Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Photographs

Stemmons Tower, Downtown Skyline — 1963

stemmons-tower_night_squire-haskins_041963_UTAPhoto by Squire Haskins, 1963 (UTA Libraries, Special Collections)

by Paula Bosse

Another fantastic photo from premier Dallas photographer, Squire Haskins: the new Stemmons Tower (East), with the Dallas skyline serving as a dramatic nighttime backdrop. (See this photo really big at the UTA website, here.)

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Sources & Notes

“Stemmons Tower with downtown Dallas, Texas in the background; photo taken at night,” by Squire Haskins, taken on April 19, 1963; from the Squire Haskins, Inc. Photography Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections (more info on this photo can be found here).

The first of several “towers,” construction of Trammel Crow’s Stemmons Tower East began in the summer of 1961 and was open and leasing by December, 1962. This office complex was part of the grand vision of the Trinity Industrial District and the “Stemmons corridor” (click ad below to see a much larger image).

stemmons-tower_jan-1963Jan., 1963

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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Willie’s Picnic Or Bust

willie-nelson-picnic_1980_austin-american-statesman“All’s we need is a ride, man…”  (photo: Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is July 4th, 2018 — the 45th anniversary of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The photo above — taken by Austin photographer Stanley Farrar — ran in The Austin American-Statesman in 1980 and shows hitchhikers (including a bare-chested Jerry Rundell and his go-with-the-flow cat “Precious”) thumbing it on Highway 71, hoping for a ride to that year’s picnic at Willie’s Pedernales Country Club, near Austin.

Take a look at the full illustrated program for the second Picnic, which was held at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, July 4-6, 1974, in a PDF, here. The huge line-up included Dallas natives Michael Murphey, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard (all three of whom attended Adamson High School in Oak Cliff), and singer-turned-DJ-turned-singer, Johnny Dallas (aka Groovey Joe Poovey). To make this a somewhat Dallas-y, I’ve pulled out a few of the local ads (click ’em to see larger images).

willie-nelson-program_cover-1974

willie-nelson-program_1974_kzewKZEW — from the Zoo’s “Progressive Country” years?

willie-nelson-program_1974_wbapWBAP — how much Ray Wylie Hubbard was WBAP playing?

Speaking of Ray Wylie Hubbard:

willie-nelson-program_1974_ray-wylie-hubbard_mother-bluesMother Blues had a one-buck cover charge, and Gertie’s was rocking until 5 a.m.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lyons-pubLyon’s Pub, 5535 Yale Street.

willie-nelson-program_1974_fannie-annsFannie Ann’s, 4714 Greenville Avenue, the lower part of Upper Greenville.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lone-star-opryhouseThe Lone Star Opry House, 1011 S. Industrial, at Cadiz (formerly the Aragon Ballroom). Willie appeared during its first week in business.

willie-nelson-program_iconoclastThe Iconoclast, Dallas’ underground newspaper, which began as Stoney Burns’ Dallas Notes.

willie-nelson-program_1974_ethylsEthyl’s (“Only Bluegrass Club in Dallas”), 3605 McKinney Avenue.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Austin American-Statesman (July 4, 1980); photo taken by photographer Stanley Farrar. See many more photos of Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics in an American-Statesman slideshow, here.

I wonder if Willie’s picnics have their own Wikipedia page? Of COURSE they do! Have at it.

I’ve written about it before, but, hey, it’s the 4th of July, so here’s Willie’s very … um, unusual ode to Dallas:

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Happy 4th!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Last Traces of Vickery Park Are Now Definitely Gone

vickery-park_demo_062118_d_PEBThe last vestige of a one-time summer destination… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Driving along Greenville Avenue this morning, I noticed a pile of rubble where Vickery Park once stood (just south of Walnut Hill, across from Presbyterian Hospital). It seemed sadly ironic that the land which was once occupied by a fondly-remembered swimming pool and picnic area was heaped with demolished buildings on the first day of summer.

I never saw the huge swimming pool myself, but from everything I’ve read about it over the years, it seems to have been very, very popular with generations of Dallasites. It was built in the then-rural community of Vickery as far back as the 1930s (well before Vickery was annexed by the city of Dallas), and it was still open at least through the ’60s.

The pool and amusement park were long gone when the (now-demolished) small shopping and restaurant area was built in the mid-1970s on a very pretty wooded site alongside White Rock Creek. Initially, the developer envisioned lots of quaint little boutiques and cafes (similar to those found in the Quadrangle) dotting the banks of White Rock Creek, creating Dallas’ version of San Antonio’s River Walk. …No one has ever accused real estate developers of dreaming small.

It’s sad to see this anachronistic, funky little area go away. My vague memories of childhood games of miniature golf in the ’70s are about to get vaguer.

vickery-park_demo_062118_a_PEB

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vickery-park_demo_062118_b_PEB

I’ve never known exactly where the pool was, but I think it might have been at the back right of the photo above, just off Pineland.

vickery-park-pool_dpl_pinterest

vickery-park-swimming-pool_1950s

vickery-park-swimming-pool_legacies_fall-2002

vickery-park-pool_19461946

swim_vickery-park_19651965

1978_vickery-park_sept-1978Sept., 1978

vickery_google_may-2017Google Street View

Above is a Google Street View from May, 2017. If you’d like to take a little virtual “drive” through the parking lot, hie yourself over to Google, here.

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Here are two pieces of film footage showing the pool. The first one is from June, 1964 and is (silent) news footage shown on WBAP Channel 5. It’s a little unsettling, as it shows a boy being rushed off by ambulance after an accident, but it does have some interesting shots of the pool and the park, which I’ve certainly never seen before. I am unable to embed the video, but you can watch it here. (The script for the story is here.) (Footage is from the WBAP-TV News collection, UNT Libraries Special Collections.) Here is a screen capture:

vickery-pool_WBAP_portal_062364

The second is undated, but the clips are from home movies.

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Sources & Notes

Rubble photos taken by me on June 21, 2018 — construction was underway. And it was extremely HOT.

The first historic photo appears to be a Dallas Public Library photo, with most of the watermark cropped off. I found it on Pinterest, here.

The third photo, showing two boys, was found in the Fall 2002 issue of Legacies.

There are memories-galore of Vickery here.

A couple of interesting tidbits:

  • The Vickery pool was used as an officers’ recreation club during World War II by the Fifth Ferrying Group; an aquatic meet was held there in June, 1945 which featured a variety of exhibitions, including a water ballet performed by “half a dozen mermaids from University Park.”
  • In the early 1970s, Vickery Park (…not to be confused with Vickery Place…) was owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They reopened the park as a “family recreation center” — unlike the earlier days, alcohol was no longer sold. They sold the land to developers around 1974 or 1975; in the summer of 1975, the recreation center was bulldozed and the pool was paved over (and became a parking lot).

Articles on the disappearing community of Vickery can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Progress Overtakes Old Vickery” by Rena Pederson, with photos by Eli Grothe (DMN, August 3, 1975)
  • “Store Provides Feed For Thought On Town’s Past” (Vickery Feed Store) by Steve Kenny (DMN, Nov. 18, 1979)

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Aldredge Book Store — 1968

ABS_charlie-drum_dick-bosse_andy-hanson_degolyer-library_SMUCharlie Drum and Dick Bosse… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today my father, Dick Bosse, would have been 84 years old. A very nice person at the DeGolyer Library at SMU (who knew my father) sent me this photo a couple of days ago. It’s from the DeGolyer’s Andy Hanson collection (Hanson was a long-time photographer for the Dallas Times Herald). Taken in the original location of The Aldredge Book Store at 2800 McKinney Avenue, the photo shows bookseller Charles Sartor Drum at the left, and my father — the then-manager of the store — at the right. My father looks really young here! Dig that cool shirt — worn with a paisley belt buckle and western-cut slacks. Hey, man, it was 1968.

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Sources & Notes

Photo is from the Collection of Photographs by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. (Thank you, friendly DeGolyerite — I now have a 50-year-old photograph of my father I’d never seen before!)

I’ve written several posts about The Aldredge Book Store, the store my father worked at fresh out of college and after eventually owned. The ABS-related Flashback Dallas posts can be found here.

More on the career of photographer Andy Hanson can be found here and here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co.

oak-lawn-ice-and-fuel-co_krystal-morrisThe fleet… (click to see larger image) / Photo: Krystal Morris

by Paula Bosse

Above, another great Dallas photo shared by a reader — this one shows the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co., which sold ice to independent dealers and to retail customers. Krystal Morris sent in the family photo — her great-great-grandfather J. F. Finney is standing next to the horse-drawn wagon.

The first mention I found of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. was in a notice of “New Texas Charters” in Dec., 1912 (there was a classified ad from Dec., 1909, but that appears to be either another company with the same name or an earlier incarnation of the business seen above). Below, an ad from 1913:

1913_oak-lawn-ice_19131913

The company was located at 3307 Lemmon Avenue, at the MKT railroad track (now the Katy Trail) — on Lemmon between the railroad tracks and Travis Street (see the location on a map composed of two badly-cobbled-together Sanborn maps from 1921 here). The location is marked on a present-day Google map below (click to see a larger image):

lemmon-and-katy-trail_google-map

In 1917, the City of Dallas, in partnership with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad began to eliminate grade crossings in the Oak Lawn area — one of those crossings was at Lemmon Avenue: Lemmon was to be lowered and the MKT tracks were to be raised. Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. General Manager Clarence E. Kennemer (who, along with his brothers, operated something of an ice empire in Texas) was concerned about the negative impact of this construction on his business. (All images are larger when clicked.)

1917_oak-lawn-ice_dmn_013117_katy-crossing     Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 1917

To the surprise of many, the ice company was awarded damages by the city.

1917_oak-lawn-ice_dmn_120617_katy-crossingDMN, Dec. 6, 1917

Things apparently continued fairly well until 1920 when the company began to experience tensions with its residential neighbors. Early in the year, city building inspectors responded to nuisance complaints and ordered the company to move its horse stables as they were too close to adjoining residences (ice delivery even into the 1940s and possibly 1950s was often done via horse-drawn wagons). Later the same year, still-unhappy neighbors filed suit to “force the company to remove its plant from the thickly settled residence district” (DMN, Dec. 1, 1920). The ice company appears to have won the lawsuit, since the company (under various names) was at 3307 Lemmon until at least 1939 or ’40, but these problems might have led them to build a new plant at Cole and what is now Monticello in 1922 (as with the Lemmon location, this new plant was also built alongside the MKT tracks). The mere prospect of this new icehouse was met with loud protests by the new neighborhood — before construction even began — but a judge ruled in favor of the ice people. Construction went ahead, and the plant was a neighborhood fixture for many years. (See the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here; “Gertrude” — near the top edge — was the original name of Monticello Avenue.)

In 1923, ads for the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. began displaying both addresses: the original location, 3307 Lemmon, was now being referred to as “Plant No. 2,” and the new location, 4901 Cole, was being referred to as the “Main Office/Plant No. 1.”

1923_oak-lawn-ice_1923-directory
1923 Dallas city directory

By 1924 the company expanded as it absorbed other ice companies.

1924_oak-lawn-ice_sept-19241924

By 1925, “Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Company” had become “American Ice Co.” (another C. E. Kennemer enterprise).

1925_american-ice-co_aug-19251925

By 1933, American Ice Co. was swallowed up by City Ice Delivery Co.

city-ice-delivery_1934-directory1934 Dallas city directory

In the late 1930s or early 1940s City Ice Delivery Co. was acquired by Southland Ice (the forerunner of the Southland Corp., owners of 7-Eleven convenience stores). The Lemmon Avenue location became a meat-packing plant sometime in the mid-’40s (if neighbors were bent out of shape by an ice company, imagine how they felt about a meat-packing plant!); the Cole location became a 7-Eleven store and later a Southland Corp. division office.

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But back to Jonathan F. Finney, the man standing next to the ice wagon in the top photo. He came to Dallas from Alabama around 1916 and bought a house at 3001 Carlisle Street, where he lived for most of his life in Dallas. His occupation was “ice dealer,” and he seems to have worked in both the wholesale and retail areas, as a driver, a salesman, and even for a while the owner of his own company. His great-great-granddaughter Krystal Morris (supplier of these wonderful family photos) says she believes he was the manager of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. The 1932 directory lists him as foreman of the City Ice Delivery Co., and as he lived at 3001 Carlisle, it seems to make more sense he was working at the Lemmon Ave. location (which was less than half a mile away from his home) rather the Cole Ave. location. The actual address of the photo at the top is unknown, but it may show the Lemmon Ave. location when Finney was working as an independent ice dealer, standing beside his own wagon.

Below, the Finney family around 1920 (J. F., daughters Thelma and Viva Sue, and wife Wenona), and below that, their house at 3001 Carlisle (which was at the corner of Carlisle and Sneed — seen in a 1921 Sanborn map here).

finney-family_krystal-morris-photoFinney family, circa 1920 / Photo: Krystal Morris

finney-home_3001-carlisle_krystal-morris-photo3001 Carlisle, Finney family home / Photo: Krystal Morris

J. F. Finney, born in 1885, died in Dallas in 1962, long after the era of necessary daily ice deliveries to residences and businesses. The occupation listed on his death certificate was “painter” but I have a feeling “once an iceman, always an iceman.”

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Sources & Notes

All photographs are from the family photos of Krystal Morris and are used with her permission. Thank you, Krystal!

The history of ice delivery is very interesting, especially to those of us who have never lived in a house without an electric refrigerator. Here are links-a-plenty on the subject:

  • “Icehouses — Vintage Spaces with a Cool History” by Randy Mallory (Texas Highways, Aug., 2000) here (additional photos can be found in the scanned issue on the Portal to Texas History site, here)
  • “Keeping Your (Food) Cool: From Ice Harvesting to Electric Refrigeration” by Emma Grahn on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog, here
  • “Delivering the Ice: Ice Wagons” — from an online exhibit based on an exhibit that was on display at the Woods Hole Historical Museum in Woods Hole, Massachusetts during the summer of 2015, here
  • “Portals to the Past: Golden Days of Home Delivery (ice, as well as bread, milk, groceries, etc.) by Waco historian Claire Masters, here
  • “The Iceman Cometh” by Dick Sheaff from the Ephemera Society of America blog, here

Here’s a fantastic little clip of a woman ice deliverer manning the tongs (and wearing heels):


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And, lastly, the Southland Corp. to the rescue with an ad from Dec., 1948 with news of the arrival in Dallas of “genuine” ice cubes! “Now for the first time in Dallas: Genuine Taste-Free, Hard Frozen, Crystal Clear Ice Cubes delivered to your home!”

city-ice-delivery_southland-ice_dec-1948
1948

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jefferson Dagnal’s Saloon, Deep Ellum — 1906

fritts-and-dagnal_brent-burton
“Fritts & Dagnal,” Deep Ellum saloon… (photo: Brent Burton)

by Paula Bosse

Reader Brent Burton commented on one of my tweets on Twitter to say that he had an old photo showing his great-great-grandfather standing in a saloon he had owned in Dallas around the turn-of-the-century and wanted to know how he might access old Dallas directories in order to try to determine where the bar had been. I told him that online scans of city directories are available for free from the Dallas Public Library and the Portal to Texas History (more on this is in my post How to Access Historical Dallas City Directories Online”). I also offered to see what I could find out.

The photo is the one above (click it to see a larger image). All he knew was that it was taken in a bar owned by his great-great-grandfather Jefferson Davis Dagnall (whose last name is most often spelled “Dagnal” in various documents such as census records, directories, and his death certificate, so I will refer to him with this spelling) and that the photo was taken in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I figured it would be pretty easy to find the info because his name was so uncommon, but that was complicated by the fact that his name was spelled and misspelled many different ways — I think I came across five or six permutations. It took a long time to figure out where that photo was most likely taken — mainly by going through census records and looking at all the city directories — year by year — to pin down where he was working each year. And he got around — he lived at a new address almost every year, and changed jobs almost as frequently.

Jefferson Davis Dagnal was born in 1861, probably in Fort Bend, Texas. His father, a South Carolina native, appears to have died fighting in the Civil War; Jeff (…I call him Jeff…) was 3 years old when his father died. By 1880 he was a teenager, working on a Dallas-area farm. In 1883, Jeff was working as a blacksmith. According to city directories, he held the following jobs: store clerk, laborer, streetcar driver, house-mover, electrician, and bartender.

1905 was the year he seems to have settled into bartending, a job he held in various establishments in Deep Ellum for a decade, until his death in 1915. He appears to have owned (or co-owned) only one of these bars: Fritts & Dagnal. It seems the venture with partner E. G. Fritts was short-lived: its only listing is in the 1906 directory — by 1907 Jeff had moved on, tending bar elsewhere.

1906-directory_dagnal_saloon_fritts-and-dagnal_673-elm

The saloon was listed in the 1906 city directory as being at 673 Elm — that address was changed in 1911 and became 2603 ½ Elm. This was in Deep Ellum, at the northeast corner of Elm and Good (possibly on the second floor). Below is a 1905 Sanborn map showing the location (the full map is here).

673-elm_fritts-and-dagnal_sanborn_sheet-42_1905_det
1905 Sanborn map, detail

The lot that building stood on at Elm and what is now Good-Latimer is empty, but a current-ish look at the location, from Google Street View, can be seen here (I am attempting to post a view from 2015, before all the construction work was going on near the Elm and Good-Latimer intersection — but just move up or down Elm a bit on Google and you’ll see construction images take over).

Below, a couple of ads from around the time Jeff Dagnal and E. G. Fritts decided to start up their short-lived saloon at 673 Elm: the first ad shows that it was not unusual in 1905 for large livestock to be kept in Deep Ellum (where they might even have been “rustled”), and the second ad shows that both the upstairs and downstairs spaces of the building at 673 Elm were available to rent:

1905_673-elm_strayed_dmn_051305Dallas Morning News, May 13, 1905

1906_673-elm_for-rent_dmn_050606DMN, May 6, 1906

(According to the Inflation Calculator, those 1906 rents of $20 and $40 would be about $550 and $1,100 in today’s money.)

Jefferson Davis Dagnal died in Dallas on Feb. 25, 1915. His death certificate — with information provided by his daughter, Cora — listed his occupation as “blacksmith,” even though he had been a bartender (and, briefly, a saloon owner) for at least the last ten years of his life.

1915_dagnal_death_dmn_022615
DMN, Feb. 26, 1915

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One interesting thing about Mr. Dagnal, was his relationship with his wife Alice, the mother of his second child, Clarence, who was born in 1893. Alice and Jeff appear to have hit a rough patch in their marriage pretty early on. In the 1900 census, they were living in different cities, and each claimed to be widowed. I don’t know if they ever officially divorced (or even if they officially married), but I suppose it was easier in that era to claim a spouse had died rather than admit the shame of divorce or abandonment. By 1903 both were living in Dallas — at the same address. But by 1904 they were living apart, and Alice was, again, claiming to be a widow — even though an alive-and-kicking Jeff was listed in the directory right under her name!

1904-directory_dagnal_alice-and-jeff1904 Dallas directory

I have come across this phenomenon so frequently that I now question every “widow” or “widowed” claim I come across. Information from the U. S. Census (where people give false ages and incorrect marital status ALL THE TIME) should be taken with a grain of salt!

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Sources & Notes

Photo of Jefferson Dagnal’s saloon was shared with me by Dagnal’s great-great-grandson, Brent Burton and is used here with his permission. Jeff is probably in the photo — in 1906 he would have been 45 years old. Thank you for the great photo, Brent!

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

State Fair Coliseum / Centennial Administration Building / Women’s Museum / Women’s Building

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum-ad_1936_detAdministration Building interior, 1936… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Thursday night I attended a very entertaining Dallas Historical Society presentation at the Hall of State in Fair Park: “An Evening With Jim Parsons: Lost Fair Park,” in which the author of Fair Park Deco and DFW Deco talked about many of the buildings constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 which are no longer with us.

One of Jim’s asides was that there are very, very few color photos of the Centennial buildings and murals taken in 1936. If you’ve seen a Centennial view in color, it’s probably a colorized postcard. Kodachrome film was introduced in 1935 and was, sadly, not in wide use by visitors to Fair Park in 1936 (or by the Centennial organization).

When he said that, though, I remembered an ad I had come across that I thought was pretty cool, simply because it shows the interior of one of the Centennial buildings when it was brand new (…well, it was sort of new — more on that below). The ad is for Armstrong Linoleum and it features a color photo showing one of their custom linoleum floors installed in the Centennial Administration Building, an interior I’d never seen. And it’s in color! (Check out the furniture and the recessed lighting!) Here’s the full ad, which appeared in national magazines in 1936 (click for larger image).

ad- tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_19361936 ad

And — hallelujah — I found another photo of the interior — also from the helpful Armstrong people (I don’t know if they had the concession to outfit all the Centennial buildings, but, if so, I’d love to see all of their designs). Unfortunately this one is not in color, but it shows a fantastic Texas-centric custom design, laid down in fabulous linoleum.

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_admin-bldg_texas-floor

Imagine that floor in Cadet Blue, White, Orange, and Dark Gray. This is from a trade publication called Armstrong’s Floors and Walls for Homes and Public Buildings, published around 1950 (and fully scanned here). A cropped version of the photo of the top is also included here (that floor, by the way, is in White, Dark Gray, and Cadet Blue), with handy swatches (which, reproduced below, lose some accuracy in color).

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_admin-bldg_colors

The Centennial Administration Building — which housed the hundreds of office workers and executives behind the running of the Texas Centennial Exposition — was actually the very first Centennial building completed (at the end of December, 1935). Most of the Centennial buildings were newly built in 1936, but the Administration Building was actually an old building given a new stucco façade and completely remodeled — it even acquired a second floor inside the huge structure. This building was originally known as the State Fair Coliseum, built in 1910, designed by architect C. D. Hill (who designed many buildings in Dallas, including the still-standing Municipal Building downtown (built in 1914) and the Melrose Hotel (1924).

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_062009_drawingDallas Morning News, June 20, 1909

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_050710_constructionDMN, May 7, 1910

It was BIG. It had a seating capacity of 7,500.

state-fair-coliseum_flickr_coltera

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_030413DMN, March 4, 1913

This was the first building you’d see as you entered Fair Park, as it was right inside the front entrance on Parry Avenue (after you entered, the building would be on your left).

Coliseum Building, State Fair Dallas, TX

park-board-bk_fair-park-coliseum_1914

It was the city’s first official municipal auditorium, and it hosted everything from livestock shows, conventions, large civic gatherings, and the occasional opera.

Fast-forward a few decades: in 2000 the building became the home of the Women’s Museum. The museum closed in 2011 and is now called the Women’s Building and is used for special events.

A photo of the building from 2014:

womens-museum_fair-park_2014_carol-highsmith_library-of-congressphoto: Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress

See a Wikimedia photo of this building in 2016 here — click it again (and again) to see it really big, and linger on the mural by Carlo Ciampaglia and the sculpture by Raoul Josset. See interior photos of the space in 2009 during its time as the Women’s Museum here and here. I’m not sure if the exposed brick and steel are from the original 1910 building, but I certainly hope so! And, lastly, exterior photos from 2009 showing the side of the building here, and here

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Sources & Notes

This building can be seen on this aerial Google view, here. It is currently the Women’s Building, and it is available for special events — more about this building from the Friends of Fair Park, here.

Black-and-white postcard showing the interior of the Coliseum is from Flickr.

Black-and-white photo “Coliseum and Art Building” is from Report for the Year 1914-1915 of the Park Board of the City of Dallas, With a Sketch of the Park System (Dallas: Park Board, 1915), which can be accessed as part of the Dallas Municipal Archives via the Portal to Texas History, here.

And since this whole post was spurred by Jim Parsons’ talk the other night, here’s a link to the book he and David Bush wrote: Fair Park Deco: Art & Architecture of the Texas Centennial Exposition.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Paving Matilda — 1971

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

matilda_milazzo_1971_a_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_b_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_c_120

Thank you, Milazzo family!

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Sources & Notes

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

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

All photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ghost Rails of the Belmont Streetcar Line

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DMN, Jan. 16, 1908 (click to read)

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

interurban_sherman-dallas_dmn_070108
DMN, July 1, 1908

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

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

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

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May, 1914 (detail from Lakewood Heights real estate ad — see full ad here)

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

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

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

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

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

“Cow path” — ha!

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

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

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

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

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

belmont-car_lakewood-heights-ad-det_050314

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Casa Magnetica

six-flags_casa-magnetica_postcard_flickrHow often is juggling mind-blowing? It was here! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Every year my aunt and her fun friend Shirley took my brother and me to Six Flags Over Texas. This was the ’70s, so some of the original hard-to-believe attractions were already gone (helicopter and stagecoach rides?! — see a promotional video of the park from 1965 here), but it was still when the place was an actual “theme” park — an amusement park originally suggested by aspects of Texas history. The sections of the park represented the six flags that have flown over Texas (see a map here). One of those sections was the Spanish section, the location of two of my favorite Six Flags attractions: the log ride and Casa Magnetica.

Casa Magnetica was the hard-to-wrap-your-brain-around tilted house (newspaper articles reported it was built at either a 24.6-degree angle or a 34-degree angle) which made you feel completely disoriented, especially if you’d just stepped in from the blinding blast of 110-degree heat and were feeling a bit queasy from one too many Pink Things. I loved it. Things rolled uphill, you couldn’t stand up straight, and your brain was mighty confused. The text from the back of the postcard seen above:

six-flags_casa-magnetica_postcard_back

Casa Magnetica was introduced very early in Six Flags’ history — it debuted in the second season, 1962, and it was a huge hit. Here is how the SFOT marketing team described it in press releases at the time. (Clippings and images are larger when clicked.) Imagine what it would have been like to have been the architect of this place!

six-flags_casa-magnetica_daily-news-texan_042262Six Flags Gazette, April 22, 1962

six-flags_casa-magnetica_daily-news-texan_042962_text
Six Flags Gazette, April 29, 1962

As far as new attractions, the weird little house was the biggest hit of the 1962 season.

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Six Flags Gazette, April 20, 1963

Here it is, under construction, in late 1961 or early 1962:

casa-magnetica_under-construction_history-of-six-flags-FB-group

And, later, with a teenage “hostess” sitting under its Spanish-mission-inspired arch.

casa-magnetica_six-flags-FB-page

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six-flags_casa-magnetica_daily-news-texan_052762

The caption of the photo above: “WHICH ONE’S STRAIGHT? — It’s hard to tell in the Casa Magnetica in the Spanish section. It’s difficult to keep from leaning the wrong way in this house where water seems to run uphill. Notice in the lower left of the picture how the basketful of goodies seems to be hanging instead of sitting.” (Six Flags Gazette, May 27, 1962)

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six-flags_casa-magnetica_daily-news-texan_042962

Caption: “SOMETHING WRONG? — Six Flags hostesses find that the law of gravity doesn’t seem to apply in Casa Magnetica.” (Six Flags Gazette, April 29, 1962)

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six-flags_casa-magnetica_irving-daily-news-texan_04262

Caption: “LEMME OUT! — In Casa Magnetica, a house in the Spanish Section of Six Flags which defies gravity, this hostess gets a little panicky when the 34-degree slant proves too much for her.” (Six Flags Gazette, April 26, 1962)

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Sources & Notes

Postcard at top from Flickr.

Articles and captioned photos are from the Six Flags Gazette, a seasonal supplement that appeared in both the Grand Prairie Daily News-Texan and the Irving Daily News-Texan during the early years of Six Flags.

Photo of Casa Magnetica under construction in the scrubby Arlington landscape is from the History of Six Flags Facebook group, posted there by the administrator Michael Hicks, submitted to Flashback Dallas by reader Brian Gunn (thank you, Brian!).

The photo of the Six Flags “hostess” sitting outside the entrance to Casa Magnetica is from the Six Flags Over Texas Facebook page, here (it appears with a photo of the Chaparral Antique Cars, the second-most popular attraction introduced in the 1962 season).

Read the “spiel” you’d hear when you visited Casa Magnetica, here.

And, in case you missed it above, I highly encourage you to watch the 6-minute Six Flags Over Texas promotional film from 1965 at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) website here (Casa Magnetica is seen briefly at the :45 mark). Watch it full-screen!

More Flashback Dallas posts on Six Flags Over Texas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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