Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Lower Greenville/M Streets

Paving Matilda — 1971

milazzo_album_matilda_1971_3_120“Matilda gets a concrete face”… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A couple of days ago I wrote about the history of Matilda Street in regard to its role as a railway for the Sherman-Denison interurban and the Belmont streetcar line. I noted that I had childhood memories from the 1970s of Matilda being a dirt street — which seems hard to believe these days since it carries a fair amount of traffic and is generally a quicker drive than Greenville Avenue, one block west. 

In response, one of the many Milazzo siblings (whom I remember not as individuals but as one large flock of children who regularly accompanied their parents to visit my father’s bookstore in the 1970s and ’80s) sent me some photos from a family album showing, yes, Matilda Street being paved! They lived in the 5700 block of Goodwin, and the photos were taken in 1971, from their yard, looking east across Matilda.

The streetcar tracks were abandoned in 1955 but were not removed — it took a full sixteen years for them to be paved over! Before that? Dirt street. If you look closely at the Google Street View capture from Oct. 2017, you can see the old rails peeking through.

Below are three photos from the Milazzo’s family album showing the Matilda “street improvements.” The construction vehicle seen in the first two photos is pretty weird-looking — like a cross between a locomotive and a tank. In fact, at first I thought the thing was actually running on the rails it was working to pave over, until I saw that what I had thought were train wheels look more like tank treads. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like something you’d expect to see on a residential street in the 1970s. In the third photo, you can see part of Robert E. Lee Elementary School at the left. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

matilda_milazzo_1971_a_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_b_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_c_120

Thank you, Milazzo family!

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Sources & Notes

Photos from the collection of the Milazzo family, used with permission. The third photo shows a date-stamp of April, 1971.

The related Flashback Dallas post “Ghost Rails of the Belmont Streetcar Line” is here.

All photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ghost Rails of the Belmont Streetcar Line

matilda-richmond_dan-parr-photo_FB-dallas-history-guild_april-2018Matilda & Richmond, April, 2018… (photo: Dan Parr)

by Paula Bosse

I grew up on Ellsworth, between Greenville Avenue and Matilda — just south of Mockingbird, just north of the M Streets. When I was a child, Matilda was only partially paved — in my neighborhood, maybe only from Mockingbird down to Kenwood? Otherwise, it was a dirt street (!) — and this was in the ’70s! Right around Kenwood was a weird mound which might not have looked like much to an adult, but to a child it was pretty strange. I can’t remember if the rails were visible — I’m pretty sure they were.

That line was the Belmont Line, which ended (began?) at Mockingbird (I think there was a later extension of sorts, but I think Mockingbird was the end of the line for streetcar passengers). As a kid, I knew that Matilda had been a long-gone streetcar line, but never having seen a streetcar outside of a movie, I couldn’t really imagine what it must have been like to have streetcars (and an interurban! — more on that below) moving up and down a street which was less than a block from my house.

A few years ago I stumbled across the YouTube video below and was surprised to see actual footage of that streetcar rolling up Matilda. The first five minutes of the video contains 16mm footage (both black-and-white and color) shot around Dallas in 1953 and 1954 by Gene Schmidt. It’s GREAT! You’ll see streetcars-galore moving past all sorts of familiar and vaguely familiar sights around the city, from Oak Cliff to downtown to way out to Mockingbird and Matilda. It ends with the Belmont-Seventh car (car 603) pulling to the end of the line — the view is looking south down an unpaved Matilda Street from Mockingbird, with a glimpse of the Stonewall Jackson playing field at the left, on the other side of the fence. (The Matilda footage begins at 4:17.)

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belmont-line_matilda-from-mockingbird_youtube-cap_ca1954Matilda, south from Mockingbird, ca. 1954 (Gene Schmidt)

Above, a screen capture from the video showing Matilda looking south from just south of Mockingbird. Stonewall Jackson Elementary School is at the left. Today the view looks like this.

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Before the streetcar arrived, Matilda was the artery that led the Texas Traction Company’s Sherman/Denison interurban into Dallas. This electric interurban service from the north, which closely followed the H&TC railroad line, arrived in Dallas in 1908, back when the official entry-point into the Dallas city limits was just off Matilda, near Greenville Avenue and Bryan Street.

1908_interurban_sherman-dallas_dmn_011608
DMN, Jan. 16, 1908 (click to read)

The interurban route connecting Sherman/Denison with Dallas opened on July 1, 1908 and lasted for 40 years, until its final run on December 31, 1948. (Read the Dallas Morning News article on the 1908 inaugural trip for big-wigs, “Many Make Trip Over Interurban,” July 1, 1908, here. Below is the accompanying photo. Image that running up and down Matilda — and, later, along other streets in Dallas — several times a day!)

interurban_sherman-dallas_dmn_070108
DMN, July 1, 1908

Dallas’ ever-increasing population began to move northward and eastward, necessitating public transportation which would connect these developing areas with the rest of the city. One of the early “suburban” lines was the Belmont Line, which branched off the Bryan Street line and served the Belmont Addition and beyond; it opened in 1913, but these early days appear to have been more of a private “dinky” service (see SMU’s dinky car on the beyond-the-city-limits tracks at Hillcrest and McFarlin, here). The Belmont line — as well as the Vickery Place and Mount Auburn lines — became part of the city’s official streetcar system in 1922.

Before the dinky service, riders were able to get on and off the large interurban cars at stops between Mockingbird and the area around Bryan and Greenville Ave. Even though interurbans and streetcars were able to travel on the same rails, it took years for dedicated streetcar tracks to be laid along Matilda.

This detail of a real estate ad shows that the Belmont line had reached at least as far as Richmond by 1914 (I felt I had to include this because the finger is pointing at the exact location of the exposed rails in the photo at the top!):

1914_matilda-richmond_lakewood-heights-ad_det_050314
May, 1914 (detail from Lakewood Heights real estate ad — see full ad here)

By 1922 the Belmont line had extended north to Velasco; by 1925 it had gotten to McCommas; by 1936 it had made it up to Penrose; and by 1939 it had finally reached Mockingbird (in time for the opening that year of Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, located at Mockingbird and Matilda).

Dallas streetcars began to be phased out in 1955, and the Belmont line was one of the first to go — its last run was March 6, 1955: “The Belmont-Seventh streetcar line will go out of existence Sunday to be replaced by service with new Diesel buses” (Dallas Morning News, March 6, 1955). The new bus route in the Lower Greenville area would, for the most part, be along Greenville Avenue, one block west of unpaved Matilda Street.

In March, 1955, it was reported that the abandoned Belmont-Seventh streetcar tracks were deeded to the city by the Dallas Railway and Terminal Co., with the understanding that they would eventually be paved over. The tracks were on Matilda, Bryan, Cantegral, Live Oak, St. Paul, King’s Highway, Edgefield, Seventh, Bishop, and Colorado. In April, 1956, it was reported that the City Council had approved the sale of the streetcar viaduct over the Trinity River and the Matilda street right-of-way.

But what about that paving of Matilda? Mrs. K. E. Slaughter had thoughts on the matter in a letter-to-the editor in April, 1955:

Since removal of the Belmont streetcar line in part — Matilda and Bryan streets — would it not be advantageous to develop this section into an important use to the heavy automobile traffic? Matilda now is no more than useless tracks built up between a cow path. (DMN, April 7, 1955)

“Cow path” — ha!

Another annoyed News reader wrote in 1963 — eight years after the tracks had been abandoned — about the useless unpaved thoroughfare:

The abandoned almost-private right of ways, such as Matilda, nearly two miles south from Mockingbird, received by the city in a deal to permit an all-bus operation, have not yet been paved or otherwise improved. (DMN, Oct. 21, 1963)

I’m not sure when that paving finally happened — early ’70s? — I think it must have been done in stages. I don’t remember a time when the stretch between Mockingbird and Kenwood wasn’t paved, but I do remember Matilda being a dirt road south of Kenwood. I don’t have a good recollection of the year, but kids remember all sorts of weird things, and those mysterious mounds were pretty memorable. (UPDATE: See photos of Matilda being paved at Goodwin in 1971 here.) I wish I’d known what an interurban was when I was a child. That would have made my neighborhood seem a whole lot more interesting! Heck, it used to the Gateway to Sherman!

I’ve long despaired of having missed the streetcar age. But it’s nice to know that one ran so close to the house I grew up in.

belmont-line_matilda-mockingbird_youtube-cap_ca1954End of the line, ca. 1954… (Gene Schmidt)

belmont-car_lakewood-heights-ad-det_050314

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Sources & Notes

Top photo taken by Dan Parr on April 15, 2018; it was originally posted to the Facebook group Dallas History Guild and is used here with permission. (Thanks, Dan!) The photo was taken at Matilda and Richmond, looking south on Matilda. See it on Google Street View, here. (Roadwork along Matilda is awful at the moment, but much-needed. Apparently it is being reduced to three lanes for automobiles with two bike lanes being added — read about it in the Lakewood Advocate, here.)

YouTube video shot by Gene Schmidt in 1953 and 1954; the direct link is here.

Another interesting video on YouTube was made by the City of Allen and contains period footage of the interurban that served North Texas. It’s a breezy 6-and-a-half  minutes, and it includes some cool shots of Dallas.

If you want to see a whole bunch of North Texas interurban photos, check out this great 83-page PDF compiled by DART, “History of the Interurban Railway System and Monroe Shops,” here.

Speaking of DART, they posted a cool 1925 map of streetcar and interurban lines, here — click the map to see a larger image. (In 1925, the Belmont line ended on Matilda at McCommas).

ALSO extremely cool is a Google map showing Dallas’ Historical Streetcar (and Interurban) Lines laid over a present-day Google map, here. Zoom in and out. Very useful!

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Even Lower Than Lowest Greenville

greenville-ave_lindell_bryan-pkwy_sears-parking-lot_squire-haskins_UTAWhere Greenville begins to peter out… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows the lowest part of Greenville Avenue, between Lindell and Bryan Parkway, almost down to where Greenville turns into Munger. It was taken from the parking lot of the Sears store at Ross and Henderson (a shopping center now anchored by a Fiesta grocery store), a place where I spent many hours as a child. I have vivid memories of that store, especially the intense smell of popcorn that hit you like a buttery thunderclap as you entered from the parking lot.

I love that fact that a couple of the buildings seen in this photo (including the Munger Place Church, seen partially at the far right) are still standing.

That cool Fina station seen in the top photo — at the corner of Greenville and Bryan Parkway — has been “modified” somewhat under the thatched hut roof of the Palapas Seafood Bar, but it’s definitely still recognizable. And Fina’s next-door neighbor, the Minute Service Garage, is still alive, too, looking a little less garage-y these days, but still looking pretty good.

greenville_google-street-view_feb-2017Google Street View, Feb. 2017

Then and now:

greenville-ave_from-sears_then-now

Keep on keeping on, Greenville Avenue!

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Top photo by Squire Haskins from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections; more info on the photo is here — click the thumbnail on that page to see a very large image.

More Squire Haskins photographs taken around the perimeter of this Sears store (which opened in September, 1947) are here, here, here, and here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Belmont & Greenville: From Caruth Farmland to Hub of Lower Greenville

hockaday-campus_aerialHockaday campus — Greenville Ave. at the right (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

If you’ve driven down lower Greenville Avenue lately, you’re probably aware that the buildings that most recently housed a retirement home at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville were scheduled to be been torn down. When I drove past that intersection a few weeks ago and saw the entire block leveled, I was shocked. It’s weird suddenly not seeing buildings you’ve seen your entire life. It got me to wondering what had been on that block before. I’d heard that Hockaday had occupied that block for several years, but even though I’d grown up not too far away, I’d only learned of that within the past few years. When I looked into this block’s history, the most surprising thing about it is that it has passed through so few owners’ hands over the past 140 or so years.

As far as I can tell, the first owner or this land was Walter Caruth (1826-1897), a pioneer merchant and farmer who arrived in this area in the 1840s (some sources say the 1850s), along with his brother, William. Over the years the brothers amassed an absolutely staggering amount of land — thousands and thousands of acres which stretched from about Inwood Road to White Rock Lake, and Ross Avenue up to Forest Lane. One of Walter Caruth’s tracts of land consisted of about 900 acres along the eastern edge of the city — this parcel of land included the 8 or 9 acres which is now the block bounded by Greenville, Belmont, Summit, and Richard, and it was where he built his country home (he also had a residence downtown). The magnificent Caruth house was called Bosque Bonita. Here is a picture of it, several years after the Caruths had moved out (the swimming pool was added later).

caruth_bosque-bonita_dallas-rediscovered

Most sources estimate that the house was built around 1885 (although a 1939 newspaper article stated that one of Walter’s children was born in this house in 1876…), but it wasn’t until 1890 that it began to be mentioned in the society pages, most often as the site of lavish parties. (Click pictures and  articles to see larger images.)

bosque-bonita_dmn_020390Dallas  Morning News, Feb. 3, 1890

At the time, the Caruth house was one of the few buildings in this area — and it was surrounded by endless acres of corn and cotton crops. It wasn’t long, though, before Dallas development was on the march eastward and northward. This ad, for the new Belmont Addition, appeared in April of 1890, and it mentioned the Caruth place as a distinguished neighboring landmark.

belmont-addition_dmn_041690
DMN, April 16, 1890

By the turn of the century — after Caruth’s death in 1897 — it was inevitable that this part of town (which was not yet fully incorporated into the City of Dallas) would soon be dotted with homes and businesses.

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DMN, Sept. 27, 1903

At one time the Caruth family owned land in and around Dallas which would be worth the equivalent of billions of dollars in today’s money. After Walter Caruth’s death, the Caruth family became embroiled in years of litigation, arguing over what land belonged to which part of the family. I‘m not sure when Walter Caruth’s land around his “farmhouse” began to be sold off, but by 1917, the Hardin School for Boys (established in 1910) moved into Bosque Bonita and set up shop. It operated at this location for two years. The Caruth house even appears in an ad.

hardin-school_dmn_071517_bosque-bonita_ad
DMN, July 15, 1917

I’m not sure if the Hardin School owned the land or was merely leasing it and the house, but in 1919, Ela Hockaday announced that she had purchased the land and planned to move her school — Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls (est. 1913) — to this block and build on it a two-story brick school building, a swimming pool (seen in the photo above), tennis courts, basketball courts, hockey fields, and quarters for staff and girls from out of town who boarded.

hockaday_dmn_051119DMN, May 11, 1919

hockaday_dmn_070619
DMN, July 6, 1919

Ground was broken in July of 1919, and the first session at the new campus began on schedule in September. Below, the building under construction. Greenville Avenue is just out of frame to the right.

hockaday_greenville_construction_hockaday100Photo: Hockaday 100

hockaday_greenville-ave_1919_reminiscences

hockaday_greenville-belmont_1920s_horses

The most interesting thing I read about the Hockaday school occupying this block is that very soon after opening, the beautiful Caruth house was moved from its original location at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville. It was rolled on logs to the middle and back of the property. “Bosque Bonita” became “Trent House.” Former student (and later teacher) Genevieve Hudson remembered the moving of the house in an oral history contained in the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas:

caruth-house_hockaday_reminiscences-bk

You can see the new location of the house in the top aerial photo, and in this one:

hockaday_aerial_dplDallas Public Library

Another interesting little tidbit was mentioned in a 1947 Dallas Morning News article: Caruth’s old hitching post was still on the property — “on Greenville Avenue 100 feet north of the Belmont corner” (DMN, May 2, 1947). I’d love to have seen that.

After 42 years of sustained growth at the Greenville Avenue location (and five years after the passing of Miss Hockaday), the prestigious Hockaday School moved to its current location in North Dallas just after Thanksgiving, 1961. Suddenly, a large and very desirable tract of land between Vickery Place and the M Streets was available to be developed. Neighbors feared the worst: high-rise apartments.

The developer proposed a “low-rise,” “semi-luxury” (?) group of four 5-story apartment buildings, each designed to accommodate specific tenants: one for swinging singles (“where the Patricia Stevens models live”), one for single or married adults, one for families with children, and one for “sedate and reserved adults.” It was to be called … “Hockaday Village.” The architect was A. Warren Morey, the man who went on to design the cool Holiday Inn on Central and, surprisingly, Texas Stadium.

Bosque Bonita — and all of the other school buildings — bit the dust in preparation for the apartment’s construction. Hockaday Village (…what would Miss Hockaday have thought of that name?) opened at the end of 1964.

hockaday-village_dmn_101864
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_101864_carpet-of-treetops
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_031365
March, 1965

And then before you knew it, it was the ’70s, the era of waterbeds and shag carpeting. (Miss Hockaday would not have tolerated such tackiness, and I seriously doubt that Mr. Caruth would have ever understood why shag carpeting was something anyone would actually want.)

hockaday-village_dmn_052271_waterbeds
1971

Then, in 1973, the insistently hip ads stopped. In April, 1974 this appeared:

hockaday-village_FWST_042874
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 28, 1974

The apartments were being offered for public auction by the “Office of Property Disposition” of the Federal Housing Authority and HUD. Doesn’t sound good. So who bit and took the plunge? The First Baptist Church of Dallas, that’s who. The plan was to redevelop the existing apartments into a retirement community called The Criswell Towers, to be named after Dr. W. A. Criswell. But a mere three months later, the Baptists realized they had bitten off more than they could chew — the price to convert the property into a “home for the aged” would be “astronomical.” They let the building go and took a loss of $135,000. It went back on the auction block.

Two years later, in the summer of 1976 … the old Hockaday Village became Belmont Towers — and the new owners must have thought the Baptists’ idea was a good one, because Belmont Towers advertised itself as “mature adult living at its finest” — “perfect for retired or semi-retired individuals.”

hockaday-village_dmn_043083_belmont-towers
April, 1983

It was Belmont Towers for 20-or-so years. In 1998, the buildings were renovated and updated, and it re-opened as Vickery Towers, still a retirement home and assisted living facility. A couple of years ago it was announced that the buildings would be demolished and a new development would be constructed in its place. It took forever for the 52-year-old complex to finally be put out of its misery since that announcement. Those buildings had been there my entire life and, like I said, it was a shock to see nothing at all in that block a few weeks ago.

vickery-towers_050516_danny-linn-photoPhoto: Danny Linn

In the 140-or-so years since Walter Caruth acquired this land in the 1870s or 1880s, it has been occupied by Caruth’s grand house, a boys school, the Hockaday School, and four buildings which have been apartments and a retirement community. And that’s it. That’s pretty unusual for development-crazy Dallas. I’ll miss those familiar old buildings. I hope that whatever is coming to replace them won’t be too bad.

greenville-belmont_bing_aerial
Bing Maps

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Sources & Notes

The top aerial photograph is from the Vickery Place neighborhood website, here. Belmont is the street running diagonally at the left, and Greenville is the street running diagonally at the right. I’m not sure of the date, but the Hockaday Junior College (which I had never heard of before) can be seen at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville — the original location of Bosque Bonita before it was rolled across the campus.

That fabulous photo of Bosque Bonita is from the book Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald.

Photo of Hockaday girls playing tennis is from the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.

Photo of girls on horseback … I’m not sure what the source of this photo is.

Photo of the block, post-razing is by Danny Linn who grew up in Vickery Place; used with permission. (Thanks, Danny!)

All other sources as noted.

In case you were confused, the Caruth Homeplace that most of us might know (which is just south of Northwest Highway and west of Central Expressway) was the home of Walter Caruth’s brother William — more on that Caruth house can be found here.

The Hockaday School can be seen on the 1922 Sanborn map here (that block is a trapezoid!).

More on the history of the Hockaday School can be found at the Hockaday 100 site; a page with many more photos is here. Read about the history of the school in the article “Miss Ela Builds a Home” by Patricia Conner Coggan in the Spring, 2002 issue of Legacies, here.

Additional information can be found in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Proposal to Change Hockaday Site to Apartment Zoning Opposed” (DMN, Oct. 29, 1961)
  • “Retirement Home Plans Going Ahead” (regarding the purchase by the First Baptist Church of Dallas) (DMN, June 15, 1974)
  • “Church Takes $135,000 Loss on Property” (DMN, Sept. 10, 1974)

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If you made it all the way through this, thank you! I owe you a W. C. Fields “hearty handclasp.”

Photos and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Happy Flag Day from the Girls of Miss Hockaday’s School — 1957

flag_hockaday-yrbk_1957On flag detail in lovely Vickery Place (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is Flag Day. This seems an appropriate day to post this photo of Hockaday girls on flag duty in 1957, a few short years before the prestigious school moved from this Lower Greenville campus which once occupied the entire block at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville to its present location in North Dallas.

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Photograph from the 1957 Hockaday yearbook.

Click picture for larger image.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Vickery Place: “Above the City” — 1911

vickery-place-dmn_061111“An Unstinted Supply of the Very Best Water” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Vickery Place is the place to be!

  • Most Convenient
  • Most Reasonable
  • Most Desirable

And the water! Gobs of it! Look for the flag on the derrick over the artesian well — you can see it from St. Mary’s College on Ross!

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Ad for the new Vickery Place Addition appeared in the June 11, 1911 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Vickery Place website is here.

Vickery Place wiki is here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Happy 75th Anniversary, Stonewall!

1938-stonewall-jackson-elementary-school_renderingStonewall Jackson Elementary School, 1938 rendering (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Classes begin today for students in DISD schools, one of which is Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, located at Mockingbird and Matilda. Stonewall turns 75 years old this year (2014), and I’m proud to say it’s where I spent many years as a happy student. When I learned recently that the school had originally been built as a single-story building (instead of the two stories we know today), I was pretty surprised, and this little unknown nugget prompted me to look into the early years of my alma mater.

In the 1920s and ’30s, Dallas was expanding very quickly northward from Vickery Place, the new-ish residential neighborhood around Belmont and Greenville. As the area we now know as Lower Greenville and the M Streets were developed, the two elementary schools (Vickery Place School, then at Miller and McMillan, and Robert E. Lee, at Matilda and Vanderbilt) were soon filled to capacity. Building a new school to serve burgeoning “Northeast Dallas” was an immediate necessity. So in 1938, the city purchased a 9-acre chunk of land along Mockingbird, one block east of Greenville Avenue and right alongside the Denison interurban tracks that ran on Matilda (when I was growing up a couple of blocks away, I used to see remains of those tracks but didn’t know what they had been used for). The land had been part of the vast Caruth land holdings.

The building was designed by architect C. H. Griesenbeck. It had eleven classrooms, a cafeteria, and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 400. Although originally built as a one-story building, Griesenbeck was mindful that expansion would be necessary in the future, and his design took into account that a second story would be added in the years to come. Construction began in late 1938 and was scheduled to be completed for the opening of the 1939-40 school year.

The name of the new school was decided upon a few months later:

Stonewall Jackson’s name was chosen for the new school, Dr. Norman R. Crozier, superintendent, said because of the high ideals of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, one of the unique and romantic figures of the War Between the States, and as a companion to its nearest school, Robert E. Lee. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 1, 1939)

But if you’re going to sink a hundred thousand dollars into a school, you’ve got to have houses for families to live in to make sure your future student pool doesn’t run dry — and at that time very few houses had been built that far north. Cut to W. W. Caruth, Jr., son of the Caruth family patriarch who basically owned everything north of Mockingbird (Caruth owned a huge expanse of land once estimated at being over 30,000 acres). Not long after selling the land at Mockingbird and Greenville to Dr Pepper, Caruth fils began to develop the land around the then-under-construction school — he called the new neighborhood “Stonewall Terrace.”

The property went fast.

stonewall-terrace_dmn_092339September, 1939

As the neighborhood was taking shape and the construction of the school building was nearing completion, the school’s official boundaries were announced:

Boundaries of the Stonewall Jackson School will be from the alley south of Morningside on the east side of Greenville Avenue and from the alley south of Mercedes on the west side of Greenville to the M-K-T Railroad on the north. (DMN, Sept. 3, 1939)

Despite some problems with labor shortages, the school managed to open on time, on Sept. 13, 1939, the start of the new school year.

The school and the neighborhood grew quickly, and the number of students soon doubled. In 1950 the school board approved preliminary plans for an addition to the school. This addition (which would cost $369,000 and be handled by the architectural firm of Tatum & Quade) would include a first-floor wing with four classrooms, a gymnasium, and a lunchroom, and a second story containing eight classrooms, a library, and a music room. (The cost of construction would probably have been quite a bit more had the original architect not had the foresight to design the building with the expectation that a second story would be added in the future.)

The construction was substantial enough that it had to be done during the 1951-52 school year. Because the old lunchroom was being dismantled while the new wing was being built, students were required to bring their lunches the entire year. All they could get at school was milk. No fish sticks, no Salisbury steak, no chess pie. Just milk. Sorry, kids.

The new addition was completed in time for the beginning of the 1952 school year. And that’s the version of the building that stands today, looking pretty much unchanged.

stonewall_front

It was a cool building then, and it’s a cool building now. It’s sad to see how much of the playing fields keep disappearing as ugly portable buildings take over, but the new garden is a great new addition — I wish they’d had that when I was there.

I really loved that school. When I was a student there, grades went from 1st to 7th, and I loved all seven years I spent there. Thanks for the great childhood memories, Stonewall. And Happy 75th Anniversary!

stonewall-nowPhoto: DISD

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Sources & Notes

Top image is architect C. H. Griesenbeck’s architectural rendering of Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, originally a one-story building.

Here are a few articles to check out in the Dallas Morning News archives:

  • “$11,250 Offer Made for New School Site” (DMN, Oct. 26, 1938)
  • “Contracts for $104,150 Let on Northeast Dallas School” (DMN, Dec. 22, 1938)
  • “New Northeast Dallas School Named Jackson; Board Pays Tribute to Famous General” (DMN, Feb. 1, 1939)

And, yes, it probably sounds weird to outsiders, but students actually do call the school “Stonewall” — just like we call Woodrow Wilson High School (the high school Stonewall feeds into) “Woodrow.” It’s like a secret handshake.

Below, an undated photo from DISD’s Pinterest board (if you squint, you can see the Piggly Wiggly at the southwest corner of Mockingbird and Matilda).

stonewall_DISD-pinterest

UPDATE: After years of controversy, Stonewall Jackson Elementary School will be rechristened “Mockingbird Elementary” in 2018. Whatever its name, it’s still a great school!

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tietze Park

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by Paula Bosse

Tietze Park was my neighborhood park growing up — it’s where I learned to swim and got sunburned every summer because I stayed there so long. It straddles 75206 and 75214, in that area that’s not quite Lower Greenville, not quite M Streets, and not quite Lakewood. It’s on Skillman, bordered by Llano and Vanderbilt. You’ve probably seen the famous tree at the Vanderbilt corner. And you’ve probably jokingly referred to it as “Tsetse” Park while suppressing a power-of-suggestion sleeping-sickness-inspired yawn (like right now). It’s a cute little park, with wonderful WPA touches. Here are photos from 1946 of some repair work being done on the stone buildings and construction of a new pool. It looks pretty much the same today.

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To see a photo of what the pavilion looks like today, check out a great photo by Sarah Whittaker from CultureMap, here.

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Photos from the Dallas Municipal Archives, accessed through the Portal to Texas History site.

A history of the park — which started out as “Keith Park” in 1924 but was re-named in 1934 in honor of William R. Tietze, former Parks Department superintendent — can be found on the Friends of Tietze Park Foundation website here.

Here’s a nice drawing of the plan for the park (I came across this somewhere on Facebook, I think, but neglected to make note of the source):

tietze park_plan

A nostalgic look back at the park can be found in the Lakewood Advocate article “Memories of Tietze Park Pool” by Patti Vinson, here.

For a video that captures the laid-back feel of the neighborhood surrounding the park, check out the video of the catchy song “We’ll Go Walkin'” by local band The O’s. It’s great. The first line is “We’ll go walkin’ to Tietze Park.” And then they do. If you’re familiar with the neighborhood, you’ll recognize everything along their walk. And they end it in front of *that tree.* So it’s totally worth it. (The band’s website is here.)

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Click photos for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Mars Needs Women” — The Dallas Locations

1-mars-oak-lawnOak Lawn & Lemmon, 1966 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Chances are, if you’re a native Dallasite and you’re a cult movie buff, you’ve heard of Dallas filmmaker Larry Buchanan (1923-2004), the self-described “schlockmeister” who made a ton of low-budget movies in Dallas, almost all of which are considered to fall in the “so-bad-they’re-good” category. I’ve made it through only three of them, and while they’re definitely not great (or even good, really), there were moments I enjoyed.

Buchanan’s most well-known movie — if only because the title has worked itself into the sci-fi vernacular — is Mars Needs Women, shot in Dallas in a couple of weeks in late 1966, starring former Disney child star Tommy Kirk and future star of “Batgirl,” Yvonne Craig. For me, the worst thing about the movie is its incredibly slow, molasses-like editing (courtesy of writer-director-editor Buchanan who was working on contract to churn out movies that had to be cut to a very specific running time, and he’s obviously padding here with interminably long scenes that drag and drag). And then there’s the dull stock footage and weird background music that I swear I’ve heard in every cheap Western ever made. Still … it has its charm.

But the BEST thing about this movie (and, presumably, his others) is that it was shot entirely in Dallas, using a lot of instantly recognizable locations. (Every time I saw a place I knew, I perked up — it reminded me a bit of seeing Bottle Rocket for the first time — almost shocked to see common every-day places in an honest-to-god MOVIE!) So, if you don’t feel you can sit through the whole thing (available, by the way, in its entirety online — see link at bottom), I’ve watched it for you, with a whole bunch of screen shots. So feast your eyes on what Dallas looked like in November of 1966. (By the way, because the movie revolves around …. Mars needing women, the movie is actually set in Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center. Even though you see the very distinctive Dallas skyline — repeatedly. Houston! You wish, Houston!)

My favorite shot is the one at the top of this page and is seen in the first 90 seconds of the movie: Oak Lawn at Lemmon, with the familiar Lucas B & B sign at the right. This area was used a few more times. One character goes into the old Esquire theater, but, sadly, there was no establishing shot showing that great old neon sign. I think the first interior — showing a couple at a lounge — was shot in the swanky private club, Club Village, at 3211 Oak Lawn (at Hall), just a short hop from Oak Lawn and Lemmon.

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Next, we’re off to White Rock Lake.

2-mars_pump1White Rock Lake. Shot day-for-night, with the pump station in the distance.

3-mars-pump2White Rock Lake pump station, where the Martians are headquartered as they search for healthy, single women to take back to Mars to help re-populate the planet.

4-mars_love-field-extLove Field parking lot. Still shooting day-for-night. Badly.

5- mars-southland-lifeThe Southland Life Building, etc., magically transported to Houston.

7-mars-athens-stripAthens Strip — a strip joint on Lower Greenville, one block north of the old Arcadia Theater. I’ve never heard of this place, but I came across the story of a guy who had visited the place back around this time and remembered one of the VERY unhappy dancers who hurled handfuls of the coins (!) that had been tossed onstage back into the audience, with such force that his face and chin sustained minor lacerations.

8-mars-needs-women_athens-strip_bubbles-cashLocal celebrity-stripper “Bubbles” Cash, inside Athens Strip. Plainclothes Martian (standing) ponders whether she has what it takes to birth a nation. (She does.)

9-mars-watchMy favorite example of what a director is forced to resort to when there is no budget. This is some sort of sophisticated communication device. I think those are matchsticks.

10-mars-yvonne-craigYvonne Craig, without a doubt the best actor in the movie. In fact, she’s really good. She had already made a few movies in Hollywood at this point, but the lure of a starring role brought her back to her hometown (where the newspapers reported she was happily staying with her parents during the two-week shoot).

11- mars-band-shellMartian #1 and sexy space geneticist strolling through Fair Park — band shell behind them, to the left.

12-mars-planetariumThe Fair Park planetarium.

13-mars_love-fieldLove Field. I love the interior shots of the airport in this movie. (The stewardess walking down the stairs? Destined for Mars.)

14-mars-cotton-bowlCotton Bowl, shot during a homecoming game between SMU and Baylor. Some shots show a packed stadium, some show this. Word of warning to the homecoming queen, Sherry Roberts: do NOT accept that flower delivery!

15-mars-meadowsSMU, Meadows School of the Arts. I love the pan across the front of the building. Mars Needs Co-Eds.

17-mars_BMOCSMU. BMOC (Big Martian On Campus).

18-mars-collins-radioThe one location I couldn’t figure out. And it’s because it isn’t in Dallas. It’s the Collins Radio building in Richardson, a company that was absorbed by/bought out by/merged with Rockwell International. I think all the interior and exterior shots which are supposed to be NASA were shot here. How did a low-budget director like Larry Buchanan get into a place like that? According to a 1986 Texas Monthly article, Buchanan, in his day-job career as an ad-man, was hired by Collins Radio in 1961 to work in their “audio-visual” department” (the man who hired him was Harold Hoffman, whose later film work with Buchanan was done under the name Hal Dwain).

19-mars-collins-radioSo, yeah — COOL location.

20-mars_fair-parkMore Fair Park, more murky day-for-night.

21-mars_pump3White Rock Lake pump station, aka the Martian lair.

22-mars-saucerFANTASTIC flying saucer. Do the Martians get their five healthy, single women on board the ship and get them back home? You’ll have to watch it for yourself to find out.

23-mars-endYou tell ’em, Konnie.

mars-needs-women_VHS-box

Check back in a few days for more on Larry Buchanan (including a long-lost photo of him at work back in his advertising days in the 1950s).

UPDATE: Here it is — Larry Buchanan filming a Chrysler spot in the Katy railyard in 1955 for Dallas’ Jamieson Film Company, here.

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Sources & Notes

The entire movie is on YouTube in a pretty good print. Watch it here.

Larry Buchanan Wikipedia page is here.

Mars Needs Women Wikipedia page is here.

Collins Radio/Rockwell Collins Wikipedia page is here.

Consult the Dallas Morning News archives to read a somewhat sarcastic Dallas Morning News article by Kent Biffle on the shooting of the Cotton Bowl sequence (I miss his Texana columns!): “That UFO Was a Field Goal” (Nov. 20, 1966).

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

My Birthdays at Kirby’s: Filet Mignon for Everyone!

kirbys-birthday

by Paula Bosse

I grew up in the Lower Greenville area, and since we had a nice steakhouse just a couple of blocks away, that’s where we always went for family birthdays: Kirby’s. I had forgotten about the birthday cards they sent out until my mother showed me one that had been sent to me. The thing that made these cards special to a child was the inclusion of a dime. I always thought of it as a little birthday treat, but my mother suggested it was more of a subtle reminder to the parents to spend that dime on a call for reservations.

I loved that place. It was very dark. My brother and I always had the same thing: a Shirley Temple from the bar, a salad with big chunks of roquefort in the salad dressing, a baked potato, and, oh my god, a filet mignon. I was mesmerized by the bacon wrapped around the steak. And the little wooden marker that showed how the meat was cooked. It was a nice, friendly neighborhood steakhouse. It was loud and happy. You could hear the steaks sizzling on the grill. It was always a treat to go to Kirby’s. And the place smelled GREAT! Even out on the sidewalk.

I was sad when they tore the building down, and even though there is now a chain of restaurants with the name “Kirby’s” — they even built a new one a couple of blocks down from the original location — there’s no way it could ever be  the same.

Looking around for the history of the original “Kirby’s Charcoal Steaks,” I was surprised to discover that the man who owned Kirby’s — B.J. Kirby — was the son of the man who founded the Pig Stand chain of drive-ins. The Pig Stand started in Dallas, and it was the first drive-in restaurant EVER. They had the first carhops. The first onion rings. The first Texas toast. The Kirby’s steakhouse location — 3715 Greenville — had actually BEEN a Pig Stand! B.J. Kirby had grown up working at his father’s restaurants, and when his father died, he sold all the Pig Stands except for the Greenville Avenue location (Pig Stand No. 4). In 1954 he turned the pig-sandwich-serving drive-in into a nice sit-down steakhouse that remained popular until the restaurant closed in 1987 when Kirby retired.

I could really go for a bacon-wrapped filet mignon right about now. And one of those Shirley Temples would even hit the spot.

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Red matchbook cover from Flickr.

Bottom ad from a 1951 football program.

An entertaining history of the Pig Stand No. 4 and its transformation into Kirby’s Charcoal Steaks can be found here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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