Love Field-area dog racing? (photo: Robert Hurst)
by Paula Bosse
I’m not sure how many Flashback Dallas posts I wrote this year, but it was a lot — somewhere between 250 and 300. I realize I churn out a lot of these, and I appreciate everyone who checks in trying to keep up with what, admittedly, feels like a flood of Dallas-related information. In the past few days I’ve made inevitable year-end lists, and sometimes even I’m surprised by how much I’ve written in a relatively short time. I’m even more surprised to find that I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed writing all of them, which is why it’s hard to narrow them down to my top 15 or so. But I’ll give a try. Here are the posts I most enjoyed researching and writing over the past year. (Click titles to read the full posts.)
1. “OAK DOWNS: DALLAS’ BRIEF FLIRTATION WITH GREYHOUND RACING.” I never would have guessed that Dallas had a dog racing track, but then a reader sent me an amazing photo (seen above), and I dove in. I researched this thing to death, and I’m going to blame the fact that I wrote it almost a year ago for no longer remembering exactly how parimutuel betting works. This may be the only thing I’ll ever write in which I’m able to use a socially-conscious Mickey Mouse comic strip, quote extensively from a Texas governor’s speech on gambling legislation, and insert the phrase “dog-riding monkeys.” For these reasons and more, this is my favorite post of the year. Thank you, Mr. Hurst, for sharing your wonderful photos with me!
2. “WHEN A VIRGIN SACRIFICE AT FAIR PARK ALMOST CAUSED AN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT — 1937.” I’d always wanted to know more about The Greater Texas & Pan-American Exposition, which was held at Fair Park the year after the very successful Texas Centennial, so when I saw a postcard touting an “Aztec Sacrifice” as one of its attractions, I knew the time had come to finally look into the Pan-American Exposition. And it was pretty fun, especially reading about the ridiculous brouhaha that erupted over the re-enactment of, yes, a human sacrifice.
3. “MARDI GRAS: ‘OUR FIRST ATTEMPT AT A CARNIVAL FETE’ — 1876.” So many fun and weird things happened during Dallas’ first Mardi Gras celebration….
4. “UNIVERSITY PARK’S MONARCH BUTTERFLY WRANGLER.” This, I think, is the post that has stuck with me the most. Every time I see a butterfly now, I think of Carl Anderson and his love of the Monarchs.
5. “TRACKING DOWN A PHOTO LOCATION & DISCOVERING A CITY PIONEER: D. M. CLOWER, THE MAN WHO BROUGHT THE TELEPHONE TO DALLAS.” I hesitated writing this because I thought a post about the step-by-step procedure I took to solve the mystery of where a photo had been taken would be too dry and dull, but I was happily surprised to see how many times this was shared all over Facebook and how excited people were to realize that digging for historical facts could be a fun detective game and that slogging through seemingly tedious searches often pays off with the discovery of something really, really interesting you never guessed you’d find. “Research porn.”
6. “THE NELLIE MAURINE: WHEN A PLEASURE BOAT BECAME A RESCUE CRAFT DURING THE GREAT TRINITY RIVER FLOOD OF 1908.” I’d been meaning to write about the 1908 flood, but it just seemed too big to tackle, until I stumbled across two “real photo” postcards of a boat called Nellie Maurine.
7. “ORSON WELLES IN DALLAS — 1934-1940.” I loved writing this.
8. “SNAG BOAT DALLAS — 1893.” Yeah, we should probably let the Trinity River just be a river instead of trying to “tame” it.
9. “F. J. HENGY: JUNK MERCHANT, LITIGANT.” There’s money in junk. Enough to keep an attorney on permanent retainer.
10. “THE DALLAS AQUARIUM: THE BUILDING EMBLAZONED WITH SEAHORSES — 1936.” I loved going to the Fair Park aquarium when I was a child, and reading and writing about this left me feeling all warm and nostalgic.
11. “TEATRO PANAMERICANO / CINE FESTIVAL — 1943-1981.” J. J. Rodriguez is kind of an unsung icon in the history of Dallas’ Mexican-American community. AND he owned one of the coolest buildings ever to house a movie theater in Dallas!
12. “THE DALLAS NEWS SPECIAL: FAST TRAIN TO DENISON — 1887.” G. B. Dealey had the brilliant idea to use trains to implement same-day newspaper delivery to areas well beyond Dallas. The ride-along articles that appeared in The Dallas Morning News about this brilliant idea (probably written by Dealey himself) are fantastic — self-congratulatory, hyperbolic, and, surprisingly, sweetly poetic all at the same time.
13. “MOVIE HOUSES SERVING BLACK DALLAS — 1919-1922.” I think Deep Ellum will always be the most interesting part of town for me, and I love imagining what it must have been like when it was a thriving area filled with people, shops, cafes, and movie houses.
14. “2222 ROSS AVENUE: FROM PACKARD DEALERSHIP TO ‘WAR SCHOOL’ TO LANDMARK SKYSCRAPER.” I still wonder what happened to that art deco facade that was carefully removed and packed away to use on another project that never saw the light of day.
15. “THE ELEGANT MUNICIPAL BUILDING — 1914.” A look at what may be Dallas’ most classically beautiful building.
Runner-Up #1: “CARHOPS AS SEX SYMBOLS — 1940.” My viral post of 2015. The photo of two young men in cowboy boots and short-shorts was shared everywhere — it even led to my being interviewed on KERA radio. Popular and fun to write!
Runner-Up #2: “HOT LEAD: LINOTYPE MACHINES AT THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS — 1914.” This led to a brief obsession with all-things-Linotype for me. Seriously. Those machines are incredible. Etaoin shrdlu rules, OK!
For all the “Year-End Best of 2015” lists, click here.
For the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.