Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Postcards

Mother Hansen’s Home Cooking — 1913

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Mother Hansen’s, 1814 Main Street… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A popular restaurateur in early-20th-century Dallas was Ruth Hansen (1870-1947), known to most people as “Mother Hansen.” She maintained a restaurant in downtown Dallas from about 1910 until the early 1930s, moving between locations on S. Ervay and a couple of different addresses on Main Street. The cafe interior seen above was at 1814 Main Street, just west of St. Paul — the photo was taken in 1912 or 1913.

In a 1968 Dallas Morning News interview with Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Whittle, Mother Hansen’s eatery was still remembered. When the Whittles arrived in Dallas in 1912, their Western Automatic Music Co. was two doors from the restaurant — they were regular customers of Mrs. Hansen, and Mrs. (Elsie) Whittle “vividly” remembered the place:

“It was pretty expensive,” Mrs. Whittle said with a smile. “I remember that a T-bone steak dinner cost all of 25 cents.” (“Music Brought Whittle to the City” by Sam Acheson, DMN, Nov. 25, 1968)

(That 25 cents would be about $7.00 in today’s money.)

I love this era of cafes and restaurants — three others in downtown Dallas from this same era are:

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Notes & Sources

Postcard (with a 1913 postmark) found on eBay.

In addition to buying the Western Automatic Music Co. soon after his arrival in Dallas, D. L. Whittle was also a partner in the Crystal Theatre and, most famously, the founder of the Whittle Music Co.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Architectural Crossroads: Commerce and Akard

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by Paula Bosse

In Dallas’ early days, Commerce Street was once considered so far off the beaten path that major businesses did not build there. By 1925, though, the intersection of Commerce and Akard streets boasted three Dallas showplaces: the Adolphus Hotel (still standing), the Magnolia Building (still standing), and the Baker Hotel (not still standing). (Before that, it was the Adolphus, the Magnolia, and Busch’s other hotel, the swanky Oriental.)

Ever noticed that the corner “turret” of the Adolphus looks like a traditional German beer stein? An ode to the source of namesake Adolphus Busch’s wealth? I certainly hope so!

adolphus_terracotta-detail_western-architect_july-1914

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a pack of postcards, found on eBay.

Detail of the Adolphus is from the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas in ‘The Western Architect,’ 1914: The Adolphus Hotel.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Few Random Postcards

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by Paula Bosse

Here are a few totally random postcard images, pulled from bulging digital file folders.

Above, an unusual postcard for Methodist Hospital — “An Autumn View From a Window.” The hospital was located in Oak Cliff at 301 Colorado Street — built in 1927, demolished in 1994. The card is postmarked 1944. Below are two other images.

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Below, the Lemly Chiropractic Clinic of Dr. F. Lee Lemly at 808 N. Bishop in Oak Cliff (this was also the residence of his family). The house is still standing.

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A circa-1910s pretty view of City Park (part of which still hangs on as the site of Dallas Heritage Village in The Cedars):

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Another postcard from The Cedars/South Dallas, once home to a large, vibrant Jewish community, this one shows the Colonial Hill home of insurance man Sidney Reinhardt (1864-1924) at 277 South Boulevard (now renumbered as 1825 South Blvd.). The house was built around 1907, and this postcard appeared before 1911. The house — in what is now designated as the South Boulevard-Park Row Historic District — still stands.

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Here’s the Flower-A-Day Shop at the corner of Knox and Travis; the building is still there, but it’s nowhere near as charming today as it was when this postcard was mailed in 1955.

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And, lastly, “Highland Park Lake,” now Exall Lake. In fact, it was originally Exall Lake, as it was on the property of Henry Exall, who created the lake by damming Turtle Creek. The lake was a favorite recreation spot way out of town. It seems to have become “Highland Park Lake” after John Armstrong had taken over the property with an eye to developing what eventually became Highland Park. I’ve actually never heard of “Highland Park Lake,” but it was still being referred to as that in the 1960s — I’m not sure when it reverted to “Exall Lake” (or where exactly this photo was taken), but it remains one of Highland Park’s beauty spots. 

highland-park-lake_postcard

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Sources & Notes

Most of these postcards were found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

First Presbyterian Church — 1960

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by Paula Bosse

Above is another wonderful photo by Dallas photographer Squire Haskins. It captures an interesting view of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas (Harwood and Wood streets), with background cameos by bits of the Statler Hilton, the Lone Star Gas Building, whatever the building is next to the Lone Star Gas Building, and the Southland Life Building.

I’m not sure why Haskins took this particular photo (on February 29, 1960), which seems to focus on the church’s parking lot, but a few days after this photo was taken the church celebrated the 47th anniversary of the move from their previous location at the northeast corner of Main and Harwood by recreating the two-block march which the 1,000-member-strong congregation took back in 1913 from the old church to the brand new one. The recreated march included participation of 88 church members who had made the original march in 1913. The first services were held in the new church on March 2, 1913.

And it still looks beautiful.

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Below, the previous home of the First Presbyterian Church, built in the 1880s, at the  northeast corner of Main and Harwood.

first-presbyterian-church_LOC
via the Library of Congress

The dome-less new church in December, 1911 (construction of the copper dome was “almost complete” in March, 1912):

presbyterian_first-presbyterian-church_under-construction_dmn_123111_clogensonDallas Morning News, Dec. 31, 1911

Completed, and wowing them on picture-postcard stands.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — “First Presbyterian Church, downtown Dallas, Texas” — by Squire Haskins, taken on Feb. 29, 1960; it is from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections, UTA. More info on this photo (and a larger image) is here.

Read an exhaustive account of the new church’s design features in the Dallas Morning News article “First Presbyterian Church Completed” (DMN, March 2, 1913), here.

Read a history of the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, from 1856 to 1913, in an article which is dominated by a photo of the Main and Harwood building and titled “Will Be Abandoned As Church Property After Sunday Services” (DMN, Feb. 21, 1913), here.

Two more very early photos of the First Presbyterian Church can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: City Buildings and Churches” (scroll down to #6).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Buried Alive at the Fair Park Midway — 1946

sfot_scotty-scott_buried-alive_coffin_cook-colln_degolyer-library_SMU_1946Welcome to my casket!

by Paula Bosse

In May, 1946 a new Fair Park midway opened with new rides and new attractions to entice entertainment-seekers to Fair Park at a time of the year when the State Fair of Texas wasn’t in session. On opening day a beauty queen was chosen, a new 17-inch telescope was introduced, and a man was buried alive.

That man was C. S. “Scotty” Scott, seen above lounging in a comfy-looking casket in pajamas and robe, looking happy, propping up the lid. On May 11, 1946, Scotty Scott was buried six feet below the midway where he vowed to remain until the last day of the fair — Oct. 20th. That’s five and a half months.

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Countless ads appeared over the weeks offering $500 (the equivalent of about $6,500 in today’s money) to anyone who might stop by his Fair Park lair and find him not there.

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The exact set-up is not fully clear, but, basically, he was buried in a coffin in a very small space, with a ventilation pipe. One report said that visitors were able to see him through a glass partition — another said that people were peeking at him and talking to him via an eight-inch vent pipe. However they were observing him, they weren’t doing it for free — if you wanted to get a look at Scotty doing whatever it was he was doing down there, you had to fork over 25 or 30 cents. All this being-watched and chit-chatting probably helped distract Scotty from the fact that he was buried alive! (I’m getting claustrophobic just typing this.)

Scotty’s tomb was equipped with air conditioning, a radio, a telephone, and an electric razor (which seems unnecessary, but, again, it probably helped pass the time…). (He might have kept up with his shaving, but he let his hair grow, a fact which apparently had the hoi polloi debating about whether Scotty was a man or a woman.) He was able to indulge in the occasional sponge bath and “exercise himself with a vibrator machine.” There was mention somewhere of a feeding tube.

If the thought of being buried alive gives you the willies, Scotty was not completely immune himself. One report mentioned this was probably the last time he would perform this stunt because he was reaching his “breaking point” and “He has to fight himself continuously to keep from being irritable and cross” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 13, 1946). Luckily, claustrophobia did not seem to be too much of a problem for him as he had been doing this kind of endurance stunt for several years and kept coming back for more — he had, somehow, managed to remain buried in San Francisco for eight months!

Though he considered his main vocation to be a daredevil race driver, he had stumbled into this weird, but lucrative, line of work in 1935 when he had seen a similar stunt being performed in California, and a friend bet him $1,000 he couldn’t do it for 30 days. He won the bet. By the time of this 1946 Dallas stunt, he had been buried alive a LOT — he estimated that he had spent a total of more than four and a half years (!) buried alive.

According to Scotty, the worst part of the buried-alive-thing was the un-burying:

“From past experience the most painful part of the ordeal will come when they dig me up. My circulation will be so bad that my body will turn purple and I will be unable to sit or stand for any length of time. My whole body will feel like a leg or arm that has gone to sleep.” (DMN, Oct. 13, 1946)

Scotty Scott spent 162 days buried alive in Dallas — he even celebrated his 28th birthday underneath Fair Park. He was buried on May 11 and was disinterred on the final day of the fair, Oct. 20. Crowds gathered as men with jack-hammers cracked open the cement-covered tomb. As the coffin was lifted up a woman fainted. He was transported by ambulance to a hospital, and the next day he was interviewed on a national radio program.

Why on earth would anyone do this? More than 75,000 people had paid to take a look at Scotty Scott lying underground. The total amount of money people paid for this creepy privilege works out to almost $300,000 in today’s money. That’s why.

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Sources & Notes

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

Try not to think about being buried alive. TRY!

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Texas Excitement” — Six Flags Over Texas by Rail

six-flags-over-texas_three-rides_postcard_ken-collierCount ’em…

by Paula Bosse

There’s a lot going on in this postcard! The description, from the back of the card:

TEXAS EXCITEMENT
Three of the most popular rides at SIX FLAGS Over Texas are shown in action. At top is the Runaway Mine Train which annually carries more than 2½ million riders. At center an authentic 1898 steam engine carries passengers over a narrow gauge track which encircles the huge theme park. And, in the foreground is the SIX FLAGS Mini Mine Train, designed for the younger set.

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Sources & Notes

This 1970s-era postcard is from Ken Collier’s fantastic Six Flags Over Texas site, here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Worth Street, A Century Ago

worth-street_461_rppc_1908_ebay“A hearty welcome awaits…” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above is a photograph of the new home of traveling salesman Everett F. Bray (1873-1915) and his wife Erminia Connor Bray (1874-1962); they had moved to Dallas in 1907 with their young children Everita and Melville. The picture-postcard is dated Aug. 28, 1908 and was sent to a friend with Erminia’s message:

Dearie, I hope it won’t be very long before I can have the pleasure of entertaining you in my Dallas home. […] A hearty welcome awaits you at 461 Worth St. Dallas any old time.

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The 1905 Sanborn map of this Old East Dallas neighborhood (which, more specifically, is in OED’s Peak’s Suburban Addition) can be found here (461 is an empty lot, near the upper right corner). After the city-wide address-change of 1911, the 400 block of Worth became the 4400 block. As is the case with many of the houses in this neighborhood, Erminia’s house still stands. …But with a whole lot more vegetation.

worth-street_google-street-view_20162016 Google Street View

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Worth Street — which stretches through Junius Heights, Munger Place, and Peak’s Suburban Addition — may be a bit funkier these days, but there are still many beautiful homes lining the street. Below are a couple of postcards from a century ago, well before the “funky” era.

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After I posted the top image on Instagram, a person (whose handle is @uneik_image_inc) made this interesting comment:

We have painted quite a few houses on Worth Street! Interesting fact: lots of these homes are built on Bois D’Arc tree stumps for foundation piers and a solid 85% are still standing and being lived in!

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Sources & Notes

All postcards are from eBay.

The Brays had moved from their Worth Street home by 1915 when 41-year-old Everett Bray was killed in an automobile accident. Erminia — known as “Minnie” — lived almost 50 years longer than her husband, dying in Duncanville in 1962 at the age of 88.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Beautiful Lake Cliff — ca. 1906

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by Paula Bosse

Enjoy these images of Lake Cliff, which, 100 years ago, was “the greatest amusement park in the Southwest.” The slogan “It’s in Dallas” should really have read “It’s in Oak Cliff” — and back then Oak Cliff had everything!

  • Mystic River
  • Shoot-the-Chutes (read this!)
  • Open-Air Circus
  • Roller Coaster
  • Casino
  • Natatorium
  • Carousel
  • Tennis Courts
  • Restaurant
  • Baseball Grounds
  • Skating Rink
  • Trolley Cars
  • Penny Vaudeville
  • Casino Band and Orchestra
  • Circle Swing
  • Japanese Village
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Ferris Wheel

Whew.

Below, some wonderful postcards and photos. (Click to see larger images.)

The first one shows the cafe and the “circle swing” (see a swing in action here).

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lake-cliff_c1910_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

lake-cliff-bathing_1910s_postcard_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

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skating-rink_lake-cliff_cook-colln_degolyer_1via Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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lake-cliff-pavilion_oak-cliff-high-school-yrbk_1925Oak Cliff High School yearbook, 1925

lake-cliff_clogenson_1908_LOCPhoto by Clogenson, ca. 1908, via Library of Congress

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lake-cliff_1906_portal_attractions-2From 1906 promotional brochure, via Portal to Texas History

Jump forward to the 1940s — when it was more of a big pool, without all the flash and filigree:

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Take a look at it now in this stunningly beautiful drone video by Matthew Armstrong:

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a postcard in the George W. Cook Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library, here.

Most other uncredited images were found around the internet, several from Coltera’s Flickr stream.

More on Lake Cliff can be found in this article by Rachel Stone from the Oak Cliff Advocate (be sure to click the link to see the full 1906 promotional brochure on “the Southwest’s greatest playground” (it’s “Clean, Cool, Delightful”)).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Urban Landscape with Biplane

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Scraping the sky… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When the Magnolia Petroleum Building was built in 1924, it was Dallas’ tallest building. It was so tall, in fact, that it appears to be encroaching into biplane-airspace in this romanticized postcard. If you squint, it looks as if the Dallas citizenry is fleeing from an air-attack as a plane buzzes the Magnolia Building. …Perhaps a Texan King Kong is swatting at it from the other side.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard from eBay. The view is to the northeast, from Commerce and Akard, with the Adolphus Hotel partially visible on the far left and the old Oriental Hotel partially visible on the far right.

See a fantastic photo of these buildings from around the same time in the Flashback Dallas post “The Adolphus, The Oriental, The Magnolia.”

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Wilson Building and the *New* Wilson Building — 1911

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Elm and Ervay… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This beautiful postcard shows the original eight-story Wilson Building, built by J B. Wilson in 1902-1904, and its twelve-story companion, which was known as both the “New Wilson Building” and the “Titche-Goettinger Annex” when it was built in 1911. Remarkably, both buildings are still standing at Main-Ervay-Elm. (The view above is looking southwest, with Ervay at the left, and Elm at the right. See this view today on Google Street View here.)

The original building — surely one of Dallas’ most beautiful landmarks — was the home of the Titche-Goettinger department store (which occupied the first two floors and the basement) as well as an important downtown office building. Until seeing this postcard, I had no idea there was a porte-cochère facing Ervay (it can be seen above at the left, under the parasol-like canopy).

By 1910 Titche’s was so successful that it needed to expand, and it was decided that a new “skyscraper” would be built right next door — the department store would continue to occupy its space in the “old” Wilson Building but would also take over the new building (occupying all twelve floors!). According to The Dallas Morning News, the new building would be “the tallest structure in the South occupied exclusively by a mercantile establishment. There are only four store buildings in the United States higher than four stories” (DMN, Nov. 13, 1910).

Below are a couple of details from a “coming soon” ad from Titche-Goettinger in September, 1903, showing a drawing of the building (still under construction) from the Fort Worth architectural firm Sanguinet & Staats. (All images are larger when clicked.)

wilson-bldg_titches_092703_coming-soon_ad-det_1DMN, Sept. 27, 1903

wilson-bldg_titches_092703_coming-soon_ad-det_2DMN, Sept. 27, 1903

titche-goettinger_wilson-bldg_postcard_postmarked-1912

The two photos and article below ran in The Dallas Morning News on March 13, 1904 under the headline “Completion of the Great Eight-Story Wilson Building in Dallas.” The caption of the photo immediately below read “This view was taken from the postoffice, and is the first to show the entire Ervay street front.”

wilson-bldg_dmn_031304_newly-completed_clogenson

Although the quality of the image below isn’t great, it’s interesting to see this “grand marble stairway,” a feature which was removed in 1911 while the new “annex” was under construction, in order to give Titche’s even more room. The grand staircase was replaced by elevators. (The “rest rooms” referred to in the caption were more “lounge” than bathroom — a place where ladies could sit, relax, and even jot off a few letters as they recovered from their bout of intense shopping.)

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The accompanying article (click to read):

wilson-bldg_dmn_031304_completed_textDMN, March 13, 1904

Jump forward six years to the announcement of the “new” Wilson Building:

wilson-bldg_expansion_dmn_111310DMN, Nov. 13, 1910

Here it is under construction:

wilson-bldg_expansion_dmn_032811_clogensonDMN, March 28, 1911

They rushed to be ready to open in time to dazzle State Fair of Texas visitors — and they made it:

wilson-bldg_titche-annex_101411DMN, Oct. 14, 1911

And, below, the completed building, in a photo looking east on Elm (this photo shows one of the brand new street lights written about in the post “The Grand Elm Street Illumination — 1911”). (See this view today on Google Street View, here.)

wilson-bldg_expansion_dmn_121611_clogensonDMN, Dec. 16, 1911

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Sources & Notes

See photos of the original building under construction in the Flashback Dallas post “The Wilson Building Under Construction — 1902.”

I love looking at Sanborn maps. See what was going on at Main-Ervay-Elm in 1899 (before any Wilson buildings), in 1905 (one year after the arrival of the first one), and in 1921 (ten years after the annex went up).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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