Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Tag: Historic Dallas

900 Block of Main, North Side — 1952

AR447-B1201Main Street, 1952… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This 1952 photo by Squire Haskins shows the north side of Main Street, taken at the intersection with Poydras, looking west to the old Dallas county jail and criminal courts building seen at the far left. The Sanger’s building stands just west of Lamar, and across Lamar is the 900 block of Main, with the legendary E. M. Kahn men’s clothing store (one of Dallas’ first important retail stores, founded in 1872), the Maurice Hotel (in the old North Texas Building, built in the 1890s), and the large Bogan’s grocery store at the northwest corner of Main and Poydras. The old jail and the Records Building (way in the distance) and the Sanger’s building are all that remain. See how this view looks today, here.

There is a flyer for “Porgy and Bess” on the lamppost in front of the Bogan market. “Porgy and Bess” opened the State Fair Summer Musicals series at the State Fair Auditorium (Music Hall) in June, 1952 (see an ad here).

But what about the south side of the 900 block of Main Street? Thankfully, photographer Squire Haskins  not only took the photo above, he also turned to face the other side of the street and snapped companion photos. I posted two of his photos of the south side of Main in a previous post, here. Here’s one of those photos, with Poydras at the left and Lamar on the right:


A listing of the businesses from the 1953 city directory — there’s a little bit of everything (click to see larger image):



Sources & Notes

Both photos by Squire Haskins, both from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington. More info on the top photo can be found here; more on the second photo, here.

More on the south side of Main Street can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “900 Block of Main Street, South Side — 1950s,” here.

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


McKinney & Haskell, Circle “T” Frozen Foods, and VWs in Dallas

mckinney-and-haskell_NDHS_ebayFender-bender in front of NDHS… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Odd stuff shows up on eBay. This photo shows a damaged Circle T Brand frozen-food Volkswagen delivery van at the intersection of McKinney Avenue and North Haskell (with North Dallas High School making a partial cameo in the background). The view today? See it here.

Circle T was one of the many brainchilds of the Southland Corp.’s Thompson family: it manufactured and distributed frozen foods (initially meats and Mexican food) which were sold in the company’s 7-Eleven stores. The company began in 1954 and was located just a couple of blocks from this photo, at Haskell and Central. (In 1954 they announced one of their first specialty products: frozen queso. I’ve never even considered that frozen queso would exist, but 60-some-odd years ago it was flying off shelves at the neighborhood 7-Eleven.)

The Southland Corp. sold off Circle T in 1966.

Below, an ad for Circle T’s frozen steaks, from 1954 (click ad to see larger image).

cicle-t_FWST_062054June, 1954


And because I’m nothing if not pedantic, here’s an ad for VW trucks and vans, from 1961 (which appears to be the date on the van’s license plate in the photo):

volkswagen_ad_fen-1961Feb., 1961

And speaking of Volkswagens, the first Dallas car dealer to import Volkswagens appears to be Clarence Talley — the first ads are from 1954. While I was searching for the link to the eBay listing of the above photo (which I could not find…), I serendipitously stumbled across this 1950s photo of Clarence Talley on N. Pearl, with appearances by the Medical Arts Building and the Republic Bank Building. Thank you, eBay.



Sources & Notes

Photos from eBay: could not find the link to the first one, but the second one sold a couple of months ago, and the archived listing is here.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Magnolia Cafe, N. Lamar & Munger — 1947

magolia-cafe_1947_ebayStep in for a cool glass of Metzger’s Milk… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love stumbling across photos of random small businesses. This photo from 1947 shows an interesting modification of a rooming house in the area immediately north of downtown at 1914 N. Lamar, at the corner of what is now N. Lamar and Munger (the curb shows “Caruth St.,” the street’s original name). Unsurprisingly, this former residential area — which became an industrial warehouse district — looks pretty different today (see the current Google Street View here). A succession of cafes operated here over the years (while people lived in rented rooms upstairs) since at least 1927.

I love the entrance to the rooming house with the concrete steps to the right of the cafe, the street light, the streetcar tracks, The Metzger’s Milk sign, the Stier’s Laundry truck, the parked cars, and the street names (probably in tile?) on the curbs.

Three years after this photo was taken, the building was up for sale:


Its future? A parking lot.

A longtime owner of this combo building was Mrs. Ella Mae Stuart, who was living there with her husband as early as 1913 (possibly 1909). After her husband’s death in 1915, she ran a boarding house upstairs and rented out the cafe below. She seems to have been a much-married woman who was very creative with her age as given to census takers: every 10 years she continued to grow younger and younger, ending up in 1930 with her age listed as 50. She died three years later at the actual age of 68, leaving behind a husband 26 years her junior. Her great stamina might be the result of her regular consumption of a wonder tonic called Konjola (a patent medicine popular during Prohibition, made from roots, herbs, and a lot of alcohol). (Click to read Mrs. Stuart’s testimonial.)



Sources & Notes

Photo from eBay; taken by Rogers Studio (the business owned by noted Dallas photographer Frank Rogers and his son Norman Rogers), with the date “May 8, 1947” stamped on the back. Also on the back of the photo: “Magnolia Cafe, Lamar and Munger; seating capacity: 32.”

See the building on the 1921 Sanborn map here, which shows 1914 N. Lamar at the corner of Caruth Street. It appears the house might have become renovated to include a cafe on the ground floor in 1926 or 1927 when one of Mrs. Stuart’s boarding-house roomers opened up Frank’s Lunch Room.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Happy 4th Anniversary, Flashback Dallas!


by Paula Bosse

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of this blog. It’s hard to believe, but, completely coincidentally, this is my 1,000th post! That’s a lotta Dallas. (Some might argue that’s too MUCH Dallas….) There are now just over 9,000 Flashback Dallas followers across various social media platforms, and it’s always nice to know there are others out there who share my interest in Dallas history. Thank you to all who read, follow, share, and comment. It wouldn’t be as much fun if I were just typing for myself.

Thank you! And now, Year 5!



Sources & Notes

“Texas Centennial Exposition Stamp” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this image can be found here.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“There’s No Place Like Home … In Dallas” — 1940s

dallas-homes_so-this-is-dallas_ca-1943Dallas homes, ca. 1943 — from modest to palatial… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

These photos are from a Chamber of Commerce-like booklet intended to lure new residents to the city. The photo montage above is from about 1943, and the one below is from about 1946. There are some beautiful houses here. In the photo above, I recognize Highland Park in the center and possibly lower right (the lower right has a lot of empty space behind it — maybe Bluff View or Preston Hollow?). The top right might be Oak Cliff? The house that makes me swoon is the white house at the lower left. It and the house above it look as if they might have been in Lakewood. If anyone knows the location of any of these houses — and if they’re still standing — please let me know!

The text that accompanied the above photo montage (circa 1943):


Visitors to Dallas invariably comment on its beautiful homes, both large and small, and the care with which they are kept modern and clean.

The women of Dallas have their garden clubs, which are organizations of flower lovers. They vie with each other in striving to make their homes attractive to the passerby and homelike to those who live within.

One reason for this is the high percentage of home ownership. A recent study indicates that 60 per cent of families living in one-family residences own their own home. This is far above the national average.

For several years Dallas has been on a truly remarkable building boom in its residential sections. New homes are springing up at the rate of 14 a day and new subdivisions are being opened as rapidly as others are sold out. The outer fringe of Dallas is, in effect, a brand-new city. Lots that were cotton fields a few years ago now contain beautiful new homes and landscaped gardens.

Any type of home plot is available to the prospective home builder here. If he desires a home in a close-in busy section, that can be found in many places. If he prefers a modest cottage on the outskirts, there are a dozen subdivisions where it can be found. If he is seeking a palatial residence or a rustic cottage on a country estate, he can find that too, and on short notice.

Dallas takes much pride in its wide recognition as a city of homes.



The text that accompanied this photo (circa 1946):


Dallas… Has Planned Beauty

The beauty of Dallas may be attributed to the wide awake and broadminded citizens of some 25 years ago, who at that time, engaged nationally known landscape artists to design and plan the future Dallas. So well was this done and so cooperative were the people of Dallas that in this short time Dallas is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the nation.

Dallas has attractive parks, driveways, public buildings and in fact hardly a house, no matter how humble, that is not improved with planting. As a city of homes the saying, “It is not a home until it is planted well” applies to Dallas. No tenant house is built today that is not surrounded by a setting of nature’s beauty. To the Garden Clubs and various women’s organizations much credit must be given for their untiring efforts to eliminate slum districts, unsightly streets and the planting of our highways.

Much credit is due the nurserymen and landscape architects, who are ever ready to give advice, planting instructions, and who have furnished shrubs, flowers and assistance to many charitable institutions and public places, as well as make talks to the clubs and organizations on when, how and what to plant in order to constantly improve Dallas. The Garden and women’s clubs annually stage flower shows and have garden contests.

All this has made Dallas today, a city beautiful – a place where you want to live.


Sources & Notes

Photos are from the booklet So This Is Dallas, published by The Welcome Wagon. The top photo is from the circa-1943 edition, used with permission, courtesy of the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook page. The second photo is from the circa-1946 edition, from the author’s collection.

Photos are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Main Street Looking East — 1920s

main-street_east_ca-1925_erik-swansonEast from the 1200 block of Main (photo courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

This great photo (sent in by reader Erik Swanson) shows Main Street around 1925. The white building seen in the lower right is Hurst Bros., a men’s clothing shop, which was at the southeast corner of Main and Field (1300-1304 Main). It was a little confusing to me at first because it looks like there is a street behind it (to the south), which would have been Commerce, but then the Magnolia Building and the Adolphus would all be out of place. But what appears to be a street was just a wide alleyway/passage (seen on the 1921 Sanborn map here — Main east of Akard can be seen on the Sanborn map here).

The very tall building is the Magnolia, at Commerce and Akard (it opened in 1922 — Pegasus wasn’t added until 1934); to the right, across Akard, is the Adolphus Hotel and the Adolphus Annex. The tall building to the left of the Magnolia is the Southwestern Life Building (southeast corner Main and Akard, demolished in 1972, now a small open plaza area). The 4-story building at the southwest corner of Main and Akard is the Andrews Building. The white building in the center is Hurst Bros. (southeast corner Main and Field), and across Main can be seen the sign for the men’s clothing shop Benson-Semans.

Hurst Bros. was gone by 1929 when it became Hoover-Lehman, another clothing store, and Benson-Semans appears to have vacated that space around 1926, helping to date the photo between 1922 and 1926.


The Hurst brothers, Melvin K. Hurst and Edgar S. Hurst (along with their father, Alfred K. Hurst) began their men’s clothing business around 1912 and moved into the building seen in this photo in 1915 (it was renovated by prominent Dallas architect H. A. Overbeck, whose still-standing courts building and jail was built at about the same time). The business was dissolved in 1929, and its stock, fixtures, and lease were acquired by a longtime employee who, with a partner, remodeled the store and reopened it as the Hoover-Lehman Co. (A present-day Google Street View of this southeast corner of Main and Field can be seen here.)

main-street_east_ca-1925_hurst-bros-det_erik-swansonDetail from top photo, ca. 1925 (click for larger image)

hurst-bros_dmn_112214_adAd from Nov., 1914

hurst-bros_1920sLate 1920s

hurst-bros_hoover-lehman_091329Sept., 1929


Sources & Notes

Top photo sent in by Erik Swanson, used by permission. The photo may have been taken by his grandfather, F. V. Swanson, an optometrist (see the post “Thompson & Swanson: ‘The Oldest Exclusive Optical House in Dallas,” here). Thanks for the great photo, Erik!

All images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thompson & Swanson: “The Oldest Exclusive Optical House In Dallas”

thompson-swanson_1914-ad_erik-swansonDon’t blink… (1914 ad, courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

Dr. Alfred F. Thompson (1862-1942) and Dr. Frank V. Swanson (1885-1949) opened their “manufacturing opticians” practice, Thompson & Swanson, in 1911. In addition to examining and treating patients, they also ground lenses and manufactured their own glasses, something which I gather was somewhat unusual in 1911 for such a small practice.

They first set up shop on Elm Street, and their ads — generally eyeball-themed — were always attention-grabbers: not only did they stare at you from newspaper pages, they also seemed to follow you around the room.

thompson-swanson_1911-ad1911 ad

They soon moved to the Sumpter Building, in late 1912 (ad at top), directly across from the brand new Praetorian Building. By February of 1916 they’d hit the big-time and were actually in the Praetorian Building, Dallas’ tallest building and its most impressive address. Not only were they in the building, they were at street-level, which guaranteed that practically everyone who spent time downtown was familiar with Thompson & Swanson, if only because they passed the Praetorian Building. The ad below, featuring the building, is fantastic, in a weird-fraternal-order kind of way. (The ad at the top is also kind of weird — you can practically hear the spooky theremin.) (Click ads to see larger images.)

thompson-swanson_1923-ad_erik-swanson1923 ad (courtesy Erik Swanson)

Thompson & Swanson’s business history:

thompson-and-swanson_erik-swanson(courtesy Erik Swanson)

Similar ad, but aimed at the Texas Centennial visitor. “Good glasses if you need them, good advice if you don’t.”

thompson-swanson_june-1936June, 1936

The successful partnership of Thompson and Swanson lasted into the early 1940s. After Dr. Thompson’s death in 1942, Dr. Swanson continued at the same address as “Swanson & Son,” a practice with his son, Dr. F. V. Swanson, Jr.


Sources & Notes

The top ad, the ad with the Praetorian Building, and the “85 Years’ Experience in Optometry” ads were very kindly sent to me by Erik Swanson (grandson of Dr. Swanson); they are used with permission. I love old ads, especially ones that feature Dallas buildings. Regarding the location of his grandfather’s business in the Praetorian Building, Erik wrote: “Little did he know there would one day be a giant eyeball at the location where he had his optician shop.” Ha! Now when I see that giant eyeball I’ll think of Thompson & Swanson (and hear that spooky theremin).

I was doubly happy to exchange emails with Erik because I’ve been a fan of his Western Swing bands for many years. His current band is Shoot Low Sheriff (listen to them here), but I first became a fan when I heard his former band, Cowboys & Indians. Thanks for the ads, Erik!


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Fred Caropresi’s Mid-Century-Modern Illustrations for SMU’s 1951 Yearbook

smu_1951-yrbk_people-places_caropresiLife on the SMU quad, 1951… (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m not sure why I happened across the artwork of Fred Caropresi (1921-1985), but I must have been looking for something in the 1951 SMU yearbook, The Rotunda — Caropresi’s work is all over it! Caropresi (or as he was known to fellow students, “Freddy”) had attended SMU in the 1940s, before and after World War II. His degree was in mechanical engineering, but after the war, he returned to study art as a grad student and eventually opened his own advertising firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Below are some examples of his work from the 1951 SMU annual — his drawings are reminiscent of the silkscreen process with their off-kilter, off-register areas of flat vibrant color. This type of 1950s “mid-century modern” commercial art is definitely one of my personal favorites. 

Here they are (click pictures to see larger images).

Peppy Mustangs:


The packed “Hi-Park SMU” streetcar (which ran along Hillcrest  — see a photo here):


Bulletin board — pipes and the Arden Club:


Post office (this is great — I’d love to see a photo of the real thing:


Relaxing with a drink and TV:


Cokes al fresco and another college boy smoking a pipe:


The drawings below — also from the 1951 Rotunda — show a completely different style. The first one (“Beauties”) is fantastic. (Click a thumbnail image to open a slideshow.)

Like I said, Caropresi’s work was ALL OVER the 1951 Rotunda!



New York native Frederick V. Caropresi (1921-1985) grew up in the Bronx with his parents (his father, a pharmacist, had immigrated from Italy), his grandmother, and his older brother Gregory. For some reason both Fred and Greg decided to attend SMU in Dallas. Fred originally studied mechanical engineering, receiving his degree in 1944. He returned to Dallas after his service in the navy during World War II, and took post-graduate art courses. He was busy around Dallas as a both a fine artist (his first one-man show was in 1952) and as a very busy commercial artist, working in local theater, industrial design, and advertising. He was an active president of the Dallas Print Society in the early 1950s, at the same time he was designing college yearbooks. He left Dallas in the 1950s and settled in a suburb of Pittsburgh where he established his own advertising agency. I hope he continued his own art, because I’m a fan.

caropresi_fred_smu-1942Fred Caropresi, 1942, SMU yearbook photo

He is represented in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art with this silkscreen/serigraph, a view of Reims Cathedral from about 1948.

Dallas Museum of Art

Fred Caropresi died in in 1985 in North Hills, Pennsylvania.

North Hills (PA) News Record, April 2, 1985

Thank you, Fred.



Sources & Notes

All artwork by Frederick V. Caropresi from the 1951 edition of SMU’s yearbook, The Rotunda, is from the Southern Methodist University Yearbooks collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, SMU; all editions are fully downloadable in PDFs, here.


The silkscreen print “Reims Cathedral” (23/30, signed “F. V. Caropresi”) is from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art; a Dallas Art Association purchase, it was accessioned in 1948.

All images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


“A Glimpse of Dallas” — ca. 1909

postcard_charles-e-arnoldCommerce Street, looking west from St. Paul…

by Paula Bosse

This very attractive postcard shows a growing downtown Dallas, looking west from Commerce and St. Paul, photographed by Charles E. Arnold from the YMCA building (which once sat in the block now occupied by the Statler). The Wilson Building can be seen at the top right, the Praetorian Building (then the tallest building in the city) is to its left, and the Post Office and Federal Building is in the center. The photo was probably taken in 1909 or 1910 (the Praetorian was completed in 1908 and the Adolphus Hotel (not seen in this postcard) was under construction in 1911.

The photo below, taken by Jno. J. Johnson from the exact same vantage point, shows the many changes to the skyline which happened over a very short span of time. The photo below is from about 1913.

new-skyline_c1912_degolyer_smuvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

I zoomed in on this photo in a previous post, “Horses, Carriages, Horseless Carriages: Commerce Street — 1913,” here.

The large “Barrett Cigar” sign seen in the top postcard image is also visible in a 1909 photo by Clogenson, below — it can be seen at the left, atop the Juanita Building on Main Street, opposite the Praetorian.

parade-day_1909_clogenson_degolyervia DeGolyer Library, SMU

I zoomed in on this photo in the post “Parade Day — 1909,” here.

This was the beginning of staggering growth for Dallas, and new skyscrapers seemed to be going up every month.


Sources & Notes

I came across the postcard image a couple of years ago — I noted that the photographer was C. E. Arnold, but I did not note the source.

The two photos are from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; further information on each photo can be found at the links posted immediately below the images.

All images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“All the Beer You Can Drink In an Hour For 60 Cents” — 1935

beer_60-cents_AP_1935LOOK! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Summertime in Big D. It’s hot. REAL hot. For some, the only way to properly slake that nagging thirst is with a tall frosty mug of beer. In the summer of 1935, the management of the Texan Hotel Drug Store (at the northeast corner of S. Houston and Jackson streets) decided to offer a headline-grabbing promotion: “ALL THE SCHEPPS BEER YOU CAN DRINK: 60¢ PER HOUR!” (60¢ in 1935 would be the equivalent of about $11.00 today.) Sounds like a bargain, right? Maybe. Depends on your constitution — it meant that you would have to consume over a gallon of beer in one hour to save any money. (Not a problem for some, I realize.)

This made national news — there’s even newsreel footage. The photo above is from an AP wire story, accompanied by this caption: “A Dallas beer parlor offered ‘all the beer you can drink’ for 60 cents an hour. There were plenty of takers, but the proprietor said none had beaten him. The drinker would have to consume more than nine pints an hour to show a profit.”

Scranton (PA) Republican, July 29, 1935

Speaking of newsreel footage, you can watch it below. As you can see, there certainly were a lot of very enthusiastic Dallas beer-drinkers doing their very best to surpass that gallon hurdle in order to feel they’d spent their money (and their hour) wisely.


Ah, back when you could guzzle beer in a drugstore. (Several drugstores that same year — including this one — were routinely getting busted for selling illicit whiskey.)

The promotion appears to have been a hit, both publicity-wise and beer-sales-wise. The Dallas proprietor said no drinker had managed to come out ahead, but in Fort Worth, men appear to be made of stronger stuff. Cafe operator Byron Gaines hadn’t anticipated Chauncey C. Brown, a hops-loving patron described as “heavy-set” and “amiable.”

beer_FW_olean-NY-times-herald_081235Olean (NY) Times Herald, Aug. 12, 1935

According to United Press reports (this made national news, too), Brown took 58 minutes (rather than 53), but that “seven minutes of that time was spent in playing a slot machine.” It’s good to have hobbies.


Sources & Notes

AP photo, taken in July, 1935, from the Press of Atlantic City site, here

Newsreel footage is from Critical Past, on YouTube here, and, for sale, here.

The Texan Hotel Drug Store was located at 218 S. Houston St. (northeast corner of Houston and Jackson) — see what the corner looks like today, here.

1936 Dallas directory

And … Schepps Beer? I was familiar with Schepps dairies, but not a Schepps brewery. But, yes, the Schepps family produced highly guzzleable beer: the Schepps Brewing Co. launched in 1933 and lasted into the early ’40s. (Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.)

schepps-beer_nov-1933Nov., 1933

schepps-beer_aug-1934Aug., 1934



Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: