Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Restaurants

Highland Park High School: Ads from the 1964 Yearbook

charcos_ad_5300-lemmon_HPHS-yrbk_1964_photoCharco’s on Lemmon — with “14 friendly electronic speakers”

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few ads from the 1964 Highlander, the yearbook of Highland Park High School — some of the ads feature HPHS students. (Click ads to see larger images.)

Above, Charco’s, 5300 Lemmon Avenue (James R. Inman, manager). The full ad is below. This was the third “Charco’s Circle-Thru” drive-in, following the first location at 6375 E. Mockingbird (at Abrams), which opened in 1957, and the second location at 10218 Garland Road.

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Danny’s Waffle Shop (Danny L. Edwards, owner), 171 Inwood Village. Featuring students Chris James and Suzy Corgan up on the roof.

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Sanborn’s Hi-Fi-Center (Charles Larsen, president), 5551 W. Lovers Lane. Featuring Peggy Merritt and Jan Hugenin.

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The Army-Navy Surplus and Salvage Store at 4538-40 McKinney Avenue (Julia Cooper, owner). Featuring students Liz Wilson, Gay Crowell, and Suzanne Shepard. 

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S & S Tea Room, 25 Highland Park Village (Dr. Raymond C. Libberton and Mildred A. Libberton, owners). Featuring waitress Lyn Ashmore with students Suzanne Presley, Bev Vaughan, and Susan Behrman. (Dr. Libberton was still a regular presence at the restaurant until his death in 1976 at the age of 104.)

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Midnight Coiffures, 5628 Lemmon and 4826 Gaston (Esther Groves, owner). “Dallas’ only midnight salon.” This is a great idea!

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Centex Construction Co., 4606 Greenville Avenue (Tom H. Lively, president).

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Dr Pepper, national headquarters located at Mockingbird and Greenville. Ad featuring teen bridge players Nancy Naber, Sue Fincher, Johnetta Alexander, and Melinda Anderson. “Frosty, Man, Frosty.”

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La Tunisia, 200 N. Exchange Park (Iqbal Singh Sekhon, general manager — he previously managed Safari in North Dallas at Preston and Royal).

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Sources & Notes

All images from the 1964 Highlander, yearbook of Highland Park High School.

Other Flashback Dallas posts which have dipped into the HPHS yearbooks can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Luby’s, In Dallas Since 1929

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Luby’s No. 2, Main Street, 1954 (photo detail)

by Paula Bosse

The liquidation of Luby’s restaurants was announced this week. There are a lot of people (Texans in particular) who are going to take this news hard.

I spotted the Luby’s seen in the picture above in a photo I found on eBay a few years ago (see the full photo here). I was surprised to learn that the first Luby’s in Dallas opened in 1929. (I think it was the first Luby’s in Texas — there might have been a tangentially-related “Luby’s”-branded restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but let’s just say that the Luby’s at 205 Browder Street in downtown Dallas was the first one in Texas. It was opened by Earl E. Luby on January 8, 1929.

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Jan. 8, 1929

The second location (the one seen in the photo above) opened at 1006 Main Street (at Poydras) two years later, on May 19, 1931.

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May 19, 1931

Earl Luby was the first cousin of Harry M. Luby, the man who is generally considered to have opened the forerunner of what we now know as Luby’s. In September, 1911, Harry opened a cafeteria in Springfield, Missouri called New England Dairy Lunch — there were several other restaurants around the U.S. with the same name, so I’m not sure if he bought it as a franchise, but whatever the case, that cafeteria was the start of a tray-toting empire.

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Springfield News-Leader, Sept. 20 & 21, 1911

He opened other New England cafeterias in Missouri and, with cousin Earl, in Oklahoma. (There was one in Dallas in 1919, located at 1409 Elm, which appears to be connected to the Luby family.)

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Apr. 16, 1919

In 1929 Earl branched off, moved to Texas, opened his own cafeterias (mostly in Dallas), and made a fortune. (There were Luby’s cafeterias run by other members of the Luby family, most notably Harry’s son, Robert Luby, who was active in South Texas a few decades later. I don’t know whether these were two completely different business entities, but Earl was king of the very lucrative Dallas market.)

Here’s an ad from 1953 with Luby’s locations at that time (along with a Miss Inez shout-out). (Click to see a larger image.)

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And from the same ad, a photo of cousins Earl and Harry enjoying a convivial cup of coffee.

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June, 1953 ad (details)

And, below, a 1960 ad for the new Luby’s at the Preston Forest Shopping Center (that sign is fantastic!).

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Sept., 1960

It’s a shame to say goodbye to such a long-lived Dallas institution. RIP, Luby’s. And thanks, Earl (1897-1990).

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Sources & Notes

1954 photo of Main Street is a detail of a larger photo found in the Flashback Dallas post “Streetcar #728, Main Street — 1954.”

Luby’s website is here (hurry!).

More on the history of Luby’s (with some incorrect information and nary a mention of Earl!) can be found on Wikipedia and The Handbook of Texas.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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.

The Zodiac Room

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by Paula Bosse

The tastefully swanky Zodiac Room opened at the downtown Neiman-Marcus store on April 27, 1953. (Interestingly, there was an earlier — and presumably unrelated — Zodiac Room, in the Jefferson Hotel, from at least 1950 to 1952.)

The Zodiac, a fashionable restaurant and tearoom featuring select foods, will open Monday on the sixth floor of Neiman-Marcus Company’s downtown store. Designed by Eleanor LeMaire of New York, the restaurant’s décor will suggest the roof of the world with signs of the Zodiac represented in both the main dining area and the terrace. (The Dallas Morning News, April 26, 1953)

Stanley Marcus wanted a restaurant in the store in which customers could take a break from shopping by having lunch or afternoon tea on-site, without having to leave the premises. Customers could continue to “shop” while dining as models walked around modeling fashions from the store’s inventory.

“[W]e installed a large restaurant, the Zodiac Room, to attract more people to the downtown area and as a service to those customers from out of town who were spending the day in the store.” (Stanley Marcus, in his book Minding the Store)

Below are a few ads from the Zodiac’s first week (click to see larger images).

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April 26, 1953

COME AND SEE DALLAS’ NEW AND DISTINCTIVE RESTAURANT — THE ZODIAC.

Just completed on our new sixth floor, the Zodiac Restaurant is another step in our downtown expansion program to bring to Dallas the most luxurious and elegant store in America.

The star studded atmosphere of the Zodiac will give you an out of this world feeling. The walls are a wonderful cerulean blue, the carpet’s deep enough for snowshoes and an Italian tile pool sprouts water lilies for the occasion. Informal modeling every day at luncheon.

Plan to have lunch with us this week and bring your guests. We think you’ll be enchanted with the atmosphere as well as the excellent cuisine. Luncheon 11:00 to 2:30, tea 2:30 to 5:00, dinner Thursday night 5:00 to 8:00. NEIMAN-MARCUS

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April 27, 1953

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April 28, 1953 (N-M ad, detail)

You could even get a Zodiac-inspired hair-do, the Zodiac Cut: “Sophisticated, spherical — without a hint of a part.”

zodiac-cut_nm-ad_042953April 29, 1953

Other than the fact that this elegant dining space was part of the world-famous Neiman-Marcus department store, its main draw was its food. According to Stanley Marcus, in his book Minding the Store, the Zodiac struggled for the first year or two and didn’t find its footing until he hired the now-legendary Helen Corbitt as the restaurant’s director. He wrote the following in a guest column in The Dallas Morning News in 1979:

“A landmark in the culinary history of Dallas was the arrival of Helen Corbitt, who made a monumental contribution to improvement of food and service standards in the community. The Neiman-Marcus Zodiac Room became famous under her direction.” (Stanley Marcus, DMN, April 12, 1979)

Below is an example of the fare favored by the Ladies Who Lunch (and the occasional Men Who Lunch), seen in a menu from 1956. (The most expensive item on the menu was the Roast Prime Rib of Beef, which came with a Baked Idaho Potato, a salad from the “Salad Wagon,” and a choice of coffee, milk, or “exquisite tea” — the price was $2.25, which in today’s money was a shockingly affordable $21.00.)

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A dessert menu (a bit hard to read, I’m afraid) is below:

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There was also a children’s menu, which was so charmingly designed by Neiman’s gift-wrap designer, Alma Shon, that I don’t blame a customer for having spirited away a copy of the menu as a holiday-time souvenir of what was no doubt a very special occasion (the date penciled at the top is Dec. 23, 1966). (More information about Ms. Shon is in the “Sources & Notes” section at the bottom of this post.) Below, the front and back of the children’s menu, illustrated with the signs of the zodiac:

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Inside, meal options for well-appointed kiddies and a “Zodiac game” to keep them occupied.

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A few years later, this Stanley Marcus-penned letter appeared as a 1976 N-M ad — it was a personal reply to a nine-year-old Zodiac patron who had apparently written to Neiman’s inquiring about the children’s menu, which she was distressed to see had disappeared on her last visit:

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May 17, 1976

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Lastly, a memory of the downtown Zodiac, from the Department Store Museum website:

The downtown Dallas store was in its entirety a magic store. Every step and turn off the escalators to the top floor was amazing. The Zodiac room with its floor-to-ceiling diaphanous curtains that filtered the bright Texas sky made for a dreamlike atmosphere along with the slender long-legged models in evening gowns and furs and the Andre Previn-inspired piano player. The popovers with strawberry and cinnamon butter weren’t bad either. Thank you, Dallas and Neiman-Marcus, for such a rich time in my life.

And it’s still going strong.

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Sources & Notes

Top image and other (non-children’s) menu images from eBay.

The four images of the Zodiac Room children’s menu are the reason I decided to do this post. My whimsy-threshold is pretty low, but I love the utterly charming drawings which grace the front and back covers. I saw them posted on the Instagram account @reflectionofaman (a cool account — here, for the desktop site — which features the photographs of Stanley Marcus, curated by his granddaughter, photographer Allison V. Smith); it had been shared there by Babs Bern (@mullett7665.manor). The menu’s artist — Alma Shon — was identified by her daughter Kate Heyhoe (@StarkRavingCat) in the comments. According to a 1953 Dallas Morning News profile, Shon was born in California in the early 1920s to Korean refugees who had fled Korea in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. She grew up in Los Angeles but made her way to Dallas by at least 1948; she began working for Neiman Marcus in 1948 or 1949. She was in charge of Neiman’s giftwrap design, but also designed other merchandising elements — she was with the store for several decades. More on Ms. Shon (including a photo of her from the ’50s) can be found in a post by her daughter Kate, here.

Color postcard of the Zodiac Room was found on Flickr, here. I used this same card in a previous Flashback Dallas post, “Luncheon at The Zodiac Room, Darling.”

Image of the  blue matchbox at the bottom is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries; more info is here.

More on Helen Corbitt can be found in articles in Texas Monthly and in Legacies; a couple of her recipes — including her famous Poppy-Seed Dressing — can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Life on Hall Street — 1947

adolphus-bar-b-q_dallas-negro-directory_1947-48_dining-roomInterior of Adolphus Isaac’s Bar-B-Q Palace… (click/tap for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few post-war ads for businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall, between Thomas and State, in the heart of “North Dallas,” a once-thriving business and entertainment district which catered to Dallas’ black community, until construction of Central Expressway sliced it in half a year or two after these ads appeared. These two blocks are completely unrecognizable today (a Google Street View looking north on Hall from Thomas can be seen here), and evidence that this area was once a lively African American neighborhood teeming with small businesses, cafes, and clubs exists almost entirely in old photos and ads like these.

Below, the LA CONGA CAFE, 2209½ Hall, S. H. Wilson, proprietor. “Where we serve you the best of foods. The home of Good Foods. Ice cold beer.” (All pictures are larger when clicked/tapped.)


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THE ADOLPHUS BAR-B-Q PALACE, 2314 Hall, Adolphus Isaac (whose name in the ad appears to be misspelled), proprietor. “Always a friendly welcome. Steaks, fried chicken, fish, bar-b-q, frog legs [!], delicacies.”

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VASSELL’S JEWELRY STORE, 2317 Hall, Robert Vassell, proprietor. “Diamonds — watches — jewelry. Repairing reasonable, engraving a specialty.” This ad shows the “watch training school” Vassell operated in which WWII GI’s learned watch-repair.

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NEGRO UNION COUNCIL, 2319 Hall. A group of black unionists shared space at 2319 Hall: the Negro Unions Council, the Musicians Protective Union Local 168 (whose former president was Theodore Scott seen in both photos below), Federated Labor (AF of L), Hotel & Restaurant Employees Intl. Local No. 825. (Ned L. Boyd, pictured below, was a pharmacist who owned Boyd’s Pharmacy a couple of doors down at 2311 Hall.)

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American Federation of Musicians officials (and their hats) standing in front of 2319 Hall.

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Below, the 1947 Dallas street directory, showing the businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall.

vassell_hall-st_1947-directory1947 Dallas directory (click to see larger image)

Below, a detail of a 1952 Mapsco page, with Hall Street in blue, Central Expressway (which hadn’t yet been built when the ads above appeared in 1947) in yellow, and the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Hall circled in red.

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1952 Mapsco

As an aside, Roseland Homes seen in the map detail above, was a low-income public housing project for black residents, which opened in June, 1942. It covered a 35-acre tract, with 650 units and was the first of many such housing projects for low-income black, white, and Hispanic families which opened that year, and it continues to this day.

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Sources & Notes

Ad from the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948, with thanks to Pat Lawrence.

Read more about Hall Street — just a few blocks south, near Ross — in the Flashback Dallas post “1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Sam Ventura’s Italian Village, Oak Lawn

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by Paula Bosse

In amongst photos and belongings of my mother’s aunt, I recently came across this wonderful graphic of Oak Lawn’s Italian Village (3211 Oak Lawn, at Hall). It was on the cover of one of those cardboard photo holders which contained photos of diners and club-goers captured by photographers wanting to memorialize celebrants’ special occasions — they would take your photo and you would later purchase prints, which would be tucked inside the souvenir folder. (I don’t recognize any of the people in the photo which was  inside — the photo is here.)

The Italian Village complex (which contained all its various tangential enterprises over he years) was an Oak Lawn fixture for over 45 years — it was apparently still around during my lifetime, but I have no memory of ever seeing it. But by the time I would have been aware of it, things had begun to get a little weird and its profile had definitely dipped. (More on that later.)

Italian Village began its life in 1934 when Sam Ventura (1907-1997) bought a popular drive-in restaurant in Oak Lawn from a man named Levi F. “Speck” Harper. In Ventura’s obituary in The Dallas Morning News, his wife said: “He bought it from a man named Speck Harper who told him, ‘Give me $250 and my hat, and you’ll never see me again.’ Sam had to go and borrow the money.” (DMN, June 1, 1997) ($250 in today’s money would be about $4,700.)

speck-harper_july-1934July, 1934

Not only did $250 start Ventura on a very successful career as a restaurateur, it also assured him ownership of what would quickly become a primo piece of real estate. (Ventura dabbled in real estate and, in 1937, along with fellow restaurant man Sam Lobello, he purchased land at Preston Road and Northwest Highway which would one day become Preston Center.) (It might be worth noting here that Sam Ventura was not affiliated with the very popular Sammy’s restaurants, run by Dallas’ Messina family.)

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Matchbook, via eBay

Italian Village — a restaurant which operated for many years as a private club in order to sell liquor — was originally co-owned by brothers-in-law Sam Ventura and Nick DeGeorge (DeGeorge was later married to Ventura’s sister Lucille). By the time the ad below appeared in 1939, the place had been newly remodeled and was on its ninth (!) expansion. There were lots of new “rooms”: the Can-Can Room, the Plaid Room, the Hunter’s Room, the Gazelle Room, and the Marionette Room, the latter of which featured entertainment in the form of a marionette show with puppets made in likenesses of the owners. (All images are larger when clicked.)

1939_italian-village_feb-1939Feb., 1939

In June, 1940, Italy entered the War in Europe as a member of the Axis forces. As a result, Ventura and DeGeorge immediately asserted their patriotism and their American-ness (both were born in the United States to Italian immigrants) by changing the name of their restaurant: arrivederci, Italian Village, hello, Oak Lawn Village. The owners placed an ad in Dallas newspapers explaining their decision (see ad below) — this made news across the country, garnering both positive national publicity as well as fervent local support.

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June, 1940

Not only did the restaurant’s name change in 1940, so did its ownership. Nick DeGeorge and his wife (the sister of Sam Ventura) embarked on a very lengthy, very bitter divorce (newspapers reported that Nick and Lucille were each on their fourth marriages). The result of this marital split spilled over and also caused a business split: Ventura became the sole owner of Italian Oak Lawn Village, and DeGeorge left to start his own (very successful) restaurant career (DeGeorge’s, Town & Country, etc.). Sam announced that he was “sole owner” in a September, 1940 ad. (I hope Nick at least got custody of his mini-me marionette….)

1940_oak-lawn-village-ad_sept-1950Sept., 1940

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Oak Lawn Village matchbook cover, via Flickr

In June, 1941 yet another remodeling/expansion was announced, with architectural design by longtime friend of Ventura and DeGeorge, Charles Dilbeck, and murals by Russ Ellis. In addition to the Gazelle Room (“for comfort”) and the Hunter’s Room (“for private parties”), there was now the San Juan Capistrano Room (“follow the swallows”), the 42nd & Broadway Room (“for luxury”), the South American Room (“for romance”), the Dude Ranch Room (“where the west begins”), the Rain Room (“for private parties”), the Banquet Room (“seating capacity 150 guests”), and an outdoor Italian Garden Terrace (“beneath the stars”).

1941_oak-lawn-village_dmn_june-41June, 1941

That $20,000 remodel (which would have been equivalent to about $350,000 in today’s money) went up in smoke — literally — in April, 1944, when the restaurant was “virtually destroyed” by fire. Ventura said he would rebuild when war-time government regulations would permit him to do so. At the end of the year he announced that he would build a new restaurant, of shell stone and marble construction, lit in front by decorative tower lights. The new place was built and in full swing — and back with its original name — in the summer of 1945.

1945_italian-village_aug-1945Aug., 1945

An ad for Dallas’ S. H. Lynch & Co.’s Seeburg Scientific Sound Distribution system appeared in the Aug. 10, 1946 issue of Billboard magazine, showing photos of Sam Ventura, the exterior of the new building, and an interior shot showing a Seeburg jukebox. (See full ad here.)

1946_italian-village_billboard_081046_ad-det-1Sam D. Ventura, 1946 (ad detail, Billboard magazine)

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1946_italian-village_billboard_081046_ad-det-3Italian Village exterior and interior, 1946 (ad detail, Billboard magazine)

In January, 1951 another remodeling (to the tune of $75,000!) introduced the 300-seat Flamingo Room, which meant the entire Italian Village now had a seating capacity of more than 700 (Ventura had said that the original post-Speck’s restaurant seated only 40 or 50 people). The “modernistic styling” was the work of architect J. N. McCammon.

1951_italian-village_flamingo-room_jan-1951Jan., 1951

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Front and back of 1955 menu, via eBay

Further changes came to 3211 Oak Lawn in the fall of 1954 with the arrival of the Village Club, which featured live entertainment (including a rotating piano) and shared a kitchen with Italian Village. It was also a “private locker club” with personal liquor lockers available to members to keep their bottles in at a time when it was not legal for restaurants in Dallas to sell liquor-by-the-drink — “set-ups” were sold and the demon alcohol was poured from the member’s stash (or, more likely, from the communal stash).

In 1961 there was yet another remodel, which enlarged the club — now called Club Village — and shrank the restaurant. The swanky new club was designed by Charles Dilbeck and had a sort of Olde English theme (and, for some reason, featured a waterfall, a glass cage behind the bar containing live monkeys, and two live flamingos named Lancelot and Guenevere).

1965_club-village_oct-1965Oct., 1965

Around this time the (apparently short-lived) Francisca Restaurant appeared.

francisca-restaurant_menu_1961_ebayvia eBay

club-village_francisca_new-years-eve_dec-1961New Year’s Eve, Dec., 1961

1961 also marked the club’s debut on national television, appearing in scenes of the hit show Route 66, which were filmed in November. Below is a screen-capture from the episode “A Long Piece of Mischief,” with the waterfall in the background. (The entire episode, shot around the Mesquite Rodeo, can be watched on YouTube here — the two Club Village scenes begin at the 26:42 and 38:15 marks.)

1961_club-village_route-66Route 66 (screen capture) — Nov., 1961

In late 1966, Dallas filmmaker Larry Buchanan shot his cult classic Mars Needs Women in various locations all over town. I’m pretty sure one of the very first scenes was shot inside the club, after yet another remodel. (Incidentally, see what the lively neon-ified corner of Oak Lawn and Lemmon, a couple of blocks away, looked like in Buchanan’s film, here.)

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Mars Needs Women (screen capture) — 1966

In August, 1964 a new club opened: Gringos (sometimes spelled Gringo’s). This public club, featuring mostly rock bands, was the brainchild of Sam Ventura, Jr. (who said in an interview that he had rather brazenly sprung the whole thing as a big surprise on his father, who had been out of town on a lengthy vacation — luckily, the club was a hit and Sam, Sr. was pleased). Club Village continued as a private club, but from newspaper accounts it seems that the new discotheque displaced the Italian Village and/or Francisca restaurant completely. So now on one side you had the long-running “sophisticated” private club, and on the other side, the “new concept in continuous entertainment,” with its Mexican-themed decor and Watusi-dancing waitresses (“Las Mata-Dollies…”), which catered to a younger set. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram described Gringos thusly:

Newest “port of call” for Dallas revelers on the bistro beat is the just-opened and lavishly-done Gringos Club on Oak Lawn Ave. near the Melrose Hotel and in the location formerly occupied by the Italian Village Restaurant and Village Club. Open to the public, this night time Camelot with Mexican decor features, among other flings, Jesse (brother of Trini) Lopez and his handful of musical consorts on the bandstand and a covey of revealing young handmaidens called “Las Matta-Dollies” [sic], sort of Spanish-type Playboy Bunnies who are worthy of your scrutiny. (Chris Hobson, FWST, Aug. 27, 1964)

1964_gringos_aug-1964Aug., 1964

In May, 1967, Sam Ventura, Jr. (“Sammy,” who had taken over the family business when Sam, Sr. retired in 1966) declared that Gringos was dead: “There will be absolutely no rock-and-roll in this room anymore. It’s dead. Our whole concept [now] is for sophistication, for adult entertainment” (DMN, May 24, 1967). So adios, Gringos, hello an even bigger Club Village. (In 1968 a club described as a “new” Gringos  opened a block away, at 3118 Oak Lawn — it’s unclear whether this was affiliated in any way with the Ventura family.)

In June, 1968, the never-ending improvements, remodelings, and reconfigurings of 3211 Oak Lawn continued with Sammy’s announcement of a new (public) restaurant, the Wood ‘N Rail. This steakhouse featured a revolving “ice bar” (the old revolving piano bar, repurposed), which contained a display of raw meat — from this, customers would choose whichever cut of beef called to them, and before the meat was escorted into the kitchen, the patron would sear his or her initials into it with a “red-hot branding iron.” The restaurant’s slogan was “Personalized Beef.” The unstoppable Club Village continued as a private club and restaurant in the adjoining complex.

1968_wood-n-rail_oct-1968Oct., 1968

1971 began with a fire. The (once) unstoppable Club Village was destroyed. The adjacent Wood ‘N Rail emerged unscathed. So, yes, more remodeling! By 1972, 3211 Oak Lawn boasted three (three!) restaurants at one address: the continuing Wood ‘N Rail (steakhouse), Fisherman’s Cove (seafood), and — hey! — the return of Italian Village. As the ads said: “3 RESTAURANTS UNDER ONE ROOF!”

1972_fishermans-cove_march-1972March, 1972

1972_three-restaurants_may-1972May, 1972

Also big news in 1971: it finally became legal to order liquor and mixed drinks in bars and restaurants — the whole “private club-membership” thing in order to get around liquor laws was mostly a thing of the past (unless you lived in a dry area of the city…).

Then, in 1974, things really changed. After a “profound religious conversion,” Sammy Ventura stopped all sales of alcohol and told the TABC he didn’t need or want that ol’ liquor license. This made news around the country.

1974_kings-village_panama-city-FL-news-herald_081274UPI wire story, Panama City [FL] News Herald, Aug, 1974

Unsurprisingly, business plummeted. Two of the three restaurants closed. Italian Village continued to limp along, even weathering the introduction of the King’s Village, “Dallas’ first Christian dinner theater.”

1976_kings-village_june-1976June, 1976

This change in direction of the the 40-plus-year-old family business caused a huge rift between Sammy and his father. Sam, Sr. put his foot down, and The King’s Village (“the nation’s first non-liquor, Christian nightclub”) closed in June, 1977.

1977_kings-village_pampa-daily-news_062177
AP wire story, Pampa Daily News, June 21, 1977

Oak Lawn’s decades-old Italian Village was no more (although Sammy appears to have opened his own Italian Village restaurant in Richardson’s Spanish Village for a while). The last mention I found of Italian Village was in Feb., 1979:

After 45 years, the Italian Village restaurant has changed to another venture, the Crazy Crab. Sam Ventura opened the Italian Village in 1934 and the last event before the changeover was a surprise birthday party honoring Sam. (DMN, Feb. 23, 1979)

It’s a shame Italian Village’s last incarnation was a mere shadow of its former go-go glory, but it’s almost unbelievable that a restaurant in Dallas was in business for 45 years. Sam Ventura’s $250 gamble in 1934 paid off very, very well.

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Sources & Notes

Top image is the front cover of a cardstock photo-holder (with linked photo by the Gilbert Studios, 4121 Gaston); collection of Paula Bosse.

All clippings and images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Adolphus Hotel’s “Coffee Room” — 1919


coffee-room_adolphus_tea-and-coffee-trade-journal_march-1919_photo
Jonesing for some java? Belly on up… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

You know who was really, really happy about Prohibition? The coffee, tea, and soft drink industries. In fact, they were absolutely giddy.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the nation’s thousands and thousands of bars when it became illegal in the United States to sell alcoholic beverages? What about all the hotel bars? Apparently many hotels renovated their old bars into something new and novel called a “coffee shop” or a “coffee room.”

The photo above shows what the vested interests of The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal deemed the “coffee room” of the elegant Adolphus Hotel.

coffee-room_adolphus_tea-and-coffee-trade-journal_march-1919Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, March, 1919

Yes, there were coffee urns, but it was actually the Adolphus Lunch Room. Though beverages are not mentioned in the menu seen below, it’s interesting to read what dishes were available to the Adolphus visitor in 1919 (of course the really well-heeled guests were not noshing in a lowly —  though quite attractive — “lunch room”). The most expensive item on the menu is the Adolphus Special Sunday Chicken Dinner for 90¢ (which the Inflation Calculator tells us is the equivalent of about $13.00 today). (Click to see a larger image.)

adolphus_lunch-room_menu_dec-1919
Dec., 1919

And, yes, I believe that is a spittoon at the register.

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I wonder if that “coffee room” later became the Adolphus barbershop (seen below)? Or maybe the barbershop became the coffee room?

adolphus-barber-shop_childers_adolphus-archives

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the article “The Renaissance of Tea and Coffee” from The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal (March, 1919). See other photos and read how Prohibition was spurring on this alcohol-free “renaissance” in the article, here.

Photo of the Adolphus barbershop appeared in the book Historic Dallas Hotels by Sam Childers, credited to the Adolphus Archives.

Many, many historical photos of spittoons can be found in this entertaining collection of the once-ubiquitous cuspidor. …Because when else will I be able to link to something like this?

As a sidenote, the Adolphus Hotel was, of course, built by and named for Adolphus Busch, the co-founder of Anheuser-Busch. Mercifully, the beer magnate died pre-Pro — before Prohibition.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Magnolia Cafe, N. Lamar & Munger — 1947

magolia-cafe_1947_ebayStep in for a cool glass of Metzger’s Milk… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love stumbling across photos of random small businesses. This photo from 1947 shows an interesting modification of a rooming house in the area immediately north of downtown at 1914 N. Lamar, at the corner of what is now N. Lamar and Munger (the curb shows “Caruth St.,” the street’s original name). Unsurprisingly, this former residential area — which became an industrial warehouse district — looks pretty different today (see the current Google Street View here). A succession of cafes operated here over the years (while people lived in rented rooms upstairs) since at least 1927.

I love the entrance to the rooming house with the concrete steps to the right of the cafe, the street light, the streetcar tracks, The Metzger’s Milk sign, the Stier’s Laundry truck, the parked cars, and the street names (probably in tile?) on the curbs.

Three years after this photo was taken, the building was up for sale:

magnolia-cafe_nov-1950_bldg-for-sale1950

Its future? A parking lot.

A longtime owner of this combo building was Mrs. Ella Mae Stuart, who was living there with her husband as early as 1913 (possibly 1909). After her husband’s death in 1915, she ran a boarding house upstairs and rented out the cafe below. She seems to have been a much-married woman who was very creative with her age as given to census takers: every 10 years she continued to grow younger and younger, ending up in 1930 with her age listed as 50. She died three years later at the actual age of 68, leaving behind a husband 26 years her junior. Her great stamina might be the result of her regular consumption of a wonder tonic called Konjola (a patent medicine popular during Prohibition, made from roots, herbs, and a lot of alcohol). (Click to read Mrs. Stuart’s testimonial.)

e-m-stuart_konjola-ad_1930
1930

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Sources & Notes

Photo from eBay; taken by Rogers Studio (the business owned by noted Dallas photographer Frank Rogers and his son Norman Rogers), with the date “May 8, 1947” stamped on the back. Also on the back of the photo: “Magnolia Cafe, Lamar and Munger; seating capacity: 32.”

See the building on the 1921 Sanborn map here, which shows 1914 N. Lamar at the corner of Caruth Street. It appears the house might have become renovated to include a cafe on the ground floor in 1926 or 1927 when one of Mrs. Stuart’s boarding-house roomers opened up Frank’s Lunch Room.

Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From El Chico and the Cuellar Family: Feliz Navidad!

xmas_el-chico_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU

by Paula Bosse

…y Prospero Año Nuevo!

xmas_el-chico_cook-collection_degolyer_SMU_2

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Sources & Notes

Images from a matchbook cover in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more on the item can be found on the SMU site here.

A couple of super-folksy El Chico commercials can be watched here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Weber’s Root Beer Stands: “Good Service with a Smile”

webers-root-beer_traces-of-texasFeeling parched?  (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve heard of these legendary root beer stands from family members, but, sadly, I missed their heyday, which seems to stretch from the 1920s to the 1950s. The photo above was taken around 1940 in Dallas at an unknown location. (The 1940 Dallas directory lists only two stands that year: at Greenville and Richmond — currently a 7-Eleven — and at 1119 N. Zang.)

Here’s another photo, this one from 1930, taken at night, with a jam-packed lot filled with thirsty teenagers, rumble seats, and future jalopies.

webers_root-beer_traces-of-texas

In the photo above, a sign for Eady’s Famous Hamburgers can be seen in the background. This would seem to indicate that this photo was taken at one of the two locations where both Eady’s and Weber’s were neighbors: in Oak Cliff in the 1100 block of Zang, or near the Lower Greenville intersection of Greenville and Richmond. So it’s possible the two photos were taken at the same Weber’s Root Beer stand.

“It’s So Different”

ad-webers-root-beer_1930-dallas-technical-high-school-yrbk_frank-rogers

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Sources & Notes

Top photo appeared on the fantastic Facebook page Traces of Texas. It was submitted by reader Shelly Tucker showing her aunt (second from left) working as a Weber’s carhop around 1940.

The second photo is from Traces of Texas’ Twitter feed; the source is unknown.

Ad is from the 1930 yearbook of the Dallas Technical High School (later named Crozier Tech); the photo is by the always-busy Dallas photographer, Frank Rogers.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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