Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Fair Park

New Year’s Day in Dallas: Black-Eyed Peas and the Cotton Bowl Classic — 1960

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by Paula Bosse

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What better time to share this seasonal article from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock:

Next to a helping of black-eyed peas, about the most important thing to Texans on New Year’s Day is a good football bowl game. And to Texans, there is no bowl game more important than the Cotton Bowl contest played each year in Dallas. Many even would rather do without their “black-eyes” than to miss this annual grid classic. 

Texans have long been noted for their bragging and their love of football. In the Cotton Bowl game, they believe they have something which warrants a little boasting. Since 1937 when the classic was inaugurated, they have succeeded in showing the nation that they, too, can stage top grid productions.

There’s more to the Cotton Bowl Festival than a football game, however. The host city of Dallas resembles a three-ring circus during the week preceding the big game. The game is played on New Year’s Day except when that holiday falls on Sunday. In that event, it is played on Monday, January 2.

The list of events for Cotton Bowl Week this year contains something of interest for all visitors. The National Finals Rodeo, the first “world series of rodeo,” will be staged in the new State Fair Livestock Coliseum, December 26-30. The popular Broadway production, “My Fair Lady,” will be presented by the national company of the show in the State Fair Music Hall all during the week.

There will be a fashion show for the ladies and the Texas sportwriters will sponsor the annual Texas Sports Hall of Fame luncheon, honoring great athletes and coaches of the past. There will also be college and high school basketball tournaments, a tennis tournament, and a bowling tournament. 

The big event prior to the game will come on New Year’s Eve with the annual Cotton Bowl Festival parade through downtown Dallas. Bands will play, colorful floats will be displayed and the Cotton Bowl Queen will make an official appearance, along with the many princesses representing each school in the Southwest Conference. 

The Cotton Bowl game was conceived and originally promoted as a private enterprise by J. Curtis Sanford, a Dallas businessman. The first game was played on January 1, 1937, and featured Texas Christian University and Marquette University. TCU, with L. D. Meyer scoring two touchdowns, a field goal and a conversion, defeated Marquette, 16 – 6. 

The classic eventually became a Dallas civic enterprise, produced under the auspices of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. The CBAA later became an agency of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Thus the Southwest Conference sponsors and controls the event, making it unique among all post-season games. The Conference voted in 1942 to send its championship team to the Cotton Bowl game as hosts. The opposition is chosen from the top teams in the nation. 

The Cotton Bowl Stadium has a seating capacity of 75,504 fans. At $5.50 a seat, that represents close to half a million dollars in receipts. Each competing team receives 39 per cent of the gate with seven per cent earmarked to be paid toward retiring the bonded indebtedness on the Cotton Bowl Stadium. The remaining 22 per cent goes to the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. After paying the expenses for the year, the Association gives the remainder of its income to the Southwest Conference. 

Thus each team in the eight-school league realizes a financial assistance from the annual classic. 

A helping of black-eyed peas and a serving of Cotton Bowl football are two items most Southwesterners like on their New Year’s Day menu.

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Sources & Notes

This article is from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock, the quarterly publication of the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation; this magazine is part of the Southwest Collection, Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University — the entire issue has been scanned and may be viewed as a PDF here.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Vent Reznor — The Hall of State’s Pretty Heat Machine

reznor_close_hall-of-state_may-2019_paula-bossePretty Heat Machine…

by Paula Bosse

A couple of years ago I was putting in a lot of hours volunteering at the Dallas Historical Society, which, if you don’t  know, is housed in the basement of the Hall of State in Fair Park. Whenever I left from the ground-level side exit, I passed this cool-looking pink heater hanging from the ceiling. First — it’s pink. Second — it’s made by a company called “Reznor.” To amuse myself, I named this heater “Vent Reznor” and would say “Hey, Vent” or “Bye, Vent” whenever I’d pass it. And then I looked it up and saw that this company — based in Mercer, Pennsylvania — was, in fact, established by the great-grandfather of Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor, in 1884.

None of this is historical, and only by the greatest stretch of imagination is it related to Dallas history, but it amuses me, and I’m hoping that posting this will exorcise “Head Like a Hole” from my brain, where it keeps playing over and over and over! (Oh — here’s a Dallas connection: one of the best concerts I ever saw was at the Arcadia, where the up-and-coming little band Nine Inch Nails opened for my idols, the Jesus and Mary Chain. Both bands were amazing. …And loud. (NIN was louder.) But only one of them has the sheerest of sheer connections to the Dallas Historical Society. And it isn’t JAMC.)

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Sources & Notes

Photos by Paula Bosse, taken in May, 2019 in the basement of the Hall of State, outside the offices of the Dallas Historical Society.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

State Fair of Texas, From Above — 1959

sfot_dallas-magazine_sept-1959A bird’s-eye view of the Great State Fair

by Paula Bosse

I think I see Waldo.

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Sources & Notes

Front cover of Dallas magazine, Sept. 1959.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Take a Greyhound to the Texas Centennial — 1936

tx-centennial_greyhound-ad_hollywood-mag_1936_det“Dallas, please…”

by Paula Bosse

Thanks to the promoters of the Texas Centennial, advertisements placed in national publications in 1936 showed Dallas to be quite the desirable destination. The Centennial — the World’s-Fair-that-wasn’t-quite-a-World’s Fair — made Dallas the place to be in 1936. This ad for Greyhound Lines (a company which, incidentally, is now headquartered in Dallas) need only show a fab deco poster on a wall for people to want to jump on a bus and head to Big D.

The full ad is below. Nary a mention of “Dallas.” (Click to see a larger image.)

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Sources & Notes

Ad from Hollywood magazine, May, 1936.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

George Dahl’s Proposed Massive “Lone Star” Entrance to Fair Park

tx-centennial_proposed-lone-star_george-dahl_dma-catalog_1972_portalWhat could have been at Fair Park: a really, really big star…

by Paula Bosse

As this year’s State-Fair-of-Texas-that-wasn’t draws to a virtual end, I thought I would post this image I came across a while ago — I’d never seen it before, and it’s something of a mystery. It appeared in a 1972 Dallas Museum of Art exhibition catalog called “1930s Expositions” (link at bottom of post). One of the expositions covered in the catalog was the Texas Centennial Exposition held at Fair Park in 1936. Most of the buildings we see today were built in 1935/1936, and the entire sprawling project was led by visionary chief architect George L. Dahl of Dallas. The description of this image reads:

“The monumental scale of the central area of the Exposition was set by the massive pylons which formed the entrance to the Centennial. How even more heroic would have been George Dahl’s proposed ‘Lone Star’ entrance.”

Whoa! Can you imagine that gigantic star spanning the entrance? A sort of  Colossus of Rhodes for Big D! (Big Tex is as close to a Colossus as we’re going to get.)

I searched and searched but could find nothing more about this incredibly dynamic Dahl vision. The closest I got was not what I was looking for, but it was still pretty interesting.

“Erection of a star-shaped building at a cost of $1,000,000 will be asked of the Legislature… This structure would be administrative headquarters for the central exposition in Dallas.” (Dallas Morning News, Dec. 9, 1934)

My first thought was, “Is that thing a building?” And then I searched on “star-shaped building” and found that there had been an extremely controversial “star-shaped building” built as the “Texas Building” at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Super-wealthy Texan E. H. R. Green was so appalled at the building’s design (by St. Louis-born Texas architect C. H. Page) that he resigned from the state commission in protest, saying this:

“I am not in any way to be identified with the official responsibility of the building that portrays Texas as a freak and that is what that star-shaped building does. No one ever heard of such a type of architecture before. I want a building that will impress those who see it with the idea Texas has some dignity.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 12, 1903)

St. Louis built it anyway. It was kind of freaky — especially with a replica of the State Capitol dome awkwardly plonked down in the middle (gilding the lily, man…) — but it was, apparently, quite popular. See a ground-level photo of the Texas Building here — and here’s a drawing:

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FWST, Jan. 31, 1904

That was an odd little detour. Anyway….

About that star over the Parry Avenue entrance to Fair Park — I’d love to know more about it. I’d love to see a better image. Anyone know anything? I wonder if Dahl’s plans and drawing for this giant Lone Star might be resting comfortably in the Dallas Historical Society archives?

Here’s the entrance design which was ultimately decided on — the one we still see today at Parry and Exposition. Yeah, there’s a star there, but now that I’ve seen what we could have had, it seems kind of puny. What it lost in overall heft it gained in height, I guess. But just imagine what it COULD have been!

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from the 1972 Dallas Museum of Fine Arts catalog for the traveling show “1930s Expositions” (page 16); a scan of the catalog can be found at the Portal to Texas History here, and at the DMA website here.

Color postcard found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Awaiting the “Victory Fair” of 1946…

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by Paula Bosse

Many of us are missing the State Fair of Texas, canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time the fair was canceled was during World War II. Here is an ad from 1945, assuring everyone that the State Fair would be back in 1946.

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Dallas Texas Victory Fair in ’46

Since the day we turned the entire facilities of our grounds and buildings into a base for military operations, officials and management of the STATE FAIR OF TEXAS have been dreaming and planning for the time when more than a million people would again throng the nation’s greatest annual exposition. Now those long-made plans are becoming realities that will focus the eyes of North and South America on Texas in 1946!

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Sources & Notes

Ad found on eBay (originally published in the “Billboard Cavalcade of Fairs,” Dec. 1, 1945).

More Flashback Dallas posts on the State Fair of Texas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Miscellaneous Dallas

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Wah Hoo Club Lake, Members Only…

by Paula Bosse

Here are several images, most in varying degrees of low resolution. I don’t know what else to do with them other than post them all together, randomly. No research. They’re just HERE! Enjoy!

Above, a handsome couple posing under the entrance to Wah-Hoo Club Lake (I’ve seen it more often spelled “Wahoo” — south of Fair Park).

Below, the Coca-Cola Company building, McKinney and N. Lamar (still standing).

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Speaking of Coke, here are some Keen folks, standing on the steps of the Jefferson Hotel (Union Station is out of frame to their right).

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A couple of blocks away, the Old Red Courthouse, seen here from an unusual angle — looking toward the northwest (postcard postmarked 1908).

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This is a super low-resolution image, but I’ve never seen it before, so, what the heck: I give you a fuzzy Jackson Street looking northeast (postmarked 1907).

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The “new” Post Office and Federal Building at Bryan and Ervay (postmarked 1964).

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A jog over to Oak Cliff — here’s a horse-drawn hearse.

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Up to Preston and Royal (northeast corner, I think) — a Mobil station.

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Even farther north, LBJ under construction, looking west at the intersection with Central (1967). (Can’t pass up the opportunity to link to one of the most popular photos I’ve ever posted which shows what is now LBJ and Valley View in 1958 — nothin’ but farmland.)

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And, lastly, my favorite of these miscellaneous images: the 2200 block of 2nd Avenue (from about Metropolitan — a couple of blocks south of Fair Park). This part of town used to be really interesting. Unfortunately, it looks nothing like this now (see it on Google Street View here). This is a screenshot from the KERA-produced documentary “South Dallas Pop” (which you can watch in its entirety here).

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Sources & Notes

All images found on eBay except for the following: Preston-Royal Mobil station, from Coltera’s Flickr stream; LBJ photo from Red Oak Kid’s Flickr stream; and the photo of 2nd Avenue, which might be from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

See “Miscellaneous Dallas #2” here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas — From “Texas, The Big State” (1952)

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_triple-underpassBehold…

by Paula Bosse

It’s always fun to see Dallas on film — and it’s even better when it’s a Technicolor film. Below are a few screenshots from “Texas — The Big State,” a 1952 travelogue produced by Santa Fe Railroad as a promotional film. It’s very enthusiastic. …Very. Dallas’ Norma-Desmond moment lasts only about three and a half minutes, but visits to downtown, Chance Vought, SMU, Fair Park, a Cotton Bowl game, and the State Fair of Texas manage to get crammed in, surrounded by a warm bath of dynamic adjectives.

Above, a scenic view of the triple underpass and the approach to downtown Dallas from the west. Nice foliage.

Below, a birds-eye view from the south (the same shot as the one by Eisenstaedt in the ’40s seen here, only a decade later — even the Falstaff Beer billboard is still there).

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The well-dressed mean streets of Big D:

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A woman walking on water at the Esplanade in Fair Park:

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Rolloplane, cotton candy, etc., at the State Fair of Texas:

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And, lastly, a fun fact I bet no one alive on this planet knows (or remembers): in 1952 Dallas was the second largest manufacturer of WASH DRESSES in the country. Probably the world. What a random piece of information for the Chamber of Commerce to have given to the Santa Fe people to include in a fluffy little film like this. Forget Neiman’s — we were number two in wash dresses! Number TWO!! (“Wash dresses”? Apparently they were house dresses made from washable fabrics. Like what Lucy Ricardo used to wear around the house when she didn’t have to don a hat and gloves to go pick up Ricky’s tux at the dry cleaners. Like the one seen in this “wash frocks” ad from 1950.) And here you go, two of the women who pushed us to runner-up wash-dress greatness:

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The 24-minute film — which premiered in Austin on May 28, 1952 and was included for months afterward as a “featurette” on double bills across the country — can be seen in its entirety on the SMU Jones Film YouTube channel. The Dallas bit starts at 9:43, followed by the Fort Worth bit at 13:19. I understand there are other cities, too.

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Sources & Notes

All images are screenshots from the 16mm film posted on YouTube by the G. William Jones Film Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University.

Special thanks to Erik Swanson for bringing this to my attention.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Guys and Dolls” at the State Fair Music Hall — 1951

sfot_guys-and-dolls_music-hall_1951_john-dominis_life-mag
Wearing the *dress* boots… (photo: John Dominis, © Time, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

This is the most Texans-going-to-the-theater photo I’ve ever seen.

And this is the most Texans-selling-minks ad I’ve ever seen:

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Sources and Notes

Photo by John Dominis, taken in October, 1951 on assignment for Life magazine, ©Time, Inc.; more info is here.

Neiman-Marcus ad is also from October, 1951.

“Take Back Your Mink” is a song from “Guys and Dolls” (hear it here), the musical that played during the 1951 State Fair of Texas, starring Pamela Britton, Allan Jones, Jeanne Ball, and Slapsie  Maxie Rosenbloom.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Marching to Mess — 1918

ww1_fort-dick_fair-park_marching-to-mess_roller-coaster_1918_natl-archivesNot your typical boot camp setting… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Camp Dick, an Air Service training camp which took over Fair Park during World War I. The War Department caption of this 1918 photo:

Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas: Men marching to mess after evening parade. Roof in foreground is the Officers’ house.

At the right is a roller coaster, a popular ride when the State Fair of Texas (rather than the U.S. military) is occupying the park.

Here’s a photo from 1911:

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When Preston Sturges trained at Camp Dick — well before he became a legendary Hollywood writer and director — he and his fellow cadets did not let that roller coaster go to waste. He wrote this in his autobiography, Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges:

Out on the parade ground, boys fell over from [the intense heat] all the time and had to be revived with cold water and a sponge. Nights we would climb up the shaky apex of the large roller coaster in the corner of the fairgrounds to try to find a breeze.

An unexpected perk of basic training.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the National Archives at College Park; more info is here.

State Fair photo is a real photo postcard, taken by John R. Minor, and is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Camp Dick can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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