Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Restaurants

Ads for Businesses Serving the North Dallas High School Area — Early 1960s

friendly-chevrolet_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photoFriendly Chevrolet, 1963 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of the things I like best about looking through old high school and college yearbooks is seeing the ads in the back — especially the ads that feature students. Here are a whole bunch of ads from the 1960, 1962, and 1963 North Dallas High School annuals, with most of the ads placed by businesses in the Oak Lawn, McKinney Avenue, and Little Mexico areas surrounding the school. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? (Ads and photos are larger when clicked.)

Above, Friendly Chevrolet at Lemmon and Inwood. I bet the owner was grimacing as he saw those girls perched — gingerly or not — on that brand new Corvette convertible!

friendly-chevrolet_ndhs_1963-yrbk1963

The Cole and Haskell Drug Store, at 3121 N. Haskell — right across the street from the NDHS campus — was no doubt thrilled to be so close to its major source of income, the teenager.

1962_cole-haskell-drugs_ndhs_1962-yrbk1962

cole-haskell-drug-store_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photo
1963

cole-haskell-drugs_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

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Lots of gas and service stations were nearby. Like Dick Prather Fina Service, at 3106 Blackburn, with the school peeking over the roof.

1960_prather-fina_ndhs_1960-yrbk
1960

And L. V. Butcher’s Cosden Service Station, at 3519 McKinney. (I love the slouch of the mechanic.)

butchers-cosden-service-stn_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photo

butchers-cosden-service-stn_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

And the Ragan Service Station, at 4201 McKinney.

ragan-servie-stn_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photo

ragan-servie-stn_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

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Plant and flower enthusiasts were invited to stop by Lena’s Flowers and Aquariums, at 3112 Cole. …For flowers. And aquariums.

lenas-flowers_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

What Tropical Gardens at Cole and Haskell lacked in the way of aquariums, it all but made up for in tropicalness. (Might as well grab a coke at the drug store since you’re right there.)

tropical-gardens_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

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Those who needed their hair extra poufy for the spring formal might have found themselves at the Capitan Beauty Shop, 1808 N. Henderson (now that’s a photo!).

capitan-beauty-shop_ndhs_1963-yrbk1963

Seekers of Asian foods and/or “party favors for all occasions” could head over to Jung’s Oriental Foods & Gifts at 2519 N. Fitzhugh. (This is the most unexpected ad I came across.)

jungs_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

Maybe you just needed a hammer. Where else would you go but Elliott’s Hardware, at its original location at 5308 Maple.

elliotts-hardware_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

Phillips’ Variety Store at 4442 Maple was probably a good place to get scented talcum powder, a bouncy ball, a bag of peppermints, or a new charm for the charm bracelet.

phillips-variety-store_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

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What do high school kids love more than bowling and going to the movies? Apparently there was a movie theater on McKinney Avenue that I’m only just learning about — The Plaza, at 3806 McKinney.

1962_plaza-theater
1962

The 24-hour Expressway Bowl was at 5910 N. Central Expressway. (I’m not sure those girls have on the proper footwear.)

expressway-bowl_ndhs_1963-yrbk1963

But the place you really wanted to go was the Cotton Bowling Palace on Inwood at Lemmon. When it opened in 1959 (complete with a heavily promoted personal appearance by Dallas gal Jayne Mansfield), it was breathlessly described as “a mixture of the Copacabana, the Taj Mahal and the  MGM Grand.” Imagine bowling in the Taj Mahal! Heck, you could even get a haircut between frames.

1962_cotton-bowling-palace1962

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The biggest bang for the buck, nostalgia-wise, is almost always going to be places related to food. Here are a few restaurants and burger places which were probably frequent destinations for North Dallas students and their families. Like Spanish Village at 3839 Cedar Springs.

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1963

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1960

The fondly remembered China Clipper, at 3930 McKinney.

1960_china-clipper_ndhs_1960-yrbk1960

K’s — where you could get “sandwiches of all kinds” — at 3317 Oak Lawn.

1960_ks-sandwiches_ndhs_1960-yrbk
1960

Hay-Way Bar-B-Q & Groceries, at 5418 Denton Drive.

hay-way-bar-b-q_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photo

hay-way-bar-b-q_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

A burger and malt joint with the wonderful name of Frezo, at 4531 Maple. (I WOULD GO TO SOMEPLACE CALLED “FREZO.”)

1962_frezo_ndhs_1962-yrbk
1962

The famed elephant-on-top Jumbo Drive-In, owned by Clarence and Leonard Printer. The location in this ad was at 6412 Lemmon. See what the Haskell location looked like, here.

1960_jumbo-drive-in_ndhs_1960-yrbk
1960

The legendary Prince of Hamburgers at 5200 Lemmon.

prince-of-hamburgers_ndhs_1960-yrbk
1960

The not-quite-as-legendary Luke’s Fine Foods at 2410 Shorecrest, owned by L. L. Blasingame.

lukes-fine-foods_ndhs_1963-yrbk

lukes-fine-foods_ndhs_1963-yrbk-ad
1963

Yee’s Restaurant at 5404 Lemmon, owned by B. L. Yee.

yees-chinese_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

And, of course, Pancho’s — this location at 1609 McKinney. Almost all of the buildings that housed the businesses listed above are long gone, but this building is still hanging in there. It’s next to the downtown El Fenix and is now the home of Meso Maya. I have to admit, I got a happy little jolt to see this building today, still looking pretty much the same as it did in this 1963 ad.

panchos_ndhs_1963-yrbk-photo

panchos_ndhs_1963-yrbk
1963

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All ads from the 1960, 1962, and 1963 editions of the North Dallas High School yearbook, The Viking.

See photos of students and high school activities from these same yearbooks in the post “North Dallas High School, The Pre-Beatles Era,” here.

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Moskovitz Cafe

moskovitz-cafe_winegarten-schechterA stool is waiting for you… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Moskovitz Cafe was located at 2216 Elm Street, between S. Pearl and what is now Cesar Chavez Blvd., in an area of predominantly Jewish businesses. The restaurant served “Kosher and American cooking” and was owned and run by Lui Moskovitz, a Romanian immigrant, and his Polish-born wife, Eva. Eva, recently widowed, had arrived in Dallas in about 1928 with her three children and seems to have married Lui that same year. They had run another restaurant before the Moskovitz Cafe: the New York Kosher Dining Room on Commerce had been located across from the Adolphus Hotel for several years before it moved to 2011 Main, around the corner from City Hall. After that closed, they ran the Moskovitz Cafe between about 1937 and about 1944.

In 1945 there was no Lui or Eva Moskovitz in the Dallas directory. There was, however, an Eva Haberman — it appears that the Moskovitzes had split, Lui had left town, and Lui’s ex-wife had taken back the name of her late first husband. At this time she must have been about 60 years old, but she worked for the next few years as a department store seamstress and lived with one or more of her three sons from her marriage to Nathan Haberman. She died in April, 1961. Not only is there no trace of Lui after his time in Dallas, there is also no trace of 2216 Elm.

moskovitz_dmn_0101361936 ad

moskovitz-cafe_elm-st_1943-directory
Elm St. businesses, 1943 Dallas directory (click for larger image)

moskovitz_map
Location of Moskovitz Cafe (det. of a 1919 map)

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Sources & Notes

Photo appeared in the book Deep in the Heart: The Lives & Legends of Texas Jews, A Photographic History by Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990); from the collection of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society.

I’m not sure who the people in the photo are. When the Moskovitz Cafe opened, Lui would have been in his mid-40s and Eva would have been in her early 50s. UPDATE: Per the comment below (from Eva’s grandson), the woman in the white apron is the proprietress, Eva Moskovitz, and the man at the cash register is her son, Jack Haberman.

More information about Mrs. Eva Haberman can be found in her obituary, published in The News on April 19, 1961.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Filling Station on Greenville Avenue: From Bonnie & Clyde to Legendary Burger Place

loveless-station_extThe Loveless filling station, Vickery, TX… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Perhaps you’ve driven past the site of the much-loved former burger place The Filling Station at Greenville Avenue and Park Lane recently and saw that the old building was undergoing renovation. Construction has ended, and a new Schlotzsky’s (the sandwich shop founded in Austin in 1971) has opened at 6862 Greenville Avenue. And it’s pretty cool that they’ve preserved this old 1930s building, a landmark to many Dallasites.

The original filling station and garage was built, according to family members, about 1931 — it was one of the first brick  buildings in the small community of Vickery (which was annexed by Dallas in 1945). The construction even made the columns of the Richardson Echo (Dec. 11, 1931):

loveless-garage_richardson-echo_121131

The business had begun in the early ’20s in another building across the street, but things were definitely looking up for the garage and its owners, William Homer Loveless and his son J. W. Loveless, when the new building went up. L & L Motors lasted 50 or so years until the early 1970s, when the once-sleepy Vickery area had exploded into part of “Upper Greenville,” an entertainment mecca lined with bars, restaurants, discos, and strip joints.

The Filling Station, a theme restaurant and bar decorated with gas station memorabilia, opened in 1975 and lasted a remarkable 29 years, closing in 2004. Filling Station super-fans still have fond memories of both the building and its menu of “theme” foods and drinks with names like “sedanwiches,” the Ethyl burger, the Tail Pipe, and the Ring Job.

Beyond being a nostalgic favorite from the go-go days of Upper Greenville, the real reason this place has always had historic appeal to Dallasites is because it is one of the still-standing Dallas-area locations with a tie to Bonnie and Clyde. According to Loveless family lore, the pair bought gas at the station at least once, sometime back in the ’30s. According to Sonya Muncy, whose father, J. W. Loveless, took over the station after her grandfather passed away:

“That was my daddy’s station and his dad’s before. When he got hurt in an auto accident and couldn’t work anymore, he sold it, and it became the first Filling Station restaurant. I think my mom still has pics of Daddy in front of it when he came out of the Army. Gas was 9 cents a gallon with 3 cents tax, for a total of 11 cents a gallon. He had the coldest Cokes around! Across the street where Park and Ride is was my grandmother’s house. I remember playing at the station as a kid and helping Daddy work on cars. When I got my first car, he made me change the oil and rotate the tires! Lol. It was called L & L Motors with Mobil gas. […] Bonnie & Clyde also got gas there and Daddy said they were always nice to him.”

Kevin Wood remembered when his grandparents happened to be at the station when Bonnie and Clyde stopped in:

“The day Bonnie and Clyde came in to fuel, Clyde shook my Pops’ hand.”

And in a later comment:

“My grandmother and grandfather were in the store the day B & C came in … always said they were very nice.”

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FUN FACT: Jack Ruby apparently ran a short-lived tavern called Hernando’s Hideaway right next door, at 6854 Greenville in the early or mid ’50s (he seems to have owned it and later sold it). It appears the building was torn down at some point. So … Bonnie and Clyde and Jack Ruby, together at last, cheek by jowl.

hernandos-hideaway_jack-ruby_1956-directory
Greenville Ave., 1956 directory

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve checked out this old building every time I drive by it, marveling that it has managed to remain standing all these years, and always afraid it won’t be there the next time I pass it. So thank you, Steve Cole, owner of this Schlotzsky’s, for bringing it back to life and appreciating it as much as a lot of the rest of us do.

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The photos in this post were kindly sent to me by Jeb Loveless, grandson of Homer Loveless, the original owner. Below, perhaps the oldest photo of the building, in the Bonnie and Clyde era.

loveless-station_collection-of-jeb-lovelessphoto: collection of Jeb Loveless

Below, Homer Loveless and his wife Jewel in 1956.

loveless_homer-and-jewel_april-1956

Jewel at work.

loveless-station_jewel-loveless

Homer and Jewel’s son (and co-owner) J. W., at the pumps.

loveless-station_jw-loveless

UPDATE: I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what roads I was looking at here. Thanks to Danny Linn, I now know that the road straight ahead is what shows on 1962 maps as being the tail end/very beginning of Fair Oaks (this little bit still exists between Greenville and Central but is restricted to buses) — the view is looking west toward Central Expressway; the Corvair at the pumps is headed south on Greenville. A detail of this area from a 1962 map is below  — note that Park Lane did not yet exist. (The full 1962 Enco map is here.)

filling-station_vickery_1962-map(click me!)

J. W. with the tow truck.

loveless-station_towtruck_1964

And here is what the old Loveless garage looks like today, as a Schlotzsky’s, decorated with the original neon sign from its days as The Filling Station restaurant as well as with several of the photos reproduced in this post.

filling-station_neon-sign_2016photo: Paula Bosse

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Aside from the Bonnie and Clyde connection, this little building (which has managed to stay standing for over 80 years — a feat in Dallas!) is known by most as the home of still-missed Filling Station restaurant.

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Below, an interesting 1976 quote from Filling Station co-owner Bob Joplin about the “cutthroat” competition between ’70s-era Upper Greenville bars and restaurants (numbering at the time more than 50), wondering how long his place might stay alive:

“The average life of a new place on Greenville is probably about 18 months. If that. Hell, around the corner here — the Yellow Rose of Texas — how long was it open? Three months? Maybe less? […] We’re going great right now, but we’ve only been open a little more than a year. Check back with me later — we may be here, we may not.” (DMN, Nov. 14, 1976)

The surprising longevity of The Filling Station — 29 years in business! — is why the strangely unceremonious and surprisingly brief announcement of the Filling Station’s demise (which appeared in the pages of The Dallas Morning News on July 2, 2004) is so odd — its closure merited only ten words: “The Filling Station on Upper Greenville Avenue has also closed.” 29 years! That’s an eternity in the Dallas restaurant world.

filling-station_matchbook_ebay
eBay

A few other businesses occupied the building, but none managed to stay open very  long. The building was vacant for several years, and it was definitely looking bedraggled when the Schlotzsky’s people came knocking.

filling-station_google_aug-2015Long-vacant — Google Street View, Aug. 2015

And here it is, after renovation, preparing for its opening day as a Schlotzsky’s — the building now actually looks more like its original design, seen in the photo at the top of this post.

schlotzskys_facebook-pageSchlotzsky’s Facebook page

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Sources & Notes

The photos of the L & L Motors garage and filling station in Vickery — and the Richardson Echo clipping — were sent to my by Jeb Loveless, grandson of Homer and Jewel Loveless and nephew of J. W. Loveless. He has graciously allowed me to use the photographs in this post. Thanks, Jeb! (Several of these photos were given to the owner of the new Schlotzsky’s and can be seen on the walls inside.)

Quotes from family members whose relatives met Bonnie and Clyde when they stopped in at the gas station are from comments on the Dallas History and Retro Dallas Facebook pages (used with permission).

A Lakewood Advocate interview with the owner of this Schlotzsky’s, Steve Cole, is here. He talks about his dedication to saving as much of the structure as possible, keeping the original brick walls and the wood floors.

To take a photographic tour through what remained of the old Filling Station, see the real estate listing on Zillow here (click on the first picture and a slideshow of large photos will open).

Here’s a then-and-now look at the building over the years:

filling-station_then-now

Related articles in The Dallas Morning News:

  • “William Loveless Dies After Illness” (DMN, June 12, 1960), obituary of the original owner, W. H. Loveless
  • “A Filling Station Which Pumps Beer” by Patty Moore (DMN, Aug. 8, 1975), the first review of the new restaurant, The Filling Station

Click photos and clippings for larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Lakewood Post Office — 1946-1976

lakewood_post-office_dmn-123045Lakewood Post Office, 6324 Prospect

by Paula Bosse

I’m often surprised to discover things about the part of Dallas I grew up in which I somehow never knew — in this case: Lakewood’s first post office, which was apparently in operation when I was a living, breathing, sentient human being but which I’d never known about until today. (I actually grew up in the nearby Lower Greenville neighborhood, but even though I went to Long and Woodrow, I don’t remember being all that aware of Lakewood proper until I was able to drive myself around it as a teenager.) Somehow I had never known that there was a post office in Lakewood before the one at Swiss and La Vista. Or, rather, I’d never even thought about it. Until I saw this ad earlier today:

lakewood_lighthouse_dmn_0425471947

“The Lighthouse — Unusual Sea Foods, Steak and Chicken — Opposite Lakewood Post Office.”

Post office? New to me. I looked it up. It was just west of Abrams, on Prospect at Kidwell, positioned diagonally across the lot. It was the 13th post office substation in Dallas, and it opened on December 2, 1946, over two years after its approval had been announced, during the war, in August, 1944.

A 1945 Dallas Morning News article had this interesting bit of information:

The contractor is Bascomb E. McClesky [sic]. The building will have 4,000 square feet of floor space. Parking space will be provided on the lot. [McCleskey] will retain title to the property and will lease it to the government, Payne said. (“Lakewood To Get Branch Post Office,” DMN, Nov. 18, 1945)

(I’m not sure I was aware developers leased property to the federal government. B. E.  McCleskey lived in the Pasadena area of Lakewood and seems to have spent his 30-year career as a general contractor who also bought, sold, and developed both commercial and residential properties in and around this part of East Dallas. When he began his career, he had an office on Gaston in the new Lakewood Shopping Center; at the time of his death in 1956, his office was right next door to the post office on land which, presumably, he still owned.)

This post office lasted for 30 years until the newer, hulkier, and far less aesthetically appealing station opened at Swiss and La Vista on May 10, 1976.

lakewood-post-office_dmn_112576_swiss.-photo
1976

Some factoids which will come in handy should you ever find yourself in a U.S. Post Office Trivial Pursuit (Lakewood Edition) competition:

  • When the first Lakewood post office opened in 1946, it employed 3 clerks, 1 supervisor, and 16 carriers.
  • When the second post office opened 30 years later, it employed 13 clerks, 2 supervisors, and 47 carriers.

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But back to the first post office — the building is still standing and houses the Times Ten Cellars wine bar! I’ve passed that building a lot over the years, but I guess I never paid much attention to it. I don’t know why, because it’s a great little  building. It would never occur to me that it might ever have been a post office. I wish more businesses in Dallas would consider repurposing older buildings rather than building characterless boxes that look like every other characterless box. Thank you, Times Ten Cellars!

times-ten-cellar_google_2015Google Street View (2015)

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That Lighthouse “unusual sea foods” restaurant? It doesn’t seem to have lasted very long. It changed hands a few times before closing as the Lighthouse Cafe at the end of 1950. At one point it was known as Phil’s Lighthouse — “Dallas’ most unique dining place where the atmosphere is: ‘Nautical But Nice.'”

phils-lighthouse_dmn_121649DMN, Dec. 16, 1949

That’s right … “NAUTICAL BUT NICE”!

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Sources & Notes

If anyone remembers the Lighthouse restaurant: was it actually shaped like a lighthouse?

Detail of a page from the 1952 Mapsco showing the location of the old post office (click for larger image):

lakewood-post office_1952-mapsco

lakewood-post-office_then-now

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Fletcher’s State Fair Drive-In — 1960-1963

fletchers-state-fair-drive-in_DHSFood-on-a-stick, open all nite (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The legendary Fletcher’s Corny Dog once had its own drive-in! You didn’t have to wait until the State Fair of Texas rolled around to get your favorite “food on a stick” fix — you just needed to head to 3610 Samuell Boulevard, across from the Tenison Golf Course.

Sadly, there was a lot of drive-in and tavern competition along Samuell back then (Keller’s was practically next door!), and the State Fair Drive-In seems to have lasted only a little over three years, from the spring of 1960 to the fall of 1963.

I’d love to see this around NOW! Come on, Fletcher’s family: bring this back!

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fletchers_dmn_051560May , 1960

fletchers_dmn_062960June, 1960

fletchers_dmn_102463_for-sale
Oct., 1963

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the Dallas Historical Society.

An article on Neil Fletcher’s new restaurant and a photo of the interior can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News: “State Fair Drive’In Fixtures Designed, Installed by Bab’s” (DMN, June 12, 1960).

After the Fletcher’s Drive-In closed, it was replaced by a Red Coleman liquor store, and was most recently a club, El Palmeras. Google Street View shows the shabby neighborhood these days, here.

3610-samuall_googleGoogle Maps

An entertaining interview with the late Neil Fletcher appeared in the Oct. 1982 issue of D Magazine, here.

A Travel Channel video focuses on the famed corny dog, here.

A previous Flashback Dallas post about that same stretch of Samuell Blvd. — “Red’s Turnpike Open-Air Dance: An East Pike/Samuell Blvd. Joint — 1946” — is here.

UPDATE: I’ve received many comments that Fletcher’s had several short-lived drive-thru restaurants which started popping up in the mid-’80s. More on the franchise plans can be read in the article “Fletcher and Firm Very Much Alive” by Donna Steph Hansard (DMN, Aug. 5, 1984).

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sivils Drive-In, An Oak Cliff Institution: 1940-1967

sivils_tichnorOak Cliff’s landmark hangout (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When J. D. Sivils (1907-1986) and his wife, Louise (1918-2006), brought their “Sivils” restaurant to Dallas in June 1940, their Houston drive-in of the same name had already been featured as a Life magazine cover story, garnering the kind of incredible national publicity that any business owner would have killed for! And all because of their carhops — “comely, uniformed lassies” whom Mrs. Sivils insisted on calling “curb girls” (which might have a slightly different connotation these days…). Life — never a magazine to overlook pretty young girls in sexy outfits — not only devoted a pictorial to the “curb girls,” they also put one of them (Josephine Powell of Houston) on the cover, wearing the Sivils’ uniform of (very, very short!) majorette’s outfit, plumed hat, and boots.

sivils_houston_life-mag_022640Feb. 26, 1940

louise-sivils_life-magazine_1940Louise Sivils and a prospective “curb girl” (Life)

Four months after the blitz of national attention the drive-in received from the Life story, Sivils came to Dallas. The drive-in was located in Oak Cliff at the intersection of West Davis and Fort Worth Avenue on “three acres of paved parking space.”

sivils-map

The day the drive-in opened, a photo of the not-yet-legendary Sivils appeared in The Dallas Morning News (see “Sivils to Open Dallas Place Thursday,” DMN, June 27, 1940). Other than this, there is surprisingly little in the pages of The News about this drive-in’s opening — surprising because it became such a huge part of the lives of Oak Cliff’s teens in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. It’s one of those places that seems to have reached almost mythic proportions on the nostalgia scale.

Sivils didn’t quietly sneak into town, though. Take a look at this very large, very expensive newspaper ad, which ran the day before West Dallas’ soon-to-be favorite hang-out opened. (Click for larger image.)

sivils_dmn_062640_lgJune 26, 1940

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Nationally Famous for Food and LIFE
SIVILS COMES TO DALLAS!

Texas’ largest drive-in
Opens tomorrow

(Thursday 3:00 PM)

You’ve heard about “Sivils”! You’ve read about “Sivils” in LIFE Magazine and you’ve seen a beautiful “Sivils Girl” on the cover of LIFE Magazine! But now Dallas has a “Sivils” all its own! Come out tomorrow. See Texas’ largest drive-in. Enjoy “Sivils” famous food and ice cold beer or soft drinks. “Sivils” special ice vault assures the coldest drinks in town!

75 Beautiful “LIFE Cover Girls” to Serve You

All Kinds of Ice Cold Beer and Soft Drinks
Juicy Jumbo Hamburgers

Fried Chicken
Tenderloin Trout Sandwiches
K.C. Steaks
Pit Barbecue
All Kinds of Salads and Cold Plates
Delicious Sandwiches
Complete Fountain Service

Sivils – “Where All Dallas Meets”
At intersection West Davis and Fort Worth Ave.
Three Acres of Paved Parking Space

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100-150 “curb girls” were employed by Sivils at any given time in those early days, and it was open 24 hours a day. The place was hopping. Sounds fantastic. Wish I’d seen it.

sivils_matchbook_coltera-flickrvia Flickr

sivils_carhop_postcard_ebay
eBay

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Sources & Notes

Top postcard from the Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection on Flickr, here.

Read the 4-page Life article (and see several photos of the Houston “curb girls”) here (use the magnifying glass icon at the top left to increase the size of the page).

Interesting quote from that article:“They work in 7½-hour shifts, six days a week, for which they get no pay but average $5 a day in tips.” Doesn’t sound legal…. (The Inflation Calculator tells us that $5 in 1940 money is equivalent to just over $83 in today’s money.)

Sivils closed in 1967, possibly because Mr. and Mrs. Sivils wanted to retire, but it seems more likely that Oak Cliff’s being a dry area of Dallas since the 1950s was killing its business. Check out the News article “Big Head Expected as Oak Cliff Beer Issue Foams” by Kent Biffle (DMN, Aug. 17, 1966) which appeared just months before another election in which the “drys” outvoted the “wets.” (More on Oak Cliff’s crazy wet-dry issues, here.)

J. D. Sivils was interviewed in a short documentary about Dallas carhops, filmed in the early 1970s. In it, he talks about the early days of Sivils and — best of all — there is film footage galore of the drive-in from his collection. Watch it in my previous post — “‘Carhops’ — A Short Documentary, ca. 1974” — here. (Below a screenshot of Sivils from the film.)

sivils-carhops-film

Read the article “Carhops, Curb Service, and the Pig Sandwich” by Michael Karl Witzel (Texas Highways, Oct. 2006) in a PDF, here (increase size of article with controls at top of page).

Another Flashback Dallas post on drive-in culture — “Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940” — is here.

sivils_dmn_062640-det

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Carhops” — A Short Documentary, ca. 1974

carhops_titleSchlitz on its way…

by Paula Bosse

The carhop is an oddly American invention — and it began here in Dallas in the 1920s, with boys and young men serving customers in cars at J. G. Kirby’s Pig Stand drive-in restaurants. In 1940, Sivils hit Dallas, but this time with young women as servers — young women in skimpy outfits. There was no looking back — from then on, pretty girls showing a lot of leg and hoping for big tips carried trays of food, soft drinks, and beer to cars full of waiting customers.

One of the few remaining “old school” drive-ins is Keller’s, on Northwest Highway, still doing good business today. Around 1974 or 1975, SMU film teacher Pat Korman made a short documentary about Dallas carhops past and present (perhaps as the result of reading a Dallas Morning News article by Rena Pederson — reproduced below). He interviewed B. J. Kirby (owner of Kirby’s steakhouse on Lower Greenville and son of Jesse Kirby, founder of the Pig Stand pig-sandwich empire), J. D. Sivils (owner of Sivils drive-ins, who, along with his wife, was an important figure in the evolution of curb-side dining), and Jack Keller (owner of Keller’s Hamburgers). The three businessmen reminisce about the early days of drive-in restaurants in Dallas as a lot of cool historical film footage unspools and photographs from the ’20s to the ’50s are flashed on the screen. Also interviewed are four women carhops who were working at Keller’s at the time, talking about their jobs.

It’s cool. Big cotton-candy hair, accents you wish were still around, and cans and cases of Schlitz, Schlitz, Schlitz.

The 14-minute film is in two parts on YouTube. Here is the first part:

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And here is the second part:

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Below, screenshots of the interviewees (click pictures for larger images).

sandy-carhopsSandy

shirley-carhopsShirley (as of Jan. 2015, she’s been a fixture at Keller’s for 50 years!)

rita-carhopsRita

nancy-carhopsNancy

kirby_carhopsB. J. Kirby

sivils-carhopsJ. D. Sivils

keller-carhopsJack Keller

kellers-menu-board_carhopsNo. 5 — 80¢

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Sources & Notes

“Carhops” — filmed sometime in the early ’70s — was directed by Patrick Korman, shot by Ron Judkins, and produced by Don Pasquella. It premiered at Jesuit High School in April, 1976. The film is on YouTube in two parts, here and here. (By the way, if you look at the YouTube comments under part two, you’ll see a comment from Sandy herself. She’s still looking good in the avatar photo.) (The music at the beginning and end of the film is great! I’m pretty sure it’s the legendary steel guitarist Ralph Mooney and the equally legendary guitarist James Burton; I love those guys! Listen to the album they did together, here.)

Rena Pederson is thanked in the credits. She wrote an article in The Dallas Morning News called “Carhops Fading, Those Were the Days” (Aug. 25, 1974) in which she interviewed many of the same people seen in the film.

The Keller’s Northwest Highway location celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Shirley — one of the carhops featured in the film — has worked there since it opened in 1965. As of Jan. 2015, she was still there! Go by and see her! Check out a Lakewood Advocate story on Shirley, here.

Also, take a look at a Dallas Morning News article on Keller’s 50th anniversary, here — scroll down to the slideshow to check out some great photos from its early days.

Read about sexy male carhops who plied their trade in skimpy outfits — a short-lived fad in Dallas inspired by the success of drive-ins like Sivils — in my previous post “Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940,” here.

All pictures larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Not Dead Yet at McKinney & Routh

ad-funeral-home_mckinney-routh_directory-1929-detA fleet of Cadillacs in front of 2533 McKinney Ave. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows a truly beautiful, Spanish-style building that was built in 1927 at the northwest corner of McKinney Avenue and Routh Street. The view shows the Routh Street side. The person who took this photograph would have been standing across the street on the property of the dearly-departed McKinney Avenue Baptist Church (most recently transformed into the Hard Rock Cafe). You might be surprised to learn that the building in this photo still stands, and it’s mostly recognizable almost 90 years later.

The Community Chapel Funeral Home (yes, a funeral home!) was designed by noted architect Clarence C. Bulger (whose father, C. W. Bulger, designed, among other things, the Praetorian Building downtown AND the just-mentioned McKinney Avenue Baptist Church which was right across the street).

ad-funeral-home_mckinney-routh_directory-1929City directory, 1929

In addition to the funeral home portion (reception area, business office, show rooms, “operating room” (!), chapel with seating for 100, and the euphemistically named “slumber room”), the building also contained a residence for the chief mortician and his embalmer wife, an apartment for the ambulance/hearse drivers, and a “pavilion for recreation of employees.” The building and its beautifully-appointed interior cost in excess of $100,000 (which the Inflation Calculator estimates is the equivalent of more than $13 million today!).

Also, an “oxygen plant” was somewhere on the grounds. I’ve never heard of an oxygen plant, but they seem to be a mortuary thing. Let’s hope recently-bereaved smokers were kept at a safe distance from all that highly flammable oxygen, because the company had a bunch of promotional matchbooks printed up, and I can only imagine they were readily available in tastefully-arranged candy dishes of every room of the establishment. And in those days, one didn’t necessarily step outside to smoke one’s anxiety away.

weever-funeral-home_fkickr1

weever-funeral-home_fkickr2

The funeral home at 2533 McKinney Avenue lasted almost thirty years. Sometime in the mid-’50s it was renovated into office and retail space (classified ads mentioned 2-, 3-, and 4-office suites). That lovely interior must have been hacked up pretty bad. An early tenant was the Bankers Securities Corporation, shown below in a newspaper ad from 1956 (someone made some poor choices on that renovation of the exterior). (This view shows an entrance from McKinney rather than Routh.)

bankers-securities_dmn_012256-photoAd detail, Jan., 1956

For the next 40-odd years, 2533 McKinney Avenue was home to a variety of insurance agents, a fur salon, several companies that advertised in the classifieds for vague “salesmen” positions (one company did specify that it was looking for encyclopedia salesmen in 1963), art galleries, architect/design businesses, offices of “El Sol de Texas” (“the only Spanish-language newspaper in North Texas”), and antique shops.

It all turned around, though, when the long-suffering building was re-renovated and became a restaurant space. Since at least 1999 when Uptown began to explode, it’s been home to bistros, cafes, and upscale eateries. The photos below show some of the restaurants that have set up shop there, and if you know what you’re looking at, the place really does look very similar to C. C. Bulger’s design from almost 90 years ago.

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paris-bistrot_2001Le Paris Bistrot opened in 1999. The owner changed the name to Figaro Cafe in 2004 when the U.S. was going through an anti-French phase.

urbano_city-dataUrbano Paninoteca opened in 2007. Something called Split Peas Soup Cafe opened in 2009.

sfuzzi_scrumpliciousfood_sm

sfuzzi_yelpThen Sfuzzi opened with a big splash in 2010. (It had been a McKinney Avenue staple in the 1980s and ’90s, closed, and came back in 2010.) The first photo shows the Routh Street entrance, the second photo shows the McKinney entrance.

fat-rabbit_googleAnd now it’s the Fat Rabbit, which opened earlier this year. Let’s hope they get some landscaping in there STAT! (UPDATE: Fat Rabbit is now an ex-rabbit, and after spending some time of his own in the “slumber room,” he has joined the choir invisible. Next!)

And let’s hope that those tiled roofs and stuccoed walls remain a distinctive part of its future. I love the fact that it still looks a lot like it once did. And I actually like the fact that restaurants have been operating out of an old funeral home for over 15 years. Restaurateurs might be hesitant to publicize the building’s past (although I’m pretty sure most of them have been completely unaware of what the place used to be), but modern-day Harolds and Maudes might be giddy at the prospect of an unusual dining option and move this place right to the top of their date-night list. 

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is a detail of the ad that appeared in the 1929 Dallas city directory. It shows four Cadillacs — a hearse, 5- and 7- passenger sedans, and an ambulance (“purchased from the Prather Cadillac Company”).

Matchbook artwork from Flickr, here.

The first Sfuzzi photo is from the food blog Scrumplicious Food, here. A GIGANTIC version of the photo can be seen here — you can look at all the details. Second photo of Sfuzzi from Yelp.

Fat Rabbit image from Google street view.

Sources of all other clippings and photos as noted.

Some images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Carhops as Sex Symbols — 1940

male-car-hops_AP_1940“At your service, ma’am” (click for larger image) AP Photo

by Paula Bosse

In 1940, Dallas was in a tizzy about the sudden fad of scantily-clad “girl carhops.” This scourge had made its way to Dallas from Houston (brought to Oak Cliff by the enterprising husband and wife team behind Sivils Drive-In), and in April of 1940, it was a newspaper story with, as it were … legs. For a good month or two, stories of sexy carhops were everywhere.

The girls started wearing uniforms with very short skirts — or midriff-baring costumes with cellophane hula skirts. Some of the women reported an increase in tips of $25 or more a week — a ton of money for the time.

The public’s reaction ranged from amusement to outrage. There were reports of community matrons who reported the “indecent” attire to the police department and demanded action. Other women were annoyed by the objectification of young womanhood. Lawmakers in Austin discussed whether the practice of waitresses exposing so much extra skin posed a health risk to consumers.

But it wasn’t until a woman from Oak Cliff piped up that something actually happened. She complained that she didn’t want to look at girls’ legs when she stopped in at her local drive-in — she wanted to look at men’s legs. Drive-in owners thought that was a GREAT idea, and the idea of the scantily-clad male carhop was born.

carhops_FWST_042840Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Apr. 28, 1940 

One might think that the woman behind this “equal ogling” campaign was sort of proto-feminist, until you get to the part where she said that the whole girl carhop thing was “wrong socially and economically and should not be tolerated” (DMN, Apr. 27, 1940) — not because of the skin flashed, but because men needed jobs, not girls. And that also raised hackles. Two married women who had been carhops wrote to the Dallas News to speak up for these girls and women who were “at least coming nearer to making a living wage than at any other time of their existence. […] The girl carhops are either supporting their family or sharing the expenses. […] Why all the storm about a leg? It is nothing more than you see at a movie and a vaudeville” (DMN, May 5, 1940).

The photo at the top ran in newspapers around the country with the headline: “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand.”

First large roadside stand Friday to bow to the demand of Dallas women and feature husky young male carhops in shorts was the Log Lodge Tavern at Lemmon and Midway where four six-footers found jobs. Above, in blue shorts, white sweatshirt and cowboy boots, Joe Wilcox serves Pauline Taylor who smiles her approval of the idea. Bound for another car is James Smith, at right.

April, 1940 must have been a slow news month, because this story really got around (click to see a larger image).

sexy-carhops_corsicana-daily-sun_042740Corsicana Daily Sun, April 27, 1940

One intrepid reporter even tracked down a Texas Ranger (!) to ask his opinion, to which the Ranger replied, “…letting those roadside glamor boys wear boots is nothing more than a slam at the state. People think of booted Texans as men, not as fancy-panted carhops.” The whole article, below, is pretty amusing.

sexy-carhops_anniston-AL-star_042840Anniston (AL) Star, April 28, 1940

There were other male carhops around town, some not quite so hunky. This guy — game as he was — really needed to reconsider his outfit.

carhops_xenia-ohio-daily-gazette_050340Xenia (Ohio) Daily Gazette, May 3, 1940

But back to the female carhops and their siren-like hold over their male customers. This was, by far, the best story to hit the wires:

sexy-carhops_waxahachie-daily-light_071640
Waxahachie Daily Light,  July 16, 1940

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Sources & Notes

Top image from the Associated Press, 1940. 

The Log Lodge Tavern was located at 7334 Lemmon Avenue, which was across from Love Field and adjacent to the Log Lodge Tourist Court. It was located approximately where the red circle is below, on a page from the 1952 Mapsco (click for larger image).

lemmon-ave_mapsco-1952

Check out these related articles from The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Skimpiest Costumes Bring Biggest Wages” (DMN, April 24, 1940)
  • “Women To Fight Girl Carhops; Slogan: Let Us See Men’s Legs” (DMN, April 26, 1940)
  • “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand” (DMN, April 27, 1940)
  • “Word For Carhops Grass Skirts And All” (letter to the editor) (DMN, May 5, 1940)
  • “Went Crazy Over Car Hops, Wife Says of Fugitive” (DMN, July 16, 1940)

UPDATE: This has been a weirdly popular post — it’s gotten a few thousand hits and even resulted in a short radio interview on Dallas’ public radio station, KERA. I don’t really add anything new to this story, but if you’d like to listen to the interview conducted by Justin Martin, it is here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Luncheon at The Zodiac Room, Darling

zodiac-room_smFood, fashion, & the unmistakable whiff of Old Money (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Two cool and sophisticated postcards from the cool and sophisticated Neiman-Marcus (although it’s debatable whether the truly cool and sophisticated N-M shopper would, in fact, mail anyone something as bourgeois as a postcard of a department store, Neiman-Marcus or not). Perhaps these were done up for the sizable tourist trade. I love these cards. Commercial art of this period is wonderful.

The description on the back reads: “One of the great dining spots of the Southwest … N-M’s famed ZODIAC ROOM. The superlative food specialties of Director Helen Corbitt and her staff are enjoyed during modeling of fashions a la Neiman-Marcus at luncheon and dinner. Also, tea served daily.”

Below, the Carriage Entrance:

neimans_postcard_c1950s-carriage-entrance-sm(click for larger image)

The description: “‘The Carriage Entrance’ — famous passageway into one of the world’s great specialty stores.”

And another (I’d love to see the whole series of these postcards.) Sadly, no description on this one, featuring a fashionable escalator.

n-m_escalator_pinterest

I fear I shall never reach the level of swan-like sophistication needed to become an habitué of The Zodiac Room. Tant pis.

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I have no idea where these postcards came from. I’m not sure of the date, either, but … “1950s”? Maybe very early 1960s? Let’s go with “Mid-Century” — everyone loves that! Whenever this was, this was a period when fashion was chic and fabulous. As was Neiman-Marcus. (I still miss that hypen!)

Need to make a reservation at The Zodiac? Info is here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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