Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Other

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-1

Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-5

Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-2

Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-3

And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-6

Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

magnolia-petroleum-station_manufacturers-record_121422_ad-det

Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

magnolia-petroleum-station_KLIF-bldg_dallas-public-library_crop

And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

KLIF_color

This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

magnolia-filling-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Caterpillars On the Job at Ross and Market — 1922

caterpillar-ad_1922_photo
Roadwork in the warehouse district…

by Paula Bosse

I’ve loved vintage and historical advertisements since I was a child. Since becoming more focused on Dallas history, I’m always excited to find old ads with photos of recognizable Dallas locations, like the one below for Caterpillar tractors, which was printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1922. (Click to see a larger image and read the rousing tribute given to these “motorized outfits” by City Engineer George D. Fairtrace.)

caterpillar-ad_1922

The photo shows a Dallas street maintenance crew grading Ross Avenue at the intersection of N. Market in 1922 (see the current Google Street View here). Every building seen in the photo is still standing in the Historic West End:

  • Southwest General Electric Co., 1701 N. Market (it was later occupied by the Higginbotham-Pearlstone Hardware Co.)
  • Federal Glass & Paint Co., 1709 N. Market
  • Fairbanks, Morse & Co., 1713 N. Market
  • Texas Ice & Cold Storage (partially visible at the right), 701 Ross (until recent years the long-time home of The Palm restaurant; in 1922 it was, I believe, a brand new building)

dec-2016_googleGoogle Street View, 2016

ross-and-market_bing-streetside-view_2015Bing Streetside, 2015

Thank you, Caterpillar ad!

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Sources & Notes

1922 Caterpillar ad found on eBay, here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Paving Matilda — 1971

milazzo_album_matilda_1971_3_120“Matilda gets a concrete face”… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A couple of days ago I wrote about the history of Matilda Street in regard to its role as a railway for the Sherman-Denison interurban and the Belmont streetcar line. I noted that I had childhood memories from the 1970s of Matilda being a dirt street — which seems hard to believe these days since it carries a fair amount of traffic and is generally a quicker drive than Greenville Avenue, one block west. 

In response, one of the many Milazzo siblings (whom I remember not as individuals but as one large flock of children who regularly accompanied their parents to visit my father’s bookstore in the 1970s and ’80s) sent me some photos from a family album showing, yes, Matilda Street being paved! They lived in the 5700 block of Goodwin, and the photos were taken in 1971, from their yard, looking east across Matilda.

The streetcar tracks were abandoned in 1955 but were not removed — it took a full sixteen years for them to be paved over! Before that? Dirt street. If you look closely at the Google Street View capture from Oct. 2017, you can see the old rails peeking through.

Below are three photos from the Milazzo’s family album showing the Matilda “street improvements.” The construction vehicle seen in the first two photos is pretty weird-looking — like a cross between a locomotive and a tank. In fact, at first I thought the thing was actually running on the rails it was working to pave over, until I saw that what I had thought were train wheels look more like tank treads. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like something you’d expect to see on a residential street in the 1970s. In the third photo, you can see part of Robert E. Lee Elementary School at the left. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

matilda_milazzo_1971_a_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_b_120

matilda_milazzo_1971_c_120

Thank you, Milazzo family!

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Sources & Notes

Photos from the collection of the Milazzo family, used with permission. The third photo shows a date-stamp of April, 1971.

The related Flashback Dallas post “Ghost Rails of the Belmont Streetcar Line” is here.

All photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

San Antonio Extra: The Texas Transportation Co. and the Pearl Brewery Electric Freight Trolley

texas-transportation-co_cook-coll_degolyer_smu_san-antonioT. T. Co. No. 1, at your service… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I come across a lot of interesting Texas photos that have nothing to do with Dallas, so I think I might, on occasion, post them here, knowing that someone else is also likely to find them interesting. Like the one above.

This photo is from the incredible gift that just keeps giving, the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, held by the DeGolyer Library at SMU. Most of the items in the collection have a Dallas connection, but there are several others of general Texas interest.

When I saw this photo I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like an electric trolley, but I’d never seen a shape like that before. It turns out it was, indeed, an electric freight locomotive. It was one of two locomotives that belonged to the Texas Transportation Co.’s tiny fleet of two — this was engine No. 1. The T.T.C. operated a freight service on their very short 1.3-mile track for 113 years (1887-2000), serving primarily the Pearl and Lone Star breweries of San Antonio, running freight to and from the breweries and the Southern Pacific rail yard. (More at Wikipedia, here.)

Here’s a later photo of the locomotive (October, 1928), now emblazoned with the Pearl Beer logo.

texas-transportation-co_1928_denver-public-library

As hard as it is to believe, this electric freight trolley ran along the streets of San Antonio until the year 2000, when it became a victim of the Pabst Brewing Company’s acquisition and shuttering of the Pearl Brewery. Without the brewery, there was no need for the trolley to continue to run. A month before it stopped running, a man shot video footage of the locomotive(s) trundling through San Antonio. I particularly liked seeing the locos push freight cars as well as pull them (seen at about the 12:50 mark). (Read the notes of the man who shot the video on the YouTube page under “Show More.”)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “T. T. Co. No. 1. Texas Transportation Co.” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist Unviersity; more information about this photo can be found here.

Second photo — titled “Texas Transportation Co. locomotive, engine number 1, engine type Electric” — is from the Otto C. Perry Memorial Collection of Railroad Photographs, Western History Department, Denver Public Library; more information on this photo can be found here.

A great short, illustrated history of the Texas Transportation Co. and the various locomotives that ran on its rails can be found at the Don Ross Group website, here (be sure to read the reminiscences of a man who worked at the Pearl Brewery as a college student in 1960 at the bottom of the page).

I wrote about electric interurban freight-hauling locomotives in the Flashback Dallas post “Interurbans: Freight Movers?”

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Life” at the State Fair of Texas — 1951

fair-park-midway_life_1951Life magazine, 1951 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A Life magazine photographer moseyed down to Dallas in 1951 and captured a couple of cool shots of the State Fair. The photo above (so sweet, and one of my favorite Midway shots ever) was captioned:

In Dallas a rancher takes the kids for a ride in a 92-foot-high double Ferris wheel.

The photo below shows a tractor-pulled tram (fare: 15 cents) as it wheels past the Hall of State, full of well-dressed men and women. (That kid in the boots, cowboy hat, and letterman jacket … had I been around in 1951, I would have had a big ol’ crush on him.)

Click both of these wonderful photos to see larger images. You can practically smell the Brylcreem and cotton candy.

fair-park_tour_life_1951Life magazine, 1951 (click for much larger image)

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Both photos taken at the 1951 State Fair of Texas for Life magazine by an uncredited photographer. The top photo (cropped differently) ran in the Oct. 22, 1951 issue of Life as part of a feature titled “It’s a Bumper Year For Fairs” — it was the only photo that appeared in the magazine shot at the Texas fair. The bottom photo did not run in the magazine.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Forget the Ferris Wheel, Take a Ride in a Centennial Rickshaw — 1936

tx-centennial-midway_1936_ucrYour rickshaw awaits… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here’s an odd photo of the Midway at Fair Park, taken in 1936. The whole thing feels a little weird. It’s just so … bright. And empty. It’s kind of bleak-looking for the glamorous Texas Centennial Exposition. And then there’s that rickshaw (?). What this scene needs is a little postcard-colorizing magic. Below, a similar scene, sans rickshaw.

fair-park_hollywood_centennial_midway

Better … but still kind of odd.

But back to that rickshaw. According to the the Treasury of Texas Trivia, Vol. II:

The Texas Centennial in Dallas had one feature that, considering its uncountable sights and sounds that one had to take in, may very well have been forgotten. College boys, as a means of earning tuition as well as keeping in shape, pulled foot-weary fairgoers from street to street and plaza to plaza in rickshaws during the 1936 celebration of our state’s one hundredth birthday.

rickshaw_tx-centennial-1936

This exotic mode of transportation was even appearing in local advertisements — like this one, from an ad placed by the A. Harris department store:

ad-a-harris_centennial_rickshaw_dmn_052536_detA. Harris ad (det) , 1936

One of the most notable rickshaw-riders of the Dallas Centennial was none other than celebrated fan-dancer, Sally Rand, whose “Nude Ranch” show (check Google for risque film footage) at the competing Frontier Centennial Exposition in Fort Worth was packing them in in Cowtown. Even Sally had to come over and check out the Centennial. The photo below shows her autographing the shorts of one of the “ricksha-toters,” a lucky young man named Guy Johnsen. The caption of the July, 1936 news photo reads:

Sally Rand, who says she never knew success until she thought of taking her pants off, autographs those of Guy Johnson [sic], her ricksha toter, on a visit to the Texas Centennial Exposition at Dallas. With her is Mrs. Voln Taylor, Chairman of the Centennial Advisory Board.

centennial_rickshaw_sally-rand_cook-coll_smuCook Collection/DeGolyer Library/SMU

And now I know.

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Top photo — titled “The Gay Midway of the Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas” — from the Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside; see here.

Quote from Treasury of Texas Trivia, Vol. II by Bill Cannon (Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 2000).

Sally Rand photo (“Sally Rand Gives an Autograph”) from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here. (Arne Miller “Guy” Johnsen — known later as “Swede” Johnsen — was a native South Dakotan who had left home and arrived in Dallas just in time for the Centennial, where he got a job pulling visitors around Fair Park in a rickshaw. This paragraph is from his 2005 obituary: “Raised on a farm in Volin, South Dakota, ‘Guy’ (as he was nicknamed by his mother), left home on a quest for better opportunities. In 1936, his travels found him pulling a rickshaw at the Dallas Centennial Fair. His claim to fame was pulling the famous and beautiful fan-dancer Sally Rand throughout the centennial fair grounds.” I guess a moment like that really stays with a person!)

To see this stretch of the Midway from the other direction — and AT NIGHT (!) — see my companion post here.

UPDATE: I find that — by complete coincidence — I’ve posted this on June 6th, the anniversary of the opening day of the Texas Centennial Exposition. See the Dallas Morning News Photography Blog (June 6, 2013) for more on the opening day, here.

Click both pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

SMU’s First Year: The Dinkey, Campus Hijinx, and the Basket Ball — 1915-16

1smu-rotunda-1916_soph-drawing

by Paula Bosse

As a companion to my previous post on the first year of classes at SMU, here are a few more photos from the yearbook, these documenting the less studious side of campus life.

The most interesting thing about these photos, for me, is the SMU trolley, nick-named “The Dinkey” (or “The Dinky”). When SMU opened in 1915, it was waaaaaaaaaay outside the city limits, and the rail line extended only as far north as Knox. In order to get to and from downtown (and points beyond), one had to board the Dinkey near Hillcrest and McFarlin and ride to Knox, then change to an official city streetcar and head into civilization.

This reminiscence appeared in a 1984 issue of Park Cities People:

The first time Manning saw the campus was from the wooden seat of the Dinkey, an electric streetcar built for SMU in 1915.

“I told Dad Johnson, the conductor, as I boarded in Highland Park, I wanted to get off at SMU,” Manning said. “He said, ‘That’s as far as it goes.'”

“‘When we got there, I said, ‘Where’s the campus?’ He said, ‘There’s only two buildings. Dallas Hall is the one with the columns.'”

Manning couldn’t see the building from the Dinkey for the four-foot-tall Johnson grass and had to follow a travel-worn path to Dallas Hall.

2dinkey-hpcentennial“The Dinkey ran from Dallas Hall to Knox Street on tracks in the middle of Hillcrest. This photo taken at McFarlin.”

3smu-rotunda-1916_dinkey-stopThe “depot” where the Dinkey picked up and dropped off SMU students, faculty, and visitors.

4smu-rotunda-1916_dinkeyThe Dinkey, garnished with co-eds.

5smu-rotunda-1916_dinkey

6smu-rotunda-1916_cosmopolitan-univ“Cosmopolitan University” horsepower.

7smu-rotunda-1916_frat

8smu-rotunda-1916_footballBad season?

The inaugural football season started tentatively. The 1915 schedule:

  • Oct. 9th: SMU vs. TCU at Fort Worth
  • Oct. 14th: SMU vs. Hendrick College at Dallas
  • Oct. 27th: SMU vs. Austin College at Dallas Fair
  • Nov. 4th: SMU vs. Dallas University
  • Nov. 12th: SMU vs. Daniel Baker at Brownwood
  • Nov. 19th: SMU vs. Southwestern University at Dallas
  • Nov. 25th: SMU vs. Trinity University at Waxahachie

9smu-rotunda-1916_basketballThe men’s “Basket Ball” team.

10smu-rotunda-1916_girls-basketballThe girl’s “Basket Ball” team.

16smu-rotunda-1916_cover

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All images (except the second) from the 1915-1916 edition of SMU’s “Rotunda” yearbook.

Photo (and caption) of the “Dinkey” trolley at Hillcrest and McFarlin from Highland Park Centennial Celebration site, here.

Quote about traveling to the campus from Park Cities People (March 15, 1984).

“Dallas Hall and the Hilltop” by Tom Peeler, an entertaining  1998 D Magazine article on the first days of SMU, is here.

My previous post containing more photos from this first yearbook, is here.

Several photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

O, Fritatos, We Hardly Knew Ye — 1936

fritos_potato-chips_kaleta“Another Load of Pampered Potatoes”

by Paula Bosse

Hey! Did you know that the Frito Company also made potato chips for a while? They were called “Fritatos” and they were introduced in 1935. Here’s one of their snazzy-looking trucks making a much-appreciated snack delivery to Fair Park during the Centennial Exposition in 1936.

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Photo of the “pampered potatoes” truck from Kaleta Doolin’s wonderful book about the family business, Fritos Pie: Stories, Recipes, and More (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2011).

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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