Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Year-End Best of 2014

Year-End List! Most Popular Posts of 2014


by Paula Bosse

I’m so happy that so many people have found their way to Flashback Dallas in its first year! I knew that Dallasites were interested in the history of their city, but I had no idea how many were! Thank you!

These are the posts that you, the readers, clicked on, shared, and “liked” the most in 2014. To see the original posts, click the titles.


Top 10 Most Popular Photo-Based Posts of 2014

1. “Henry Stark’s ‘Bird’s Eye View of Dallas’ — 1895/97.” This one was so far ahead of the other posts that there’s no contest in its being the #1 post of the year. Thousands and thousands of people have clicked on and shared this post — in one day alone, it was viewed over 3,000 times! Thanks, Houston Public Library, for scanning this photo at such a high resolution — that was what made it possible for me to zoom in on the otherwise easily-overlooked details contained in this great photo!

2. “‘A Cavalcade of Texas’ — Dallas, Filmed in Technicolor, 1938.” Another post that got a HUGE number of hits. “A Cavalcade of Texas” was a feature-length, full color documentary filmed around Texas in 1938, with two scenes filmed in Dallas. When I wrote this post at the end of September, the YouTube video had about 1,000 views — today it has almost 4,500 views. It’s pretty amazing (and pretty weird…) seeing Dallas from this period in color.

3. “I-35E Looking South: A Landscape Blissfully Free of Cars and Strip Malls — 1964.” The popularity of this one comes almost entirely from a mention on Reddit. If I could harness the power of the Redditor army, I could — dare I say — rule the world! (Even though one of them snippily dismissed the post’s title as “Luddite nostalgia.” What can I say? I love the surreal sight of empty highways.) This is one of those incredibly large photos I try to post whenever I can — this one is almost alarming in its enormity!

4. “The Dallas Morning News Building, Inside and Out — ca. 1900.” I love these photos. I have a particular fondness for office furnishings of this period. And that mail chute is COOL.

5. “Highland Park Methodist Church — 1927.” This one kind of surprised me. I’d never seen the main photo before and thought it was interesting, but I had no idea it would be so popular. Redditors may be a powerful bloc, but never underestimate the Methodists!

6. “Waiting on a Streetcar on a Sunny Winter Day in Oak Cliff — 1946.” I love this one, too. Especially since it contains my favorite photo of the year.

7. “Captain Marvel Fights the Mole Men in Dallas! — 1944.” Dallas gets the comic book treatment with all sorts of odd cameos by famous buildings and local celebs. This is GREAT. Shazam!

8. “University Park, Academic Metropolis — ca. 1915.” An almost-deserted Park Cities landscape, showing what the intersection of Hillcrest and University looked like in 1915 — the year that SMU opened. Scroll down the post to the link to another super-gigantic image that’s so big you can almost read the letters in the mailbox.

9. “The Oak Cliff Viaduct & The Weird Composite Photo — 1912.” Fun in the darkroom, or, early photo-shop. It takes a while to realize that what you’re looking at doesn’t exist. Check out all three cool photos — two are real, one is not.

10. “The Trinity River at the City’s Doorstep.” The second photo is fantastic. Go look at it NOW!


Top 10 Research-Based Posts of 2014

1. “The World’s Largest Santa & The Christmas Tragedy — 1953.” Very popular. I just posted this last week and it’s already jumped up to the fifth overall most popular post of the year!

2. “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935.” I kind of slaved over this one, so I’m happy it was so popular.

3. “The Elm Street Cave — 1967.” It’s hard to believe the city took so long to fix this giant hole in the middle of downtown. It became quite the running joke, sort of like the notorious “Hole on Cole.”

4. “Happy 75th Anniversary, Stonewall!” I actually went to Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, so the popularity of this post makes me very happy. I learned lots of things about a school I thought I already knew.

5. “Start Your Brilliant Career at Dallas Telegraph College — ca. 1900.” Forget “plastics.” Telegraphy is the future, young people.

6. “Send Your Kids to Prep School ‘Under the Shadow of SMU’ — 1915.” The Powell University Training School opened the same year as SMU, right across the street. The building is still there. The fields where the cash-strapped headmaster had his students harvesting wheat and vegetables to make ends meet are not. (Read the PDF linked at the bottom of the post to read about this unorthodox trading of farm labor for tuition.)

7. “The Marsalis House: One of Oak Cliff’s ‘Most Conspicuous Architectural Landmarks.'” A beautiful house built by (and abandoned by) the developer of Oak Cliff became a medical sanitarium and, later, a girl’s seminary before it unceremoniously burned to the ground.

8. “Little Peruna: He Died With His Mustang Bridle On — 1934.” The story of the sudden death of SMU’s first miniature horse mascot is not one I would have thought I’d enjoy writing, but the discovery of the wonderfully overwrought obituary penned by an unnamed Dallas Morning News writer (…who might have been imbibing at the time…) made this post one of my favorites of the year.

9. Dewey Groom and The Longhorn Ballroom.” The man who made the Longhorn Ballroom one of the premiere country dancehalls in the nation deserves more recognition than he gets. (Still hoping that “Dewey” makes its way back into the baby-name pool.)

10. “Wanted in Dallas: Refugee Children — 1940.” There was a movement during World War II to bring child refugees from Europe to Dallas where they could live in safety for the duration of the war.


Thanks again for reading, and I wish everyone a Happy 2015!


For all the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List! My Favorite Posts of 2014

hines_canton-pearlFrom my favorite post of the year, a look at Canton & Pearl (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

As 2014 draws to a close, one feels compelled to make a list of accomplishments. And this year I’ve actually accomplished something! I started Flashback Dallas back in February, and according to the stats, I’ve written over 350 posts in 2014! That’s pretty shocking. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites, which was difficult, because, honestly, I like them all. There wasn’t a single thing I wrote about this year that I didn’t find interesting or entertaining in some way. Thank you to everyone who checks in occasionally — this has been the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done! Who says history has to be dull! (To read the full posts described in the list below, click the titles.)


“The Runyonesque Pearl Street Market, Full of Colorful Characters and an Army of Rats.” This was, by far, my favorite post of the year — to read about, to research, and to write. Before we had a Farmers Market, we had the wonderfully seedy Pearl Street Market. If the length of this post frightens you, might I direct you to the shorter, weirder collection of police blotter reports about the area I compiled, here. How can you resist a headline like “$1,500 Dope Cache Found Under Pile of Pineapples”?

“When Halloween in Dallas Was Mostly ‘Trick’ and Very Little ‘Treat.'” Back when everyone became a juvenile delinquent on Halloween.

“The Ladies’ Reading Circle: An Influential Women’s Club Organized by Black Teachers in 1892.” This was an incredible group of women who have been sadly overlooked.

“The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935.” I know nothing about trains, but I found all of this fascinating. The most-researched subject I wrote about all year.

“That Time When Dallas Changed the Number of Every Single Street in Town — 1911.” I loved writing this. And the only reason I did was because I couldn’t find out why the city had changed street addresses all at once — so I researched it, just to find out for myself. Now I know.

“Gusher at Old Red! — 1890.” How had I never heard about this incredibly important discovery of water from an artesian well sunk on the grounds of the Old Red Courthouse?

“Dallas in 1879 — Not a Good Time To Be Mayor.” Shoot-out in the courtroom. (The best thing about this post was reading the startlingly gruesome contemporary coverage of the incident in the newspaper — the link to the newspaper article is at the bottom of the post.)

 “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House … In Preston Hollow — 1948.” If you love the Cary Grant-Myrna Loy movie, you’ll enjoy this. My favorite thing here is the recording of a promo that actor Melvyn Douglas did for a Dallas radio station when he was in town. It’s at the end of the post. It’s great.

“Jordan Moore.” I really loved trying to piece together the life of a man who left behind only a handful of photographs.

“Oriental Oil Company: Fill ‘er Up Right There at the Curb.” Who would have guessed that reading about early gas pumps could be so interesting? Like many of the things I’ve written about, this post was sparked by something I stumbled across completely by accident.

“Jerry Scoggins, From WFAA Staff Musician to Pop Culture Icon.” I love this. You may think you don’t know who Jerry Scoggins is. You would be wrong.

“Mme. Koneman, High-Class Milliner.” From giant-plumed hats to a scandalous shooting!

“US Revenue Cutter ‘Carrie Nation’ Successfully Navigates the Trinity In Valiant Effort to Keep Dallas Dry! — 1931.” An extremely clever April Fool’s Day prank pulled by The Dallas Morning News, suggested by the notorious Bonehead Club of Dallas. There are so many great elements to the story, including a pretty funny photo manipulation.

“Jim Conner, Not-So-Mild-Mannered RFD Mail Carrier.” What started out as an interesting look at early mail delivery in Dallas took a very unexpected twist when I decided to find out more about Jim Conner, one of the very first rural postal carriers in Dallas.

“Ted Hinton’s Motor Lodge — From Bonnie & Clyde to Motel Heliport.” What does a man who ambushed and killed Bonnie & Clyde do once he’s retired from law enforcement? He opens a motor lodge, of course!

“Babe Didrikson — Oak Cliff Typist.” I knew nothing about Babe before I wrote this. Now I feel I know EVERYTHING! I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed writing about the woman considered by many to be the greatest all-around athlete of all time.

Runner-Up #1: “How Lincoln’s Assassination Was Reported in Dallas — 1865.” Not Dallas, per se, but … wow. This was shocking.

Runner-Up #2: “Not Every ‘Good Luck Trailer Park’ Story Has a Happy Ending — 1964.” Included just because it’s something you don’t come across every day: a newspaper account of a nightclub entertainer, his wife, and their monkey, found dead in a West Dallas trailer park. Yep.


For all the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List! My Favorite Photos Posted in 2014

jefferson-addison-det1Waiting for a streetcar in Oak Cliff, 1946 (detail) (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Another list! Here are my favorite photographs that I’ve posted over the past year. I’ve looked at and searched for more photos of Dallas in the past year than I have in all the other years of my life combined. Looking at historic images has always fascinated me, but when you’re looking at historic images of your hometown, it’s kind of thrilling (and it can also be depressing to see the things we’ve lost). For photo sources and credits — and to read the posts these photos originally appeared in (which are chock-full of interesting things, I promise!) — click the titles in the list below. (Most of the photos I post are usually much larger when clicked — some are gigantic!) Enjoy!


1. “Waiting For a Streetcar on a Sunny Winter Day in Oak Cliff — 1946.” My favorite photo of the year is the one posted above. It is a cropped image from a larger photo (which I also love) which was included in the post linked above. I’ve stared at this photo for so long that I feel I was there. I love everything about this photo.


2. “Oak Cliff Presbyterian Church, Organized 1890.” I’ve come back to linger over this photo time and time again. It’s perfect.


3. “The DFW Turnpike, Unsullied by Traffic, Billboards, or Urban Sprawl — 1957.” Just a fantastic, dreamy shot. I love the way the highway disappears into the distance. Imagine driving from Dallas to Fort Worth in 1957 on a road where billboards were not allowed and along which there were exactly two restaurants (for travelers who couldn’t make the full 30-minute drive without needing to stop for a meal). This shot, looking west, shows Arlington, right where Six Flags is today. Times change, man.


4. “Henry Stark’s ‘Bird’s Eye View of Dallas’ — 1895/96.” Without question, this is the most popular thing I’ve posted this year. I love this photo. It’s even better zoomed in on. Check out the original post to see this photo broken into four magnified crops — that’s when this photo goes from being merely “interesting” to being “incredibly interesting”!


5. “Swooning Over Love Field — 1940.” Be still, my heart!


6. “Canton Street: Poultry, Pecans, and Future Luxury Lofts.” I LOVE this photo. I had no idea the Farmers Market area ever looked like this. See post for what this same view looks like today.


7. “The Arcadia Theater Sign You’ve Never Seen.” This is especially wonderful to me because it shows Lower Greenville (the area I grew up in) back in the late ’20s/early ’30s — and it’s still recognizable today. This “tree” was a movie marquee that lit up at night, and it must have been quite a sight 85-or-so years ago.


8. “The Oak Cliff Viaduct & The Weird Composite Photo –1912.” My favorite component is the panoramic view of the city, but click the link to see what weird Franken-photo this (along with an incredible shot of the viaduct) got turned into!


9. “The Dallas Morning News Lobby — 1904.” Other than the spittoons, I wish places still looked like this. Read about those special mail boxes at the link.


10. “The Trinity River at the City’s Doorstep.” I was born and raised in Dallas, but I was only vaguely aware that the Trinity River had been “straightened,” which is one of the reasons this is such an amazing image for me (see the original post to see the larger photo this has been cropped from).


11. “A Lost Photo of Director Larry Buchanan, Celebrated ‘Schlockmeister’ — 1955.” One of my “discoveries” that got me all excited when I found it but which only a handful of other people will appreciate. If you know who Larry Buchanan is, you’ll probably smile at this. If you don’t know who he is, you should! Hie yourself over to this post and read why he’s important to the history of Dallas!


12. “Forget the Ferris Wheel, Take a Ride in a Centennial Rickshaw — 1936.” Yeah, seeing a rickshaw at the State Fair midway is kind of weird, but it’s not nearly as weird as this photo feels. I always think of “The Prisoner” when I see this. Bleak. And … odd.


13. “‘Life’ at the State Fair of Texas — 1951.” And speaking of Ferris wheels, this may be my favorite photo ever of the State Fair of Texas.


Runner-Up: ALL of the photos I’ve “zoomed in on” — I love the surprising vignettes hidden in photos. I love them all, but I’m particularly fond of one that shows Ervay & Main (“There are Eight Million Stories in the Naked City… — ca. 1920”). This is one of 14 (!) parts of the photo I zoomed in on, this one showing a woman sitting at a window in the Neiman’s building, watching the hustle and bustle below on Ervay. Click on the link above to see the original photo (and all the “vignettes”). For other photos I’ve “zoomed in on,” see them here.



For all the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Year-End List! My Favorite (Non-Photo) Images Posted in 2014

dozier_big-tex_sketchbook_1954_dma“Old Tex” sketch by Otis Dozier, 1954 — Dallas Museum of Art
© Marie Scott Miegel and Denni Davis Washburn

by Paula Bosse

It’s the end of the year, the traditional time for lists! Yesterday I compiled my favorite ads I’ve posted in 2014, today it’s my ten favorite images — either art or postcards (my favorite photographs of the year will be posted tomorrow). For more info on the images, click on the title of the post they originally came from. Most images are larger when clicked — some are quite a bit larger.


1. “Big Tex, Old Tex, Big Ol’ Tex — Whatever You Call Him, Otis Dozier Wins (1954)” (above)

2. “Alexandre Hogue’s ‘Calligraphic Tornado’ — 1970” (also, I want to mention the possibly previously unknown 1927 bookplate by Hogue that I discovered, here)

3. “Dallas’ Frank Lloyd Wright Skyscraper — 1946”


4. “William Lescaze’s Ultramodern Magnolia Lounge — 1936”


5. “J. M. Howell’s Dallas Nurseries — 1880s”


6. “The Marsalis House: One of Oak Cliff’s ‘Most Conspicuous Architectural Landmarks'”


7. “Frank Reaugh or Mark Rothko?”


8. “The Texas Fire Extinguisher Co. and Hitler — 1942”


9. “The Republic National Bank Building: Miles of Aluminum, Gold Leaf, and a Rocket”


10. “When the Flying Red Horse Could be Seen From Miles Away”



Honorable Mention: A whole bunch of cool night-time postcards in “Theatre Row — A Stunning Elm Street at Night.”


And, lastly, a runner-up, just because it’s so ridiculous it makes me chuckle every time I see it: a newspaper artist’s rendition of a massive fire that swept through downtown in 1896, from “Chas. Ott: One-Stop Shopping for Bicycles and Dynamite.”



For all the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List! My Favorite Dallas Ads Posted in 2014

ad-katy-komet_dmn_031733The Katy Komet — 1933 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s the end of the year, the time when people do lists. I love lists. So I’m going to be doing some over the next few days. Today, a collection of my favorite Dallas-related advertisements that I’ve posted over the past year. To see the original post (which includes sources and no doubt pithy commentary), click the title of each ad. And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read Flashback Dallas this year! (Most images larger when clicked.)


1.  The Katy Komet (1933) — above. My favorite ad of the year!

2.  M-K-T Railroad’s “Katy Flyer” Route (1902)


3.  Cokesbury Book Store (1959)


4.  W. W. Orr’s Carriages, Phaetons, Buggies, and Spring Wagons (1878)


5.  Majestic Theatre’s “Red River” Block Party (1948)


6.  Neiman-Marcus Mechanical Peruna Toy (1965)


7.  Irby-Mayes ad featuring the Mercantile Building (1948)


8.  Dr Pepper (1959)


9.  Earl’s Continental Buffet (1947)


10. Ring & Brewer (1956)


Runner-up: “Keep Oak Cliff Kinky” (1923)


For all the “Year-End Best of 2014” lists, click here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

That Time When Dallas Changed the Numbers of Every Single Street in Town — 1911

young-street-sign_flickrPhoto by Silver Lighthouse/Flickr

by Paula Bosse

Here’s a topic that isn’t very sexy, but it’s one of those mammoth-scale city-wide operations that had to be done, but no one wanted to tackle it because it was a huge undertaking and it was going to be a big hassle: re-numbering the streets. All of them. Throughout the entire city. I wasn’t aware that something like this had ever happened until I started using old criss-cross directories to try to pinpoint the location of old buildings that were originally built on streets that no longer exist (such as Poydras and Masten).

Why, for instance, is the current address of the Majestic Theatre 1925 Elm St., but in 1909 that same parcel of land on Elm had an address of 463 (-ish)? Weird, huh? Obviously street numbers changed at some point, but when? And why? Eventually I zeroed in on 1910 or 1911 as the year when addresses seemed to have changed, but I was having a hard time finding any information about what prompted the change in the first place. Until I hit on the key phrase “century system.” After that, my search became much easier.

As far back as the 1880s, the city seemed poised to address the haphazard street numbering situation, as it was causing “endless confusion” — the powers-that-be had even seemed to settled on the “century system” (so called because each block is numbered up to 100, with a new hundred starting in the next block). But progress moves at a snail’s pace in city government, and the plan didn’t start picking up steam until fifteen or twenty years later.

In the early days of the 20th century, the numbering of Dallas streets was, as one mail carrier described it, “freakish.” Numbers weren’t always consecutive. Sometimes odd and even numbers were on the same side of the street. Sometimes a run of numbers would suddenly start all over again. Houses sometimes had TWO numbers. People would move and expect to take their number with them. Buildings and houses often had NO numbers. Street signs were few and far between, and it wasn’t uncommon for street names to be duplicated in different parts of town. As you can imagine, unless you were intimately familiar with the area or neighborhood, chances were that you weren’t going to  be able to find anything. Unsurprisingly, the real pressure to come up with some sort of logical, uniform street numbering system came from the city’s postmasters and postal employees (that they managed to regularly deliver mail to the proper recipients is just short of miraculous).

Postmaster Albert G. Joyce (one in a line of several postmasters who tried to effect change over the years) wrote an impassioned/frustrated plea for action in 1904:


1904_street-numbering_dmn_051804b(DMN, May, 18, 1904)

Everyone agreed that something needed to be done — especially as the city’s population was growing at an astronomical rate, but … nothing got done. Here, at the end of 1907, another exasperated postal employee shared examples of the problem:

1907_street-numbering_dmn_120707(DMN, Dec. 7, 1907)

 By 1909, a plan was finally starting to come together. This article describes how the numbering system would be implemented downtown, starting from the Trinity River, with Main and Ervay being the east-west and north-south anchors:

1909-street-numbering_dmn_121709-ervay(DMN, Dec. 17, 1909)

Even though the plan had basically been decided on, it wasn’t put into action for at least a year. There were three main reasons to delay the implementation: city directories had already been compiled and were to be issued soon, the 1910 census survey was about to begin, and the post office (which would bear the brunt of the impact of the drastic change) asked that the changeover take place before or after the busy holiday season.

By the end of 1910, the final details had been hammered out. The main change to the previous version of the plan was that the city, rather than the property owners, would pay for the re-numbering. Also, I don’t know if this was a new detail or not, but there is mention here that numbering east of Greenville Ave. would “begin anew.” The re-numbering was expected to be completed in January, 1911.

1910-street-numbering_dmn_100110(DMN, Oct. 1, 1910)

By the middle of January, 1911 the long-put-off task was completed, ending in Oak Cliff. The cost to the city of the “number placement” and the new street signs was $10,500.

1911_street-numbering_dmn_011511(DMN, Jan. 15, 1911)

The problem that had been moaned about for decades had been fixed, and a uniform system of street numbering had finally been put in place.

 1911_street-numbering_dmn_043011(DMN, Apr., 30, 1911)

 I can’t imagine how much of a headache and how unbelievably confusing the whole process and aftermath must have been. Several businesses, concerned that their clientele might have a difficult time “finding” them, hedged their bets by including BOTH address — the old and the new — on their letterhead and in their ads. This two-address thing went on for quite a while with some businesses — in fact, leading real estate man J. W. Lindsley was so annoyed by this practice that he complained about it to the Morning News in 1916 (a full five years after the switch!). Even though, ahem, Lindsley was one of the few advertisers in the Blue Book Directory for 1912-14 who did that very thing:


Unlike his competitor, Murphy & Bolanz, who had just the one (but still felt compelled to add the “new” to the address):


And that is today’s lesson on how Dallas finally bit the bullet and gave the entire city new addresses.

(And now I know that Neiman Marcus apparently IS the center of Dallas.)



UPDATE: HOW TO FIND THE OLD OR NEW ADDRESS. When I first wrote this, I’m not sure if I knew about the very handy resource Jim Wheat provided on his website: the 1911 Worley’s Dallas street directory, here. This is one way you can determine what the post-address-changeover was if you know the pre-1911 address (or vice-versa): find the street name and click on it. You’ll find two columns: one showing the “new” address, and the other the “old” address. (These aren’t always exact, but it at least gets you in the right block number to investigate further.) If you don’t know a specific address, you can make an educated guess according to the cross-streets. Thank you, Jim Wheat!


Photo of Young St. sign from Flickr, here. It’s great.

All newspaper articles from The Dallas Morning News.

The two real estate ads from The Standard Blue Book of Texas, 1912-14, Dallas Edition (Dallas: A. J. Peeler and Company, n.d.).

 Slightly fuzzy Ervay-Main sign from Google Street View.

An early article about this issue, “Street Numbering, A Neglected Matter to Receive Attention Soon” (Dallas Daily Times-Herald, Nov. 22, 1889) can be found here.

And if you’re interested in just what goes into tackling a problem like this in modern times, hie yourself over to “Street-Naming and Property-Numbering Systems” by Margaret A. Corwin (American Planning Assn., ca. 1976). Read the entire report here, in a PDF. I’m nothing if not thorough.



Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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