Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Air Travel

JFK’s “Last Hour In Dallas” — 1963


by Paula Bosse

How is a city supposed to respond when it is suddenly plunged into the international spotlight? Does it grieve and try to forget, or does it grieve and capitalize? Dallas has had over 50 years to deal with/come to terms with the assassination of President Kennedy, but sometimes it seems as if the City of Dallas is still shell-shocked and isn’t quite sure how to acknowledge it on an official level. Let’s face it, Dallas is known to the rest of the world for one thing: the Kennedy assassination (and perhaps the TV show, and maybe the Cowboys). Yes, we have the justly-renowned Sixth Floor Museum, but it took 26 years to open it!

The cottage industry that sprang up in the wake of the Kennedy assassination has been big business for decades, some of it generated by people who live in Dallas, but most of it by people who have probably never even been to Texas. Since 1963, the “assassination literature” (…and, yes, it’s called that) has mushroomed, with local contributions coming from Dallasites whose brush with the President before, during, or after the events of November 22, 1963 have probably been pored over by numerous people either trying to understand why what happened happened or by people searching for hidden conspiracy clues to explain what really happened.

One local resident who added to the assassination literature was John E. Miller who took photos of the arrival of President and Mrs. Kennedy at Love Field and then apparently hot-footed it over to Parkland when the news of the shooting broke. These photos were issued as postcards in 1964 in a packet of 12. (Click pictures for larger images.)

JFK_envelope_frontAbove, the front of the envelope containing the cards; on the back: “A Real Picture Treat For Years To Come.”

JFK_card_01From the back of the card: “No. 1, Arrival of President’s Escort Plane at Love Field, Dallas, Texas.”

JFK_card_02“No. 2, Presidential and Escort Planes at Dallas’ Love Field landed shortly after this picture was taken.”

JFK_card_03“No. 3, President John F. Kennedy and party leaving airplane at Love Field. (Mrs. Kennedy — pink hat.)”

(UPDATE: The two little girls in the photos above and below are most likely Carolyn Jacquess, in blue, and Debby Massie, in red. Their little group arrived at the airport before the president’s plane arrived, walked through the terminal and out onto the tarmac, right to where the plane taxied up to the small crowd of about 100 people. Just like that. There was no special invitation, and, other than the chain-link fence, no real security.)

JFK_card_04“No. 4, President John F. Kennedy and Party in foreground at Dallas’ Love Field.”

JFK_card_05“No. 5, Vice-President Johnson, Governor Connally, Mrs. Kennedy (pink hat), other members of party at Dallas Love Field.”

JFK_card_06“No. 6, Vice-President Johnson, Governor Connally, Presidential Party and Newspaper Men, Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_07“No. 7, Forming of Presidential Parade, Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_08“No. 8, After Assassination, TV Unit arrives at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.”

JFK_card_09“No. 9, Blood Bank Unit at Parkland Hospital on fatal day. Dallas, Texas.”

JFK_card_10“No. 10, Hearse carrying President John F. Kennedy’s body and Mrs. Kennedy from Parkland Hospital back to airplane at Love Field, Dallas.”

JFK_card_11“No. 11, Presidential plane awaiting President Kennedy’s body, Vice-President Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy, for return to Washington, D.C. (Note Presidential seal.)”

JFK_card_12“No. 12, Texas School Book Depository building from which authorities believe fatal shots were fired. (Note second window down on right corner of building.)”


Photos and captions © John E. Miller 1964, 3500 W. Davis, Dallas, Texas 75211. (Mr. Miller was a Dallas businessman who sold motor homes and trailers in Oak Cliff between 1945 and 1976. A photo of Mr. Miller is here).

Many thanks to “amyfromdallas” for scanning and contributing the images in this post. Thanks, Amy!

For other Flashback Dallas JFK-related posts, see here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lucy, Desi, Dallas — 1956

lucy-desi_fw_bellaircraftLucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and their loaner ‘copter from Bell Aircraft

by Paula Bosse

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz came to Dallas and Fort Worth in 1956 to promote their new movie, “Forever Darling.” Their arrival times were heavily publicized, and throngs of fans showed up to welcome them — in Dallas at Love Field, and in Fort Worth at the Western Hills Hotel. For those who might have missed their arrivals, they still had a chance to see the couple at one of the personal appearances scheduled at the theaters showing their movie (in Dallas at the Majestic on February 10th, and in Fort Worth at the Hollywood on the 11th). Crowds were large and enthusiastic, and everyone appears to have had a genuinely fun time, possibly even Lucy and Desi, whose relationship in those days was frequently a bit shaky.

Best of all was the tidbit about how the famous couple traveled from Dallas to Fort Worth: by helicopter.

Two television stars will be sailing around above Dallas skyscrapers Saturday. …Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz will catch a helicopter ride from atop the Statler Hilton for a trip to Fort Worth. City Council officially sanctioned the ride at its Monday meeting. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 7, 1956)

They left from the helipad atop the Statler Hilton and touched down at the helipad at the Western Hills Hotel in Fort Worth (hotels are nothing without helipads). There was some sort of cordial relationship between the Arnazes and the people at Bell Aircraft, because they availed themselves of this brand new deluxe chopper in New York as well as in DFW. When their promotional duties were finished, Lucy and Desi left Cowtown for California as guests of the president of the Santa Fe Railway — in his private car. Because that’s how you travel if you’re Hollywood royalty.


lucy-desi_dmn_020856-detFeb 8, 1956

lucy-desi_dmn_021156-photolucy-desi_dmn_021156-captionDMN, Feb. 11, 1956

(Leon Craker, I bet you had a great story about this for years after this momentous meeting.) 


In Fort Worth, Elston Brooks (whose amusing articles I’ve really enjoyed discovering these past few months), seemed underwhelmed and a little annoyed at the prospect of  “lovable Lucy and spouse” invading the city (click articles to see larger images):

lucy-desi_FWST_020556Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 5, 1956

Elson Brooks may not have been very excited, but when Lucy and Desi stepped out of that helicopter, the Fort Worth crowd went wild (click text for larger image):



lucy-desi_FWST_021256bFWST, Feb. 12, 1956


And here they are back in Los Angeles, with Desi Jr., at the end of a busy promotional tour. Desi is proudly wearing the cowboy hat he’d been given in Fort Worth. And he looks damn good in it.



Sources & Notes

Top photo of Lucy and Desi standing next to the 1956 Bell 47H-1 (“one of the world’s first executive helicopters”) is from the August 2012 issue of Vintage Aircraft Magazine; photo from Bell Aircraft. The article concerning this helicopter model is contained in a PDF here.

The bottom photo is from a Pinterest page, here.

UPDATE: I had originally identified the photo of Lucy and Desi with the train as having probably been taken in Fort Worth as they were about to depart for Hollywood, mainly because they’re wearing similar clothing from the FW appearance, but a rail historian noted that this photo was actually taken in California at the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal — he could tell because he recognized the part of the platform structure over their heads! (“I can name that song in TWO notes!”) The photo he directed me which shows the LAUPT platform (and, in fact, the same engine, two years earlier!), is here. They probably took the final photo for the Santa Fe company as thanks for providing them with transportation back home in the president’s private car. (Thanks, Skip!)


And because today is Lucille Ball’s birthday (which I know only because she shares a birthday with my aunt — happy birthday, Bettye Jo!), it seems like a good time to wheel out this strikingly beautiful portrait of Lucy, along with a wonderful photograph of her from about the same time (probably between 1928 and 1930).




Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Swooning Over Love Field — 1940

love-field_1940Art Deco Love Field!

by Paula Bosse

I’m a huge-fan of the modern 1950s-era Love Field (the one with the Mockingbird Lane entrance), but even that can’t trump this fantastic building! Designed by architect Thomas D. Broad, the new Love Field administration building and terminal — which faced Lemmon Avenue — was unveiled on October 6, 1940, to rapturous acclaim. The night view above is pretty breathtaking. Forget the airfield. For me, it’s all about this entrance. Those windows. And those doors. And that font! And those little airplane pictographs!

love-field_terminal_1940It wasn’t bad in the daytime, either — just nowhere near as dramatic. And in dire need of landscaping.

love-field_ca1940_frontAnd here it is from the field side. Still swoon-worthy. The back of this postcard reads:

One of America’s finest air terminals which takes care of more airline passengers, more air mail and more air express in ratio to population than any other airport in the country.


What happened to this beautiful building? I searched through the Dallas Morning News archives until I felt I had to throw in the towel, never finding a definitive answer. But here’s what I did find. When the brand-spanking-new terminal (the one we know today) opened in 1958, the 1940 terminal was vacated. A better word might be “abandoned.” Most assumed the building would be razed very soon after. But I got as far as September of 1964, and the old terminal was still standing. And it wasn’t pretty. This excerpt from a Dallas Morning News article is painful to read:

…The old terminal building cowers in desolation…. Virtually every window has been smashed, carpeting the deserted terminal with a dangerous floor of broken glass. Loose wires stick out here and there, and blinds hang in twisted postures from broken cords. The building’s big sign DALLLAS is missing its D. (DMN, July 2, 1961)

(And even more thoroughly painful is the article in the Dallas News archives by Kent Biffle, “Ghosts Wait by Runway” — DMN, Feb. 2, 1961.)

Apparently, the old building had to remain standing until a new “much-debated” new multi-million-dollar runway was agreed upon.

The point at which I threw in the towel in my quest to discover when the old terminal building had been demolished was a DMN photo from September 25, 1964, with the caption “$4,000,000-Plus Runway Progress. The 8,800-foot parallel runway at Dallas Love Field, left center, is two-thirds completed and should be ready for use next spring.” I am assured the photo has a hard-to-see old terminal still decaying in it. I assume they razed that sucker pretty soon afterward. …Possibly.


Sources & Notes

Top photo from the post “The New Love Field” by Jacob Haynes, here.

Click pictures for larger images — the first two are HUGE!


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Braniff DC-3 Over Downtown — 1940


by Paula Bosse

Unless there was some sort of photo manipulation involved, that photographer pretty much had just one chance to get that shot. And he got it.


Photo from Image Archives USA, available for purchase here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Braniff Hangar, Love Field — 1940s

by Paula Bosse

Overnight maintenance. Beautiful sign.

Photo description: “Night maintenance at the Braniff hangar, main entrance on Roanoke Drive at Dallas Love Field, early 1940s. Planes being serviced include a DC-2 and DC-3.”

Click picture for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From Deep in the Heart of Texas, I Give You Love Field — 1919

Love is in the air (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s Valentine’s Day — a perfect time to turn to Love Field (…which, like “Lovers Lane,” must sound a little cutesy to outsiders). The above image shows the letterhead of the U.S. Army Air Service Flying School Detachment, a consolidation of World War I squadrons based at Love Field from November 1918 to November 1919.

One of the young pilots stationed there wrote a four-page letter on this stationery. The letter, dated March 11, 1919, was addressed to Miss Mabel Anderson in Petersburg, Pennsylvania. They seem to have begun a sort of pen-pal correspondence, and he is certainly very happy to have received a letter from her. (“Your wellcome [sic] letter was at hand today. Am delighted to answer at once.”) He asks if she would send him a photograph and tells her he’d like to meet her. He says that he is hopeful that, the war finally over, he will be discharged at the end of the month — he thinks he will be because, “I am allways [sic] lucky.”

This is an item for sale on eBay, and only the first page is scanned, so the identity of the author of the letter will remain unknown to those of us merely browsing an auction listing, interested but unwilling to cough up the cash to buy it and read any further. I wonder what happened? If he wanted to meet her, then perhaps he, too, was from Pennsylvania — they might have met when he arrived back home. He certainly sounds excited and hopeful and flirtatious, and he should, because not only was he “allways lucky,” but the long war had finally ended and he was headed home with his whole life ahead of him. Where’s Paul Harvey to tell us the rest of the story?

Happy Valentine’s Day!


This four-page letter on Love Field letterhead was recently up for auction on eBay, with the following description: “Letter from airman to a young girl asking for her picture and wanting to meet her. Very early US Army Air Service stationery from Love Field in Dallas Texas. Just after the end of WWI. Scarce Item.”

Here is the first page, with a transcription (spelling corrected) below (click to see a larger image).


Miss Mabel Anderson
Petersburg, Pa.

Dear friend,

Your welcome letter was at hand today. Am delighted to answer at once.

First of all I must tell you the good news. All but 65 men are going to get their discharges the last of the month. I may be lucky and get mine this time. Of course I am not sure of mine because the married men and men with dependents go first. That will leave about 200 men, for the 65 men to be picked from. I am in that bunch, so it will only be luck if I make it ok. I am always lucky. I am happy anyway. I am too happy to be able to think about anything nice to write about.

I sure was surprised to receive such a nice letter from you. You are a very good writer. I am ashamed to let you know what kind of a handwriting I have, but as you asked me to write my letter in place of printing [it], I will do so.


Here are two stories about how the airmen stationed at Love Field responded to the announcement that all flying would cease at noon on March 10, 1919 before demobilization began. It sounds like something from a movie: a sky full of something like 30 airplanes looping and “skylarking,” their pilots celebrating their fast-approaching military discharge by flying their favorite “machines” for the last time.

love-field_galveston-news_031119Galveston News, March 11, 1919

love-field_dmn_031119Dallas Morning News, March 11, 1919 (click for larger image)


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Delta Air Lines’ First Passenger Flight — 1929

by Paula Bosse

Delta Air Lines has had a longer — and more important — association with Dallas than you might think. On June 17, 1929, Delta made its first-ever passenger flight, from Dallas to Jackson, Mississippi via Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana. According to the Love Field website, “Early flights operated from a passenger terminal near Bachman Lake, which later served as Southwest Airlines’ first headquarters building.” On that first flight, the five passengers sat in wicker chairs and could roll down windows (!) for needed ventilation. The flight took five hours. One of the first ads, from the Delta Flight Museum page, looked like this:

Delta passenger service ad ca. September 1929.

Forty-some-odd years later, the ads — and Dallas — got a bit more sophisticated.


delta_dallas_fredric-sweney_playing-cardsArtist: Fredric Sweney

And we can’t leave out Cowtown!



UPDATE, June 20, 2017: This almost-three-year-old post got a TON of hits yesterday, and I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, though, I tracked it down: it had to do with yesterday’s Final Jeopardy question (or is it “answer”?):


Nice to see that Jeopardy is incorporating Dallas history into the show!


Top travel poster — showing Fort Worth in the distance, I guess? — by Jack Laycox.

For a really well-researched article by Timothy Harper describing that first flight, click here (the Dallas bit is contained in the last seven paragraphs).


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: