Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Photographs

Pacific Avenue Warehouse District

pacific-warehouse-district_ebayLooking west on Pacific, from about Good Street

by Paula Bosse

Wandering around the eBay “sold” archives, I came across this unusual photo taken in a not terribly scenic part of town. After checking addresses of these businesses in the 1932 city directory, it looks like the photographer (who appears to have been seated in a car) snapped this shot on N. Pacific Avenue, a block or so west from Good Street (now Good-Latimer). Deep Ellum-adjacent. The view is southwesterly, toward downtown. The businesses are mostly warehouses. See what this view looks like today, 90 years or so later, via Google Street View, here.

I was excited to see two familiar 19th-century buildings which I’ve written about and feel a weird kinship with: the abandoned and shuttered old Union Depot (which I wrote about here) and the Union Depot Hotel (which I wrote about here) — located about where Pacific takes a slight jog to the right. It’s like seeing old friends.

Here are some rather grainy magnifications of the eBay “snapshot” (click to see larger images).

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Below: the Western States Grocery Co. was located at the southwest corner of Hawkins and Pacific. The Home Furnishings Co. was at 2301-2311 Elm Street (at Preston). Many of the buildings in this view (except for the 5-story-ish tall building straight ahead and to the right) can be seen in this 1921 Sanborn map. (Is that the pre-Pegasus Magnolia Building seen in the distance behind the 5-story building at the right? If so, that would mean that this photo was taken before 1934.)

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The building seen below in the foreground at the left is the old Union Depot. I’ve seen so many photos of this building — but it looks TINY here! Just across the street (railroad tracks) from it (in the building seen immediately below the “Radios” sign) is the old Union Depot Hotel. The H&TC railroad used to run between them — Central Avenue later (basically) became Central Expressway. I was really excited to see these two buildings.

The taller building seen in the background, behind the Hart Furniture sign, can be seen in this 1921 Sanborn map — the 5-story building at the southwest corner of Pacific and Preston was home to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills (another story was added around 1935).

pacific-toward-downtown_ebay_depot-and-hotel

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The Combs Transfer & Storage Co., the Packer Transfer & Storage Co., and the Baldwin Piano Ware Room were all at 2507-2509 Pacific. It looks like the two buildings seen in this detail (the short one and the taller one) have somehow miraculously survived the insane redevelopment of everything on all sides of it (I’ve haven’t been to Deep Ellum in a few months, but these two buildings seem to be the ones which you can see in the most recent Google Street View). Also, looming like a ghostly whisper in the background (above “Combs”) is the Medical Arts Building.

pacific-toward-downtown_ebay_medical-arts-bldg

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I wonder why someone decided to take this photo? I’m glad they did, because it’s not a view I’ve ever seen. I love finding photographs taken in places that most people wouldn’t think were interesting enough to document for posterity. Like this one. Thanks, anonymous photographer!

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I just picked the closest historical map I had easy access to — the 1952 Mapsco. My guess is that the photograph is from the 1930s. The star is about where the photo was taken — just west of what is now Good-Latimer, just before Pacific becomes Gaston — with a view to the west.

pacific-toward-downtown_mapsco_19521952 Mapsco (det.)

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay — it looks like the item sold a couple of weeks ago, in Sept. 2022.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Safari Redux

safari_squire-haskins_1961_UTA_1Dallas? Yes!

by Paula Bosse

Back in 2014 — when Flashback Dallas was still in its blogging infancy — I wrote about the Safari Steak House in North Dallas in the post “Back When Preston Royal Was ‘Exotic’ and Had Its Very Own Elephant.” There were a few errors in that post which I corrected today, thanks to a couple of commenters on the original post who pointed out that what I thought showed the Safari restaurant at Preston & Royal showed, instead, the Houston location. Kind of embarrassing!

What better time than this to say that I ABSOLUTELY WELCOME CORRECTIONS!! I’d like this blog to be as unpedantically accurate as possible, so, please, if you see I’ve smugly written something which is blatantly incorrect, please let me know! I’ll be happy you let me know.

I invite you to check out that original post, now updated with a couple of photos of the actual Dallas Safari Steak House, including the one above, taken by the estimable Squire Haskins in 1961.

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Sources & Notes

Photo “Safari Steak House, Dallas, Texas” by Squire Haskins, 1961, from the Squire Haskins Photography Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections — more info on this photo can be found here. (Thank you for the links, Tom Bowen!)

The Safari space is now occupied by Royal China, which I love from the days I worked across the street at Borders.

safari_squire-haskins_1961_UTA_1_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Old Lake Highlands

white-rock-lake_old-lake-highlands_1956_don-jones1956, Room to spread out…

by Paula Bosse

The photo above — taken in 1956 — shows an aerial view of Old Lake Highlands, looking southwesterly toward White Rock Lake. The street in the foreground is Kirkwood Drive.

But for even older Old Lake Highlands, we need to cast our minds back to 1927, when W. H. Brouse began to advertise for one of his many East Dallas developments. One of the ads from the Lake Highlands Co. (W. McCarty Moore, President and H. W. Brouse, Director of Sales) read:

IN THE MAKING — LAKE HIGHLANDS, “THE INCOMPARABLE”

Another High-Class Residence  Section For Dallas on White Rock Lake

Believing in Dallas — believing in the continued rapid absorption of territory to the north and east for homes — and especially that beautiful terrain surrounding White Rock Lake, Lake Highlands was conceived and made possible by the owning company.

The tract — some 117 acres — is especially advantageously located in that it is right on the lake itself — just a short drive from the dam, and is bounded by water on three sides. A peninsular piece of ground, in fact.

The ad also noted that “lots will be large — prices low”: $1,100 and $1,200 (about $18,000-$19,500 in today’s money).

lake-highlands-co_dmn_100927_det1927

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And, in a Dallas Morning News real estate advertorial were these additional deets:

Lake Highlands is situated just beyond Dixon’s Branch, on the east shore of the lake, and is accessible directly from the downtown section by Swiss and Gaston avenues and the old Garland road, leading into the lake road. This, in turn, gives access to the 100-foot boulevard, which will circle the whole development, and from which lead streets seventy feet in width, reaching every lot in the development. Roadways and streets will be surfaced with white gravel, while curbs and sidewalks will be installed in advance of building development, as will all utilities, lights, water, gas and sewer facilities….

Construction will be restricted to homes to cost $5,500 to $7,500 minimums [$90,000-$122,000 today], depending on the location of the lots on which they are built. Materials will be limited to brick, hollow tile and stucco, so as automatically to eliminate the fire hazard and also to assure permanence.

I’m sure life on the lake in 1927 was worth every penny.

kirkwood_white-rock-lake_googleGoogle Maps

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Sources & Notes

I came across the photo at the top of this post several years ago in a photo blog hosted by The Dallas Morning News, but the blog doesn’t seem to exist any longer. The caption noted that the photo had been shared by Lynn Jones who had come across it when going through a collection of color slides inherited by her husband when Don Jones died in 2010.

Quotes from the real estate advertorial, “Plan Homes at White Rock” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 9, 1927).

white-rock-lake_old-lake-highlands_1956_don-jones_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Elks-a-Plenty — 1908

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_full

Begirt with ruffles and studded with elks…

by Paula Bosse

Conventions have always been important to Dallas. One of the most important conventions ever to descend upon the city was the annual convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in July 1908. There were approximately 38,000 attendees, but when you added to that number spouses and various others with business, social, or just looky-loo interests, it was estimated that more than 100,00 out-of-towners clogged the streets of our fair burg during the time of the convention. Dallas was a sizeable city in 1908, but the sudden swarming into town of 100,000 people (twice the actual population of the city!) must have been… challenging. (And profitable!)

Dallas welcomed the Elks with enthusiasm and open arms. Everyone knew they were coming, and everywhere there were splashes of the Elk colors, purple and white. A special (and later notorious) semi-permanent arch was erected to span Main Street at Akard. And businesses competed with one another to see who could decorate their building with the most spectacular and festive bunting.

Above is a photo of the Dallas Morning News Building at the northwest corner of Commerce and Lamar, crammed full of flags, bunting, pennants, cowbells, lights, little statues of elks, medium-sized statues of elks, and large statues of elks. (There is an elk in every window.) It also had a large clock erected which was perpetually stuck at an Elk-y 11:00 and a parallelogram-shaped sign which lit up to flash the Elk greeting “Hello, Bill!” So… a lot. But what might seem like overkill — like The News was trying a little too hard to be noticed… the Elks loved it. LOVED IT. They loved it so much that they awarded the newspaper an award of $250 for the best decorated building in the city (that would be about $8,000 in today’s money!). Scroll down to read a breathless description of these decorations, with details of absolutely everything that was flapping, clanging, flashing, billowing, and throbbing at Commerce and Lamar in the summer of 1908. (I have to put this sentence from the article here because I love it so much: “To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle.”)

So, those elk statues. I mean… they’re fantastic. Little elks in every window, illuminated by a single electric bulb positioned “between the forefeet” of each mini-elk. And then there are the larger ones appearing to step out of — or off of — the building. But back to those little elks — are you wondering what happened to them after the conventioneers headed back home? Wonder no more!

elks_news-bldg_belo-ad_071808

Dallas Morning News, July 18, 1908

That would have been a great souvenir!

The photo at the top of this post (by Frank B. Secrest of Hunt County) was issued that summer as a postcard. The News did not miss an opportunity to mention it:

elks_news-bldg_dmn_080708

DMN, Aug. 7, 1908

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And because I love to zoom in on these sorts of photos, here are a few magnified details:

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-2

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Here is a lengthy description of the decorations, from The Dallas Morning News — direct from the horse’s mouth:

To decorate The News Building in celebration of the coming of the Elks has been the labor of two men for more than a month, and of a dozen for two days: for, though it was only three days ago that the first bit of color appeared on the outer walls, the preparations were begun in the seclusion of a workshop early in June. The draping of the building with bunting and flags was done under the direction of W. T. Senter of the National Decorating Company of St. Louis, and of Edward A. Gebhard, librarian of The News. In working out their scheme they have used 4,200 yards of bunting, purple, white and purple, and twenty-four immense flags, and disposed of it in such artistic fashion as to avoid a sense of crowding.

PURPLE, WHITE AND PURPLE RUFFLES

The building is thrice begirt with big ruffles of purple, white and purple. But, to begin at the topmost, three large flags, one the United States, another the Texas and the other The News’ flag, float high above the Lamar street side of the building. To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle. From one to the other of the flagstaffs hundreds of small pennants in the colors of the Elks flutter gayly in the breeze. Festooned from the heavy cornice which crowns the building are heavy folds of purple, white and purple so arranged that with every vagrant breeze it swells and sinks like the surface of water. Once on the Lamar street side, over the entrance, again at the corner and once on the Commerce street side this bunting is gathered around an immense United States flag, fashioned fan-shape. Poised on the cornice of the building at the corner, as if surveying the land preparatory of a leap, is the graceful figure of an elk, five and a half feet high, made out of plaster of Paris, painted and enameled until he glistens.

The two lower ledges of the building are draped in similar fashion, except that the streamers at these places are narrower than those that festoon the cornice. Above the main entrance on the Lamar street side and extending from below the second story to the third-story ledge is the piece de resistance. Here set in an embrasure of the building, is a clock dial twelve feet in diameter. The gilt letters marking the divisions of the circle are two feet high. The hands point to the hour of 11. The pure white head and shoulders of an elk seven feet high are shown in the center one foot forward, as if he were about to emerge from the fluffy mass of purple and white bunting that forms the background dial. On each side an immense flag is gathered in a way to make it fan-shaped. Circling the clock dial are six large incandescent lights.

WHOLE HERD OF ELKS

From the third-story corner of the building, above which stands a five and one-half foot Elk, as if surveying the country from a precipice, are festooned two twelve-foot flags that fall almost to the second-story ledge of the building. One is gathered around on the Commerce and the other on the Lamar street side. And there yet remains to speak of the most distinctive feature of the whole scheme of decoration. The News, in preparation for this event, had made a whole herd of elks. There are forty-two of them, each thirty-two inches tall, and one, mounted on a pedestal, stands poised from the ledge of every window in the building. They are pure white, made of plaster Paris, painted twice and then enameled. Between the forefeet of every one is an electric bulb. The elks are from models designed by Mr. Gebhard and were cast in The News Building.

BRILLIANT ILLUMINATION

Of course the whole building is brilliantly lighted. In addition to the electricity used ordinarily, which lights the exterior of The News Building pretty well, bulbs have been studded profusely midst the decorations and over the Lamar street entrance is a parallelogram of electric lights which illuminate the sign, “Hello, Bill!”

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The article then launches into more self-promotion, with an, admittedly, interesting description of the layout of the News Building:

ATTRACTS GENERAL ATTENTION

The building of The News attracted general attention from the thousands of visiting Elks. Many expressed their surprise that a city the size of Dallas had such a complete, modern building and equipment, and the compliments concerning The News as a newspaper have been very pleasing.

The News Building has all the modern fireproof features. It occupies a space of 300×100, having three floors and a basement, the whole being used by the newspaper. Its business office is one of the handsomest in the State, and, as one visitor remarked, it looks more like a prosperous bank than the ordinary newspaper office.

The first floor is given up to the business and circulation departments, the press room and the mailing department. In the basement are the paper storage rooms and the power department. On the second floor are the editorial rooms, telegraph rooms and the general circulation department and the newspaper job department, besides the Employes’ Library and Recreation Room. On the third floor are the composing and the linotype rooms, the stereotype room and the engraving department.

INDIVIDUAL ELECTRIC MOTORS

Every piece of machinery in the house is operated by its own individual electric motor. Power is supplied from two immense engines and generators combined, the engine room being one of the show places in the building, having a metal ceiling and white glazed brick on the walls, with a cement floor. The press room contains two three-deck presses, one quadruple press and one sextuple press.

TWO DAILY NEWSPAPERS

The Dallas News is the offspring of The Galveston News, which was established in 1842. The two papers are under the same management. The publication offices of The News, Galveston and Dallas, 315 miles apart, are connected by special wires for interchange of news matter. The Galveston paper supplies the southern part of the State and the Louisiana border, while the other covers all North Texas and goes well into Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

THREE SPECIAL TRAINS

For upward of a quarter of a century the two papers have operated at their own expense, every day in the year, three special newspaper trains, one running Galveston to Houston, one Dallas to Denison and the third Dallas to Fort Worth. The Dallas News covers hundreds of thriving towns throughout its territory, many of them before breakfast time, through its unrivaled facilities of distribution. Starting in 1885, The Dallas News has been a continuous success, and has achieved an enviable reputation wherever American newspapers are known. As an advertising medium it is in a class by itself so far as papers in this section of the country are concerned. Starting at 1885 with thirty-three classified ads in its Sunday issue, it now runs each Sunday about 2,000. It is a success because it is enterprising and because it is clean, both in its news columns and in its advertising columns; because it is fair-minded and because its efforts have always been uplifting from a moral and intellectual standpoint and fair to every interest.

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And then it launches into many, many testimonials from Elk visitors on how much they love the decorations. This is the first. You get the idea.

J. T. McNulty of Baltimore, grand trustee of the Elks, prominent in National circles of the Knights of Columbus and a central figure in the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, who has traveled largely and visited every State in the Union, being prominent in business and political circles said: “I have been to many conventions, my son, and have seen many decorations, but the one at The News plant, in my estimation ‘takes the cake,’ figuratively and literally speaking. It is the most unique, the most artistic and the most beautiful I have ever seen in all my attendance at conventions in this country, and I have attended many of them. I was agreeably surprised at the way Dallas has decorated, but nothing gave me such a shock of pleasurable surprise as the first sight I had of The News’ decorations.”

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And this is the dark and grainy photo that ran with the article:

dmn-bldg_elks_dmn_071508_photo

DMN, July 15, 1908

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I kinda want an elk statue now. Also, according to the article, I now know the Morning News has its own flag. Can someone point me to more info?

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “[The News, First Prize for Decorations, Dallas, Texas]” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photograph (postcard) can be found here.

Lengthy quote is from the article “Dallas News Building Decorated In Honor of the Elk’s Grand Lodge Which Is Now Holding Its Annual Session and Grand Jubilee in This City,” The Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1908.

More Elks-related Flashback Dallas posts:

And more photos of this beautiful Dallas News Building can be found in these posts:

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_full_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

S. Mayer’s Summer Garden, Est. 1881

mayers-garden_DPL_1885Roll out the barrel… (collection Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the 4th of July. I had these two articles stuffed into bulging digital files:

4th-july_mayers_dallas-herald_070482
Dallas Herald, July 4, 1882

4th-of-july_dallas-herald_070384_mayer-gardensDallas Herald, July 3, 1884

I had seen the photo of Mayer’s beer garden posted above, but I didn’t really know anything about it.

Simon Mayer (1843-1924) was born in Germany/Prussia and came to the United States in 1866, first settling in Milwaukee. He came to Texas in 1869 where, as his obituary in The Dallas Morning News says, “he owned and operated the first brewery established in Fort Worth.” He moved to Dallas in 1871 and entered into business with pioneer Dallas brewer Charles Meisterhans. 

In December, 1881 he opened what would become one of Dallas’ foremost gathering places, Mayer’s Summer Garden. He built a 3-story-plus-basement building (at what would later be 1601-1603 Elm Street) and added a charming outdoor beer garden. It stood on the north side of Elm and looked directly down Stone Street (now Stone Plaza) toward Main. You can see it on an 1885 Sanborn map here.

A 3-story building in Dallas in 1881 was nothing to sneeze at. He was putting a lot of money into it, and people were interested in its progress. The opening was touted in the paper for several months (click articles to see larger images):

mayers_dallas-herald_090181_constructionDallas Herald, Sept. 1, 1881

From the above article: “Mr. Mayer proposes to have a garden where gentlemen can take ladies and enjoy a glass of beer or wine in a quiet way, without coming into contact with the rough class that frequent beer gardens. No improper characters will be tolerated. There will be music but no dancing.”

mayers_dallas-herald_120981_to-openDallas Herald, Dec. 1, 1881

Finally. the opening was about to happen: “the grandest blow-out ever witnessed in Dallas” was promised (who knew “blow-out” was a term used in 1881?):

mayers_dallas-herald_121081_to-open_blow-outDallas Herald, Dec. 10, 1881

Over a thousand curious and thirsty Dallasites turned out.

mayers_dallas-herald_121181_grand-openingDallas Herald, Dec. 11, 1881

mayer_dallas-herald_121381_adDallas Herald, Dec. 13, 1881

(Don’t know what “drummers” are? Check it out.)

You might have noticed mention of zoological specimens. Yes, not only did this establishment offer a beer garden, a meeting hall, a hotel, a restaurant, a saloon, a performance space, and a lecture hall, it also had lots of animals in (and out of) cages — Dallas’ first zoo. He had alligators, birds, lions, eagles, prairie dogs, a Gila monster, a bear, and a pet crow. And a lot more. The bear escaped at least once — it wandered down the street and bit a guy who was making a commotion about a bear wandering down the street. But the bear was fairly easily recaptured and was waltzed back home along Elm Street without further incident. (Apparently, Mayer was a taxidermist by trade. One wonders how many of these creatures ended up stuffed and mounted and displayed in Herr Mayer’s home.)

People flocked to the Summer Garden. They loved the outdoor beer garden with its trees and fountains and performing bands. …And alligators. Below is a, sadly, washed-out circa-1885 image of Mayer’s garden. It actually seems fairly cosmopolitan for a Texas city in the 19th century. (Although, on the other side of the trees at the right was a livery stable and a wagon yard, so I would assume the jovial tippling, socializing, and oom-pah music was accompanied by unpleasant smells that were hard to ignore.)

mayers-summer-garden_1885_degolyer-library_SMUMayer’s Garden, circa 1885 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

Mayer’s was one of the first businesses in Dallas (or, according to lore, THE first) to have electric lights — lights were switched on to great fanfare in August of 1882. Before that, Mayer utilized an interesting lighting technique I had never heard about: “Mr. Mayer had the latest thing in kerosene lamps. An attachment to the lamp sprayed kerosene on the blaze, making it much brighter” (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 14, 1924). (Perhaps the bear had escaped in fear for his life!)

Mayer eventually closed his very popular business sometime in the 1890s after being unable to fight the “Sunday-closing” laws which forced him to close on his most profitable day of the week. By 1901, he placed the ad below and was selling the building.

mayers_dmn_112401_property-for-saleNov. 24, 1901

I’m not sure when the building was demolished — probably in the ’20s or ’30s. I just found a photo of the building as it looked about the time Mayer sold it (it was the Clifton Hotel for a while).

mayers_clifton-hotel_ca-1900_cook-coll_degolyer-library_SMU_cropped
No more garden, ca. 1900 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

The beer-garden era had ended. There were several in Dallas in the 1880s and 1890s, but Simon Mayer’s was perhaps the creme-de-la-creme. I mean, he had an eagle!

mayers-garden_icollector-comvia iCollector

mayers-garden_token_ebayvia eBay

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — “[Mayer’s Beer Garden, Dallas, Texas”] — is from the Dallas Public Library (Call Number PA87-1/19-27-1).

The photo of the “garden” is titled “Mayer’s Summer Garden on Elm and Stone, 1885,” and it is from the Collection of Dallas Morning News negatives and copy photographs, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — more info can be found here. (There is another photo of the garden in this collection — it’s really hard to make out clearly, but I swear I see an alligator int he foreground. And maybe some other zoological specimens out of their cages. …Or not. It’s here.)

The photo showing Mayer’s building in about 1900 has been cropped from “[Elm Street between Stone and Ervay Streets].” which is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — see the full photo here.

All articles and ads are from The Dallas Herald, editions of which are scanned in their entirety and can be found at the Portal to Texas History, here — thank you, University of North Texas!

A lot of colorful info can be found in Mayer’s obituary in the Dallas Morning News archives: “Simon Mayer, Early Dallas Entertainer — Death of Pioneer Brewer Recalls Pleasure Garden He Founded” (DMN, Sept. 14, 1924).

mayers-garden_DPL_1885_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Union Station Interiors — 1916

union-station_interior_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersA beautiful place to wait…

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo of the new “Union Depot,” completed in 1916 and, thankfully, still standing more than a century later. Below, a couple of details of the Lunch Room and the Women’s Waiting Room.

union-station_interior_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_lunch-rm

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The same view as the top photo, but from 1922:

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Back to 1916, in what I gather is a sort of interior/exterior shot showing another place to pass the time. What better, quaint way to wait for a train and take in a great, slightly elevated view, than in a rocking chair.

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And a slight zoom-in:

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Imagine those rocking chairs up there in those archways, between the columns.

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Sources & Notes

The two photos from 1916 (by Frank Rogers) are from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin — more info on these photos is here and here

A couple of other images of the new Union Station can be seen in these Flashback Dallas posts:

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Sunny Side Grocery — 1915

williamson-store_4207-w-clarendon_1915_ebay_rppc“Uncle John’s store”

by Paula Bosse

Above, the Sunny Side Grocery & Market, J. H. Williamson, prop. According to the notation on the back of this photo, the store — owned by John Williamson — was located at 4207 W. Clarendon (a few steps from Sunny Side Avenue in, I believe, Cockrell Hill (which I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize was a separate city from Dallas — as Wikipedia says, it is a city “completely surrounded by the city of Dallas” — sorry, Cockrell Hill!).

williamson-store_4207-w-clarendon_1915_ebay_notation

Mr. Williamson appears to have owned another store — or this store, with an incorrect modern-day notation by a descendant. The other store (also called the Sunny Side Grocery…) was listed in the 1915 Dallas city directory (as well as in a 1915 ad in The Dallas Morning News) as being at 3600 Copeland (where S. Trunk and Copeland meet in South Dallas — as seen in the bottom right corner of this 1922 Sanborn map).

So the store seen in this photo was either in Cockrell Hill or South Dallas. I’m going with Cockrell Hill, which, again, is a CITY COMPLETELY SURROUNDED BY ANOTHER CITY

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Betty and Benny Fox, Sky-Dancing in Dallas — ca. 1935

fox-betty-benny_princeton-univ_ndBetty & Benny, without a care in the world… 

by Paula Bosse

I often just wander aimlessly around the internet, hoping I’ll find something Dallas-related that I haven’t seen before. Last night I found this unusual photo in the Western Americana Collection of Princeton University, described as “View of a Texas city, possibly Dallas.” Okay. It didn’t strike me immediately as a familiar view of Dallas, but you’ve got appearances by Dallas Art Glass Co., Texas Hosiery, and Texas Paper Co. So, yeah. Dallas! I definitely haven’t seen this before. (Scroll down for the specifics of the location.)

Once I determined this was, in fact, Dallas, I tried to figure out what was happening — who (and why?!) were those two people waving from a tiny platform on top of a tall pole? I first thought “flagpole-sitting,” the weird fad of the 1920s which makes me uncomfortably acrophobic just thinking about it. But it was two people on a pole. Standing. Waving. I just kept looking at it, wondering how they got up there. And how were they going to get down (without plummeting)? Why were they there? Were they a couple? Were there husband-and-wife pole-sitters/-standers/-dancers/-wavers? So many questions.

My first hint was in a December, 1931 story in The Dallas Morning News about a young woman who seemed to have some name-recognition named Betty Fox who was, at the time of the article, perched atop a pole in Greenville, Texas, attempting to test her endurance and remain there for 100 hours. As one does. (When in Greenville….) So I searched for newspaper articles about “Betty Fox.” She was, indeed, a star in the pole-sitting world, entertaining large crowds and making personal appearances all around the country. Then I noticed that there seemed to be more than one “Betty Fox” out there. Hmm. And I had noticed that there had been a pole-sitter named Ben Fox who was a fairly serious flagpole-sitting champ. That was kind of a weird coincidence. Or was it? And then I found the article “Sky Dancers Betty and Benny Fox,” which helpfully explained that Benny and Betty were daredevil aerial dancers. They were originally billed as brother and sister, but as the article says, “they were not related. And Betty was not always the same person, nor was she actually named Betty.”

They traveled from city to city performing for enthralled crowds on a tiny circular disc 24 inches in diameter (it later shrank to 18 inches in diameter). Their acrobatic “sky dance” (AKA “The Dance of Death”) apparently lasted for several hours. (There was an article I read from 1931 about “Betty” and a heretofore unknown other “sibling” named “Babe” Fox who defied a judge’s injunction to prohibit the two from engaging in a 100-hour marathon-dance stunt on a 35-inch platform 50 feet in the air in cold, wet, and windy Texarkana. Seems like a bad idea, but, apparently, they didn’t die. (…Or maybe they did and just got a new “Betty” and “Babe” and carried on to the next gig.)

Princeton University estimated the date of the photo to be around 1930. I think it might have been 1935. The two classified ads below in which Benny seeks Dallas promoters for their local event, were from the end of 1935. (The event was sponsored by a Dallas newspaper — it obviously wasn’t the DMN, because there was no story about the Foxes in their pages.) The newspaper photo below the ads shows the then-current version of Betty and Benny, and they look like the couple in the Princeton photo. 

fox-benny_dmn_112735Dallas Morning News, Nov. 27, 1935

fox-benny_dmn_120735DMN, Dec. 7, 1935

fox_atlanta-constitution_050335Atlanta Constitution, May 3, 1935

Yes, that caption says they performed for SIX HOURS.

I’m not sure how long “Betty and Benny” lasted, but they were back in Dallas in 1957 performing at a week-long carnival in Wynnewood Shopping Center. I bet there were more “Bettys” than “Perunas.”

Here’s some newsreel footage of one of the Betty and Benny incarnations doing their thing in Chicago. (Seriously, if you’ve got even a hint of a fear of heights, look away!!!)

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So where was that photo at the top taken? I’m estimating the camera was on the top of a building at, roughly, Griffin and Pacific, looking in a northerly direction. At the top right, the tall building farthest away is the First Methodist Episcopal Church (now First United Methodist) at Ross and Harwood. It’s hard to see any streets, but the two running diagonally are Camp and Patterson. A few addresses of businesses seen in the photo:

  • Dallas Art Glass Co.: 1408 Camp
  • Steger Transfer Co.: 1305 Camp
  • Texas Hosiery: 1200 Camp/1201 Patterson
  • Texas Paper Co.: 1200 Patterson, extending to Pacific

A 1921 Sanborn map is here. A detail from a 1952 Mapsco is below.

fox_mapsco_1952_camp-patterson-griffin1952 Mapsco (det)

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I’m not sure why Princeton has this photo in their collection, but I really enjoyed reading about Benny and his “Bettys.”

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — “View of a Texas city, possibly Dallas” — is from the Western Americana Collection, Princeton University Library Special Collections; more information on this photo can be found on the Princeton website here.

See several “action” photos of Benny and Betty from GettyImages here.

Read the very entertaining “Sky Dancers Betty and Benny Fox” by Alan E. Hunter, here.

Another story I wrote concerning an “endurance” stunt (which, like this one, also makes me feel a little panicky) is “Buried Alive at the Fair Park Midway — 1946.” 

fox-betty-benny_princeton-univ_nd_det

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Gaston-Carroll Pharmacy — ca. 1929

gaston-carroll-pharmacy_1929_joe-windrow_dallasFBCurb service at Gaston and Carroll…

by Paula Bosse

I received an email the other day from Melissa Maher asking about the building which houses the new shop she owns with her business partner, Chelsea Callahan-Haag: East Dallas Vintage, at 4418 Gaston Avenue. Next door, on the corner, is Ross Demers’ new restaurant, Cry Wolf (4422 Gaston). Surprisingly, I had two photos of the building from the 1920s!

The building is on the southwest corner of Gaston and N. Carroll in Old East Dallas and was built in 1925. The first mention I found was from a classified ad in The Dallas Morning News in February, 1902 — a “for sale” ad for the lot boasted that it had “city sewer” and that it was “fine, very fine for you and your friend to build two fine houses” (which is an unusual sales tactic). The price was $3,850 — if you believe the accuracy of inflation calculators, that would be the equivalent of about $125,000 in today’s money.

1902_gaston-carroll_dmn_081802Dallas Morning News, Aug. 18, 1902

In 1907 it was reported that attorney N. Lawrence Lindsley was building a house on the large lot, for the equivalent of about $250,000 (add that amount to the cost of the land…). Before 1911, the address was 668 Gaston Avenue — after 1911 the address became 4418 Gaston. Over the years, the house passed through several owners until the large, stately 3-story home had been broken up into apartments in the 1920s (see the house on a 1922 Sanborn map here). In 1925, the house went on the market.

A CORNER ON GASTON WITH A FUTURE
Southwest corner of Gaston and Carroll. Has three-story well-built house bringing $100 monthly rental or 8.5 per cent on price of $14,000. Lot 90x125x160. When Gaston is opened through to Pacific this will be one of the best corners in East Dallas for stores. Call H. K. Dunham, exclusive agent. […] Do not bother tenant. No trade. Seay-Cranfill Co. Realtors. (Feb. 8, 1925)

It was snapped up fast. A mere ten days later, a Texas charter notice appeared in newspapers for Gaston Avenue Investment Company, owners of the property. The 18-year-old house was promptly razed, and a building containing space for four shops opened in June. 

The grand opening was broadcast live on WFAA radio on June 27, 1925, with music performed by Jack Gardner and his orchestra. Quite a do.

1925_gaston-carroll_dmn_062725DMN, June 27, 1925

The original businesses were:

4414: Piggly Wiggly grocery store (now a Domino’s Pizza)
4418: Long’s Helpy-Selfy (a “serve-yourself” no-frills grocery)
4420: Johnson’s Superior Market, Otto S. Johnson, prop. (um, another grocery)
4422: Gaston-Carroll Pharmacy, C. L. Watts, prop. (with a soda fountain)

The Gaston-Carroll Pharmacy was on the corner, and that’s what we see in the photos above and below, taken about 1929 when Bill Windrow had taken over as president, manager, and druggist. An 11-year-old relative, Rollen Joseph “Joe” Windrow, worked as a carhop. Above, we see Joe “hopping”; below, Bill and Joe, stand on the sidewalk in front of the pharmacy.

gaston-carroll-pharmacy_dallasFB_bill-and-joe-windrow_str

Joe lived nearby on Swiss Avenue and later went to Woodrow Wilson High School. He grew up to be a handsome young man.

windrow-joe_woodrow_football_1936Joe Windrow, Woodrow Wilson High School, 1936

windrow-joe_tx-a-and-m_1941Joe Windrow, Texas A&M, 1941

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Over the years, the space on the right (4414 Gaston) was most often a grocery store (Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, Tom Thumb), and the space on the corner was a pharmacy for at least 60 years (Gaston-Carroll, Marvin’s, Walgreens, Taylor’s, and Felty’s). The middle shops were a variety of businesses, with one of the spaces apparently being absorbed into another.

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The building received a nice makeover recently. The Google Street Views below show July 2018 (before), and March 2019 (after).

gaston-carroll_google-street-view_july-2018._march-2019Google Street View: 2018, 2019

Melissa Maher, one of the proprietors of East Dallas Vintage (now occupying 4418 Gaston) sent me the following photos (from the end of 2021, I believe), showing her space and the space next door (Cry Wolf, 4422, in the old pharmacy location on the corner). She was wondering if there had been a basement in the building. It seems unlikely, but if anyone has any info, I’m sures she’d love to know.

2021_gaston-carroll_melissa-maher_1photo: Melissa Maher

2021_gaston-carroll_melissa-maher_2photo: Melissa Maher

2021_gaston-carroll_melissa-maher_3photo: Melissa Maher

2021_gaston-carroll_melissa-maher_4photo: Melissa Maher

2021_gaston-carroll_melissa-maher_5photo: Melissa Maher

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Thanks for asking about this, Melissa! I had always meant to write something about the Gaston-Carroll Pharmacy and post these 1929 photos — and this was a great opportunity to use them. I hope to visit your shop sometime!

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Sources & Notes

The top two photos were found on a Dallas history Facebook group, but I’m not sure which one. They were posted in 2015, and I’m unable to find them now. I believe they were found by the original poster on Ancestry.com. Luckily, I had noted the names “Windrow,” “Joe,” and “Bill,” because I now know more about the Windrows than a non-Wiindrow needs to know — I can definitely verify that the circa-1920 photos are of the Gaston-Carroll Pharmacy. I’m still not sure of the relationship between Bill and Joe (there were a lot of Windrows…) — possibly uncle and nephew, or maybe cousins.

Thanks again to Melissa Maher for her photos. Go see her and Chelsea Callahan-Haag at East Dallas Vintage.

I couldn’t find any photos of the home of N. Lawrence Lindsley — I know they’re out there somewhere! I’d love to see one. If you know of any, please let me know!

Of related interest, the other half of that block in which this building is located was once home to a truly palatial home, built by Thomas Field. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here. See the house in the Flashback Dallas post “Junius Heights … Adjacent!”

Also, catty-corner from this building is the former Brink’s restaurant. Way back, though, it was once the site of another grand residence — a home which became the Spann Sanitarium about the same time that the little strip of shops was built (I keep meaning to write about this sanitarium…):

spann-sanitarium_postcard

gaston-carroll-pharmacy_1929_dallasFB_det_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Stereoview Souvenirs of the Texas Centennial — 1936

tx-centennial_cavalcade-race-track_1936_ebayA view of Fair Park not often seen

by Paula Bosse

If you collect stereoview photos and/or Texas Centennial memorabilia, hie yourself over to eBay for some (pricey) goodies (see the link at the bottom of the page). Here are a few stereoview “monoviews.”

Above, part of the Fair Park racetrack, with the reviewing stand for the “Cavalcade of Texas” pageant at the right. If you look closely on the horizon — at the right, above the Cavalcade stands, you’ll see two towers. Are those the two water towers over in Lakewood at Abrams and Goliad (which I wrote about here)?

tx-centennial_cavalcade-race-track_1936_ebay_det

Here are a few more. The first one with kids and dogs at the Hall of State:

tx-centennial_stereoview-S131_ebay_hall-of-state

Pegasuses (“pegasi”?) at the Esplanade:

tx-centennial_stereoview-S132_ebay_esplanade-court_2

Strolling by the lagoon (and past one of my favorite crazy Centennial design features — those amazing flying-saucer lights!):

tx-centennial_stereoview-S136_ebay_esplanade-court_lagoon

I love the camera on the marquee (and those dresses!) at the Hollywood exhibit:

tx-centennial_stereoview-S141_ebay_hollywood

One of my favorite Fair Park artworks — the lady in the niche, at the Administration Building (Women’s Musuem):


tx-centennial_stereoview-S130_ebay_administration-bldg

I did not know there was an outdoor ice rink at the Centennial — ice skating performances at the “Black Forest” cafe:

tx-centennial_stereoview_ebay_black-forest_ice-skating

Can’t go wrong with another monumental woman in a niche:

tx-centennial_stereoview-S128_ebay_reflecting-basin

A sculpture of a slumbering fairy at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts:

tx-centennial_stereoview-S148_ebay_fairy-statue

And, jumping ahead a year, a souvenir from the Pan-American Exposition in 1937: the Music Hall dressed up as the “Casino.”

pan-american-exposition_stereoview_1937_casino_music-hall

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Sources & Notes

All images are from eBay, and almost all are currently for sale. See these and more here.

There are a bunch of Flashback Dallas posts on the Texas Centennial — they can be found here.

tx-centennial_cavalcade-race-track_1936_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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