The 35 Biggest Moments in Modern Dallas History
We had the bright idea of not just chronicling these important moments, but getting the people who made the moments happen to write about them. This proved to be a Herculean task, but our efforts paid off. What other city magazine in America could get no fewer than seven billionaires to contribute to such an undertaking?
Starting with 1974, the year D Magazine launched, we decided to pick the 35 most significant moments in Dallas history. You can imagine the arguments that ensued. Now picture what happened when some genius hit on the swell idea of enlisting the people who made those moments happen, having them write the 35 essays that follow (in no particular order). Jerry Jones, as one example, is “busy” during the football season. So thank you to him and to everyone who helped make this happen. Without your generosity, we couldn’t have done it.
The Dallas Times Herald Folds
By Burl Osborne
Founded in 1888, the Dallas Times Herald was the blue-collar paper that published screaming tabloid headlines in the afternoon. On its staff at one time or another were Skip Bayless, Lee Cullum, Molly Ivins, Blackie Sherrod, Jim Lehrer, and Jim Schutze. On December 8, 1991, Belo, the owner of the Dallas Morning News, bought the paper, which published its last edition the following day.
The decision to close was made by the owners of the Times Herald. They decided that they were going to close down. Then we decided that we would purchase the assets. The sequence is important because I have read from time to time that we bought it and shut it down. That actually is not the way it happened. They shut it down. We then bought the assets.
For me, we certainly fought with the Times Herald—no question about that—and we competed extremely vigorously for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t think anybody envisioned until near the end that one of us would go away, would simply cease to exist.
I don’t know quite how to describe it because while all of that was happening, we were too busy getting our newspaper out, trying to prepare for what might happen, what we learned very near the end was going to happen. And so my principal concern was trying to figure out if they go away and if we get the assets—which we knew by the end of the process that we would—how much of what Times Herald customers valued most highly could we preserve: which features, down to puzzles and all of that. At the same time, how many of those jobs can we preserve? How many people can we afford to hire? How many of their folks would want to be part of the Morning News? How many of their folks would fit in our culture and would be happy there and could contribute there, and how many could we afford to take? And how would we serve the circulation that they had that was exclusive to them at the time? How could we serve the advertisers that they had, which we didn’t have?
So most of the effort that most of my colleagues and I spent during that period was trying to figure out how to preserve what we could of what was good about the Herald. It was a very busy time. It was only after the fact when we realized: they’re not here today.
You’re always better if you have a strong competitor, and I felt that the fact that we were constantly challenged by a competitor made us better and made them better. It was a better result for the readers and the advertisers of both papers.
Then we had to regroup and figure out that the new competition has to be redefined perhaps as “How good can we be? How well can we serve. How well can you do things?” And that’s a different model.
The Dallas Morning News and the Times Herald competed in an extremely robust way for many years, but always with a respect, if not warm friendship, for the other side. The day the Times Herald closed, I recall driving to work, looking at the news racks on about every corner, and feeling a sad emptiness in my day. Most everyone at the Morning News felt the same way. There was no inclination to gloat or to high-five, but an immediate sense that our newspaper had a greater obligation than before to serve everyone in the community.
Burl Osborne, the former publisher of the Dallas Morning News, is interim CEO of California-based Freedom Communications.
Hispanics Walk Out of School
By Gustavo Jimenez
A video on MySpace spurred Gustavo Jimenez into action on March 27, 2006. With just a day of planning, Jimenez organized a mass walkout to show support for the rights of illegal immigrants. From Dallas to California, the walkouts shed light on an issue that had, up until that point, remained in the dark.
It really started with a video and bulletin that I saw on MySpace. That video really affected me. There was footage of a walkout, crowds of people, photos. It showed minorities doing manual labor out in the fields and in the back alleys. You don’t think about what people have to do to provide for their families.
It showed who they were defending (in the protest marches). These are parents, sisters, brothers, uncles who are trying to better themselves. It instilled the whole idea that we need to defend those who cannot defend themselves. The bulletin on MySpace was about a nationwide march that was going to take place the very next day, March 27, 2006.
I got on the phone. I started texting. I sent e-mails. I made flyers and gave them to three friends who attended three different schools. I said to walk out during first period and to meet up at Kiest Park. It just spread like a spider web. When I arrived at Kiest Park in Oak Cliff, there were already about 15 students there. Before you knew it, 20 became 50, and 50 became 100, and by the afternoon, there were thousands of students there from 10 different schools.
It’s still a crazy bunch of emotions when I think back on it and how we got it organized in such a short period of time. Some of the students didn’t really know why they were there. That was the bittersweet part about it. The media showed some of the bad parts. Some students were saying to TV reporters that they were just there to skip school. They didn’t really understand why they were there. But once they saw themselves on the news, I think they started to understand. They started to get more active and started looking into the legislation and what was proposed. Many students recognized their mistakes and started to better themselves.
I think this put Dallas on the map. You’d expect something like this in L.A. or Chicago or New York. I don’t think anyone really thought Dallas would get involved. I like that the people in Dallas were able to speak up and be passionate about something that they thought was the right thing to do. They answered the call.
Gustavo Jimenez was a student at Duncanville High School at the time of the walkout to protest a Senate bill cracking down on illegal immigration. He now attends Mountain View College and works as a pawnbroker.
A Mansion Becomes a Hotel
By Caroline Rose Hunt
Caroline Rose Hunt’s purchase of a historic mansion on Turtle Creek in 1979 eventually turned into 18 luxury resorts around the world, the only five-star hotel in Texas, and the creation of Southwestern cuisine.
I remember back when the Mansion was first renovated in 1980. We were turning the kitchen and dining room into a bar for a party. I asked the designer to get some animal heads for a Western theme. When she said she didn’t have any, I said my husband had plenty and that he’d loan her some. When my husband saw them the night of the party, he nearly died. He said she chose the worst specimens, like animals with crooked horns. When I asked her about it, she said, “I chose them because they had sweet expressions.”
The Mansion has hosted many famous guests. In the late 1980s, entertainer Robert Goulet came. He always traveled with his two pet cats. The cats arrived before he did, and the hospitable Mansion staff brought them welcome baskets. There was a catnip mouse in there, and when he arrived, they were wild, climbing the drapes.
A couple of years ago, Crown Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, rented the entire hotel and part of the Hotel Crescent Court. He required a bathroom remodel, which was accomplished in one week’s time. He also had an entire suite devoted to all the televisions he brought with him.
In 1989, I realized how special the Mansion was when we won the Mobil Five Star Award—the only hotel in Texas so honored, and a designation the Mansion has had since.
Caroline Rose Hunt is the founder and honorary chairperson of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Return to the 35th anniversary issue table of contents.