Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Motels

The Cabana Motor Hotel of Dallas

cabana-motor-hotel_portal_postmarked-1967“Elegant and luxurious…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Cabaña Motor Hotel is remembered mostly for being where the Beatles stayed when they came to Dallas in 1964 and for being a hotel with high hopes but which fizzled out fairly quickly. …But mostly for being where the Beatles stayed. When the Cabaña opened in 1963 on Stemmons Freeway, it was a big deal. It was swanky and even had a very show-bizzy lounge. Celebrities stayed there. The Beatles stayed there.

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The Dallas Cabaña was actually the third in a proposed chain of hotels, following locations in Atlanta and Palo Alto. It even had some Hollywood star-power attached to it: Doris Day’s then-husband Marty Melcher was an investor in the company (turned out it was Doris’ money, and she wasn’t thrilled that he was investing so much of her money in this chain of hotels).

It was fab for a while — but the high point really was John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Before the ’60s had ended, the place was shuttered and mired in litigation. Melcher had died and left Doris $500,000 in debt. Ownership changed hands several times over the years, and each time, more and more of its original hep luster was lost. The building has never really recovered. For a few years it was a rather bizarre site for a minimum-security jail! In recent months it was announced that it has been acquired by the company that has recently renovated the long-moribund Statler Hilton — so there’s hope! It needs a lot of work, but it might actually turn out to be cool again.

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Sources & Notes

The postcard at the top is from the Texas History Collection, provided by Dallas Heritage Village to the Portal to Texas History, where I found it, here.

I have to admit that I’ve never really been a fan of this building until I saw this postcard. It’s like a Dallas version of a subdued Vegas hotel.

For more history of the Cabaña (…whenever I hear reporters in historic footage pronouncing the “n” in “cabana” with that tilde, it’s a bit jarring…), read the informative article “Lost + Found: Cabana Motor Hotel” by Preservation Dallas Executive Director David Preziosi on the AIA Dallas website, here. It’s got some great photos.

Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Riviera of the South” — On Harry Hines!

tower-hotel-courts_pool-match_flickr-smThe paradise of Harry Hines awaits…

by Paula Bosse

The Tower Hotel Courts opened in the fall of 1946. Their address makes my had spin: at “The Circle” where highways 77, 183, 114, and Loop 12 intersect. “10108 Harry Hines” would have been easier to fit on the stationery, but mention of all those highways just made everything more exciting. (It also gave some indication to prospective guests of what would be awaiting them, such as constant traffic noise and the ever-present whiff of exhaust in the air. “You can’t say we didn’t warn you, madam.”)

The fancy motel was five speedy minutes away from Love Field, which seems handy, because if you had an hour or seven to kill before your flight, wouldn’t you want to spend it there in the fabulous-looking Bamboo Room? I would! (Even though I’m pretty sure that matchbook cover is a little more glamorous than the actual Bamboo Room.)

If you were going to stay for a day or two and not just a few drinks, there were all sorts of things waiting for you: two pools (one a very large children’s wading pool), a theater, a croquet court AND a shuffleboard court, “circulating ice water,” and … stand back … a 2-station radio in every room. Somewhere in amongst all of this was a 46-unit trailer park (“with individual bathrooms”).

It’s not hard to see why they called the Tower Hotel Courts The Riviera of the South.”

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tower-hotel-courts_postcardUltra Modern!

tower-hotel-courts_pool-smOwner’s wife and kids?

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First and last images from Flickr; Bamboo Room image also from Flickr.

Several of these pictures are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ted Hinton’s Motor Lodge — From Bonnie & Clyde to Motel Heliport

hintons-motor-lodge_front“7 miles from Downtown Dallas” — choppers welcome (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

What does a man who ambushed and killed Bonnie and Clyde do once he’s retired from law enforcement? He opens a motor lodge, of course!

I was initially drawn to this image because of an unexplained lifelong fascination with Howard Johnson’s restaurants (I think I was only ever in one — the one on Mockingbird at Central, where my father introduced me to the inexplicable root beer float). But the interesting thing about this postcard is not the HoJo’s, it’s the motel next door, Hinton’s Motor Lodge, an establishment that was in business from 1955 to 1970, in Irving, very near to where Texas Stadium would be built in 1971 (Loop 12 at Hwy. 183). Why would a motor lodge be interesting? Because the owner was Ted Hinton (1904-1977), the former Dallas County Deputy Sheriff who was one of the six men who tracked down, ambushed, and killed Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. (Hinton was recruited for the posse because he would be able to identify both of them: he had known Clyde Barrow growing up, and he had apparently had a crush on Bonnie Parker in the days when she was working as a waitress and he was working for the post office.)

After killing two of the most notorious celebrity outlaws of all-time, it must have been hard to know where to turn next. He retired from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in 1941 and, as he was a pilot, he trained flyers for the US Army Air Corps during WWII. The fact that Hinton was a pilot MUST explain the inclusion of a “heliport” (!) in the list of motel amenities, alongside Beauty Rest mattresses, a swimming pool, and a playground for the kids.

I’m sure that, on occasion, Hinton ate next door at Howard Johnson’s. But I bet none of the other patrons had any idea that the guy sipping coffee in the next booth was one of the men who gunned down Bonnie and Clyde in a hail of gunfire that even Sam Peckinpah might have considered “a bit much.”

Aerial View of Hinton's Motor Lodge Dallas

 

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An interesting short video about Ted Hinton’s connections to Bonnie and Clyde in his youth is recounted here by Hinton’s son “Boots.”

And a newsreel featuring film footage of the aftermath of the ambush — and apparently shot by Hinton himself with a 16mm movie camera loaned to him by a Dallas Times Herald photographer — can be seen here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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