by Paula Bosse
Labor Day in 1952 was on Sept. 1. The people in the photo above were waiting for buses to whisk them away for a nice end-of-summer Labor Day holiday. They were in the Union Bus Depot in the Interurban Building (downtown, at Jackson and Browder). They were probably waiting for a Continental Trailways bus. (While waiting, they might have availed themselves of merchandise at the Sigler’s Jewelry & Optical Co., seen in the background. This was their downtown location — I wrote about their main store at Peak and Elm here.)
So what was going on in Dallas on Labor Day in 1952? Well, it was hot. Real hot. (It’s always hot.) (ALWAYS!) It was 102°, and it was very dry and very windy. Grassfires were popping up everywhere — there were 30 fires that day!
There were, of course, Labor Day picnics. The largest was for members of the UAW-CIO — the crowd of union members and their families was estimated at 5,200 and was held on ranchland (the D & L Ranch) west of Grapevine. There were also hundreds of AFL plumbers and carpenters at a picnic at Vickery Park on Greenville Avenue. 6,000 Dallasites took advantage of the city’s swimming pools on the last they were open. And then there were 500 people who waved off the whole “outdoor” thing and spent the day skating at the chilly Fair Park ice rink.
The movie “Jumping Jacks,” starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, was playing at the Majestic, and “Merry Widow,” starring Lana Turner, was at the Palace. Kay Thompson, the singer (and creator of the Eloise children’s books) was opening at the Adolphus Hotel’s Century Room. And there was a square-dancing contest on the Fair Park midway.
It was a bad day, however, for a motorist who indulged in one too many Labor Day adult beverages. The guy zig-zagged in and out of traffic on the Houston Street viaduct, hit a curb, and then swerved back into traffic. He was stopped by one of the cars he had whipped around. Unfortunately for the tipsy driver, the man who stopped him was Sheriff Bill Decker. Bet he’d wished he gotten out of town, along with all those sweaty travelers seen above waiting at the Union Bus Depot.
I was unaware of the Union Bus Depot until researching this post. It was established around the time when the Dallas-Fort Worth Interurban ceased operation on Christmas Eve, 1934 (the line from Dallas to Waco and Denison kept going a while longer). Suddenly the Interurban terminal at Jackson and Browder streets was going to be sorely underused, so it was decided to make it a great big bus depot. Most of the major bus companies serving Dallas (except for Greyhound, which had it own terminal) used the Interurban Building terminal as a shared depot.
Sources & Notes
Photo, titled “Labor Day Weekend crowd at the Union Bus Depot” (Aug. 31, 1952), is from the Hayes Collection, Dallas Public Library Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library; Call Number PA76-1/11420.
From the Dallas Morning News archives:
- “Outings on Labor Day Lack Only In Oratory” by Frank X. Tolbert (DMN, Sept. 2, 1952)
- “Last 24 Hours in Dallas” by Lorrie Brooks (DMN, Sept. 2, 1953)
- “Grassland Areas Hit By Flames” (DMN, Sept. 2, 1952)
- “Negotiations For Union Bus and Interurban Terminal Are Under Way By Electric Lines” (DMN, Oct. 25, 1934)
- “Electric Line Station To Be Bus Terminal” (DMN, Dec. 1, 1934)
More on Labor Day in Dallas can be found in the Flashback Dallas Post “Labor Day Parade — 1911.”
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