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History

Tales From the Dallas History Archives: Old Mayors, Magic, And A New Tollway

| 15 hours ago

Halloween may have come and gone, but magic can always found if you know where to look. The history of Dallas is no exception.

The below photograph, titled The Magic of North Dallas, was taken on August 3, 1982 by Butch Hale Photography. It is one of several images taken as part of the cover design by Unigraphics, Incorporated for the inaugural issue of the North Dallas-focused Parkway Magazine, which was published in October of 1982.

The Magic of North Dallas, August 3, 1982. PA82-5/01, from the Parkway Magazine Collection, Dallas Public Library.

Featured in the photograph series are former Dallas mayors: from left, Bob Folsom, Jack Evans, J. Erik Jonsson, and Wes Wise. Jack Evans was serving as mayor when these photos were taken.

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History

Early Dallas Mustaches: An Analysis

| 2 weeks ago

November means mustaches. Thanks to the Movember Foundation, men all over the world this month grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide. Women, too, are invited to participate. Though it’s harder for them.

We at D Magazine are all about awareness. And mustaches. So we turned to The Encyclopedia of Texas, published in 1922, to find Dallasites who might inspire us. For each man, we offer an actual excerpt from the encyclopedia, along with a passage of our invention. See if you can distinguish the real item from the fabrication.

1. Gus Keller

A. He founded his own business, never did work for a salary, and built that business up to a place of leadership in its realm, marketing the choicest and such edible meats that his establishment acquired a city-wide reputation, and he became a city character, universally known and esteemed for his reliability and service.

B. His mustache, sitting all those years under his nose, grew sad. For just inches above it, there was a most pitiful haircut, with a severe part down the middle. And so, at its edges, the mustache drooped.

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History

A Gruesome Timeline of the Adolphus Hotel’s Potential Ghosts

| 1 month ago

While sifting through the Dallas Morning News archives to research a page on fancy hotel facelifts, I came across a macabre murder story set in the Adolphus, Dallas’ oldest grand hotel. It made me wonder about the place’s paranormal rumors. The Adolphus, opened in October of 1912, has embraced its haunted reputation in recent years. Get a cocktail at the lobby bar, and a bartender will hand you a menu in a homemade history book that includes several poems about the hotel’s supposed ghosts, the most popular revolving around a jilted bride 

But those stories—and the one about the Stoneleigh manager’s mistress taking a fatal fall in a secret passageway—seem to have evaded newspaper print. I found nothing in the News’ archives about a dead kept woman or would-be bride. Are those stories just Dallas folklore? Or did the reporters of yesteryear turn their heads when high-profile figures’ skeletons toppled out of their closets? I don’t have those answers, but what I do have is the tenacity to dig through decades of the News’ grainy newspaper clips to find the real reports on people who died on Adolphus property. (OK, it was really a pretty basic search on the library website and I’m sure I missed a few.) 

If your soul is too sensitive to get past the first few minutes of any Six Feet Under episode, now is the time to click on something else. But if you like history, and don’t mind morbidity, read on. And since I’m probably minutes away from getting an angry call from a PR rep, I’ll go ahead and add that all my experiences at the Adolphus—spa treatments, afternoons at the pool, tea at the French Room bar—have been exceptional. Still, next time I step inside the Adolphus walls, I’m definitely taking the stairs.  

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History

Tales From the Dallas History Archives: A Time When Not All In Dallas Could Vote

| 1 month ago

The November midterm elections are just around the corner and you have until October 9 to register to vote. Regardless of your political views, exercising your right to vote is an important part of the governmental process in Texas and the United States. But historically, the ability to vote was not equally available to Dallas residents. The voting rights struggle had a big impact on the evolution of Dallas as a city and left an imprint on the Dallas we know today.

The poll tax was used by many Southern states after reconstruction, as a way to disenfranchise voters, particularly black people. Introduced in Texas in 1902, the poll tax did indeed keep large numbers of Texans, including many African Americans, from voting because they often couldn’t afford to pay the tax. The tax remained even after women won the right to vote in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

In 1964, the 24th Amendment finally declared the poll tax illegal for national elections. And in 1966, the Texas State Constitution was amended to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that declared state poll taxes illegal in state elections.

The poll tax in Texas had an impact on Dallas – evident in photographs such as this 1955 image of a billboard advertising “Be an active citizen…Pay Your Poll Tax”. The ad was paid for by W.A. Morrison, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Working to bring African Americans to voting booths, even with the poll tax in place, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) campaigned to get as many citizens as possible to pay the tax. That effort is depicted in this circa 1965 image taken by prominent African American photographer Marion Butts, titled “Pay Your Poll Tax Here” NAACP Poll Tax Campaign workers with signs from the campaign.

“Pay Your Poll Tax Here” NAACP Poll Tax Campaign workers with signs from the campaign, circa 1965. PA2005-4/23.1, from the Marion Butts Collection, Dallas Public Library.
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History

How Playboy Made Its Mark in Dallas

| 2 months ago

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away on September 27, 2017. He was 91 years old. I combed through the D Magazine archives the following day and discovered, in the January 1977 issue, on page 11, a story exploring whether Dallas would be getting a Playboy Club. The publishing brand’s first franchised nightclub had opened in downtown Chicago in 1960, and, according to the article, real estate developer Lenny Licht was awaiting approval to bring the club to Dallas. This was a big operation for Playboy. At its peak, there were clubs in 23 American cities, as well as in Canada, Japan, and Jamaica.

Licht eventually received the green light. This would be the first, and only, location in Texas.

The Dallas Playboy Club opened in 1977 on the second floor of Expressway Tower, at North Central Expressway and what is now SMU Boulevard, in the same building that housed the Dallas Cowboys headquarters. It was a celebrity-studded, members-only playground. And the cocktail waitresses—known as Playboy Bunnies—were a main draw. The women, in satin suits with fluffy white tails and rabbit ears perched atop their maintained locks, were the embodiment of Hugh Hefner’s vision of beauty and charm.

I reached out to a handful of the Bunnies the day after Hef passed away, to hear their stories of what it was like to work within his empire, and more specifically, in the Dallas club. Would their encounters be similar to those in “A Bunny’s Tale,” Gloria Steinem’s 1963 essay for Show magazine in which the journalist worked in the Manhattan club under the alias Marie Catherine Ochs, and exposed what she considered to be a dark foible of the sexual revolution? Would these women feel similarly about their experiences? Would their stories be even more salacious? Not quite.

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Music

The Old 97’s Celebrate 25 Years

| 3 months ago

If you want a concise history of the Old 97’s quarter-century run, which they celebrate this month, listen to the song that kicks off the band’s 2014 album, Most Messed Up. As the music reaches back to rowdy sets at the long-dead Deep Ellum dive Naomi’s, it tells the tale of a group that’s “been doin’ it longer than you’ve been alive/20 good years of about 25.” It’s all there in just a shade under six minutes—the truth about being in a band for more than two decades, about being in this particular band.

“Most of this stuff should be kept confidential,” Rhett Miller sings, probably referring to the “oceans and oceans” of alcohol, “mountains of weed, a handful of pills.” “Aw, but who even gives half a fuck anymore? You should know the truth, it’s both a blast and a bore.”

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Politics & Government

Why Was Dwaine Caraway Trying to Protect the Robert E. Lee Statue?

| 3 months ago

A co-working FrontBurnervian who lives in the 75219 ZIP code brought in a postcard that she received in the mail at home. It’s an invitation to donate to a group called Return Lee to Lee Park. The name troubles me. Because Lee Park is now called Oak Lawn Park. So, really, the group should call itself Return Lee to Oak Lawn Park. Or maybe Rename Oak Lawn Park and Then Return Lee to It. Anyway, neither the postcard nor the website identifies who is behind the effort, but judging from this lawsuit and this video, it’s a guy named Warren Johnson (pictured above). If you are tempted to dismiss this whole thing as the pursuit of a loon and assume nothing will come of it — don’t. The Robert E. Lee statue has been safely squirreled away, and there’s talk of spending nearly $250k to remove the statue’s plinth and store it “archivally,” making it possible to restore the whole thing.

You know which member of the City Council was most vocal in protecting the statue and the Confederate monument near City Hall? Dwaine Caraway. Does it seem strange to you that a black guy from District 4 would do anything to protect a Confederate monument and a statue of Robert E. Lee? Of course not. Because that guy was crooked. Jim Schutze has written about all this, here before Caraway was busted by the feds and then here afterward. So I have two questions for the statue people: 1) which one of you paid Dwaine Caraway? And 2) do you get a refund now that he’s going to prison?

UPDATE (8/20/18) Through an attorney, Warren Johnson sends along the following statement: “I am aware of the article published in D Magazine on August 14, 2018, which implies a connection between Return Lee to Lee Park and Dwaine Caraway. There has never been, nor is there currently, any connection between myself or Return Lee to Lee Park and Dwaine Caraway. Soon after the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier sculpture, I submitted my concerns to each Dallas City Council member by email. Neither Caraway nor anyone from his office responded. As explained at www.ReturnLeetoLeePark.org, we are a nonprofit organization seeking the return of the sculpture to its home through the exercise of our Constitutional right to petition our representatives and assemble peacefully.” 

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History

Tales from the Dallas History Archives: The Dallas Eagles of the Texas League

| 4 months ago

As we make our way through the hot North Texas summer, many of us look to beloved pastimes in order to endure the heat and have some fun—whether it’s going out for a snow cone, taking a swim in a local community pool, or catching a baseball game.

Baseball has had a long history in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Today, baseball in North Texas is synonymous with the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball, but that franchise didn’t officially begin until 1972, when the Washington Senators baseball team was renamed and relocated to Arlington.

From 1948 through 1958 (decades before “Texas Rangers baseball” was a part of the local lexicon), if someone lived in Dallas and their neighbor asked them, “Did you go to the ball game yesterday?” chances are they meant a game played by the Dallas Eagles, owned by East Texas oilman Dick Burnett. The Eagles were part of the Texas League, a Minor League Baseball circuit that began in 1888. The home of the Dallas Eagles was Burnett Field, a ballpark once located at Jefferson and Colorado boulevards.

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History

A Look Back at Dallas’ 1978 ‘Texas Gay Conference’

| 5 months ago

Dallas may host its parade in the relatively temperate month of September, but it’s Pride Month here too, as evidenced by the rainbow skyline we enjoyed a few weeks back.

So here’s a timely find from UNT Special Collections, which is digitizing old TV news clips from Channel 5, with a special shout-out to the sharp eye that recognized an uncredited Harvey Milk being interviewed at the “Texas Gay Conference V” at Dallas’ Royal Coach Inn on June 10, 1978.

The California politician and gay civil rights activist, who would be assassinated later that year, imagines a world where LGBT men and women at a conference in Dallas won’t have to hide their faces from TV news cameras. America’s highest ideals demand equal rights for LGBT people, Milk says. It’s the country where anyone can make it.

“In this country, if gay people can make it, then it’s putting a green light that the system works, that you’re wanted,” Milk says. “And also it tells all those other people—the minorities, the disenfranchised, the poor… ‘Hey, if a gay person can make it, I can make it.’ And it tells people to get into the system and work within the system instead of being shoved aside.”

The first clip below is what aired on Dallas television in 1978. The second is B-roll, including more of the Milk interview. From the second clip, this quote’s a keeper: “Young gay people (should know) that there’s hope that they can become doctors and lawyers and politicians, God forbid, and businesspeople.” Credit to UNT Special Collections, the Resource Center LGBT Collection, and KXAS-TV.

[News Clip: Gay (Rights conference)] on The Portal to Texas History.

[News Clip: Gay (Rights conference)] on The Portal to Texas History.

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History

When Union Station Was the Most Interesting Place in Dallas

| 5 months ago

In February 1952, Salvdaor Dalí was in Dallas to lecture at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium, where the extravagantly mustachioed Spanish surrealist observed that “Texans dream in Technicolor, whereas New Yorkers dream only in black and white.” According to the Dallas Morning News account, Dalí also revealed the key to his new art (“it’s mysticism”) and speculated in characteristically humble fashion that his “first name, Salvador, may imply that it is his role to be ‘savior’ of modern art.”

There is at least one extant photo of Dalí’s visit to Dallas, a particularly fitting image of the man “who made the drooping watch famous,” as the paper put it. It was taken at Union Station. There the artist found himself drawn to a slanted door. “A Dalí-ian door,” he said—exclaimed, in the words of the photographer—and posed for a photo.

A slanted door on the ramp at Union Station caught the fancy of Salvador Dali who exclaimed: “A Dali-ian door!” Photo from the Hayes Collection courtesy of the Dallas Public Library Dallas History & Archives Division.
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