Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Tag: Dallas TX

Independence Day at Shady View Park — 1880s

4th-of-july_shady-view-park_FW-daily-democrat_061482Grand Fourth of July Celebration! (1882)

by Paula Bosse

A popular gathering place in Dallas for picnics and celebrations in the last couple of decades of the nineteenth century was Shady View Park, a sort of “private park” in which beer could be sold. It was out in the hinterlands — at the end of the San Jacinto streetcar line, at San Jacinto St. and N. Washington Ave. in Old East Dallas.

4th of July celebrations were often held there. Below is a breathless and comma-laden recounting of the 1884 event which throbbed with patriotism ‘neath the umbrageous branches.

At the Park.

Every car that rolled out to the park was crowded with people and hacks, and vehicles of every description drove a lively business in carrying out passengers. A band discoursed patriotic music and added life and pleasure to the assemblage of two thousand people that thronged the beautiful grounds and lounged ‘neath the umbrageous branches of the trees where only a few years since the so-called noble child of the forest roamed, so to speak. It was a great gathering and a great day in the history of our country and if there was a bosom on the grounds that did not throb with patriotism it was not manifest, for had there been and had it been known such a recreant would have been jack-ketched upon the spot.  

At 3 p.m. Dr. Schuhl, in a clear, distinct voice, read that remarkable document, the Declaration of Independence, and when he concluded the crowd made the welkin ring with the shouts of liberty. Several Russian exiles who were on the grounds and to whom friends had interpreted the meaning of the meeting, rushed up to an American flag near by, and raising their hands heavenwards as though they would bless the colors, kissed them reverentially. The English, our kinsmen, were there, and were by no means lacking in patriotism. They blessed this country, shook hands all around, but never forgot the Queen, and never once did the true American. England of 1776 is not England of 1884. “By golly!” said old Swamp Fox, an eccentric character, “if old Gen. George Washington and them boys what signed artikle of agreement could be here and see this I would be willing to die this minute and go to the bad.” When the enthusiasm was at fever heat Dr. Arch Cochran was called for and responded in a stirring speech. He was followed by Mr. J. M. Hurt, jr., the orator of the day, a son of Judge Hurt of the Court of Appeals, who delivered an address, which was well received, as evidenced by the rounds of applause that followed it. 
 
The Dance. 
 
The grand pavilion was then cleared and the merry dancers glided over the waxed floor, keeping time with nimble feet to the sweet strains of music. It was resumed after supper and continued until far into the night. The park was illuminated with lanterns and presented a beautiful scene. Everything passed off pleasantly, and all left, carrying with them sweet memories of the festivities of the glorious Fourth of 1884 at Shady View park. 
 
The day was celebrated at Mayer’s garden and Meisterhans’ pavilion, and by private parties who went on excursions to the country to picnic. In the city there were pyrotechnic displays. (Dallas Daily Herald, July 5, 1884)

4th-of-july_dallas-herald_070584
Dallas Herald, July 5, 1884 (click for larger image)

Shady View Park/San Jacinto Park was around from at least 1881, possibly from the 1870s. Its main reason for existing seems to have been to attract people to the area to build homes (on land owned by Col. William J. Keller, who also, I believe, owned the streetcar). Here’s another breathless description of the park, possibly written by the same person who wrote the above article (or at least another person smitten with the word “umbrageous”).

shady-view_dal-herald_053181
Dallas Herald, May 31, 1881

The location of the park can be seen at the top of the circa-1898 map below.

shady-view-park_ca1898-map

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Sources & Notes

Articles from the Dallas Daily Herald were found at the Portal to Texas History.

The ad at the top is from The Fort Worth Daily Democrat, June 14, 1882, which was also found at the Portal to Texas History.

4th-of-july_shady-view-park_FW-daily-democrat_061482_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Highland Park High School: Ads from the 1959 Yearbook

city-mercury_car-dealership_HPHS-yrbk_1959_ad_photoCity Downtown Mercury, 2100 Cedar Springs

by Paula Bosse

I love the ads from old high school yearbooks — especially the ones that featured students. Below is a sampling of advertisements from the 1959 Highlander, the yearbook of Highland Park High School.

Above, City Downtown Mercury, 2100 Cedar Springs — R. J. “Bob” Acton, manager. New and used cars. Cool sign.

city-mercury_car-dealership_HPHS-yrbk_1959_ad

Below, the Sam Snead School of Golf, 5960 Northwest Highway. Ad features HPHS golf team member Tommy Abbott. (Most images are larger when clicked.)

sam-snead-school-of-golf_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Hillcrest Hi-Fi and Records, 6309 Hillcrest.

hillcrest-hi-fi_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Sanborn’s Hi-Fi Center, 5551 W. Lovers Lane. Featuring Jim Stiff and Brian Stiff and their loafers.

sanborns-hi-fi-center_HPHS-yrbk_1959

And because everyone was high-fi crazy in 1959, another one: Custom Music of Dallas, High Fidelity Specialists, 3212-14 Oak Lawn — Oong Choi, technical supervisor. (Oong Choi was listed in a 1956 newspaper article as being a philosophy student at the Dallas Theological Seminary who was presenting a lecture on the children of Korea.)

custom-music-of-dallas_hi-fi_oong-choi_HPHS-yrbk_1959

A & L Upholstery, 5617 East University.

a-and-l-upholstery_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Mr. Drue’s Beauty Salon, 6808 Snider Plaza — Duffy D. Houghton, prop.

mr-drues-beauty-salon_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Holiday Cleaning and Laundry, 5540 Preston Road, between St. Andrews and Mockingbird.

holiday-cleaning_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Cline Music Co., 1307 Elm Street.

cline-music-co_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Wall’s Delicatessen, 10749 Preston Road, at Royal Lane — Milton Wall and Rose Wall, props. Wall’s opened at Preston and Royal in 1950, one of the area’s first business — the landmark closed in 1987 when the family changed its focus to catering.

walls-deli_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Preston State Bank, 8111 Preston Road. “Check the time — Check the temperature — And drive by often.” The time is currently 9:14.

preston-state-bank_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Asburn’s Ice Cream, various locations. Featuring HPHS students Terry Coverdale and Susan Zadic, with impressively balanced six-dip cones.

ashburns-ice-cream_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Fabric House, 8317 Westchester. Featuring Patsy Wilson, who is shown contemplating “something swishy.”fabric-house_patsy-wilson_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Henry Miller Insurance Agency, 5010 Greenville Avenue. Featuring Venetian blinds.

henry-miller-insurance_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Little Bit of Sweden restaurant, 254 Inwood Village. Featuring smorgasbord.

little-bit-of-sweden_smorgasbord_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Village Camera Shop, 86 Highland Park Village — Al Cooter, owner. Featuring student Susie Stone.

village-camera_cooters_HPHS-yrbk_1959

W. R. Fine Galleries, 2524 Cedar Springs. 

fine-galleries_2524-cedar-springs_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Friendly Chevrolet, 5526 E. Mockingbird Lane. Featuring HPHS students Mary Jane York, Sarah McNay, and Mary Lee Jones sitting in the trunk of a car.

friendly-chevrolet_HPHS-yrbk_1959

The We Three Weber’s Root Beer drive-in,  5060 W. Lovers Lane.

we-three-at-webers_5060-lovers-lane_HPHS-yrbk_1959_photo

we-three-at-webers_5060-lovers-lane_HPHS-yrbk_1959_ad

Kathryn Currin Real Estate, 5964 Northwest Highway. Weird not seeing Ebby’s name on the roof.

ebby-halliday_kathryn-currin_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Fear not, Ebby wasn’t very far away: Ebby Halliday Realor, 8400 Westchester, in Preston Center.

ebby-halliday_HPHS-yrbk_1959

Dr Pepper, national headquarters on Mockingbird and Greenville (across the street from Friendly Chevrolet, above). Featuring HPHS students George Denton, Pat Pierce, and Kathy Thomas. “Frosty, Man, Frosty!”

dr-pepper-ad_HPHS-yrbk_1959

A bunch of random ads: Prince of Hamburgers, 5200 Lemmon Avenue; Miller-Beer & Co. Realtors; Henry Nuss, Bookbinders, 419 S. Ervay; Roy Hance Humble station, 4831 McKinney Avenue; The Fish Bowl, 235 Inwood Village; Inwood Pharmacy; and Margie’s Dress Shops.

misc-ads_HPHS-yrbk_1959

And the big “get” for the yearbook staff, an ad for Highland Park Village (see a larger image of the photo here). 

hp-shopping-village_HPHS-yrbk_1959_ad

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Sources & Notes

All ads from the 1959 Highland Park High School yearbook, The Highlander.

Of related interest: “Highland Park High School: Ads from the 1966 Yearbook.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: “Meet Me In Dallas, On June the 23rd”

jeannie-c-riley_motorcycleJeannie C.

by Paula Bosse

The greatest, twangiest, seediest song set in Dallas (which you might never have heard) is Jeannie C. Riley’s Grammy-nominated “The Back Side of Dallas.”

One of the lines of the song is “Meet me in Dallas on June the 23rd, his letter read” — and today is June the 23rd. More about this song can be found in the 2017 Flashback Dallas post “Meet Me In Dallas, On June the 23rd.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas — From “Texas, The Big State” (1952)

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_triple-underpassBehold…

by Paula Bosse

It’s always fun to see Dallas on film — and it’s even better when it’s a Technicolor film. Below are a few screenshots from “Texas — The Big State,” a 1952 travelogue produced by Santa Fe Railroad as a promotional film. It’s very enthusiastic. …Very. Dallas’ Norma-Desmond moment lasts only about three and a half minutes, but visits to downtown, Chance Vought, SMU, Fair Park, a Cotton Bowl game, and the State Fair of Texas manage to get crammed in, surrounded by a warm bath of dynamic adjectives.

Above, a scenic view of the triple underpass and the approach to downtown Dallas from the west. Nice foliage.

Below, a birds-eye view from the south (the same shot as the one by Eisenstaedt in the ’40s seen here, only a decade later — even the Falstaff Beer billboard is still there).

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_SMU_skyline

The well-dressed mean streets of Big D:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_SMU_crosswalk

A woman walking on water at the Esplanade in Fair Park:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_fair-park_esplanade

Rolloplane, cotton candy, etc., at the State Fair of Texas:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_fair-park_midway

And, lastly, a fun fact I bet no one alive on this planet knows (or remembers): in 1952 Dallas was the second largest manufacturer of WASH DRESSES in the country. Probably the world. What a random piece of information for the Chamber of Commerce to have given to the Santa Fe people to include in a fluffy little film like this. Forget Neiman’s — we were number two in wash dresses! Number TWO!! (“Wash dresses”? Apparently they were house dresses made from washable fabrics. Like what Lucy Ricardo used to wear around the house when she didn’t have to don a hat and gloves to go pick up Ricky’s tux at the dry cleaners. Like the one seen in this “wash frocks” ad from 1950.) And here you go, two of the women who pushed us to runner-up wash-dress greatness:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_wash-dresses

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The 24-minute film — which premiered in Austin on May 28, 1952 and was included for months afterward as a “featurette” on double bills across the country — can be seen in its entirety on the SMU Jones Film YouTube channel. The Dallas bit starts at 9:43, followed by the Fort Worth bit at 13:19. I understand there are other cities, too.

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Sources & Notes

All images are screenshots from the 16mm film posted on YouTube by the G. William Jones Film Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University.

Special thanks to Erik Swanson for bringing this to my attention.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mother Hansen’s Home Cooking — 1913

mother-hansens-home-cooking_ebay_postmarked-1913

Mother Hansen’s, 1814 Main Street… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A popular restaurateur in early-20th-century Dallas was Ruth Hansen (1870-1947), known to most people as “Mother Hansen.” She maintained a restaurant in downtown Dallas from about 1910 until the early 1930s, moving between locations on S. Ervay and a couple of different addresses on Main Street. The cafe interior seen above was at 1814 Main Street, just west of St. Paul — the photo was taken in 1912 or 1913.

In a 1968 Dallas Morning News interview with Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Whittle, Mother Hansen’s eatery was still remembered. When the Whittles arrived in Dallas in 1912, their Western Automatic Music Co. was two doors from the restaurant — they were regular customers of Mrs. Hansen, and Mrs. (Elsie) Whittle “vividly” remembered the place:

“It was pretty expensive,” Mrs. Whittle said with a smile. “I remember that a T-bone steak dinner cost all of 25 cents.” (“Music Brought Whittle to the City” by Sam Acheson, DMN, Nov. 25, 1968)

(That 25 cents would be about $7.00 in today’s money.)

I love this era of cafes and restaurants — three others in downtown Dallas from this same era are:

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Notes & Sources

Postcard (with a 1913 postmark) found on eBay.

In addition to buying the Western Automatic Music Co. soon after his arrival in Dallas, D. L. Whittle was also a partner in the Crystal Theatre and, most famously, the founder of the Whittle Music Co.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Bookstores — 1974

abs_cedar springs_1974Aldredge Book Store, 2506 Cedar Springs

by Paula Bosse

Today is my father’s birthday. Dick Bosse. I always try to post something bookstore-related on May 22 in his honor.

In the early 1970s, the Aldredge Book Store moved from its original location in an old house on McKinney Avenue (2800 McKinney) to a strip of shops on Cedar Springs (2506 Cedar Springs at Fairmount). Later (early ’80s?) it moved to its final location at 2909 Maple Avenue. My father worked there his entire adult life, starting as a bookseller during his SMU days and ending up as the owner of the store which he ran until his death in 2000.

When the store was on Cedar Springs, he was the manager. It was a weird, long, thin store with lots of rooms opening off a hallway painted bright yellow (my retinas!). The most impressive room was the one at the back, where all the expensive books were. A huge window looked out onto a hidden, sunken courtyard. The photo at the top shows one of the walls of bookcases. The photo below shows my father in 1974 in a staged pose looking uncharacteristically serious in that same room — straight ahead of him was the very pretty courtyard (I wonder if it’s still there?).

abs_dick-bosse_dallas-magazine_dec-1974

I spent so much time there that I can still remember where everything was. This was back when that used to be a cool, funky neighborhood. The Quadrangle was nearby, but I always got lost in what felt like a torturous maze of shops. I preferred the Sample House, where I spent as much time as I could. (That store — in a creaky old — house was one of my favorite childhood haunts. Again, I remember where absolutely everything was.)

I stumbled across an ad from 1946 with a photo of the Cedar Springs building in it — at the time it was being “completely reconditioned and restyled” — I’m surprised to learn that that building is so old (see it today on Google Street View here). (I’m not sure what’s going on with that address in the ad, but this building is definitely in the 2500 block of Cedar Springs.)

ABS_aldredge_cedar-springs-fairmount_033146March, 1946

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The reason I know the picture of my father is from 1974 is because it appeared in a Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine article about Dallas bookstores, published in December, 1974 — the lengthy article was titled “Books, Bookstores, Book Lovers” by Colleen O’Connor, with photos by Jack Caspary. It profiled several of the city’s major booksellers of the day, including Henry Taylor of Preston Books (soon to become Taylor Books/Taylor’s), Ken Gjemre of Half-Price Books (which was then an empire of only four stores), Pat Miers of The Bookseller, Bill Gilliland of Doubleday (late of McMurray’s), and Larry Snyder of Cokesbury. When the article came out, Dallas was “fifth in the country for per capita [book] sales.” So many bookstores!

The author misidentified Sawnie Aldredge, the original owner of the Aldredge Book Store, as “Sonny” and somehow managed to pull some quotes from my father which make him sound like a pretentious snob (which he definitely was NOT), but it’s a great look at a time when Dallas had tons of bookstores — even though my father might not have been overly impressed with some of them when he said, “Unfortunately, the majority of bookstores today are ‘schlock shops’ that sell Snoopy dolls and Rod McKuen” (now that sounds like him!).

I’ve scanned the entire article which you can read here.

dallas-bookstores_dec-1974_cover

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Sources & Notes

More Flashback Dallas posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Our Lady of Good Counsel

olgc_1942-yrbk_girls_sign

by Paula Bosse

My aunt Bettye Jo died last week of COVID-19. She was fun and funny, always generous, and always supportive. I loved her, and I’ll miss her.

She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel for a year or two and always spoke about that time with fondness. I wrote about the school in the 2017 post “Our Lady of Good Counsel, Oak Cliff — 1901-1961.”

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Texlite, Borich, Pegasus

texlite_feb-1949_ad_pegasus-det

by Paula Bosse

Texlite. If you’re a lover of all-things-Dallas, you should know that name. Texlite made many, many, many, many, MANY enamel, electric, and neon signs, including, most famously, the rotating Flying Red Horse — Pegasus — which arrived in Dallas in 1934 to sit atop the city’s tallest building, the Magnolia Petroleum Building, serving as a beacon, a landmark, and as a sort of city mascot.

Texlite’s  roots went back to 1879 when Italian immigrant Peter Samuel Borich (1849-1932) arrived in Dallas. His obituary noted that he was a graduate of the Royal Italian Naval School and that he served in the Italian Merchant Marine before he arrived in Dallas, where he established the Borich Sign Co. A very early site of his shop is said to have been either the current site of the Adolphus Hotel or the current site of the Magnolia Building (and Pegasus), on Sycamore Street (now Akard). He appears to have been the go-to sign-painter for decades and was a very successful businessman.

The Borich company eventually branched out (and eventually became Texlite, a separate entitity) to became a pioneer in electric and neon signs: in 1926 Texlite built and sold the first neon sign west of the Mississippi, in St. Louis (their first neon sign in Dallas was a sign for the Zinke shoe repair store (1809 Main) which depicted an animated hammer tapping on a shoe heel). 

The Borich sign company focused on painted or printed signs while Texlite handled the electric signs. P. S. Borich retired in the 1920s and moved to Los Angeles after the death of his wife. The last time the Borich company name appeared in the Dallas directory was 1930 (when it looks like it became United Advertising Corporation of Texas, owned by Harold H. Wineburgh, who was also a Texlite partner/owner). 

During World War II, Texlite, like many manufacturers, jumped into war-production work, making airplane and ship parts; during the Korean War they made bomber fuselages. 

I don’t know when Texlite went out of business (or was acquired and merged into another company). As successful as Texlite was (and it was incredibly successful), what more important achievement could it have had than to have been the maker of our iconic Pegasus? 

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Here are a few random images from the Borich/Texlite history. First, a great ad from 1949, when Pegasus was a fresh 15-year-old. “It’s Time For a Spring Sign Cleaning.” (Click to see a larger image.)

texlite_feb-1949-ad1949 ad

And another ad, this one with a wonderful photo, from 1954.

texlite_pegasus_ad_ca-1954_heather-david_flickr1954 ad, via Flickr

In 1949 Texlite built a huge new factory in an industrial area near Love Field, at 3305 Manor Way. Below is the architectural rendering. The caption: “New home of Texlite, Inc. is being completed at 3305 Manor Way at a total of $1,000,000. The new, two-story plant, providing 114,000 square feet of factory and office space, will provide facilities for trebling Texlite’s output. Grayson Gill is the architect, and O’Rourke Construction Company are the general contractors.” (Dallas magazine, Feb. 1949)

texlite-new-bldg_dallas-chamber-of-commerce-mag_feb-1949

Below, the previous factory, located at 2900 Factory Street, also near Love Field:

texlite-sign_1940

I assume this 1940 sign was made by Texlite. Below are a couple of details, showing playful hints of Pegasus.

texlite-sign_1940_det-1

texlite-sign_1940_det-2via Mecum Auctions

I wondered where Factory Street was — here it is on a 1952 map — it looks like it was absorbed into a growing Love Field.

texlite_factory-st_mapsco-19521952 Mapsco

One of Texlite’s many theater clients was the Palace Theatre for whom they designed and installed a new electric sign in January, 1929 (at which time, by the way, the theater’s name was “officially” changed — however briefly — to the Greater Palace; the theater was renovated and enlarged, with a new emphasis on the Elm Street entrance rather than the entrance on Pacific). 

texlite_palace_jan-1929Jan., 1929

Going back a couple of years, with the separate companies sharing ad space in the 1927 city directory:

borich-texlite_dallas-directory_19271927 Dallas directory

The first ad I found which had both the “Borich” and “Texlite” names together was this one from 1923 for the Cloud-George Co., a women’s clothing boutique (1705 Elm) run by the somewhat notorious Miss A. B. Cloud.

texlite_borich-sign_sept-1923Sept., 1923

The company occupied several locations over the years — the location in 1902 can be seen here, at the right, looking west on Pacific (from the Flashback Dallas post “Views from a Passing Train — 1902”).

edmunds_pacific-bryan_free-lib-phil_19021902, via Free Library of Philadelphia

borich_dallas-directory_1902Dallas directory, 1902

P. S. Borich’s sign-painting wasn’t restricted only to businesses — he was also regularly retained by the city to paint street signs.

borich_dmn_080686Dallas Herald, Aug. 6, 1886

And, below, the earliest ad I could find — from 1879, the year Borich arrived in Dallas. (Thanks to this ad, I can now add “calsomining” to my vocabulary.)

borich_nortons-union-intelligencer_110179Norton’s Union Intelligencer, Nov. 1, 1879

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Here’s an interesting little bonus: a Pegasus “mini-me” in Billings, Montana, created with help from the Pegasus experts in Dallas (click for larger image).

texlite_pegasus-in-montana_billings-MT-gazette_052255Billings Gazette, May 22, 1955

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a detail from a 1949 ad found in the Feb., 1949 issue of Dallas, the magazine published by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Check out another Texlite sign which I wrote about in the Flashback Dallas post “Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign.”

I’m always excited to see places I write about show up in old film footage. Watch a short (20-second) silent clip of Texlite workers striking in June, 1951 at the 3305 Manor Way location in WBAP-Channel 5 footage here (the workers were on strike in a wage dispute — more info is in the news script here); film and script from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, University of North Texas, via the Portal to Texas History.

The company made tons of signs and exteriors for movie theaters around the country, including the Lakewood Theater (whose sign was recently re-neonized!).

Thank you, Signor Borich!

texlite_feb-1949_ad_pegasus-det-sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Highland Park’s Azaleas

azaleas_turtle-creek_spring_swb-phone-book_1968_ebaySpringtime in Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

I just realized I haven’t seen the azaleas this year. I don’t really hear about people doing it anymore, but when I was a kid, my mother always made a point every Spring to drive us around Highland Park, Exall Lake, and Turtle Creek to see the beautiful azaleas, which were in bloom everywhere you looked.

Local lore has it that the first big splash azaleas made in Dallas were in the early 1930s when Joe Lambert, Jr. (of the still-going-strong, 100-plus-year-old legendary Lambert’s Landscape Co.) imported 100 or more plants from Shreveport to Dallas — to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Lechner in the 6900 block of Lakewood Boulevard. Azaleas apparently don’t grow well in Dallas soil unless you know what you’re doing, and Lambert knew what he was doing, because his azaleas thrived in Lakewood, and they were a huge hit with people who would drive from miles away to look at the exotic blooms.

That success led to numerous calls from residents of Highland Park, which, in turn, led to lots and lots of landscaping work for the Lambert family — so much so that they moved their business from Shreveport to Dallas.

Of particular note was the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Penn at the corner of Preston and Armstrong where azalea bushes were planted terrace-like to prevent soil erosion on the part of their property which sloped down to the banks of Turtle Creek. One newspaper report said there were more than 500 azalea bushes on the Penn estate. It caused a sensation — the plants began to pop up all around Turtle Creek, and people flocked to Highland Park to see them.

In a 1971 newspaper article it was estimated there were 50,000 azaleas in Dallas parks. I have no idea what the number is these days, but for two weeks every year, it is an absolute pleasure to drive around Highland Park and Oak Lawn — and every other part of town where azaleas bloom — and to enjoy Dallas’ brief, very pretty springtime.

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A Channel 5 news story from 1979 (which you can watch here) says that azaleas was first brought to Dallas by the La Reunion settlers, which would have been in the 1850s. The earliest mention I could find was in an 1886 ad in The Dallas Morning News — there were several other ads before the turn of the century offering the exotic “imported” plants for sale.

azaleas_dmn_031386
March, 1886

In the 1950s there was an explosion of interest in people heading to Lakeside Drive every spring in order to commune with nature and gaze lovingly at the profusion of azaleas. I mean, lordy, read this breathless ode to the azalea in this detail of a Neiman-Marcus ad. (These little essays by “Wales” appeared regularly in N-M ads — I don’t  know who the author was, but I suspect it was Stanley Marcus.) (Click for larger image.)

azaleas_032753_neiman-ad-det
March, 1953

And here’s evidence of the bumper-to-bumper traffic along Lakeside Drive and the mass of humanity armed with cameras converging on the banks of Turtle Creek in (silent) footage from Channel 8, shot on April 10, 1960 (it seems almost criminal, though, that the film is in black and white!) — the pertinent clip begins at the :43 mark. (From the WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Collection, Hamon Library, SMU.)


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Here’s a Lambert’s ad, from 1963:

azaleas_041763_lamberts-ad
April, 1963

Another WFAA clip, this one from 1972, which shows azaleas in COLOR — not in Highland Park, but in downtown Dallas during the 3rd annual Azalea Festival:


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Here’s a postcard view:

turtle-creek_azaleas_ebay

And here’s a photo I took a couple of years ago of my favorite searingly hot-pink variety (seen here before the peak of the blooming period — note the still bloomless bush to the right):

azaleas_turtle-creek_2018_paula-bosse

Sorry I missed you, azaleas. Next year, for sure.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the cover of Southwestern Bell’s 1968 Dallas phone book.

Bottom photo by Paula Bosse, taken March 29, 2018.

azaleas_turtle-creek_spring_swb-phone-book_1968_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Guys and Dolls” at the State Fair Music Hall — 1951

sfot_guys-and-dolls_music-hall_1951_john-dominis_life-mag
Wearing the *dress* boots… (photo: John Dominis, © Time, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

This is the most Texans-going-to-the-theater photo I’ve ever seen.

And this is the most Texans-selling-minks ad I’ve ever seen:

neiman-marcus_ad_guys-and-dolls_oct-1951

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Sources and Notes

Photo by John Dominis, taken in October, 1951 on assignment for Life magazine, ©Time, Inc.; more info is here.

Neiman-Marcus ad is also from October, 1951.

“Take Back Your Mink” is a song from “Guys and Dolls” (hear it here), the musical that played during the 1951 State Fair of Texas, starring Pamela Britton, Allan Jones, Jeanne Ball, and Slapsie  Maxie Rosenbloom.

sfot_guys-and-dolls_music-hall_1951_john-dominis_life-mag_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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