Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Women

Republic Bank Branding — 1955

republic-national-bank_employees-dresses_life-mag

When the uniforms match the exterior of the building…

by Paula Bosse

Republic National Bank opened its dazzling new building on N. Ervay in December, 1954. It was the tallest building in the city, the interior boasted gold leaf everywhere, and the exterior was covered with thousands of aluminum panels embossed with a distinctive four-pointed “star” shape.

The building’s opening was quite the PR extravaganza — so much so that Life magazine sent photographer Joe Scherschel to take photos for the Feb. 28, 1955 article “Dazzler For Dallas.” Scherschel took a ton of photos, but only a handful made it into the article — one that didn’t make it is the one above which shows five young women on a staircase, all of whom are wearing dresses with those Republic Bank “stars” on them! I have to admit, I was a little more excited than I should have been to have noticed what I assume must have been a (fairly stylish) uniform (hostesses? elevator girls?). Kudos to whomever came up with that clever way to celebrate the bank’s home by incorporating one of the most distinctive elements of one of the city’s most distinctive buildings into something as easily overlooked as an employee’s uniform. That is attention to detail!

republic-national-bank_employees-uniforms_mirror_life-mag

republic-national-bank_entrance_life-mag_1955

republic-national-bank_sidewalk_1954_color_life-mag

republic-national-bank_aluminum-panels_life-mag

***

Sources & Notes

All photos were taken by Joe Scherschel for Life magazine, ©Time, Inc. A large collection of the photos Scherschel took while on assignment in Dallas for this article can be viewed here.

I wrote about those fantastic embossed aluminum panels in the Flashback Dallas post “The Republic Bank Building and Spain’s ‘Casa de Los Picos,'” here.

All photos are larger when clicked.

*

Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Titche-Goettinger, Fashions for the Chic Dallas Woman — 1940s

titches_newton-elkin-shoes_1944_my-vintage-vogue

by Paula Bosse

Just a few 1940s ads for fashions available at Titche-Goettinger, one of many of Dallas’ nicer department stores which made the city a fashion meccas for the chic Texas woman.

Above, a 1944 ad featuring the latest in shoes from Newton Elkin (“two new shoe shades: Tanbark — Cedar Green”): “the sling-back pump with perforated Cleopatra vamp” and “Vicki in brown lizard” (which I sincerely hope someone uses as a song title).

Below, a newspaper ad from 1945 featuring other Newton Elkin shoes, these dressier, with fancy paillettes (sparkly decorations). Perfect to wear with the matching black silk turban. (Click to see a larger image.)

titche-goettinger_nov-19451945

A “Nardis of Dallas” wool suit from 1945, “tomorrow and terrifically smart… in cocoa, rust, black, moss green, and grey.”

titches_nardis-of-dallas_suit_1945_my-vintage-vogue1945

Another “Nardis of Dallas” suit from 1945, this one in “superlative” gabardine: “a suit you’ll wear from swivel chair to swizzle stick… platinum, aqua, lime, red, brown.” Sold separately: a matching hat and slacks (!). “Men prefer it.”

titches_nardis-of-dallas_1945_my-vintage-vogue1945

Speaking of hats: “Sally Victor creates the ‘Big and Little Filly’ for Titche-Goettinger.” …There’s a lot going on up there. (1947)

titche-goettinger_1947_ebay_hats1947

The still-standing Titche’s building at Main and St. Paul was designed by George Dahl in 1929 and was expanded in the 1950s. The women buying these clothes in the 1940s would have shopped at the smaller — though still elegant — store, which looked like this:

titches_unvisited-dallas_jeppsonNoah Jeppson/Unvisited Dallas

When shopping was more sophisticated.

titches-logo_1945

***

Sources & Notes

All color ads from the FABULOUS website My Vintage Vogue, here, here, and here.

Sally Victor ad found on eBay, here.

This doesn’t really fit into the 1940s, but I’ve had this 1955 ad for the Titche’s Shoe Clinic kicking around for a few years — this seems like a good place to slip it in. Platforms removed! Open toes closed! Closed toes opened! Pop down to the basement for all your shoe repair and restyling needs.

ad-titches_shoe-clinic_19551955

Check out other Flashback Dallas posts on Titche’s, here.

Flashback Dallas posts on Nardis of Dallas can be found here and here.

All images are larger when clicked.

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Roth’s, Fort Worth Avenue

roths_cook-collection_smuSign me up, Mr. Roth… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When I see a building like this, I always hope I can find a photo of it somewhere, but all I’ve been able to come up with is this energetic rendering from a 1940s matchbook cover. Roth’s (which was advertised variously as Roth’s Cafe, Roth’s Restaurant, and Roth’s Drive-In) was in Oak Cliff, on Fort Worth Avenue. It opened in about 1940 or ’41 and operated a surprisingly long time — until about 1967. When Roth’s opened, its address was 2701 Fort Worth Avenue, but around 1952 or ’53 the address became 2601. (I think the numbering might have changed rather than the business moving to a new location a block down the street.)

During World War II, Mustang Village — a large housing development originally built for wartime workers (and, later, for returning veterans) — sprang up across Fort Worth Avenue from the restaurant. It was intended to be temporary housing only, but because Dallas suffered such a severe post-war housing shortage, Mustang Village (as well as its sister Oak Cliff “villages” La Reunion and Texan Courts) ended up being occupied into the ’50s. Suddenly there were a lot more people in that part of town, living, working, and, presumably, visiting restaurants.

As the 1960s dawned, Mustang Village was just a memory, and Roth’s new across-the-street neighbor was the enormous, brand new, headline-grabbing Bronco Bowl, which opened to much fanfare in September, 1961. I don’t know whether such close proximity to that huge self-contained entertainment complex hurt or helped Roth’s business, but it certainly must have increased traffic along Fort Worth Avenue.

Roth’s continued operations until it closed in 1967, perhaps not so coincidentally the same year that Oak Cliff’s beloved Sivils closed. Ernest Roth, like J. D. Sivils, most likely threw in the towel when a series of “wet” vs. “dry” votes in Oak Cliff continued to go against frustrated restaurant owners who insisted that their inability to sell beer and wine not only damaged their own businesses but also adversely affected the Oak Cliff economy. The last straw for Sivils and Roth may have been the unsuccessful petition drive in 1966/1967 to force a “beer election” — read about it here in a Morning News article from Aug. 17, 1966).

As far as that super-cool building seen at the top — I don’t know how long it remained standing, but when Roth’s closed, a mobile home dealer set up shop at 2601 Fort Worth Avenue, and mobile homes need a lot of parking space….

The building on the matchbook cover above is, unfortunately, long gone (as is the much-missed Bronco Bowl); the area today is occupied by asphalt, bland strip malls, and soulless corporate “architecture” (see what 2701 Fort Worth Avenue looks like today, here).

*

The man behind Roth’s was Ernest W. Roth, a Hungarian immigrant who had worked for many years as maître-d’ at the Adolphus Hotel’s tony Century Room. He decided to go out on his own, and around 1940 he and his business partner Joseph Weintraub (who was also his brother-in-law) opened the Oak Cliff restaurant which boasted two dining rooms (with a seating capacity of 350, suitable for parties and banquets), fine steaks, and a live band and dancing on the weekends. Ernest’s wife Martha and their son Milton were also part of the family business. When the restaurant opened, there wasn’t much more out there on the “Fort Worth cut-off,” but the place must have been doing something right, because Roth’s lasted for at least 27 years — an eternity in the restaurant business. It seems to have remained a popular Oak Cliff dining destination until it closed around 1967.

*

The real story, though, is the Roth family, especially Ernest’s mother, Johanna Roth, and even more especially, his older sister, Bertha Weintraub.

Johanna Rose Roth was born in 1863 in Budapest, where her father served as a member of the King’s Guard for Emperor Franz Josef. She and her husband and young children came to the United States about 1906 and, by 1913, eventually made their way to San Antonio. In the ’40s and ’50s she traveled by airplane back and forth between San Antonio and Dallas, visiting her five children and their families — she was known to the airlines as one of their most frequent customers (and one of their oldest). She died in Dallas in 1956 at the age of 92.

Johanna’s daughter Bertha Roth Weintraub had a very interesting life. She, too was born in Hungary — in 1890. After her husband Joe’s death in the mid ’40s, a regular at her brother’s restaurant, Abe Weinstein — big-time entertainment promoter and burlesque club empresario — offered Bertha a job as cashier at the Colony Club, his “classy” burlesque nightclub located across from the Adolphus. She accepted and, amazingly, worked there for 28 years, retiring only when the club closed in 1972 — when she was 82 years old! It sounds like she led a full life, which took her from Budapest to New York to San Francisco to San Antonio to Austin and to Dallas; she bluffed her way into a job as a dress designer, ran a boarding house in a house once owned by former Texas governor James Hogg, hobnobbed with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liberace, was a friend of Candy Barr, and, as a child, was consoled by the queen of Hungary. She died in Dallas in 1997, a week and a half before her 107th birthday. (The story Larry Powell wrote about her in The Dallas Morning News — “Aunt Bertha’s Book Filled With 97 Years of Memories” (DMN, Nov. 17, 1987) — is very entertaining and well worth tracking down in the News archives.)

weintraub-bertha-roth_texas-jewish-post_021590
Bertha Roth Weintraub

I feel certain that the extended Roth family found themselves entertained by quite a few unexpected stories around holiday dinner tables!

***

Sources & Notes

Matchbook cover (top image) is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

Photo of Bertha Weintraub is from The Texas Jewish Post (Feb. 15, 1990), via the Portal to Texas History, here.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mimi Payne Aldredge McKnight

ABS_mimi_bookcaseMimi, with books… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Mimi Aldredge McKnight (née Mildred Payne) died this week. She was an important person in the story of my family — she and her then-husband, Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. owned The Aldredge Book Store on McKinney Avenue, where my parents met and worked for many years and which, for my brother and me, became pretty much a second home. When Sawnie died, Mimi continued to run the store and kept my father, Dick Bosse, on as manager. My father ended up owning the store, and when he died, he had worked at The Aldredge Book Store for almost 45 years. Even when Mimi’s involvement with the store was minimal, she still kept in touch, and she and my father were always on very friendly terms.

I knew Mimi mostly when I was a child, and my memories of her are happy ones. I remember her laugh and her voice most of all. She always seemed like a lovely, friendly woman, and my parents were both very fond of her.

The photo below is how I remember her — talking animatedly on the phone (she and my mother, Margaret, were champion telephone talkers, and I remember them both working at that desk, and talking and talking and talking on that phone).

mimi_phone_texas-parade_feb-1961

I ran into Mimi a few times as an adult. We’d usually just exchange quick pleasantries and ask how various family members were — but I always hoped I’d have the chance to sit down and have a long conversation with her someday. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but I’m so happy that my brother, Erik, and I have reconnected with her children, Amy and Trip Aldredge, and that we’re all friends. The four of us share nostalgic childhood memories of each other’s parents and of that old creaking house on McKinney — a house so crammed with books that the medical section had to be shelved in the bathroom. I can’t imagine a better childhood that one spent growing up in a bookstore.

Goodbye, Mimi — I’m so glad you were a part of my family’s life.

**

In one of those wonderful unexpected discoveries I’ve made while looking for something completely unrelated, I stumbled across this photo of little Mildred Payne as a baby and was happier about it than I might have expected. (Click photo to see a larger image.)

1929_mimi_dmn_061429
1929

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized Mimi had been a real-life, honest-to-god debutante (probably the only debutante I’ve ever met) and that her mother was a member of Dallas’ famed Volk retail family. She grew up in a very nice house, built by her father, Robert I. Payne, in the Perry Heights area of Oak Lawn. If you’re famiiar with Oak Lawn, you’ve probably seen the plantation-like house at 4524 Rawlins (at Hawthorne), designed by architect Ralph Bryan in 1936. (See the house today on Google Street View, here.)

Sawnie Aldredge, Jr. (son of a Dallas mayor) opened The Aldredge Book Store in 1947 at 2800 McKinney Avenue (at Worthington) in an old house built in the 1880s or 1890s (this was several years before Sawnie and Mimi married). The picture below is from around 1960. This was before my time, but I seem to remember it looking less overgrown and less … shabby! It was much larger than it appears in this photo. Below the photo, the store’s early logo. (I’m not sure when the house was torn down — maybe in the ’80s? The lot was vacant for quite some time, as I reall. The block is painfully unrecognizable today. Today it looks like this.)

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-19611960-ish

ABS_logo_1947

A few years ago, when my brother and I were closing the store, I came across a guestbook from the first year of business and was happy to see that on Dec. 15, 1947, a 19-year-old Mimi Payne visited the store with her mother, Mrs. R. I. Payne. Little did she know that seven years later she’d be married to the proprietor of the store and — for a while — living in that house, battling for personal space amongst all those damn books!

aldredge-book-store-guestbook_1215471947

sawnie_mimi_desk_1961Sawnie and Mimi, 1961

The photo below is one I really love — it was taken in 1958 at the Sale Street Fair, an annual antique street market which ran at the same time as the Neiman-Marcus Fortnight (in 1958 Neiman’s was celebrating Britain). This shows Mimi manning the bookstore booth. My mother told me that she and Mimi (and probably everyone else there) passed the time sitting on the curb, sipping cocktails supplied by friendly neighborhood antique dealers. Sounds great!

ABS_mimi_sale-street-fair_1958Sale Street Fair, Mimi and a browsing London bobby, 1958

ABS_sale-street-fair_1958
Oct., 1958

In 1975, another chapter of Mimi’s life opened when she married esteemed SMU law professor Joe McKnight, to whom she had been married for 40 years at the time of his death in 2015. One interesting highlight was that Joe and Mimi — through their friendship with international bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, etc.) — were featured as characters in his Sunday Philosophy Club/Isabel Dalhousie series. He talked about putting them in one of his novels in a 2006 interview:

Isabel’s mother was American, and she has a cousin of her mother in Dallas, [who is based on] a real person… I was a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University and I’ve got very good friends there, a wonderful couple called Joe and Mimi McKnight, who I’ve made the cousin of Isabel in this book. I have Joe and Mimi coming to Edinburgh, and Mimi plays a large part in the story. So, I’m writing a real person into the story, which is great fun.

A woman who spent a number of years in the early part of her life selling books certainly deserved to be transformed into an entertaining character in a bestselling book in the later part of her life!

***

Sources & Notes

Photos and clippings from the Aldredge Book Store archives and the Aldredge family, unless otherwise noted.

A couple of the photos above come from a profile of The Aldredge Book Store in a magazine called Texas Parade (Feb. 1961): “100,000 Books … Old and New” by Joe Swan. See the full article and photos in a PDF, here.

aldredge-book-store_texas-parade_feb-1961_spread_sm

Mimi McKnight died April 3, 2017; her obituary is here.

D Magazine wrote about Joe and Mimi McKnight and their connection to Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith in the June 2007 article “Muse, Thy Name is McKnight,” here. The photo below (by Elizabeth Lavin) is from that article.

mcknights_joe-and-mimi_d-mag_june-2007
2007 (D Magazine)

Other Flashback Dallas posts concerning The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

*

mimi_wedding_announcement_101054_det
1954

Most photos larger when clicked.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“A Woman Knows Real Live News When She Sees It” — 1915

womens-news_dmn_070815_knott-cartoon“Oh goody!” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This editorial cartoonist’s take on what was really important to Dallas women is one that probably caused some Dallasites to chuckle and some to fume. The date of this Dallas Morning News cartoon was July 8, 1915. In 1915 women had no constitutional right to vote in the United States and were barred from voting in local, state, and national elections. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution (which gave women the right to vote) was ratified in Texas in June, 1919.

The woman’s suffrage movement in Dallas had been active since at least the 1890s, but it really began to catch fire in the early ‘teens when the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association (DESA) was formed in 1913. The second president of this organization (who was one of the state’s leading suffragists when this cartoon appeared) was Texas Erwin Armstrong (Mrs. Volney E. Armstrong). (Yes, her first name was “Texas” — her friends called her “Tex.”)

I have to admit, I was not aware of Mrs. Armstrong until today, but she was one of many laudable women who helped forge the way for those of us who followed. I like this quote of hers from 1918, commenting on the support (or lack thereof) of politicians during the slow but sure path to ratification:

“Any Democrat who failed to vote for this measure is a man without a party and soon will be a man without a country.” (DMN, Jan. 12, 1918)

tex-armstrong_dmn_031515_suffrage_photo

tex-armstrong_dmn_031515_suffrage
Dallas Morning News, March 15, 1915 (photo and profile)

**

More suffrage news from Dallas (click articles to see larger images).

suffrage_dmn_111115
DMN, Nov. 11, 1915

suffrage_dmn_030818
DMN, March 8, 1918

***

Sources & Notes

Dallas Morning News editorial cartoon “A Woman Knows Real Live News When She Sees It” (by staff cartoonist John Knott) appeared in the July 8, 1915 edition of the paper.

For more on the history of Dallas women and women’s causes, check out the book Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920 by Elizabeth York Enstam (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1998); a large portion of the chapter “Suffragists and the City” can be read here.

The history of the women’s suffrage movement in Texas can be found at the Handbook of Texas site, here.

The obituary of Mrs. Texas Erwin Armstrong (1878-1960) can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News: “Campaigner For Women’s Suffrage Dies” (DMN, March 7, 1960).

Click clippings and pictures to see larger images.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Merry Christmas from the Priscilla Art Club — 1968

xmas_priscilla-art-club_123168_uta“Say ‘fondue’!” … (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

These women look like they’ve stepped out of a catalog — perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, perfectly posed. They are members of the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African-American women’s club in Dallas. The club was formed in 1911, and I think it may still be active — the most recent news I could find of the club was from 2012, when the “centennial legacy quilt,” made by members to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary, was displayed at the African American Museum. Below, a little history of the club from the press release announcing the exhibit in February, 2012.

THE PRISCILLA ART CLUB CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

In honor of Black History Month, the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African American women’s organization in Dallas County, will host a display of its centennial legacy quilt made by its members […] at the African American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas Fair Park.

“The idea of a custom designed legacy quilt started out as a novel idea from our Systems Committee in recognition of our 100th anniversary. The twenty-two club members quickly became engaged in seeing it to fruition and we are happy to honor the beauty, the inspiration and the legacy of our Club” said Shirley Porter Ware, Club President.

The Priscilla Art Club, organized in 1911 as a club for young matrons, was organized under the encouragement and direction of Mrs. Mattie Mansfield Chalmers. The organization’s purposes were to establish and maintain the aesthetic, promote congenial companionship and foster all social and community interests that pertain to the general uplift. The Club was named for Priscilla, a New Testament woman of extraordinary culture and the wife of Aquila, a Jewish tentmaker.

Since its auspicious beginning, the Club has invited into its membership many of Dallas’ most distinguished homemakers. These members have exhibited an interest or are talented in arts and crafts.

Besides being homemakers and mothers, the members have been and some still are principals, school administrators, teachers, business owners, social workers, church leaders and servant volunteers in the local community.

Throughout the century of service and sisterhood, recorded in The Priscilla’s prolific history include mention of service rendered in support of the World War I efforts by rolling bandages that were sent overseas to the field hospitals in France. For several years, the Priscillas decorated the shotgun house, located in Old City Park, in observance of the holiday season. In more recent years, the members have decorated t-shirts and jackets made from sweat shirts to give to men and women in local assisted living facilities. Club members have made crocheted skull caps in a variety of vivid colors and patterns and donated to cancer patients actively engaged in treatment regimens.

Regardless of change, the Priscilla Art Club’s concern for its artistic endeavors and for civic and social uplift will continue with deepening interest and commitment as the tradition of the founders’ legacy is carried forward.

I hope the club is still around. This year marks its 105th anniversary.

***

Sources & Notes

Photo was taken on December 31, 1968; from the Culmer Family Papers, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, accessible here.

The 2012 press release was posted on the Facebook page of the Dallas Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists, here.

More on the history of the club can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Reception to Honor Art Club’s 65th Year” by Julia Scott Reed (DMN, April 2, 1976).

The most in-depth history of the club that I could find online can be found in the guide to the Culmer Family Papers at UTA, here (scroll down to the paragraph that begins “The Priscilla Art Club was one of the most prestigious, if not elitist clubs for African American women in Dallas….”

Photo and newspaper article are larger when clicked.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Voting Day

voting-instructions-for-youth_marion-butts_dpl_1965Lever-pulling behind the curtain, 1965 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s here, y’all. Get out and get it done.

voting_uta_no-date

voting_uta_1972

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo from 1965 by Marion Butts, from the Dallas Public Library’s Marion Butts Collection: “Young woman demonstrates the use of a voting machine” — more here (you may have to be logged into to your Dallas Public Library account to reach this page).

Second photo is undated and has no photographer info: “Early voter, Mrs. Gene Savage, looking at long Democratic party ballot,” from UTA Libraries, Special Collections — more info here.

Third photo is from 1972: “Students voting in Fall Elections, University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), 1972,” from UTA Libraries, Special Collections — more info here.

More on Dallas elections can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “How Dallas Used to Get Election Returns,” here.

Click photos to see larger images.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Lady Godiva and the “Flesh Shows” of the Texas Centennial — 1936

tx-centennial_streets-of-paris_ticket_cook-coll_smuGeorge W. Cook Collection/SMU

by Paula Bosse

When one thinks of the Texas Centennial Exposition, the splashy 6-month extravaganza held at Fair Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Texas independence, one might not immediately think of the three things associated with the big show that were making headlines around the country (and were undoubtedly responsible for healthy ticket sales): according to Variety, the Centennial had “all the gambling, wining and girling the visitor wants” (June 10, 1936).

The Dallas exposition (and the coattail-riding Frontier Exposition, which was held at the same time in Fort Worth) was “wide open” in 1936: there was gambling, liquor, and nudity everywhere. The Texas Rangers cracked down on some of the gaming in the early days, but alcohol and girlie shows continued throughout the expo’s run.

As far as the nudity, it really was everywhere. It’s a little shocking to think that this sort of thing was so widely accepted in very conservative Dallas — 80 years ago! — but it was (despite some local pastors disdainfully referring to the big party as the Texas Sintennial). Many of the acts — and much of the personnel — had appeared in a version of the same revue in Chicago in 1933 and 1934. Some of the offerings for the Centennial visitor: peep shows a-plenty, the clad-only-in-body-paint “Diving Venus” named Mona Lleslie (not a typo), a naked “apple dancer” named Mlle. Corinne who twirled with a “basketball-sized ‘apple'” held in front of her frontal nether regions, and the somewhat obligatory nude chorus girls. There was also an “exhibit” in which nude women were on display as “artists’ models,” posing for crowds of what one can only assume were life-drawing aficionados who were encouraged to render the scene before them artistically (…had they planned ahead and brought a pencil and sketchpad); those who lacked artistic skill and/or temperament were welcome to just stand there and gawk. (Click photos and ads to see larger images.)

corinne_apple-dancer_cook-collection_smu

tx-centennial_apple-dancer_dmn_070536

tx-centennial_apple-dancer_franklin-ind-evening-star_071136Franklin, Indiana Evening Star, July 11, 1936

Another attraction was Lady Godiva, who, naked, rode a horse through the Streets of Paris crowds. Her bare-breastedness even made it into ads appearing in the pages of staid Texas newspapers. (Click to see larger images.)

tx-centennial_lady-godiva_dmn_060436_sm
June, 1936

There were two areas along the Midway where crowds could find these saucy attraction: Streets of Paris (which Time magazine described as appealing to “lovers of the nude”) and Streets of All Nations (“for lovers of the semi-nude”). Lady Godiva was part of the Streets of Paris, and she rode, Godiva-esque, nightly. The gimmick (beyond the gimmick of a naked woman riding a horse in Fair Park) was that she was supposed to  be a Dallas debutante who rode masked in order to conceal her identity. The text below is from the ad above.

MASKED…but unclothed in all her Glory…Riding a milk-white steed. […] Miss Debutante was introduced to Dallas society in 1930. She was later starred in Ziegfeld’s Follies, in “False Dreams, Farewell,” “Furnished Rooms,” and other Broadway successes. She appeared in motion pictures, being starred in “Gold Diggers of 1935,” “Redheads on Parade” (yes, she is a redhead) and other picture successes.

SHE WILL STARTLE DALLAS SOCIETY! JUST AS THE STREETS OF PARIS WILL BE THE SENSATION OF THE CENTENNIAL SEASON .. WHO IS SHE?

And, of course, none of that was true (including the fact that this “Lady Godiva” rode a white horse — apparently one could not always be found), but I’m sure it got local pulses racing. My guess is that there were several Ladies Godiva (none of whom were members of Dallas society). One woman was actually named as the Centennial’s exhibitionist horsewoman. I haven’t been able to find mention of a “Paulette Renet” anywhere other than the caption of this photo, but here she is:

godiva_madera-tribune_082936

godiva_madera-tribune_082936-caption
Madera (California) Tribune, Aug. 29, 1936

Another photo featuring what appears to be the same woman, with this caption: “No white horse for Lady Godiva, at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. A feature of the ‘Streets of Paris,’ a midway show, Godiva rode a ‘paint pony,’ first week because no white one was available.”

godiva_altoona_penn-tribune_062336
Altoona (Pennsylvania) Tribune, June 23, 1936

I think this is still the same woman, but on a rare white steed:

lady-godiva_cook-collection_smu

The Godiva who appeared in the March of Times newsreel “Battle of a Centennial” appears to be a different woman. (Watch a 45-second snippet of the newsreel which features both a glimpse of Lady Godiva and a head-shaking son of Sam Houston wondering what the deal is with the younger generation — here.)

godiva_march-of-time_1936

Imagine seeing performers and attractions like this along the Fair Park midway today!

*

godiva_dmn_070536-detJuly, 1936 (ad detail)

tx-centennial_lady-godiva_dmn_060436-det
June, 1936 (ad detail)

What was the Centennial Club? It was an exclusive, invitation-only private club located within the very large George Dahl-designed building which housed the Streets of Paris (and which was shaped like the famed S. S. Normandie ocean liner). It had three levels (“decks”) and housed a lounge, dining rooms, a main clubroom, and a “dance pavilion” — all air conditioned. From various decks, well-heeled patrons could look down at the action going on below: the milling throngs of the hoi polloi, the Streets of Paris shows, and the Midway.

centennial-club_dmn_061636
June, 1936

tx-centennial_streets-of-paris_art-institute-chicago

tx-centennial_streets-of-paris_ebay_rppc

tx-centennial_streets-of-paris

Can’t miss the ridiculously large land-locked ocean liner in the center of the photo below. Mais oui!

normandie_winters_dhs

**

The articles below on “gals, likker, and gambling” are GREAT. They are from the show biz trade publication Variety, which really latched onto the rampant nudity on view at the Texas Centennial. Remember: 80 years ago! (The abbreviation of “S. A.” in the headline of the second article stands for “sex appeal.”) (As always, click to see larger images.)

sex_variety_061036
Variety, June 10, 1936

sex_variety_062436
Variety, June 24, 1936

nudity_variety_070136
Variety, July 1, 1936

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo shows an admission ticket to the Streets of Paris, from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information is here. Another interesting item from this collection is a brochure (here) which describes Streets of Paris as “the smartest, most sophisticated night club in America. Here you will find the gay night life of Paris in a setting of exotic splendor.”

Photo of “Mlle. Corrine” also from the Cook Collection at SMU; more info on that photo here.

Photo of Lady Godiva on a white horse (with the words “Dallas Centennial” near the bottom … um, bottom of the image … is also from the Cook Collection at SMU, here.

The photo showing the night-time crowd outside the Streets of Paris Normandie is from the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago; more info here.

The aerial photograph showing the S. S. Normandie is from Willis Cecil Winters’ book Fair Park (Arcadia Publishing, 2010); photo from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society.

All other sources noted, if known.

See quick shots of the Streets of Paris and the Streets of All Nations in the locally-made short film “Texas Centennial Highlights,” here (Streets of Paris is at about the 7:00 mark and the more risqué bits showing the parasol chorus girls followed by Mlle. Corinne and her apple dance (I mean, it’s not really shocking, but … it still kind of is…) at the 8:45 mark. (Incidentally, there appears to be a new book on Corinne and her husband — Two Lives, Many Dances — written by their daughter.)

A very entertaining history of the State Fair of Texas and the Texas Centennial Exposition can be found in the article “State Fair!” by Tom Peeler (D Magazine, October, 1982), here.

A Flashback Dallas post on the feuding Dallas and Fort Worth Centennial celebrations can be found here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on the Texas Centennial can be found here.

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Zap Those Extra Pounds Away in Mrs. Rodgers’ Electric Chair — 1921

ergotherapy_jewish-monitor_090921_detThrowing the switch in 3-2-1… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

While looking for something completely unrelated (which is always the best way to find unexpected things), I came across this full-page ad which appeared in the Sept. 9, 1921 edition of The Jewish Monitor (click to see a larger image):

ergotherapy_jewish-monitor_090921

Why Be Fat When
E R G O T H E R A P Y
WILL REDUCE YOU?

Within the last few years a method of automatic exercise, known as the Bergonie treatment, has found favor among physicians abroad in the treatment of obesity and other chronic disorders.

One advantage is that with the Sinusoidal current, which is employed, very powerful muscular contractions may be induced without pain or sensation other than that due to the muscular contraction itself.

The Treatment chair is the last word in comfort. It is fitted to meet the physiologic needs of the body as well as being comfortable. The arm and leg electrodes are wide and comfortably curved to fit the arms and legs of the patient easily. 

ERGOTHERAPY

The Kellogg-Bergonie System of Battle Creek, Mich., will reduce you just where you wish to be reduced. No drugs, exercise or inconvenience. We will reduce you from one (1) to three (3) pounds per treatment and improve your physical condition. Trained nurses in attendance (under a registered physician’s supervision).

Treatments by Appointment Only

Hours for Men, 8 A.M. to 1 P.M.
Hours for Women, 1 P.M. to 6 P.M.
Phone X 5759
Ruth Rodgers, Mgr.
1614 1/2 Main Street, Dallas, Texas.

*

“The arm and leg electrodes are wide and comfortably curved” — there’s a line one doesn’t often encounter in an ad!

So what was this treatment of obesity that required “no drugs, exercise or inconvenience”? Well, basically, it was a low-voltage electric chair in which the naked, smock-draped “patient” reclined on wet towels and was covered with sandbags (which weighed up to 100 pounds). Electrodes were attached to the arms, legs, and abdomen. When the switch was flipped, electrically-provoked exercise began, and electric current caused muscular contractions (up to 100 a minute) without fatigue to the “exerciser.” All sorts of physiologic things were happening during these sessions, including a whole bunch of sweating. Patients would lose from 1 to 3 pounds during their time in the chair, hose themselves down and walk away refreshed.

Jean Albard Bergonié (1857-1925) was a French doctor/researcher/inventor who specialized in radiology in the treatment of cancer, and this odd electric chair was something of a departure from his oncology studies. It was used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions such as obesity, heart conditions, diabetes, “suppressed uric acid elimination,” and, later shell-shock. Professor Bergonié died in 1925 as the result of prolonged exposure to radium in his research to find a cure for cancer (in the years before his death, he had lost an arm and fingers to continual X-ray exposure). The Institut Bergonié continues in Bordeaux, France as a cancer research center.

So back to the chair. By the time of the 1921 ad above, Bergonié’s “ergotherapy” had become a weight-loss feature in beauty spas and salons. The ads I found mentioning the electric chair as something corpulent men and women of means might have seen in Dallas newspapers appeared between July and October of 1921, touting the miracle chair at Mrs. Ruth Rodgers’ beauty salon, The Old London Beauty Shoppe at 1614 ½ Main Street, a couple of doors from Neiman-Marcus.

ergotherapy_071721
July, 1921

I don’t know if it didn’t catch on or whether it just wasn’t mentioned in ads, but the chair made its final appearance in an Old London Beauty Shoppe ad in early October of the same year.

The splashiest news about Bergonié’s invention was a few months later, in early 1922, when it was revealed that the UK’s Queen Mary had availed herself of the chair in order to slim down in time for her daughter’s wedding, with Prof. Bergonié himself apparently operating the current flow. The best part of the lengthy and breathless article about the plump royal allowing herself to lie in this electric chair as she was rather unceremoniously weighted down with royal sandbags was this sentence:

[Mrs. David Lloyd George, the wife of the British prime minister] lost no time in telling Queen Mary all she knew about Professor Bergonie, the famous French ergotherapist, and his marvelous electric chair, which is said to jar fat from the human frame with the ease and almost the rapidity of a man peeling a tangerine.

Hey, I want that!

One would assume that sort of free publicity would be a boon to spas and salons offering State-side ergotherapy — I have a feeling Mrs. Rodgers had moved on by then and was probably kicking herself for concentrating on the more mundane treatment of wrinkles and sagging skin and the administering of marcel waves (her specialty).

Below, some views of The Chair over the years (all pictures larger when clicked).

ergotherapy_1913-medical-bk_ebay

Above, a drawing from a 1913 medical book, found here.

*

ergotherapy_medical-record_050115

From the journal Medical Record, May 1, 1915.

*

bergonie-chair_shell-shock_electrical-experimenter_feb-1919

A World War I soldier being treated for shell-shock, from The Electrical Experimenter (Feb. 1919), here (continued here).

*

ergotherapy_012321
Jan., 1921

Ruth Rodgers was the proprietress of the Old London Beauty Shoppe (later the Old London School of Beauty Culture), which seems to have operated in Dallas from the ‘teens to at least the late-1930s. The location during the period of the ergotherapeutic chair was in the basement of 1614 Main Street.

*

ergotherapy_dmn_081421
Aug., 1921

Mrs. Rodgers did it all. That might be her in the ad.

*

ergotherapy_081421
Aug., 1921

*

ergotherapy_082121
Aug., 1921

It’s a bit unusual seeing ads like this directed toward men.

*

ergotherapy_san-francisco-chronicle_092521
San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 25, 1925

*

queen-mary_1922

Above, a very Aubrey Beardsley-esque depiction of the “distressingly stout” Queen Mary, ready to undergo her course of treatments. Read the full, widely-circulated article from February, 1922, “Queen Mary’s Jarring Anti-Fat Ordeal; Yearning for a Girlish Figure to Grace Her Daughter’s Wedding, the Queen-Mother Got One by Sitting in an Electric Chair and Losing 3½ Pounds a Week,” here. (They don’t write headlines like that anymore….) The photo below, showing the control panel, was also part of the article.

queen-mary_1922_battery

*

ergotherapy_ogden-standard-examiner_041826

The caption for this photo (which appeared five years after the cutting-edge Ruth Rodgers was offering it to Dallas patrons): “The new French electric chair on which one reclines in comfort while form-fitting electroids [sic] direct the fat-melting current, as demonstrated by Alice Harris, a stage beauty who must keep thin.” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, April 18, 1926)

*

And, finally, to bring this back to Dallas, the location of Mrs. Rodgers’ Old London Beauty Shoppe in 1921 — 1614½ Main Street (basement) — is circled (this building was later the Everts Jewelry store before it moved across the street to the north side of Main). To the left is Neiman-Marcus, at the corner of Main and Ervay. (Full view of this postcard, from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, SMU, is here.)

1614-main_n-m_degolyer_smu_det

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo is a detail from the ad below, which appeared in the Sept. 9, 1921 edition of The Jewish Monitor; it can be accessed via the Portal to Texas History, here.

Read a doctor’s account of just how Bergonie’s chair worked, in the article “Modern Treatment of Obesity” by Edward C. Titus (Medical Record, Jan. 24, 1920), here.

I’m not sure about the connection of this chair to J. H. Kellogg (the treatment in the ad was referred to as “The Kellogg-Bergonie System of Battle Creek, Mich.”). It appears that he and Bergonie might have developed similar chairs independently of one another and decided to form some sort of partnership — either by mutual agreement or court edict. Here is a photo of Kellogg’s “patented electrotherapy exercise bed” used in his Battle Creek sanitarium:

kellogg-chair
via Oobject (more Kellogg contraptions here)

And speaking of Mr. Kellogg, might I direct your attention to a previous Flashback Dallas post — “Electricity in Every Form — 1909” — here.

Click pictures for larger images

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Scenes by Florence McClung — 1940s

mcclung_dallas-cityscape_1941_kever-collectionFrom the collection of Mark and Geralyn Kever

by Paula Bosse

Florence McClung (1894-1992) — a painter, printmaker, and pastelist in the circle of Regionalist artists known as The Dallas Nine — lived in Dallas and often painted nearby rural scenes as well as more rugged Western landscapes. I haven’t seen many urban scenes by McClung, but there were two oil paintings that appeared in a one-woman show at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in the spring of 1945 which I’d love to find images of: “Triple Underpass” and “Big D,” the latter of which sounds very similar to the one seen above, “Dallas Cityscape,” from the collection of Mark and Geralyn Kever (whose impressive collection of Texas art can be seen in the Jan./Feb. issue of American Fine Art Magazine — jump to page 53 in the PDF to find the story, “Cream of the Crop”). (UPDATE: “Triple Underpass” has surfaced! More here.)

Here’s another urban scene, “Industrial Dallas,” with what looks like the Medical Arts Building in the background.

mcclung_industrial-dallas_david-dike-gallery_jan-2016-catDavid Dike Fine Art

I always love to see artistic renderings of the Dallas skyline, and I really like these two city scenes which are so different from McClung’s usual subject matter.

Florence McClung (née White) was born in St. Louis in 1894. Her family moved to Dallas, and she eventually studied art under several of Dallas’ finest instructor-artists (including Frank Reaugh). After several years as a college art instructor in Waxahachie, she began to participate in numerous group shows, juried shows, and one-man shows, reaching the peak of her career in the 1930s and 1940s. She died in 1992 at the age of 97. Art-wise, that spans the years from Toulouse-Lautrec to Banksy!

I had a hard time finding photos of her, but I managed to find two, including her senior photo which appeared in the 1912 yearbook of Dallas High School (more commonly known today as Crozier Tech) (where, incidentally, she was in the Art Club with Allie Tennant who went on to become a noted sculptor, best known for her Tejas Warrior at the Hall of State in Fair Park).

mcclung_florence-e-white_dallas-high-school_1912
Florence White, Dallas High School yearbook, 1912

mcclung-florence_circa-late-1930s
Florence McClung, circa late 1930s

***

Sources & Notes

I ran across the “Dallas Cityscape” painting on the CASETA (Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art) site.

The top painting has the title “Dallas Cityscape” and media mentions of it carry the date 1941. I couldn’t find a painting by McClung with that title (admittedly, my sources are limited!). Also, 1941 seems off because construction of the Mercantile Bank Building (seen in the painting) wasn’t completed until 1942. I wonder if it’s possible that this painting actually was the painting McClung titled “Big D” (which was most likely painted in 1944) and was included in her 1945 show at the DMFA? Might those planes have something to do with World War II? Because the Portal to Texas History has been so nice to scan them, McClung’s application for a show at the DMFA can be seen here, and her list of works to be shown is here.

“Industrial Dallas” is from a January, 2016 auction catalogue from David Dike Fine Art.

The Handbook of Texas entry for Florence Elliott White McClung can be found here.

A selection of works by Florence McClung from the Dallas Museum of Art can be found on the SMU Central University Libraries Digital Collections site, here.

UPDATE, Oct., 2018: “Triple Underpass,” from the same period as the two paintings above, has surfaced — more about it can be found in the post “‘Triple Underpass’ by Florence McClung — 1945,” here.

All images larger when clicked.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: