Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: White Rock Lake

The White Rock Lake District: “Where Life Is Worth Living!” — 1926

white-rock-lake-district_dmn_050226_detThe idyllic view from an East Dallas villa…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In 1926, East Dallas was in a frenzy of development. There were so many new neighborhoods: Gastonwood, Country Club Estates, West Lake Park, Forest Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Parks Estates, Munger Place Heights, Pasadena, Camp Estates, Hughes Estates, Temple Place.


The New East Dallas
Where living is delightful and where life is worth living!



Sources & Notes

Ad from May, 1926. The detail — which shows a heart-stoppingly lovely vision of what might or might not have been a view from a home in the “White Rock Lake District” — is a Dallas I’ve never seen, but it’s one I’ll dream of.

To read a very informative article (or, I think it’s probably more of an “advertorial” written by a real estate company with land holdings in East Dallas), rifle through the Dallas Morning News archives until you find the article/advertisement titled “East Dallas Section Has Fast Growth” (DMN, May 2, 1926). As I said, it’s quite informative — with detailed info on the micro neighborhoods of East Dallas, many of which I’d never heard of.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

4th of July at White Rock Lake — 1946

july-4th_1946_white-rock-lakeSo much going on here! (Click for super-gigantic image!)

by Paula Bosse

I love absolutely everything about this photo of July 4th celebrants relaxing at White Rock Lake near the Bath House (back when people actually swam in the lake!). All that’s needed is a pet monkey on a leash and a few parasols, and you’d have an updated Tex-ified version of Seurat’s La Grande Jatte painting.


This is a photo definitely worth zooming in on. All images here are really big — click ’em! You can practically smell the wienies roasting/croissants baking. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!





Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


White Rock Lake From Above — 1925-1926

white-rock-lake_fairchild-aerial_1925_legacies_fall-2002Fairchild Aerial Survey photograph, 1925 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a striking view of White Rock Lake, looking north, with Garland Road and the Houston & Texas Central Railroad tracks (becoming the Texas & New Orleans Railroad tracks in 1934) crossing at the lower center of the photograph, just southwest of the lake. Another Fairchild Aerial Survey photo is below — this one is from 1926, and its wider view shows just how undeveloped this area was at the time.

white-rock-lake_fairchild-aerial_degolyer_smu_1926Fairchild Aerial Survey photo, 1926 (DeGolyer Library, SMU)


Here’s a present day view. (Click the image below to see a huge Google Earth image.)



Sources & Notes

Top photo from the very interesting article “From Water Supply to Urban Oasis: A History of the Development of White Rock Lake Park” by Steven Butler (Legacies, Fall 2002), here.

Bottom photo, titled “White Rock Lake Aerial Overview (Unlabeled)” is from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be accessed (and magnified greatly) here. The “labeled” version — which identifies roads and landmarks — is here. From the SMU description: “This is one of 38 photographic prints taken by Fairchild Aerial Survey, Inc. of White Rock Lake for Dr. Samuel G. Geiser, SMU.” The full set of the White Rock Lake aerial photos is here. A map here shows where the grid maps are in relation to the lake as a whole.

Thanks to “Not Bob” for linking to the Google Earth image in the comments!

These photos are big. Click them!


Copyright © 2016 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.


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.


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.


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.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Lazy Weekends, Cruising White Rock Lake — 1972

1white-rock_city-folk_1972_EPACruisin’ ’70s-style (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Back before the days of joggers and bikers, one used to be able to drive around White Rock Lake. All the way around. No dead ends, no detours. People used to cruise it on the weekends — the road would be packed solid. I assume the homeowners grew weary of this and put an end to things by having the road chopped up to prevent continuous cruising. Figures. Here’s a look at one weekend in April of 1972, from a series of photos taken by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of their Documerica project which documented areas of environmental concern. Things all look pretty good here, except for the final photo showing ducks paddling alongside trash at the water’s edge — a scene that might make the Keep America Beautiful Indian shed another tear.

A description of these photos (provided, I think, by the EPA):

City folk come in droves each weekend to once-isolated White Rock Lake. Some come to picnic, sail or fish. Some just want to be where the action is [man].

Another caption:

Once-unspoiled and rather isolated, White Rock has become a city dweller’s weekend mecca, attracting people looking for ‘action’ as much as those seeking relief from urban pressures.










These photos — from the EPA’s Documerica project (“to photographically document subjects of environmental concern”) — can be found at the National Archives site, here.

Like outtakes from Dazed and Confused, man…. You can practically hear “Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl” wafting through the air.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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