know them, and I’m really sorry I never sampled their sandwiches.

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Below, a Bowman and Cook timeline (most pictures and clippings are larger when clicked).

austin-cook_sunset-high-school_1937Austin Cook, Sunset High School, 1937

Before Cook and Bowmen met — probably around 1947 — each had been dabbling in different businesses. In early 1947, Cook leased a Clover Farm Store building at 203 N. Ewing and opened the Libby & Cook grocery with partner Lendal C. Libby.

LIBBY-COOK_dmn_021047February, 1947

LIBBY-COOK_1947-directory1947 Dallas directory

Bert Bowman worked there as a meat-cutter.

bowman_1947-directory_GROCERY-w-AUSTIN1947 Dallas directory

The grocery store was in business at least into 1949, the year that Bowman and Cook decided to ditch the groceries and start their own business at 2321 W. Illinois, in a part of Oak Cliff which was just starting to be developed. Their BBQ place was originally called B & G Barbecue, which — according to Cook’s letter above — was the name of the restaurant he and Bowman bought out. I guess they felt it was easier to keep the name for awhile.

b-and-g-1951-directory1951 Dallas directory

The name “Bull Pen Barbecue” didn’t come until later. In fact, the first appearance of the Bull Pen name associated with this address doesn’t show up in local newspaper archives until a want-ad placed in the summer of 1952.

bull-pen_dmn_082652_FIRSTAugust, 1952

A probably related “Bull Pen No. 2” opened in South Dallas in 1953. It appears to have been very short-lived.

bull-pen-no-2_dmn_100853
October, 1953

By the fall of 1957, Cook and Bowman had opened another Bull Pen — this one in Arlington, and this one a success.

bull-pen_arlington_grand-prairie-daily-news_091557
September, 1957

And then Oak Cliff went dry, the worst thing that could happen to a restaurant that sold a lot of beer. Similar businesses which relied heavily on beer sales began to desert Oak Cliff. Bowman did not think their original drive-in could survive, but Cook disagreed. Bowman sold his half-interest in the Oak Cliff location to Cook, and Cook sold his half-interest in the Arlington location to Bowman. Cook changed the name of his now solely-owned restaurant to Austin’s Barbecue, and his success continued, despite the fact that he could no longer sell beer. He was doing well enough that, in 1961, he opened a second location, on Harry Hines across from Parkland Hospital (a location which lasted through 1964).

austins-barbecue_1962-directory_two-locations
1962 Dallas directory

austins-barbecue_1963-directory_two-locations_ad
1963 Dallas directory

By 1963, Austin’s was a well-established teen hang-out and wisely placed ads in Oak Cliff high school annuals. Apparently everyone went there!

oak-cliff_austins_bar-b-cue_kimball-yrbk_19631963 Kimball High School yearbook

austins_car-teens_flickr-coltera
Date and source unknown, via Flickr

In 1964, Cook — known as “Big Daddy” — opened another restaurant, this one called Big Daddy’s Grill.

big-daddys_dmn_063064June, 1964

austins-barbecue_dmn_081466-adAugust, 1966

The restaurant was a bona fide Oak Cliff landmark, and Cook was an active participant in community business affairs. Below, a detail of a photo showing Cook as a member of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce.

austin-cook_dmn_082568-photo-det
late 1960s

Cook participated in a series of Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce campaigns and even included oddities like “Come eat Austin’s barbecue… and then visit Red Bird Industrial Park” in his ads. Make a day of it!

austins-barbecue_092968
September, 1968

ad_austins-barbecue
via OakCliff.org

austins_matchbk_flickr_coltera
via Flickr

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Sources & Notes

Color postcard at the top found on Pinterest, here.

The letter from Austin Cook was quoted on the DHS Phorum, here. More from the Phorum on The Bull Pen/Austin’s is here.

More can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives in the following stories:

  • “Austin’s Bar-B-Q Grows With Oak Cliff” (DMN, Aug. 14, 1966)
  • “Barbecue To Go — Staff, Customers Mourn Closing of Oak Cliff Institution” (DMN, July 13, 2000)
  • “Closed But Not Forgotten — Oak Cliff Eatery Marks Half-Century of Barbecue With Memorable Auction” (DMN, Aug. 27, 2000)
  • “John P. Zito — Operated Oak Cliff Landmark Austin’s Barbecue For 19 Years” by Joe Simnacher (DMN, Oct. 14, 2003)

Read the obituaries of Bert Bowman (1989) and Austin O. Cook (2006) here.

The Oak Cliff Advocate article “A Look Back at Austin’s Barbecue” by Gayla Brooks is here (with tons of memories from readers in the comments).

Not mentioned in this post is the connection of Officer J. D. Tippit (who moonlighted as a keeper of the peace at Austin’s) and other tangential/coincidental associations to the Kennedy assassination. It’s well documented elsewhere. Google is your friend.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The 101 Bar: Patrick Hannon, Prop. — ca. 1917

101-bar_ca-1917Pat Hannon’s dreams are about to be dashed… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The 101 Bar was located at 323 North Ervay, on the southwest corner of Ervay and Bryan — it is now the site of Thanksgiving Square. The owner was Patrick Hannon who had worked in saloons in Dallas from at least 1908. The bar pictured above opened around 1917 but lasted only a few months — by the time the 1918 directories were printed, 323 N. Ervay was listed as “vacant.” Pat had worked his way up the competitive saloon trade in Dallas, from bartender to owner, only to be cut down by Prohibition. Had Prohibition not gone into effect in 1918 (with Dallas County voting to start even earlier, in October, 1917), this fine-looking  bar might have had a long, boozy life. Pat disappeared from the directory completely in 1918, but he was back in 1919, with a new occupation: butcher. Meat-cutting is all well and good and certainly pays the bills, but I bet in his idle moments, Pat’s thoughts turned to daydreams of his old Ervay St. bar.

The 1917 Dallas directory showed 183 bars operating in Dallas; the next year, zero.

Bad timing, Pat.

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Sources & Notes

I’m not sure where the photo came from — some random web page, I think.

Why did Dallas County go dry so early? Because of a “local option” vote in September, 1917. The city of Dallas voted against it, but the surrounding communities voted overwhelmingly FOR it. (You could still drive over to Fort Worth for legal beer and hooch, though.) Election results below (click for larger image). 

prohibition_local-option_dmn_102017Dallas Morning News, Oct. 20, 1917

How were things faring a year later?

probibition_dallas-co_dmn_102018DMN, Oct. 20, 1918

This has been a rather tenuously-associated St. Patrick’s Day post (Irish name, bar, green border), but … Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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