Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Downtown

Nighttime Skyline — 1965

skyline_st-marks-yrbk_1965_dallas-power-and-lightAll. Lit. Up.

by Paula Bosse

Dallas is always at its most impressive at night, as seen in this view to the northwest, with Memorial Auditorium in the foreground.

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Sources & Notes

This photo, credited to Dallas Power & Light, appeared in the 1965 Marksmen, the yearbook of St. Mark’s School of Texas. It continued on another page, but I couldn’t fit the two parts together without an annoying gap. The second bit is below (click to see a larger image).

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See another cool photo from the same year in the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas Skyline at Night — ca. 1965.”

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Christmas in Dallas” — LOOK Magazine, 1957

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by Paula Bosse

Here are photos from a 4-page spread in the Dec. 24, 1957 issue of LOOK magazine — “Christmas in Dallas,” by David Zingg with photos by Frank Bauman.

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“When Christmas comes to Dallas, the city of oil, boom and shiny limousines becomes a glowing land of magic. Even without snow, the Christmas spirit of Dickens, Bethlehem and Santa Claus seems to take on the 10-gallon dimensions of Texas. Here is a scintillating sampler of Christmas in the modern Southwest.  

 “In the early days of Texas, the arrival of Christmas was often greeted by a fusillade of pistol shots. In some areas, wizened mesquite bushes served as Christmas trees. Guns have since been silenced and trees are easy to get, but the exuberant Texas spirit remains. As always, a booming sense of cheer and joy seems to sweep across the Western plains to brighten Christmas in Dallas.”

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Caption for the photo below: “Santa greets city from skyscraper roof, under gleaming tower.”

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“Glittering headdress of store manikin typifies richness of Christmas in Dallas.”

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“Double-exposure contrasts member of Dallas County sheriff’s posse with beacon and lighted-window cross of the Republic National Bank Building.”

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“Photographer Frank Bauman captures himself and a window full of toys in a mirror’s golden frame.”

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“At Neiman-Marcus, a stuffed tiger carries a fabulous burden of a million dollars in gems.”

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“Children’s faces pressed against a toy-filled window express the age-old anticipation of Christmas morning.”

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“Busy car lights of Christmas shoppers swirl a colorful pattern around Dallas’s oldest Christmas tree, in Highland Park.” (Sadly, our beloved Pecan Tree is no more.)

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“A fairy makes Christmas come true as she throws candy to children at Oak Cliff Shopping Center.”

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Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Sources & Notes

All images from LOOK magazine, Dec. 24, 1957, from the collection of the author. Photos by Frank Bauman.

More Christmas posts from Flashback Dallas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Hoppy Holidays from Hop-a-Bus — 1984

xmas_hop-a-bus_DART-archives_1984_portalSeason’s Greetings from Dallas Transit System and friend…

by Paula Bosse

Aww, the Bunny Bus — surely Dallas Transit System’s most whimsical creation. 

The earliest days of the DTS Hop-a-Bus saw a fleet of five, 19-passenger (non-whimsical) mini-buses which shuttled people back and forth across downtown. You could “hop on” and “hop off” for short trips, for a nominal fare (a dime), traveling along Main Street between Houston and Pearl, Monday-Friday, during working hours.

The service was very popular and quickly outgrew the mini-buses — in March, 1976 they went full-size, but ridership of these two large buses was disappointly slow to grow, mainly because people couldn’t tell the difference between the Hop-a-Bus and every other downtown bus. So, in October, 1978, someone, in his or her infinite wisdom, decided to paint the two special buses pink and add a bunny face and aluminum bunny ears (I seem to remember a tail, but I think I’ve added that in my own imagination). Voilà! Instantly recognizable!

At first, a lot of people hated them (describing them as “grotesque”), but pretty soon, downtown denizens fell for their charming appeal, and ridership increased substantially (seriously, you could see those things coming from blocks away!). Tourists loved them: they provided great photo opportunities, and they made getting around an unfamiliar city very easy — when lost, just jump on a pink bus and you’ll probably get to where you need to go.

Photos of the two pink “bunny buses” appeared in newspapers around the country. They even moonlighted at nights and on the weekends when DTS rented them out during off-duty hours — most notably to the pink-loving Mary Kay corporation and to the bunny-loving Dallas Playboy Club (which used the buses to ferry patrons from the Central Expressway club to Dallas Cowboys games).

The iconic (yes, “iconic”!) buses amused and delighted Dallasites until November, 1986. The bunny-bus fleet had increased to five 1966 GMC buses (at one point there had been as many as seven), and even though the fare had increased to 25 cents, they were still very, very popular with the public. But the pink buses were discontinued at the end of 1986 and sold. And, let’s face it, the streets of downtown Dallas have never been quite the same. Imagine if they were still around (and they SHOULD be!) — Instagram would be overrun with millions of bunny bus photos.

Below are a few photos and a video of our decades-gone transit pal, the cute, friendly Bunny Bus. RIP.

hop-a-bus_birnbaum_ad-valorem-infinitum_SMU_screenshotvia Ad Valorem Infinitum (screenshot)

hop-a-bus_curbside-classic-dot-comvia CurbsideClassic.com

hop-a-bus

hop-a-bus_pinterestvia Pinterest

hop-a-bus_clarion-ledger_jackson-miss_020284Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MI, Feb. 2, 1984

hop-a-bus_bring-back-the-bunny_FB-pagevia “Bring Back the Bunny” Facebook page

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Here’s a great history of the Hop-a-Bus in an article widely syndicated around the country in 1979 — it was written by Claudia Goad, spokesperson for the DTS (click for larger image).

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hop-a-bus_wire-story_apr-1979_storyby DTS’ Claudia Goad, wire story, April 1979

And, finally, a look at a 1976 Channel 8 story on the month-old Hop-a-Bus, before it was transformed into a bunny (from the WFAA News archives at SMU).


via Jones Film Collection, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from the Dallas Transit System (DTS) 1985 calendar — the entire calendar can be found at the Portal to Texas History, here, from the DART Historical Archive.

There is a “Bring Back the Bunny” Facebook page, here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Victor’s Lounge — 1913 Commerce

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Victor’s-sponsored bowling team

by Paula Bosse

My posting has been a bit erratic recently. My brother and I have been clearing out my late aunt’s home. It’s one of those inevitable tasks that no one wants to have to do, but as sad as it’s been, it’s also been comforting to see glimpses of my aunt’s life that I had only vaguely heard about — or had never heard about. Going through her photos, I see what a full life she had, how much she traveled, and that she had decades-old friendships.

One of the places she talked about with great fondness was, of all things, a bar: Victor’s Lounge, which was at 1913 Commerce Street, directly across from the Statler Hilton. The Dallas Morning News described it as “a favorite with the downtown office crowd.” My aunt worked for an insurance company in the Mercantile Building, and nearby Victor’s was the place where she and her co-workers gathered after work (and, I think, for lunch). She even participated in a ladies’ bowling league on a team sponsored by her favorite hang-out. The photo at the top shows the team of fun-looking women (my aunt Bettye Jo is on the far right). She still had the crisply-ironed shirt in her closet! 

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Victor’s was opened by Victor Ballas (who later opened the Purple Orchid a block away at 2016 Commerce). Born in New York, Ballas arrived in Dallas as a child, went to Forest Avenue High School, and had several businesses, one liltingly called “Ballas of Dallas.” My aunt said he always looked after his customers, especially the single women when they were being aggressively hit on by male patrons. Ballas died on Christmas Day, 1971 of a heart attack — he was only 53.

Victor’s opened as a cocktail bar in 1957 or 1958 with a regular piano player (for many years it was Tony Rizzo), but ads indicate that it became more of a restaurant than a bar in the 1960s.

victors_april-19591959

The Commerce Street location closed in 1971 — it was replaced at the end of that year by the Wild West Saloon, another cocktail bar (but one which included topless entertainment). 

I heard so much about Victor’s over the years from my aunt that when I recently stumbled across odd shots of the place in random film footage I was pretty excited

I wish we could have gotten a drink there together, Bettye Jo. And maybe hit the lanes at your favorite alley and bowled a few frames.

victors_sfot-parade_1960s_jones-film-collection_SMU

victors 2 dmn film SMU

victors dmn film SMU

victors_1962-map_det1962 (click to see larger image)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo and photo of bowling shirt from the collection of Paula Bosse.

The three color images are screenshots from films in the G. William Jones Film Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. The first is from the WFAA NewsFilm Collection, the second and third from a promotional film for The Dallas Morning News; all are from the 1960s.

Map is a detail from a 1962 map featured in the Flashback Dallas post “Map of Downtown Dallas, For the Curious Conventioneer — 1962.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Kennedy Memorial and the County Courthouses — Early 1970s

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by Paula Bosse

A view of the new John F. Kennedy Memorial, the not-new Old Red Courthouse, and the not-old-but-not-really-new “new” County Courthouse, in a postcard photo by Bob Glander.

The text on the back of the postcard reads:

The old and the  new County Courthouses with the Kennedy Memorial. The new Courthouse was dedicated Feb. 4, 1966 and the Kennedy Memorial June 24, 1970, Dallas, Texas. Photo by Bob Glander.”

See the same view — from Main and Market — today, via Google Street View, here.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard found somewhere online.

Previous Flashback Dallas posts with images to compare imagined and actual views of the “Courthouse Complex”:

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

World War I Cadets, Commerce Street — 1918

ww1_cadets_commerce-street_1918_natl-archives_fullStanding at attention in the 2100 block of Commerce

by Paula Bosse

Great photo by John J. Johnson showing high school cadets standing in formation in the 2100 block of Commerce Street — the view is to the west (the Adolphus Hotel can be seen all the way at the end of the street, on the right). Here are a couple of zoomed-in details (click to see larger images).

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The official Records of the U.S. War Department description of this photo:

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The buildings in the foreground are, amazingly, still standing — over a hundred years later (a rarity for downtown Dallas buildings). See the same view today on Google here.

The Ajax Rubber Co. building the cadets are standing in front of is the “Waters” building (2117 Commerce), which has been very nicely restored by the East Quarter people:

ww1_cadets_commerce-street_google-street-view_2020Google Street View, Feb. 2020

Below, a clipping from the 1917 Dallas directory, showing the businesses on Commerce between Pearl and Preston (now Cesar Chavez):

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Two years after this photo was taken — in 1920 — the Magnolia gas station (better known as the KLIF building) was built on the spot the cadets were looking at. See that building in the post “Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920.”

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Sources & Notes

This photo, titled “Dallas High School Cadets,” was taken by Dallas photographer John J. Johnson (usually seen as Jno. J. Johnson) on June 11, 1918. It is from the American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs 1917-1918, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs 1860-1952, National Archives — more info on this photo can be found on the National Archives site here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on World War I can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“A Man’s Shop With a Texas Man’s Viewpoint” — 1945

irby-thompson_western-wear_tx-country-day-school-yrbk-1945

by Paula Bosse

Back when men wore Western pearl-snap shirts embroidered with cardinals, leaves, and acorns — and, if this ad is anything to go by, they wore them proudly and unironically.

Frankly, I’d like to see a return to this style.

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“Wherever Texas men gather to relax and play
you’ll see fine sports clothes by Irby-Thompson.”

Western Suit: $115 (equivalent in today’s money to about $1,660)
Sport Coat: $45 (today, $650)
Slacks: $20 (today, $290)
Tie & Handkerchief: $5 (today, $73)

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Sources & Notes

Ad found in the pages of the 1945 Texas Country Day School yearbook. 

Irby-Thompson (housed in the Mercantile Building), was opened in 1944 by Collis P. Irby and J. S. Thompson; in 1948 Irby and his former store manager, Count Mayes, bought out Thompson and became Irby-Mayes.

Related: see the Flashback Dallas post “Irby-Mayes Ad With a Cameo by the Merc — 1948.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Live Oak, From Elm and Ervay

downtown-dallas_mayflower_med-arts_southland-life_lee-optical_ebayLive Oak, looking northeast…

by Paula Bosse

Downtown, at the 3-point intersection of Elm, Ervay, and Live Oak (see a map from 1952 here). This photo shows Live Oak, with a view to the northeast. There are a lot of landmarks: the Mayflower Coffee Shop, the Medical Arts Building, the Southland Life Building, the Sheraton Dallas hotel, the Mexico City Cafe, an entrance to an underground public restroom (the tower-like thingy directly under the Lee Optical sign), and the Dallas Athletic Club. Out of frame to the right is the large flashing Coca-Cola sign (which comes with a handy weather forecast). I’ve gotten this intersection from almost every angle. See other photos of this crossroads here and here.

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Sources & Notes

This photo is currently available on eBay (the seller is in France — wonder how this photo ended up in Antibes?).

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Luby’s, In Dallas Since 1929

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Luby’s No. 2, Main Street, 1954 (photo detail)

by Paula Bosse

The liquidation of Luby’s restaurants was announced this week. There are a lot of people (Texans in particular) who are going to take this news hard.

I spotted the Luby’s seen in the picture above in a photo I found on eBay a few years ago (see the full photo here). I was surprised to learn that the first Luby’s in Dallas opened in 1929. (I think it was the first Luby’s in Texas — there might have been a tangentially-related “Luby’s”-branded restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but let’s just say that the Luby’s at 205 Browder Street in downtown Dallas was the first one in Texas. It was opened by Earl E. Luby on January 8, 1929.

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Jan. 8, 1929

The second location (the one seen in the photo above) opened at 1006 Main Street (at Poydras) two years later, on May 19, 1931.

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May 19, 1931

Earl Luby was the first cousin of Harry M. Luby, the man who is generally considered to have opened the forerunner of what we now know as Luby’s. In September, 1911, Harry opened a cafeteria in Springfield, Missouri called New England Dairy Lunch — there were several other restaurants around the U.S. with the same name, so I’m not sure if he bought it as a franchise, but whatever the case, that cafeteria was the start of a tray-toting empire.

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Springfield News-Leader, Sept. 20 & 21, 1911

He opened other New England cafeterias in Missouri and, with cousin Earl, in Oklahoma. (There was one in Dallas in 1919, located at 1409 Elm, which appears to be connected to the Luby family.)

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Apr. 16, 1919

In 1929 Earl branched off, moved to Texas, opened his own cafeterias (mostly in Dallas), and made a fortune. (There were Luby’s cafeterias run by other members of the Luby family, most notably Harry’s son, Robert Luby, who was active in South Texas a few decades later. I don’t know whether these were two completely different business entities, but Earl was king of the very lucrative Dallas market.)

Here’s an ad from 1953 with Luby’s locations at that time (along with a Miss Inez shout-out). (Click to see a larger image.)

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And from the same ad, a photo of cousins Earl and Harry enjoying a convivial cup of coffee.

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June, 1953 ad (details)

And, below, a 1960 ad for the new Luby’s at the Preston Forest Shopping Center (that sign is fantastic!).

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Sept., 1960

It’s a shame to say goodbye to such a long-lived Dallas institution. RIP, Luby’s. And thanks, Earl (1897-1990).

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Sources & Notes

1954 photo of Main Street is a detail of a larger photo found in the Flashback Dallas post “Streetcar #728, Main Street — 1954.”

Luby’s website is here (hurry!).

More on the history of Luby’s (with some incorrect information and nary a mention of Earl!) can be found on Wikipedia and The Handbook of Texas.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Labor Day Weekend, Union Bus Depot — 1952

labor-day_union-bus-depot_hayes-coll_1952_DPLWaiting for buses… (photo: Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Labor Day in 1952 was on Sept. 1. The people in the photo above were waiting for buses to whisk them away for a nice end-of-summer Labor Day holiday. They were in the Union Bus Depot in the Interurban Building (downtown, at Jackson and Browder). They were probably waiting for a Continental Trailways bus. (While waiting, they might have availed themselves of merchandise at the Sigler’s Jewelry & Optical Co., seen in the background. This was their downtown location — I wrote about their main store at Peak and Elm here.)

So what was going on in Dallas on Labor Day in 1952? Well, it was hot. Real hot. (It’s always hot.) (ALWAYS!) It was 102°, and it was very dry and very windy. Grassfires were popping up everywhere — there were 30 fires that day! 

There were, of course, Labor Day picnics. The largest was for members of the UAW-CIO — the crowd of union members and their families was estimated at 5,200 and was held on ranchland (the D & L Ranch) west of Grapevine. There were also hundreds of AFL plumbers and carpenters at a picnic at Vickery Park on Greenville Avenue. 6,000 Dallasites took advantage of the city’s swimming pools on the last they were open. And then there were 500 people who waved off the whole “outdoor” thing and spent the day skating at the chilly Fair Park ice rink. 

The movie “Jumping Jacks,” starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, was playing at the Majestic, and “Merry Widow,” starring Lana Turner, was at the Palace. Kay Thompson, the singer (and creator of the Eloise children’s books) was opening at the Adolphus Hotel’s Century Room. And there was a square-dancing contest on the Fair Park midway.

It was a bad day, however, for a motorist who indulged in one too many Labor Day adult beverages. The guy zig-zagged in and out of traffic on the Houston Street viaduct, hit a curb, and then swerved back into traffic. He was stopped by one of the cars he had whipped around. Unfortunately for the tipsy driver, the man who stopped him was Sheriff Bill Decker. Bet he’d wished he gotten out of town, along with all those sweaty travelers seen above waiting at the Union Bus Depot.

continental-trailways_ad_march-1952March, 1952 (click for larger image)

continental-trailways_ad_may-1952May, 1952

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I was unaware of the Union Bus Depot until researching this post. It was established around the time when the Dallas-Fort Worth Interurban ceased operation on Christmas Eve, 1934 (the line from Dallas to Waco and Denison kept going a while longer). Suddenly the Interurban terminal at Jackson and Browder streets was going to be sorely underused, so it was decided to make it a great big bus depot. Most of the major bus companies serving Dallas (except for Greyhound, which had it own terminal) used the Interurban Building terminal as a shared depot. 

union-bus-depot_interurban-bldg_072537July, 1937

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Sources & Notes

Photo, titled “Labor Day Weekend crowd at the Union Bus Depot” (Aug. 31, 1952), is from the Hayes Collection, Dallas Public Library Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library; Call Number PA76-1/11420.

From the Dallas Morning News archives:

  • “Outings on Labor Day Lack Only In Oratory” by Frank X. Tolbert (DMN, Sept. 2, 1952)
  • “Last 24 Hours in Dallas” by Lorrie Brooks (DMN, Sept. 2, 1953)
  • “Grassland Areas Hit By Flames” (DMN, Sept. 2, 1952)
  • “Negotiations For Union Bus and Interurban Terminal Are Under Way By Electric Lines” (DMN, Oct. 25, 1934)
  • “Electric Line Station To Be Bus Terminal” (DMN, Dec. 1, 1934)

More on Labor Day in Dallas can be found in the Flashback Dallas Post “Labor Day Parade — 1911.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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