Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Photographs

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-1

Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-5

Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-2

Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-3

And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-6

Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

magnolia-petroleum-station_manufacturers-record_121422_ad-det

Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

magnolia-petroleum-station_KLIF-bldg_dallas-public-library_crop

And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

KLIF_color

This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is 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 can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

magnolia-filling-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

West Jefferson Blvd. at Night

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_night_oldoakclifflodge_flickrW. Jefferson & S. Madison (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love night-time views of a lit-up city, and this circa-1949 bird’s-eye view of West Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff, looking east, is pretty cool. If this photo had a soundtrack, it would be moody and atmospheric saxophone music.

Hunt’s department store was at 303 W. Jefferson, and the Oak Cliff Bank & Trust Co. was at 250 W. Jefferson — S. Madison is the intersecting street in the center of the photo. At the upper left you can see the bright lights and triangular marquee of the Texas Theatre. Below is a view of the same street today, still recognizable.

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_google-aerialGoogle Maps

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the Flickr photostream of OldOakCliffLodge, here.

oak-cliff_jefferson-blvd_night_oldoakclifflodge_flickr_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Marching to Mess — 1918

ww1_fort-dick_fair-park_marching-to-mess_roller-coaster_1918_natl-archivesNot your typical boot camp setting… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Camp Dick, an Air Service training camp which took over Fair Park during World War I. The War Department caption of this 1918 photo:

Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas: Men marching to mess after evening parade. Roof in foreground is the Officers’ house.

At the right is a roller coaster, a popular ride when the State Fair of Texas (rather than the U.S. military) is occupying the park.

Here’s a photo from 1911:

state-fair_street-scene_john-minor_1911_cook-colln_degolyer

When Preston Sturges trained at Camp Dick — well before he became a legendary Hollywood writer and director — he and his fellow cadets did not let that roller coaster go to waste. He wrote this in his autobiography, Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges:

Out on the parade ground, boys fell over from [the intense heat] all the time and had to be revived with cold water and a sponge. Nights we would climb up the shaky apex of the large roller coaster in the corner of the fairgrounds to try to find a breeze.

An unexpected perk of basic training.

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the National Archives at College Park; more info is here.

State Fair photo is a real photo postcard, taken by John R. Minor, and is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Camp Dick can be found here.

ww1_fort-dick_fair-park_marching-to-mess_roller-coaster_1918_natl-archives_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mystery Photo: Standpipe Foundation — 1937

stand-pipe-foundation_ebay_july-1937Big D construction crater… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across this photo on eBay a year or more ago, but I’ve never been certain where it was taken. The photograph was processed and developed by Skillern’s in Dallas, but it’s always possible it wasn’t actually taken in Dallas. The back of the photo can be seen below, with the following penciled notation:

“Stand pipe foundation, July ’37”

I can’t make out the writing above and to the right of “foundation.”

stand-pipe-fouindation_reverse_ebay

The only newspaper archive mention of construction of a stand pipe/standpipe in July, 1937 was one described as being in the “2400 block of Alamo, near Cedar Springs” (Dallas Morning News, July 13, 1937). That area has changed a LOT since 1937, with several streets changing names, changing course, being created, etc. — here’s a detail from a 1952 Mapsco to give you an idea of where it was:

alamo-street_2400-block_1952-mapsco2400 block of Alamo (1952 Mapsco, det.)

So, north of downtown Dallas, near-ish to the present location of the American Airlines Center.

But the photo at the top looks like it would be well beyond the downtown area — the 1921 Sanborn map shows a lot of residences in the area (the 1937 city directory shows the 2400 block of Alamo was a mostly Mexican-American residential area with a few light industrial businesses) — the area to the west was less developed, with rail yards and railroad tracks and the Dallas Power & Light building. (The standpipe built in this block of Alamo might have been located in the middle of the block’s south side, where there was a gap in the numbering of occupied lots.)

There were probably other standpipes under construction in the city at the time, but the one on Alamo was the only one I saw mention of in the newspaper in the summer of 1937. Even if the site in the photo above is not this Alamo one, the story of that standpipe had an interesting story which took place in… July, 1937.

On July 12, 1937, Walter Gray, a laborer working on the standpipe, collapsed at the construction site. He was working inside the water tower, at the bottom, and had been overcome by gas fumes. A fellow worker, Bud Young, was at the top of the 80-foot tower and saw Gray collapse. Somehow he got the unconscious Gray up to the top of the standpipe, but he was unable to get him down. He shouted for help and two policemen rushed over. One of them, patrolman T. B. Griffin, fashioned a “bucket” out of a 50-gallon oil drum, climbed to the top of the tower, got Gray and himself in the bucket and had workers lower them precariously to the ground. A doctor administered oxygen at the scene and rushed Gray to Parkland. Walter Gray, whom the doctor described as having been near death, survived. And patrolman Griffin was nominated for a Carnegie Hero Award for his heroism and quick thinking.

I looked up T. B. Griffin (Tracey Boyd Griffin, 1908-1982) to see what else he had done, because that was quite a display of dedication to public service. A few months after this dangerous act, he lowered himself down an elevator shaft in which a man had stepped, not realizing there was no elevator — just open doors and no lightbulb (!). Also, in what seems like a hackneyed, unbelievable plot device that would happen in a Road Runner cartoon, Griffin and a partner snatched a burning fuse from a safe primed with nitro-glycerin just seconds before it was about to blow. Yep. A year after that, in 1939, he and his regular partner J. W. “Joe” Sides were moved to the vice squad as plain-clothes detectives where they busted innumerable gambling rings and bookie parlors (which, lordy, Dallas was overrun with like you wouldn’t believe). I bet ol’ T. B. had some stories to tell.

But back to the standpipe… still not sure where it was. Any ideas?

***

Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

Never heard of a “standpipe”? See photos in the Flashback Dallas post “The Twin Standpipes of Lakewood Heights: 1923-1925.”

stand-pipe-foundation_ebay_july-1937_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Bel-Vick’s Anchor: The Angelus Arcade and The Arcadia Theatre — 1920s

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060730The 2000 block of Greenville Avenue, 1930… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve written about the Arcadia Theatre before (here and here), but until I discovered the above photo from 1930, I’d never really thought about what had been on that site previously (the northwest corner of Greenville Avenue and Sears Street, now the home of a Trader Joe’s). There’s a lot going on in that photo, not the least of which is the fabulous Arcadia “tree” sign/marquee, made of sculpted concrete.

Greenville Avenue in the 1920s had a small business district with buildings clustered between Ross Avenue and Belmont, an area which many now call “Lowest Greenville” (the stretch of Greenville a little farther north which is now generally refered to as “Lower Greenville” was being developed but was not really an area of note yet — and “Upper Greenville” — which I don’t really hear people say anymore — was a rural highway which passed through small communities and was mostly surrounded by a lot of open farmland).

A look at city directories of the early 1920s suggests that business owners were trying to establish “Belmont” as the name of the area between Ross and Belmont, and many used the word in their business name (“The Belmont Pharmacy,” for instance). But things began to change in 1922 as development picked up, and “Belmont” suddenly became “Belmont-Vickery” (in a nod to the Vickery Place neighborhood), and then that very quickly became “Bel-Vick” or “Belvick” (a couple of rebel business owners went with “Belvic” but that didn’t seem to catch on). In the 1927 directory there were eight Belvick businesses, almost all of which were in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Greenville, the blocks seen in the photo below (you can see the Arcadia “tree” in the distance on the left).

greenville-avenue_1930
Greenville Avenue, 1930 (Dallas Public Library)

belvick_1927-directory
1927 Dallas directory

At least one business came up with a cutesy “Belvick” logo:

belvick-plumbing-logo_1908-greenville_1928-directory_ad-det
Belvick Plumbing logo, 1928

(One of these businesses, Belvick Electric Co., ended up on Garland Road, owned by the family of “King of the Hill” writer and producer Jim Dauterive, a name which should be familiar to all “King of the Hill” fans; I wrote about that tidbit of hyper-trivia at the end of this post.)

There was even a small theater at 1804½ Greenville Ave. for a year or two, pre-dating the Arcadia by five years. The Belmont Theatre opened in Sept. 1922, but when it changed ownership a few months later it became, you guessed it, the Belvick Theatre. I hope patrons didn’t get too attached, because it was out of  business by the time the 1924 directory was published. Here’s what that building looked like in 2012 (sadly, it no longer looks anything like this) — the theater was, I believe, in the right half of the building.

belvick-theater_google_2012
Google Street View, 2012

In 1923, a Greenville Avenue developer, Albert J. Klein, built a large building called the Angelus Arcade in the 2000 block of Greenville, at Sears Street. Here are a couple of woefully fuzzy classified ads for the under-construction “Greenville Market Place” and a list of the types of “first-class” businesses wanted to occupy the new arcade (click for larger-but-still-hard-to-read images).

angelus-arcade_070423
July, 1923

angelus-arcade_112823Nov., 1923

The arcade had several tenants and served as something of a public meeting place for the neighborhood — politicians frequently appeared in front of the large building to give speeches or talk to crowds in impromptu town-hall-like meetings. Like the use of “Belvick,” the name “Angelus” showed up in many of the less-than-imaginitively-named (first-class) businesses:

angelus-arcade_greenville-ave_1927-directory1927 Dallas directory

In 1927 Klein made a deal with the Dean Theatre company to build a new movie theater on the same premises as the Angelus — there would be additions and modifications made to the building, but it would still be home to several other businesses — there’d just be a movie theater inside. It would continue to be an “arcade.” Even though one newspaper article attempted to tie the name “Arcadia” to the new theater’s Italian garden motif which suggested a pastoral harmony with Nature, it seems more likely that people were already calling the building “the arcade,” and “Arcadia” was the next logical step.

The Arcadia Theatre opened on Nov. 4, 1927 with the Mary Astor movie “The Sunset Derby.” A newspaper report noted that “in spite of its remote location” the crowd-size was healthy. Patrons could even pop next door for a chicken dinner if so inclined.

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_front1928

One of the unusual things about the theater was the seating. The backs of the chairs were in a variety of colors (desert sand, cafe au lait, light blue, orchid, green, and “Chinese red”) which were placed in a randomly pattern throughout the auditorium. I think the operators probably thought this design-breakthrough was quirky and cutting edge, but it just looks a little odd. The Dallas Morning News described this feature as being reminiscent of a fun carnival; the Arcadia publicity person wrote that “the effect is as startling as it is pleasing.” …I’ll give you “startling.”

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_toward-screen1928

*

Below are a few more images of the Arcadia Theatre through the years.

First, just an odd little postcard from 1934 which found its way into SMU’s archive — a drawing of that cool tree!

arcadia-sign_postcard_1934_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMUvia George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-marquee_1941_ad-det1941

The Deco years, and a painfully pruned tree.

arcadia-theater_mcafee_degolyer_SMUvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-theater_mid

There were a few fires over the years — here’s one from November, 1958.

arcadia_fire_nov-1958_portalDallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History

Eventually its days as a second-run suburban theater dwindled, and it became a live-music venue for a while in the 1980s, as seen in this absolutely fabulous photo from 1985 (Joan Jett played the Arcadia on June 13, 1985) taken by Dan Allen, owner of super-cool clothing boutique Assassins.

arcadia-theatre_june-1985_daniel-m-allen-photo_FB©Daniel M. Allen 2014, via Facebook

It also showed Spanish-language films for a few years.

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_dayvia American Classic Images

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_nightvia American Classic Images

But, ultimately, a fire ended it all, on June 21, 2006: 120 firefighters responded to a six-alarm blaze caused by a fire that originated in a restaurant — all the businesses in the block were destroyed.

arcadia_on-fire_2006via Cinema Treasures

Bel-Vick hasn’t been the same since. RIP, Angelus/Arcadia.

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo from Exhibitors Herald World, June 7, 1930.

The 1930 view of Lowest Greenville, looking north from Alta, is from the Frank Rogers Collection, Dallas Public Library; titled “[Lower Greenville Avenue],” the call number is PA84-9/49.

The two photos from 1928 are from Exhibitors Herald World, June 9, 1928. To see the full 4-page article on the still-new Arcadia (with many photos of the interior) as well as a 2-page article from April 12, 1930 about how the Angelus Arcade building had been renovated to accommodate a theater — complete with floor plan — see a PDF here.

More on the Arcadia Theater — including additional photos of the ever-changing facade — can be found in these Flashback Dallas posts:

**

I don’t usually post photos with watermarks, but I found these two really interesting photos of Greenville looking south from Sears, one from 1927 with buildings I’ve never seen, and one from 1930 with brand new buildings replacing those unfamiliar ones. Here’s the first, from 1927, which shows an unusual building with arches and a church (?!), Riggs Memorial Presbyterian Church, at the northeast corner of Greenville and Oram. (I used to have a little bookstore — Chelsea Books — at 1925 Greenville, in the space occupied by Criswell Furniture in this photo.)

greenville-ave_south-from-sears_frank-rogers_1927_DPL
1927, Dallas Public Library, call number PA78-2/1047

chelsea-books_dallas_1925-greenville-avenue

And then, just three short years later… bye-bye, weird building and church. The buildings seen in the 1930 photo below are still standing (except for the gas station at the southwest corner at Sears). I love that this street has been immediately recognizable for decades, even though there has been some unfortunate architectural revision going on in ol’ Bel-Vick in recent years.

greenville-ave_south-from-sears_bud-biggs-collection_1930_DPL
1930, Dallas Public Library, call number PA84-9/48 

And here’s a detail from a 1931 Fairchild Aerial photo showing the Angelus/Arcadia at the center left (you can see the tree sign).

arcadia_fairchild-aerial_1931_detail_DPL
Dallas Public Library, call number
PA83-32/16 

*

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060730-sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Bright Lights, Big City — ca. 1948

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948“Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”

by Paula Bosse

I think present-day downtown Dallas looks really great at night. But it pales in comparison to what downtown Dallas — especially Elm Street — used to look like at night. It was bursting with lights and signs and people. The scene above shows Elm Street looking east from Ervay around 1948. The Coca-Cola weather-forecast sign at the left is one of my favorite by-gone downtown landmarks (other photos of the sign can be seen here and here).

I wouldn’t really encourage anyone to click the link to see what this part of Elm Street looks like today, but if you must, it’s here.

Whenever I imagine times in Dallas history that I’d like to time-travel to, for some reason I always wish I could walk around downtown Dallas in the 1940s. It must have been quite something to have seen this pulsating view in person. 

elm-street_from-ervay-live-oak_1948-directory
Elm Street, 1948 directory (click to see larger image)

***

Sources & Notes

I’m unsure of the source of this photo, but there is one almost identical to it in the collection of the Dallas Public Library, but the library’s copy is over-exposed and dated 1930 (it is titled “[Intersection of Elm, N. Ervay, and Live Oak streets]” and has the call number PA82-00324).

This photo was taken sometime between the end of 1947 and very early 1949. Mangel’s department store opened in its brand new building at 1700 Elm in September, 1947, and the Artificial Flower Shop (… “the artificial flower shop”?) lost its lease in early 1949. I can’t make out the lettering on the “Welcome” banners along the street, but there was a large hardware convention in Dallas in January, 1948.

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Crown Cork & Seal Co., Dallas Branch — ca. 1910

crown-cork-and-seal-co_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUBicycle, boys, clerk, horse-anchor, horse, wagon…

by Paula Bosse

Above, the Dallas branch office of the Crown Cork & Seal Co. at 600 N. Akard (at San Jacinto), currently the location of the swank Dakota’s Steakhouse, across from the T. Boone Pickens YMCA.

The Baltimore-based Crown Cork & Seal Co. (their founder invented the bottle cap in 1892) opened its Dallas branch at this location around 1909 and remained in this building until about 1913 when they moved their plant to Pacific Avenue.

According to its Wikipedia entry, the company, now called Crown Holdings, manufactures “one out of every five beverage cans used in the world, and one out of every three food cans used in North America and Europe.” That’s a huge share of the market!

I don’t believe the company still has a Dallas branch — the last news I found was that the company was about to begin construction of a new building in the Trinity Industrial District in 1956 to house a regional office and warehouse.

***

Sources & Notes

Photo is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found here.

More on William Painter’s revolutionary bottle-cap invention (still in use today) can be found here.

crown-cork-and-seal-co_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMU_sm

*

Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Legendary Christmas Cards of Ann Richards and Betty McKool

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_detFrom the personal collection of Mike McKool Jr., used with permission

by Paula Bosse

Ann Richards and Betty McKool were close friends in Dallas in the 1960s, sharing an offbeat sense of humor and a dedication to Democratic-party politics. They were founders of the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club which was widely known for its revue of political humor and song parodies called “Political Paranoia” which Ann and Betty both performed in, wowing audiences with their larger-than-life charisma.

In the late ’60s, Ann and Betty — who loved dressing in ridiculous costumes and cracking each other up — began to issue satirical Christmas cards which featured photographs of themselves in outrageous situations accompanied by pithy captions and greetings, usually referencing a political hot-topic of the past year. The cards were sent out unsigned, and, as Ann Richards wrote in her autobiography Straight from Heart, not everyone knew who had sent them.

We mailed these to a lot of people, maybe a hundred, and we didn’t sign them. And we had such a good time thinking about people getting this weird card and trying to figure out who it could possibly be from, thinking maybe it was their wives’ relatives. Oh, we laughed about that. And we kept thinking of some guy opening it and drawling, “Mildred come here, look at this card we got in the mail.” No more than half our friends recognized us, maybe not that many.

Ann and Betty enjoyed doing the first card so much that they did it every year — it became something of an institution, and people on the Christmas card list waited expectantly each Christmas to get the latest crazy card. It was definitely a high point of the holiday season and the most anticipated Christmas card of the year. I certainly remember hearing about them throughout my childhood, as my parents were lucky enough to be on The List.

**

In her autobiography, Ann wrote that “our Christmas photo album lasted nine years” which is incorrect. After I wrote the post “‘Political Paranoia’ and the North Dallas Democratic Women’s Club, feat. Future Governor Ann Richards,” (which contains the newly unearthed film of “Political Paranoia II” from 1964 in which both Ann and Betty have standout performances), I received an email from Vicki Byers who is the Executive Assistant to Mike McKool Jr. (Betty’s son). That email contained scans of 12 of the Christmas cards from Mr. McKool’s personal collection! Wow! And he has allowed me to share these cards which have attained something of an almost mythic status — followers and fans of Gov. Richards have read about them, but not a lot of them have actually ever seen them. So thank you, Vicki, and thank you, Mike, for allowing access to this little treasure trove!

**

I’m not sure on the exact chronology of these cards. In her book, Ann writes about the “Temperance” card as being the first one that she and Betty did, but Mr. McKool has that card as being from 1976. It’s parodying a 1964 quote from Barry Goldwater, so it seems more likely to have been issued in the ’60s than in the ’70s — possibly in 1968. The cards were issued as late as 1983, and at some point the cards became posters. Ann moved from Dallas to Austin in 1969 or 1970, so she and Betty would have had to meet up during the year to plan and pose for their annual Christmas card, and from all accounts, the two women truly enjoyed creating the irreverent cards as much as people enjoyed receiving them. Here they are (all images are larger when clicked).

*

1969: “Merry Christmas… From the Silent Majority”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1969

*

1970: “Wishing You Season’s Greetings from the Valley Forge Chapter of Women’s Liberation and a Gay Holiday… From the Boys in the Band”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1970

*

1971: “Hark!… It’s a Girl!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1971

*

1972: “Adoremus (Let Us Adore Him)… Four More Years”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1972

*

1973: “Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear… — You’re getting the same thing for Christmas that you’ve been getting all year!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973

*

1974: “And it came to pass… — Wisepersons????”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1974

*

1976 [?]: “From Our House To Your House — A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… Extremism in the pursuit of a Merry Christmas is no sin.” (In her autobiography, Ann describes this “Temperance” card as being the first one she and Betty made — it’s possible this might be from 1968.)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1976

*

1977: ‘Twas the night before Christmas…When what to my wondering eyes should appear but… Bella Abzug!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1977

*

1978: “Good grief! …WHO CAN WE TURN TO FOR HELP?”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1978

*

1979: “The honour of your presence is requested for Christmas Luncheon at The Governor’s Mansion”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1979

*

1980: “The White House Cookbook — Nancy Reagan’s All American Turkey”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1980

*

1981 [No image available, but in a mention in the Austin American-Statesman, Ann and Betty are described as being “dressed as old hoboes, looking aghast” in a “poster-sized card,” commenting on the theory of trickle-down economics]: “Behold, I Bring You Tidings of Great Joy… In other words, the rich get richer and we get trickled down on!”

*

1982: “The good new is We Won! — The bad news is… You got to dance with them that brung ya!”

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1982

*

1983: “Dear Ronnie: I would have put the gender gap in your stocking but it was too big. Love, Mrs. Claus” (issued as a poster; from the collection of Frances Murrah, Betty’s sister)

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1983_nutcrackers_frances-murrah-collection_poster

*

There was also a card about which Ann wrote this: “Another year we donned cowboy hats and glittering western wear, and sent ‘Greetings from the Rhinestone Cow Chips.'” The Glen Campbell song “Rhinestone Cowboy” came out in 1975. The photo below appeared in Jan Reid’s book Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, and I suspect it might have been sent out as the 1975 card.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_nd_ca-1975

*

And one other card was described by Ann in her book: “One of my favorites was when we hung a bunch of stuffed deer heads, like you see on the wall of a lodge, and cut holes where we could stick our heads through and put on these antlers. And the message was, ‘If you think I’m gonna pull that damned old sleigh one more year….'” (Could this perhaps have been issued in 1976?)

*

So that’s at least 16 Christmas cards (a few were posters) sent out by Ann Richards and Betty McKool. And people are still talking about them! (I would love to be able to add other Ann-and-Betty cards to this post — if you have scans of any of the missing cards/posters, or any additional information, please let me know!)

**

Dorothy Ann Willis Richards was born in McLennan County in 1933 and grew up in Waco. Here is a lovely photo of her from 1950, from the “Favorites” section of the Waco High School yearbook. She was in the class play and was a debate champion. She lived in Dallas for several years where she was very active in Democratic politics as an activist and volunteer; after moving to Austin she entered politics as an elected official and ultimately became Governor of Texas in 1991. She died in 2006.

richards-ann_waco-high-school_1950_favoritesAnn, Waco High School, 1950

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_lbj_ann-richards-3
Ann as LBJ, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Raney McKool was born in Dallas in 1929. She attended Crozier Tech High School (below is a class photo from the 1946 yearbook) where she was a cheerleader. She married Mike McKool when she was only 16, and the two were extremely well known in political circles. Mike McKool, an attorney, served as a State Senator in Austin and was a Democratic Party leader in Dallas. Betty died in 2018 (read her obituary here). There is a fantastic interview with her from a 1971 “Legislative Wives” series in the Austin American-Statesman here.

mckool-betty-raney_crozier-tech_1946Betty, Crozier Tech, 1946

political-paranoia-2_1964_jones-collection_SMU_rockefeller-2
Betty as Nelson Rockefeller, “Political Paranoia,” Dallas, 1964

*

On behalf of Ann Richards and Betty McKool, I wish you all a (bemused and slightly aghast) very Merry Christmas!

***

Sources & Notes

Thanks to Mike McKool Jr. and Vicki Byers for sending me the color images; these Christmas cards are from Mr. McKool’s personal collection, and I am grateful for his permission to share them here.

Also, many thanks to the family of Betty’s sister Frances Murrah, who allowed me to share the “Nutcracker” poster from 1983; Frances worked with Senator Lloyd Bentsen in Washington, DC for several years.

Quoted passages are from Chapter 7 of the book Straight from the Heart, My Life in Politics & Other Places by Ann Richards (Simon & Schuster, 1989). You can read these pages on Google Books here.

Screenshots are from the 1964 film “Political Paranoia II” from the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University; this film may be viewed on YouTube in its entirety here.

xmas_ann-richards_betty-mckool_1973_det_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmastime at Booker T. Washington High School — 1950s

booker-t-wash_xmas-decDecking the halls…

by Paula Bosse

Most of us have fond memories of holiday-themed activities in school — here are a few photos from the Christmas season at Booker T. Washington High School in the early ’50s.

Above, girls hang decorations on the office door.

Below, the Library Club poses for a photo at a Christmas party (all photos are larger when clicked).

booker-t-wash_xmas-party_1952via John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

And the bottom two photos show members of the Booker T. Washington chapter of the American Junior Red Cross standing with the articles they’ve made and/or collected for distribution to various hospitals and institutions — a couple of girls can be seen crocheting and knitting items which will be added to the collection of things destined for grateful recipients.

booker-t-wash_xmas-red-crossvia John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

And below, Mrs. Catherine Robinson, the organization’s sponsor, stands with students and their gift-wrapped presents which are ready to be delivered to places such as the Hutchins Home for Convalescent Patients, Woodlawn and Parkland Hospitals, orphanages, boarding homes for juvenile wards of the state, and even to the leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana (a hospital which treated leprosy patients — a 1953 newspaper article reported that most of the then-current 400 patients were from Texas).

booker-t-wash_xmas-red-cross2via John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

Organized in 1917, the American Junior Red Cross had Dallas chapters in most — if not all — schools by 1918, including Booker T. Washington. By 1949 Dallas County had Jr. Red Cross chapters in 183 schools, with more than 78,000 students taking part; they made and/or collected 30,000 items that year which were distributed to active servicemen, to hospitalized veterans and children, to the needy, and to the aged. There were regular collection drives for reading material (elementary kids donated a LOT of comic books!), and there were regular visits to hospitals, etc., to entertain and perform (“except in times of polio epidemics”). Students also wrote letters to military personnel and to children in other countries and were trained in safety and first-aid procedures..

american-junior-red-cross_poster_1952_vintageposterworksvia Vintage Poster Works

Because of the efforts of Junior Red Cross members like these from Booker T. Washington High School, many who were convalescing, lonely, or in need were assured a happier Christmas than they might otherwise have had.

***

Sources & Notes

All photos of Booker T. Washington High School students are from the John Leslie Patton Papers collection of the Dallas Historical Society. (More on Patton, the legendary principal of Booker T. Washington for 30 years can be found at the Handbook of Texas site here.)

More on the American Junior Red Cross can be found in these articles:

booker-t-wash_xmas-dec_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Holiday Chat Outside Neiman’s

xmas_neiman-marcus_andy-hanson_degolyer-library_SMU

by Paula Bosse

I love this photo of two men exchanging a quick word outside Neiman-Marcus, with bustling streets and Christmas decorations in the background. And those cowboy boots!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

***

Sources & Notes

Photo “Outside Neiman Marcus, Christmas” is by Andy Hanson, from the Collection of Photographs by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here.

Hanson was one of Dallas’ busiest newspaper photographers, and as luck would have it, the DeGolyer Library at SMU is currently hosting the exhibit “Andy Hanson: Picturing Dallas, 1960-2008,” which runs until Jan. 29, 2020; more info on the exhibit is here.

xmas_neiman-marcus_andy-hanson_degolyer-library_SMU_sm

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: