Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Tag: Historic Dallas

“Howdy, Folks! Welcome to the 1959 State Fair of Texas”

big-tex_1959Big Tex and his people… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Big Tex and a crowd of serious-looking adults watch something in the distance at the 1959 State Fair of Texas.

The 2017 State Fair of Texas starts in one week!

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Source of photo: unknown!

See a whole passel of Flashback Dallas’ State Fair of Texas posts here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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North Dallas High School, Year One — 1922-1923

ndhs_1923-yrbkNDHS, in the beginning… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

North Dallas High School — one of Dallas’ oldest still-operating high schools — opened in 1922 on N. Haskell, between McKinney and Cole. Here are a few photos from the very first NDHS yearbook.

The faculty:

ndhs_faculty_1923-yrbk

The auditorium:

ndhs_auditorium_1923-yrbk

The library:

ndhs_library_1923-yrbk

The lunch room:

ndhs_lunchroom_1923-yrbk

The swimming pool (!):

ndhs_pool_1923-yrbk

Another photo of the pool, showing a girls’ class:

ndhs_pool_class_1923-yrbk

The 20th Century Literary Society club:

ndhs_20th-century-lit-soc_1923-yrbk

The football team:

ndhs_football_1923-yrbk

The “three-minute daily drill”:

ndhs_drill_1923-yrbk

The physical training department’s interpretation of “The Spirit of North Dallas”:

ndhs_physical-training-dept_1923-yrbk

The 1923 Viking cover:

ndhs_1923-yrbk_cover

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Sources & Notes
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All photos from the 1923 Viking, the yearbook of North Dallas High School.

Photos and ads from early-’60s NDHS yearbooks can be seen in previous Flashback Dallas posts here and here.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

La Reunion Tower

reunion-tower_skyline_091217Big D from inside the ball… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

On Tuesday night I gave a little talk on the history of the La Reunion colony as part of the Dallas Historical Society’s Pour Yourself Into History series. The event was held in the *very nice* Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck restaurant high atop Reunion Tower — right in the ball. I was a bit of a last-minute fill-in presenter, and I hesitated to accept the invitation because I always feel awkward talking in front of more than, say, two or three people, but I really, really wanted to go up to the top of Reunion Tower.

I hadn’t been to Reunion Tower since a family outing back around 1980 or so. Back then I was most fascinated by the fact that the restaurant slowly revolved to give diners a leisurely 360-degree view of the city (I always imagined it spinning out-of-control, pinning diners — and their meals — against the walls with centrifugal force, like a fine-dining version of the Spindletop ride at Six Flags, or The Rotor ride at the State Fair of Texas); but now, decades later, as an adult, the image of the spinning restaurant was eclipsed by the real star: the VIEW.

As you can imagine, the view is unbelievably spectacular — especially at night when Dallas is at its most glamorous. The ticket price is fairly steep to get up to the observation deck, and a meal and/or cocktails at the restaurant will set you back a goodly amount, but it is, without question, the most fabulous view of the city you’ll ever see. And you see all of it. When I started my talk about the history of the La Reunion colony of the 1850s (which was located about 5 miles due west of Reunion Tower, in West Dallas) the view was pretty much the one seen in the photo above; by the time I finished, we were, serendipitously, looking out over where the plucky colonists of “French Town” had toiled unsuccessfully 160 years ago. (Estimates on the boundary of La Reunion’s 2,000-acre land is the area now bounded by Westmoreland on the west, Hampton on the east, Davis on the south, and the Trinity River on the north — the southwest corner is marked here on Google Maps.)

It was a little noisy at the event Tuesday night, so if you were one of the very nice people who turned out, you might not have been able to hear anything I said! If you’d like to hear more about the history of La Reunion (and about Reunion Tower — and how, if a marketing agency had had its way, it might have been named “Esplanade” Tower), I enthusiastically recommend this very entertaining radio piece from Julia Barton (the La Reunion segment begins at about the 5:15 mark).

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I took photos, but they don’t do justice to the view. The really breathtaking vistas are at night, and, sadly, none of those photos came out. Seriously, if you’ve never been up Reunion Tower — or if you haven’t been since it was opened in 1978 — you should definitely go now. Better still, go at sunset and enjoy the best view in Dallas as you sip delicious cocktails.

The view stretches for miles. Here’s a cropped view of Dealey Plaza (click to see it really big).

reunion-tower_dealey-plaza_triple-underpass_091217a

And, at sunset, the jail has never looked lovelier.

reunion-tower_sunset_jail_091217

Back down on terra firma, looking up and saying “goodbye” to the ball.

reunion-tower_the-ball_091217

Thank you, Dallas Historical Society, for inviting me to be part of your event! And thanks to everyone who came out … and up!

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Sources & Notes

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Photos by Paula Bosse. Click ’em to see ’em bigger.

For more information of the La Reunion colony, see other Flashback Dallas posts here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

From the Vault: Snapshots of the Fair, 1936-1940

state-fair_texas-state-bldg_fwpl

by Paula Bosse

September is finally here, and that means the State Fair of Texas is only a few short weeks away. Check out the Flashback Dallas post “Snapshots of the Fair, 1936-1940” to see many of Lewis D. Fox’s amateur photos of the fair (and the Texas Centennial) from 1936-1940. And see the link at the bottom of the post to see the full collection of 100 or so of his State Fair photos from the Fox Photograph Collection in the Fort Worth Public Library Archives.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Main and Ervay — The Favorite Downtown View of Postcard Publishers

main_west-from-ervay_ebayLandmarks a-plenty… (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Without question, the most popular view of downtown Dallas offered to postcard buyers in the early years of the 20th century — the one repeated over and over and over — is Main Street looking west from Ervay. The constant is the Wilson Building, which opened in 1904 and has elegantly held the fort at the northwest corner ever since. Later came the skyscraping Praetorian Building at Main and Stone. And a few years later, Neiman-Marcus arrived at the southwest corner of Main and Ervay to firmly establish the intersection as one of the city’s most impressive.

I love these colorized postcards, but it’s always interesting to see them drained of color — they look more realistic, but they still have that air of otherworldliness.

main_west-from-ervay_ebay_bw

Here are a couple more. This one is lacking Neiman’s (built in 1914), taken around 1908 or 1909 (the Elk’s Arch can be seen in the distance).

main-ervay-elks-arch_postcard_ebay.jpg

And this one, before the Praetorian Building was built in 1907.

main-st_1905

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Postcards from eBay.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Gill Well

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredThe Highland Park pagoda… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I never heard of the Gill Well growing up — in fact, it wasn’t until around the time I started this blog — about three or four years ago — that I first became aware of it. Though largely forgotten today, the Gill Well used to be a pretty big deal in Dallas: for years, early-20th-century entrepreneurs tried valiantly and persistently to capitalize on the mineral-heavy artesian water from this well — the plan was to use this hot spring water in order to turn Dallas (or at least Oak Lawn) into, well, “the Hot Springs of Texas.” We came so close!

So — Gill Well? Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

In 1902 city alderman and water commissioner C. A. Gill proposed sinking an artesian well near the Turtle Creek pumping station in order to determine if the flow of water in underground springs was sufficient to augment Dallas’ water supply (there was, at the time, another such test well being drilled in West Dallas). The City Council was on board and wanted this test well to be a deep well, “the deepest in the state — in order to settle once and for all the question as to whether or not there lies beneath the earth in this section a body of water, or ‘an underground sea,’ as some call it, of sufficient size to supply the needs of all the people” (Dallas Morning News, Aug. 6, 1902).

Fellow alderman Charles Morgan explained Gill’s proposition to the people of Dallas in a prepared statement to the Morning News:

By sinking artesian wells it is not intended to abandon the plans proposed to secure an adequate storage supply from surface drainage, but that the artesian wells shall augment the supply. We can not get too much water, but if we secure an ample artesian supply our storage basins will be reserve. There will be no conflict. We simply make success double sure. (Alderman Charles Morgan, DMN, Aug. 24, 1902)

The well was sunk in September or October of 1902 near the Turtle Creek pumphouse (which was adjacent to where a later station was built in 1913, the station which has been renovated and is now known as the Sammons Center for the Arts — more on the construction of that 1913 station and a photo of the older pumphouse can be found here); the drilling was slow-going and went on until at least 1904, reaching a depth of more than 2,500 feet. It’s a bit out of my area of expertise, but, basically, good, palatable artesian water from the Paluxy sands — water “free from mineral taint” — was found, but, deeper, a larger reservoir of highly mineralized “Gill water” — from the Glen Rose stratum — was found. That was good news and bad news.

gill-well_dmn_120103Dallas Morning News, Dec. 1, 1903

The “bad news” came from the fact that a part of a pipe casing became lodged in the well, causing an obstruction in the flow of the “good” water from the Paluxy formation. Again, it’s a bit confusing, but the heavy flow of 99-degree-fahrenheit mineral water (which was corrosive to pipes) threatened to contaminate the “good” Paluxy water … as well as the water from the Woodbine formation from which most (all?) of the private wells in Dallas secured their water. (Read detailed geological reports on the well in a PDF containing contemporaneous newspaper reports here — particular notice should be paid to the comprehensive overview of the well and its problems which was prepared for the Dallas Water Commission by Engineer Jay E. Bacon and published in the city’s newspapers on May 10, 1905).

So what the City of Dallas ended up with as a result of this Gill Well was a highly dependable source of hot mineral water. But what to do with it? Monetize it!

As part of the city’s water supply, the mineral water was made available to Dallas citizens free of charge: just show up at one of the handful of pagoda-covered dispensing stations with a jar, a bucket, or a flask, and fill up with as much of the rather unpleasant-smelling (and apparently quite powerful!) purgative as you could cart home with you. (For those who didn’t want to mingle with the hoi polloi, home delivery was available for a small fee.) One such “pagoda” was erected a short distance away, in front of the city hospital (Old Parkland) at Maple and Oak Lawn (the healthful water was also piped directly into the hospital for patient use).

gill-well-parkland-pagoda_brenham-weekly-banner_040605
Brenham Weekly Banner, April 6, 1905

One man, however, began offering the water for sale beyond Dallas, hoping to cash in on the free-flowing tonic (see the mineral-content breakdown here), but the city clamped down on him pretty quickly as he was not an authorized agent. From his 1906 ad, one can see that the reputation of Gill water and its healing and restorative powers was already widely known.

gill-well-water_dmn_080206
DMN, Aug. 2, 1906

If the water was not to be sold, what was the City of Dallas going to do with it? It was decided to pipe the the water a short distance from the test well to nearby property adjacent to the land now occupied by Reverchon Park, then lease the access to the water to a capitalist who would build a sanitarium/spa where people could come to “take the waters” — to bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-heavy artesian water with mystical recuperative properties. The sanitarium would make money by charging its patrons for its services, and the city would collect a small annual income based on the number of the sanitarium’s bathing tubs and the amount of water used:

Compensation to the city shall be $10 per tub per year and one-half-cent per gallon for all water used. (DMN, Jan. 4, 1907)

The Gill Well Sanitarium and bath house opened in January, 1907, on Maple Avenue just north of the MKT Railroad (now the Katy Trail). (Most clippings and pictures in this post are larger when clicked.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010407DMN, Jan. 4, 1907

I searched and searched and searched for a picture of the building and, hallelujah, I finally found one, in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, taken by photographer Henry Clogenson. (This is the only picture I’ve been able to find of it, and, I have to say, it’s not at all what I expected the building to look like. It actually looks like something you’d see in a present-day strip mall.)

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_011307_photoDMN, Jan. 13, 1907

gill-well-sanitarium_dmn_010607_ad
Advertisement, DMN, Jan. 6, 1907

Business at the new sanitarium was very good, and the public fountains/spigots at both the sanitarium property and a block or so away at the city hospital continued to be popular with residents who needed a boost or a “cure” and stopped by regularly for a sip or a pail of the free mineral water.

gill-well_ad_dallas-police-dept-bk_1910_portal1910 ad

In 1912 a natatorium (an indoor swimming pool) was added and proved even more popular. It was open to men, women, and children; admittance and bathing suit rental was 25¢ (about $6.50 in today’s money). (Contrary to the headline of the ad below, it was not Dallas’ first natatorium — there was one near City Park on South Ervay by at least 1890 — but it was probably the first pool in the city filled with warm mineral water.)

gill-well_natatorium_dmn_041412
DMN, April 14, 1912

gill-well-natatorium_dmn_070712
DMN, July 7, 1912

gill-well-natatorium_dmn_100612DMN, Oct. 6, 1912

The last paragraph of the ad above mentions a plan to pipe Gill water to a hotel downtown — not only would the Gill Well Sanitarium Company’s services be offered in the heart of the city amidst lavish hotel surroundings (instead of in Oak Lawn, way on the edge of town), but the company would also be able to compete with Dallas’ other (non mineral-water) Turkish baths — then they’d really be rolling in the cash. As far as I can tell, nothing came of the plan, but the men behind it were pretty gung ho, as can be seen in this rather aggressive advertorial from the same year:

ad-sanitorium-baths_blue-bk_1912The Standard Blue Book of Texas, 1912

All seemed to be going well with the sanitarium until the city and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (the MKT, or the Katy) decided to remove the railroad’s grade crossings through the Oak Lawn area (all work which was to be paid for by the railroad). Double tracks were to be added and crossings were either raised or the streets were lowered. The crossings affected were Lemmon, Cedar Springs and Fairmount (where street levels were cut down to go under the tracks) and Hall, Blackburn, and Bowen (where tracks would be elevated). Also affected: Maple Avenue. (Read more about the MKT plan in the Dallas Morning News article from Aug. 23, 1918 — “Dallas Is Eliminating Four Grade Crossings” — here.)

The Maple Avenue-Katy Railroad crossing had long been a dangerous area for wagons, buggies, and, later, automobiles. Not only was it at the top of a very steep hill (see what that general area north of that crossing looked like around 1900 here), but it also had two sharp curves. The decision was made to straighten Maple Avenue between the approach to the railroad crossing and Oak Lawn Avenue at the same time Maple was being lowered and the Katy track was being raised. (Read the announcement of this plan — “Straighten Maple Avenue Is Plan” — from the Nov. 29, 1917 edition of The Dallas Morning News, here.) The only problem — as far as the Gill Well Sanitarium was concerned — was that the straightened road would go directly through the sanitarium property. I don’t know if the long-time owner of the sanitarium, J. G. Mills, knew about this approaching dire situation, but in 1915 — just a few short months after boasting in advertisements that more than 50,000 patients had availed themselves of the sanitarium’s amenities in 1914 — he placed an ad seeking a buyer of the business (although, to be fair, he’d been trying to sell the company for years):

gill-well_dmn_080815_for-saleDMN, Aug. 8, 1915

(In the ad he states that the buyer had an option to purchase the actual well, but the city had never expressed any desire to sell either the well or the full rights to the water.)

The Gill Well Sanitarium Co. appears to have been dissolved in 1916, but there was still hope that a sanitarium/hot springs resort could continue on the property. In 1917, interested parties petitioned the city to change its plans to straighten Maple, arguing that it would destroy any ability to do business on the site, but the city went forward with its plans, and in November, 1919, the City of Dallas purchased the land from the group of partners for $21,500 (about $305,000 in today’s money).

gill-well_dmn_111319
DMN, Nov. 13, 1919

The monetization of water from Dallas’ fabled Gill Well ended after ten years.

I had never heard of Maple Avenue being straightened. Below is a map of Turtle Creek Park (which became Reverchon Park in 1915), showing Maple’s route, pre-straightening — the main buildings of the sanitarium were in the bulge just west of Maple, between the Katy tracks and the boundary of the park.

reverchon-park_turtle-creek-park_map_1914-15
1915 map, via Portal to Texas History

Another view can be seen in a detail from a (fantastic) 1905 map, with the approximate location of the Gill Well Sanitarium circled in white:

maple-ave_1905-map_portal_det_gill-wellWorley’s Map of Greater Dallas, 1905

A year or more ago I saw the photo below on the Big D History Facebook page but had no idea at the time what I was looking at: it apparently shows Maple Avenue in 1918, taken from about Wolf Street (probably more like Kittrell Street), which was then near the city limits, looking north. You can seen the curve Maple makes and the steep hill — that large building at the right must be the sanitarium and/or the later-built natatorium. (The view today can be seen here.)

maple-ave_road-construction_from-wolf_1918_big-d-history-FB

So the Gill Well Sanitarium and Bath House was closed, the land was purchased by the City of Dallas, Maple Avenue was straightened, and, in the summer of 1923, the remaining abandoned buildings on the property were demolished. But that didn’t spell the end of the famous Gill Well water.

Highland Park’s “Gill Water” Pagoda

Around 1924, “Gill water” tapped from the Glen Rose Strata was made available to Highland Park, via a small “watering house” and drinking fountain on Lakeside Drive (at Lexington), a location which proved to be quite popular. The mineral water was a byproduct of Highland Park’s “deep well” which was drilled in 1924 to tap the pure artesian springs of the Trinity Sands Strata in order to augment the water supply of the City of Highland Park: in order to get down to the Trinity Sands, one had to pass through the Glen Rose Strata — I guess the HP powers-that-be figured they might as well tap the hot mineral water and offer their citizens access to it by building a small fountain and dispensing station. In 1928, the little “watering station” structure was spiffed up with the addition of a tile roof, attractive walkways, and drainage. The photo seen at the top of this post has frequently been misidentified as the Reverchon Park well, but it is actually the Highland Park “pagoda.” Here it is again:

gill-well_highland-park_dallas-rediscoveredfrom Dallas Rediscovered (Dallas Times Herald photo)

It can be identified as the Highland Park location because of the photo below from the George W. Cook collection of historic Dallas photos from SMU’s DeGolyer Library — it shows what appears to be a later view of the same pagoda, now slightly overgrown. The steps to the bridge across Exall Lake and the bridge’s railing can be seen at the far right (the bridge led to the Highland Park pumping station, which can be seen on a pre-watering-station 1921 Sanborn map here).

gill-well_highland-park_cook-collection_degolyer_smuGeorge W. Cook Collection, SMU

And, well, there’s the sign that reads “Highland Park Deep Wells — Free to the Pubic” — here’s a close-up:

gill-well_highland-park_cook-collection_degolyer_smu_det

(The same sign from the top photo can be seen in a high-contrast close-up here.)

After seeing this photo, I realized that a photo I featured in a post from last year showed the pagoda in what looks like its earliest days, at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue (the bridge can be seen at the left):

hp_lakeside-drive_rppc_ebayeBay

I was unable to find out when this HP pagoda bit the dust, but the location as seen today on Google Street View is here. (It’s pretty strange to think that a steady stream of people from all over Dallas drove to the Park Cities to fill up jugs with free mineral water; my guess is that the wealthy Lakeside Avenue residents weren’t completely enamored of the situation.)

Reverchon Park Pavilion

Even though the Gill Well Sanitarium Co. had dissolved in 1916, and the last traces of its buildings had been torn down in 1923, the famed well’s water didn’t disappear from the immediate Oak Lawn area. In February of 1925, the City of Dallas opened a $5,000 pavilion, “making up for twenty years indifference to what is said to be the finest medicinal water in the South” (DMN, Feb. 11, 1925). This pet project of Mayor Louis Blaylock seems to have continued to be a place for Dallasites to get their mineral water at least through the 1950s, according to online reminiscences. This 1925 “pavilion” is described thusly in the WPA Dallas Guide and History:

The water, which resembles in many respects the mineral waters of European resorts and is used in several county and city institutions, is carried to the surface in pipes and can be drawn from taps arranged around a semicircle of masonry near the entrance to the park. Here cars stop at all hours of the day and people alight to drink the water or to fill bottles and pails.

I have not been able to find a photograph of that post-sanitarium dispensing site. A 1956-ish aerial photo of Reverchon Park can be found here. I don’t see a “semicircle of masonry” in an area I assume would be located near Maple Avenue and the Katy tracks.

According to a comment on the DHS Archives Phorum discussion group, there was also a public spigot nearer to the original well, along Oak Lawn Avenue, across the street from Dal-Hi/P. C. Cobb stadium.

There is surprisingly little accurate information on the Gill Well online. I hope this overview helps correct some of the misinformation out there. If anyone knows of additional photos of the sanitarium and/or natatorium, please send them my way and I’ll add them to this post. If there are any photos of the Reverchon Park pavilion, I’d love to see those as well. There is a 1926 photo of the Highland Park location which shows two women and two girls filling receptacles — I am unable to post that here, but check the Dallas Morning News archives for the short article “Free Mineral Well Waters Popular” (DMN, May 29, 1926).

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Incidentally, even though the wells have been capped, that hot mineral water is still there underground and could be tapped at any time. Dallas could still be the “Hot Springs of Texas”!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from p. 199 of Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald, credited to The Dallas Times Herald. The photo is incorrectly captioned as showing the location of the “Gill Well Bath House and Natatorium, c. 1904” — it is actually the Highland Park dispensing station at Lakeside Drive and Lexington Avenue in about 1928.

Photo showing Maple Avenue, pre-straightening, is from the Big D History Facebook page; original source of photo is unknown.

Second photo of the Highland Park Gill Well location (with the vegetation looking a bit more overgrown) is from a postcard captioned “Drinking Bogoda [sic], deep mineral well in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas” — it is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this image is here.

Photo showing Lakeside Drive with the pagoda at the left is a real photo postcard captioned “Lake Side Drive in Highland Park” — it was offered last year on eBay.

Sources of all other clippings, ads, and maps as noted.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Square Dancing Craze in Big D — Late 1940s

calamity-jane_premiere_-sam-bass_majestic-theatre_july-1949Hoedown at the Majestic, 1949…

by Paula Bosse

The photo above appeared in a show-biz trade publication showing part of the festivities which swirled around the world premiere of the movie “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Howard Duff at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949. Several of the film’s stars made personal appearances and were made honorary deputies by Sheriff Bill Decker, sworn in by Judge Lew Sterrett (yes, Lily Munster was an honorary Dallas deputy sheriff!). There was a parade, a live show performed by the actors on the Majestic’s stage before the movie, a block party, and square dancing in Elm Street, with music provided by the Big D Jamboree band.

In 1949, as unlikely as it seems, square dancing was a HUGE fad which swept the country (or at least the Southwest). The peak years of the retro craze were probably 1948 to 1950, and its impact was pretty big locally, not only on the dance floor, but also in the fashion pages. When you see every major Dallas department store — even Neiman’s — selling calico and gingham square dance fashions … well, it’s big.

Not only were there lessons available everywhere, but there were clubs and weekly events all over town — every Wednesday in the summer of 1949, there was a big outdoor square dance held at the Fair Park Midway, with music courtesy of local celeb Jim Boyd.

I’m not sure when it stopped (…I’m assuming it has…), but for decades, a lot of us participated in square dancing as part of gym class in elementary school. This interesting throw-back take on physical fitness seems to have begun around 1950 or ’51. Not everyone was thrilled about this odd-but-charming grade-school rite of passage — some ultra-conservative communities complained, but the wholesome and old-timey dancing won out and became a standard part of Texas schools’ physical education curriculum.  Forget young people’s cotillions — most Texas children had their first experience dancing with a partner to the strain of a cowboy fiddle and a voice telling us to “allemande left” and “do-si-do.” And I’m sure we’re all better for it.

Here are a bunch of ads and things (click pictures to see larger images):

square-dance_la-reunion-place_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archivesSquare dance at La Reunion Place (Dallas Municipal Archives)

square-dance_jan-1946_highland-park
1946

square-dance_may-1947_a-harris
1947

square-dance_aug-1948_titches
1948

square-dance_jan-1948_sanger-bros1948

square-dance_oct-1948_neiman-marcus
1948

square-dance_april-1948_a-harris
1948

square-dance_oct-1948
1948

square-dance_dec-1950_e-m-kahn
1949

square-dance_june-1949_w-a-green
1949

square-dance_may-1949_fair-park-midway
1949

square-dance_nov-1949_a-harris
1949

square-dance_march-1949_whittles
1949

square-dance_oct-1949_a-harris
1949

dallas_ringandbrewer_1956
1956

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Sources & Notes

Premiere of “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” was held at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949, and it seems to have been a pretty big deal. There was newsreel footage filmed that night — wonder if it’s floating around anywhere?

square-dance_calamity-jane_majestic_june-1949

Photo of the square dance taken at La Reunion Place is by Squire Haskins and is from the Dallas Municipal Archives; is can be seen on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here.

Ads from Dallas-area newspapers.

Jim Boyd was a country-western singer who appeared in a few Hollywood films and was a Dallas disc jockey for many years. He also appeared around town often as a performer and personality. Dallas filmmaker Hugh V. Jamieson, Jr. and director Milton M. Agins made a short film called “Saturday Night Square Dance” (made in either 1949 or 1950); it features Boyd and his Men of the West band, plus square dance groups Silver Spur Square Set and Thompson Square Dance Club. I can find nothing on the two groups, but it seems likely that this film was made in Dallas. The quality of the film uploaded to YouTube is not very good, but, who knows — you might see your parents or grandparents in there if they were big square dancers! You can watch it here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike — “30 Miles in 30 Minutes” (1957)

turnpike_west-from-360_1957*Less* than 30 mins. under these conditions…

by Paula Bosse

Three years ago I posted this wonderful photo of the blissfully empty, not-yet-opened Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike — I loved it then, and I love it now. Read the original post — “The DFW Turnpike, Unsullied by Traffic, Billboards, or Urban Sprawl — 1957” — here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Mosquito Bar

sargent_mosquito-nets_1908Relax without fear of being bitten by mosquitoes…

by Paula Bosse

The “mosquito bar” — the human’s defense against blood-thirsty mosquitoes (and other annoying pests) — had its heyday in the US in the second half of the 19th century and the first couple of decades of the 20th century, before screens for windows and doors were commonplace in American homes. They were particularly necessary in the hot and sweaty Southern US states which were routinely plagued with mosquitoes. A typical mosquito bar ad looked like this one from Dallas merchants Sanger Bros. (click ads and clippings to see larger images):

mosquito-bar_dallas-herald_080285_sanger-bros-ad-det
Dallas Herald, Aug. 2, 1885

(According to the Inflation Calculator, $1.00 in 1885 money would be worth about $27.00 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation.)

The first Dallas ad I found for mosquito bars was from 1877 — like the clipping above, it is also from a Sanger Bros. ad (in fact, Sanger’s seemed to be mosquito-bar-central for 19th-century Dallas).

mosquito-bar_sanger-bros-ad-det_dallas-herald_073177
Dallas Herald, July 31, 1877

mosquito-bar_sanger-bros-ad-det_dallas-herald_051478
Dallas Herald, May 14, 1878

mosquito-bar_screens_dallas-herald_052482_sanger-bros-ad-det
Dallas Herald, May 24, 1882

mosquito-bars_southern-mercury_070390Southern Mercury, July 3, 1890

Mosquito bars were usually draped over beds, canopy-style, but the painting above (“Mosquito Nets” by John Singer Sargent, 1908) shows “personal” net-covered armatures, perfect for genteel ladies to relax inside of and read (while trying to keep cool despite being weighed down by what must have been uncomfortably heavy clothing).

The mesh netting or fine muslin used to drape beds (and cover windows and doors) was generally white or pink, sometimes green. Once inside the canopied beds, the netting was tucked under the mattress in order to seal all potential entry points in the mesh-walled fortress and allow the thankful occupants inside to sleep unmolested by mosquitoes (or other biting and stinging insects).

mosquito-netting

These bars became fairly standard in hotels and in many homes of the time, but if one could not afford the luxury of sleeping inside one of these things, the sleeper would often resort to rubbing him- or herself with kerosene if they wished to avoid being bitten throughout the night.

mosquito-bar_dmn_100110_kerosene
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1910

As much of a godsend as the bars were, they had their problems. The fine material was easily torn, and sometimes the mesh was so tightly knit that ventilation (and breathing!) was not optimal. Also, it was not unusual for them to catch fire — there are numerous newspaper reports of the bars being ignited by candles or gas-burning lamps or by careless or sleepy smokers smoking inside the canopy.

mosquito-bar_dallas-herald_052481_fire
Dallas Herald, May 24, 1881

It was apparently a common precaution against midnight thievery for men who stayed in hotels to keep their money in the pockets of their pants and then fold the pants and place them beneath their pillows. The second line of defense was the mosquito netting tucked resolutely under the mattress of their canopied beds. The feeling was that a burglar would have to be pretty stealthy to breech a man’s mosquito bar and steal his pants from under his pillow without waking him. But never underestimate the Big City burglar (click article to see a larger image):

mosquito-bar_dmn_091088_theft
DMN, Sept. 10, 1888

After doors and windows began to be routinely covered with wire screens, the use of mosquito bars in homes and hotels waned, but their use continued in military encampments and hospitals, in recreational camping, and in swampy or tropical areas where the transmission of diseases like malaria and Dengue fever (transmitted by mosquitoes) posed health risks. Wire screens must have been a godsend.

ad-acme-screen-co_terrill-yrbk_1924Terrill School yearbook, 1924

And if you don’t think that the prospect of a night without a mosquito bar (especially in the bayous of Louisiana…) wouldn’t inflame usually calmer heads, here’s a news story from 1910 about a man who shot a co-worker three times at close range because of a heated argument over which of them owned a mosquito bar. And this was in February! Lordy. Talk about your crime of passion. The moral of this story: do not mess with another man’s mosquito bar.

mosquito-bar_town-talk_alexandria-LA_022210_deadly-dispute
Town Talk (Alexandria, LA), Feb. 22, 1910

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mosquito-bar_dmn_052812_couplet
DMN, May 28, 1912

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Sources & Notes

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The top painting by John Singer Sargent — titled “Mosquito Nets” (1908) — is from the Detroit Institute of Arts; more on the painting can be found here.

Photo of draped bed is from the “Mosquito Net” Wikipedia page, here.

Other clippings and ads as noted. Dallas Herald and Southern Mercury newspaper scans are part of the huge database of scanned historical Texas newspapers found at the Portal to Texas History (to see newspapers, click this link and filter by “Counties,” “Decades,” “Years,” etc. on the left side of the page, or search by keywords at the top).

This post was adapted from a post I wrote for my other (non-Dallas) blog, High Shrink — that post, “The Mosquito Bar,” can be found here (it includes additional photographs and illustrations).

Most ads and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Sometimes I Run”: Dallas Noir — 1973

5-sometimes-I-run_stanley-maupin_hoseStanley Maupin at work…

by Paula Bosse

Several years ago, Robert Wilonsky wrote a Dallas Observer article about the short documentary “Sometimes I Run” — I watched it immediately afterward, and it’s stuck with me ever since. The 22-minute film, shot in 1973 by SMU film student Blaine Dunlap (who also made the fun 1970 Sunset High School film I wrote about earlier this year) shows Dallas Public Works Dept. street flusher Stanley Maupin at his job sweeping the downtown sidewalks late at night, accompanied by a soundtrack of jazz music and Maupin’s philosophical musings. It’s cool, gritty, seedy, nostalgic, and somehow life-affirming, all at the same time. Also, Dallas always looks best at night — the wet streets add a definite noir-ness to the overnight municipal goings-on which were happening when most Dallasites were home in bed. (See the bottom of this post for various sites on which you can watch the film in its entirety.)

It took the opening moments of this film to remind me that, yes, I DO remember (if vaguely) seeing that revolving beam of light shot from the “rocket” on top of the Republic Bank Building. You can see it at about :35. Also included in the film are Franklin’s, the Greyhound Bus station, the Capri movie theater, a late-night-diner, the Mayfair department store, the Municipal Building, Sanger-Harris, and much more. And while Maupin’s philosophical pronouncements might be a bit heavy-handed at times, I have to admit that I could listen to him talk for hours, if only to hear his accent, a Dallas-area trapping of the past that one doesn’t come across nearly often enough these days.

Here are a few screen captures.

2-franklins_sometimes-when-i-run

3-greyhound_stometimes-when-i-run

6-keep-dallas-clean_sometimes-when-i-run

7-diner_sometimes-when-i-run

8-diner-2_sometimes-when-i-run

9-mayfair_sometimes-when-i-run

10-city-hall_sometimes-when-i-run

11-repub-bank-bldg

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Sources & Notes

The 44-year-old award-winning student film, “Sometimes I Run,” directed by Blaine Dunlap, can be seen in its entirety in several places online: on Vimeo (good sound and video), on YouTube (via South Carolina Arts Commission), and at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (from the collection of the Dallas Municipal Archives). Sound by Ron Judkins, music by Ken Watson.

I have tried to find some history on Stanley Maupin, but I didn’t come up with much. He lived in Irving as a boy, but as a teenager, he attended North Dallas High School and, later, McMurry College in Abilene.

maupin-stanley_NDHS_1953
North Dallas High School yearbook, 1953

maupin-stanley_mcmurry-college_1956_freshman_portalMcMurry College yearbook, 1956

Born in 1935, he appears to have died in 1985, perhaps in a shocking way (which I have been unable to verify) — see comments from his grandchildren in the YouTube video here.

Some background on the film can be found in an article by Don Clinchy, here.

Read a 1986 interview with Blaine Dunlap (by Bo Emerson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 24, 1986) here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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