Mr. Marion E. Boyd of Oak Cliff was one of the most enthusiastic photographers I have ever come across. Recording his collection for our archives was to say the least, daunting, but at the end of the day I was able to read his life's story, in great detail mostly through photographs.
From 1945 until 1993, Mr. Boyd took more than two thousand photographs of everything in his world. He then meticulously wrote on the back of each photo explaining what was in the picture. He labeled the photos by day, month, and year, and in almost fifty years he rarely missed a month. He was very thorough. This was very helpful to me in archiving this material.
His photographs start in Lake Cliff Park in October 1945. A young man in a WWII army uniform is kissing a girl who looks a little nervous. Then there are what seem to be random shots of his house, his car, and his parents. From there he takes us on a long driving vacation with his parents to Hollywood, California where he and his parents visited all the hot spots like the Brown Derby, Griffith Observatory, and Betty Grable's leg print at Grauman's Chinese Theater, never forgetting to put a detailed explanation on the back of each shot. There really are some great shots of Hollywood during its golden age.
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s he traveled around the southwest with a dance band. It is strange, but he never mentions their name, but I think he was their road manager. The band traveled by car to places like Albuquerque, New Mexico and McAlister, Oklahoma and of course The Great State Fair of Texas. Mr. Boyd must have photographed every bump along the way. When not on the road, the band had a regular gig at a now defunct dance club called "The Oaks", in west Dallas. The Oaks, at the corner of Sylvan and Fort Worth Avenues, was one of those open air places with lots on neon lights and fake palm trees. White dinner jackets and cigarette holders were the order of the day. It was during this time he acquired the nickname "Juicy," though I do not know why. If he played a musical instrument he does not mention it. Mr. Boyd liked to speak in the vernacular of the swing band era, so naturally he took lots of photos of all the "Cats and Chicks" in the band.
Early in the 1940s he starts a small recording studio called "Boyd Recording," in a building he built at the back of his parents' house, meticulously photographing every step of the construction. His studio became fairly successful, and he was able to move into a larger building on Lemmon Avenue by 1960. Mr. Boyd was a bit of a workaholic, and liked to name the various pieces of recording equipment in his studio and took photographs of them as if they were old friends. He had a particular fondness for his Scully lathe;
this was the machine that actually engraved a recording on a blank LP record, so we have many photos of "Jonathan Elsworth Scully." Over the next ten years Mr. Boyd took photographs of anything and everything. Besides every conceivable piece of office equipment, he took photos of his cats, his favorite chair, and even cars that passed his bus on his way to work. He took shots of his employees, of people who worked at other offices near him, and on the back of each and every photograph he wrote complete descriptions of what you were looking at.
He never married but lived with his parents. He kept the same bed and bedroom until the death of his mother in 1973. Her death seemed to be a great strain on him both emotional and financially. After her death he closed his studio and moved all the recording equipment into his house. Unfortunately this did not last long and he had to sell everything and move to a small duplex in east Dallas.
There is a photo that seems a little sad of two men removing Jonathan Elsworth Scully from his house.
It appears that for a while he tried his hand at being a professional photographer, but that did not seem to go anywhere. At this time I begin reading between the lines, or in this case, between the photos. Mr. Boyd stops driving and starts taking the bus every where. For a short while he lives with some old friends in Corpus Christi. On the back of one of his photos he wrote, "Just back from my operation." From here until he goes into an assisted living center in 1993 he takes fewer and fewer photos, sometimes missing three months out of a year. At the end of the collection, there are a flurry of photographs of some of his old army buddies and some members of the band, then several photos taken from a television screen, and then nothing.
I spent several weeks working on this collection and just could not move on to the next project without acknowledging the photographer. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then Marion E. Boyd left us a very detailed autobiography of his life and times in Dallas; just not in so many words.