Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Downtown

The Wilson Building, Main and Ervay

wilson-bldg_dallas-illust-hist_payneLooking northwesterly… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Another photo of the always impressive Wilson Building, this one showing the U. S. Coffee & Tea Co. (at the northwest corner of Elm and Ervay) in the background.

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Sources & Notes

Photo from Dallas, An Illustrated History by Darwin Payne (Woodland Hills, CA: Windsor Publications, 1982; Sponsored by Dallas Historic Preservation League); original photo source is the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

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The Heart of Big “D”: Akard & Commerce

downtown_heart-of-big-d_postcard_akard-commerceLooking up the “canyon”… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A postcard view of Akard, looking north from Commerce; the “canyon” is anchored at the south end by the Baker Hotel (behind the photographer), the Walgreens in the Adolphus Hotel building, and the Continental Air Lines ticket office in the Magnolia Building.

Looks like a hot, painfully sunny day in the canyon. Personally, I’d get out of the sun and hit that soda fountain….

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Sources & Notes

This postcard is currently being offered on eBay, here. The seller is in Transylvania.

The Continental Air Lines ticket office opened in the Magnolia Building in early 1958 (click for larger image).

continental-air-lines_jan-1958
January, 1958

For more info on the buildings that lined the “canyon,” see the Flashback Dallas post “The ‘Akard Street Canyon’ — ca. 1962,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Adolphus Hotel’s “Coffee Room” — 1919

coffee-room_adolphus_tea-and-coffee-trade-journal_march-1919_photoJonesing for some java? Belly on up… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

You know who was really, really happy about Prohibition? The coffee, tea, and soft drink industries. In fact, they were absolutely giddy.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the nation’s thousands and thousands of bars when it became illegal in the United States to sell alcoholic beverages? What about all the hotel bars? Apparently many hotels renovated their old bars into something new and novel called a “coffee shop” or a “coffee room.”

The photo above shows what the vested interests of The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal deemed the “coffee room” of the elegant Adolphus Hotel.

coffee-room_adolphus_tea-and-coffee-trade-journal_march-1919Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, March, 1919

Yes, there were coffee urns, but it was actually the Adolphus Lunch Room. Though beverages are not mentioned in the menu seen below, it’s interesting to read what dishes were available to the Adolphus visitor in 1919 (of course the really well-heeled guests were not noshing in a lowly —  though quite attractive — “lunch room”). The most expensive item on the menu is the Adolphus Special Sunday Chicken Dinner for 90¢ (which the Inflation Calculator tells us is the equivalent of about $13.00 today). (Click to see a larger image.)

adolphus_lunch-room_menu_dec-1919
Dec., 1919

And, yes, I believe that is a spittoon at the register.

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the article “The Renaissance of Tea and Coffee” from The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal (March, 1919). See other photos and read how Prohibition was spurring on this alcohol-free “renaissance” in the article, here.

Many, many historical photos of spittoons can be found in this entertaining collection of the once-ubiquitous cuspidor. …Because when else will I be able to link to something like this?

As a sidenote, the Adolphus Hotel was, of course, built by and named for Adolphus Busch, the co-founder of Anheuser-Busch. Mercifully, the beer magnate died pre-Pro — before Prohibition.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

900 Block of Main, North Side — 1952

AR447-B1201Main Street, 1952… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This 1952 photo by Squire Haskins shows the north side of Main Street, taken at the intersection with Poydras, looking west to the old Dallas county jail and criminal courts building seen at the far left. The Sanger’s building stands just west of Lamar, and across Lamar is the 900 block of Main, with the legendary E. M. Kahn men’s clothing store (one of Dallas’ first important retail stores, founded in 1872), the Maurice Hotel (in the old North Texas Building, built in the 1890s), and the large Bogan’s grocery store at the northwest corner of Main and Poydras. The old jail and the Records Building (way in the distance) and the Sanger’s building are all that remain. See how this view looks today, here.

There is a flyer for “Porgy and Bess” on the lamppost in front of the Bogan market. “Porgy and Bess” opened the State Fair Summer Musicals series at the State Fair Auditorium (Music Hall) in June, 1952 (see an ad here).

But what about the south side of the 900 block of Main Street? Thankfully, photographer Squire Haskins  not only took the photo above, he also turned to face the other side of the street and snapped companion photos. I posted two of his photos of the south side of Main in a previous post, here. Here’s one of those photos, with Poydras at the left and Lamar on the right:

main-poydras_squire-haskins_uta

A listing of the businesses from the 1953 city directory — there’s a little bit of everything (click to see larger image):

900-block-main_1953-directory

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Sources & Notes

Both photos by Squire Haskins, both from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington. More info on the top photo can be found here; more on the second photo, here.

More on the south side of Main Street can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “900 Block of Main Street, South Side — 1950s,” here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

McKinney & Haskell, Circle “T” Frozen Foods, and VWs in Dallas

mckinney-and-haskell_NDHS_ebayFender-bender in front of NDHS… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Odd stuff shows up on eBay. This photo shows a damaged Circle T Brand frozen-food Volkswagen delivery van at the intersection of McKinney Avenue and North Haskell (with North Dallas High School making a partial cameo in the background). The view today? See it here.

Circle T was one of the many brainchilds of the Southland Corp.’s Thompson family: it manufactured and distributed frozen foods (initially meats and Mexican food) which were sold in the company’s 7-Eleven stores. The company began in 1954 and was located just a couple of blocks from this photo, at Haskell and Central. (In 1954 they announced one of their first specialty products: frozen queso. I’ve never even considered that frozen queso would exist, but 60-some-odd years ago it was flying off shelves at the neighborhood 7-Eleven.)

The Southland Corp. sold off Circle T in 1966.

Below, an ad for Circle T’s frozen steaks, from 1954 (click ad to see larger image).

cicle-t_FWST_062054June, 1954

circle-t-logo_1954

And because I’m nothing if not pedantic, here’s an ad for VW trucks and vans, from 1961 (which appears to be the date on the van’s license plate in the photo):

volkswagen_ad_fen-1961Feb., 1961

And speaking of Volkswagens, the first Dallas car dealer to import Volkswagens appears to be Clarence Talley — the first ads are from 1954. While I was searching for the link to the eBay listing of the above photo (which I could not find…), I serendipitously stumbled across this 1950s photo of Clarence Talley on N. Pearl, with appearances by the Medical Arts Building and the Republic Bank Building. Thank you, eBay.

talley-volkswagen_ebay

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Sources & Notes

Photos from eBay: could not find the link to the first one, but the second one sold a couple of months ago, and the archived listing is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Main Street Looking East — 1920s

main-street_east_ca-1925_erik-swansonEast from the 1200 block of Main (photo courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

This great photo (sent in by reader Erik Swanson) shows Main Street around 1925. The white building seen in the lower right is Hurst Bros., a men’s clothing shop, which was at the southeast corner of Main and Field (1300-1304 Main). It was a little confusing to me at first because it looks like there is a street behind it (to the south), which would have been Commerce, but then the Magnolia Building and the Adolphus would all be out of place. But what appears to be a street was just a wide alleyway/passage (seen on the 1921 Sanborn map here — Main east of Akard can be seen on the Sanborn map here).

The very tall building is the Magnolia, at Commerce and Akard (it opened in 1922 — Pegasus wasn’t added until 1934); to the right, across Akard, is the Adolphus Hotel and the Adolphus Annex. The tall building to the left of the Magnolia is the Southwestern Life Building (southeast corner Main and Akard, demolished in 1972, now a small open plaza area). The 4-story building at the southwest corner of Main and Akard is the Andrews Building. The white building in the center is Hurst Bros. (southeast corner Main and Field), and across Main can be seen the sign for the men’s clothing shop Benson-Semans.

Hurst Bros. was gone by 1929 when it became Hoover-Lehman, another clothing store, and Benson-Semans appears to have vacated that space around 1926, helping to date the photo between 1922 and 1926.

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The Hurst brothers, Melvin K. Hurst and Edgar S. Hurst (along with their father, Alfred K. Hurst) began their men’s clothing business around 1912 and moved into the building seen in this photo in 1915 (it was renovated by prominent Dallas architect H. A. Overbeck, whose still-standing courts building and jail was built at about the same time). The business was dissolved in 1929, and its stock, fixtures, and lease were acquired by a longtime employee who, with a partner, remodeled the store and reopened it as the Hoover-Lehman Co. (A present-day Google Street View of this southeast corner of Main and Field can be seen here.)

main-street_east_ca-1925_hurst-bros-det_erik-swansonDetail from top photo, ca. 1925 (click for larger image)

hurst-bros_dmn_112214_adAd from Nov., 1914

hurst-bros_1920sLate 1920s

hurst-bros_hoover-lehman_091329Sept., 1929

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Sources & Notes

Top photo sent in by Erik Swanson, used by permission. The photo may have been taken by his grandfather, F. V. Swanson, an optometrist (see the post “Thompson & Swanson: ‘The Oldest Exclusive Optical House in Dallas,” here). Thanks for the great photo, Erik!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thompson & Swanson: “The Oldest Exclusive Optical House In Dallas”

thompson-swanson_1914-ad_erik-swansonDon’t blink… (1914 ad, courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

Dr. Alfred F. Thompson (1862-1942) and Dr. Frank V. Swanson (1885-1949) opened their “manufacturing opticians” practice, Thompson & Swanson, in 1911. In addition to examining and treating patients, they also ground lenses and manufactured their own glasses, something which I gather was somewhat unusual in 1911 for such a small practice.

They first set up shop on Elm Street, and their ads — generally eyeball-themed — were always attention-grabbers: not only did they stare at you from newspaper pages, they also seemed to follow you around the room.

thompson-swanson_1911-ad1911 ad

They soon moved to the Sumpter Building, in late 1912 (ad at top), directly across from the brand new Praetorian Building. By February of 1916 they’d hit the big-time and were actually in the Praetorian Building, Dallas’ tallest building and its most impressive address. Not only were they in the building, they were at street-level, which guaranteed that practically everyone who spent time downtown was familiar with Thompson & Swanson, if only because they passed the Praetorian Building. The ad below, featuring the building, is fantastic, in a weird-fraternal-order kind of way. (The ad at the top is also kind of weird — you can practically hear the spooky theremin.) (Click ads to see larger images.)

thompson-swanson_1923-ad_erik-swanson1923 ad (courtesy Erik Swanson)

Thompson & Swanson’s business history:

thompson-and-swanson_erik-swanson(courtesy Erik Swanson)

Similar ad, but aimed at the Texas Centennial visitor. “Good glasses if you need them, good advice if you don’t.”

thompson-swanson_june-1936June, 1936

The successful partnership of Thompson and Swanson lasted into the early 1940s. After Dr. Thompson’s death in 1942, Dr. Swanson continued at the same address as “Swanson & Son,” a practice with his son, Dr. F. V. Swanson, Jr.

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Sources & Notes

The top ad, the ad with the Praetorian Building, and the “85 Years’ Experience in Optometry” ads were very kindly sent to me by Erik Swanson (grandson of Dr. Swanson); they are used with permission. I love old ads, especially ones that feature Dallas buildings. Regarding the location of his grandfather’s business in the Praetorian Building, Erik wrote: “Little did he know there would one day be a giant eyeball at the location where he had his optician shop.” Ha! Now when I see that giant eyeball I’ll think of Thompson & Swanson (and hear that spooky theremin).

I was doubly happy to exchange emails with Erik because I’ve been a fan of his Western Swing bands for many years. His current band is Shoot Low Sheriff (listen to them here), but I first became a fan when I heard his former band, Cowboys & Indians. Thanks for the ads, Erik!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“A Glimpse of Dallas” — ca. 1909

postcard_charles-e-arnoldCommerce Street, looking west from St. Paul…

by Paula Bosse

This very attractive postcard shows a growing downtown Dallas, looking west from Commerce and St. Paul, photographed by Charles E. Arnold from the YMCA building (which once sat in the block now occupied by the Statler). The Wilson Building can be seen at the top right, the Praetorian Building (then the tallest building in the city) is to its left, and the Post Office and Federal Building is in the center. The photo was probably taken in 1909 or 1910 (the Praetorian was completed in 1908 and the Adolphus Hotel (not seen in this postcard) was under construction in 1911.

The photo below, taken by Jno. J. Johnson from the exact same vantage point, shows the many changes to the skyline which happened over a very short span of time. The photo below is from about 1913.

new-skyline_c1912_degolyer_smuvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

I zoomed in on this photo in a previous post, “Horses, Carriages, Horseless Carriages: Commerce Street — 1913,” here.

The large “Barrett Cigar” sign seen in the top postcard image is also visible in a 1909 photo by Clogenson, below — it can be seen at the left, atop the Juanita Building on Main Street, opposite the Praetorian.

parade-day_1909_clogenson_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

I zoomed in on this photo in the post “Parade Day — 1909,” here.

This was the beginning of staggering growth for Dallas, and new skyscrapers seemed to be going up every month.

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Sources & Notes

I came across the postcard image a couple of years ago — I noted that the photographer was C. E. Arnold, but I did not note the source.

The two photos are from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; further information on each photo can be found at the links posted immediately below the images.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“All the Beer You Can Drink In an Hour For 60 Cents” — 1935

beer_60-cents_AP_1935LOOK! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Summertime in Big D. It’s hot. REAL hot. For some, the only way to properly slake that nagging thirst is with a tall frosty mug of beer. In the summer of 1935, the management of the Texan Hotel Drug Store (at the northeast corner of S. Houston and Jackson streets) decided to offer a headline-grabbing promotion: “ALL THE SCHEPPS BEER YOU CAN DRINK: 60¢ PER HOUR!” (60¢ in 1935 would be the equivalent of about $11.00 today.) Sounds like a bargain, right? Maybe. Depends on your constitution — it meant that you would have to consume over a gallon of beer in one hour to save any money. (Not a problem for some, I realize.)

This made national news — there’s even newsreel footage. The photo above is from an AP wire story, accompanied by this caption: “A Dallas beer parlor offered ‘all the beer you can drink’ for 60 cents an hour. There were plenty of takers, but the proprietor said none had beaten him. The drinker would have to consume more than nine pints an hour to show a profit.”

beer_scranton-PA-repubican_072935
Scranton (PA) Republican, July 29, 1935

Speaking of newsreel footage, you can watch it below. As you can see, there certainly were a lot of very enthusiastic Dallas beer-drinkers doing their very best to surpass that gallon hurdle in order to feel they’d spent their money (and their hour) wisely.

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Ah, back when you could guzzle beer in a drugstore. (Several drugstores that same year — including this one — were routinely getting busted for selling illicit whiskey.)

The promotion appears to have been a hit, both publicity-wise and beer-sales-wise. The Dallas proprietor said no drinker had managed to come out ahead, but in Fort Worth, men appear to be made of stronger stuff. Cafe operator Byron Gaines hadn’t anticipated Chauncey C. Brown, a hops-loving patron described as “heavy-set” and “amiable.”

beer_FW_olean-NY-times-herald_081235Olean (NY) Times Herald, Aug. 12, 1935

According to United Press reports (this made national news, too), Brown took 58 minutes (rather than 53), but that “seven minutes of that time was spent in playing a slot machine.” It’s good to have hobbies.

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Sources & Notes

AP photo, taken in July, 1935, from the Press of Atlantic City site, here

Newsreel footage is from Critical Past, on YouTube here, and, for sale, here.

The Texan Hotel Drug Store was located at 218 S. Houston St. (northeast corner of Houston and Jackson) — see what the corner looks like today, here.

texan-hotel_south-houston_1936-directory
1936 Dallas directory

And … Schepps Beer? I was familiar with Schepps dairies, but not a Schepps brewery. But, yes, the Schepps family produced highly guzzleable beer: the Schepps Brewing Co. launched in 1933 and lasted into the early ’40s. (Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.)

schepps-beer_nov-1933Nov., 1933

schepps-beer_aug-1934Aug., 1934

schepps-beer-bottle-cap

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The United States Coffee & Tea Co. — 1911

us-coffee-tea_1911_ad_photoCoffee, coffee, everywhere, at Elm & Akard… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo from a 1911 ad for the United States Coffee and Tea Company, importers and roasters. The text of the ad:

The above photograph shows a recent importation of the finest green coffees grown. Weight 40.000 pounds — just forty days supply.

A tril will convince you that our fresh Coffees are superior — Five delivery wagons covering the entire city each day insures prompt service.

UNITED STATES COFFEE AND TEA COMPANY

Corner Elm and Akard Streets   –   Phone Main 703

The company seems to have been founded about 1908 by George W. Wilson and a very young Henry Seeligson. (Click article to see a larger image.)

us-coffee-tea_greater-dallas-illus-1908
Greater Dallas Illustrated, 1908

According to a 1912 ad (which rather breathlessly promised: “WE ROAST COFFEE EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY”), the company was the “largest retail dealers in Coffee, Tea, Spices and Butter in the Southwest.”

us_coffe-tea_may-1912
1912

The photo at the top shows their building at the northeast corner of Akard and what is now the 1600 block of Elm; a few years later they moved down Elm to the northwest corner of Elm and Ervay, just a couple of doors east from the Palace Theater, which was once threated by a fire that broke out in the bakery owned by Frank A. Carreud.

us-coffee-tea_dmn_070322_fire
Dallas Morning News, July 3, 1922

There was a surprising amount of coffee-roasting going on in Dallas in the early decades of the twentieth century. In 1922 the big boys were trying to organize a coffee spot market in Galveston, port to Brazilian coffee and West Indies spices.

us-coffee-tea_dmn_090222
DMN, Sept. 2, 1922

coffee-merchants_1922-directory
1922 Dallas directory

And now I have an intense desire for a cup of coffee.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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