Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Photographs

Live Oak, From Elm and Ervay

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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Sources & Notes

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

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

City Park, From the Air: 1948-1997

1948_city-park_aerial_dallas-municipal-archives_portalCity Park, 1948 (Dallas Municipal Archives)

by Paula Bosse

These eight aerial photos of City Park/Old City Park in The Cedars, just south of downtown, show the encroachment of an ever-increasing acreage of asphalt onto what was once the city’s most beautiful park. (All photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and all are larger when clicked.) The one thing present in all photos is the late Ambassador Hotel (RIP).

Above, in 1948, before the cement mixers arrived (photo by Barnes Aerial Surveys).

Below, 1954.

1954_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portal
Squire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1954

1966:

1966_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1966

1969:

1969_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1969

1972:

1972_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_1972_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1972

1975:

1975_city-park_aerial_squire-haskins_1975_dallas-municipal-archives_portalSquire Haskins, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1975

Circa 1982:

1982-ca_city-park_aerial_dallas-municipal-archives_portalDallas Municipal Archives, ca. 1982

1997:

1997_city-park_aerial_reginald-d-loftin_dallas-municipal-archives_portalReginald D. Loftin, Dallas Municipal Archives, 1997

Today-ish (or at least before the Ambassador burned down in May, 2019):

city-park_google-maps_aerialGoogle Maps

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Sources & Notes

All photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives Collection, via the Portal to Texas History; they can all be found here.

Read about the history of the Ambassador Hotel in the Flashback Dallas post “The Majestic Hotel/The Park Hotel/The Ambassador Hotel: R.I.P — 1904-2019.”

A few old postcards of City Park in its heyday can be found in the post “Iola Bridge.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Labor Day Weekend, Union Bus Depot — 1952

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

continental-trailways_ad_may-1952May, 1952

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

union-bus-depot_interurban-bldg_072537July, 1937

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Sources & Notes

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

From the Dallas Morning News archives:

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

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

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff’s Star Theatre — 1945-1959

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPLShow Hill, with the Star Theatre at right

by Paula Bosse

This is one of those photographs I could stare at all day long. It shows a shopping area in East Oak Cliff at the intersection of E. Eighth Street and N. Moore Street — this part of Oak Cliff was originally settled as a freedman’s town, and this photo shows an area between the Tenth Street Historic District and The Bottoms (or The Bottom) neighborhood (see a great map, here).

When these buildings were built in 1945 by I. B. Clark, it was an exclusively African-American part of Dallas. The anchor of this strip (which occupied what was described as both the 300 block of N. Moore and the 1400 block of E. Eighth) was the Star Theatre, which was, according to Mr. Clark, the only movie house for black customers in Oak Cliff).

star-theatre_boxoffice_042845
Boxoffice, April 28, 1945

star-theatre_oak-cliff_negro-directory-1947-48_adDallas Negro Directory, 1947-48

I. B. Clark was a white businessman who lived on a ranch in Cedar Hill; he had owned the Southern Fireworks Company before the war and had frequently battled with Dallas lawmakers about the constitutionality of banning the selling and shooting of fireworks within the city limits.

In the undated photo above, businesses in the retail strip are the Top-O-Hill Food Mart, the Ebony Cafe (Pit Bar-B-Q), the Easy-Wash laundromat, the second location of the Cochran Street Record Shop, the Star Theatre, and hotel apartments.

This hub of businesses was popular with neighborhood residents, who referred to this area as “Show Hill” (for the picture show). I stumbled across a really wonderful 2018 oral history of Margaret Benson, who, in 1944, moved with her family to Dallas and attended N. W. Harllee Elementary School and both Lincoln High School and Madison High School. She describes these shops and says that whenever black entertainers such as Dinah Washington or Sister Rosetta Tharpe came to town, they frequently stayed in the apartments above these businesses, as hotel accommodations for African Americans were few and far between. (I loved the entire recording of Mrs. Benson reminiscing about living for most of her life in this area of Oak Cliff — the part where she specifically talks about “Show Hill” is at the 8:25 mark in the recording at the link above.)

According to Dallas movie theater historian Troy Sherrod, the Star closed in 1959. Over time the area eventually declined and the remaining businesses closed. The strip, which was looking pretty down-at-its-heels in the 1990s, was demolished around 2000. The photo below shows the once-vibrant strip in its later days. (Three more photos, from 1999, can be found here — the addition of more apartments (the “Ebony Hotel Annex”) can be seen in the third one.)

star-theatre_mark-doty_lost-dallas
via Lost Dallas by Mark Doty

Here is what “Show Hill” vacant lot looks like today on Google Street View:

star-theatre_google-street-view-nov-2019Google Street View, 2019

star-theatre_bing-mapsBing Maps

star-theatre_cinematreasures_advia Cinema Treasures

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing the Star Theatre is from the excellent book by D. Troy Sherrod, Historic Dallas Theatres (Arcadia Publishing, 2014); the photo is from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

Second photo showing the dilapidated buildings is from another excellent book, Lost Dallas by Mark Doty (Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

The ad for the Star Theatre appeared in the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948 (many thanks to Pat Lawrence).  The address for the theater was listed in various places as both 300 N. Moore and as 1401 E. Eighth.

If you have access to the archives of the Dallas Morning News, I encourage you to read “Inner-City Secret — The Bottoms Residents Say They Are Forgotten” by Bill Minutaglio (DMN, Aug. 28, 1994).

Also worth a read is Texas Tribune article “Dallas Neighborhood Established by Freed Slaves Fights to Keep Its History Alive” by Miguel Perez of KERA News.

More on the Tenth Street Historic District can be found on the City of Dallas website here.

Check out photos of a pop-up market on Show Hill in 2014 here.

Also, of related interest is the Flashback Dallas post “Movie Houses Serving Black Dallas — 1919-1922.”

Thank you to reader Jerry Richburg for contacting me with a question about this old strip shopping area — he remembered attending church services in one of the buildings and asked if I knew more about what had been there and if I might have a photo. Thanks, Jerry! You led me down the path to discovering a little pocket of Dallas history I was completely unaware of!

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPL_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

August 20, 1945

langley_skyline-horseback_c1945_LOCAug. 20, 1945

by Paula Bosse

Back in 2014 when I started this blog, this is one of the first photos I posted. It is one of those Dallas photos that can actually be described as “iconic”: a cowboy on horseback watches over a herd of cattle grazing just beyond a vibrant mid-century skyline — old Texas meets new Texas. The photo is by Dallas photographer William Langley, and, according to the Library of Congress, it was taken on August 20, 1945. I am posting it again today, August 20, 2020 — 75 years to the day it was taken.

So what was happening 75 years ago today? Here are a few stories from the newspaper.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur was heading to Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed within the past two weeks, effectively ending the war).

Wartime restrictions on the use of natural gas were lifted by the War Production Board.

Hollywood stars Dick Powell and June Allyson had gotten hitched.

LBJ was being touted as a possible candidate for Texas governor.

The average cost of a meal for a family of four before the war was $2.27 (or about $40 in today’s money); now, after the war, it had risen to $3.70 (about $50). Fruit preserves were almost impossible to find.

Dallasites were chomping at the bit to bid farewell to the war-ordered Daylight Savings Time and return to Standard Time — they wanted go to bed when it was dark outside. 

Annexation had meant that Dallas had increased in size over the past year from 51 square miles to 87 square miles.

Several Dallasites saw a “very large and very luminous” meteor.

Sgt. Jesse Curry, 31, of the Dallas Police Department, had been awarded a fellowship for an 18-week course in traffic administration at Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Chicago.

It was announced that improved trash pickup was on the horizon, as soon as new trucks became available.

War workers were being released from their war-work obligations, and the city’s businesses were beginning to hire, which was good news, except for many Dallas women who were still working but who were met with the announced closure of many “playschools” which were operated around the city on a 12-hour cycle to accommodate shift workers. 

The Texas League announced they would resume minor league play in the spring.

Hockaday would increase its staff from 83 members to 100 for the upcoming school year.

“The Three Musketeers” was opening at the Starlight Operetta in Fair Park. The State Fair of Texas would not resume until 1946.

“Thrill of a Romance” — with Van Jones and Esther Williams — was at the Majestic.

“Pillow to Post”  — with Ida Lupino and Sydney Greenstreet — was at the Palace.

“The Story of G.I. Joe” — with Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum — was at the Tower.

“Asi Se Quiere en Jalisco” — with Jorge Negrete — was at the Panamericano.

Interstate Theaters declined to respond to the rumor that a soon-to-be-built theater in Galveston was to be equipped to show television broadcasts. 

High temperature on the Monday Bill Langley took that photo was 92 degrees.          

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Sources & Notes

Photo by William Langley — titled “Skyline, Dallas, Texas” — is from the collection of the Library of Congress. Langley appears to have been positioned somewhere around the present-day Stemmons Corridor.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Miscellaneous Dallas

wah-hoo-club_lake_ebay

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).

coca-cola_photo_ebay

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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).

keen-soda_jefferson-hotel_frank-rogers-photo_ebay

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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).

old-red_postcard_1908_ebay

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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).

jackson-street-looking-northeast_postcard_ebay_postmarked-1907

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

post-office_federal-bldg_bryan-ervay_postmarked-1964

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

oak-cliff_hearse_horse-drawn_rppc_ebay

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

preston-royal_10721-preston_corner_royal_flickr_coltera

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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.)

lbj-looking-west_at-75_flickr_red-oak-kid

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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).

2nd-ave_south-dallas-pop_KERA

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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.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lone Wolf Gonzaullas: Texas Ranger, Dallas Resident

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-aWhere the bullet grazed him… (1970)

by Paula Bosse

I had never seen footage of legendary Texas Ranger Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas (1891-1977) until now. There is a short clip of him recounting a run-in with a man who shot him in WFAA-Channel 8 footage from March, 1970 (filmed at the Southwest Historical Wax Museum in Fair Park). Gonzaullas was a long-time resident of Dallas, from 1923 until his death in 1977, living for much of that time in Lakewood, in the 6900 block of Westlake.

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Here are a couple of screenshots from the news footage. In the first he is seen standing in front of his wax figure.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-b

And in the second, he’s joking with WFAA-Channel 8 News reporter Phil Reynolds, who seems a little star-struck.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-c

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Below are a few random Lone Wolf-related photos and articles. (There are tons of histories of Gonzaullas and the Texas Rangers out there — please hunt them down for specifics on his long and respected career in law enforcement. These are just a few things that I found interesting, some of which are of no historical importance!)

The earliest newspaper mention of Gonzaullas I could find was about his participation in an El Paso-to-Phoenix automobile road race in 1919. Biographers have noted that the colorful Gonzaullas sometimes embellished the truth, especially about his early days, and it’s interesting to note that in coverage of this race, Gonzaullas was described as being a “noted European racing driver” who had previously won 32 first-place finishes and 92 second-place finishes (!). The car he had entered in the race was a Locomobile, which he was reported to have driven to El Paso from Atlantic City. He was also identified as being “a Cuban […] who first won his spurs on the Havana track” (his birthplace is usually said to be Spain, where he was born to naturalized American citizens who were visiting that country at the time). He told the papers he had been left with temporarily blindness and a permanently injured left arm in a previous auto accident — and another injury was about to come: he didn’t finish the El Paso-to-Phoenix race because his car suffered two debilitating mishaps, including one in which he was thrown from the car “and a blood vessel in his stomach was broken.” He was also said to be accompanied by “Mrs. Gonzaullas,” despite the fact that he did not marry Laura Scherer until April, 1920.

gonzaullas_road-race_el-paso-times_101619_cubanEl Paso Times, Oct. 16, 1919 (click for larger image)

In December, 1919, Los Angeles newspapers reported that Mr. Gonzaullas, “who has gold mining interests in Mexico,” was in town, visiting from Havana. Accompanying him was “Mrs. Gonzaullas,” who was indulging in a shopping excursion. They were staying at the Hotel Stowell.

gonzaullas_los-angeles-evening-express_120319_cuba_mrs-gonzaullasLos Angeles Evening Express, Dec. 3, 1919

While at the Stowell (and about to return to Texas), Gonzaullas put a for-sale classified in the Los Angeles paper, saying that he “must sell within next 24 hours my beautiful combination 2 or 4 passenger Locomobile Roadster Special.” The Cuban’s racing days would seem to be ending.

gonzaullas_locomobile_los-angeles-evening-express_050820Los Angeles Evening Express, May 8, 1920

Less than two weeks later — and a month after finally marrying Laura in California — the newly wed Gonzaullas was back in El Paso, looking for a “lost or strayed” pet monkey. It appears the monkey was found (…or replaced…), but in September the Gonzaullases were selling their little “Java monkey,” along with its cage and traveling case. M. T. became “Lone Wolf” after he joined the Texas Rangers in 1920. Perhaps a monkey was not considered an appropriate pet for a lawman. (This is my favorite weird and obscure “Lone Wolf” tidbit.)

gonzaullas_el-paso-herald_1920-ads_monkey

Gonzaullas was in and out of the Rangers throughout his career. In 1923, he moved to Dallas where he was stationed as a permanent prohibition agent (he busted a lot of booze-loving Dallasites).

gonzaullas_dmn_022523Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1923

In 1929, Gonzaullas was a sergeant in the Texas Rangers, and the photo below captured the first time that the men of Company B had all been together at the same time in the same place — in Fort Worth. The caption for this photo: “Texas’ Guardians, United After 10 Years. Capt. Tom R. Hickman, Gainesville, brought Ranger Company B together Friday for the first time in more than 10 years. Here they are just before visiting the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. Left to right, W. H. Kirby, Abilene; H. B. Purvis, Lufkin; Captain Hickman; Sergt. M. T. Gonzaullas, Dallas; Dott E. Smith, Abilene; and James P. Huddleston, Dallas.” (Fort Worth Record-Telegram, March 16, 1929) (Read the full story, “Ranger Company B Rides In to Stock Show” here.)

company-b_fw-record-telegram_031629Company B in Fort Worth, FW Record-Telegram, Mar. 16, 1929

In 1933, the Texas Rangers were dissolved, later to re-emerge as part of the newly formed Department of Public Safety in 1935. Gonzaullas served for several years as the head of the DPS’s Bureau of Intelligence in Austin, a Texas version of the FBI. In 1940, he stepped down from that position to rejoin the Rangers. He took over command of his old Company B, which was stationed in Fair Park, and remained in that position for 11 years until his retirement.

gonzaullas_austin-statesman_021440_company-b_photoAustin Statesman, Feb. 14, 1940

gonzaullas_austin-american_021540_company-bAustin American, Feb. 15, 1940

In 1942, at the age of 50, Gonzaullas filled out a registration card during World War II, as all men were required to do. (A distinguishing physical characteristic of a “bullet hole thru left elbow” was noted.) 

gonzaullas_ww2-registration-card-1942

Below, a photo from 1944 showing mounted Texas Rangers of Company B in Marshall, Texas: (left to right) Tulley E. Seay, C. G. (Kelly) Rush, Stewart Stanley, Dick Oldham, Capt. M. T. Gonzaullas, R. A. (Bob) Crowder, Ernest Daniel, Joe N. Thompson, Robert L. Badgett, and Norman K. Dixon.

gonzaullas_texas-rangers_company-Bvia findagrave.com (same photo without text is at Portal to Texas History)

Capt. Manuel Trazazas Gonzaullas retired in July, 1951 and traveled between Dallas and Hollywood where he worked as a consultant on Western TV shows and films. He died in Dallas on Feb. 13, 1977 at the age of 85.

gonzaullas_manuel-t-lone-wolf

gonzaullas_find-a-gravevia findagrave.com

gonzaullas_getty-images_july-1951via Getty Images

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Sources & Notes

The first three images are screenshots of WFAA-Channel 8 news film shot in March, 1970, from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the footage can be viewed on YouTube here

A brief biography of M. T. Gonzaullas can be found at the Handbook of Texas, here.

There were several comprehensive and entertaining articles and interviews which appeared around the country about Gonezaullas’ career when he retired. If you have access to newspaper archives, I would recommend the article “The ‘Lone Wolf’ Lays Down His Guns” by Don Hinga which appeared in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 22, 1951.

gonzaullas_march-1970_WFAA_jones-collection_SMU-a_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Neiman’s First Suburban Store: Preston Road — 1951-1965

neiman-marcus_preston-road_dallas-mag_feb-1949Original design by DeWitt & Swank, 1949 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In January, 1949, Neiman-Marcus announced they would soon begin construction of their very first “branch” store. It was to be built in the new “Varsity Village” shopping area on Preston Road, just south of Northwest Highway (on the east side of Preston, facing Preston Center). This store was referred to in early articles as their “town and country store.” The downtown store was running out of room (in fact the expansion and renovation of their downtown store was announced at the same time as this new “suburban” store) — and the new store was to provide 30,000 square feet of primo retail space.

The original idea for the store’s design is seen in the drawing above, which was accompanied by this caption in a Chamber of Commerce publication:

New suburban shop of Neiman-Marcus Company (pictured above in drawing by Roscoe DeWitt and Arch Swank, architects for the building) is scheduled for construction this year in Varsity Village on a plot 30,000 square feet facing Preston Road and extending from Wentwood to Villanova Drives. The store will conform to the general architectural plan of Varsity Village and will represent a total investment of about $1,500,000. (“Dallas” magazine, Feb. 1949)

I LOVE that drawing! Unfortunately, things changed between the time that DeWitt and Swank offered that initial drawing and the almost three years that passed before the store was actually completed. The store was expanded to two floors (with mezzanine and basement), and… I don’t know — it just lost all of its supercool sleekness. It went from mid-century-modern fabulousness to big boring blocks. I’m sure the interior was still fantastic (designed by Eleanor Le Maire), but that exterior is uncharacteristically (for Neiman’s) blah.

n-m_preston-center_1951_departmentstoremuseum1951, via thedepartmentstoremuseum.org

But back to the decor. This store was aimed at suburban families — the shoppers were primarily stylish mothers with kids, so there was a lot of thought put into making the store appealing to children. The basement — which was home to the toy and nursery department — sounds pretty great, complete with a Willy Wonka-esque attraction: at the entrance was an enchanted forest mural and a giant cage filled with toy animals, and “in the toy shop there is a magic tree — one with a built-in dispenser that pours out an endless supply of orangeade” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 14, 1951).

The store was designed in a Southwestern color palette, featured a glass mosaic, lots of Kachina dolls, a glass-walled landscaped patio, a specially commissioned Alexander Calder mobile, and it was an immediate hit. The denizens of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow would still have to make the trek downtown if they wanted a gown for that do at the country club, but for casual clothing for mom and a large selection of clothing for children and teens, the “town and country store” was perfect. And nearby.

It lasted until NorthPark opened in 1965. Realizing the Preston Road store would be unable to expand, Neiman’s decided to close the 14-year-old store and move into Raymond Nasher’s striking new NorthPark Center.

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n-m_preston_dallas-history-guildvia Dallas History Guild Facebook page

Below, two night-time photos by Squire Haskins, taken on May 23, 1952:

n-m_preston_night_squire-haskins_UTA_1952_bvia UTA Libraries

n-m_preston_night_squire-haskins_UTA_1952_avia UTA Libraries

Instead of placing a “Grand Opening” announcement, Neiman’s teased the public with a “we’ll be opening soon-ish” announcement (in fact, the store opened exactly one week after the appearance of this ad). This ad describes that the new location will be more geared to families — to children (“from pram to prom”), adult casualwear, and gift items. With a restaurant and salon. The more typical Neiman’s couture lines and more expensive items would be available only “in town.” (Click ad to see a larger image.)

n-m_preston_100851_adOct. 8, 1951 ad

In the “Wales” column — a regular feature of N-M ads, with chatty text written by Warren Leslie (“Wa” from “Warren” and “les” from Leslie), a Neiman-Marcus executive and spokesperson and, later, author of the controversial book Dallas Public and Private) — the store’s opening is discussed, including the unexpected appearance of John Wayne (in town for the “Movietime in Texas, USA,” a promotional Hollywood caravan tour through Texas, packed with movie stars (watch cool footage here). Too bad about that orangeade, kids.

n-m_preston_102351_ad-det

One of the features of the new store was a specially commissioned mobile by artist Alexander Calder which hung above the stairway (a bit difficult to see in the photo below, but it’s there!). This was the first permanent installation of one of Calder’s kinetic sculptures in Dallas. (The three photos below are by Denny Hayes.) The staircase was used for fashion shows (watch Channel 5 news footage from a swimsuit fashion show from April 25, 1958 here, via the UNT’s Portal to Texas History site — according to the news script, the last suit was priced at a whopping $500, which in today’s money, would be about $4,500).

n-m_preston_DPL_1954_hayes-collection_calder1954, via the Dallas Public Library (PA76-1/5388.1)  

Those floor-to-ceiling windows and sheer draperies are wonderful.

n-m_preston_DPL_1951_hayes-collection1951, via the Dallas Public Library (PA76-1/5388.5)

n-m_preston_DPL_1954_hayes-collectionca. 1954, via the Dallas Public Library (PA76-1/5388.2)

The listing in the 1953 directory described the Preston store as “the New Preston Center Station Wagon Store.” That’s right, the “station-wagon store.”

n-m_preston_1953-dallas-directory1953 Dallas directory

In May, 1960 there was a relief drive throughout Dallas to send much-needed supplies to Chile, which had recently experienced almost simultaneous devastating earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, and avalanches. Neiman’s coordinated with several agencies and the State Department to rush food and clothing to Chile. The view in the screenshot below shows Preston Road looking south (watch the 1-minute Channel 8 news footage, via SMU, here).

n-m_preston_SMU_053060_preston-road

After 14 years, the Preston location closed up shop in July, 1965. This coincided with the opening of the much larger Neiman’s store in NorthPark. Bye-bye, “suburbia”!

n-m_071565_preston-closingJuly 15, 1965 ad

The Preston Road building still stands, but it’s not very interesting-looking these days. I think I’d prefer the “blah” look from 1951.

n-m_preston_bldg_google-street-view_2017Google Street View, 2017

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Sources & Notes

Top image appeared in the Feb. 1949 issue of “Dallas,” a monthly magazine published by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Photos by Squire Haskins are from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections.

Photos by Denny Hayes are from the Hayes Collection, Dallas Public Library.

Image of the 1960 Chilean American Red Cross relief drive is a screenshot from the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Archive, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

neiman-marcus_preston-road_dallas-mag_feb-1949_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Random Photos of Turn-of-the-Century-ish Houses

lemmon-avenue_house_rppc_ebayLemmon Avenue home, horse included….

by Paula Bosse

I love looking at old houses — especially ones which once occupied parts of town which are definitely no longer residential areas. It’s always sad to realize that the beautiful house you’re looking at — one which you can imagine living in now, in the 21st century — has, almost always, been torn down decades ago and replaced with something much less interesting. Thankfully, people 120 years ago used to have their homes photographed in order to print up picture postcards which they would then send to friends and relatives. Most of the images below come from these “real photo postcards,” and all show nice little glimpses into Dallas homes from before 1910. Only one of these houses is still standing. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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Sadly, the house above is not still standing. It’s a beautiful house. Even comes with a horse! The house was at 405 Lemmon Avenue in Oak Lawn. After the addresses in Dallas changed in 1911, the address became 3621 Lemmon (in the middle of the block between Welborn and Turtle Creek Park/Lee Park — apartments and a parking garage now occupy that whole block) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here. The owner was W. Leslie Williams, a real estate man. Family horses wandered off a few times, according to “strayed or stolen” ads placed in the paper, such as the one below.

williams_dmn_111211_strayed-horse
Nov. 1911

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Below, a house which once stood at 711 Travis (which later became 4627 Travis), between Knox and Hester (the Katy railroad tracks would have run right behind the house) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here. It was in the “Fairland” addition. The owner of the house was T. B. Baldwin, a traveling agent for The Dallas Morning News. The photo was on a postcard mailed in 1908.

travis-ave-house_fairland_1908_ebay_rppc

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Now to South Dallas (The Cedars?). This house stood at 200 Cockrell Ave. (which became 2130 Cockrell), between Corinth and Montgomery, now part of a large swath of empty land almost certainly being developed in somebody’s head as I type this. See it at the very bottom of this 1921 Sanborn map. The house was owned by Horatio W. Fairbanks, supervisor of the Dallas Cotton Mills, and was later occupied by the Wesley Settlement House for several years. The photo below is from 1896.

fairbanks-h-w_1896._ebay_cockrell-ave

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Now to four houses in Oak Cliff. The first stood at 107 10th Street (later 525 E. 10th St.), between Lansing and Marsalis — see it on a 1922 Sanborn map here. This was the home of Dr. William E. King, whom I presume is the man standing in front of the house — he died in 1909, a year after this photo was taken. The land now appears to be occupied by a body-shop parking lot. (This 1908 photo is from the Murphy Historical Society, via the Portal to Texas History, here.)

king-william_oak-cliff_1908_murphy-historical-society_via-portal

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The home of T. Henry Dorsey, a member of the family who founded the Dorsey Printing Co., a pioneer printing establishment in Dallas, was at 161 Grand Ave. (the name of the street was changed to Marsalis, and in 1911 the address of this house became 113 N. Marsalis), between 9th and 10th streets — see it on a 1905 Sanborn map here. The current occupant of this land is, I think, a trucking company. This house — which Dorsey moved into around 1900 — can be seen below from several angles (including one from the back which shows a fence running into part of the house which appears to be encroaching onto a neighbor’s property. 

dorsey_ebay_d

dorsey_ebay_a

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dorsey_ebay_c

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Before 1911, the address of the house below — a house I absolutely love — was 174 South Jefferson; after 1911, the address was, rather confusingly, changed to 516 East Jefferson (between Patton and Denver) — see it on a 1905 Sanborn map here. It was on land now occupied by Felix Botello Elementary School. This house was owned for several decades by Dr. William M. Lively. The image below is from a postcard dated 1909. (Great car!)

lively-house_poss-oak-cliff_rppc_1909_ebay

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Below is the only one of these houses still standing. It began life as 120 Madison Ave. (which later became 628 N. Madison), at the corner of W. Neely St. in the Kidd Springs neighborhood of Oak Cliff. See it on a 1922 Sanborn map here (bottom left corner). Claude Marcelle (C. M.) Crawford, a traveling salesman, lived here with his wife, Maud, and their infant son, Marcelle Crawford. Maud Crawford (who died in 1913, just a couple of years after this photo was taken) wrote: “What do you think of our ‘cosy corner.’ Every one tells us it is pretty so much until we almost believe it our selves.” Crawford eventually went to work for Bristol-Myers as a regional branch manager, and after 30 years, when he was in ill health, the company retired him on full pay (!) in gratitude for his service. When he retired, he owned a Beverly Drive home in Highland Park, apparently having done very well. His charming little starter-house in Oak Cliff still stands, having recently been remodeled. 

crawford-house_madison_oak-cliff_ebay_cropped
about 1910

crawford-house_madison_google-street-view_2012
2012, Google Street View

crawford-house_madison_google-street-view_20192019, Google Street View

crawford-claude-marcelle_dmn_081311
Claude Marcelle Crawford, Jr., Dallas Morning News, Aug. 13 1911

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And, lastly, the only house I wasn’t able to determine the location of — it also looks like the oldest. On the back is a faint penciled notation which appears to  be signed “G. P. Taylor.” In a more recent notation in ink, the family members in the photo are identified: “Made in Dallas, Tex. — Elm St. — Mother on porch, Mattie & I in window, Pearl & Joe in gate.” 1870s or 1880s? It’s a mystery!

elm-street-house_ebay_taylor

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Sources & Notes

All images except the William E. King house are from eBay.

lemmon-avenue_house_rppc_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Bookstores — 1974

abs_cedar springs_1974Aldredge Book Store, 2506 Cedar Springs

by Paula Bosse

Today is my father’s birthday. Dick Bosse. I always try to post something bookstore-related on May 22 in his honor.

In the early 1970s, the Aldredge Book Store moved from its original location in an old house on McKinney Avenue (2800 McKinney) to a strip of shops on Cedar Springs (2506 Cedar Springs at Fairmount). Later (early ’80s?) it moved to its final location at 2909 Maple Avenue. My father worked there his entire adult life, starting as a bookseller during his SMU days and ending up as the owner of the store which he ran until his death in 2000.

When the store was on Cedar Springs, he was the manager. It was a weird, long, thin store with lots of rooms opening off a hallway painted bright yellow (my retinas!). The most impressive room was the one at the back, where all the expensive books were. A huge window looked out onto a hidden, sunken courtyard. The photo at the top shows one of the walls of bookcases. The photo below shows my father in 1974 in a staged pose looking uncharacteristically serious in that same room — straight ahead of him was the very pretty courtyard (I wonder if it’s still there?).

abs_dick-bosse_dallas-magazine_dec-1974

I spent so much time there that I can still remember where everything was. This was back when that used to be a cool, funky neighborhood. The Quadrangle was nearby, but I always got lost in what felt like a torturous maze of shops. I preferred the Sample House, where I spent as much time as I could. (That store — in a creaky old — house was one of my favorite childhood haunts. Again, I remember where absolutely everything was.)

I stumbled across an ad from 1946 with a photo of the Cedar Springs building in it — at the time it was being “completely reconditioned and restyled” — I’m surprised to learn that that building is so old (see it today on Google Street View here). (I’m not sure what’s going on with that address in the ad, but this building is definitely in the 2500 block of Cedar Springs.)

ABS_aldredge_cedar-springs-fairmount_033146March, 1946

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The reason I know the picture of my father is from 1974 is because it appeared in a Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine article about Dallas bookstores, published in December, 1974 — the lengthy article was titled “Books, Bookstores, Book Lovers” by Colleen O’Connor, with photos by Jack Caspary. It profiled several of the city’s major booksellers of the day, including Henry Taylor of Preston Books (soon to become Taylor Books/Taylor’s), Ken Gjemre of Half-Price Books (which was then an empire of only four stores), Pat Miers of The Bookseller, Bill Gilliland of Doubleday (late of McMurray’s), and Larry Snyder of Cokesbury. When the article came out, Dallas was “fifth in the country for per capita [book] sales.” So many bookstores!

The author misidentified Sawnie Aldredge, the original owner of the Aldredge Book Store, as “Sonny” and somehow managed to pull some quotes from my father which make him sound like a pretentious snob (which he definitely was NOT), but it’s a great look at a time when Dallas had tons of bookstores — even though my father might not have been overly impressed with some of them when he said, “Unfortunately, the majority of bookstores today are ‘schlock shops’ that sell Snoopy dolls and Rod McKuen” (now that sounds like him!).

I’ve scanned the entire article which you can read here.

dallas-bookstores_dec-1974_cover

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Sources & Notes

More Flashback Dallas posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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