Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Year-End Best of 2016

Year-End List! Most Popular Posts of 2016

bonnie-parker_wikipediaHometown gal Bonnie Parker tops the 2016 Flashback Dallas charts

by Paula Bosse

2016 will be over in a matter of hours, and 2017 is barreling straight at us like a freight train that can’t be stopped. At the end of the year, we are besieged by “Best Of” lists — and, hey, here’s another one! It’s also a time to reflect and, I don’t know … ponder and nod knowingly about all that’s happened.

Flashback Dallas has been monopolizing my time for almost three years now. I’ve written over 800 Dallas history posts — which is shocking even to me. (Where did I find the energy?) The blog has gotten over half a million page-views and has over 7,000 followers across the hills and dales of social media. No one is more surprised by these numbers than I am. I’m so happy that there are other people out there who seem to be as interested in the history of Dallas as I am!

I’ve posted my personal favorite Flashback Dallas photos and posts over the past few days, and now it’s time to post the readers’ favorites. As always, I appreciate everyone who reads and comments, here and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Let’s all have a happy and productive 2017! (To see the original full-length posts, click the links highlighted in blue.)

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1. “BONNIE PARKER: ‘BURIED IN AN ICE-BLUE NEGLIGEE’ — 1934”
People will never tire of reading about Bonnie & Clyde. This post — which was basically just a transcription of a handwritten account by a Dallas mortician detailing how he prepared Bonnie Parker’s badly disfigured body for public viewing — was far and away the top (new) Flashback Dallas post of 2016. The account — on Adolphus Hotel stationery — is from the George W. Cook Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library. And it really is great.

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2. “PRESTON AND VALLEY VIEW: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM — 1958”
Everyone loves aerial photos that show what the city looked like before endless asphalt sprawl hit us over the head and stole our souls. And this view of what would soon become LBJ Freeway was incredibly popular. I tear up a little every time I see it.

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3. “4th OF JULY AT WHITE ROCK LAKE — 1946”
This wonderful photo of White Rock picnickers and swimmers, taken near the Bath House on July 4th, 1946, is so jam-packed with interesting little vignettes that it was a perfect candidate to zoom in on (see all the magnified details at the link above). Great photo! [EDIT: Sadly, this photo has been removed — with luck it (and this post) will return!)

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1962_before-school_ndhs_1962-yrbk4. “NORTH DALLAS HIGH SCHOOL, THE PRE-BEATLES ERA”
This post, which featured lots of photos from the 1960, 1962, and 1963 NDHS yearbooks, was shared all over the place. NDHS grads are a proud people. (The companion post — here — contained ads from these same yearbooks.)

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5. “NORTHPARK — 1965”
There’s nothing like a good series of photos about the nostalgic memories of shopping to get Dallasites’ pulses racing. NorthPark seems to rank pretty high in the heart-cockle-warming department.


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6. “VALDI WILCOX (1948-2004)”
This was a story I stumbled on completely by accident. I saw a full-page photo in a 1948 issue of The Dallas Morning News of an attractive young couple and their baby out for a stroll in Lake Cliff Park. They seemed so happy and full of hope. I thought it would be interesting to trace the life of the unseen baby in the baby carriage. Her story was unexpectedly tragic.

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7. “A FEW ADS FROM THE PAGES OF THE 1963 AND 1967 KIMBALL HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOKS”
High school yearbooks are a great source of photos, ads, and pop culture. Oak Cliff nostalgia is always popular.

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central-expwy_forest-ave_092955_squire-haskins_UTA8. “SOUTH CENTRAL EXPRESSWAY UNDER CONSTRUCTION — 1955”
I love this photo, and I hate this photo. On one hand, it’s kind of cool-looking, on the other, it shows the absolute devastation inflicted upon South Dallas by the construction of South Central Expressway. See the original post for the charming fire station that was demolished along with huge swaths of a once-vibrant neighborhood.

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9. “BELMONT & GREENVILLE: FROM CARUTH FARMLAND TO HUB OF LOWER GREENVILLE”
A research-heavy post I’m happy to see on this list. A look at the history of one block in Lower Greenville.


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10. “‘GREETINGS FROM DALLAS, TEXAS’ — 1955”
If I had a “viral” post this year, it was this one. This completely innocuous post featuring a very un-Dallas-looking postcard was posted as a joke. But, lo and behold, it began to be shared all over Facebook and Twitter and caused a surprising amount of discussion. There were a lot of people who were insistent that this Colorado-looking image was taken in the DFW area. Somehow the story was picked up by The Dallas Morning News and was printed in the actual newspaper edition! Crazy man.

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Speaking of viral posts, the granddaddy of them all in Flashback Dallas-land is “CARHOPS AS SEX SYMBOLS — 1940” — it is the most-viewed post I’ve ever written, and, in fact, this 2015 post was this year’s top post. Seems people can’t get enough of male carhops in satin short-shorts and cowboy boots.

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Again, thank you to everyone who has read, is reading, will read, will have read, and has considered-but-never-really-gotten-around-to reading anything I’ve written. It’s always more fun when you can share fun and unusual Dallas factoids with other like-minded people! Let’s hope 2017 is packed with more good stuff!

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See all three 2016 “Best Of” Flashback Dallas lists here.

See all Flashback Dallas Year-End lists — past and present — here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Year-End List! My Favorite Posts of 2016

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by Paula Bosse

As 2016 winds down, it’s time to take a look back. Below are some of my favorite Flashback Dallas posts from the past year. I tend to get lost in the sheer joy of researching things, and, inevitably, I discover ten other interesting, unrelated things while wading through newspaper articles and city directories. I can truthfully say I’m never bored. So here is a sampling of the 220-or-so posts I wrote this year which I particularly enjoying researching and writing. (To see the original full-length posts, click the titles.)

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1. THE BLUE  HOUSE ON BROWDER

In January, the house seen above was in the news because it was in the crosshairs of a bulldozer (if a bulldozer had crosshairs). What was one of the last remaining 19th-century houses in The Cedars area was slated to be torn down in order to make way for a parking lot. I first read about the outcry from preservationists in Robert Wilonsky’s Dallas Morning News reports. There wasn’t a lot of historical information about the house, so I set out to see if I could find out when and by whom the house was built. And I think I did (in short, 1885-ish, by Max Rosenfield). I don’t know if my research had any role at all in helping to save the house, but last I heard, the house was to be moved from its original spot to a new place nearby. I just checked Google Street View (here) and, as of July, 2016, the house was still there. I haven’t been down to the area since this all erupted — was it ever moved?

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I tackled the research as a big puzzle, and it shows how much research one can do without ever leaving home. It was a marathon research project, and after hours and hours of working to figure the puzzle out, I sent a message to Robert Wilonsky at 4:58 a.m., and he passed the info on to his readers. This kind of historical detective work can be a lot of fun.

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2. BELMONT & GREENVILLE: FROM CARUTH FARMLAND TO HUB OF LOWER GREENVILLE

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A look at everything that has ever occupied one Lower Greenville block, from a Caruth family homestead, to Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls, to a swingin’ ’60s apartment complex, to a retirement community, to an empty lot that’s been waiting for development for a surprisingly long time.

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3. DALLAS FIRE STATIONS — 1901

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A collection of absolutely WONDERFUL photographs of Dallas’ turn-of-the-century firehouses.

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4. BEAUTIFUL SOUTH ERVAY STREET — ca. 1910

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Postcard proof that the area south of downtown was once a fashionable and desirable part of town in which to live. Read it and weep.

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5. “DELUSIONS OF AFFABILITY” — MARIJUANA IN 1930s DALLAS

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Yep, that’s right. Wrote about weed.

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6. UNDER THE PAW OF THE TIGER: TAKING THE COCAINE, MORPHINE, AND OPIUM “CURE” — 1890s

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I’m sensing a theme here. Speaking of illicit substances, Dallas had a big cocaine problem in the 1890s — find out where addicts went to take the cure.

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7. ZAP THOSE EXTRA POUNDS AWAY IN MRS. RODGERS’ ELECTRIC CHAIR — 1921

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I don’t know why I enjoyed writing this one so much. But I did.

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8. THOMAS MARSALIS’ SPECTACULAR OAK CLIFF HOTEL: 1890-1945

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Marsalis’ hotel was an immense show-stopper. How is it possible that it stood until 1945, only to be replaced by a Southwestern Bell building?

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9. HOW DALLAS USED TO GET ELECTION RETURNS

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I loved this one. And I finally found the photo I had searched for forEVER — a photo showing a crowd looking up to the unseen magic screen of returns. I’ve just added it as the lead photo. Closure!

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10. COLD SMUT: HENRY MILLER’S “TROPIC OF CANCER” BANNED IN DALLAS — 1961

In 1961 it was illegal for booksellers in Dallas (and Boston) to sell a copy of Henry Miller’s notorious book, which was originally published in 1934. I didn’t know about this until I ran across a sarcastically amusing Letter to the Editor, written by my father, a bookseller, in the Dallas Morning News archives.

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11. GIRLS SOFTBALL IN DALLAS, HUGELY POPULAR

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I have no real interest in sports, but each time I’ve written about sports I’ve enjoyed it. I had no idea how popular amateur girls’ softball was in Dallas in the late 1930s and early 1940s — so popular that attendance to those games was putting a dent in attendance at the professional (men’s) games. Best thing about this story? The names of some of the star players — names like Tinker Tarker, Mutt McFanning, and Pud Adams.

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12. PRESTON STURGES: CAMP DICK’S MOST FAMOUS FORMER CADET? — 1918

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I love the witty and fast-paced movies of writer-director Preston Sturges (“The Lady Eve,” “The Palm Beach Story,” “Sullivan’s Travels,” etc.). Who knew he had spent some very sweaty days at the WWI aviation boot camp at Fair Park. He wrote about his brief time in Dallas in his memoirs — this is my favorite line: “Nights we would climb up the shaky apex of the large roller coaster in the corner of the fairgrounds to try to find a breeze.”

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13. THE JEFFERSON HOTEL AND ITS “WIRELESS TELEGRAPH” ROOFTOP TOWER — 1921

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I had planned merely to post a great photo taken from Union Station showing Houston Street and the Jefferson Hotel — and then I noticed a tower on top of the hotel and wondered what it was. And so I dug in, and it was unexpectedly interesting!

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14. THE UNION DEPOT HOTEL BUILDING, DEEP ELLUM — 1898-1968

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A couple of years ago I ran across an interesting article about an old depot-adjacent hotel and wanted to write about it, but I could never find any mention of it anywhere. Eventually I realized the article had the hotel’s name wrong and decided to find out more about the real hotel which stood across from the once-crazy-busy Union Depot in the area we now call Deep Ellum. The man who built the hotel was … large. Over 400 pounds. And because of him, I now know that Dallas had a popular Fat Men’s Club.

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15. THE GATEWAY TO JUNIUS HEIGHTS

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I’m sure I’ve seen the two large East Dallas pillars which now stand across from each other on Abrams, near the Lakewood Library where I spent big chunks of my childhood, but I knew absolutely nothing about them until I decided to see why they existed in the first place: they were the entrance to the new “Top O’ Junius Heights” development. I’ve added several new images, including a great early photo from a 1909 real estate ad.

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Runners-Up!

1. MURIEL WINDHAM — AN OAK CLIFF TEENAGER’S 1940s DIARY

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Muriel was a precocious teenager, obsessed with movies and Bob Hope, and her diary — transcribed by her son — is wonderful. I’ve read through the entire thing twice. There are occasional references to her Oak Cliff neighborhood and Dallas happenings, but it’s more of a cozy look at a time which I wish I had experienced. Muriel’s writing is the best thing about this. I attempted to flesh out her later life a bit, but the star is Muriel all the way.

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2. BONNIE PARKER: “BURIED IN AN ICE-BLUE NEGLIGEE” — 1934

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My first sentence pretty much sums it up: “This amazing (and amazingly gruesome) first-hand account of an unnamed McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home undertaker details the incredible amount of work required to prepare the bullet-ridden body of celebrity outlaw Bonnie Parker for burial.” It’ll widen some eyes and raise some eyebrows.

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3. HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: A PHOTO HISTORY OF DALLAS’ GAY BARS OF THE 1970s

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I wrote about Dallas’ gay-bar-scene for the online Dallas publication Central Track, using many photos from the early 1970s. These photos show the exteriors of clubs and bars which were meeting places for LGBT Dallasites at a time when being gay was either illegal, dangerous, or just widely frowned-upon. I would guess that many of the photos are the only documentation of these places (and many of these neighborhoods are now gone). Not a Flashback Dallas post, per se, but close enough. I really enjoyed researching and writing about an under-reported part of Dallas culture and history. (And, hey! It was one of Central Track’s 15 Most Read Stories of 2016!)

A related post — GENE’S MUSIC BAR, THE LASSO BAR, AND THE ZOO BAR — was also fun to write. Both of these articles have great photos.

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More ahead in 2017! Thanks for reading!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Year-End List! My Favorite Photos Posted in 2016

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by Paula Bosse

Another year is coming to a close. Time for an inevitable year-end “best of” list! Or actually three lists. The first is a list containing some of my personal favorite photos I’ve come across over the past year. I’m sure I’ve left out some, but these are still pretty great. They are in no particular order. Click the highlighted title of the 2016 Flashback Dallas post in which the photo appeared for more info; click the photo itself to see a larger image.

The photo at the top appeared in the post “Melons On Ice — 1890s” (the title comes from a sign advertising melons for sale at Wiley’s Cash Grocery). I’d never seen this photo and was initially a little confused trying to figure out exactly where it had been taken. The Old Red Courthouse is a pretty big hint. The strip of businesses was on Commerce, on land now occupied by the Kennedy Memorial block.

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From the post “Tomatoes, Cokes, Dominoes: Cadiz Street — 1959.” I love seeing old photos of the Farmers Market area. Like this one. What I wouldn’t give to have the old gritty, grimy, worn, and real Farmers Market back.

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“4th of July, White Rock Lake — 1946.” The war is over, and everyone looks happy and relaxed. This was the most-viewed photo I posted this year. I love it. From the Seurat-like composition (see the post for explanation) to the fact that a reader commented that she recognized her aunt and cousins in this photo (the five women sitting in a row, behind the two women with their legs propped up). So much is going on here — it was a great photo to zoom in on. [EDIT: Photo is currently unavailable — it and the post may return at a later date….]

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“Parasols on the SMU Campus — 1917.” I love this photo.

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“Preston and Valley View: The Calm Before the Storm — 1958.” The second  most-viewed Flashback Dallas picture posted in 2016. In just a few short years this bucolic vista would be replaced by LBJ Freeway.

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This photo is just so fantastic. It shows Madison High School’s ROTC “Sweeethearts,” and it may be my favorite school yearbook photo ever. From the post “The Esquire Club, The Charm Club, and The Riflettes: James Madison High School — 1970.”

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“On the Grounds of Ursuline Academy and Convent.” Back when Old East Dallas was really old.

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“Pacific Avenue: Watch for Trains! — ca. 1917.” Pacific looking east from Akard. I wish the quality of this image were better, but even washed-out, this Frank Rogers photo of a train whooshing along Pacific is cool.

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“Gene’s Music Bar, The Lasso Bar, and The Zoo Bar.” I love this — Akard looking north toward the Adolphus. This post also has another photo fave in it: the Zoo Bar on Commerce.

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“Bob-O-Links Golf Course — 1924-1973.” I grew up not too far from this area, and I can’t believe that it ever looked like this. The street on the left is Abrams; the view is to the southeast. The East Dallas golf course for those who couldn’t afford to join the Lakewood Country Club.

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“Dallas Midway, Night Illumination — 1936.” A moody midway during the Texas Centennial.

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“Home Sweet Home at Commerce & Harwood.” Yep, houses downtown.

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Desperate for a corny dog out of season? Luckily there was a place to get them. “Fletcher’s State Fair Drive-In — 1960-1963.”

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“The Skyline Beyond — 1950.” The haves and the have-nots.

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Sometimes photos of houses just call to me. Like this still-standing home of former mayor W. C. Connor in Highland Park. “The House at Crescent & Byron, Highland Park.”

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And, well, you have to have runners-up.

“North Dallas High School, The Pre-Beatles Era” had so many great photos from the 1960, ’62, and ’63 yearbooks. The two below were my favorites.

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And, finally, a personal favorite, a photo I stumbled across which I’m pretty sure shows the back of my father’s head when he was a grad student at SMU in 1956 (he’s in the white shirt in the foreground). I also love the photo of my mother at SMU from the same year (she’s the third from the left on the top row). From the post “The Digital Collections of SMU’s Central University Libraries: The Gold Standard.”

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

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