Dallas Historical Society Newsletter  


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In This Issue:
Photo Archives
2009 Brown Bags
Tribute/Memorial Gifts
AFE StarA tribute or memorial gift to the Dallas Historical Society is a meaningful way to honor a friend or loved one. For more information, please contact Development Director
Betty Brownlee at 214.421.4500.
A Word From the Director

Thank you to all who have welcomed me as the new Executive Director of the Dallas Historical Society. In my 25 years working in the Dallas cultural community, I have always had a great affection for Dallas' history and the DHS. Just walking around Fair Park and the Hall of State - not to mention many other historic buildings and neighborhoods in Dallas - one gets a true sense of the Dallas community.
When I was being considered for this position, I was asked in one interview to describe the DHS in two minutes or less. In essence I said that the DHS, in addition to being the caretaker of the Hall of State and a great collection of Dallas and Texas historic artifacts, is the keeper of Dallas' collective memory and roots. History is where we come from. History helps lead us into the future. History is what we learn from. History connects the past to now and the future.
I look forward to moving the DHS forward into the future with our roots always planted in our rich history.
-Jack Bunning

We recently received a gift of photographs, courtesy of the Dallas Police Department Museums' Board of Directors. They came in two large envelopes, one containing several shots of the "Great State Fair of Texas" during the late 1950s. It is amazing to see how things have changed in just fifty years. Do you remember the monorail? As I remember, we were told that one day monorails would criss-cross every city in America eliminating the need for buses and trains. We were also led to believe that by now we would have flying cars and would be vacationing on the Moon. Whatever the case, the monorail was a very popular attraction. The photographer was apparently interested in the monorail, but what we ended up with are a lot of great random shots of the park. There are photos of teenage boys with their DA haircuts and blue jeans rolled up half way to their knees, and of teenaged girls in poodle skirts and bobby socks. You also see many men strolling the fair wearing coats, ties and hats.

There are other curious photographs in the batch; one took me a minute to understand the subject. African American Day It is a shot of people walking the Midway and enjoying a "ten cent" snow cone, but with a little closer examination, you see that almost everyone in the photo is African American. I had forgotten that Black people were segregated to only one day a year that they could come to the Fair.  That seems so obviously stupid today! Still everyone seems to be having a good time; and why not, with "Damn Yankees" playing at the State Fair Auditorium and Victor Borge in the Cotton Bowl.

There are photographs of an A&M/SMU football game, and one odd shot of the Hampton Station trolley pulling a car off a railroad bridge.trolly car Perhaps the most interesting are the photos of the April 2, 1957 tornado that hit west Dallas. I worked for "The Dallas Morning News" for many years and with my natural fascination for history, I took every opportunity to go over any old photographs I found in the archives, but these are police images and are different.  They have a more "immediate" look to them. These shots were taken very soon after the destruction. MARDI GRASThere had been no attempt to clear the roads. The people still look stunned, and even the air hangs heavy in these black and white stills. I found an address on one of the photos, 1600 Record Crossing --- there are several people standing on a corner looking at flatten houses. A quick Google search of that corner shows that the homes were never rebuilt.

Yes, these photographs show that much has changed in the last fifty years:
Vietnam, trips to the Moon, the collapse of the USSR, and the first African American President. Big Tex is still welcoming folks to the "Great State Fair of Texas"; and even through the monorail is gone, we now have the "Texas Sky Way". While over at the Music Hall this year, you will be able to enjoy "Legally Blonde" and "Mamma Mia!" Oh, yeah! Corndogs! Let us not forget the corndogs!
-Ed Owens

 The Dallas Historical Society's 2009 Brown Bag Lecture Series

Generously sponsored by
CLAMPITT PAPER: The Paper People

Due to the renovation of the Hall of State, all eight lectures will be held in the Clampitt Paper's Creative Center. The Creative Center is located at Clampitt Paper's headquarters, 9207 Ambassador Row, Dallas, TX 75247. Click here for directions.
July 8th
Women of the Texas Governors Mansion
Presented by: Ann Shelton, local historian and personality.

Join us at 12 PM (noon) on the second Wednesday of every month as the DHS explores a variety of different topics about local and state history.  All lectures are open to the public and there is no cost to attend.
Don't forget to bring your lunch! Groups should RSVP by calling us at 214.421.4500 x 104 or emailing Booking@dallashistory.org. 

MARDI GRASDALLAS COUNTY HISTORY - FROM THE GROUND UP, Vol. II is now available for purchase.  The book's author, Frances James (a.k.a. "The Cemetery Lady"), published Vol. 1 in 2007, and Vol. II is a continuation of her work detailing the history behind various local cemeteries in Dallas County.  Copies are $40.  People interested in obtaining a copy should contact Frances directly at fjames@prodigy.net.  A percentage of every book sold will go to support the Dallas County Pioneers Association.
  If we may be of service to you in the future with discovering our past, please feel free to contact, visit or join the DHS. 
Dallas Historical Society