Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Fort Worth

Viewing the 1878 Solar Eclipse in North Texas

solar-eclipse_fort-worth_july-1878_portal
Waiting… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today there will be a solar eclipse, best viewed in Chile and Argentina. On July 29, 1878, there was also a solar eclipse — that one was fully visible in the United States, and the best place to observe it in Texas was Fort Worth. As seen in the photo above, interest in the event was high. A party of academics from Harvard and other institutions set up on the property of S. W. Lomax of Fort Worth. They were joined by Alfred Freeman, a photographer from Dallas who was a successful portrait photographer and who also sold his photographs of special events (such as this one of a 4th of July parade and this one of a Mardi Gras parade in Dallas) — he no doubt sold reproductions of his eclipse photos taken on July 29th. (Freeman is a pretty interesting person, and I hope to write about him soon.)

Here are a few magnified details. I believe A. Freeman is seen below on the left.

solar-eclipse_fort-worth_july-1878_portal_freeman_det

solar-eclipse_fort-worth_july-1878_portal_astronomers-1_det

solar-eclipse_fort-worth_july-1878_portal_astronomers-2_det

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Read several lengthy articles on the preparation for the viewing and the description of the eclipse itself in these contemporary articles (they may not be easily viewable on mobile devices):

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Total Solar Eclipse in Fort Worth (1878)”, from the collection of Tarrant County College Northeast and can be found on the Portal to Texas History, here.

Newspapers linked above are also via the fabulous Portal to Texas History.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bruce Channel, Delbert McClinton, and The Beatles — 1962

beatles_delbert_bruce_062162_mike-mccartneyThe Ringo-less Beatles with Delbert and Bruce, June 21, 1962

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(CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FILM DISCUSSED IN THIS POST)

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by Paula Bosse

You know how you’re all excited about one thing only to discover something even more exciting sitting all alone over off to the side? That’s what happened when I took a look at the “Light Crust Doughboys collection” which has recently been uploaded to the Portal to Texas History site as part of the Spotlight on North Texas project via the UNT Media Library. I’m a huge fan of Western Swing and classic country music, and I spent an enjoyable hour or two watching home movies of the Light Crust Doughboys as they toured around Texas. When I looked to see what else comprised this collection, I saw the words “England Tour,” “Bruce Channel,” and “Delbert McClinton,” and a jolt went through me: oh my god, could there be film footage of the legendary meeting between the Beatles and North Texas musicians Bruce Channel and Delbert McClinton? Every Beatles fan worth his/her salt knows about the June 21, 1962 meeting when John Lennon eagerly chatted with Delbert McClinton about his harmonica prowess.

channel-beatles_poster_new-brightonvia Beatlesource.com

I watched the 27-minute home movie (shot by Marvin “Smokey” Montgomery, member of the Light Crust Doughboys and, from what I gather, Bruce Channel’s musical collaborator and, possibly, acting manager), and it does, in fact, capture glimpses of the famed tour in which Grapevine’s Channel, riding high on his #1 hit Hey! Baby, toured England with Fort Worth musician Delbert McClinton, who played harmonica on the record. One of their dates was the English town of Wallasey, just across the Mersey from Liverpool. On June 21, 1962 Bruce and Delbert played the New Brighton Tower Ballroom — their opening act was a popular local band on the brink of superstardom, The Beatles. Backstage, John Lennon asked for a few harmonica tips from Delbert whose Hey! Baby sound John really liked, and Delbert was happy to share. The photo above was taken at that meeting by Paul’s brother, Mike McCartney: from left to right, Pete Best (who would soon be replaced by Ringo Starr), John Lennon, Delbert McClinton (is he wearing Paul’s jacket?), Bruce Channel, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Another one, with Bruce and Paul, is below (I’m not sure who the girl is).

channel_mccartney_062162_mike-mccartney-photoBoth photos via Beatlesource.com

The home movie shot by Smokey Montgomery shows Bruce and Delbert (both only 21 years old at the time), their Fort Worth record producer “Major Bill” Smith, as well as several members of the package show of British performers that toured with Bruce, including Frank Ifield, Jay and Tommy Scott, and Beryl Bryden. …But, argh, no Beatles! So close! Still, this is great film footage of a famous tour — footage which may never have been seen by the public — and it is now available online for all to see, courtesy of the University of North Texas!

The 27-minute (silent) film can be viewed here (the good stuff is really only in the first 11 minutes or so — the rest is mostly tourist footage of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace). 

This may be thrilling to only a handful of people, but I am definitely one of those people!

A few screen captures from Smokey Montgomery’s 1962 “England Tour” film (all images are larger when clicked):

channel-film_UK_1962_bruce_busBruce on the bus

channel-film_UK_1962_delbertDelbert in a taxi

channel-film_UK_1962_bruce_with-fansBruce with fans

channel-film_UK_1962_bruce_fansPerks of the trade

channel-film_UK_1962_bruce_kiss
More perks

channel-film_UK_1962_delbert_hands-up
Delbert

channel-film_UK_1962_bruce_delbert_bbc
Bruce and Delbert, London

You just never know what you’re going to stumble across…. Below is Bruce Channel’s monster 1962 hit, recorded in 1961 at the Clifford Herring Studios in Fort Worth, Hey! Baby, kicked off by Delbert McClinton’s distinctive harmonica.

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Bruce Channel (born Bruce McMeans — the “Channel” was his mother’s maiden name), was born at the end of 1940 and attended Grapevine High School. During his high school days he gained popularity as a performer, complete with lengthy commutes between Dallas and Shreveport, where he was a regular performer on the star-making Louisiana Hayride. Around this time he began writing songs with Margaret Cobb, an Irving woman who was 10-15 years older and the sister of a musician acquaintance. Dallas-Fort Worth-area musician Smokey Montgomery (known for decades as the banjo player in the Light Crust Doughboys) not only helped arrange those songs, but he also produced and played on some of Channel’s early singles, such as the cool (and fast!) rockabilly number, Slow Down, Baby (hear it here) and a song I like even more, Come On, Baby (hear it here).

The Cobb-Channel-penned Hey! Baby was recorded in 1961 and soon became a local radio hit, most notably on KLIF in Dallas, then worked its way up charts around Texas. The song finally reached #1 in the country in March, 1962. Channel had a few other lesser hits, but none ever reached the heights of Hey! Baby. He moved to Nashville in the ’70s and embarked on a successful songwriting career.

Delbert McClinton was born in Lubbock, also at the end of 1940, but grew up in Fort Worth where he, too, was a teenage musician, first gaining attention with his band The Straitjackets/Straightjackets and later the Rondels. He’s a bona fide Texas blues legend and continues to perform.

channel-bruce_grapevine-high-school_sr-photo_1960Bruce McMeans, Grapevine High School, 1960

channel-bruce_louisiana-hayride_shreveport-times_101058
Shreveport Times, Oct. 10, 1958

channel-bruce_irving-news-record_010760
Irving (TX) News-Texan, Jan. 7, 1960 (click for larger image)

channel-bruce_louanns_march-1962
Louann’s, Dallas, March, 1962

bruce-channel_photo
British tour program photo, June, 1962, via Flickr

mcclinton-delnert_arlington-hts-high-school_1959_junior
Delbert McClinton, Arlington Heights High School, 1959

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Red Devil Lounge, Fort Worth, Jan., 1958

mcclinton-delbert_lubbock-avalanche-journal_032162
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, March 21, 1962 (click to read)

channel-bruce_delbert-mcclinton-strait-jacketsFWST_010662
Bruce with Delbert (and stripper Tammi True), FW, Jan. 1962

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Sources & Notes

The film featuring Bruce Channel and Delbert McClinton is titled “[The Light Crust Doughboys, No. 16 — England Tour]” and is part of the Spotlight on North Texas collection; it was provided by UNT Media Library to The Portal to Texas History and may be viewed here. It was filmed by Marvin “Smokey” Montgomery (who can be seen near the very end, sitting almost in silhouette in front of an airplane window). The film is part of a collection of Light Crust Doughboys and LCD-related materials donated by Art Greenhaw. (Special thanks to Laura Treat!)

Speaking of UNT, there may also be a film clip somewhere in the Denton vaults in which Bruce Channel, the “Grapevine farmboy,” was the subject of a WBAP-Ch. 5 news story (the April 18, 1962 script is here).

See the full printed program for Bruce Channel’s June, 1962 British package tour here.

Bruce Channel’s website is here. Read an interesting interview with him here. More Bruce on Wikipedia, here.

Delbert McClinton’s website is here. He’s constantly touring. Go see him!

The producer of (among other recordings) Hey! Baby and Hey, Paula (the song which has followed me around my whole life) was “Major Bill” Smith who was quite a polarizing character and was often described as a “hustler” (Delbert was not a fan). Read about him here. (Also, rockabilly god Ronnie Dawson might be one of the musicians on Hey! Baby — I’ve always heard he played drums on Hey, Paula.)

Marvin “Smokey” Montgomery is listed, along with Major Bill Smith, as a co-producer of Hey! Baby, which sold well over a million copies, but it rankled him that he did not get a songwriting credit (and, perhaps more importantly, did not earn royalties), which he contended he deserved: in a 1973 Dallas Morning News profile he said somewhat bitterly, “[*Now*] if I have anything to do with making the music or writing the words… you can bet your sweet life my name will be on that record.” (“The Man Who’ll ‘Listen To Your Song'” by David Hawkins, DMN, Oct. 18, 1973). More on Smokey’s long career can be found at the Handbook of Texas, here.

Read about the Beatles’ use of a perhaps Delbert-inspired harmonica sound on several of their early recordings, most notably Love Me Do, here.

Side note: Hey! Baby broke first locally on Dallas radio station KLIF and then on Houston’s KILT — both stations were owned by Gordon McLendon, which might explain why Bruce Channel was appearing at an April, 1964 political rally at Reverchon Park in support of McLendon’s race for U.S. Senate (?!) — see the ad here. (McLendon lost his Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Ralph Yarborough, who ultimately went on to defeat Republican contender, the elder George Bush.)

Bruce and Delbert weren’t the only DFW musicians with whom pre-Beatlemania Beatles hobnobbed: they also shared a bill in Paris with Dallas son Trini Lopez in 1963 — the Flashback Dallas post “Trini Lopez: Little Mexico’s Greatest Export” is here.

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Copyright © 2018 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.

“Teen-Age Downbeat”

teen-age-downbeat_broadcasting-mag_051859_detWBAP’s “Teen-Age Downbeat,” 1959 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

“Teen-Age Downbeat” — Fort Worth’s answer to “American Bandstand” — debuted on WBAP-TV in January, 1958 — in COLOR. It featured teens from the Dallas-Fort Worth area (…or maybe I should say from the Fort Worth-Dallas area…) who would play and dance to their favorite records. The host was WBAP broadcaster Tom Mullarkey (seen above at the left, wearing the red vest). The show was quite popular and lasted as best I can tell, from January, 1958 until July, 1961 (the last mention in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was July 1, 1961). I’m guessing those kids danced to a lot of Fabian.

teenage-downbeat_fwst_010558FWST, Jan. 5, 1958

teen-age-downbeat_sponsor-mag_080860“Sponsor” trade magazine, Aug. 8, 1960

teen-age-downbeat_unt-lab-bandNorth Texas State College’s Lab Band with director Gene Hall

teenage-downbeat_fwst_022661
FWST, Feb. 26, 1961

teen-age-downbeat_broadcasting-mag_051859
“Broadcasting” trade magazine, May 18, 1959

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Sources & Notes

The color photo (which appeared in a full-page WBAP ad in the trade magazine Broadcasting) shows non-teen Tom Mullarkey watching over the dancers from Arlington Heights High School, as the Polytechnic High School Stage Band plays some happenin’ tunes. (I do see two Dallas high school pennants in the photo: Crozier Tech and Sunset.)

The photo showing director Gene Hall with the North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas) Laboratory Band was found at UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here. The photo is not dated, but a blurb in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram mentioned that Hall and the band were to appear on “Teen-Age Downbeat” on Feb. 5, 1959.

All pictures and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas’ Texas Centennial Exposition vs. Fort Worth’s Frontier Exposition — 1936

tx-centennial-postcard_old-man-texas_smWelcome to Dallas (and/or Fort Worth)!

by Paula Bosse

The Texas Centennial Exposition opened in Dallas at Fair Park in June, 1936 — 80 years ago this week. It was described in newsreels as “A New City, A Great City, A City of a Thousand Sights and a Thousand Wonders.” Which I guess it kind of was. I’ve written about the Centennial before, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my favorite part of the Centennial’s taking place in Dallas is that it seriously rubbed “Mr. Fort Worth,” Amon Carter, the wrong way. Carter’s distaste of Dallas was well-known, so it was no surprise, really, that this caused him to blow his top and, damn it, he created his OWN competing celebration: the Fort Worth Frontier Centennial Exposition. The Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry had already been going strong for years, but the Centennial pushed it into Hatfield-and-McCoy feud territory (although one gets the feeling that most of it was an act that generated a lot of great publicity for both sides).

Watch film footage of ol’ Amon’s blood pressure spike into the danger zone here, in a moment from a March of Time newsreel as he proclaims that Fort Worth will teach “those dudes over there” (in Dallas) a thing or two by outdoing Big D in sheer gigantic spectacle. …And sex. Or, “whoopee.” Nudity was on display absolutely everywhere at both Centennial expositions. Dallas had always planned on having the titillation before Amon Carter got into the act, but the involvement of Billy Rose on the Fort Worth side probably encouraged Dallas to, um … augment the fleshy offerings on display in Fair Park.

Broadway impresario Billy Rose was hired by Amon Carter to sex-up the Fort Worth expo and to do everything he could to draw more visitors to Fort Worth than to Dallas. Rose went so far as to have a HUGE electric sign (supposedly the second largest electric sign in the world) placed on top of a building on Parry directly opposite the entrance to Fair Park which read:

“Fort Worth Frontier — Wild & Whoo-pee — 45 Minutes West.”

Which is pretty hilarious. (Same view today?)

tx-centennial_FW-sign_billy-rose-presents_book_1936

(See a giant image of this photo in the UTA digital collection, here.)

I’m not sure whether the Dallas Centennial organizers were miffed or amused, but one can only imagine that Amon Carter was thrilled to bits when he saw his sign appear (fleetingly) in the Gene Autry movie The Big Show which had been shot in Fair Park during the Centennial.

billy-rose-billboard_big-show-movie_gene-autry

Fort Worth was all about the “whoo-pee,” and the tag-line to their show was “Come to Fort Worth for Entertainment, Go Elsewhere for Education.”

frontier_FWST_071436-detFort Worth Star-Telegram, July 14, 1936

The “feud” (i.e. the publicity machine) really cranked up when the producers of the March of Time newsreel sent their people to film in Dallas and Fort Worth. The result — a splashy look at the inter-city rivalry titled “Battle of a Centennial” — was shown in DFW-area theaters, and boisterous audiences either applauded for Dallas and hissed at Fort Worth (or vice-versa), depending on their allegiance.  (Click ad below for larger image.)

march-of-time_dmn_061736
June, 1936

In the end, the celebrations in both Dallas and Fort Worth were successful (although Dallas was the clear winner!), but the rivalry and competitive showmanship from the two cities probably made the shows much more entertaining than they might otherwise have been. So, thanks, Amon!

frontier_pinterest
via Pinterest

frontier_dmn_073036
July, 1936

frontier-centennial_FWST_071236
July, 1936

tx-centennial_variety-via-decatur-illinois-herald_060336
Variety article reprinted in Decatur (Illinois) Herald, June 3, 1936

billy-rose_casa-manana
via oldimprints.com

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Sources & Notes

Source of postcard at top unknown.

Photo of the “whoo-pee” billboard is from the book Billy Rose Presents … Casa Mañana (Fort Worth: TCU Press, 1999) by Jan Jones. Jones writes that the billboard was on top of the building at Parry and First.

The shot of the billboard hovering over cowboys is a screengrab from the interesting-but-dull Gene Autry movie, The Big Show, shot mostly on the grounds of Fair Park during the Centennial. You can watch the full movie here.

The clip of Amon Carter shaking his fist at “those dudes” in Dallas is from the 1936 March of Times newsreel, “Battle of a Centennial.” I have been unable to find the entire film streaming online, but you can watch a whole bunch of clips (about 13) from Getty Images, here. The full thing appears to be available for purchase here, but only if you are affiliated with a school or institution. (If anyone has access to the full newsreel, let me know!)

Watch a different newsreel/film on the Centennial Exposition — the 11-minute Texas Centennial Highlights, shot and produced by Dallas’ Jamieson Film Co. — at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image site, here.

For more on Fort Worth’s horning-in-on Dallas’ Centennial, read the entertaining article “Makin’ Whoopee — Amon Carter Couldn’t Make Either the Depression or Dallas Go Away, But He Sure Tried” by Jerry Flemmons (D Magazine, April, 1978), here.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to embed the video I linked to above of Amon Carter sputtering about Dallas hosting the state’s Centennial, but I encourage everyone who’s ever been amused by the Dallas-Fort Worth “feud” to watch it here — it’s well worth 17 seconds of your time! As John Rosenfield wrote in the Dallas Morning News review of this March of Time newsreel, “The best actor from across the river is Amon Carter, long a leading man among Texas political Thespians” (DMN, “Centennial Fight in ‘Time’ Release,” June 21, 1936). Newspaperman Carter knew how to parlay outrageous remarks about exaggerated competition into sweet, sweet publicity for himself and his newspaper. Check out the photo of a smiling Carter with his arm around “bitter rival,” G. B. Dealey of The Dallas Morning News, here. Amon knew a thing or two about a thing or two….

Pictures and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

MLK in DFW — 1959

mlk-DFW-102259_calvin-littlejohn_briscoeDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in DFW (photo © Calvin Littlejohn Estate)

by Paula Bosse

A couple of photos of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on a quick trip to Dallas and Fort Worth in late October, 1959, taken by the wonderful Fort Worth photographer Calvin Littlejohn. The above photo is from Oct. 22, 1959 and was, I believe, taken after his speech at the Majestic Theatre in Fort Worth. Below, a photo of Dr. King taken at Love Field.

mlk_love-field_calvin-littlejohn_1959

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Sources & Notes

Top photo by Calvin Littlejohn, from the Littlejohn Photographic Archive, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Mr. Littlejohn took several photos of Dr. King that visit, the locations of which are listed here — giving a good indication of the itinerary of the visit. I saw no mention or coverage of this visit in either The Dallas Morning News or The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Second photo from the TCU Press Facebook page.

A nice overview of Calvin Littlejohn’s career and a few of his photographs can be found here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Lucy, Desi, Dallas — 1956

lucy-desi_fw_bellaircraftLucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and their loaner ‘copter from Bell Aircraft

by Paula Bosse

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz came to Dallas and Fort Worth in 1956 to promote their new movie, “Forever Darling.” Their arrival times were heavily publicized, and throngs of fans showed up to welcome them — in Dallas at Love Field, and in Fort Worth at the Western Hills Hotel. For those who might have missed their arrivals, they still had a chance to see the couple at one of the personal appearances scheduled at the theaters showing their movie (in Dallas at the Majestic on February 10th, and in Fort Worth at the Hollywood on the 11th). Crowds were large and enthusiastic, and everyone appears to have had a genuinely fun time, possibly even Lucy and Desi, whose relationship in those days was frequently a bit shaky.

Best of all was the tidbit about how the famous couple traveled from Dallas to Fort Worth: by helicopter.

Two television stars will be sailing around above Dallas skyscrapers Saturday. …Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz will catch a helicopter ride from atop the Statler Hilton for a trip to Fort Worth. City Council officially sanctioned the ride at its Monday meeting. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 7, 1956)

They left from the helipad atop the Statler Hilton and touched down at the helipad at the Western Hills Hotel in Fort Worth (hotels are nothing without helipads). There was some sort of cordial relationship between the Arnazes and the people at Bell Aircraft, because they availed themselves of this brand new deluxe chopper in New York as well as in DFW. When their promotional duties were finished, Lucy and Desi left Cowtown for California as guests of the president of the Santa Fe Railway — in his private car. Because that’s how you travel if you’re Hollywood royalty.

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lucy-desi_dmn_020856-detFeb 8, 1956
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lucy-desi_dmn_021156-photolucy-desi_dmn_021156-captionDMN, Feb. 11, 1956

(Leon Craker, I bet you had a great story about this for years after this momentous meeting.) 

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In Fort Worth, Elston Brooks (whose amusing articles I’ve really enjoyed discovering these past few months), seemed underwhelmed and a little annoyed at the prospect of  “lovable Lucy and spouse” invading the city (click articles to see larger images):

lucy-desi_FWST_020556Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 5, 1956
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Elson Brooks may not have been very excited, but when Lucy and Desi stepped out of that helicopter, the Fort Worth crowd went wild (click text for larger image):

lucy-desi_FWST_021256-photo

lucy-desi_FWST_021256a

lucy-desi_FWST_021256bFWST, Feb. 12, 1956

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And here they are back in Los Angeles, with Desi Jr., at the end of a busy promotional tour. Desi is proudly wearing the cowboy hat he’d been given in Fort Worth. And he looks damn good in it.

lucy-desi_dfw

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Sources & Notes

Top photo of Lucy and Desi standing next to the 1956 Bell 47H-1 (“one of the world’s first executive helicopters”) is from the August 2012 issue of Vintage Aircraft Magazine; photo from Bell Aircraft. The article concerning this helicopter model is contained in a PDF here.

The bottom photo is from a Pinterest page, here.

UPDATE: I had originally identified the photo of Lucy and Desi with the train as having probably been taken in Fort Worth as they were about to depart for Hollywood, mainly because they’re wearing similar clothing from the FW appearance, but a rail historian noted that this photo was actually taken in California at the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal — he could tell because he recognized the part of the platform structure over their heads! (“I can name that song in TWO notes!”) The photo he directed me which shows the LAUPT platform (and, in fact, the same engine, two years earlier!), is here. They probably took the final photo for the Santa Fe company as thanks for providing them with transportation back home in the president’s private car. (Thanks, Skip!)

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And because today is Lucille Ball’s birthday (which I know only because she shares a birthday with my aunt — happy birthday, Bettye Jo!), it seems like a good time to wheel out this strikingly beautiful portrait of Lucy, along with a wonderful photograph of her from about the same time (probably between 1928 and 1930).

lucilleballportrait

lucilleball-ca1930

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Speed With Safety” on the Crimson Limited — 1930

crimson-ltd_interurban_1930(Click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A 1930 ad for the Crimson Limited deluxe interurbans (electrified railway trains) that ran between Dallas and Fort Worth, a couple of years before the company went into receivership, put out of business by the rise of automobile culture. Even though the writing was pretty much on the walls, the Northern Texas Traction Company fought hard to reverse the decline in ridership by introducing these fancy Crimson Limited cars:

“The most notable of their moves was the introduction of the Crimson Limited in October of 1924. The Crimson Limited was the name given to the upgraded interurban service to Dallas because the cars were painted bright red. The trailer car saw the most extensive upgrades. The bench seats in the rear half of the car were removed and replaced with wicker chairs. The rear doors were converted to windows giving the car a ‘parlor car’ appearance. Additional upgrades were implemented in 1927. Although the public approved of the new more luxurious trains and more modern streetcars, they continued to abandon mass transit for the automobile.” (–North Texas Historic Transportation, Inc.)

Wicker chairs? Pure LUXURY!

interurban-map

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The ad is from an old magazine I can’t cite because it’s stuck in a box in a closet somewhere.

The quote is from a page on the very informative North Texas Historic Transportation site, here.

For more on this topic, check out the nice, meaty, image-filled post (which includes an ad touting the somewhat vague “Special Conveniences for Ladies”) on the Hometown by Handlebar blog, here. (Hometown by Handlebar is a really great Fort Worth history blog that might prove I was separated at birth from a twin sibling I knew nothing about!)

Not quite sure what an “interurban” is? Fret not. Wikipedia’s here to help, here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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